Land, property theft & destruction / Ethnic cleansing / Apartheid
Ancient Palestinian village threatened by Israeli settlement
Al-Monitor 5 Mar — Less than ten miles outside the northern West Bank city of Nablus lies a sleepy town with an ancient and little-known history embedded in its ancient temple, tower and columns. Sebastia, according to Christian tradition, is where the body of John the Baptist was found, and during the Crusades, a cathedral was built over his tomb. Years later, Muslims returning to the area under the rule of Salah al-Din transformed the cathedral into a mosque. The town also contains Roman, Herodian, medieval and Byzantine relics and ruins, which, peppered among the olive groves, makes it an ideal destination for Palestinian visitors and tourists alike … But according to residents, the town is becoming increasingly threatened by the nearby settlement of Shavei Shomron, whose residents are constantly uprooting olive trees and, more recently, pumping their sewage waste onto the Palestinian fields their settlement overlooks. Sebastia’s residents say raw sewage from the settlement flowing onto their fields is causing substantial damage to crops as well as their apricot and olive trees. In addition to threatening the town’s agriculture and environment, the wastewater (which flows from a pipe around the settlement and creates puddles leading down to the fields) will also eventually affect tourism to the archaeological sites.
Jerusalemite citizen forced to demolish his own home
OCCUPIED JERUSALEM (PIC) 5 Mar — A Palestinian citizen was forced to demolish his own home in Bab Hetta, in the Old City of Jerusalem, on Monday after the Jerusalem Municipality issued a demolition order for his property. Daoud Eseid said that he has demolished his home to avoid paying the fees charged by Israeli authorities if Israeli forces had carried out the demolition. “I am unemployed at the moment and I have seven children. We are daily suffering from Israeli brutality,” the Jerusalemite citizen stated.
Meanwhile, the occupation bulldozers started bulldozing a land of about half dunums owned by Fayez Kiswani in Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood in Jerusalem. Imad Kiswani, the son of the house’s owner, told PIC that staff from the Israeli National Insurance accompanied by bulldozers arrived to the land and started demolishing the wall surrounding it, claiming their ownership to the piece of land, after an Israeli Court issued a decision allowing them to construct a building of eight floors on the Palestinian land.
Crews of Jerusalem Municipality and Israeli Gihon water company launched on Monday morning, in the town of Silwan, a broad campaign that included the distribution of demolition orders and cutting off water supplies to citizens’ houses due to debts owed to the water company. Clashes have erupted between citizens and a group of settlers in the Wadi Hilweh in Silwan after the settlers attacked the children while heading to schools.
Wadi Hilweh’s Information Centre: During February 151 Jerusalemites arrested, including 11 women, 50 children and one Parliament member of PNC
Silwan, Jerusalem (SILWANIC) 5 Mar — Wadi Hilweh’s Information Centre-Silwan documented violations by the Israeli military against Palestinians in Jerusalem during February 2013. This included arrests, assaults, demolitions and confiscations. The centre also found that arrest operations were carried out across East Jerusalem as well as raids on houses and stores. Religious rights for Christians and Muslims were violated along with freedom of movement and expression. Many people had their homes demolished and received various fines and tickets from the authority. Furthermore, residents also faced attacks by settlers, simply for being ‘Arab’. Arrest of Omar al Awar: the Youngest Prisoner Of the 50 children arrested, the youngest was 5 and half year old Omar al Awar from Silwan. He was chased by Israeli forces before being arrested on accusation of throwing a stone at the forces. Reporter Jamil al Kadmani was also arrested. The top three areas the arrestees are from are Silwan, al Essawiye and the Old City
Israeli settlers uproot large numbers of trees in Bethlehem
MEMO 5 Mar — On Tuesday, Israeli settlers destroyed around 80 old trees in the Jamjoum neighbourhood of southern Bethlehem, eye witnesses said. Palestinian citizens from the Nahaleen village in Bethlehem reported that the Israeli settlers had set off from the Israeli settlement of Gush Etzion, which separates Bethlehem from Jerusalem. A large number of the settlers carrying hand saws attacked farms in the Jamjoum neighbourhood and destroyed trees. Palestinians were unable to prevent the attacks as there were Israeli forces in the streets.Omamah, a Palestinian campaigning website in the West Bank, reported that the Israeli forces in the area chanced upon 17-year old Malik Adawi in the streets and beat him up. According to medical sources, Adawi was admitted to hospital with moderate injuries.
Jewish settlers uproot more than 50 olive trees in Nahalin village
BETHLEHEM (PIC) 5 Mar …In another incident, some Palestinian workers were surprised after they finished their jobs on Monday evening to see racist slurs and threats sprayed on their cars parked at the entrance to Shiloh settlement, which is located near Nablus and Ramallah cities. The Palestinian workers usually park their cars close to the Israeli security guards at the entrance to the settlement.
Suspicion: Buses of company operating ‘Palestinian’ lines torched
Ynet 5 Mar — Following the uproar against its ‘Palestinian-only’ West Bank bus lines, two Afikim company buses caught fire on Monday night in Kfar Qassem. There were no reports of injury, and the police are investigating suspicions of arson. Due to the incident, the company’s drivers were asked to remove all buses from the Arab town, fearing similar occurrences in light of the protest against the new bus lines. On Monday morning, a riot broke out at the exit point of the Eyal crossing, adjacent to Qalqilya, after numerous Palestinian laborers could not get to work within the Green Line. They protested the fact that as of now, they must arrive at the crossing from far-off places in the West Bank since the new bus lines are their only means of entering central Israel.
West Bank buses only the latest in Israel’s segregated public transport
Daily Beast 4 Mar by Anna Lekas Miller — Today, Israeli bus company Afikim will begin operating a “Palestinian-only” bus service to transport Palestinian workers to central Israel. Previously, Palestinians holding permits to work in Israel would use Israeli buses to travel to work there. Now Palestinians who try to use the Israeli buses will be requested to use the Palestinian bus instead. Though many are outraged over the Jim Crow-like segregation, this is only the tip of an apartheid iceberg in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem. To begin with, the Palestinians who are being asked to take the segregated buses are the privileged few with permits to work in the state of Israel … In Jerusalem, the ‘Central’ bus station operates buses connecting Jerusalem to Tel Aviv, Haifa, the Dead Sea and several Israeli settlements throughout the West Bank. These buses do not have to stop at checkpoints — as the passengers are Israeli citizens, soldiers and settlers. Some of these buses — the settler buses — are heavily subsidized by the Israeli government, and thus often travel the city half empty. It’s easy for these buses to have a set schedule … But to travel from Jerusalem to a Palestinian city in the West Bank, buses leave from the Nablus Road Bus Station, the Palestinian bus station tucked behind the Old City of Jerusalem … They have to pass through checkpoints, often forcing passengers to disembark completely while Israeli soldiers check their identification to make sure that they are not where they are not supposed to be. None of the buses are subsidized by the Israeli government — and therefore can only leave once they are completely full, often brimming with passengers standing in the aisles.
Israeli police return assailant of holy Qur’an to his service at Aqsa Mosque
OCCUPIED JERUSALEM (PIC) 4 Mar — One of the Aqsa Mosque guards said that the Israeli police allowed on Sunday evening the officer who desecrated a copy of the holy Qur’an and assaulted female worshipers at the Aqsa Mosque to return to his workplace. His return to work at the Mosque violated the pledge made to the Palestinian Waqf officials by the Israeli police to end his service there and punish him for what he had done.
Likud MK refused entry to the Dome of the Rock
Times of Israel 4 Mar — New Likud MK Moshe Feiglin visited the Temple Mount on Monday and attempted to enter the Dome of the Rock, but was turned back by security personnel at the site, who said it was closed to non-Muslims. A large crowd gathered during the incident, and Feiglin had to be extracted by police. Feiglin, a well-known settler activist and an avid campaigner for open Jewish access to the Temple Mount, said in a Facebook post that he was attempting to use his immunity as a Knesset member to enter the site, and that the fact that he was refused entry is “a clear admission of the loss of Jewish sovereignty on the Mount.” According to many rabbinical opinions, Jews are forbidden from entering the Temple Mount at all, but there are authorities from the religious Zionist stream that do permit Jews to enter the larger compound. Even they, however, say that entry to the Dome of the Rock, the general area where the Temple is believed to have stood, is forbidden.
Violence / Raids / Attacks / Illegal arrests
PLO Palestinian Monitoring Group – monthly summary of Israeli violations
The following summary tables and overview of events survey hostile Israeli activities during the period 1 February to 28 February 2013. The report includes a summary table of events, classified by type, throughout the West Bank and Gaza Strip, in addition to a comparative table surveying events over the past three months. [Includes useful and illuminating infographics. And important also since we cannot possibly include more than a fraction of the violations in these newslists.]
Israel army detains 12 in overnight raids
HEBRON (Ma‘an) 4 Mar — Israeli forces arrested 12 people in the West Bank overnight Sunday, locals and Israel’s army said. An Israeli army spokeswoman said five people were detained in Beit Khalil, two in Beit ‘Awwa, two in ‘Azzun, one in Nablus, one in el-Kharab, and one in el-‘Arrub.
Locals said Mutaz Asafra, 20, Muhannad Asafra, 20, and Hamza Zuhur, 20, were arrested in Beit Khalil. In Beit ‘Awwa village, Israeli troops detained brothers Samir Abdul Qader, 32, and Tamer, 22.
Israeli forces detain 10 in overnight raids
NABLUS (Ma‘an) 5 Mar — Israeli forces detained 10 people overnight Monday, locals and Israel’s army said. Badawi Khalil and Aziz Nader Alawnah, both 20, were detained in ‘Azmut village in Nablus, locals said. Hawash Udeili, 27, was arrested in the Nablus village of Osarin [or ‘Usarin], and university student Suleiman Abu Shihab, 28, was arrested in ‘Azzun village in Qalqiliya.
In the Hebron area, Muhammad al-Titi, 18, and Safi Ayman, 18, were detained in el-‘Arrub refugee camp, locals told Ma‘an, and Ahmad Khalil, 25, and Ahmad Saberneh, 22, were detained in Beit Ummar.
An Israeli army spokeswoman said 10 people were detained for security questioning overnight, two in Azmut, two in Hebron, two in Beit Ummar, one in Beitunia, one in Azzun, and two in Beit Sira.
Meanwhile, three army jeeps raided al-Tayba, west of Jenin, and issued an order to Muhammad Mahamid, summoning the 23-year-old for interrogation at Huwwara military base, locals told Ma‘an.
Israeli forces launch raid campaign in Mouawia town
NAZARETH (PIC) 5 Mar — People of Mouawia [or Mu‘awiya] town in northern 1948-occupied Palestine denounced the repeated raids carried out by the Israeli occupation against the village. A large force of Israeli police has been besieging the village since Saturday, after setting up barriers at its entrances, where they searched the residents and their vehicles, in addition to raiding their homes under the pretext that a handgun belonging to the police had been previously stolen, local sources said. Arab Member of Knesset Ahmed Tibi considered the Israeli police raid campaign in the town as a collective punishment against the town’s residents. The Israeli police launched a repressive campaign against the villagers, where they arrested dozens of the village’s youths in an attempt to pressure the village
Report: Israeli army to use live fire against fireworks protesters
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 5 Mar — Israeli forces will respond to fireworks shot toward them with live ammunition at the lower legs of protesters, an army official said Tuesday. “Palestinian protesters are increasingly shooting fireworks recently. These fireworks can cause severe burns or blindness in case of a direct hit,” an army official told Israel’s Maariv newspaper. “We see these as dangerous weapons rather than toys,” he said. “Palestinians don’t use guns because they know our response, so they use it as an alternative and we can not allow that because when fired at a close range they can do serious damage.” Maariv described the fireworks, adapted to be let off through metal pipes, as a new symbol in the latest wave of protests…
The Israeli human rights organization B’Tselem plans to file a complaint against the Israeli army’s increased use of live ammunition against protesters. “We noticed an increase in critical conditions in the last few days, of which four cases were transferred to Hadassah hospital because of the use of live ammunition, which can be deadly or paralyzing,” a representative of B’Tselem told Ma‘an.
Israeli border police assault Palestinian workers, wound teen
AL-KHALIL (PIC) 5 Mar — Israeli border policemen attacked a group of Palestinian workers west of Ramadin area, south of Al-Khalil, and arrested one of them after beating him up. Emad Al-Shalade, a citizen from Sa‘eer village, said that an Israeli border patrol chased a Palestinian car loaded with workers and fired teargas canisters inside the car, adding that the workers suffered breathing difficulty. He said that his son Mohammed, 18, was severely beaten by the soldiers until he went unconscious, adding that he bled profusely from his face and head. He said that Mohammed was taken in despite his condition.
Palestinian still detained after he was shot in the head at peaceful demonstration
ISM 5 Mar by ‘Team Khalil’ — 22 year old Ibrahim Saadi is still being held at Ofer Prison in Ramallah after being shot in the head close range by a rubber bullet and arrested during a peaceful demonstration in Hebron on Friday. His brother told us he had received a number of stitches on his head before being transferred to Ofer. The peaceful protest organised in remembrance of the Abraham mosque massacre in 1994 was broken up by tear gas and stun grenades in Hebron on Friday … Not long after the demonstration ended, 22-year-old Ibrahim Sa‘adi was dragged unconscious down the street by a group of soldiers with his face covered in blood. According to several eyewitnesses including his brother, Ibrahim was shot at close range with a rubber bullet. His eight-year-old sister saw the entire scene and was left in shock.
Israeli forces arrest 30 Palestinians in February after their release from PA custody
RAMALLAH (PIC) 5 Mar — Israeli occupation forces (IOF) arrested 30 Palestinian citizens in the West Bank in February after they were released from PA authority jails. A statistics report by the West Bank Pulse website (Omama) on Tuesday documented the names of all those detainees who included Hamas leaders and university students. It pointed out that 14 of those were from Nablus, five from Al-Khalil, five from Tulkarem, three from Ramallah and three from Qalqilia.
PA security forces arrest liberated prisoner
RAMALLAH (PIC) 5 Mar — PA security services arrested an engineer in Ramallah, transferred a detainee from Tulkarem to Junaid Prison, and continued to detain one of the preachers of the town of Burqin near Jenin … PA General Intelligence arrested on Monday evening the liberated prisoner Alaa al-Din Samaha from his workplace in al-Bireh. The engineer Alaa declared hunger strike since the moment of his arrest in protest against his political arrest, his family confirmed … Furthermore, PA preventive security transferred the detainee Mahmoud Freij from Shweikeh suburb in Tulkarem to Junaid prison in Nablus. The preventive service continued to arrest the preacher sheikh Nader Lutfi Massad, 36, from Burqin near Jenin, since about a month ago, no further information was provided about him since his arrest.
IOA claims arresting Hamas cell
AL-KHALIL (PIC) 4 Mar — The Israeli occupation authorities (IOA) announced on Monday that a commando cell affiliated with Hamas was recently arrested in the West Bank. Hebrew press said that liberated prisoner Basel Al-Haymoni, who was deported to Gaza after his release in the Wafa Al-Ahrar deal, was the one responsible for recruiting the cell members and directing them. It said that three young men were detained in connection with that cell and that they would be indicted soon. It said that an explosive device was found with members of the cell, but would not divulge their names.
Palestinian man arrested for allegedly trying to attack soldier
TULKAREM (PIC) 4 Mar — A Palestinian man from Tulkarem was arrested on Sunday night for allegedly trying to attack an Israeli soldier, a Hebrew website said. Yediot Ahronot said on its website that Israeli soldiers detained a man near Tulkarem with a knife in his possession claiming that he was going to use it to stab a soldier at a checkpoint near Teiba city in 1948 occupied land that is adjacent to Tulkarem. It quoted army sources as saying that the soldiers suspected the man before reaching the roadblock and when they asked him to stop for search a knife fell from his pocket and he grabbed it and tried to stab a soldier but the soldiers overwhelmed and arrested him.
Prisoners / Courts
Center: 15 prisoners rearrested since Shalit deal
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 5 Mar — Israel has rearrested 15 Palestinians released in the October 2011 prisoner exchange with Hamas, a research center for prisoner affairs said Tuesday. The latest detainee to be rearrested is Omar Abu Haniyeh, a 21-year-old from Qalqiliya, the head of the Prisoner Studies Center in Gaza said. In a statement, Riyad al-Ashqar said Israel was disrespecting its agreements with Egypt, which brokered the prisoner swap in which Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit was freed. He also criticized Israel’s use of military order 1651, under which a military committee can cancel a prisoner’s amnesty based on secret charges and evidence that even the detainee’s lawyer is not permitted to see.
IDF courts in West Bank cancel just 2.6% of Palestinian administrative detention orders
Haaretz 4 Mar by Chaim Levinson — Israel Defense Forces courts in the West Bank canceled only 2.6 percent of the administrative detention orders issued against Palestinians, according to a report summing up the courts’ activities between 2009 and 2011 provided to Haaretz. In addition, Israel’s High Court of Justice has not accepted a single Palestinian’s petition regarding an administrative detention order.
A copy-and-paste judge
Haaretz 6 Mar by Amira Hass — On Jan. 14, a military judge heard nine appeals of administrative detention orders issued to Palestinian residents of the West Bank. In each case, the judge revoked the appeals, providing the same decision – word for word … The military courts are a conveyor belt that convicts every Palestinian in advance, because every Palestinian, in advance, opposes the military regime that has been imposed on him and that has given rise to the military court system. But administrative detention guarantees this military system a particularly easy time. A person is arrested without knowing what the suspicions against him are. The prosecution does not have to bother preparing an indictment, bringing in witnesses and evidence, or dealing with the defense’s questions.
Palestinian prisoners showcase their own misery
MEMO 4 Mar — EXCLUSIVE PICTURES — Thousands of new images taken by prisoners and their families are at the centre of an exhibition in the Gaza Strip as Palestinians held behind bars by Israel seek to showcase the misery to which they are subjected. The exhibition “Real souls, not just images” has been organised by the forum for prisoners and former prisoners in Gaza. The pictures illustrate the misery of daily life for Palestinian prisoners; how they eat, sleep and spend their times in Israeli jails. The organisers call the prisons “tombs for living people”. Some of the photographs show those prisoners in need of medical attention who are kept in dirty rooms with a single bed and one pillow. In others, the brutality and callousness of the Israeli guards is clear as some are shown firing tear gas at the prisoners.
Israel issues harsh prison sentences against 2 Palestinian children
NABLUS (PIC) 5 Mar — Ahrar center for prisoner studies and human rights strongly denounced the Israeli military court for issuing harsh prison sentences against Palestinian children under the age of 18. An Israeli military court has sentenced two Palestinian children from Al-Zawya town in Salfit in the West Bank to two years imprisonment after charging them with throwing stones at Israeli occupation forces, the two prisoners’ relatives told Ahrar center. For his part, the director of the center Fuad Al-Khuffash said that the children are: Waleed Nasr Shaqir, 16 years old, and Khalil Ibrahim Shaqir, 17 years old. They both are school boys under the age of 18 and were arrested on June 2012 after the Israeli forces stormed and searched their houses. Their trial was postponed many times.
Palestinian liaison office secures release of teenager
NABLUS (Ma‘an) 5 Mar — Palestinian Authority liaison officials secured the release of a 16-year-old from Israeli custody, a coordination officer said Tuesday. Israeli forces detained Mahmoud Seif, from Burqa village, for walking too close to the Shave Shomron settlement in Nablus, Mujahed Abu Dayyeh said in a statement. Palestinian liaison officials contacted their Israeli counterparts and negotiated the release of the teenager, Abu Dayyeh said.
Palestinian family loses High Court bid to force Israel to find PLO man’s body
Haaretz 6 Mar — The High Court of Justice has ruled that the state did all it could to locate a security prisoner who died in prison in Israel 33 years ago and whose body was never delivered to the family. The High Court rejected the family’s demand that the state officially investigate the matter — In 2008, Palestinian families and human rights groups launched a campaign to find missing activists, including some who died in Israel and are buried here in undisclosed cemeteries. The Dula family asked the assistance of a center the campaign established in Ramallah to help obtain information about the circumstances of Anis Dula’s death … In 2010, the family petitioned the High Court of Justice to receive information about Dula’s death and require the state to find the body. In October 2011, the state responded that Dula’s autopsy report had been located in the coroner’s office at Abu Kabir, and that it said he died August 31, 1980 at Ashkelon Prison after doing physical exercises. The police and the Israel Prison Service said they have no information about him. In May 2012, Israel transferred dozens of bodies to the PA. Dula’s name was on the list but the body was not transferred. The Israel Defense Forces said it did not find the body in its cemeteries for the enemy dead, including even graves marked as empty and those marked “anonymous.”
IDF video warns soldiers, civilian of abduction threat
Ynet 4 Mar — A new IDF campaign strives to warn Israeli teenagers living in the West Bank against the perils of hitchhiking due to a disconcerting rise in the threat level in the area … According to the IDF, since the Gilad Shalit prisoner exchange deal, intelligence has indicated growing determination among the Gaza-based terror groups to abduct Israelis. According to the defense establishment, more than 20 cells plotting such attempts were nabbed in 2012. The IDF released a similar campaign directed at soldiers in early 2012.
Gaza fishermen protest Israel violations
Al-Monitor 5 Mar — Dozens of boats filled with fishermen and foreign activists launched from the Gaza coast on Mar. 3 in a demonstration demanding that Israel cease violations against Gazan fishermen and return their confiscated vessels. The demonstration was held to pressure the international community to support the fishermen, who are exposed to Israeli attacks on a daily basis, said Muhammad al-Bakri, head of the Union of Agricultural Work Committees. “I don’t understand how these fishermen, who are working extremely hard to support their families, can threaten the security of Israel!” Bakri exclaimed. Jad Othman, 35, had his boat confiscated two months prior, after the Israeli navy escorted him to the port in Ashdod, some 22 kilometers north of Gaza. Othman was released a day later through the Erez crossing, but his boat was never returned despite Israeli promises not to confiscate it. “The alleged cease-fire Israel is talking about is a media cease-fire, not a real one. Israeli attacks have even doubled after the cease-fire was reached,” Othman said.
In photos: Gaza fisherman undertake protest flotilla to tell Israel — ‘Return the stolen boats!’
Mondoweiss 5 Mar by Joe Catron — Several hundred Palestinian fishermen rallied on the Mediterranean Sea Sunday, March 3rd, sailing a flotilla of more than 50 boats from the Gaza seaport to the northern town of Beit Lahia and back to demand the return of 36 fishing boats seized by Israel.
Israeli troops advance into eastern Gaza
GAZA (PIC) 4 Mar — Israeli occupation forces (IOF) advanced into Juhr Al-Deek area to the east of Gaza city at dawn Monday, local sources said. The sources told the PIC reporter that IOF soldiers in a number of armored vehicles advanced about two hundred meters into the area. They said that the soldiers escorted bulldozers that started leveling cultivated land lots.
Gaza youth broadcast to world via Facebook radio shows
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 5 Mar — A group of volunteers in Gaza has launched a radio station on Facebook, broadcasting to the world in five languages. Issam Abu Khalil had the idea for the station five years ago, and with the help of 35 volunteers, The Facebook Voice from Gaza has connected with Palestinians around the world. The group has no funding. “I work from morning to dawn to keep the radio effective and successful,” Abu Khalil told Ma‘an. The radio shows tackle issues from refugees to prisoners and the Diaspora, and some are broadcast on local radio stations.
UN axes Gaza marathon after Hamas bans women runners
AFP 5 Mar — Gaza’s third international marathon has been cancelled after the ruling Hamas movement refused to allow women to run alongside men, the UN agency for Palestinian refugees said on Tuesday. UNRWA officials said more than 800 people, nearly half of them women, had signed up to participate in this year’s race, which runs the entire length of the coastal territory and was to have taken place on April 10. “UNRWA regrets to announce that it has had to cancel the third UNRWA marathon which was to be held on 10 April,” a statement said. “This disappointing decision follows discussions with the authorities in Gaza who have insisted that no women should participate.” UNRWA officials say 807 people had entered this year’s race — 551 locals and 256 international runners. Of that number, 385 are female — 266 from Gaza and 119 from overseas. Another 1,600 schoolchildren, girls and boys, were also to have joined the race…
A senior Hamas official confirmed the ban and expressed regret that UNRWA had cancelled the entire event. “We regret this decision to cancel the marathon but we don’t want men and women running together,” said Abdessalam Siyyam, cabinet secretary of the Hamas government … “We don’t want any women running uncovered,” he said, indicating the ban was only in place for female runners aged 16 and over.
Hamas closes Gaza crossing
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 4 Mar — The Hamas government in Gaza closed the Kerem Shalom crossing on Monday, despite the fact Israel had agreed to reopen it after a one week closure. Officials in Gaza, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they are not authorized to discuss the issue, said the Hamas government in Gaza has fired the company that operates the terminal after a dispute over the collection of customs revenue. The officials told Ma‘an that Hamas wants to keep the taxes, which are usually paid to the Fatah-led Palestinian Authority in the West Bank. Hamas has decided to appoint a new company to run the terminal, they said. Truck drivers at Kerem Shalom told Ma‘an that rivalries over control of the crossing were impeding their work, adding that they hoped the terminal would reopen soon. Israel’s Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories Eitan Dangot has told PA officials that Israel considers Hamas’ appointment of a new company to run Kerem Shalom a security risk, the Israeli news site Ynet reported Monday. Israel cooperated with the previous contractor because he operated the crossing on behalf of the PA, Ynet reported, noting that Israel will not coordinate with Hamas. Ynet said that Hamas was demanding a tax of 170 shekels (around $46) for each truck that enters Gaza, to make up for lost profits from tunnel revenue after Cairo cracked down on smuggling under the Egyptian border.
Israel reopens Gaza crossing
GAZA CITY (Ma ‘an) 5 Mar — Israeli forces reopened the Kerem Shalom commercial crossing with Gaza on Tuesday, after a week-long closure, a Palestinian official said. Palestinian Authority official Raed Fattouh told Ma‘an that the crossing will operate regularly on Tuesday, with 390 truckloads of goods set to enter Gaza and one truck of flowers to leave. Israel closed the commercial crossing last Tuesday after a rocket was fired from Gaza toward Ashkelon in southern Israel, but agreed to reopen it Monday. A dispute between Hamas and the company operating the crossing had further delayed its opening.
Hamas to root out Israeli ‘collaborators’
GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip (AP) 4 Mar — Gaza’s Interior Ministry says campaign will include amnesty offers for Gazans who have cooperated with the Jewish state — Gaza’s Hamas rulers say they will begin a new campaign to find Palestinian collaborators with Israel. Col. Mohammed Lafi of Gaza’s Interior Ministry said Monday that the campaign aims to protect Palestinian militant groups battling Israel. Lafi says they will also warn other Palestinians of the dangers of spying. Israel security officials have long relied on a network of informants in the Palestinian territories to keep tabs on militants. Since Hamas seized power in Gaza in 2007, it has taken a tough line on Palestinians accused of collaboration with Israel. Gunmen have killed more than 24 suspected collaborators, and jailed 20 suspects. A Palestinian rights group urged Hamas to ensure fair trials for the accused. Lafi says the campaign, including TV ads and offers of amnesty, will begin on Wednesday..
Gaza gas can’t help Palestinians
Al-Monitor 5 Mar by Omar Shaban — Despite their geographical distance, Gaza and Nigeria are similar on many levels. Nigeria is one of the largest oil exporters in the world, but one of the poorest countries. Hundreds of Nigerians die while trying to obtain a few liters of their own oil, even as it flows right in front of their eyes. Gazans also suffer from severe poverty, high unemployment and deaths due to continuous power cuts, despite large gas fields in the Mediterranean Sea, right before their eyes … When gas reserves were discovered in 2000, late Palestinian President Yasser Arafat held a special ceremony for the occasion, which gave Palestinians hope that their homeland would thrive and join the Gulf countries as a major gas exporter. But Palestinians found out that their situation is akin to that of Nigeria in terms of being deprived of their own resources.
Locusts reach Gaza Strip
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 4 Mar — Small numbers of locusts have reached the southern Gaza Strip, the agriculture ministry said Monday, days after swarms of the bugs descended on Egypt. Locusts were seen in Abasan, near Khan Younis, ministry official Salih Bakhit told Ma‘an. So far, they are too few to pose a threat to crops in the enclave, Bakhit said.
Malaysia donates $6.4 million for Gaza construction projects
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 5 Mar — The Malaysian government will donate $6.4 million for construction projects in the Gaza Strip, a Hamas official said Tuesday … According to Siyam, $4 million will be allocated for the construction of a Malaysian Technical school in Gaza City, $1 million to build administrative offices for Hamas’ cabinet, $700,000 to add a new floor to a Gaza City hospital, and a similar amount to rebuild a mosque destroyed during Israeli attacks.
Palestinian waiter assaulted by Israelis in Tel Aviv: VIDEO
Al-Akhbar 4 Mar — A Palestinian waiter was assaulted Friday by Israeli customers in a Tel Aviv restaurant, only to have his complaint dismissed by Israeli police officers, in yet another incident of routine violence against Palestinians. In an interview with Israeli news outlet Nana 10, the employee said he was confronted by a group of customers complaining about the service. They then began shouting insults at him, including ‘smelly Arab’, and soon after began hitting him and throwing chairs and tables at him. The employee said that no one intervened to stop the assailants. Once the police arrived on the scene, officers refused to file a report, claiming that the employee was too injured for them to collect his testimony, despite the fact that a security camera had recorded the incident. The employee said he had already experienced a similar incident at the restaurant two years ago.
Meanwhile, four suspects were arrested for beating up a Palestinian Tel Aviv municipality worker on Wednesday.
Attacked on vacation: ‘Arab, get out of the Kinneret’
Ynet 6 Mar — Nazareth Illit resident attacked during weekend trip to Kinneret with wife, hospitalized for a fractured jaw-bone; police launches investigation – Four Tiberias residents were arrested for allegedly attacking an Arab citizen on one of the shores of the Kinneret [Sea of Galilee] on Saturday. According to police suspicion, the attack of Nimer Sharkawi, 43, was nationally motivated. After the arrests, it was discovered that two of the suspects were involved in an attack on an Arab municipality worker in Tel Aviv last week. Sharkawi was vacationing with his wife in the Kinneret when the suspects approached him: “Friday night we were at the beach and a group of about eight religious teens came in our direction and began shouting ‘Arab, get out of the Kinneret,'” Sharkawi told Ynet. Tiberias Police commander Chief Superintendent Avi Danieli said that Sharkawi received blows to his face, torso and lower-body, and that afterwards his assailants fled the scene … Sharkawi, a father of six, reported being bludgeoned with a helmet, a bottle and stones. “Each one of them picked up an object, and then they proceeded to break my face…”
Attack on Purim highlights trend in Israeli racism
Al-Monitor 4 Mar by Shlomi Eldar — “Tonight we visited Hassan Ausruf, who is hospitalized at the Department of Ophthalmology at the Tel Aviv Sourasky Medical Center. … Hassan was brutally attacked by a group of some 20 youths on the city’s seafront promenade early Sunday morning [on the Jewish holiday of Purim, Feb. 23-24] for no other reason than being an Arab.” The above comment was posted by Talia Goshen on her Facebook wall. Goshen, the owner of one of the major video editing studios in Israel, is an active partner in the “Light Tag Forum,” set up by various organizations, movements, youth movements, schools, associations and local councils from across the spectrum of Israeli society in response to the ‘price tag’ violence against non-Jews in Israel … “Hassan is a resident of the city of Jaffa, a father of three children aged 4, 5 and 10. He is working hard, putting penny to penny to buy his children the best education he can afford. His 10-year-old kid speaks Arabic, Hebrew, English and French, but the boy has not uttered a word ever since the lynch, and he seems so upset that he can barely function.”
Police arrest hate crime suspects
Ynet 4 Mar — Police arrested four youngsters from Tiberias on Monday for allegedly attacking an Arab street cleaner in Tel Aviv on February 24. The cleaner, Hassan Usruf, claimed he was attacked on the city’s seaside promenade by a group of more than 20 Jewish youngsters who violently assaulted him while shouting racial slurs … “They beat me because I’m an Arab,” Usruf said a few hours after the attack. “Around 4 am we started working. I was going around with a water jug that I filled up to wash the road. “Suddenly a large group came over; they yelled at me ‘You’re an Arab. You want a state? Is that what you want?’ “I told them ‘calm down,'” Usruf added, “and then they grabbed me and began to hit me. One of them hit me in the head with a bottle….The day following the attack 130 people protested in solidarity with Usruf at the place of the attack.
Meanwhile, police are still investigating the attack of Hana Amtir on February 25 near a Light Rail station in Jerusalem, and have publicly stated that the attack was was nationalistically motivated … A police representative said at a court hearing that the girls ran into the woman randomly, asked her if she’s an Arab and attacked her after she answered affirmatively. He further claimed that the girls spat at the woman, called her an ‘Arab b**ch’, punched her and removed her head garb. Following the hearing the court decided to release the suspects under restrictions. Two were banned from Jerusalem for 45 days, the third for 30. Two of the girls were arrested after reporting to the Jerusalem Police station and filing a complaint against the woman. They claimed they were acting in self-defense but were promptly arrested after an interrogation.
10 migrant worker families to be deported
Ynet 5 Mar — ‘We fulfill government’s criteria for status legalization,’ claims shunned migrant worker; NGOs: Minister Yishai is a thug — After years of waiting for their status formalization petitions to be answered, more than 10 families of migrant workers and their children face deportation after the Population and Immigration Administration (PIA) rejected their requests, giving them only 15 days to appeal the decision … Among the families whose petitions were lately rejected is Alma, a Filipino migrant worker and her daughter Nicole. “My daughter will celebrate her ninth birthday this week; she was born and has been living in Israel for all her life,” Alma said. “She answers all the government’s criteria,” she claimed. “But despite this, Eli Yishai’s present for her birthday is deportation from her homeland.”
Committee: Ignore UN, deport refugees
Ynet 5 Mar — Expert panel commissioned by Interior Minister Eli Yishai says ‘Israel must shut itself in walls to survive'; Yishai says over 2,000 asylum-seekers left ‘of their own volition’ … Yishai explained that there is no difference between South Sudan, Eritrea and North Sudan, though the UN‘s position is that citizens of these countries cannot be forcefully returned to them, as their lives would be in danger. Nevertheless, Yishai clarified that the deported asylum-seekers “Left Israel of their own accord” but refused to divulge how many of them signed the “voluntary departure forms” while detained in Israeli jails, a procedure illegal according to international law.
Political, economic news
Palestinian youth suffer high unemployment, frustration
Al-Monitor 5 Mar by Hazem Balousha — Palestinian youth constitute about one-third of the Palestinian population in the West Bank, the Gaza Strip and Jerusalem. They are the foundation for developing Palestinian society amid rising unemployment, growing debt and eroding trust in Palestinian political parties. A report on the state of Palestinian youth in 2013 by the Sharek Youth Forum, the largest Palestinian civil youth institution, reports that of the 40% of Palestinians who live in poverty, a quarter are young people. Roughly 44% of young people are unemployed, even though just over half of them hold university degrees.
Israel: No gestures for Abbas ahead of Obama visit
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 5 Mar — Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is not planning any goodwill gestures toward the Palestinian Authority ahead of US President Barack Obama’s visit, his office said Tuesday. The Hebrew-language daily Maariv reported Tuesday that Netanyahu may transfer areas of Area C in the West Bank to the control of the PA, release long-term prisoners and drop a ban on certain weaponry for PA forces. On Israeli radio, Netanyahu’s office denied the report and said practical steps would only be taken if the Palestinian leadership agrees to return to talks without conditions.
Obama will not demand a West Bank withdrawal plan from Netanyahu
MEMO 5 Mar — Senior US official have ruled out that president Barack Obama is planning to ask the Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, to propose a scheduled plan for Israel’s withdrawal from the occupied West Bank, the Palestinian newspaper, Al-Quds, said on Tuesday.
UK envoy attacked at West Bank university
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 5 Mar – Palestinian students at Birzeit University near Ramallah on Tuesday attacked the car of British Consul-General Sir Vincent Fean, smashing a mirror. A Ma‘an reporter saw a group of students gather in front of the administrative offices on campus where the consul general was at a meeting with university president Khalil al-Hindi. When Fean left, students approached him chanting and screaming before his security guards surrounded him and prevented physical contact between the students and the consul general. Some students were carrying rods, according to the reporter. As soon as he seated himself in the car, students attacked it with rods causing minor damage before the driver sped away. The consul general was scheduled to take part in a symposium at the university, but the event was canceled after the attack. Student unions had expressed opposition to Vincent’s visit in protest of the UK’s position toward the question of Palestine.
Japan donates $10 million to Palestinian Authority
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 4 Mar — Japan donated $10 million to the Palestinian Authority on Monday, official news agency Wafa reported … Since the signing of the Oslo accords, Japan has donated $1.34 billion to the PA, Wafa said.
Turkey appoints ambassador to State of Palestine
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 5 Mar — Turkey’s consul-general Akir Özkan Torunlar was appointed ambassador to the State of Palestine on Tuesday. Torunlar met with Palestinian Authority Foreign Minister Riyad al-Maliki in Ramallah and pledged to work to enhance cooperation between Turkey and Palestine. Al-Maliki praised Turkey’s support for Palestine, particularly its support of Palestine’s successful bid to join the United Nations as a non-member state, a ministry statement said.
Davutoglu defends PM’s condemnation of Zionism
MEMO 4 Mar — Turkey’s Foreign Minister, Ahmet Davutoglu, has denounced the international campaign against recent remarks made by Recep Tayyip Erdogan in which the Prime Minister described Zionism as a “crime against humanity”. Davutoglu said that Turkey has every right to criticise Israel and its founding ideology … Stressing that Turkey has always been opposed to anti-Semitism, the foreign minister pointed out that his country is at the forefront of countries in the fight against racism. “We will continue with this position, but if Israel wants positive statements from Turkey, it has to reconsider its policies.”
Fatah mourns death of Venezuela’s Chavez
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 6 Mar — A top Fatah leader expressed Palestine’s condolences early Wednesday after learning of the death of Venezuelan leader Hugo Chavez. “Palestine says good bye to a loyal friend who passionately defended our right to freedom and self determination. His contribution to the cause of dignity had no borders and reached the hearts and minds of the Arab World,” Nabil Shaath said in an emailed statement. “resident Chavez expressed his solidarity with tangible political steps in order to advance Palestine’s rights. Particularly, his determination to take a strong position during the 2008/09 aggression against Gaza as well as during 2011 as well as strongly supporting Palestine’s UN recognition.”
Raed Salah to Obama: Don’t visit Al-Aqsa Mosque
Ynet 4 Mar — Supporters of Islamic Movement’s northern branch demonstrate outside US embassy, claim visit in Al-Aqsa with Israeli escort will show he is pro-occupation
Barak: Consider unilateral separation from West Bank
WASHINGTON (JTA) 4 Mar – Israel should consider unilateral steps to separate itself from the Palestinians should peace talks fail, Defense Minister Ehud Barak said. Such steps would include dismantling settlements beyond the separation barrier and maintaining a military presence in the Jordan Valley along the West Bank-Jordan border, Barak said Sunday at the annual American Israel Public Affairs Committee policy conference in Washington. “We should consider unilateral steps in order to place a wedge on this extremely dangerous slippery slope to a binational state,” he said.
Israeli road project increases tensions on Lebanon border
Al-Monitor 5 Mar by Nasser Charadah — Yesterday, March 4, under the protection of two Merkava tanks, Israeli engineering corps vehicles approached and broke ground on a dirt road that Israel plans to build, starting from its positions along the Lebanese border in Ras al-Jabal all the way down to the Wazzani river, intersected by the Blue Line that separates both countries. Lebanon has voiced concern about the move, raising speculation that it might lead to heightened tensions along the border. A high-ranking Lebanese Army officer gave Al-Monitor further details about this issue, which has been simmering behind the scenes for almost two weeks.
Palestinian refugees in Syria
Palestinian infant and university student killed in Syria
DAMASCUS (PIC) 4 Mar — Palestinian two-day-old newborn and a female university student, from Neirab refugee camp in Syria, were killed when a bus carrying a number of the camp’s residents was targeted by an armed group belonging to the Syrian regime, Working Group for Palestinians in Syria confirmed. A state of panic has prevailed among the residents of Khan Dannoun following the violent clashes that took place in the camp between the Free Army and the regime’s army which led to the injury of a number of Palestinian refugees, according to the Working Group correspondent.
Three Palestinian refugees killed in Syria
DAMASCUS (PIC) 5 Mar — Three Palestinian refugees were killed in Syria on Monday in the ongoing armed conflict in that Arab country, a local newspaper reported on Tuesday. Al-Quds daily said that Munir Al-Khatib was killed when multiple gunshots hit him during clashes between the regular and free Syrian armies in Yarmouk refugee camp. It said that an old woman, Aisha Abul Shukur, was also killed in similar clashes at the outskirts of the same refugee camp while she was trying to leave it … The paper said that a third Palestinian, Amjad Abu Hamed, was killed in Raml refugee camp in Latakia when it came under shelling last night.
UN ‘shocked’ by hanging of two Palestinians in Syria
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 5 Mar– The UN agency for Palestinian refugees on Monday condemned the hanging of two Palestinians in a Syria refugee camp earlier this week, a statement said. Last Friday, two Palestinian men were hanged in public on Palestine Street in Yarmouk refugee camp in Damascus, the UN agency said … It is not clear who carried out the attack. Despite repeated statements from Palestinian officials that Syria camps are neutral in the internal conflict, Palestinians have been adversely affected by fighting in the two year conflict.
Analysis / Opinion
from one American mainstream newspaper:
Movie review: Inside the minds of Israel’s gatekeepers / Ty Burr
Boston Globe 28 Feb — What does it say about a country when its sanest citizens appear to be the secret police? In Dror Moreh’s stunning documentary “The Gatekeepers,” a half-dozen grizzled old men talk openly about their experiences running Shin Bet, Israel’s internal security service and primary anti-terrorism unit. (Very roughly, the organization is to Mossad what our FBI is to the CIA.) They’re a varied bunch, some cagey, others bureaucratic, more than one strikingly forthright. And while they confess — sometimes grudgingly — to misdeeds and miscalculations, to blood on their hands both guilty and innocent, they mourn Israel’s gradual turn away from a two-state solution and toward brute force and oppression. These are aging warriors of realpolitik who’ve grown weary of carrying secrets … Other former leaders of the agency are more thoughtful, openly admitting how their work eroded their souls, both as Jews and as human beings. They all reserve a special contempt for the politicians who, we’re told, demand binary solutions to situations of endless gray and who “abandon the wounded in the field” at the first sign of bad press …And all of them point to moments where Israel could have more vigorously pursued a peaceful solution, a Palestinian state; all of them feel that the current situation in Gaza and the West Bank “is a brutal occupation force, similar to the Germans in WWII” (Shalom), that “we are making the lives of millions unbearable” (Gillon).
The purpose of Israel is peace / Bradley Burston
Haaretz 5 Mar — This week, one of the very rarest of g’dolei hador, the great figures of our era, was given release from the sufferings of this earth and the cancer which claimed him. He was an underground of one, a paratrooper/settler who became a sage and a one-man peace process, fearless in ways and directions warriors can only begin to fathom. The purpose of Menachem Froman was peace. The purpose of Rabbi Froman was to find a place where the Jews and the non-Jews who live here were safe at last, their lives — all of their lives — accorded respect. Where a distinction is made between loving the land and claiming exclusive possession of it. A place where people begin to think with their human souls, their innate holiness, the mentsch within. A place where a settler rabbi like Menachem Froman could, and would, talk with anyone, Hamas included, to seek a solution, to seek a profound and lasting peace.
Rabbi Froman is gone / Richard Silverstein
4 Mar — Settlers and Palestinians as Neighbors? One of the great ones of our generation has just passed: Rabbi Menachem Froman. He died of cancer today at age 68. I have posted about him several times. I will feature here Rita Castelnuovo’s wonderful photograph that accompanied the NY Times profile of him. This is Haaretz’s Hebrew epitaph (and the English version). This is The Forward’s story which includes an interesting video … He was a settler rabbi who made common cause with Sheikh Ahmed Jassin, Hamas’ spiritual leader. He lived in the settlement of Tekoa, also the ancestral home of the prophet Amos. He represented the same fiery demand for morality and justice as his Biblical forebear. He was a teacher and educator. But he didn’t teach the hate that passed for religious piety at yeshivot like Yeshivat Ho-Kotel, Yeshivat Rav Kook, or Yeshivat Od Yosef Chai. He taught that Jews had an obligation to the Land, but not to politics. They had an obligation to God, but not to Greater Israel. He had no allegiance to a Jewish State. His allegiance was to God and his spiritual journey. He accepted the possibility of Palestinian political sovereignty over the Territories and was prepared to live there under such control. Something no other settler extremist would accept.
The quiet unification of Jerusalem / Matti Friedman
The Times of Israel 3 Mar — Jerusalem’s physical division once seemed imminent. Today, urban planning is subtly bringing the capital’s disparate parts closer to each other than ever before – A passenger boards the Jerusalem light rail at its first stop in Pisgat Ze’ev, a suburb built in the West Bank after 1967, and glides past the local mall. A Russian girl gets on in high boots and works the aisle like a runway, trailing perfume. A toddler with a shiny pink purse sits next to her mother, who wears the long dark coat and hair covering of a religious Muslim. After the car stops in Beit Hanina, a middle class Palestinian neighborhood, the tinny electronic music of a video game becomes audible from the vicinity of two Arab kids and an iPhone. The train passes Eiffel Sweets, on the main drag through the Palestinian neighborhood of Shuafat, and the Stylish Salon. Outside the battle memorial at Ammunition Hill, three men kneel toward Mecca in a parking lot. Two women board with a gaggle of small boys in black velvet skullcaps and girls in skirts. The Ottoman walls of the Old City pass by before the train reaches the downtown bustle of Jaffa Road, where a crush of everyday Jerusalemites presses on with a backpacking couple in North Face jackets, and the car moves again. The train empties at the central bus station. [but of course the Israelis will run the whole city – there will be no part that belongs to the Palestinians and can serve as their capital]
Europe holds no promise for the Middle East / Akiva Eldar
Al-Monitor 27 Feb — BRUSSELS — I’ve been following Israel’s foreign relations closely for 30 years. I have often heard German statesmen and politicians say that Israel owes Germany’s support to the victims of the Holocaust. The words were always whispered behind closed doors, off the record. Last week, they were uttered publicly by a senior German politician, Hans-Gert Pöttering, one of those closest to Chancellor Angela Merkel. Pöttering, who served for many years as president of the European Parliament, spoke at a packed auditorium in the center of Brussels. “Were it not for the Holocaust, Germany would not have abstained at the UN vote on the recognition of Palestine as a non-member state,” said the man who was appointed last year to chair the Konrad Adenauer Foundation, named after the first post-World War II German chancellor who was responsible for the reparations agreement between Israel and Germany. “It would have voted in favor.”
Herod exhibit digs up controversy / Jonathan Cook
Al Jazeera 1 Mar — Jerusalem – More than four years in the making, the largest exhibition ever staged by Israel’s national museum, dedicated to the life of King Herod, has generated unprecedented excitement both at home and abroad. Entitled “Herod the Great: The King’s Final Journey”, the exhibition follows in the footsteps of Herod’s funeral cortege 2,000 years ago, when his body was carried from the royal winter palace near Jericho to his resting place on a man-made hill close to Bethlehem. The exhibition was made possible by the discovery in 2007 of what is assumed to be Herod’s tomb at the hill fort of Herodium. An Israeli archaeologist, Ehud Netzer, found the burial chamber after a search that began 35 years earlier. More than 250 artefacts excavated from the two sites, weighing 30 tonnes in total and including three elaborately decorated limestone sarcophagi and a bath carved from a single slab of stone, have been brought to the Israel Museum in West Jerusalem for the nine-month show. But the sites of Herod’s death and his entombment are both located in the occupied Palestinian territory of the West Bank, outside the recognised borders of Israel. Palestinian Authority officials, backed by some Israeli archaeologists, have complained that, in excavating the sites and transferring the artifacts out of the West Bank, Israel has violated international law.