OCHA investigates the killing of sheep by settlers in Jordan Valley
JORDAN VALLEY (PIC) 17 Apr — A delegation from the Office of Humanitarian Affairs in UN (OCHA) launched on Wednesday an investigation into the death of sheep and cows belonging to Bedouin citizens in Jordan Valley and Tubas after being poisoned by Jewish settlers. The OCHA’s delegation pointed out that the United Nations has been concerned at the killing of livestock in the Northern Jordan Valley, and that the visit aims to find out the truth of the matter and send reports to the UN Office in order to take the necessary action and stop such dangerous acts in the region. The delegation met with the owners of the sheep and cows and listened to their testimony about the incident.
Land, property theft & destruction / Ethnic cleansing / Apartheid / Restriction of movement
The quiet population transfer that dares not speak its name
972mag 18 Apr by Yesh Din, written by Yossi Gurvitz — A quiet phenomenon has been taking place over the last decade: the quiet dispossession of the Palestinians from their lands, which in turn increases their despair and leads them to abandon their villages. All this is done in our name and with our funds, but the government makes certain Israelis remain ignorant of the facts — …As a result of several international obligations, the government has found it difficult to create new settlements since 1999. A government resolution from 1995 forbids the creation of new settlements. So the process of building new ones has, in effect, been privatized: a process which can be hardly considered as anything but a conspiracy between the government and the settlers. As the latter go off what would officially be considered illegal building of settlements, the government (which declared the action illegal) is swift to provide the outlaws with IDF protection, as well as all of the utilities the settlers need. The Sasson Report, which will celebrate its tenth birthday in a year, used a very harsh language: “It would appear, therefore, that violation of the law became a fixture, became institutionalized. We do not deal with a felon or a group of felons acting against the law. The picture is that of blatant violation of the law by certain state authorities, public authorities, local councils in the Judea and Samaria region, and the settlers — all while presenting a false image of an institutional system acting legally.” Almost all of the outposts were built — partially or fully — on private Palestinian lands, and each outpost has several rings of damage around it.
The Road to Dispossession: the case of Adei Ad
interactive website explaining how illegal outposts are born: In 1998 an old bus was placed on a hill in the Shilo Valley and the outpost of Adei Ad was born. This website, which is based on “The Road to Dispossession”, a Yesh Din report, shows how, with the assistance of the Israeli authorities (through act and omission), the establishment of the outpost led to the expropriation of land belonging to the residents of the adjacent Palestinian villages. Adei Ad is one of over a hundred outposts in the West Bank. The events described here are typical of the method used – The Road to Dispossession
Report: How settlers turn Palestinian lands into illegal outposts
18 Apr — A new Yesh Din report examines the use of outposts as a means for seizing control of Palestinian land. The report uses the outpost of Adei Ad as a case study to illustrate the manner in which the establishment and growth of an outpost prevent Palestinian farmers from working their land. Between 1998 and 2011, the Civil Administration issued 81 demolition orders against buildings and construction work in the outpost. The vast majority of the orders have not been enforced and the outpost remains intact. Yesh Din has documented 96 separate incidents involving criminal offenses committed in the vicinity of Adei Ad. Approximately 92 percent of the files were closed due to failings on the part of the investigators. The report highlights the connection between the failure of the bodies responsible for enforcing the law and protecting Palestinian persons and property and the seizure of Palestinian land. This process begins with the failure to ensure effective law enforcement against Israeli civilians in the criminal and administrative spheres, and ends when Palestinian landowners are no longer able to farm their land and make a living from its fruit.
Israeli forces demolish store belonging to Bedouin orphans
BEERSHEBA, Israel (Ma‘an) 18 Apr — Israeli forces on Thursday demolished a store belonging to orphans in Wadi al-Naim, a Bedouin village in the Negev. “The demolition is immoral and unjustifiable. How can a state which claims to be an oasis of democracy and equality explain demolition of orphans’ homes and means of living?” said Labbad Abu Affash, head of the village committee. The store belonged to orphans from the Jirjawi family, a Ma‘an reporter said. Abu Affash told Ma‘an the whole village was slated for demolition…
Earlier in April, Israeli forces demolished Bedouin village al-Arakib for the 49th time. In Arara village, Israeli forces demolished a partially-constructed home, a tent and a barn.
Israeli forces bulldoze farm shelters near Bethlehem
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 18 Apr — Israeli forces on Thursday demolished two agricultural shelters in a village south of Bethlehem, the al-Khader popular committee said. Israel bulldozed the farm shelters in the al-Haboun area of al-Khader to provoke farmers and to keep them away from their land, said committee member Ahmad Salah. The shelters belonged to Hasan Abu Ghalyon and Khader Abu Ghalyon, who own the land near the Aliazar and Neve Danial settlements.
Also near Bethlehem, Israel bulldozed a restaurant in al-Makhrur for the third time and cut electricity to the area, a Ma‘an reporter said.
Video: Salfit continues to suffer from illegal settlement sewage
Salfit (ISM) 18 Apr by Team Nablus — The agricultural district of Salfit, about 25 miles north of Jerusalem, is facing health and environmental problems throughout its villages because of a constant stream of sewage from nearby illegal Israeli settlements, most notably Barkan and Ariel settlements which also hold illegal factory developments. See the below video with photos and video taken on a recent visit to Salfit by solidarity activists.
Settlers uproot 190 trees in Ramallah
MEMO 18 Apr — On Wednesday evening Jewish settlers uprooted 190 olive and fig trees belonging to Palestinian farmers in the West Bank city of Ramallah. In a statement, The Popular Resistance Movement (Intifada) said that settlers from Halameesh settlement near Ramallah uprooted around 150 olive trees and 40 fig trees from the neighbourhood of Deir Nizam in the west of Ramallah city. Intifada said: “The settlers caused considerable damage to farmer Said Sabri’s farm.” As a result of the damage, the people of Dier Nizam are in a “state of rage.”
Farmers attacked daily by settlers near Bethlehem
HEBRON (Ma‘an) 17 Apr — Settlers from Bat Ayin, located in the Gush Etzion settlement bloc, regularly assault Palestinian farmers in an attempt to force them to abandon their fields. Hajj Hammad Sleibi, 78, is well aware of this phenomenon. He says he is attacked nearly every day. “This land is mine. This land is mine not yours,” Sleibi says on camera, addressing his undesirable neighbors. Sleibi told Ma‘an that settlers harass him physically when he tends his fields and destroy his crops on an hourly basis. His land is located in the Safa neighborhood of Beit Ummar, opposite the illegal settlement of Bat Ayin, built on private Palestinian land. “They have chopped down everything. They did not leave a vine tree or an olive tree. They chopped down both newly-planted and old trees. They left nothing,” he said, describing a recent attack.
Allenby Bridge to open Friday for commercial goods
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 18 Apr — The West Bank-Jordan border crossing will open for commercial goods on Friday following liaison between Palestinian, Jordanian and Israeli authorities, a PA crossings official said Thursday. The Allenby Bridge is usually closed on Fridays, the local weekend, but will open from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. to facilitate the entry of a backlog of trucks on the Jordanian side, Nathmi Muhanna told Ma‘an.
Thousands join Palestinian March of Return on Israeli Independence Day
972mag 17 Apr by Haggai Matar — The annual March of Return brought approximately 7,000 people to the destroyed village of Khubeizy on Israel’s Independence Day. The march, which went through village lands and debris, now a national park, ended with a rally in which speakers called for the implementation of UN Resolution 194, recognizing the Palestinian refugees’ right of return, and for the release of political prisoners. The march was organized by the Association for the Defense of the Rights of the Displaced People (ADRID), and was attended mostly by Palestinians with Israeli citizenship (dubbed “’48 Palestinians”) and a few Jewish Israeli activists. Aside from the speeches, the rally included a cultural festival with book and food stands, and Palestinian flags and accessories and “Free Samer Issawi” shirts were sold in mass numbers. The event ended with a performance by singer Walaa Sbeit, himself a descendant of the displaced from Iqrit, who gained a large round of applause when he mentioned the outpost he and his friends have been holding for nine months now on the old village lands.
Violence / Raids / Attacks / Clashes / Arrests
VIDEO: Soldiers continue to intimidate and provoke schoolchildren in Hebron
ISM 17 Apr by Team Khalil — This morning an Israeli jeep drove around an area of Hebron that is home to 5 schools as children made their way to class. To get to school, the pupils of these schools already need to pass through a metal detector at checkpoint 29. In the same place 27 school children were dragged into army jeeps and arrested on the 20th of March this year. At the time the soldiers claimed they were trying to find children who they claimed had thrown stones. The army’s presence at the schools causes the children to gather and shout at them from the balcony of their classrooms, which the soldiers are fully aware of. Their continued presence around these schools is clearly designed to provoke the school children into throwing stones at them .
Last week, after another army visit to the Al Khalil UN school, the head master told us that the soldiers had claimed that children had been causing problems at the checkpoint on their way to school that morning. This was blatantly a lie considering International activists had been monitoring the checkpoint all morning without witnessing any problems.
Army opens fire at Palestinian ambulance in Bethlehem
IMEMC 17 Apr — Wednesday evening, April 17, 2013, Israeli soldiers opened fire at a Palestinian Red Crescent Ambulance while trying to provide medical care to family members, including an infant, injured by gas bombs fired by the army at their home, in Al-Khader town, south of Bethlehem. Abdul-Halim Jaafra, head of the Emergency Unit at the Bethlehem Branch of the Red Crescent, told the Radio Bethlehem 2000 that five Palestinian family members, including an infant, suffocated after inhaling gas fired by the army at their home. He added that as the medics rushed to rescue the family, the army fired rubber-coated metal bullets at the ambulance shattering its front shield; no injuries were reported among the medics.
‘Dozens injured’ in clashes near Bethlehem
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 17 Apr — Dozens of Palestinians were injured in clashes that broke out in al-Khader village south of Bethlehem, medics said. A Red Crescent official told Ma‘an that Israeli forces fired tear gas and rubber-coated steel bullets at young men. One was injured with a rubber-coated steel bullet in the head, and three others were shot in the chest and legs. He added that five children from one family suffered tear gas inhalation, and another child had a seizure due to tear-gas inhalation.
An Israeli army spokeswoman said 15 Palestinians were hurling rocks in the area, and she said soldiers responded by using riot-dispersal means. The official said she was unaware of any arrests or injuries.
Protests have been ongoing for a month in the Umm Rukba area in the village in solidarity with hunger strikers in Israeli jails.
Palestinians, Israeli soldiers clash near Bethlehem
BETHLEHEM (Ma’‘an) 18 Apr — Eleven Palestinians were treated for tear gas inhalation on Thursday after Israeli forces clashed with youths near Bethlehem, medics said. Israeli forces fired rounds of tear gas at protesters in the Um Rukba neighborhood of al-Khader, a Red Crescent official told Ma‘an. An Israeli military spokeswoman told Ma‘an that around 60 Palestinians threw rocks at Israeli forces who responded with “riot dispersal means.” The area, near the Israeli settlement Efrata, has witnessed almost daily clashes in recent weeks.
7 injured in clashes near Hebron
HEBRON (Ma‘an) 17 Apr — Seven Palestinians were injured in clashes in Beit Ummar north of Hebron on Wednesday, a local official said. A popular struggle coordination committee spokesman said that Israeli forces fired rubber-coated steel bullets and tear gas. Six Palestinians were injured by the shooting, while another was hurt while trying to escape the Israeli forces.
Israeli forces ‘detain teens, child’ in al-‘Arrub refugee camp
HEBRON (Ma‘an) 18 Apr — Israeli forces on Thursday detained two teenagers and a child in the al-‘Arrub refugee camp in the southern West Bank, a local popular committee spokesman said. Mohammad Awad said Israeli soldiers raided the camp and detained 11-year-old Abdulla Abu Sharar, Odai Nemr Jawabreh, 18, and Wisam Salih al-Badawi, 19.
PA liaison secures release of child in Israeli custody
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 18 Apr — The Palestinian Authority Liaison Office said Wednesday it had secured the release of a 10-year-old boy that was being held in Israeli custody for allegedly throwing stones, a statement said. The child was released after the liaison office contacted Israeli authorities. PA officials urged the boy’s family to inform them immediately if he was taken into custody again by Israeli forces.
Israeli forces detain 3 Palestinians in Jenin, Tubas
JENIN (Ma‘an) 18 Apr — Israeli forces on Thursday detained three Palestinians in Jenin and Tubas, locals said. Israeli forces stopped cars at a checkpoint near the Ya‘bad village southwest of Jenin, scrutinizing vehicles hearing to Tulkarem and Barta, locals said. They also raided the home of Yassir Tahayneh, 22, at the eastern side of the city and detained him before raiding surrounding houses accompanied by an intelligence officer. In Tubas, soldiers detained Jamal Salah, 20, and Ahmad al-Shwaiky, 22. They also handed over a notification to Hamzeh Alian to meet Israeli intelligence at Huwara south of Nablus. An army spokeswoman confirmed five arrests in the West Bank overnight.
Urgent concerns over death threats issued to UN human rights defended Issa Amro
Hebron (ISM) 18 Apr by Team Khalil — There are growing concerns for the safety of non-violent Palestinian activist and organiser Issa Amro, following a recent letter to Israeli security forces from Israeli settlers of Hebron, accusing Amro of terrorism and incitement, and warning that a failure of the Israeli authorities to remove him “could be costly”, and threatening “bloodshed”. This is the latest in a long line of threats and attacks against UN human rights award winner Amro. In the letter, the mayor of the Jewish “Hebron Municipal Council” and the director general of the “Hebron Jewish Community” insist that army commanders “use administrative detention until you are able to find a long-term solution to completely end this hostile and dangerous activity” referring to Amro’s extensive work with various human rights groups. The full letter can be read here.
This Palestinian Prisoners’ Day we remember Bassem Abu Rahma who was murdered four years ago today
ISM 17 Apr by Team Khalil — Today is Palestinian Prisoners Day which also marks the 4th anniversary of the death of Bassam Abu Rahma and the 270th day of Samer Issawi’s hunger strike. These two events perfectly illustrate the ongoing perseverance of the Palestinian peoples relentless struggle for peace, justice , freedom and dignity. They also illustrate the Israeli army’s excessive and often lethal use of force against peaceful and unarmed demonstrators throughout the West Bank and Gaza. In 2009 Bassam Abu Rahma was shot at close range in the chest with a high velocity tear gas canister , which are designed to penetrate concrete walls and gas those inside. He was shot as he walked towards Israeli soldiers whilst holding his hands up the air. He was marching for his Palestinian comrades being held in various Israeli prisons and detention centers without charge or trial and the expansion of settlements around his village of Bil‘in.
Report: 2 Palestinians killed, 30 wounded and 45 detained in Gaza
GAZA (PIC) 18 Apr — Al Mezan Center for Human Rights confirmed that two persons were killed, 30 were injured, and 45 were arrested by the Israeli occupation forces (IOF) during the first four months of 2013 in violation to the buffer zone along Gaza Strip’s borderlines with the Israeli entity … The center’s report highlighted that the Israeli systematic attacks against Palestinian civilians and their properties near Gaza’s borders came in light of “the ongoing Israeli efforts to enforce the so-called ‘security buffer zone’ that extends 300 meters along the Gaza Strip’s borderlines with Israel.” These attacks prevent hundreds of Palestinian farmers from farming their lands which are located near the border-line with Israel, the report added.
The report pointed to the IOF escalated attacks against fishermen, where 38 Israeli attacks were carried out against them, injuring 3 of them, while 7 fishermen were arrested, in addition to confiscating 3 boats and damaging 7 others.
Gaza fishing ban imposed for ‘security reasons’
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 17 Apr — Hamas security forces in Gaza have banned fishermen from working since Monday, a human rights center said Wednesday. Naval security forces in the coastal territory imposed a ban on fishing at 5 a.m. on Monday for “security reasons,” according to Al-Mezan center for human rights. Mahfouz al-Kabariti, chairman of the Palestinian Association for Fishing and Marine Sports, told Ma‘an that fishermen were notified about the decision. Palestinian sources in Gaza told Ma‘n that it is likely the ban was imposed after three prisoners escaped from jail on Monday.
Minister: Hamas to release some collaborators
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 18 Apr — The government in Gaza will release a number of convicted collaborators who have served two-thirds of their sentences, the interior minister said Thursday. Fathi Hammad said the Hamas government took a dual approach, deterring collaboration with Israel through punishment as well as rehabilitating offenders. At a workshop about collaboration in Gaza, Hammad said a number of informers had been arrested in the latest campaign against collaboration and that they were being questioned. “Opinion polls conducted about previous campaigns showed that popular support for the security services’ work reached over 86 percent,” the minister said.
Health minister: The gov’t will establish a kidney transplant center in Gaza
GAZA (PIC) 1 Apr — Palestinian health minister Mufid Al-Mukhalalati said the government intends to establish the first kidney transplant center in the Gaza Strip using local doctors to be trained in Britain. Mukhalalati returned to the Gaza Strip on Monday after an official tour to Britain and Egypt.
Haniyeh heads to Qatar for talks with emir
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 18 Apr — The prime minister in Gaza’s Hamas-run government left the Gaza Strip on Thursday for Qatar to meet Emir Sheikh Hamad Bin Khalifeh, an official said. A spokesman says Ismail Haniyeh will discuss reconstruction projects in Gaza as well as national reconciliation with Hamas’ rival faction Fatah, which dominates the West Bank-based Palestinian Authority.
Limited building supplies to enter Gaza
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 18 Apr — Israeli authorities on Thursday opened the Kerem Shalom border crossing in northern Gaza for limited import and export, a Palestinian Authority official told Ma‘an. The 450 trucks entering Gaza include cement, iron, gas and building material and other goods, said PA liaison officer Raed Fattuh. Flowers and herbs destined for Europe will also travel through the border. Farmers in the Gaza Strip on Sunday destroyed three tons of rotten herbs and spices that were to be shipped to markets in Europe before Israel closed the border crossings.
Gaza teen arrested trying to cross into Israel
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 16 Apr — Israeli forces arrested a teenager trying to cross into Israel from the Gaza Strip overnight Monday, locals said. Ashraf Samir Mansour Mahmoud, 17, tried to cross into Israel east of al-Bureij refugee camp in the central Gaza Strip, witnesses said. His family had reported him missing on Thursday. An Israeli military spokeswoman did not return calls seeking comment.
Hamas dismisses Israeli threats as propaganda
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 17 Apr — Hamas on Wednesday dismissed Israeli threats to resume war on the Gaza Strip as psychological propaganda. Israeli army chief Benny Gantz told Israel Radio on Tuesday that if the “relative quiet” along the Gaza border did not hold, “there will be no quiet in the Gaza Strip and it will be very painful and we will not be afraid to resume our operations in the Strip and even extend them.” On his Facebook page, Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum said Gantz’s comments aimed to frighten Palestinians and raise Israeli soldiers’ morale.
Israeli warplanes launch mock raid off the coast of Gaza
GAZA (PIC) 18 Apr — Israeli warplanes staged mock raids off the coast of Gaza Strip on Thursday, the PIC reporter said. He said that Israeli F-16s staged the mock raids in the early morning hours, adding that they caused big bangs heard in various areas of the coastal enclave. The reporter said that the Israeli warplanes had launched similar mock raids on Wednesday.
Israeli claim about current state of Gaza siege
Israel says Gaza cooperation increased in 2012 despite Pillar of Defense
Haaretz 18 Apr by Chaim Levinson — Foreign diplomats received a report by COGAT, the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories, suggesting that Israel has loosened its closure policy in Gaza, which has been widely criticized – Israeli cooperation with the Gaza Strip increased during 2012, despite the military deterioration that led to Operation Pillar of Defensein November. According to a report by the office of the Coordination of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) distributed among foreign diplomats, there was a 25 percent rise in the number of people passing through the Erez crossing, from 49,000 to 61,000, and a 40percent rise in crossings by Israeli Arabs given permission to enter the Gaza Strip. Furthermore, 17,569 Palestinians were permitted to enter Israel for medical reasons. Some 9,100 of these permits were issued to patients suffering from chronic illnesses and people accompanying them, and the rest were issued for patients in emergency situations.
Palestinian Prisoners’ Day
Prisoners’ Day: Palestine remembers loved ones in the Israeli gulag
Mondo 17 Apr by the Center for Political and Development Studies, Palestine — The Palestinian people mark Prisoners’ Day on April 17 every year, expressing the continuity of struggle to liberate detainees in the occupation jails. It’s a day of freedom. A day of refusing injustice, chains, and the dominance of occupiers over their life and dignity. Prisoners’ Day marks the release of Mahmoud Baker, the first Palestinian prisoner held by Israel after 1967, on April 17, 1974 in a swap deal. According to the statistics published by the director of Statistics Department at the Ministry of Detainees and Ex-Detainees and former prisoner Abdulnasser Frawna: 1 – 4750 Palestinians are detained in the Israeli jails including children, women, sick, handicapped, elders, MPs and former ministers etc. They are held under very tough conditions where they are deprived of their basic rights and they are exposed to various forms of torture and treated inhumanely, all of which constitutes a grievous violation of international conventions and norms. 2 – The majority, 83.5%, are residents of the West Bank, 9.2% are residents of the Gaza Strip, the rest are from 1948 Palestine and Jerusalem. They are scattered into 17 jails and detention centers, most importantly Negev, Nafha, Rimon, Jablou, Shatta, Ofer, Askalan, Hadarim, Ishel, Ahli Kidar, Hasharon, Ramla and Majido prisons. 3 – 14 Palestinian MPs, two former ministers, dozens of teachers, journalists, political leaders and academics are arrested. 4 – 168 Palestinians are held under administrative detention orders without charge or trial….
Palestinian prisoners subjected to war crime of deportation
Al-Haq 1 Apr — As Palestinians mark an emotional Prisoner’s Day, the Israeli authorities are currently coercing Samer al-‘Issawi to accept a deal that would see him deported to a United Nations (UN) Member State in exchange for ending his hunger strike. Samer has repeatedly refused to accept any such deal, which constitutes a grave breach of the Fourth Geneva Convention and therefore qualifies as one of the most serious war crimes. As an organisation dedicated to the promotion and protection of Palestinian human rights, Al-Haq would like to take the opportunity of Palestinian Prisoners’ Day to condemn, in the strongest terms, Israel’s repeated use of deportation rather than addressing the legitimate concerns of Palestinian prisoners. Equally, Al-Haq denounces the willingness of the international community to condone, and sometimes support, the deportation of Palestinian detainees. Such readiness to ignore international law and the automatic inclination to seek short-term political solutions to long-term abusive practices contribute to the prolonged nature of the occupation of Palestine by encouraging additional violations by Israel.
Photos: Palestinian Prisoners Day in Gaza
Mondo 17 Apr by Joe Catron — Thousands demonstrated in Gaza this morning, marching and rallying to mark the fortieth Palestinian Prisoners’ Day. The commemoration, first declared by the Palestine Liberation Organization’s Palestinian National Council in 1974, is held annually in solidarity with Palestinians held by Israel – currently numbered at 4,936 – and to honor over 800,000 previously detained. An exhibit of detainees’ art on the site of the bombed Saraya complex [was] followed by a march and rally of thousands outside the International Committee of the Red Cross’ Gaza Strip headquarters … The mobilization capped a week of local activities that included a march after a regular sit-in at the ICRC and a children’s candlelight vigil on Monday.
Photos: Street exhibition confronts Israelis on Prisoners’ Day
18 Apr — Members of Activestills posted a public street exhibition on the streets of West Jerusalem and Tel Aviv of photos that bring attention to Palestinian Prisoners Day. The following text, in Hebrew, accompanied street exhibitions of the photos from this essay which were posted in public places in West Jerusalem and Tel Aviv the night before Palestinian Prisoners Day, April 17, 2013. Images of the street exhibitions, some of them later defaced, follow below:
3,000 detainees refuse food to mark Prisoners’ Day
RAMALLAH (AFP) 17 Apr — Some 3,000 Palestinians in Israeli jails on Wednesday refused breakfast as part of a one-day hunger strike to mark Prisoners’ Day, an Israeli prison official said. Palestinians are attending marches and rallies as a show of solidarity with prisoners from the West Bank, East Jerusalem and Gaza held in Israeli jails, whose numbers reach almost 5,000. In the West Bank, around 600 relatives of prisoners gathered for a sit-in in the rain at Arafat Square in central Ramallah after which some of them were planning to march towards the nearby military prison at Ofer. Another rally was being held in the northern city of Nablus … Events to mark Prisoners’ Day began on Tuesday when youngsters in Gaza City released thousands of balloons into the air, each bearing the name of a prisoner, while there were also solidarity gatherings in Rafah in the south. During the evening, demonstrators gathered in a village near the southern city of Hebron lit a “freedom torch” in front of the home of Arafat Jaradat, a prisoner who died in Israeli custody last month after several days of interrogation, sparking Palestinian allegations of torture.
Activists remove section of apartheid wall in solidarity with Palestinian prisoners
Ramallah (ISM) 17 Apr — This Palestinian Prisoners Day, the 17th April 2013, Palestinian and international activists cut down a fenced section of the Israeli apartheid wall in solidarity with Palestinian prisoners held in Israeli occupation jails. A section of around ten metres was torn down near Ofer prison, where Palestinian prisoners can be tried in military court or held by Israeli forces. Protesters wearing surgical masks conducted a swift and efficient action against the Wall — a symbol and physical expression of apartheid — aiming to send a message to the Israeli authorities that the Palestinian people will “never agree to have Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails.” After around ten minutes, one Israeli army jeep arrived in the buffer zone behind the separation barrier and a single sound grenade was thrown at protesters, who left shortly afterwards, having completed their action.
Other prisoner news / Hunger strikers / Court actions
A plastic stomach fights the battle of empty stomachs
Mondo 17 Apr by Orouba Ayyoub Othman — His body is fraught with countless bullets, his heart beats to sound an alarm for his exceptionally grave health condition, and his plastic stomach starves for the sake of Palestine’s dignity. Sitting in his wheelchair and desiring life, Palestinian detainee Mansoor Mowqeda from Salfit has fought in the battle of empty stomachs since April 1, 2013, hoping to change the bitter reality healthy people cannot. Against freedom, hunger means nothing to Mowqeda. It makes his plastic stomach an iron one that can break the determination of the Zionist occupation that wants to frustrate him. His empty stomach is more honest than the so-called advocates for human rights that are continuously violated. Mansoor Mowqeda was detained on July 2, 2002, after being shot with six bullets during clashes in the village of village Sniria, in the Qalqeelia district, when he refused to surrender. He now depends on his wheelchair, for he is paralyzed and can neither defecate nor urinate on his own, but disposable plastic bags can help him. Mowqeda holds only a glass of water in his right hand and a map of Palestine in his left. Both are his secret weapons, which will inevitably shoot down a powerful enemy that has tortured the Palestinians for more than half a century, refusing to leave land which proves her love to her rightful owners.
Intensive negotiations with hunger striker al-Issawi
MEMO 18 Apr — The Palestinian Authority Minister for Prisoners’ Affairs, Issa Qaraqe, has said that the Israeli General Security Service (GSS) and the legal adviser to the Israeli occupation authorities are leading intense negotiations with hunger striker Samer Al-Issawi to find a solution to his situation which will get political approval. In a press statement on Wednesday, Qaraqe said that a compromise deal is being discussed with the Palestinian prisoner in Israel’s Kaplan Hospital. He pointed out that Al-Issawi has set conditions for any deal that are being fleshed out to ensure his release and return to his home in Jerusalem, an International Red Cross guarantee for his protection, and for the remaining charges against him to be dropped.
In a related context, the Prisoners’ Forum said that 9 other prisoners held by Israel have joined the strike in solidarity with Al-Issawi, including his brother Medhat, Esmat Mansour, Hussein Derbas, Wajdi Gawda, Haitham Antary, Muhammad Mallah, Nader Jaffal, Munther Snober and Ayman Bisharat.
Israel frees sick prisoner
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 18 Apr – Israel released sick Palestinian prisoner Muhammad al-Taj Thursday after a serious deterioration in his health, the Palestinian ministry of prisoners affairs announced. Al-Taj had been serving a 15-year sentence since 2003. He recently began suffering from pulmonary failure. He was immediately transferred to the Palestine Medical Complex in Ramallah to start treatment.
Ministry: Al-Taj stable but may need surgery
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 18 Apr — Mohammad al-Taj, who Israel freed on Thursday, is in a stable condition but may require dangerous surgery, a Palestinian Authority Health Ministry official said. Israel released al-Taj, who had carried out two long-term hunger strikes, on health grounds. He was transferred to intensive care at the Palestine Medical Complex in Ramallah. “He suffers from pulmonary fibrosis and heart hypertrophy. Pulmonary fibrosis can be treated by a lung transplant, but that is a difficult and uncertain surgery,” said Health Ministry undersecretary Anan al-Masri. Doctors will prepare a comprehensive medical report and the ministry will provide any treatment al-Taj needs, al-Masri told Ma‘an, adding that he would be sent abroad for surgery if necessary.
Israeli President Shimon Peres pardoned al-Taj on Thursday due to concerns over his health, his office said. “Peres accepted the recommendation of the Justice Minister Tzipi Livni, in coordination with the security services, and signed the release of Mohammed Kamal al-Taj,” a statement said.
Israeli court extends remand of Atta Ayyash
SALFIT (PIC) 18 Apr — An Israeli court in Petah Tikwa ordered the remand of Atta Ayyash for 12 more days pending further investigations. Atta, the uncle of martyr Yehya Ayyash, a renowned Qassam Brigades commander, was arrested at the Karame Bridge on his return from a visit to Jordan. Atta’s lawyer said that the court charged him with Hamas affiliation and transferring money to the family of martyr Yehya Ayyash. Atta denied his membership in Hamas and said that it was only natural to give money to Yehya’s family since they are related.
Child from New Orleans sentenced to serve in adult prison in Israel
IMEMC 18 Apr — A 14-year old boy from New Orleans, Louisiana was sentenced on Wednesday to a two-week term in an Israeli prison, after having been abducted on April 5th by Israeli forces while sleeping in his family’s home in the West Bank. Mohammed Khalek is a dual Palestinian-US citizen, having been born in New Orleans but living now in the West Bank with his family. He suffers from a heart murmur, and says that he was physically abused during interrogation. He was charged with throwing stones, and will have to pay a fine of $835, in addition to the two weeks in adult prison. The sentencing on Wednesday followed a ‘call-in campaign’ by Palestine solidarity activists from Mohammed’s home state of Louisiana, in the southern US.
Israel detaining 236 Palestinian children
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 17 Apr — Israel is detaining at least 236 children as young as 12, among nearly 5,000 Palestinians held in Israeli jails, the Palestinian Authority said ahead of Prisoners Day on Wednesday. Israel is the only country in the world that has devised military courts for children, and it has detained over 8,000 children since 2000. Under Israeli military orders, a Palestinian child can be held for up to 188 days before being charged with an offense and for up to two years between being charged and tried. Most Palestinian children are held for throwing stones, which holds a maximum sentence of 20 years under military law.
Israel indicts alleged Jerusalem attack plotters
JERUSALEM (AFP) 18 Apr — An Israeli court on Thursday filed charges against five Palestinians from East Jerusalem accused of plotting deadly attacks on Israelis at a flashpoint religious site in the city, court documents said. A statement by the Shin Bet domestic security service said they were among seven suspects arrested last month who planned to open fire at police at the Al-Aqsa mosque compound in the heart of the Old City and who also had a separate scheme to kidnap and kill an Israeli civilian.
Activism / Solidarity / BDS
Tel-Aviv calls for EU not to receive former hunger striker
MEMO 18 Apr — The Israeli occupation has called on the EU countries not to receive the former Palestinian hunger striker, The Prisoners Centre for Studies (PCS) said on Wednesday. PCS said that the Israeli foreign ministry sent diplomatic letters to EU member states demanding that they do not receive the former prisoner Mahmoud al-Sarsak, who was released after a long hunger strike in Israeli jails. According to PCS Al-Sarsak said that the Israeli foreign ministry asked the EU countries not to negotiate with him under the pretext that he is a “terrorist and a member of a disbanded terrorist organisation.” The former hunger striker went on a hunger strike for 100 days whilst in Israeli jails, to protest against being held in administrative detention. He travelled to France last month as part of an EU tour to speak about the suffering of Palestinian prisoners. He also asked the EU to cancel the European Youth Tournament to be held in Tel-Aviv this summer. Al-Sarsak plans to take part in solidarity activities with Palestinian prisoners in Italy and Holland this month. He is expected to deliver a speech at the 28th Melano Annual Festival. The Palestinian football player has become a sport celebrity in Palestine and on the international scene after many international sports bodies announced solidarity with him during his hunger strike. They also sent letters to Israel demanding his release.
Moroccan human rights organizations demand dismissal of G4S
MEMO 18 Apr — Moroccan human rights organisations and associations have demanded the dismissal of the Israeli company, “G4S”, from Morocco stating that they intend to call on representative institutions and official bodies to take the necessary measures to prevent certain parties and their partners that have carried out war crimes and crimes against humanity from carrying out any activities in Morocco … Simon Osadon, a member of the National Working Group to Support Palestine, said in a seminar held on Wednesday in Rabat that “G4S Israel” mentions on its official website that it works in prisons containing “security prisoners” which were found to be Palestinian political prisoners.
Israeli conscientious objector heads to prison for record ninth time
972mag 18 Apr by Mairav Zonszein — Israeli conscientious objector Natan Blanc, 19, was sentenced to prison for the ninth time on Thursday, tying the record number of times an Israeli conscientious objector has been put on trial. According to Amira Hass’ last report on Blanc a few weeks ago in Haaretz: “Over the last decade, the IDF largely refrained from repeatedly putting conscientious objectors on trial. Until now the record was nine trials, which took place eight years ago, and the IDF preferred to release them after shorter prison sentences due to their unsuitability (in order to prevent a media frenzy over the trial, as took place six years ago in 2003).” In 2003, +972′s Haggai Matar was one of the five refuseniks who made headlines for publicly refusing to serve in the IDF. As far as I am aware, Haggai holds the record for the Israeli who spent the most time in jail for conscientious objection: a total of two years (not consecutively, but rather in and out, like Blanc). With this ninth sentencing, Blanc has reportedly met the record for having been through the most trials.
Berkeley student senate passes divestment bill
EI 1 Apr by nora — The student senate at the University of California at Berkeley voted early Thursday morning in favor of a bill calling on the UC administration to divest from companies which profit from Israel’s occupation. In a meeting that lasted nearly ten hours, the Daily Californian reports that: Anna Head Alumnae Hall overflowed with hundreds of UC Berkeley students, faculty and community members engaging in a contentious debate regarding the bill, SB 160.
Burgeoning IT sector aims to reverse Palestinian economic rot
NABLUS, West Bank (Reuters) 17 Apr by Noah Browning — Nestled in a basin in the northern West Bank, the city of Nablus was for millennia a Palestinian cultural and commercial hub, attracting traders to its souk in the heart of the old town. But Israel’s occupation of the West Bank, and local policy paralysis, have since isolated the Palestinian economy from global markets and pushed unemployment up to nearly 25 percent. Fledgling Palestinian high-tech firms hope they can now help revitalize the economy, making the West Bank more resistant to Israeli controls on land and the movement of goods and people and less dependent on fickle foreign aid flows, which are blighting the public sector.
Pentagon requests more funding for ‘Iron Dome’
WASHINGTON (AFP) 17 Apr — The Pentagon has requested $220.3 million in 2014 to bolster Israel’s “Iron Dome” missile defense system despite broader cuts to US military spending, according to budget documents. The US Missile Defense Agency also is asking for an additional $175.9 million in fiscal year 2015 for Israel’s homegrown missile defense network, according to the agency’s budget proposal posted online. The Pentagon already invested $204 million on the system in 2011 and $70 million in 2012.
Jihadists claim Sinai rocket fire on Israel’s Eilat resort
JERUSALEM (AFP) 17 Apr — At least two Grad rockets fired from Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula exploded in the Israeli Red Sea resort of Eilat on Wednesday, causing no casualties, in an attack claimed by a Salafi jihadist group. It was the first rocket attack on the southern resort city in eight months, with the Israeli army saying they were fired from the Egyptian Sinai, although there was no immediate confirmation from Cairo … Several hours later, a Salafi group called the Mujahedeen Shura Council posted a statement online saying its militants had “managed to target occupied Eilat with two Grad rockets” without saying where they were fired from.
The attack took place as Palestinians were marking Prisoners’ Day in solidarity with the thousands of inmates held by Israel, with the group saying the rockets were a “response to the continued suffering of the downtrodden prisoners in Israeli jails”. The rockets struck shortly after 9:00 am, both landing inside the city but without causing injuries, Israeli police said.