Land, property theft & destruction / Ethnic cleansing / Restriction of movement
Gaps in the wall: Israel’s unsecured border
(Ma‘an) 23 July — We started our trek through a valley in al-Walaja, crossed a set of railroad tracks and began the climb up a mountain, towards Jerusalem. Between 20,000 to 30,000 Palestinian workers make a similar climb every year, according to Israeli group Kav LaOved, opting to avoid the arduous, often impossible process of obtaining a legal work permit. Instead, they cross from the West Bank, and into Israel, through one of many large gaps in the security barrier. Leading the small group of internationals climbing their way to Jerusalem was a young man from al-‘Azza refugee camp in the West Bank. He is one of the millions of Palestinians who are not eligible to receive a permit to work in Israel. Regardless, he is able to enter Israel as he pleases. “It’s very normal to cross like this,” he said. “Palestinians can take this way, but it is more dangerous without internationals with them. There are more difficult ways to climb that the workers would usually take.” … after ten years of construction, and billions of dollars, the wall still isn’t finished. Only 62.1 percent of the barrier, including fences, ditches, razor wire, sand paths and patrol roads, has been completed, according to the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, OCHA. Eighty-five percent of the barrier will be built inside the West Bank, on the Palestinian side of the Green Line, according to OCHA, creating a situation in which thousands of Palestinians are isolated from their farm land and water sources … Although Israel argues that the separation wall has made its citizens more secure, it does not stop so-called ‘undesirable’ Palestinians from entering its borders, and hasn’t for the past ten years.
Photo essay: Commuting from the West Bank
Reuters 23 July by Ammar Awad — There are two ways for Palestinian workers to cross into Israel every day. Those with work permits can pass through a military checkpoint. Those without a permit have to find a way through the controversial Israeli barrier, and sneak across the border. Both ways are time consuming. Neither is pleasant. “I have no other choice,” said Tayser Sherif Abu Khader, a 57-year-old Palestinian from Qalqiliya who for two decades has been making the commute. “If I don’t work in Israel, I will die from hunger.” I met Abu Khader in line with hundreds of other Palestinians who were waiting to cross through the Eyal checkpoint in the northern West Bank. He told me that about 7,000 Palestinians cross daily through the checkpoint. He had gotten there before dawn to make sure he would be at the front of the line and make it to his job on time. [Slideshow with 34 photos here]
Road 9 will destroy two-state solution, says ministry of foreign affairs
RAMALLAH (WAFA) 22 July – The Ministry of Foreign Affairs Monday said that the establishment of ‘Road 9’ will destroy the two-state solution and prevent the establishment of a viable and contiguous Palestinian state. The ministry condemned, in a press release, the new Israeli plan to build a road network which will connect illegal settlements in the West Bank with Israel. The ministry considered such decision to be a declaration on the Israeli sovereignty in the West Bank and a confiscation of thousands of dunums that belong to Palestinians … The planned ‘Road 9’ will link the coastal Israeli city of Hadera with illegal settlements in Jenin and the Jordan Valley, reported Ghassan Daghlas, who monitors settlement activity in the northern West Bank. Media sources quoted Daghlas saying that the project is expected to be completed in 2014, and will confiscate thousands of dunums of Palestinian land in the northern West Bank. The 183km in length road will be consisted of six lanes, three in each direction and will connect the Trans-Israel Highway, Highway 4 and Highway 2.
Israel re-opens Hebron road after 12-year closure
HEBRON (Ma‘an) 22 July — Israeli forces on Sunday partially re-opened an entrance to the southern part of Hebron, a PA official said. Imad Natsheh, coordinator at the PA liaisons office, told Ma’an that al-Harayyeq gate will be open from 5 a.m. to 9 a.m. and again from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. The reopening of the gate will allow for better freedom of movement between villages and the city of Hebron, Natsheh said.
Israel: Jewish settlement in West Bank carries out token eviction
JERUSALEM (LA Times) 23 July by Batsheva Sobelman — Facing a court deadline Thursday, Jewish settlers from the West Bank outpost of Amona have begun tearing up an access road that leads to illegally constructed homes. According to Israeli media, residents opted to destroy the road themselves and evict a mobile home to avoid a high-profile encounter with large police and army forces prepared to enforce a high court order.This token eviction is part of an ongoing legal saga in a case that is far from over. Amona was established without explicit government authorization in 1995 and is built largely on privately owned Palestinian land.
Peace Now: Netanyahu’s government advanced plans for 5,170 settlement homes
JPost 22 July by Tovah Lazaroff –bNGO states it is happy PM returned to talks, but calls not to approve any new construction to “truly give peace a chance” — The Higher Planning Council for Judea and Samaria has advanced plans for 5,170 new settler homes since Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s third term in office began in March, according to Peace Now. The three-month time span in Peace Now’s report also covers the period during which US Secretary of State John Kerry traveled to the Middle East six times as part of his massive effort to rekindle direct Israeli-Palestinian talks, which largely have been frozen since 2008. “The new government speaks about two states; meanwhile on the ground they are doing exactly the opposite,” said Peace Now.
Jabari family once again facing harassment from settlers and soldiers
Hebron (ISM) 22 July by Khalil Team — On Saturday the 20th, whilst taking his sheep out to graze on his land, 56 year old Abd Al-Karim Ibrahim Al-Jabari was stopped and harassed by settlers and soldiers before being taken for questioning to the police station in Givat Ha’avot, an illegal settlement in occupied Hebron. Abd Al-Karim’s land is located between the two illegal settlements of Kiryat Arba and Givat Ha’avot. When he took his sheep out to graze on his land yesterday morning, he was stopped by settler security guards from the nearby settlement of Givat Ha’avot who subsequently called the Israeli occupation forces. He spent several minutes discussing with the soldiers, who refused to believe that he is the owner of the land and insisted it was Jewish land, as the settlers had told them. A soldier said to Abd Al-Karim: “This land and this house is mine and I will get you out of it” The soldiers then decided to take him to Givat Ha’avot police station for further questioning. Abd Al-Karim, who speaks Hebrew, heard the soldiers say to each other that they wanted to handcuff him and then push him out of the jeep whilst driving. However, he managed to calmly insist and persuade them that there was no need for him to be handcuffed or blindfolded. When they arrived at Givat Ha’avot police station, a police officer who knows Abd Al-Karim and his situation scolded the soldiers for bringing him there, confirmed that he owns the land, and told the soldiers to take him home again, which they did.
Settlers torch 400 olive trees near Bethlehem
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 23 July — Settlers set fire to over 400 olive trees in a village southwest of Bethlehem on Sunday, locals said.
More than 12 acres of trees were set alight by settlers from nearby Bat Ayin settlement, witnesses said. The land belongs to Haj Abdul-Rahman Hamdan. Since 1967, Israeli forces have confiscated over 2,500 acres of land from al-Jab‘a village, leaving only 750 acres to Palestinian residents.
Israel to close mosque in Hebron on most important Muslim night
HEBRON (WAFA) 23 July – The Israeli military authorities Tuesday informed the Muslim Waqf in Hebron of its decision to shut down the Ibrahimi Mosque (Cave of the Patriarchs) in the southern West Bank city of Hebron for Muslim worshippers on Monday, August 5, which coincides with the most important night in the Muslim calendar, Lailat al-Qadr. Director of the Hebron Waqf, the Muslim endowment, Tayseer Abu Sneineh said the mosque will be closed to Muslims and open to Jews only claiming it is the first day in the Jewish month of Ayloul. Lailat al-Qadr is the night the Quran was revealed to the Prophet Mohammad more than 1400 years ago and it comes on the night before the 27th day of the holy fast month of Ramadan, which will be on Sunday, August 4. It is considered the most important night in the Muslim calendar when Muslims spend the entire night until the next morning worshiping in mosques everywhere.
Israel bans teacher from Al-Aqsa Mosque
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 22 July — Israeli police on Monday banned a Palestinian woman from the Al-Aqsa Mosque, where she teaches, for three months. Um Radwan told Ma‘an that Israeli police telephoned her on Sunday, summoning her to the Russian Compound interrogation center … Um Radwan was interrogated for two hours on and released with a summons to appear for further interrogation. On Monday, Um Radwan was interrogated again at the Russian Compound for another two hours, and released with an order banning her from the Al-Aqsa Mosque for three months. Um Radwan teaches the history of Jerusalem at the Al-Aqsa Mosque, and leads guided tours for students around the holy site. The tours are part of a program sponsored by the Al-Aqsa Foundation. Um Radwan said Israel had banned nine other women involved in the program from the mosque. Earlier in July, 25-year-old Hussam Sidir, an employee of the foundation, was banned from the mosque for three months. Um Radwan said Israel was trying to keep activists away from the mosque so Israeli settlers could enter more easily.
Israel charges Haniyeh’s sisters for entering Gaza
BEERSHEBA, Israel (Ma‘an) 23 July — Israel on Tuesday indicted two sisters of Gaza Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh for entering the Gaza Strip. Sabah Haniyeh, 47, and Laila Abu Raqeeq, 64, are being charged for entering Gaza in December 2012, according to the lawyer for the prosecution. The sisters, who hold Israeli IDs and live in Tel as-Sabi in southern Israel, had applied for Israeli permission to enter Gaza in 2006 and 2009 but were refused. In December 2012, they entered Egypt through the Taba crossing and traveled on to the Gaza Strip through the Rafah crossing. They stayed in Gaza until Feb. 17, according to the prosecution. Both women were born in the Gaza Strip, but received Israeli ID cards through marriage.
Violence / Raids / Attacks / Illegal arrests
Videos: Israeli forces raid Nablus during Ramadan
ISM — Tonight 23rd July 2013, the Israeli army invaded Nablus and shot large amounts of tear gas canisters and sound bombs at Palestinian youth trying to push back the invading forces. At around 2:45am, Israeli army invaded Faisal Street, the main artery that crosses the city from East to West. Some Palestinian youth were already in the city centre, enjoying the nights of Ramadan, and others joined them after the army invaded. Together, they responded to the invasion by throwing stones at the soldiers who rapidly shot tear gas canisters and sound bombs at them. Stationed in groups of three or four along the street, Israeli soldiers continued shooting at people during an hour and a half. A group of international activists living in Nablus went to the area where the shooting was happening and when they made clear that they were internationals and there were unarmed civilians in the area, Israeli soldiers pointed at them, threw a couple of sound bombs and shot several tear gas canisters directly at them. During the time of the invasion, Israeli forces shot numerous tear gas canisters low and directly at people. Two Palestinians and an international activist were hit by the canisters. The soldiers reportedly arrested one man from a car in the city centre.
Every week the Israeli army comes and often raids different parts of the city of Nablus, ransacking houses, arresting people, firing sound bombs and gas canisters. According to the Oslo agreements, Nablus is in Area A, which means that both security and civil administration should be the role of the Palestinian Authority. Once again last night, the Israeli army ignored these agreements.
Three teenagers arrested in ‘Azzun in one week
‘Azzun, Occupied Palestine (ISM) 23 July by Nablus Team — Israeli forces continue their strike on the village of ‘Azzun. Last week alone, three teenagers were arrested and one was handed a paper to go to the Israeli DCO (District Coordination Office) … At around 1am on the morning of Thursday 18th July soldiers invaded ‘Azzun, entering houses, claiming to have reason to search. They were looking specifically for Yahya Ali Adwan, as they raided the house of his uncle and demanded to be taken to him. On arriving at Yahya’s home the Israeli army, dressed in balaclavas, refused to wait for his father to open the door and forced entry. The family were woken and told to produce their IDs. When they saw Yahya’s they handcuffed and blindfolded him and took him to a waiting military vehicle. When his father asked why they were taking his son the soldiers simply replied ‘He is under arrest’. No contact was made to the family until two days after, with a call informing them that Yahya had been taken to al Jalame prison (Jenin) and was under investigation. Abdal Hameed, also seventeen, was arrested on the same night under similar circumstances. Both boys, even at this young age, have already spent over two years in Israeli prisons. Yahya was released just three months ago. During the time of their arrests, numerous other military jeeps and soldiers were in the area, shooting tear gas canisters, rubber-coated steel bullets and sound bombs to suppress resistance from local residents…
On the Friday 19th July, after these 2 arrests, at around 10pm, two more young men from ‘Azzun were detained by the Israeli forces when they were walking on the main street near their home. Thamer Thabet Aabed, seventeen, was taken into a military jeep and arrested for the first time in his life. The other teenager, also seventeen, was let go but told to meet with the Israeli DCO on Sunday 21st July. Contact was made with the Red Cross on Saturday 20th to try and find out where Thamer was taken, but his location is still unknown.
Israeli police arrest Palestinian in Jerusalem
BETHLEHEM (WAFA) 22 July – Israeli police Monday arrested a Palestinian from the Bethlehem area while being in Jerusalem, security sources said Monday. They said a 45-year-old resident of Wadi Fukin, a village west of Bethlehem, was on his way home when he was arrested. Reasons for the arrest remain unknown.
Meanwhile in Hebron, Israeli soldiers handed two residents of Zuweidin al-Ka’abneh village, south of Hebron, notices to demolish a barn and a grocery shop, according to Ratib al-Jabour, coordinator of the Popular Committee against the Wall and Settlements in Yatta
IOF soldiers raid Tulkarem villages, arrest two including journalist
TULKAREM (PIC) 22 July — Israeli occupation forces (IOF) raided the villages of ‘Ateel and ‘Allar [‘Illar?] in Tulkarem at dawn Monday and rounded up two young men after violent clashes. Local sources said that young men threw stones at the invading troops, who responded by firing heavily. They said that the soldiers arrested Yousef Shalabi, a graduate of the Arab American University in Jenin – journalism faculty. Meanwhile, IOF units raided ‘Allar, a nearby village, and nabbed Mohammed Shadid, 22, after searching his family home.
Rafah crossing to close Tuesday as Egypt marks 1952 revolution
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 22 July — Egyptian authorities will close the Rafah crossing [again!] on Tuesday as the country marks the anniversary of the July 23 revolution in 1952. The Hamas-run interior ministry in Gaza said that it will partially re-open on Wednesday. The 1952 revolution brought an end to the Egyptian monarchy in a bloodless coup led by Gamal Abdel Nasser.
Israeli military infiltrate Gaza borders
GAZA (WAFA) 22 July — Israeli forces Wednesday [Monday: PIC] infiltrated Gaza borders and went nearly 300 meters into the eastern part of al-Bureij refugee camp, in the middle of the Gaza Strip, according to witnesses. They told WAFA that four Israeli tanks and three army bulldozers razed agricultural land while shooting in all directions towards farmers trying to reach their land near the borders. No injuries were reported.
Gaza economy loses $230 million due to tunnel closures
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 23 July — The economy of the Gaza Strip lost an estimated $230 million in June due to the closure of smuggling tunnels by Egyptian authorities, Gaza’s minister of economy said Tuesday. Over 20,000 people have lost their jobs in the construction industry as a result of shortages in raw materials which usually arrive through the network of smuggling tunnels under the Gaza-Egypt border, minister of economy Alaa Rafati told Ma‘an … Nearly 90 percent of projects funded by Qatar and Turkey have been suspended due to a lack of supplies to Gaza since June 15. Supplies allowed through by Israel via the Kerem Shalom crossing only cover around 30 percent of the population’s needs, Rafati said. “We don’t oppose closing the tunnels, but an alternative must be found first, which is opening the Rafah crossing for the entry of goods.” Egypt has destroyed dozens of tunnels since last August following the killing of 16 Egyptian soldiers in a militant attack near the Gaza fence.
Women and children in Palestine
Australian Broadcasting Company radio Interview with Dr. Mona El-Farra, director of Gaza projects for the Middle East Children’s Alliance 23 July — A Palestinian doctor and human rights advocate updates us on the situation for women and children in the Gaza strip – the most populated strip of land in the world, where at least 80 per cent of the population depends on external assistance. Dr El-Farra is using play as a means of helping women and children alleviate stress, and address health problems.
The forgotten siege
IMEMC 23 July by Ida Vanhainen — Natural gas assets in the Mediterranean Sea have long played a crucial role in politics; it is therefore easy to see why they continue to receive media attention. Yet, surprisingly, few mention Gaza in this context … Contrasting with the poverty of Gaza’s population is the Palestinian territory’s rich endowment of gas reserves. Thirty-six miles from land stands the oil rig Gaza Marine 1, beneath which lies Gaza’s own treasury: vast gas fields that the company British Gas estimated to be worth around 7 billion US dollars. Yet the gas never leaves the seafloor and the profit remains an illusion. Why? … In 1999, the Gaza-agreement was signed, giving BG the biggest part in the exploration licence. The deal would also profit the Palestinian people through taxes and royalties. BG estimated that 800 million dollars invested would generate over four billion, a return of more than four hundred percent. The project went smoothly in the beginning; between the years 2000 and 2002 BG spent an estimated 100 million dollars on drilling and studies. There was only one obstacle: Israel. Israeli politicians realised the risk the gas constituted to the future of their occupation of Palestine, because as long as Gaza is kept poor and economically dependent on international support it will remain politically impoverished….
As Gaza heads for water crisis, desalination seen key
Reuters 22 July — A tiny wedge of land jammed between Israel, Egypt and the Mediterranean sea, the Gaza Strip is heading inexorably into a water crisis that the United Nations says could make the Palestinian enclave unlivable in just a few years. With 90-95% of the territory’s only aquifer contaminated by sewage, chemicals and seawater, neighborhood desalination facilities and their public taps are a lifesaver for some of Gaza’s 1.6 million residents. But these small-scale projects provide water for only about 20% of the population, forcing many more residents in the impoverished Gaza Strip to buy bottled water at a premium … “Families are paying as much as a third of their household income on water,” said June Kunugi, a special representative of the UN children’s fund UNICEF … As Gaza borders the sea, the obvious answer is desalination. Gaza already hosts 18 small plants, one treating seawater and the others water from brackish wells – most of them supplied by UNICEF and the OXFAM charity. The Palestinian Water Authority has started work on two new seawater desalination plants and is planning to construct a third, larger facility, which is designed to produce 55 million cubic meters of water a year. But with funding for the $450 million project still uncertain, construction is not due to start until 2017. By that time, cash-strapped Gaza may not have enough electricity available to power the energy-intensive plants.
Police: Gaza rocket hits Israel
JERUSALEM (AFP) 22 July — Militants in the Gaza Strip fired a rocket at southern Israel that exploded without causing damage or injuries, an Israeli police spokesman told AFP on Monday. “It exploded near a kibbutz in the Eshkol region,” shortly before midnight on Sunday, said Micky Rosenfeld, adding police were still searching for the remains of what he said was a Qassam rocket.
Egyptian aircraft over Gaza for third time in month: source
DPA 22 July — Egyptian military helicopters entered Gaza’s airspace for the third time in less than a month, a Palestinian source said on Monday. A source close to Hamas told DPA news agency that several helicopters were seen early this morning at the border between Egyptian Rafah and Palestinian Rafah, a Sinai town that straddles the border between the two territories. Two helicopters hovered over Palestinian neighborhoods at the border for around half an hour before flying in the direction of the Mediterranean Sea, the source added.
Enter a prisoner, leave a leader
Palestine Monitor 22 July by Emily Mulder — Israeli jails are being redefined by their prisoners from a living hell to a space of resistance through organized education. While the organization of Palestinians within jails is not limited to detained students, the high rate of arrests in An-Najah University of Nablus forges a link between academics, politics, and imprisonment for these university students. The arrest of Mahmoud Talahmah was the most recent among students from An-Najah University. Mahmoud was arrested during an Israeli night raid on July 10, 2013. Israeli soldiers stormed student dorms, searching rooms while firing tear gas, sound bombs, and rubber bullets at students … Raed Amer, Chairman of the Palestinian Prisoners Society in Nablus, explained that students are often arrested at the height of their academic careers, immediately before taking final examinations that would allow them to graduate and attain degrees. The only threat they pose is holding the tools for a promising future. Students of the university explained to Palestine Monitor that being Palestinian is the only basis on which they see arrests being made.
Nativity deportees urge PA to be included in peace talks
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 22 July — Palestinian fighters deported to Europe in 2002 following an Israeli invasion of Bethlehem have urged President Abbas to include their case in peace talks. Spokesman for Palestinian deportees Fahmi Kanaan told Ma‘an that the Palestinian Authority should include the case of deportees as a precondition for returning to negotiations. “We have been demanding to return to Bethlehem for 12 years. We were deported upon an agreement between the Palestinian Authority and Israel, sponsored by the United States,” Kanaan said. Kanaan’s daughter, Isra, said that she has the right to live in the city where she was raised and to be with her extended family.
Abu Sisi the only remaining Palestinians prisoner in solitary confinement
RAMALLAH (PIC) 23 July — Ahrar center for prisoners’ studies and human rights has called on human rights groups and international organizations to intervene and demand the release of Dirar Abu Sisi from isolation in Israeli jails. Fuad Al-Khuffash, director of the center, said on Tuesday that after the Israeli occupation authorities ended the isolation of prisoner Awad Al-Saidi only Abu Sisi was left in isolation. He said that the Shabak asks court in a summary trial to extend the isolation of Abu Sisi once every six months. The Israeli Mossad, foreign intelligence, kidnapped Abu Sisi from the Ukraine in February 2011
Israel releases Hamas lawmaker
QALQILIYA (Ma‘an) 23 July — Israeli authorities on Tuesday released Hamas-affiliated lawmaker Imad Nofel after detaining him for eight months. Nofel, from Qalqiliya, has spent long periods in Israeli detention for his affiliation to Hamas. Hamas’ parliamentary bloc, the Change and Reform party, said Nofel … has spent around eight years in Israeli jails.
IOA refuses to release Hamas leader after end of his sentence
RAMALLAH (PIC) 23 July — The Israeli occupation authorities (IOA) refused to release Hamas leader Ra’fat Nassif after completing his imprisonment sentence and instead ordered him held in administrative custody, without charge or trial. Osama Makbul, a lawyer with the Tadamun foundation for human rights, said that the IOA held Nassif, 47, in administration detention as of Tuesday for six months only two days before his supposed release.
Refugees outside Palestine
Boats carrying Palestinian refugees fleeing Syria capsize
CAIRO (PIC) 22 July — The action group for Palestinians in Syria said that 60 Palestinian refugees were on board two boats that capsized off the Egyptian coast. It said in a press release on Monday that the Palestinian refugees were fleeing war-torn Syria and were planning to travel to Italy from Egypt. It said that both boats overturned when their owners fled after Egyptian coastguards arrived near them as they were carrying those refugees illegally. The group said that one of the boats capsized near the Egyptian coast and its passengers were rescued and taken to an Egyptian hospital in Alexandria. It added that the other boat, which carried six families including 12 children, sank outside Egyptian regional waters and its passengers were stranded at an island in the international waters and were asking for help.
Group: 2 Palestinians killed in Syria refugee camp
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 23 July — Two Palestinian refugees were killed in Yarmouk camp on Monday in clashes between Free Syrian Rebels and Syrian regime forces, a Palestinian group in Syria said. Muhammad al-Asi and Muhammad Zuheir Dusouq were both shot dead in the Damascus refugee camp, the Taskforce for Palestinians in Syria said. On Tuesday, several shells landed in the camp causing material damage. Syrian regime forces continue to prevent Yarmouk camp residents from leaving the camp for the third consecutive day. Power and other services in Yarmouk have been seriously interrupted over the past 8 months and most hospitals have closed due to a lack of medicine and equipment. On Saturday, a Palestinian was shot dead in in Dara‘a refugee camp during clashes.
Political, other news
Abbas vows to put any peace deal to a referendum
AMMAN (AFP) 22 July — President Mahmoud Abbas said any future peace deal with Israel will be put to a referendum, in remarks published Monday, four days after Washington announced the resumption of negotiations. “Any agreement with the Israelis will be brought to a referendum,” Abbas told Jordanian government-owned Al-Rai newspaper. “The United States is serious about reaching a political solution to the Palestinian cause by establishing a Palestinian state on 1967 lines with east Jerusalem as its capital.”
Israel to free ‘around 80′ Palestinian prisoners
JERUSALEM (AFP) 22 July — Israel is set to decide on the release of around 80 long-serving Palestinian prisoners ahead of renewed peace talks, an Israeli official said on Monday. US Secretary of State John Kerry announced on Friday that Israeli and Palestinian negotiators had agreed to meet to prepare a resumption of direct peace talks, stalled since 2010. “The prisoner releases will start when talks commence,” the Israeli official told AFP on condition of anonymity. “We’re talking about releasing them in stages.” There were “some 80 prisoners” set to be released, all of them “pre-Oslo,” the official added, referring to Palestinians imprisoned before the 1993 Oslo peace accords.
Palestinians: Peace talks won’t resume without Israeli consent to basis of 1967 borders
Haaretz 23 July by Amira Hass & Jack Khoury — Palestinians still waiting for invitation to Washington talks; PLO sources attribute delay to Israeli demands that Kerry add new clause to outline for talks, recognizing Israel as a Jewish state.
Palestinian groups furious as Israeli jeans company Fox sets up shop in Ramallah
Independent 23 July by Alistair Dawber — Activist says company ‘supports occupation’ and the Palestinian Authority is violating its own laws by allowing store opening to go ahead
Ashton pushes EU to label Israel settler goods
JERUSALEM (AFP) 23 July — EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton is pushing for comprehensive guidelines to introduce separate labeling for products from Israeli settlements in the West Bank, a newspaper reported on Tuesday. Ashton sent a letter to European commissioners urging them to draft the guidelines by the end of 2013, the Haaretz newspaper said.
In a separate move putting pressure on Israel, the EU last week published guidelines that forbid the 28 members of the bloc from funding or dealing with Jewish settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem which Israel occupied in the Six-Day 1967 war.
German supermarket giant denies settlement boycott policy
JTA 23 July — The Dutch branch of German supermarket chain Aldi has backtracked from its stated policy of boycotting products made by Israelis in the West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Golan Heights.
Moshing for peace: Israeli, Palestinian metal bands to share stage on European tour
Haaretz 23 July by Dafna Arad — The Israeli metal rock band Orphaned Land is going on a European tour this September, and its warm-up act will be the Palestinian metal band Khalas from Acre, as well as Bilocate from Jordan and the French bands Klone and The Mars Chronicle. The last song on Orphaned Land’s new album that was released last month called “All is One,” is dedicated to the people of Syria. According to its lead singer, Kobi Farchi, “Children” is probably the saddest song they wrote. It is dedicated to the children under fire in countries where the adults are acting irresponsibly. “It is happening right now in Syria, but also in Sderot and Gaza,” he said.
‘Once again, Europe displayed its bias against Arabs’
Times of Israel 23 July by Elhanan Miller — A European decision to include the military wing of Hezbollah in its list of terror organizations leads the news in all major Arabic-language media on Tuesday. “Hezbollah’s military wing is a terror organization according to European decision,” reads the headline of Saudi-owned daily A-Sharq Al-Awsat, saying that the declaration runs counter to earlier expectations that the EU would not come through with the move. Hezbollah, in response, has tacitly threatened the international forces stationed in southern Lebanon, warning that the European decision “may lead to lack of trust between the international forces and residents of the south.” Europe will find it difficult to differentiate between the movement’s public political wing and its secret military wing, claims A-Sharq Al-Awsat in a separate article. London-based daily Al-Hayat leads with Israel’s congratulation to Europe and with a statement by a French diplomat telling the newspaper that the decision was a penalty for the party’s participation in fighting in Syria. The French diplomat added that the EU decision does not impose immediate sanctions on Hezbollah by member states, claiming that each state is now free to act independently in including specific names in its terror list. The lead editorial in London-based daily Al-Quds Al-Arabi claims that Europe has “succumbed” to months of Israeli and American pressure, echoing an accusation voiced by Hezbollah itself in a statement published Monday night. “It seems like what settled this decision is an EU decision from last week to stop cooperating with Jewish settlements… following the quake that struck Tel Aviv as a result of the decision, it looks like the EU wanted to appease Israel and America…”
US court invalidates passport law on status of Jerusalem
Reuters 23 July — A federal appeals court on Tuesday invalidated a US law that was designed to allow American citizens born in Jerusalem to choose to have Israel listed as their birthplace on passports contrary to long-standing US foreign policy … The State Department, which issues passports and reports to the president, has declined to enforce the law passed by Congress in 2002, saying it violated the separation of executive and legislative powers laid out in the US Constitution.
Egyptian media and incitement against Palestinians
Is Egypt’s media inciting hatred against Palestinians? / Asmaa al-Ghoul
Al-Monitor 17 July — “Deposed President Mohammed Morsi is originally Palestinian,” said one of the guests of a show aired on the Egyptian Al Kahera Wal Nas channel. In the video, which was disseminated on social media websites, the show’s host asked the guest to repeat the so called “”important statement.” Activists commenting on the video noted that such statements are part of the wave of instigation that aims to punish the Syrians and Palestinians living in Egypt, especially those who support the Muslim Brotherhood. Incitement to murder In another video, one of the guests of a show aired on Egyptian ONTV called for executing every Palestinian and Syrian intervening in Egyptian affairs. The well-known host, Youssef Hussein, said that the government is the one embracing the Palestinian and Syrian refugees. Those refugees are not allowed to intervene in Egyptian affairs or support Morsi, or else they will be responsible for what happens. “If you intervene in Egyptian affairs, you’ll be beaten in public, even if this is outside the law.” The examples of how media speech is slipping towards incitement are proliferating day after day, which led nine Egyptian human rights organizations to issue a statement on July 7, 2013, condemning “the false information some Egyptian journalists are resorting to, to instigate hatred against the Palestinian people, namely Amro Adib, Lamis Hadidi and Ahmad Moussa on CBC and Tahrir channel, who disseminated on their shows false information that instigates hatred against Palestinians.” Accusations in the media have had an adverse effect on Palestinians living in Egypt, Haniyeh added.
Why are Egyptian media demonizing Palestinians? / Hanine Hassan
Electronic Intifada 23 July — …one of the first acts taken by the military regime that overthrew Morsi on 3 July, was to ban Palestinians from entering Egypt through Cairo airport, leaving thousands stranded all over the world, preventing them from returning home to Gaza through Rafah crossing — the sole point of entry and exit for the vast majority of Gaza’s residents. All over the world, Palestinians were denied boarding on Cairo-bound flights and dozens were deported from Cairo’s airport. These actions against Palestinians have been widely justified with constantly repeated rumors — never backed by evidence — that Palestinians are interfering in Egypt’s affairs, causing turmoil, and are even responsible for attacks on Egyptian security forces by militant groups in the Sinai peninsula. The allegations have been leveled at Palestinians in general, and Hamas in particular. To further feed the paranoia, on 8 July a speaker on Al Kahera Wal Nas TV made the allegation that toppled President Morsi is “of Palestinian origin,” an inflammatory and bigoted allegation in the present atmosphere. After the guest made the supposed revelation, the host, instead of asking for evidence, turned to the camera and said, “we must repeat it, President Morsi is of Palestinian origin.” … While talking heads on satellite TV have been demonizing Palestinians around the clock, social media have been filled with rumors including that Palestinians want to occupy the Sinai peninsula. Many are as familiar as they are absurd: that the nearly 1.7 million Palestinians in Gaza are causing shortages for Egypt’s population of 83 million by siphoning off food, fuel and medicines.
Haniyeh urges Egypt to stop media incitement
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 23 July — Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh on Tuesday urged Egyptian officials to put an end to incitement against Palestinians in the country’s media. “It is in our interest that Egypt remains powerful and united, so it can resume its leading role in the Arab and Islamic world to restore Palestine and free Jerusalem,” Haniyeh said at Ramadan prayers.
Hamas officials have been contacting their Egyptian counterparts to end media speculation that Hamas has been playing a role in social and political unrest in the country. “We haven’t played any role in the Egyptian arena because we insist on our declared policy of non-intervention in the internal affairs of any Arab or Islamic country,” the Hamas PM said, stressing that the group had not sent militants to the Sinai peninsula.
Gaza factions call for non-interference in Egypt affairs
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 21 July — Palestinian political factions in the Gaza Strip on Sunday called on their members not to interfere in the internal affairs of Egypt. “Palestinians, especially in Gaza, must be neutral because Gaza has its own issues and needs. What’s happening in Egypt is an internal matter and we respect the self determination of Egyptians,” Fatah spokesman in Gaza Fayez Abu Aita said. Islamic Jihad leader Khalid al-Batsh said Palestinians are not involved in Egyptian affairs, but Egyptian media organizations are portraying Palestinians as involved in the current strife by linking Hamas to the Muslim Brotherhood.
Egypt ambassador praises Palestinian non-interference
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 23 July — Egypt’s ambassador to Palestine on Tuesday praised the Palestinian position of non-interference in Egyptian affairs. Egypt objects to any attempt to undermine its strong relationship with Palestine, Yasser Othman told Ma‘an. He condemned the “isolated voices that incite people against Egypt and its great army” and serve the plans of Egypt’s enemies.
Marketing ‘no blacks’ apartment houses in Tel Aviv
972mag 22 July by Laissez Passer — Last week Army Radio reported that real estate agencies in south Tel Aviv are advertising “clean apartments.” According to Army Radio’s web site, a real estate agent said, “We don’t let foreign workers rent the apartments. If there are foreigners, then they’re Nepali or Filipino – normal people.” Whoever listened to the radio broadcast could hear the agent say, “not blacks.” For some unknown reason, those two words were omitted from Army Radio’s report on the web.
Ethics Committee suspends Tibi from deputy speaker role
Ynet 23 July by Moran Azoulay — The Ethics Committee ruled on Tuesday that Knesset Member Ahmad Tibi (United Arab List-Ta’al) will not be able to serve in his capacity as deputy Knesset speaker until the end of the Knesset’s summer session (August 4). The committee decided to suspend Tibi from his role as deputy Knesset speaker after he caused damage to electronic equipment when he poured water on a copy of the Prawer Bill during a speech in the plenum in June. Other Arab lawmakers who tore up copies of the bill, which regulates Bedouin land claims in the Negev, were not punished.
Analysis / Opinion
Nonviolent Palestinian protesters fear failure of peace talks / Shlomi Eldar
Al-Monitor 23 July — In the week that Israelis and Palestinians agreed to return to the negotiating table after a three-year hiatus, I met with representatives of the “Popular Committees” in the West Bank village of Bil‘in. They are behind what they call the “popular Palestinian struggle against the separation fence and the Israeli occupation.” During our meeting they stressed repeatedly that they regard their popular struggle as nonviolent and run it accordingly … For ten years, opponents of the fence organized demonstrations and protests. They carried signs and chanted slogans denouncing the occupation and the separation fence. Young people often stoned the Israeli border police and soldiers, and injuries and arrests became a routine part of these demonstrations. Over the years, these Palestinian demonstrators were joined by dozens and even hundreds of Israelis from various left-wing organizations who came to express their solidarity with the Palestinians…
Ashraf Abu Rahma, who attended the meeting, was captured on camera by B’Tselem in 2008, when he was wounded during a demonstration in Ni‘lin. At the time, his hands were bound and he was blindfolded … Sitting beside Abu Rahma was Mohammed Khatib, one of the leaders of the committees in Bil’in. At age 38, he walks with crutches due to an old injury. Other members who attended the meeting also bore scars from rubber bullets. They had all reached the same surprising conclusion: The popular struggle, the silmi, failed to achieve its goals. It simply didn’t work. “How could you say that?” I asked them. “There isn’t anyone in the world who hasn’t heard about the struggle you are waging with such determination. They even made three documentary films about you…” “If, in all these years, we haven’t managed to bring more than 600 people to a demonstration at most, and we have failed to make significant headway in Palestinian public opinion, and Israeli public opinion, too, we can only conclude that we failed,” said Khatib. His brother Ahmad added, “I was part of the armed struggle, and I even spent time in an Israeli prison from 2000, when the Second Intifada began, until 2005. I joined the popular struggle after I was released, out of the realization and understanding that I don’t want to harm Israelis. But look at what happened. Ever since the intifada ended and the armed struggle stopped, the Palestinian issue has dropped off the public’s agenda. I watch Israeli television channels, and I don’t see any mention of the Palestinian issue. It’s as if there’s no problem, as if there’s no occupation, as if there were no Palestinians at all.”
After the peace talks fail / Amira Hass
Haaretz 24 July — A Palestinian generation has come of age that is in no hurry to reach an agreement with the Israelis, because the Israelis aren’t ready for a fair agreement — Don’t worry, in this round of talks with the Palestinians, Israel will again miss the opportunity to change and be changed — just as the Rabin–Peres government and the Barak government missed their opportunities. Discussions over a referendum ignore the essence: Any future worth living for the Jewish community in this part of the Middle East depends on the ability and will of that community to free itself from the ethnocracy (“democracy for Jews only”) that it has built here for nearly seven decades. For this we desperately need the Palestinians. But military and economic superiority is blinding us. We are sure that they need us and that we have pushed them into such a weak position that we can extricate a yes from them regarding what they have been saying no to for 20 years; that is, much less than the 1967 borders … But depending on the Palestinians’ weakness is an optical illusion of the arrogant. True, the PLO’s leadership is fossilized and controlled by one individual who rarely consults and rarely takes his people’s opinions into consideration. But even he can’t accept what the Netanyahu-Bennett-Lapid government plans to offer. True, Palestinian society is more fractured geographically and politically than it was 20 years ago, but it has great stamina, which the Israelis lack.
Predictable ending ahead for Israeli-Palestinian negotiations? / Akiva Eldar
Al-Monitor 22 July — US Secretary of State John Kerry’s July 19 declaration of renewed negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians is reminiscent of an observation by Albert Einstein: People who are not sane believe one can do the same thing over and over and expect different results. Direct negotiations have been held 10 times between Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) to reach a permanent settlement on the occupied territories. Ten times the talks ended, at best, with no results, and in a round of violence, at worst. American presidents came and went, Israeli governments fell, and a Palestinian leader passed away. Champagne glasses clinked, cameras clicked, and talks began. Generations changed, terrorists blew themselves up and settlements thrived. No agreement materialized. To understand the challenge undertaken by the Barack Obama administration, let’s briefly review the history of negotiations on ending the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the occupation.
Three myths about the Bedouin / Rabbi Arik Ascherman
Times of Israel 18 July — …Three widespread myths about the Bedouin are: 1. “The Bedouin are taking over the Negev.” 2. The Bedouin never owned the land. 3. This plan is for the Bedouin’s own good. “Panels Ltd.” recently conducted a poll for Rabbis For Human Rights. Initially, 87% of Jewish Israelis agreed that “The Bedouin are taking over the Negev,” on an average believing that the Bedouin claim 43.9% of the Negev. After learning that the Bedouin claim only 5.4% of the Negev, a majority indicated that this was fair (47%, vs. 34.6%). Many insisted that the Bedouin don’t really own land. We have been told, “Bedouin claims were disproved in court.” Some villages, such as El-Araqib, have Turkish, British and even Israeli documentation of ownership, based on “Western” bills of purchase, titles, etc … Many Bedouin do not have “Western” proofs of ownership. However, their meticulous land ownership system was honored by the Ottomans and the British and recognized by the pre-State Zionist Movement. The British kept a written record of Bedouin land ownership that mysteriously disappeared in the State archives. Scholars have found part of these records. In 1920, the PLDC of the Zionist Federation recorded 2.6 million dunam of land in the Negev as owned by the Bedouin. Today, the Bedouin are claiming a mere 650,000 dunam. These documents are available for all to see. We cannot say that the Bedouin did not own their lands … Many argue that Israel must concentrate the Bedouin to provide water, electricity, jobs and training. In the Negev there are smaller and more far flung Jewish communities receiving services – even single family farms. More communities are planned. We wouldn’t refuse water and electricity to Jewish communities. The State would not tell me, “We are going to move you for your own good.”
Don’t forget Israel’s Negev Arabs / Oudeh Basharat
Haaretz 22 July — Egypt deposes a president who dares to abuse the rights of the minority, but in Israel it’s a way of life. And contrary to what happens in sinister regimes, here discrimination is accepted with great pomp — The millions who flooded Egypt’s public squares did not do so because of corruption, failed management or political appointments − after all, many regimes are guilty of these. Essentially, there was one thing that got the populace out onto the streets: when then President Mohammed Morsi dismissed the general prosecutor last November and published a series of orders during the formulation of the new constitution that gave him supreme power and immunity from judicial review. That started to make the Egyptians lose sleep, and the masses assembled to explain to the majority − which has since shrunk to a minority − that the fact they are the majority doesn’t give them the right to trample on the rights of the minority. In Israel, the majority has not internalized this lofty principle for decades, and it certainly doesn’t uphold it. All the Arabs oppose the expropriation of their lands, but the Jewish majority legally seizes more and more. All Arabs oppose budgetary discrimination, but the Jewish majority finds all kinds of perfectly legal ways to continue to grossly discriminate.
‘Settlements ignite a chain reaction of human rights violations’ / Matt Surrusco
972mag 21 July — +972 speaks with Jessica Montell, of B’Tselem – The Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories, about the settlements and occupation staring the Israeli public in the face, and communicating the human rights message effectively, at home and abroad … Montell, 45, has been the executive director of B’Tselem – The Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories for more than a decade … What human rights violations in the OPT are least reported on, by NGOs and the media? Why do you think those issues get less attention? Issues that are not readily captured by video or photo are often underemphasized. The whole issue of military courts: hundreds of thousands of Palestinians have been detained, interrogated, tried in military courts, with extremely high rates of conviction. That’s something that is not accessible to most Israelis and very little attention is paid to it. What human rights issues concern you most right now and why? The main issue is settlements because they give rise to almost every other human rights problem in the West Bank today.
Otherwise Occupied — EU’s guidelines for boycotting the settlements – a fable / Amira Hass
Haaretz 22 July — Any resemblance between the fictional account herein and the reality of the Middle East is absolutely not coincidental — A: This isn’t a mistake? Are you sure you want me to sign this? B: Yes. There is no choice. This is the fourth time we are donating the same item to the same place. A: I’m still convinced this comes under Pierre’s authority at the Humano-Sanitary Department. You don’t need a minister for this. B: I’m afraid you’re wrong, Mr. Minister. After three times it goes to the political echelons. A: I don’t understand what’s going on here. Find out what the defect is, buy it from another manufacturer and ask the first one for a refund. B: There’s no problem with the product. The problem is that every two weeks they come and confiscate it. A: Did I hear right? They confiscate mobile latrines? B: They say they are illegal structures. A: Who says? The Salafists? Al-Qaida? Is it against their religion or something? B: Mr. Minister, the Jews − sorry, the Israelis are saying this. A: Are latrines against the Jewish religion? B: I see you’re in a joking mood today. They come with a bulldozer and a truck, two or three soldiers, two laborers, one or two inspectors from what they call the Civil Administration and up it goes, into the truck. A: Are we talking about the same thing − a clause of the humano-sanitary aid code? B: In 2012 they destroyed 15 latrines. This year they’ve already managed to destroy or confiscate eight. A: Are you sure that these are Jews?
Arab-Jewish industrial parks: the last chance for economic equality? / Khalil Mari & Ronen Sabagh
972blog 23 July — Shared industrial parks have the potential to create local and regional growth engines that would allow Arab towns and Israel’s Arab citizens to achieve economic stability and provide a better future for the younger generation. Israel’s leadership must realize that this is not something to be taken for granted — The annual State Comptroller’s report has once again exposed the severe lack of equality between Arab and Jewish towns in income generated in industrial zones. Although a fifth of the country’s population is Arab, 97.6 percent of all industrial zones in Israel are built in Jewish towns, while only 2.4 percent belong to Arab municipalities. This utter lack of equality dramatically influences Arab towns’ income from municipal taxes (‘arnona’); 52 percent of all income generated from arnona taxes comes from the industrial and commercial sectors, yet only 1 percent of the overall arnona is generated from industrial zones in Arab towns.