(Haaretz) Dutch infrastructure giant Royal HaskoningDHV announced Friday that it has decided to withdraw from a project it planned with the Jerusalem municipality because it will be built over the Green Line.Two weeks ago, Haaretz reported that the Dutch government has asked the company, Holland’s largest engineering company to rethink its participation the sewage treatment plant because the project was based on the Palestinian side of the 1967 border, and that this would violate international law.
RAMALLAH, September 7, 2013 (WAFA) – PLO Executive Committee member Hanan Ashrawi applauded Friday a decision by the Dutch engineering firm, Royal HaskoningDHV, to terminate its involvement in an illegal Israeli project in occupied East Jerusalem.
“Royal HaskoningDHV has emphasized that it conducts its work with the highest regard for integrity and in full compliance with international law and regulations,” said Ashrawi. “The planned Israeli water treatment plant in East Jerusalem breaches international law, and it is primarily designed to service illegal settlements that cause severe human rights violations,” she said in a statement. Ashrawi said the project “deepens Israel’s annexation of East Jerusalem, consolidates its occupation of the West Bank, and constitutes another obstacle to the establishment of an independent and sovereign Palestinian state on 1967 borders with East Jerusalem as its capital.
Groups urge Norway to reinstate investment ban on Israeli company
NEW YORK, September 5, 2013 (WAFA) – Three Palestinian and one US-based civil society organization have urged Norway’s Ministry of Finance to reinstate a prohibition on investment by Norway’s Government Pension Fund Global in two Israeli companies – Africa Israel and its subsidiary Danya Cebus – due to their ongoing construction of homes in Israeli settlements, a press statement by the groups said Thursday. The call was made in a letter signed by representatives from the Palestinian Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions National Committee (BNC), Adalah-NY: The New York Campaign for the Boycott of Israel, The Civic Coalition for Palestinian Rights in Jerusalem, and The Palestinian Anti-Apartheid Wall Campaign, and emailed to Norway’s Council on Ethics on Wednesday. The organizations believe that Norway’s August 2013 decision to lift the ban was based on misleading information provided by Africa Israel, denying current settlement construction.
Land, property theft & destruction / Ethnic cleansing
What happens when an IDF colonel overrules Israel’s High Court
972blog 5 Sept by Yesh Din, written by Yossi Gurvitz — We’re pleased to introduce Col. Pinto, Commander of the IDF’s Binyamin Brigade, who holds a practical veto over decisions of the High Court of Justice — Last month we reported that after a three-year sisyphic legal struggle, the IDF finally implemented a High Court of Justice order that Ali Shabana be allowed to access his land [in Sinjil]; and that the son of the owner, accompanied by a Yesh Din team, ploughed the land. All’s well that ends well? A proof that a dim legal dawn finally breaks through the mist? Not quite. The settlers, as we reported, were not happy that we saved the poor man’s sheep, and a person called Nachman, who represented himself as the security officer of the outpost Givat Ha’Ro’eh, summoned the IDF forces. Two hours later, Colonel Yossi Pinto, Commander of the Binyamin Brigade, signed a Closed Military Zone order, which forbade the owners of the land from reaching it and effectively ordered the end of plowing by the owners … So, basically Col. Pinto decided that a High Court of Justice ruling is something that can be toyed with; that the colonel’s opinion, after consulting with the outpost’s security officer, is easily more important than that of three High Court justices, since, well, they are civilians and he is in uniform.
Photos: Jerusalemite Shaker Ja‘abees self-demolishes his house in Jabal al-Mukabber
Silwan, Jerusalem (SILWANIC) 5 Sept — Jerusalemite citizen Shaker Ja‘abees self-demolished his house in Jabal Al-Mukabber because of building without a permit. Ja‘abees told Wadi Hilweh Information Center that 7 individuals live in the house, Shaker, his wife and his five children where the oldest is 10 years and the youngest is 10 months old. He pointed out that they will be forced to live at his father’s house now. Ja‘abees explained that he bought the house 5 years ago, and after a short period of time, the municipality imposed a building violation fee of 50 thousand NIS under the pretext of building without a permit and that he had just finished paying the fine recently. The municipality then imposed another fine on him during a court session which was 100 thousand NIS this time and he told the judge that he cannot pay any new fines. He added that he was surprised two weeks ago when he received the demolition order, and that he has until the 8th of September, 2013 to execute it, otherwise the municipality’s bulldozers will demolish the house and he has to pay 70 thousand NIS. The house is 100 square meters and consists of three rooms and their facilities.
Photos: Life before expulsion in the South Hebron Hills
972mag (Activestills) 4 Sept — Monday, the Israeli High Court of Justice heard the case of eight Palestinian villages that the Israeli government plans to displace in favor of a live-fire military training area known as “Firing Zone 918″. Some 1,000 people live in these villages in the South Hebron Hills, which include Jinba, Khirbet al Majaz, Khirbet at Taban, Khirbet a Safai, Khirbet al Fakheit, Khirbet al Halawah, Khirbet al Markez, and Khilet a Dabe’. The families living in these communities have eked out their existence on their barren and rocky hills for generations. For the past 14 years, this has meant living under the threats of eviction orders and home demolitions, while Israeli Jewish settlements in the same area have faced no such orders. These photos show the faces and the lives of those struggling to remain on their land. Rather than render a final decision in the matter, the court recommended mediation between the residents and the government.
The historical truth about Bedouin expulsion from the Negev
972blog 5 Sept Guest-post by Dan Gazit, from Idan Landau’s blog (translated by Ofer Neiman) — As nearly 40,000 Bedouins face displacement from their homes as a result of the Begin-Prawer plan, when propagandists on behalf of the state are circulating lies about the ‘Bedouin invasion of national land,’ it is important to hear the historical facts from an expert who has been living in the region for many years – Dan Gazit, 76 years old, is an archaeologist from Kibbutz Gvulot, who has done a lot to discover and preserve the ancient history of the Bsor region. He regularly writes about his archaeological findings and the general history of the Negev in his column in Kacha Ze[“That’s the way it is”], a magazine serving the residents of the Negev’s Eshkol Regional Council. In the 104th edition of the magazine (August 2012), Gazit turned his gaze toward the recent history of his surroundings – the events of the War of Independence and the fate of the Negev Bedouin in the years 1948-1952. His fascinating article follows.
Bedouin in Jerusalem say village neglected by PA
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 6 Sept — Bedouin in East Jerusalem’s Zayem village say the Palestinian Authority is neglecting their struggle against eviction by Israel. Villager Mohamad Odeh Mousa Al-Saedi Jahalin said Israel had been trying to take control of Zayem since 1953. Fifteen families live in the village and they are continuously harassed by Israeli forces and issued demolition orders to force them from their land, he said. In 2011, Israeli forces demolished the tent-homes in the village but residents rebuilt them. Jahalin said Israeli authorities had offered him money to leave the area several times but he refused. Meanwhile, the PA announced that it would provide financial aid to the village but the money never arrived, he added.
From Prawer Plan protests to house demolitions: A week in photos August 29 – September 4
Activestills 6 Sept — This week: Demonstrations against the occupation, Prawer-Begin Plan protests, house demolitions, gas mask distribution and settlements behind walls.
Restriction of movement / Deportation / Exile
Due to the Jewish holidays, Palestinian freedom of movement restricted
JENIN (PIC) 5 Sept — Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) have prevented residents living in Barta‘a, Um Rayhan, and Daher Maleh villages in Jenin isolated behind the Apartheid Wall, from leaving their villages. The Israeli authority has informed the residents of its decision to restrict their movement out of these villages located behind the Apartheid Wall till next Sunday under the pretext of Yom Kippur Jewish holiday. Following the Israeli decision, 13,000 Palestinians including students, workers, and farmers have been isolated in their villages.
In another context, the Israeli forces detained a Palestinian citizen for several hours at a military checkpoint under the pretext that he raised the Palestinian flag on his vehicle.
Nativity deportees: PA responsible for our exile
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 4 Sept — A group of Palestinians deported from Palestine in 2002 have demanded an explanation from President Abbas after he recently said that they would never return. Abbas said during a recent meeting of Fatah’s revolutionary council that although the deal to deport the fighters was “shameful”, it is doubtful that they will ever return. “No one knows about the deal of the Nativity Church and with whom it was done and where the documents are. All we know is that a number of men from the church were deported to Gaza, Spain, Portugal, Ireland and other countries and until now they haven’t been back and will not come back,” he added.
In a statement to Ma‘an, deportees expressed outrage at the comments. “President Mahmoud Abbas knows full details about the deal and in 2005 we met with him in Gaza and at that time he was prime minister and told us that this deal was a big mistake made by the PA. “He told us that he had reached a deal with the Israeli prime minister, who was Ehud Olmert at that time, and said in a few hours we would be back in our homes in Bethlehem.” The deportees called on Abbas to clarify his statements and establish a committee to investigate the deportation deal. [See also article below on prisoner releases]
Lawyer: Israeli police release Raed Salah
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 4 Sept — Israeli police released Raed Salah on Wednesday, his lawyer said. Khalid Zabarqa, a lawyer who runs al-Aqsa Foundation for Development, told Ma‘an that an Israeli court released the Islamic Movement leader on condition that he stay at least 30 km from Jerusalem for six months. The bail for his release was set at 50,000 shekels ($13,761). Salah told the court he would not adhere to the ban order and refused to sign it. Salah was arrested for incitement against the state of Israel in a sermon in Kafr Qarie village last week when he blamed Israel for burning the al-Aqsa mosque, an Israeli police official said.
Violence / Raids / Attacks / Clashes / Illegal arrests
PCHR weekly report: 1 Palestinian child dies, 3 civilians wounded by Israeli troops this week
[PCHR] found that a Palestinian child died of wounds he had already sustained when Israeli forces moved into Jenin refugee camp. In addition, a civilian was wounded east of Jabalia in the northern Gaza Strip and 2 protesters, including a child, were wounded during a protest in Bil‘in village … Israeli forces conducted 42 incursions into Palestinian communities in the West Bank, abducting at least 33 Palestinian civilians, including 5 children … A Palestinian civilian was wounded when Israeli forces opened fire at him east of Jabalia, in the north of the Gaza Strip … On 02 and 03 September 2013, Israeli gunboats stationed off al-Waha resort, northwest of Beit Lahia in the northern Gaza Strip, opened fire at Palestinian fishing boats that approached the border about 2 nautical miles off the shore. Full Report
Children, women injured as Israeli extremists break into the Al-Aqsa Mosque
IMEMC 4 Sept — Palestinian medical sources in occupied Jerusalem have reported that several children and women were among the injured after extremist Israelis broke into the yards of the Al-Aqsa Mosque since early dawn hours Wednesday [August 4 2013]. Fifty Palestinians have been kidnapped in the Mosque area overnight. The sources said that a Palestinian child, identified as Ahmad Sa’id Marar, 11, was shot by a rubber-coated metal bullet, while several women in the mosque were injured after being sprayed with pepper spray. The Palestinian News & Info Agency (WAFA) has reported that at least 49 Israeli extremists broke into the Al-Aqsa mosque, in small groups, and that dozens of Israeli police officers invaded the yards of the mosque through that Al-Magharba Gate, and chased Muslim worshipers who tried to stop extremists from invading the mosque through that area. Head of the Islamic Waqf and Endowment Department in Jerusalem, Sheikh Azzam Khatib Tamimi, held Israel responsible for the clashes in the Al-Aqsa Mosque, and for not protecting the holy sites from fanatic extremist Israeli groups. Khatib added that the Waqf department had requested the Israeli police to close the Al-Magharba Gate, in order to prevent the extremists from invading the mosque, but the Police did not even respond. ““The extremists openly and clearly expressed their intentions to invade the mosque today”, Khatib said, “Now, they are implementing their threats”.
In related news, Israeli soldiers prevented the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem and the Holy Lands, head of the Higher Fatwa Committee, Sheikh Mohammad Hussein, and various religious and social figures, from entering the Al-Aqsa Mosque, and detained them in Bab Hatta area.
Israel forces raid Aqsa compound
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 6 Sept — Israeli forces raided the al-Aqsa mosque compound after Friday prayers and fired stun grenades and pepper spray at Palestinian worshipers, a Ma‘an reporter observed. Plainclothes policemen entered the compound and deployed in al-Aqsa’s square, surrounding the al-Qabali mosque where Palestinian worshipers were gathered. Palestinian men started throwing stones at the forces who blocked their way out of the mosque. One of the worshipers stuck at the mosque said that Israeli forces sprayed pepper spray intensively toward Palestinians, causing light injuries. Al-Aqsa medical official Adnan Khanafseh said 55 injuries were treated … Fifteen Palestinian stone-throwers were arrested, Israeli authorities said. Among them were Ahmad Fakhouri, 18, Loay Natsheh, and Arafat Fakhouri, according to Khanafseh, the medical official.
A day earlier around 40 rightists entered the mosque through the Moroccan gate under heavy guard. They were there to celebrate the Jewish New Year, an official said. Sheikh Azzam al-Khatib, the director of Jerusalem endowments and al-Aqsa affairs, told Ma’an that Israeli police allowed the extremists to enter the mosque in groups. He noted that one of the groups contained 25 “settlers,” including rabbis. Witnesses said that rabbis were wearing white “Temple clothes” which worshipers considered provocative. [See the ‘temple clothes’ on one man here]
Israeli forces, students clash at Al-Quds university
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) — Heavy clashes broke out between Palestinians and Israeli forces in Abu Dis on Wednesday, a Fatah official said. Anwar Bader said that Israeli border police raided the town at around 9 a.m. and entered the campus of Al-Quds university. Israeli forces fired tear gas at students and employees, with dozens of people suffering smoke inhalation.
Settlers, Palestinians clash in Silwan
JEURSALEM (Ma‘an) 5 Sept — Israeli police protected Israeli settlers celebrating Jewish new year in a Palestinian neighborhood of East Jerusalem, a local organization said. Settlers arrived in Wadi Helwa on Thursday afternoon and performed rituals at the spring. They also danced on copies of the Qur’an [PIC: danced to recitations from the Holy Qur’an], infuriating local Palestinians and sparking clashes, said Jawad Siyam, head of the Wadi Helwa Information Center. Police arrived and deployed in alleyways throughout the neighborhood on Thursday evening to secure the settlers’ celebrations, Siyam added. They also confiscated Palestinian flags from children, who were carrying them in response to the settlers’ presence.
Israeli police detain Jerusalem boy [after settler raid]
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 6 Sept — Israeli police on Thursday night raided several houses at al-Sowana neighborhood east of the old city in Jerusalem, after a group of settlers arrived, locals said. Ahmad al-Ewiwi, a resident in the neighborhood, said the residents were shocked when they saw a group of settlers raiding the area. Settlers threw stones toward Palestinians and houses without reason, they said, and Palestinians threw stones. Israeli police raided several Palestinian houses belonging to the al-Amouri, Barakat, Abu al-Hawa, and al-Imam families. They detained the boy, Mousa Abu al-Hawa, from his house.
Soldiers invade Al-Fawwar refugee camp in Hebron
IMEMC 6 Sept — Thursday evening [September 5, 2013] Dozens of Israeli soldiers invaded the Al-Fawwar refugee camp, south of the southern West Bank city of Hebron, and clashed with local youths. Local sources have reported that dozens of Israeli military jeeps surrounded the camp, while a number of units that were stationed at the entrance of the camp fired several gas bombs at the residents. The sources said that clashes took when several armored military jeeps invaded the camp, and that the soldiers fired more gas bombs and rubber-coated metal bullets; dozens of residents received treatment for the effects of teargas inhalation.
Some of the gas bombs fired by the soldiers hit a number of homes causing several injuries among the residents, including children and infants.
Israeli forces detain dozens in Hebron camp
HEBRON (Ma‘an) 7 Sept — Israeli forces detained around 30 Palestinians in a refugee camp [which one?] near Hebron early Saturday after a firebomb was hurled at a military tower. Israeli forces escorted dozens of young men and children from the camp in the raid, local popular committee spokesman Ahmad Abu Khayran said. “We still don’t know the exact number of detainees, because from time to time the Israeli forces release a few of those detained since dawn,” Abu Khayran told Ma‘an. Earlier, a firebomb was thrown at a military tower near the camp in the southern West Bank, setting it on fire. Witnesses said Israeli soldiers ransacked dozens of homes, breaking doors and beating residents before taking dozens of handcuffed men and children out of the camp.
Israeli forces detain 3 teens in Beit Ummar
HEBRON (Ma‘an) 4 Sept — Israeli forces raided the southern West Bank town of Beit Ummar early Wednesday and detained three teenagers, a local official said … Israeli forces assaulted several family members during the arrests, Awad added.
Israeli forces detain ex-prisoner in Qalqiliya
QALQILIYA (Ma‘an) 4 Sept — Israeli forces on Wednesday detained an ex-prisoner in the northern West Bank, a prisoners group said. The Palestinian Prisoners Society said that Israeli forces raided Qalqiliya and detained Nidal Nazzal after ransacking his home. Nazzal was arrested in 2004 and released in 2007.
PA’s apparatuses arrest six Hamas affiliates and summon three others
WEST BANK (PIC) 6 Sept — Palestinian Authority security apparatuses arrested six citizens from the West Bank, and summoned three others for interrogation, on charges of their affiliation with the Hamas Movement. Meanwhile, the Authority courts postponed the release of four political detainees from Ramallah who have been held for 7 months despite the fact that the prosecution did not provide to the court any justification for their detention.
Protests in Nablus; 6 arrests among Hamas’s supporters
WEST BANK (PIC) 5 Sept — Tensions have re-prevailed in Fara‘a refugee camp in Nablus as clashes erupted between the residents and PA forces. The protesters have closed, last night, the main street that links between the Fara‘a refugee camp and Nablus city, and prevented individuals and vehicles from passing through the road. The protests came following the PA refusal to release political detainees from the camp as it was agreed upon before, local sources said. The sources pointed out that the agreement states the release of all detainees who have no relation with the events that took place recently in Fara‘a camp, but the Public Prosecutor refused to do so.
Meanwhile, the PA forces continued the arrest campaign against Hamas’s leaders and supporters in the West Bank where 3 Palestinians were arrested and 3 others were summoned for being affiliated to Hamas.
Detainees / Court actions
Bethlehem prisoner ends 4-month hunger strike
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 4 Sept — Palestinian prisoner Ayman Hamdan on Wednesday ended a four month hunger strike, his lawyer said. Jawad Boulos, from the Palestinian Prisoners Society, told Ma‘an that Israel’s military agreed to release Hamdan after finishing a four month administrative detention term. Hamdan has notified his family about the decision, Boulos added. He has been held without charge in administrative detention for a year and began a hunger strike on April 28 to protest his detention. Hamdan has spent a total of six and a half years in Israeli custody.
Three other hunger-striking prisoners ended strike Wednesday, Boulos said. Ayman Itbeish and Adel Hreibat have been on hunger strike since May 23 protesting administrative detention without charges. Meanwhile, Itbeish’s brother Muhammad started a hunger strike on June 12 as an act of solidarity with his brother. Hreibat, according to Boulos, agreed to end the strike after the judge told him his detention would not be extended more than three months. The current administrative term ends on Sept. 20. Meanwhile Itbeish was promised to receive a final decision on his case.
Israeli court sentences teenager to 14 years
IMEMC 5 Sept — Seriously injured before the army kidnapped him — The Ofer Israeli military court sentenced on Wednesday [September 4 2013] Mohammad Omar Rashed, 17, from Yatta town, near the southern West bank city of Hebron, to 14 years, including five on parole, and ordered him to pay a 6000 NIS fine. Rashed was kidnapped on March 8 2012 when dozens of Israeli soldiers invaded Yatta town, and killed a resident identified as Zakariyya Abu Arram. Rashed was shot by several rounds of live ammunition in the back and the pelvis, causing serious injuries. Parts of his intestines have also been removed. He was violently attacked and beaten by the soldiers after they shot him, as the army claimed that he tried to stab one of the soldiers. Various human rights and legal groups in Palestine denounced the arrest and sentencing of Rashed.
Minister: Dates set for prisoner release
RAMALLAH (Ma’an) — Minister of detainee affairs Issa Qaraqe on Friday announced the dates for the release of veteran Palestinian prisoners from Israeli jails. Israel has agreed to release 104 prisoners, most of who were jailed before the 1993 Oslo peace accords, in four stages. The first batch of 26 prisoners was released on Aug. 14, hours before peace negotiations resumed in Jerusalem. The remaining prisoners will be released on Oct. 29, Dec. 29 and March 28, Qaraqe said at a meeting with prisoners’ families. Qaraqe said the release of the prisoners was not related to progress in negotiations, and that no prisoners would be exiled. The minister met with PLO negotiator Saeb Erekat and Palestinian Prisoners Society director Qadura Fares in Ramallah to discuss a strategy to improve prisoners’ lives after their release, Qaraqe said.
The plan includes demanding that Israel stops arresting Palestinians during negotiations, improves the daily lives of prisoners and allows the return of Palestinian fighters deported in 2002 after Israeli forces laid siege to the Nativity Church in Bethlehem. After 40 days, the negotiations involving international organizations ended the siege with the deportation of 13 fighters to European countries and 26 others to the Gaza Strip. Israel agreed to let the fighters return to their homes after two years, but 11 years on the deportees remain in exile.
IOA extends two minors’ arrest
OCCUPIED JERUSALEM (PIC) 5 Sept — The Israeli Magistrate’s Court has extended the arrest of two minors from the Old City and released two other young men under conditions. The Palestinian Prisoner Society stated that 15 Jerusalemite minors were arrested on Wednesday following the events in al-Aqsa mosque, while 11 of them were released under conditions including bail and house arrest. Two detainees’ arrest was extended to next Thursday pending investigation …
The Israeli forces attacked a group of students heading to school when the teacher tried to protect them. However ten Israeli soldiers severely beat him. The Israeli court imposed house arrest against the teacher for three days and a bail of 10 thousand shekels.
Prisoner Turabi back to interrogation after 11 years of detention
NABLUS (PIC) 5 Sept — Tadhamun Foundation for Human Rights reported that the Israeli intelligence restarted questioning a prisoner from Nablus after 11 years of detention. Tadhamun’s lawyer Mohammed Abed said: “the Israeli intelligence transferred captive Amer Shehadeh Turabi, aged 28 from the village of Sarra in Nablus, from Ramon jail to Petah Tikva interrogation center on charge of receiving financial allocations outside the prison.” Abed visited the prisoner in the interrogation center and pointed out that the Shin Bet is continuing with the interrogation of Turabi about the money and the nature of his activity inside the prison, while Turabi has been rejecting the accusations against him.
Gaza under blockade
Hamas plays down Egypt tensions; Gaza power squeezed
GAZA CITY (AFP) 5 Sept — Gaza’s Hamas prime minister on Thursday played down tensions between the Islamist movement and Egypt that have developed between the two sides followed the ouster of Egyptian president Mohamed Morsi.
At the same time, the Gaza energy authority warned that the enclave’s sole power plant is in danger of shutting down within days because of a fuel shortage indirectly caused by those tensions … Hamas’s energy authority warned Thursday that the Strip’s sole power station faced being shut down because of a lack of fuel, which is smuggled through the tunnels … The authority said it had asked the Egyptian government to make an exception for the transfer of fuel resources across the border.
Hundreds protest in Gaza against Al-Aqsa violations
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 4 Sept — Hundreds of people in the Gaza Strip demonstrated on Wednesday to condemn Israeli violations at the Al-Aqsa mosque compound. The protest, organized by national and Islamic factions, marched from a square in central Gaza City to the main UN offices. Demonstrators carried Palestinian flags and banners reading: “Al-Aqsa is in danger” and “Resistance is the only way to liberate Al-Aqsa.” Clashes broke out between Palestinians and Israeli forces after Jewish rightists entered the Al-Aqsa mosque compound on Wednesday.
Resistance factions in Gaza Strip organize a military parade
GAZA (PIC) 6 Sept — Hundreds of resistance factions’ elements in the Gaza Strip took part in a military parade on Friday morning in the northern Gaza Strip, to display their readiness to confront any aggression and their rejection of the futile negotiations with the occupation. PIC’s correspondent said the parade was launched from the city of Sheikh Zayed in the northern Gaza Strip, with the participation of the Qassam Brigades, the military wing of Hamas, Abu Ali Mustafa Brigades, the military wing of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, the Popular Resistance Committees, Mujahideen Brigades, National Resistance Brigades, Nasser Salahudin Brigades and Al-Ahrar Brigades.
PFLP brigades withdraw from military march in Gaza
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 7 Sept — The armed wing of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine on Friday withdrew from a military march in Gaza after Hamas fighters waved signs in support of Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood. PFLP’s military wing, the Abu Ali Mustafa Brigades, said fighters from Hamas’ armed wing, the Al-Qassam Brigades, raised signs supporting the Muslim Brotherhood despite an agreement that the march would demonstrate the unity of Palestinian resistance.
Egypt’s Tamarrod hosts delegation from Gaza
CAIRO (Ma‘an) 5 Sept – The head of Egypt’s Tamarrod movement Mahmoud Badr hosted Wednesday evening a delegation representing the same movement in the Gaza Strip, Ma‘an has learned. The meeting took place at the Tamarrod offices in Cairo, and was joined by public information officer of Egypt’s Tamarrod movement Muhammad Abdul-Aziz. “The meeting sought to transfer experiences and mechanisms of Egypt’s Tamarrod to the Gaza Strip,” said Badr. He highlighted that “Tamarrod is a revolutionary movement struggling against injustice and despotism everywhere and in every place. This experience is feasible against all dictatorships.”
Medics: Member of Hamas armed wing killed in mission
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 5 Sept — A member of the military wing of Hamas was killed on Thursday morning in a “Jihadist mission” east of Gaza City, medics said. A Gaza emergency services official identified the al-Qassam Brigades member as Mohammad Lutfi Abed, 24, and said he was killed in a Jihadist mission. No other details of the incident were released.
Palestinian women hope to gain divorce rights
Al-Monitor 3 Sept by Abeer Ayoub — Activists are pushing for Gaza to join the West Bank in an initiative that will allow women to divorce without their husbands’ permission — The Supreme Religious Court in the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip is considering legal amendments allowing women to divorce their husbands when they can show proof that their married life cannot go on. The proposed amendment derives from a more moderate interpretation of Islam and is likely to face opposition by hard-line lawmakers from Hamas … The Khula, or unconditional divorce law, gives women the choice to break up Islamic-approved relationships before or after marriage in exchange for giving up their financial rights. The dominant traditional version of divorce is that the man has the final and only word on it.
Domestic violence against Palestinian women on rise in Gaza
GAZA (Al-Monitor) 5 Sept by Rasha Abou Jalal — Half of Gaza’s married women are subjected to some form of domestic violence, but authorities do not want to hear about it — ‘Ibtissam’, a 27-year-old woman from the town of Beit Hanoun in the northern Gaza Strip, asked for a number of guarantees before beginning to talk, among them that her real name not be used and that her story not be relayed to organizations assisting battered women. Despite attempts to reassure her when she met with Al-Monitor in public, she kept looking behind her for fear that her husband or one of his relatives might see her … The frequency of these attacks is increasing because women prefer to remain silent. About 66% of battered women chose to remain quiet, while 37.7% of them leave their husbands and flee to their families. Only 0.7% approach women’s centers, according to the Bureau of Statistics study. Amal Siam, director of the Center for Women’s Affairs, elaborated on the statistics. “Given the patriarchal and conservative nature of our society, battered women have very limited avenues for expression. Customs and mores frown upon women who accuse their husbands of such acts, considering their accusations rude and unacceptable,” she said.
Blogging in Gaza a casualty of Arab Spring
Al-Monitor 6 Sept by Asmaa al-Ghoul — GAZA — Microblogging on Twitter and Facebook has contributed to a decline in traditional blogs throughout the world, and in particular the Gaza Strip. Although some estimate that there were once more than 1,500 Palestinian blogs, they have declined without prompting any political change in the Palestinian territories. Mahmoud Omar, 22, has been blogging since 2008. He believes that the decline in Palestinian blogging was part of a decline in Arab blogging in general. “This is due to the boom in social-networking sites and microblogging, which attracted many people, dooming blogging to its final end in the time of high-speed communication,” he said. “This reluctance to engage in politics on Palestinian blogs is relative and the result of abstention from being involved in politics on the street, especially after the events of mid-2007, which dragged Palestine into a vicious cycle. Many people have lost confidence in their ability to make a change to the status quo,” Omar told Al-Monitor during an online interview from his residence in Cairo
Palestinian refugees elsewhere
Refugee crisis in Lebanon takes extra toll on women
Al-Monitor 4 Sept by Charlotte Bruneau — …Rasha and her family arrived in Lebanon half a year ago and headed for the already overcrowded Shatila refugee camp in Beirut. Rasha now admits they might never have come if they had known what awaited them: a maze of narrow, dirty alleyways under a tangle of electric wires with water dripping down the crumbling walls. Rasha has to pay $300 a month for a room with no running water and often no electricity, either. More than 90,000 Palestinians from Syria have sought shelter in Lebanon’s 12 Palestinian refugee camps. The camps, set up more than 60 years ago, can barely accommodate its longtime residents, let alone the flood of new refugee families. According to a survey conducted earlier in the year by American Near East Refugee Aid (ANERA), three out of four refugees from Syria regularly lack food. Women and children account for 74% of the refugees. Six out of 10 families have to share one room and end up hanging blankets or pieces of cloth to mark off space for privacy. Women struggle to hold their families together despite the heightened social and economic pressures. Many have become the heads of their households because their husbands were killed or stayed behind in Syria, or have come to Lebanon with them but can’t cope with being unable to find work to provide for the family, as they did back home … Lebanese law prohibits Palestinians from working in more than 70 professions. The current unemployment rate in the Palestinian camps there averages 90%.
Group: 2 Palestinians killed in Syria clashes
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 4 Sept — Two Palestinians were killed during clashes in Syria on Wednesday, a local Palestinian group said.
The Workforce for Palestinians in Syria said in a statement that Omar Abbas and Adnan Qasem were killed after shelling in Yarmouk camp near Damascus. The group said that a Palestinian woman from al-Aedin camp died Wednesday after suffering a heart attack while on a boat fleeing to Italy. Another woman, Salma Mahmoud, died after arriving in Italy following a tortuous journey escaping Syria, the group added. The al-Sheikh refugee camp came under heavy shelling, while refugees in the al-Sbineh camp are suffering from a lack of food, medicine, and fuel due to a blockade by the Syrian army.
Political, other news
Talks focused on temporary borders, security
[with Peace Now map of settlements] IMEMC 6 Sept — Israeli media sources have reported that the current direct Israeli-Palestinian political talks are focused on a Palestinian state with temporary borders, and on security arrangements in the occupied West Bank … Israeli Yedioth Aharonoth has reported, Thursday, that a senior Palestinian source said that Tel Aviv “offered” a temporary state for the Palestinians on 60% of the occupied West Bank, without removing any settlement, or military base. The paper said that the latest leaked information about the talks is the first detail since negotiations were resumed, especially since Israel and the Palestinians are committed to discretion as requested by U.S. Secretary of State, john Kerry. It added that the Palestinian official revealed the information on condition of anonymity, and said that the Palestinians rejected the Israeli offer, as they fear that any temporary agreement with Tel Aviv will turn into a permanent one … Furthermore, the official stated that the two sides have not started talks on borders, and that the talks are focusing on security arrangements. “Israel wants to maintain control on the Jordan Valley, wants early warning stations, and wants to keep a military base in the Jordan border”, he added, “Israel is using the agenda of security in to continue the illegal confiscation of Palestinian lands; Tel Aviv did not show any interest in removing settlements, it is interested in maintaining control of 60% of the West Bank”.
Abbas to leave for Europe on Sunday
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 6 Sept — President Mahmoud Abbas will begin a European tour on Sunday, starting in the UK. Abbas will meet US Secretary of State John Kerry in London on Monday to discuss direct talks between Israel and the PLO. He will also meet UK Prime Minister David Cameron, deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg, Foreign Secretary William Hague and opposition leader Ed Miliband. Abbas will speak at the Palace of Westminster in the UK parliament, before meeting EU Foreign Affairs chief Catherine Ashton, the Archbishop of Westminster Vincent Nichols and Arab ambassadors to the UK … The president will be accompanied by his spokesman Nabil Abu Rudeina, his diplomatic consultant Majdi al-Khaldi, PLO negotiator Saeb Erekat and Fatah Central Committee member Mohammad Shtayyeh.
World Bank transfers $72.2 million to PA
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 5 Sept – The World Bank’s Multi-donor Trust Fund for the Palestinian Reform and Development Plan on Wednesday transferred $72.2 million to the Palestinian Authority. The money, according to a World Bank statement, was donated by the governments of Kuwait, Australia, and the UK. It will be used for educational, health, social and other vital services.
Hamdallah: PA signed agreement with teachers
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 5 Sept — Caretaker Prime Minister Rami Handallah said Thursday that the Palestinian Authority has signed an agreement with the teachers’ union after it threatened strike action. Hamdallah said the agreement met the teachers’ demands, a statement from his office said. The PA has also transferred around 4.7 million shekels ($1.285 million) to Palestinian universities, Hamdallah said. The PA will amend civil services laws, he added … The teachers’ union organized regular strike action in the first half of 2013 to protest unpaid salaries. Teachers had also demanded a regular promotion system, recognition of teaching as a profession, and adherence to the career ladder among others.
Palestinians launch six new radio stations
Al-Monitor 6 Sept by Daoud Kuttab — In the early years of the Palestinian Authority (PA), one of its biggest goals was to establish sovereignty over Palestinian land. This included what is below the ground as well as the skies above. While the fight over land has been the biggest challenge, Palestinians have been successful in capturing the skies by launching tens of local radio and TV stations, which reserved available frequencies and prevented the Israelis from occupying them as well. This week, six new online radio stations were launched by the Bethlehem-based Palestine News Network.
In first, Arab to run in Beersheba municipal elections
BEERSHEBA (Ma‘an) 4 Sept – For the first time since the creation of Israel, an Arab man will stand for municipal elections in Beersheba scheduled on Oct. 22. Amir Zreiq, an Arab lawyer from Beersheba, will be the second candidate on the Change 2013 list. Asked about the motives behind his decision, Zreiq said he was afraid the Arabs in Beersheba did not have a cultural or an educational center because they have never been represented in the municipal council … About 20,000 Arabs live in Beersheba constituting 10 percent of the population and they have never been represented in the municipal council. Some 8,000 people have the right to vote.
PA: Israel responsible for Palestinian security
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 3 Sept — Israel should take responsibility for Palestinians who are under-prepared for the possible upcoming war in the region, a security official said Tuesday. “If Israel enters a war with Syria and it had negative effects on the Palestinians, Israel would have to be responsible for Palestinians because they are under occupation,” security services spokesman Adnan Damiri said. “We are not at war with any Arab or European states, or with the United States,” he added. “We refuse military interference in Syria but if a war starts it would be the Israeli occupation’s responsibility to protect Palestinians because we are under occupation.” Damiri added: “The Palestinian Authority does not have borders to import weapons or protective masks. There are no preparations on the Palestinian front for the possible war in the region because we lack the resources.”
Analysis / Opinion / Reviews
Documenting life and struggle from within: Bil‘in photographer publishes first book
972mag 6 Sept by Haggai Matar — Seeing his cousin being shot and killed by soldiers while protesting non-violently drove Hamde Abu-Rahma to photojournalism. Four years later his first book, ‘Roots Run Deep’, documenting life in Bil‘in and occupied Palestine, has been published. The picture outside his window still looks grim but Abu-Rahma insists on smiling … In his book, Abu-Rahma brings a photographed account of the popular struggle, army attacks on demonstrators and night raids, but also pictures and short stories from day-to-day life in the village and the effects of the wall on people around the West Bank. “I felt it was important to publish this book so that people who still think of Israel as a democracy would see what it does to unarmed protestors and perhaps reconsiders their stance. But I also don’t want people to think that Bil‘in or Palestine is only about demonstrations and violence. There are people living their lives here just like anywhere else and I’m trying to give a taste of this life.”
Israel’s checkpoint princesses / Inna Lazareva
Al-Monitor 5 Sept — The members of Israeli women’s group Machsom Watch (Checkpoint Watch) are ladies with a reputation. Every morning by the crack of dawn, these mostly retired grandmothers travel to the epicenter of the daily conflict between the Israelis and the Palestinians. Their stated purpose is to monitor checkpoints scattered between Israel and the West Bank and within the West Bank itself, but their role is far from that of a silent observer. Today, the women tackle some of the most sensitive challenges faced by the Palestinians and Israeli soldiers. This has earned them mixed accolades — including praise not only from the Palestinians but also from the highest echelons of the Israeli defense and military establishments. Meanwhile, others have criticized them for well over a decade … Many of the women are older than the state of Israel itself. Hanna Barag, in her 80s, is one of Machsom Watch’s key activists. This neat, seemingly demure lady will surprise you with her powerful voice, which echoes in her German Colony house when she discusses her experiences in the West Bank. When she first visited the Qalandia checkpoint in 2000, she suffered what she now describes as “a tremendous shock.” Qalandia was quite different from what it is today. … It was much worse then, and there was a lot hustle around, and cars, and people screaming.” The effect was so deep that the next week, Barag pretended to be sick instead of going back. She relates, “The lady from the organization phoned me and said, ‘I know you are not sick. You couldn’t take it. We will help you.’ And that’s how it started.”