Knesset set to extend law prohibiting reunification of Palestinian families in Israel
Haaretz 18 Mar by Jonathan Lis — Security services cite current situation in the Gaza Strip, including the rise of Islamic Jihad and Hamas’ governance, as reasons to extend law — …The Citizenship and Entry into Israel Law, which is worded as a temporary order, concerns reunification among families whose entry into Israel represents a security risk in the eyes of the security services. This includes Palestinian residents of the West Bank and Gaza, and foreign nationals from enemy countries or from regions involved in an ongoing conflict with the State of Israel. The cabinet will convene Wednesday morning in order to approve the extension of the law, with Knesset members being asked to vote in favor later. The urgency is due to the fact that the Knesset spring recess begins in another two days, and the existing law expires at the end of April … Most family unification applications in Israel are submitted by Israeli Arabs, on behalf of a Palestinian spouse living in the West Bank or the Gaza Strip. The law has been extended twice in recent years and amended several times since it was first passed in 2003 in the wake of the second intifada. In January 2012, the High Court of Justice – sitting in an extended panel of 11 justices – rejected several petitions to annul the law, and a majority ruled that the law is constitutional.
Israel serves eviction orders to Palestinians in world heritage city
Electronic Intifada 18 Mar by Patrick Strickland — Alaa Moussa remembers a time when Akka’s old city looked much different. Over the last decade, he has watched his hometown’s fabric change significantly: new restaurants, bars, hotels and youth hostels are now wedged between the historic stone buildings, homes and cultural landmarks. Situated on the northern coast of the Mediterranean Sea in present-day Israel, Akka (known as Acre in English and Akko in Hebrew) “is different now,” Moussa, the 30-year-old owner of El-Mursa, a popular Palestinian seafood restaurant, told The Electronic Intifada. “From the alleys of the old city to the coastal line, everything is changing. There is no comparison to when I was young. Even the history is being changed.” Much of the city’s architecture dates back to the era when historic Palestine was under control of the Ottoman Empire. The old city is also home to several mosques, khans (ancient inns), Turkish baths and a citadel, most of which are built atop structures that testify to Akka’s past as a crusader town. These cultural treasures led the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) to designate the old city as a “world heritage site” in 2001. Yet local Palestinian residents accuse Israel of aiming to push them out of the old city so that it can be Judaized. State-owned housing management companies are dishing out eviction orders as Israeli and foreign development companies buy up blocks of homes and undertake development projects across the city.
PHOTOS: 13 days without water in East Jerusalem
Activestills 17 Mar Text: Ryan Rodrick Beiler, Photos: Tali Mayer, Keren Manor, Shiraz Grinbaum — The East Jerusalem neighborhoods of Ras Shehada, Ras Khamis, Dahyat A’salam and the Shuafat refugee camp, which are cut off from the rest of the city by the separation wall, have gone without running water since March 4 — In a statement reported by Haaretz, HaGihon acknowledged that the infrastructure in these neighborhoods is inadequate for the size of the population, but blamed the Water Authority for failing to adequately fund improvement and maintenance. The company’s statement also said that “most of the population in these neighborhoods [tens of thousands of people] are not registered customers of Hagihon but still receive a continuous water supply, out of humanitarian concerns.” However, though water meters have been installed for some areas or buildings, when residents attempt to register as customers and receive a water meter for their own home, the company refuses to enter the area to install them. This is often true for other services as well. As Haaretz reports, “HaGihon work crews, like other Israeli authorities, do not often venture to the other side of the separation fence, due to security and coordination issues.”
IOA approves the establishment of 128 housing units in occupied Jerusalem
OCCUPIED JERUSALEM (PIC) 17 Mar — The Israeli occupation authority (IOA) has approved on Sunday the construction of 182 housing units in Ramot settlement neighborhood allocated for Israeli soldiers. Israeli municipality in occupied Jerusalem said the settlement project included the building of 734 housing units, including 300 housing units in 2013 allocated for Israeli security forces. It said that 166 new housing units are planned to be established for Israeli policemen, while 128 housing units are approved for the public. The Israeli municipality said that the mentioned settlement project came as part of Israeli policy declared in “Jerusalem Day” in 2012, which aims to encourage the establishment of neighborhoods for Israeli conscripts in Jerusalem. The Israeli decision to approve new housing units came on the eve of Palestinian and US presidents’ meeting in Washington and in light of the American continued pressures on the Palestinians to accept the “framework agreement” as proposed by Secretary of State John Kerry.
link to www.palestine-info.co.uk/En/
West Bank road being rebuilt, despite Israeli promise to High Court
Haaretz 18 Mar by Chaim Levinson — The access road built on Palestinian property was torn up in July based on a state pledge to the court, but the land is again being used for settler traffic — The access road to the Amona outpost in the West Bank, which runs exclusively over private Palestinian property and was torn up in July as part of a promise made by Attorney Yehuda Weinstein to the High Court of Justice, is currently being rebuilt. During a visit to the area a month ago, members of the human rights group Yesh Din saw that a new road had been improved and expanded to infringe on private Palestinian land and that the old road had been reopened to traffic. The roadwork is being carried out by the Binyamin Regional Council. Yesh Din turned to the High Court division of the State Attorney’s Office, and on Monday, Deputy Attorney General Dena Zilber issued a written response, saying, “The coordinator of the supervision department visited the site and noticed that work was carried out on the old access road to the outpost after its removal in such a way as to enable vehicular traffic. In addition, it was agreed supervisory measures will be taken that were not taken in the past and that urgent steps will be taken to stop the work on the public thoroughfare and exercise the demolition order applicable to this area.”
Third in deep West Bank settlements would leave for pay: survey
Bloomberg News 17 Mar by Jonathan Ferziger — Thirty percent of West Bank settlers living farthest from Israel’s boundaries are willing to leave their homes if fairly compensated, even without a peace agreement, a study showed. The report released today by Israel’s Blue White Future peace group focuses on 100,000 Israelis living outside larger settlement blocs. It excludes some 250,000 residents in the bigger settlements. The numbers rise to 50 percent if a peace agreement is reached; 40 percent would refuse to leave … A voluntary evacuation “would unequivocally demonstrate that Israel is serious about seeking a two-state solution” and “increase the chance of the negotiation track succeeding,” said Gilead Sher, a former Israeli peace negotiator who is the group’s co-chairman. The government hasn’t indicated that it is working on such a plan.
Removing West Bank settlers would cost $S10 billion: peace group
Bloomberg News 18 Mar by Jonathan Ferziger — Paying Israel’s West Bank settlers to give up their homes for a future Palestinian state would cost about $10 billion, a peace group said. Settlers said today that the final price could be double that. Assuming Israel would have to move about 100,000 people if a peace accord is reached, the organization, Blue White Future, estimates that compensation of $400,000 would be needed for each of 25,000 households, Co-Chairman Gilead Sher said. Fifty percent of those affected would move voluntarily, while about 40 percent would refuse, the group said, based on survey findings presented yesterday. “This is an amount Israel can easily finance out of its own budget expenditures,” Roby Nathanson, head of the Tel Aviv-based Macro Center for Political Economics, which conducted the survey, said on a conference call. Roughly half the money would compensate settlers for their homes, while the rest would cover costs such as building infrastructure, new homes, psychological counseling and job training, he said.
Israeli settlers uproot 50 trees
NABLUS (Ma‘an) 18 Mar — Israeli settlers on Tuesday uprooted 50 big olive trees in Ein Yabus village south of Nablus. A Palestinian official who monitors settler activity in the northern West Bank told Ma‘an that settlers from the nearby Yitzhar settlement uprooted 50 fruit trees in al-Sauma‘a area north of the village. The trees belong to Fawzi Hassan Mohammad Hassan, he added.
Why won’t the army stop the theft of Palestinian trees?
972blog 18 Mar by Yesh Din (written by Yossi Gurvitz) — Time and time again, the saplings in the West Bank village Sinjil are stolen by Israeli settlers. Meanwhile, the army turns the other cheek, neglecting its obligation to protect the occupied population under its rule — In early January 2014, after wandering the bureaucratic desert for over a year, the International Red Cross and the residents of Sinjil in the West Bank managed to get permission to plant 7,500 trees in the northern side of the village. Their joy didn’t last long: settlers began targeting the new saplings almost immediately. The first attack occurred on January 22nd. The deputy chairman of the local council, Rabkhi Hassin ‘Abd Al-’Aziz Gafri, received a message from one of the farmers working on the project that a massive theft had taken place. An Israeli District Coordination Office (DCO) officer rushed to the scene, followed by the police. A thousand saplings were stolen that night. Gafri, who estimated the damage at several thousand shekels, noted the following: the theft took place between a military post and the illegal outpost of Givat Harel; the military base is 200 meters from the scene; and that it is equipped with security cameras. Therefore, he was hopeful that the crime would be solved. Ten days later, on February 2nd, Gafri received another urgent call. Once again, saplings were stolen – this time, about 1,200 of them … These incidents, which take place time after time, can be explained in two ways. The first is that the IDF troops are thick screw-ups, who fail to notice an incident 200 meters from them even after being warned. The other explanation is that they don’t feel like noticing it; why do they need the pain in the neck of going out at night in order to scare away Israeli citizens who, after all, are only stealing the property of, you know, Palestinians. The planting of the trees, we remind you, is a Red Cross project.
Jordan condemns Israel ‘escalation’ in Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa
AMMAN, Jordan (AFP) 18 Mar — Jordan Monday condemned what it called Israeli “escalation” in the flashpoint Al-Aqsa mosque compound in Jerusalem, after a far-right Israeli minister visited the plaza, warning it could cause further violence at the site. Israeli Housing Minister Uri Ariel, deputy leader of the hardline national religious Jewish Home party, briefly visited the plaza in Jerusalem’s Old City on Sunday. After the visit, clashes broke out between stone-throwing Palestinian youths and Israeli police at the site, police spokeswoman Luba Samri told AFP. “Jordan rejects Israeli escalation in Al-Aqsa as well as measures that allow radicals to violate Al-Aqsa under protection of police and occupation forces,” Minister of Information Mohammad Momani said in a statement carried by state-run Petra news agency on Monday. “These actions will lead to more violence and religious extremism in the region. Jordan warns Israel not to try to impose anything new related to Al-Aqsa.”
‘Jerusalem of Gold’ in Tehran: Islamic Jihad leader quotes iconic song in speech
Ynet 17 Mar by Roi Kais — Secretary-general of Palestinian Islamic Jihad uses iconic song to contextualize the importance of Jerusalem to Israelis and urge Iranians to consider the city’s meaning to them — The secretary-general of Palestinian Islamic Jihad, Ramadan Salah, used the iconic Naomi Shemer composition to contextualize the importance of Jerusalem to Israelis: “There is a song the Zionist army sang when it conquered the Al-Aqsa mosque. It is called Jerusalem of Gold.” … During his speech Salah claimed that the fight for Jerusalem will remain central to the Palestinian national struggle, and that there will not be stability in the world until the Palestinian right to Jerusalem is restored. Salah urged the conference participants – and, by extent, the Islamic world – to consider what Jerusalem means to them. He called on all Muslims to study not only about the rockets and arms that Iran provides them, but also about the Zionist entity and its culture. “What is the significance of Jerusalem in our culture?” Salah asked the crowd. “What is its significance in our religion?”
Gaza under double blockade
Gaza health ministry says ran out of 30% of medicine due to Rafah border closure
Anadolu Agency 16 Mar — The Gaza Health Ministry has announced it has run out of 30 percent of medicine and basic medical requirements due to the ongoing closure of Rafah border crossing by Egypt, Anadolu news agency reported. In a press conference held at Ministry of Information on Sunday, Minister Mufiz al-Makhalalati said, “The closure of the border in a semi-permanent way has led to running out of 145 kinds of medicines and medical requirements.” The closure has also deprived around 450 cases of treatment, as they used to be transferred to Egyptian hospitals for treatment, he said. “Three patients have died since the blockade has been imposed and closure of Rafah border nine months ago,” the minister added. The closure, according to Makhalalati, has also prevented the arrival of medical teams.
Sinai home bombings harm Gaza homes
GAZA CITY (Turkish Press) 16 Mar — Scores of Palestinian homes in the southern part of the Gaza Strip were harmed as a result of the bombing by Egypt’s army of homes on the other side of the border. The Egyptian army had bombed four homes close to the border with Gaza in the north of the Sinai Peninsula. The bombing damaged the glass of homes in Tel al-Sultan district in Rafah on the Palestinian side of the border, according to an Anadolu Agency reporter. He also cited cracks in the walls of around 100 Palestinian homes. The reporter also saw damages done to a mosque located 300 meters from the border with Egypt. Egypt is mounting a comprehensive military operation against militants in Sinai. The operation includes the destruction of hundreds of smuggling underground tunnels with Gaza as well as militants’ hideouts.
Israeli warships fire at fishermen off Gaza coast
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 18 Mar — Israeli warships late Monday fired at Palestinian fishermen off the coast of the southern Gaza Strip, fishermen said. Fishermen told Ma‘an Israeli forces fired at them off the coast of Khan Younis. No injuries were reported, but the fishermen said they were forced to sail back to shore. An Israeli military spokeswoman said the boat had “deviated from its designated fishing zone.” “Israeli navy soldiers called on the boat to stop, but once it failed to comply, they opened fire in its vicinity” and it returned to its designated area. The incident comes a day after the Israeli military exchanged fire with Palestinian militants on the shore in southern Gaza in a late-night face-off. Explaining Sunday night’s incident, the spokeswoman said the Israeli navy had “identified a Palestinian vessel veering into Egyptian territory.” When the boat returned to Palestinian waters, Israeli forces called on the vessel to stop, she said. When it did not stop, Israeli forces “fired shots, identifying a hit.” She would not specify whether the shot hit a boat or a fisherman, but only that “the target” was hit. Palestinian militants on the shore then fired at the Israeli ship, and the Israeli navy fired back, with no injuries or damage reported, she added.
The sole power plant in Gaza lights up again
Reuters 17 Mar — The Gaza Strip’s sole power plant started up again today after Israel allowed quantities of Qatari-paid fuel into the enclave to ease a power crisis, Palestinian officials said. Gaza lacks much basic infrastructure and lives under an Egyptian-Israeli blockade meant to cut off arms flows but which also curbs imports of fuel and building supplies. On Saturday, the plant, a main source of electricity for Gaza’s 1.8 million people, stopped due to fuel shortages, a move that extended daily blackouts from eight hours a day to 12. Raed Fattouh, the Palestinian Authority coordinator of supplies into Gaza Strip, told Reuters that Israel allowed in 110,000 litres of fuel on Sunday for the plant and was pumping an additional 500,000 litres today. “The plant was put back into operation,” Gaza Energy Authority’s Ahmed Abu Al-Amrain said. A few months ago the power plant was switched off for 43 days due to a fuel shortage when the neighboring Egypt closed off smuggling tunnels. Israel eventually allowed in fuel paid for by Qatar when a storm swept the region. Qatar has now extended the financial aid by three months. Electricity also comes directly to Gaza from Israel and Egypt.
PA official: Israel to reopen Kerem Shalom crossing Wednesday
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) Tue 18 Mar — Israel will reopen the Kerem Shalom crossing with the Gaza Strip on Wednesday, after keeping it closed for six consecutive days, according to a Palestinian official. Nazmi Muhanna, the Palestinian Authority director of border crossings, told Ma‘an News Agency, Tuesday, that Israeli officials had informed the Palestinian side that the Kerem Shalom crossing would resume operations on Wednesday. The crossing was open Sunday and Monday, but only for fuel deliveries. Israel shut down the crossing last Wednesday in the wake of a flare-up of violence which began when an Israeli airstrike killed three Palestinian militants in southern Gaza the day before … With the Rafah crossing with Egypt regularly closed, Gaza has become dependent on goods brought from Israel via Kerem Shalom. Rafah has been closed for 39 consecutive days, except in exceptional cases for limited purposes such as facilitating the passage of Umrah pilgrims.
Hamas: Egypt closing Gaza border a ‘crime against humanity’
GAZA CITY (AFP) 18 Mar — …“The Egyptian authorities’ insistence on closing the Rafah crossing and tightening the Gaza blockade… is a crime against humanity by all standards and a crime against the Palestinian people,” Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhum said in a statement. He condemned “the continuation of this blockade and closing the crossing, all whilst Israel escalates and (increases) aggression.” “We hold all parties to the blockade of Gaza completely responsible for the consequences of this crime,” he said … The UN slammed closures to Gaza’s border crossings, expressing concern for Gazans in need of medical treatment. “Extremely limited movement in and out of Gaza from (Israeli-controlled) Erez and Rafah crossings continues to afflict the civilian population, including patients awaiting medical treatment,” UN under-secretary general for political affairs Jeffrey Feltman said in a Tuesday briefing to the Security Council. “Recurrent drug and medical equipment shortages are affecting the Gaza medical system, further increasing the number of patients seeking referral outside for medical conditions that could have been treated inside Gaza, were supplies available.”
Gaza students protest Egypt border crossing closure
GAZA CITY (Turkish Press) 17 Mar – Scores of Palestinian university students on Monday staged a demonstration outside the Egyptian embassy’s former headquarters in Gaza to protest the ongoing closure by Egyptian authorities of the Rafah border crossing, which links the Gaza Strip to Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula. Protesters called for lifting Israel’s years-long blockade on Gaza and for reopening the flashpoint crossing to Gazan university students who study abroad. “We can’t find an explanation for Egypt’s decision to tighten the noose around Gaza,” said Abdel-Rahman Mehana, head of the students union at Gaza’s Islamic University, who attended Monday’s protest. “How can students who want to complete their studies pose a threat to Egypt’s national security?” he asked.
Gaza families unable to visit jailed relatives due to border closure
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 17 Mar — Families from Gaza were unable to visit their relatives in Israeli jails on Monday after Israeli authorities closed the Erez, or Beit Hanoun, crossing for the Jewish holiday of Purim. “Families from the Gaza Strip have not left to visit their sons in Israeli jails as the Erez crossing between Israel and the Gaza Strip was closed due to Purim celebrations,” a spokesman for the International Committee of the Red Cross, Nasser al-Najjar, told Ma‘an. Gaza families visit jailed relatives in Israel every Monday via the Erez crossing on buses run by the ICRC. Israel closed both the Erez and Kerem Shalom crossings with Gaza following several days of recent cross border violence.
Violence / Raids / Clashes / Illegal arrests (West Bank)
Palestinian woman ‘humiliated, assaulted’ at Israeli checkpoint
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 17 Mar — A Palestinian woman said she was “humiliated and assaulted by an Israeli soldier” while on her way to visit her son in prison, a statement said Monday. The mother of prisoner Ahmad Abd al-Fattah said she was stopped at the Taybeh checkpoint near Ramallah and taken to a small room for a strip search, according to a statement from the Palestinian Prisoners’ Society. “A female soldier ordered her to take off her clothes completely, but she refused,” the statement said. “The soldier insisted, and after the woman took off her clothes, the soldier hit her with the metal detector causing bruises.” Afterwards, the woman complained to a representative of the International Committee of the Red Cross, who informed an Israeli border crossing official.
Settlers from Miztpe Yair continue to attack Palestinian shepherds grazing on Palestinian-owned land, even during Purim
AT-TUWANI, Occupied Palestine (Operation Dove) 17 Mar – On Sunday March 16, during the Jewish holiday of Purim, Israeli settlers attacked Palestinians and Internationals on Palestinian fields near Mitzpe Yair illegal outpost. In the morning, four Palestinian shepherds from the village of Qawawis were grazing their flocks south of the Israeli outpost of Mitzpe Yair, when a settler arrived armed with an iron pipe to threaten them shouting. At 9:18 am two Internationals arrived together with two further Palestinian shepherds. The armed Israeli settler then left when he saw that they were filming the scene. At 9:28 am eight settlers arrived from the illegal outpost – one was still armed with the iron pipe – and four of them violently chased away the flocks, pushing them toward the valley underlying the outpost. Palestinian shepherds followed the settlers in order not to lose their flocks accompanied by Internationals. The Palestinians immediately called the Israeli police. At 9:48 am the settlers came back to the outpost. In the meantime, an additional International and two Palestinian members of the South Hebron Hills Popular Committee arrived at the scene. At 10:00 am one of the settlers tried to chase away one of the newly arrived Palestinians, a member of the Israeli human rights organization B’Tselem. As this happened, an Israeli policeman and three Israeli soldiers arrived by foot. At 10:20 am, as the policeman began interrogating the attendants, a further three settlers arrived. Those interrogated were the Palestinian shepherd Nail Abuaram (who filmed everything with a B’Tselem camera) and one International. At 10:45 am, the policeman led Abuaram and one of the Internationals to Kiryat Arba police station to give testimony of the harassments. They arrived at the station at noon. The International was asked for the camera footage of the incident, interrogated and finally released at around 2:50 pm. Abuaram was interrogated alone for a couple of hours and was threaten of arrest until he accepted to sign a paper stating that he will not get closer than 450 meters to the area where the harassment took place for a period of 15 days. He was later released around 6:00 pm after signing the paper. The Israeli police forced the settler who attacked the Palestinians with an iron pipe to stay 200 meters far from the spot where the harassment took place for a period of 15 days.
Four injured by army fire in Hebron
IMEMC Tue 18 Mar by Saed Bannoura — [Monday Evening, March 17, 2014] Palestinian medical sources have reported that four Palestinians were wounded, with several others suffering the effects of teargas inhalation, during clashes with Israeli soldiers invading Hebron city, in the southern part of the occupied West Bank. The clashes took place after dozens of soldiers invaded the Bab az-Zaweya area, in the center of Hebron city, the Ma‘an News Agency has reported. Medical sources said that four Palestinians were shot by rubber-coated metal bullets fired by the army, while several Palestinians received treatment for the effects of teargas inhalation. Later on, several Palestinians hurled stones at a roadblock installed at the entrance of Shuhada Street, in the city. Eyewitnesses said that one Israeli soldier was mildly injured, after he was struck in the face by a stone thrown by one of the protesters.
In related news, soldiers invaded Jenin city, in the northern part of the West Bank, firing rounds of live ammunition, gas bombs and rubber-coated metal bullets at local youth who hurled stones at them. Local sources said the soldiers invaded Jenin city center, firing at random during the invasion. No injuries were reported.
Man injured, another arrested in clashes in Tuqu‘
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) Tue 18 Mar — A Palestinian was injured, and another was arrested in clashes with Israeli forces in Tuqu‘ southeast of Bethlehem on Tuesday, witnesses said. An ambulance took Mohammad Saleem Sabbah, 22, who was shot with a live bullet in the right abdomen, they said. Noureddin Mahmoud Sabbah, 26, was arrested during the clashes and taken to an unknown destination, witnesses said. An Israeli military jeep overturned while chasing Palestinians during the clashes, causing light injuries to a soldier.
3 injured by Israeli soldiers in Beit Ummar clashes
HEBRON (Ma‘an) Mon 17 Mar — Three Palestinians were injured on Monday during clashes with Israeli soldiers in Beit Ummar, an official said. A local committee official said Israeli forces fired tear gas and rubber-coated steel bullets at protesters in the town, hitting one man in the stomach and two others in the feet. Israeli military forces deliberately shot a barrage of tear gas canisters at the roof of local resident Ahmad Abu Sarah al-Allami, starting a fire, the official said. An Israeli army spokeswoman said there were no reports of clashes.
Soldiers raid Nablus town after fire bombs thrown at settler car
NABLUS (Ma‘an) Mon 17 Mar — Israeli military forces raided several Palestinian homes in the Nablus town of Huwwara on Monday after a settler vehicle was attacked with firebombs, locals said. Witnesses told Ma‘an that Palestinian youths hurled four Molotov cocktails at a settler vehicle traveling on the main road in Huwwara. The vehicle was directly hit and Israeli military vehicles arrived in the area shortly after the attack. No injuries were reported. Senior Fatah official Awad Najim Amin told Ma‘an that dozens of Israeli soldiers broke into Palestinian homes near the main road following the incident. An Israeli army spokeswoman told Ma‘an that two Molotov cocktails were thrown at Israeli vehicles, and that soldiers were searching the area for suspects.
Clashes in al-Jalazun refugee camp
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) Wed 19 Mar — Several Palestinians were injured with rubber bullets and dozens more suffered from excessive tear-gas inhalation in clashes with Israeli forces near al-Jalazun refugee camp north of Ramallah on Tuesday. Israeli forces fired rubber bullets and tear gas at Palestinians who threw rocks at them preventing them from entering the camp. The clashes started after Israeli forces closed the road to Ramallah, and erected a flying checkpoint there.
IOF arrests 16 Palestinians in occupied WB and Jerusalem
OCCUPIED JERUSALEM (PIC) Mon 17 Mar — The Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) arrested 16 Palestinians in occupied Jerusalem and the West Bank including ten Jerusalemites over the past 24 hours … occupation forces arrested on Sunday night a Palestinian, from ‘Araba village, at a military checkpoint near Kedumim settlement built on Palestinian lands in Kafr Qaddum village to the east of Qalqilya. In the same context, IOF broke into Jenin city at dawn Monday and stormed several villages in the province, arresting a citizen at a military checkpoint. Local sources said that IOF carried out provocative practices in Ya’abad town. Meanwhile, IOF stormed different areas in Bethlehem and arrested three young men. Occupation forces also raided Monday Samu‘ town, south of al-Khalil in occupied West Bank, and summoned a Palestinian girl after storming her family home in a failed attempt to arrest her. In Nablus, Israeli forces arrested a liberated detainee after violently raiding and searching his home. Meanwhile, Israeli occupation erected Monday military checkpoints in a number of towns south of al-Khalil, where clashes were reported in Tabaka village … In Tabaka town, clashes were reported during which Israeli soldiers fired tear gas canisters and metal bullets towards Palestinian houses. In their turn, Palestinian youths stoned the invading forces.
On the other hand, Palestinian sources confirmed that 100 Palestinians were arrested during the past week by Israeli forces, including 26 Jerusalemites, 8 former political prisoners, a woman, and 13 minors.
link to www.palestine-info.co.uk/En/
Eight, including minors, kidnapped across West Bank
IMEMC Tue 18 Mar by Chris Carlson — Israeli occupation forces, on Tuesday, abducted five Palestinians, including three teenagers, from Bethlehem province. A security source said that Israeli forces raided the city of Bethlehem, taking Mohammed Jamal Abu Jalgheef, 26, from Wadi Shaheen area, and Mohammed Issa al-Heraimi, 22, from as-Saf Street, according to a PNN report. The same source stated that Israeli forces also took 17-year-old Mohammed Jamal al-Azzeh from al-‘Azzeh refugee camp, north of Bethlehem. Two other teenagers were also kidnapped. They have been identified as Hussam Rebhi Thawabteh, 15, and Khaled Mohammed Thawabteh, 14, from Beit Fajjar village, south of Bethlehem. Ma‘an reports that, in Hebron, Israeli forces detained three Palestinians — Nouh Robin Hashlmoun and Maamoun Khadir Abi Snineh, both 25, and a third unidentified man.
Prisoner release leads to celebrations in Awarta
AWARTA, Occupied Palestine (ISM Nablus Team) 18 Mar — Yesterday in the village of Awarta, 26-year-old Rais Abdat was released from an Israeli prison. Three years ago, two youths from Awarta killed a settler from the nearby illegal settlement of Itemar, and for this act they both received five life sentences. In response, Israeli forces arrested approximately 18 young men and women from the village. Rais Abdat was one of these men. Rais was not convicted of the crime he was arrested for, yet he was sentenced to 38 months in prison. A member of his family believes this is due to his activism and political affiliations. 10 of the men and women arrested three years ago remain imprisoned, included Rais’ cousin Walid Abdat (24-years-old) who is due to be released in July. Today Rais was released from Salem Court in Jenin to joyous reactions from his friends and family. Although he has now been released, Rais has lost three years of his life due to the Israeli occupation
One year on: the Hares boys
Occupied Palestine (The Hares Boys) 18 Mar — Yesterday the Hares Boys, who are being charged with 20 counts of attempted murder with no evidence whatsoever, have been in an Israeli prison for one year. Now is more important than ever to fully understand the circumstances surrounding the unlawful arrest and imprisonment of Mohammad Suleiman, Ammar Souf, Mohammed Kleib, Tamer Souf, and Ali Shamlawi. The car accident At around 18:30 on Thursday 14 March 2013, a car crashed into the back of a truck on Road 5 in Salfit Governorate, occupied Palestine. The driver and her 3 daughters were injured, one of them seriously. The driver, Adva Biton, was going back to the illegal Israeli settler colony of Yakir when the accident occurred. She later claimed the accident was due to Palestinian youth throwing stones at her car. The driver of the truck, having testified immediately after the accident that he had pulled over because of a flat tyre, later changed his mind and said he had seen stones by the road. There were no witnesses to the car accident. Nobody had seen any children or youth throwing stones that day The arrests In the early hours of Friday 15 March 2013, masked Israeli soldiers, some with attack dogs, stormed the village of Hares, which is close to Road 5. More than 50 soldiers broke the doors of the villagers’ houses, demanding the whereabouts of their teenage sons. Ten boys were arrested that night, blindfolded, handcuffed, and transferred to an unknown location. The families were not informed of their sons’ alleged wrongdoings.Two days later, a second wave of violent arrests took place …, A week later, Israeli army jeeps again entered the village and arrested several boys, who had just come back home from school. The soldiers lined all of them up, including a 6-year-old … In total, 19 boys from the neighbouring villages of Hares and Kifl Hares were arrested in relation to the settler car accident. None of them had previously had any history of stone-throwing. After violent interrogations, most of the minors were released, except for five, who remain in Megiddo, an Israeli adult prison. These are the Hares Boys….
PA lawyer: Health of oldest Palestinian prisoner deteriorating
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 17 Mar — The health of the oldest Palestinian prisoner in Israeli custody is seriously deteriorating, a lawyer said Monday. Fadi Ubeidat, a lawyer for the Palestinian Authority Ministry of Prisoners’ Affairs, said in a statement Monday that 76-year-old Fuad Shobaki is suffering from various illnesses amidst Israeli reluctance to offer him medical treatment. After visiting Shobaki in his cell in Ofer Prison, Ubeidat said the prisoner has eye problems and needs surgery or he could lose his sight … The prisoner was sentenced to 20 years for alleged involvement in an illegal weapons shipment to the West Bank in 2002.
Separately, 21-year-old Layth Ubayyat — who has been sentenced to 26 months in Israeli prisons — is suffering head pains after being assaulted by Israeli soldiers, Ubeidat said. While Ubayyat was being arrested, Israeli soldiers fractured his forehead, the lawyer said. During the incident, Ubayyat passed out and was sent to Hadassah Hospital in Jerusalem.
Palestinian refugees in Syria
Four killed, eight wounded early Monday in Yarmouk camp
DAMASCUS (PIC) 18 Mar — Four Palestinian refugees were killed and eight others suffered injuries during heavy projectile attacks at dawn Monday on Al-Yarmouk refugee camp in Damascus. The action group for the Palestinians in Syria stated on Tuesday that the shelling happened on the same day the warring parties and mediators agreed on neutralizing the camp and ending all kinds of hostilities. Humanitarian aid was supposed to be allowed into the camp on Monday according to the agreement, but nothing happened in this regard, the action group noted.
link to www.palestine-info.co.uk/En/
Action group: Death of two elders raised Yarmouk hunger victims to 133
DAMASCUS (PIC) 17 Mar — The action group for the Palestinians in Syria said on Monday that the number of Palestinian refugees who died of hunger in Al-Yarmouk refugee camp rose to 133 victims after two elderly persons starved to death … According to the action group, a young refugee from the camp was killed yesterday during clashes between militants. A child named Nouraddin Khalili also died of wounds he had sustained a few days ago when he was exposed to gunfire outside his school in Al-Aideen refugee camp in Homs.
link to ttp://www.palestine-info.co.uk/En/
University of Windsor faces donor threats, Islamophobic backlash after BDS vote
Electronic Intifada 18 Mar by Ali Abunimah — Students at the University of Windsor (UW) in Ontario, Canada are facing defamation efforts and an attempt by the school’s president to derail the results of a referendum in which students voted to support the Palestinian call for boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) on Israel. A donor — who specifically blamed ‘Muslim’ students for the vote – is also threatening to withdraw funding from the university and to stop hiring its graduates. On 1 March, students passed a University of Windsor Students’ Alliance (UWSA) motion to support BDS by 798 to 585 votes. The resolution states that the student union joins “student organizations around the globe by endorsing and participating in the 2005 call for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions from Palestinian civil society.” It commits UWSA “to identifying and divesting from companies that support or profit from Israeli war crimes, occupation and oppression.”
Ireland invented boycotts, so let’s use them to demand justice for Palestine
Electronic Intifada 17 Mar by Conor McCarthy — The term ‘boycott’ has its origins in Ireland. It entered the English language during the Land War of the 1880s — the struggle across the Irish countryside between impoverished tenant farmers and their often absentee landlords. When Captain Charles Boycott, an agent of a major landowner in County Mayo, sought to evict tenants for non-payment of rent, he was shunned by the local communities: his workers went on strike, local tradespeople refused to deal with him; even the local post office refused to take his mail. So it is fitting that Irish people have undertaken a number of significant boycott campaigns as a means of fighting injustice. In 1984, a group of mainly female workers in Dunnes Stores, a supermarket chain, went on strike in order to comply with a trade union decision that they refrain from handling South African fruit. Nelson Mandela personally thanked members of the group following his release from prison. In keeping with this tradition, Academics for Palestine was recently formed in Dublin. Its main purpose is to encourage Irish universities to support the 2005 call made by representatives of a wide cross-section of Palestinian society for boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) against Israel.
Northeastern University Israel advocates applaud suspension of SJP chapter
Mondoweiss 18 Mar by Alex Kane — Israel advocates at Northeastern University are showing full-throated support for the school’s suspension of Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) over mock eviction notices. A letter published by Huskies for Israel, a campus pro-Israel group, applauded “the university for taking a stand in holding students accountable for their actions, and creating an environment that sustains open dialogue.” As Max Blumenthal reported here last week, Northeastern’s administration made the move to suspend SJP for a year because the group’s members distributed clearly marked fake notices meant to simulate what Palestinians face when Israel prepares to demolish homes. Northeastern says the students violated university policies by leafleting without permission. Members of SJP say that many students flyer without permission — but don’t receive the same penalty. The suspension of SJP marks the high point in a long-running campaign by Israel lobby groups in Boston targeting SJP and Northeastern professors who speak up for Palestinian rights.
11 ways you support the Israeli occupation without realizing it
[with slide show of products] Al Bawaba 16 Mar — …Even if you’re no activist, you may be secretly aiding and abetting the Israeli occupation without realizing it – many household items and products have ties to the Israeli government. The recent Scarlett Johansson SodaStream scandal proved that you can barely get a fizzy drink these days without there being politicial ramifications. So that you don’t do a “Scarlett”, here’s Al Bawaba’s low down on all the brands that helped build the Israeli occupation. The easiest way to join the BDS movement? Stop buying these products. Here’s our cheat sheet of 11 ways you can become an agent for positive change!
Political, other news
Abbas’ decisions on talks key to prisoner release: Livni
JERUSALEM (AFP) 18 Mar — Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas’s decisions on peace talks will play a key role in Israel deciding whether to release a new batch of prisoners, the chief Israeli negotiator said Tuesday. Justice Minister Tzipi Livni, speaking at a conference, linked the scheduled March 29 release of 26 veteran prisoners to Palestinian willingness to push forward with peace talks. “In order to advance serious negotiations, we will all need to take decisions and prove we are determined to reach an agreement and real peace. That burden of proof is also on the Palestinians’ shoulders,” she was quoted on her Facebook page as saying. “Accordingly, we will examine the issue of the prisoners, meaning that the key to the cells of the Palestinian prisoners is also to be found in the hands of Abu Mazen (Abbas) and the decisions he will take in the coming days.” Livni’s remarks came after Israeli officials suggested the release might not go ahead unless the Palestinians agree to extend talks beyond a looming April 29 deadline.
PA minister: Israel prisoner release delay ‘political blackmail’
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 18 Mar — Any delay in releasing Palestinian prisoners jailed in Israel would be “political blackmail,” the Palestinian Authority Minister of Prisoner Affairs said Tuesday. Issa Qaraqe‘ told Ma‘an that Israel is scheduled to released a final group of 30 veteran prisoners on March 29. So far, 78 of a total of 104 veteran Palestinian prisoners have been freed in three separate tranches. However, speaking to Israeli army radio, Israeli Economy Minister Naftali Bennett, an outspoken hardliner who opposes a Palestinian state, said Israel’s pledge to release them was unlikely to happen because there had been no move in the US-led peace process. And if it did, the government would never agree to release Arab Israeli citizens jailed for nationalist attacks, he said … The PA minister said the release of prisoners was not conditional on peace talks and had been part of the agreement with the PLO not to seek membership of any international organizations during the nine month period … Releasing the last 30 veteran prisoners will be a test of Israel’s credibility regarding a just peace deal with the Palestinian people, Qaraqe‘ added. Below is a list of last 30 Palestinian prisoners detained before the Oslo Accords.
Barack Obama tells Mahmoud Abbas Palestinians and Israelis must take ‘risks’ for peace
AFP 18 Mar — US President meets Palestinian leader at White House two weeks after hosting Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, pressing both sides to accept a framework to carry negotiations past an end-of-April deadline — US President Barack Obama told Mahmoud Abbas on Monday that the Palestinian leader and Israel’s politicians must be prepared to make tough decisions and take “risks” for peace. Mr Abbas arrived at the White House two weeks after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, warning that time was running short for a final deal and saying Israel could show it was serious by honouring a scheduled release of Palestinian prisoners this month. Mr Obama, personally supporting Secretary of State John Kerry’s exhaustive Middle East peace drive at a critical moment, is pressing both sides to accept a framework to carry negotiations past an end-of-April deadline.
Obama and Abbas meeting ‘difficult’, says chief Palestinian negotiator;
WASHINGTON (The Guardian) 18 Mar by Paul Lewis — Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas showed Barack Obama what his negotiator called “a very ugly map” of recently constructed Israeli settlements on Palestinian land, amid concern peace talks may be about to fall apart. His chief negotiator, Saeb Erekat, who was present at the meeting between Abbas and Obama at the White House, said on Tuesday that the encounter had been “candid” and “difficult”. Erekat said the Palestinian delegation showed the US president a map showing 10,589 housing settlement units he said were built on Palestinian-claimed territory since negotiations began less than eight months ago. “We put a map to president Obama – showed him the extent of what happened since we began in July,” Erekat said, showing the same map to an audience at the Wilson Center thinktank in Washington. “It is a very ugly map. This was supposed to be land of the Palestinian state.” Describing how Israeli settlements weaken his hand in Palestinian negotiators, Erekat added: “I cannot weigh two kilos in Jericho and weigh 100 kilos in Washington, I really cannot.”
‘Abbas is a true partner for peace,’ says Peres
Ynet 17 Mar by Noam (Dabul) Dvir — President Shimon Peres said on Monday that Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas is a “true partner for peace.” Peres made the remarks upon an expected summit later Monday in Washington between Abbas and US President Barack Obama. During a meeting Peres held with human right activist Rose Mapendo, the president stressed that Abbas is a man of principle who objects to violence and terror. “We are at a crucial stage of the negotiations and we must do everything we can to ensure they carry on,” said Peres. “There is clear majority and agreement on a solution of two states for two people.”
Palestinians back Abbas on Washington visit
GAZA CITY (Al Jazeera) 17 Mar by Fares Akram & Dalia Hatuqa — Police and security forces of Hamas, the Palestinian group that governs the Gaza Strip, have curbed rallies in support of Mahmoud Abbas as the Palestinian president is set to meet US President Barack Obama in Washington. Demonstrations took place in Gaza and the West Bank on Monday against what organisers described as American and Israeli pressure on Abbas to extend peace talks with Israel … The rallies were organised “to support the Palestinian leadership in its stance that abides by our national principles,” Iyad Safi, an activist with the Popular Campaign to Maintain Principles, which organised the rally in Gaza, told Al Jazeera … In the West Bank, demonstrations took place in the cities of Ramallah, Nablus, Jericho, Tulkarem and Hebron, where Palestinians held banners with words of support for Abbas, and waved Palestinian flags and yellow Fatah flags. “We are here to show our support to Abu Mazen [Abbas],” Hussam Al Deek, a Ramallah-based lawyer taking part in the protest, told Al Jazeera. “We are behind him as he wages a political fight against US and Israeli dictates.” On Sunday, the PA announced it would close all its institutions at 11 am local time, so its employees could participate in the protests. Public schools were also closed, and unions called on their members to take part in the day’s events.
Shaath denies making ‘Jewish state’ offer
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 18 Mar – A top member of Fatah on Tuesday denied reports by Israeli media that he said the Palestinian Authority would consider recognition of Israel as a Jewish state. Central Committee member Nabil Shaath was quoted by official radio as saying that “the Palestinian leadership would consider recognizing Israel as a Jewish state after negotiations come to an end and after all controversial issues are solved.” In response, Shaath told Ma‘an that his quotes were misinterpreted.
Palestinian Authority issues oil exploration tender for West Bank
Reuters 18 Mar — The Palestinian Authority on Tuesday issued a tender for oil exploration in the West Bank for a license it said could hold between 30 and 186 million barrels of oil. The project will be run as a joint venture, with the government-owned Palestine Investment Fund having at least a 25 percent stake, Deputy Prime Minister for Economic Affairs Mohammad Mustafa said in a statement. The area of the license, outside the West Bank city of Qalqilya, is near a small field being developed by Israeli firm Givot Olam northeast of Tel Aviv. Bids will be accepted until the end of June, the statement said, and the project is expected to generate more than $1 billion in taxes, royalties and other bonuses for the Palestinian Authority.
For Palestinians, Arab Idol offers welcome escape
RAMALLAH, West Bank (AP) 17 Mar — Hundreds of Palestinian youths lined up outside a luxury hotel at the crack of dawn on Monday for a chance to compete in the Arab world’s premier talent show, hoping to follow the unlikely example of last year’s winner and sing their way out of a life of conflict and poverty. It was the first time that the top rated “Arab Idol” show has come to the Palestinian territories, marking an important milestone for an area that is not accustomed to celebrating. “We have to put Palestine on the map. This is the first Arab contest to come here and recruit people, and the other programs will follow,” Mohammed Assaf, the feel-good winner of last year’s competition, told The Associated Press. Assaf, a young wedding singer for a refugee camp in the Gaza Strip, became an overnight sensation across the Arab world thanks to his bright smile, warm tenor and personal story of overcoming adversity.
Outrage grows in West Bank over ‘honor killings’ of women
AQQABA, West Bank (Washington Post) 16 Mar by Anne-Marie O’Connor — The news spread at dawn, and people in the village made their way to the olive tree where the bruised body of a young mother of six was hanging, her veil torn off, killed in the name of honor. ‘‘For two weeks her children were incapable of sleeping, crying for their mother,’’ said Ahmad Abu Arra, a cousin of the victim. ‘‘We want justice.’’ Here in this northern West Bank mountain town of breathtaking views, the relatives of Rasha Abu Arra, 32, who was murdered in November after rumors spread that she had committed adultery, are adding their voices to an outcry against honor killings in the Palestinian territories. Twenty-seven women are suspected of being killed in the West Bank and Gaza Strip last year by family members claiming reasons of ‘‘honor’’ — more than double the 13 cases documented in 2012. The age-old rationale can serve as a cover for domestic abuse, inheritance disputes, rape, incest, or the desire to punish female independence, according to Maha Abu-Dayyeh, the general director of the Women’s Centre for Legal Aid and Counseling, a Palestinian human rights group that tracks the murders. Once hidden behind a curtain of silence and shame, honor killings are beginning to generate condemnation of its perpetrators, public support for its victims, and vows to stop the practice. ‘‘The entire society is incensed by the increase,’’ said Rabiha Diab, the Palestinian minister of women’s affairs.
Take a holiday in the Middle East countrysides
The Guardian 17 Mar by Daniel Adamson — Palestine The West Bank isn’t the obvious destination for a relaxing break, but the FCO’s warning to stay away was lifted years ago and the vibrancy of Palestinian culture may surprise you. The Israeli occupation is evident in walls and checkpoints, and there are some places – notably Hebron – that are always tense. That said, there’s much more to this country than conflict. International visitors can move around freely and will be welcomed warmly by Palestinians. Hosh Jasmin (facebook.com/hosh.jasmin) is an organic farm and slow-food restaurant just outside Bethlehem. You can camp under the olive trees and join in yoga sessions, film nights and wine tastings. A little way to the north, the village of Deir Ghassaneh is a great starting point for a walk on the Sufi Trails that connect the old hilltop shrines around Ramallah. You can have lunch here, at the village women’s co-operative (+972 2240 7611, pace.ps).
Boosting Jewish identity – and Israel’s economy
Haaretz 18 Mar by Rina Rozenberg — Offering inspirational Israel tours to Diaspora Jews, Birthright has added $750m to GDP as well — …Birthright brings in young Jews from all over the world aged 18 to 26 for a free 10-day educational tour. They visit sites with Israelis their age, most of them soldiers. The goal is to create a network of worldwide support for Israel; to strengthen both the connection to Judaism and the connection to Israel … Last year Birthright brought a particularly large number of young Jews to Israel: 43,000. This year the group is looking to top 50,000.
Post-army travelers or Dead Sea scammers? Congress and State Dept. at odds over Israeli visas
WASHINGTON (JTA) 18 Mar by Ron Kampeas — The battle between members of Congress and the State Department over tourist visas for Israelis features two competing archetypes of the young Israeli traveler. The lawmakers paint a picture of a world traveler, matured by service to country, who deserves a break from the stresses of the Middle East. U.S. consular officials, meanwhile, have warned of lawbreakers hawking dubious Dead Sea beauty products in malls and at rest stops. The debate surfaced publicly with a March 6 letter from Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) to Secretary of State John Kerry and James Ragsdale, the acting director of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. In his letter, Schumer expressed concern about a recent spike in the proportion of Israelis being denied visas to visit the United States. Prior to Schumer sending his letter, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee had been raising the issue of visa denials on Capitol Hill … In addition, AIPAC has been backing a broader legislative effort to get Israel into the U.S. visa waiver program, which allows travelers from designated countries to visit the United States without a visa. One of the principal obstacles to joining the visa waiver program has been Israel’s inability to consistently score below 3 percent on the visa refusals rate, a requirement for countries seeking to join the program
Israel’s Peres apologises over shooting of Jordan judge
Amman (AFP) 17 Mar – Jordan said on Monday that Israeli President Shimon Peres had apologised to King Abdullah II for the killing of a Jordanian judge by Israeli troops last week. Peres for his part issued a statement saying he had called Abdullah to express “deep regret” for the shooting of Palestinian Jordanian Raed Zeiter at a border crossing, but the statement stopped short of quoting a full apology. A Jordan palace statement said Abdullah “received a telephone call from Peres who, as president of the state of Israel, apologised for the martyrdom of Jordanian judge Raed Zeiter”. “Peres expressed his regrets for the incident and said he was deeply affected. He said Israel is committed to work together with Jordan on the probe into the incident.” The statement added the king “also received a similar phone call from (Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin) Netanyahu,” without giving further details. Israeli troops on March 10 shot Zeiter, saying he attacked them, igniting a diplomatic row between Israel and the kingdom and sparking furore among Jordanians.
Israel vows response as 4 troops wounded by Golan bomb
JERUSALEM (AFP) 18 Mar — A roadside bomb wounded four Israeli soldiers on the occupied Golan Heights Tuesday, prompting artillery fire into Syria and a sharp warning that Israel would act forcefully to defend itself. The army said one of the soldiers was severely wounded in what was the third such incident in two weeks along Israel’s northern frontier, prompting a blunt warning from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Don’t cancel sale of Apaches to Egypt, Israel urges US
Haaretz 19 Mar by Barak Ravid — Israeli officials have been lobbying Washington hard on behalf of the new Egyptian government, urging resumption of U.S. aid to Cairo — Since the coup in 2013, during which the army headed by the present defense minister, Field Marshal Abdel Fattah al-Sissi, ousted President Mohammed Morsi and outlawed Morsi’s movement, the Islamic Brotherhood, American military aid to Egypt has been on ice. Since signing the peace treaty with Egypt, each year it had received $1.3 billion from the United States. However, there is considerable opposition in Congress to renewing military aid to Egypt and supplying the copters. The opponents, a rainbow coalition of Democrats and Republicans, say that to get back the aid, Egypt should be required to hold democratic elections and the army has to transfer the reins to an elected democratic government in an orderly fashion … As cooperation between the new government in Egypt and Israel improves, last week a delegation of top Egyptian army officers and officials from the Egyptian Ministry of Foreign Affairs visited Israel.
Analysis / Opinion
The death of an Israeli war hero and Palestinian incitement / Noam Sheizaf
972mag 17 Mar — Meir Har-Zion was a murderer, yet he was idolized this week by the Israeli media and the country’s highest officials — The Hebrew media in Israel bid farewell this week to one of the IDF’s mythological heroes, Meir Har-Zion. Har-Zion was practically legendary when I grew up, the most celebrated warrior of the IDF’s Unit 101, which carried deadly “retribution” operations across Israel’s borders. “Israel’s hero,” read the front page headline this morning on Israel Hayom, the widely read free daily. Similarly adoring coverage could be found on the pages of the Post, Times of Israel, and even the U.S.-based Tablet. “One of our greatest heroes — a bold warrior full of love for the land and its people,” said Prime Minister Netanyahu. “A legend,” President Peres called him. The “retribution” raids by Unit 101 were in fact indiscriminate attacks on Arab police, military and civilians, carried out as acts of revenge for Israeli casualties in 1953. In the infamous Qibia raid alone, around 60 people, most of them women and children, were murdered.
Purim in Jaljulya / Leora Eren Frucht
Haaretz 16 Mar by Leora Eren Frucht — A visit to a an Arab town, site of a recent ‘price tag’ attack, reinforced a different message from the endless revenge of the Purim story — I love Purim. For the most part. I love the burst of creativity, so Israeli in spirit, that produces a parade of insanely original costumes to make your jaw drop … But then there is a darker side of the holiday, one that I feel palpably this year. Some say Purim is the quintessential Jewish festival: You know – they tried to kill us, we survived, let’s eat. If only it stopped there. But the Scroll of Esther goes on to tell us that after we rebuffed their attempt to kill us and threw a big feast, we went on to kill 75,000 of them, including women and children – them being Amalek, our archenemy. The many interpretations, justifications and fancy philosophical footwork invested over the centuries to make this sound okay have never made me feel any better about it. It’s genocide. And genocide always begins with crude generalizations about a whole people, with demonizing them, which is why even seemingly “small” acts of racism disturb me deeply. This year that point was brought home to me poignantly on a schizophrenic Friday when I spent the morning at my daughter’s school buoyed by the joy of costume-clad children, and the afternoon in a place where there was no mirth – just hurt and rage. For while Jews were celebrating the merry month of Adar, Arabs in the central Israeli town of Jaljulya awoke one day last week to find they had been the latest victims of a so-called “price-tag attack.” The phrase “Every Arab is a criminal” had been spray-painted in thick black Hebrew letters on a 10-meter stretch of wall outside the just-completed home of two Jaljulya families. Nineteen cars had been vandalized … As we passed the disfigured wall, the owner of the house, Ihab Tatar, asked repeatedly: “Why us? What did we do to warrant this?” A 43-year-old carpenter and father of four, Tatar had just finished building the home and surrounding wall, with his own hands, a month ago. “That’s the welcome we were given,” he said wryly. His 13-year-old son sidled up to him. “He follows me everywhere. He doesn’t want to be alone since the incident,” explains Tatar … Over in the Jaljulya council, a small delegation of well-wishers, Jews and Arabs, expressed their sorrow and outrage. Faik Odeh, the newly elected council head, said he was heartened by the presence of so many of his Jewish neighbors … But Odeh added that he was hurt and disappointed that he had not heard a single condemnation or apology from any representative of the prime minister, the interior minister (responsible for towns and councils) or the public security minister, who oversees the police … One participant at the meeting said this was not about Jews versus Arabs, but really about forces of light versus forces of darkness.
One force of light:
Holocaust survivors hand gift baskets to asylum seekers
Ynet 17 Mar by Omri Efraim — ‘We were also refugees’: 20 elderly Holocaust survivors distribute water and Purim gift bags to hundreds of asylum seekers in Tel Aviv … Batya Rapaport, a 75-year-old Holocaust survivor, explained that this is an initiative by survivors and the foundation’s workers “who every day see people waiting for hours in the rain, in the cold, and in unbearable conditions. As a Holocaust survivor it raises thought, it takes you back to a time in which you were constantly chased and your life was in danger.” According to Rapaport, who as a child escaped Warsaw Ghetto before it was eliminated, the survivors seek to convey a message: “Beyond politics, we want to say that human beings cannot overlook the suffering of other people.” In recent weeks, since a new immigration office opened in Tel Aviv, thousands of asylum seekers, with families – including babies, children and pregnant women – have waited on site for hours on end, without any shelter or access to toilets.
The three truths the US need to accept about Gaza / Samer Badawi
972blog 17 Mar — Israel and its U.S. allies perpetuate a number of mistruths about Gaza, its role in the conflict and its centrality moving forward. If they are not challenged, violence will continue and the U.S. risks losing even more credibility in the region — …policymakers must challenge three underlying assumptions behind the U.S. position, which currently aligns with the pointedly undiplomatic threats of Israel’s chief diplomat: 1) that Israeli-Palestinian peace can be forged without Gaza, 2) that Israel’s stranglehold on Gaza ended in 2005, and 3) that Israel’s threats are aimed only at Palestinian “militants.” No peace without Gaza …Gazans represent roughly one-third of the Palestinian population in the Occupied Territories, including East Jerusalem. Beyond demographics, though, Gaza also commands enormous symbolic value for the Palestinian struggle. That a majority of its population trace their origins to villages inside Israel means that their fate will gauge how the Palestinian refugee crisis will be resolved. This stands to reason: Of the approximately 1.5 million Palestinian refugees who live in UN-administered camps throughout the Arab world, more than one-third live in Gaza. Any agreement that excludes Gaza would lack credibility and therefore be unsustainable. Proof of that lies in the failure of the Oslo peace process itself … The myth of ‘withdrawal’ Israel’s much-flaunted “withdrawal” from Gaza nearly nine years ago involved the removal of some 8,000 Jewish settlers who controlled Gaza’s prime agricultural land and shoreline — an area roughly equal to 40 percent of the 25-mile-long strip … nearly a decade after the “disengagement,” Israel continues to control nearly half of Gaza’s agricultural land and nearly all access to the sea … Israel’s ‘enemies’ Palestinians have the right, enshrined in international law, to challenge the ongoing siege of Gaza and to truly dismantle the legacy of Israel’s racist settlement enterprise there. At the vanguard of Gaza’s resistance, though, are young, nonviolent activists — not rocket-launching militants.
VIDEO: Palestine pre-1948, before Zionism/Israel
19 Feb 2013 [In case you missed it] — The video contains pictures of different Palestinian cities and their people during the 1920s and 1930s, before the creation of the state of Israel by the Zionists in 1948.