Violence / Raids / Attacks / Killings / Illegal arrests
2nd Palestinian youth dies after being shot by Israeli forces
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 20 June — A 22-year-old youth on Friday succumbed to wounds sustained during an Israeli military raid on Qalandiya refugee camp south of Ramallah, making him the second Palestinian to be killed by Israeli forces since the morning. Mustafa Hosni Aslan was shot in the head by Israeli forces when they raided the camp before dawn on Friday, one of three Palestinians wounded in the camp. After being taken to Ramallah Governmental Hospital he was subsequently moved to Jerusalem’s Hadassah hospital earlier in the day, and he was pronounced dead by Israeli medical officials there just after noon. His death was announced in Qalandiya refugee camp only hours after it had been announced that he was injured, not killed, leading to a state of shock for many residents upon hearing the news. Locals said that youths had thrown rocks and broken bottles at the Israeli troops when they stormed the camp, leading to “violent” clashes. Two other Palestinians were shot during the raid, one in the stomach and one in the side.
Aslan is the second Palestinian shot dead on Friday. The killings come on the one week anniversary of the disappearance of three Israeli youths from the Jewish settlement of Gush Etzion. Since the disappearance, Israeli forces have killed three Palestinians and injured dozens in a massive search operation across the West Bank as well as nightly bombings of the Gaza Strip. The Israeli military said on Friday that in the past week, they have raided 1150 “locations,” including homes, charities, universities, and offices, and detained 330 Palestinians, out of which 240 were affiliated with Hamas. Israel has also imposed widespread closures in the southern West Bank region of Hebron, where Israeli authorities suspect that Hamas-affiliated kidnappers may be hiding.
14-year-old Palestinian shot dead by Israeli forces in Dura
HEBRON (Ma‘an) 20 June — Israeli forces shot and killed a 14-year-old Palestinian boy after clashes erupted early Friday morning during a raid on the southern West Bank village of Dura, near Hebron. Local sources told Ma‘an that Mahmoud Jihad Muhammad Dudeen was struck by live bullets in the chest before being taken to Hebron Governmental Hospital, where he was shortly pronounced dead. The local sources said Israeli forces opened fire directly on Mahmoud during the clashes which occurred in the Haninia neighborhood of Dura. The clashes broke out after Israeli forces stormed the village in a dawn raid and began conducting home raids. In response, local youths threw rocks at the soldiers.
Palestinian man dies of heart attack as Israeli troops raid home
SALFIT (Ma‘an) 21 June – An elderly Palestinian man died early Saturday of a heart attack during a heated argument with Israeli troops who broke into his house in the village of Haris in Salfit district in the northern West Bank. Palestinian security sources said Israeli soldiers refused to allow family members of Ali Abed Jabir to take him to hospital for treatment after he suffered a heart attack and eventually died at home. The victim was in his 60s. The sources explained that dozens of Israeli soldiers stormed Haris village, ransacked several homes and assaulted residents. Jawad Muhammad Dawood suffered a hand fracture after Israeli troops brutally attacked him and his brother Jawdat during a raid on their home. In addition, seven family members inhaled tear gas after Israeli forces fired a canister in their home.
This is what an Israeli military operation in Hebron looks like
972blog 20 June by Akram Natsheh — In its invasion of the city, the army has not shied away from using live fire, blowing up the doors of homes and shops and maintaining a closure on thousands of people. The goal? Demonstrating its invincible power — Nour Al-Kawasma, an eight-year-old resident of Hebron, will never forget how Israeli forces suddenly declared war on his home. The young boy is still hospitalized with a head wound, days after Israeli soldiers detonated the front door of his house. Akram Al-Kawasma, Nour’s father, still carries an expression of bewilderment on his face. Nour remains in the hospital while his older brother, who was arrested during the raid, sits in jail. The story, as Akram tells it, began when he noticed soldiers coming close to the entrance of his apartment. The area was full of soldiers carrying out house-to-house searches. This is what he told me: “I expected one of them to knock on the door, but all of a sudden there was a huge explosion, I had no idea why, and the soldiers started yelling: ‘Get out of the house!’ Just then, my son Nour was wounded by shrapnel from the explosion, and I didn’t know what to do. He was bleeding as the soldiers tried to enter, and after the door opened I told them that my son was wounded and needed an ambulance. But they did not listen because they wanted to arrest my oldest son, and that’s why they left my youngest bleeding in his mother’s arms. When my older son arrived an hour later, they took him by force, blindfolded him and threw him on the ground. ” Nour, still bleeding, remained in his mother’s arms, while the soldiers prevented the ambulance from reaching the house. The soldiers shot at the Palestinian ambulance, a first aid crew, journalists and neighbors to prevent them from coming near. Only when the Israeli army’s ambulance arrived did my son finally receive treatment. He almost died because of the long delay. When Akram returned to his apartment, he found everything in shambles. All the furniture had been either destroyed, torn or broken. “Couldn’t they have just entered and searched quietly?” he asks. “Why blow things up and destroy? And what did my son Nour do to deserve to be wounded and hospitalized?
Video: Israeli soldiers invade more Palestinian homes in Hebron
HEBRON, Occupied Palestine (ISM Khalil Team) 18 June — Yesterday the Israeli army invaded a family house in the H1 area, supposedly under full Palestinian Authority civil and security control, of al-Khalil (Hebron). The father of the family is very ill with heart disease; the family was forced in to one room and was not allowed to leave. The eight Israeli soldiers used the house as an unofficial army post, both to rest and to view the area. The soldiers stayed there overnight, terrifying the family, as they had no idea when the soldiers would leave. At approximately 11:00 am, the soldiers left the house, however they informed the family that they would return. The soldiers then entered the next house, relatives of the same family, with four young children. First they searched the house, and then occupied the children’s room on the second floor. They moved the children’s beds to get more space and placed a black blanket to cover the doorway. The soldiers took shifts, sitting in front of the room watching the family, while the rest were sleeping, eating, and viewing the area. The family told the ISMers present that the soldiers also took showers. The soldiers seemed very uncomfortable with the ISM volunteers in the house, and behaved very aggressively towards them, and the family members who were taking photos.
Hebron losses ‘$10m daily’ during siege
HEBRON (Ma‘an) 21 June — Productivity in the Hebron marketplace has decreased 50 percent after a week of Israeli siege in search of three missing settlers, according to a Palestinian businessman. Mohammad Nafeth al-Herbawi, the head of the Palestinian businessmen forum in Hebron, told Ma‘an that the city suffers around $10 million in losses daily, while laborers are losing around $2 million. “The continuation of the siege will affect the social, economic and daily situation of life for residents of the district,” al-Herbawi said. “Twenty-thousand workers within the Green Line (Israel) are deprived of their work, and businessmen are deprived of traveling and even reaching other cities.” He added that some companies and factories have been forced to release a large number of workers, which will lead to dire social conditions.
Photos of the week: After kidnapping, West Bank cities under lockdown
Activestills 20 June — In the wake of the kidnapping of three Israeli teens last week, the Israeli army began an extensive campaign in the occupied territories. Thousands of soldiers have descended upon cities, towns and villages in the West Bank, including in Area A, as part of Operation Brother’s Keeper. Photos: Yotam Ronen, Ahmad Al-Bazz, Oren Ziv, Mustafa Bader / Activestills.og, text: Yael Marom
Families bear brunt as Israel hunts teens
TAFFUH, West Bank (AFP) 18 June — It was the sound of the front door being kicked in that woke the Izrayqat family early on Wednesday as Israeli troops barged into their home in Taffuh village near Hebron. Even the four children were sleeping because school had ended and the summer holidays were already underway. “They kicked in the doors at 07:30 (04:30 GMT) and told us to get out,” Umm Omar Izrayqat told AFP, describing the moment when troops came searching for signs of three Israeli teenagers believed kidnapped by the Islamist militants from Hamas. “I took my four children. We didn’t even have time to get ready properly, so I put these dirty clothes on and left,” she said, gesturing towards her dress which had been in the laundry pile. Like elsewhere in the southern West Bank, life in this village west of Hebron has been turned on its head since the three teenagers went missing late last week, prompting a massive military search operation … Israel has accused Hamas militants of kidnapping the youngsters, two of them minors, and has launched a major crackdown on its members. But it is ordinary families who are bearing the brunt of the operation. After ordering the Izrayqat family out of their home, the soldiers began using the house as an operating base, Umm Omar said. “I went back inside to get my mobile phone and found them asleep on my daughter’s bed,” she told AFP. “If our relatives didn’t live nearby we’d have ended up in the street,” she said, explaining that they had found refuge with the family next door. Other families have had the opposite problem, being forced to stay in just one room inside their own homes as soldiers took over the rest of the house. Karima Khmayseh, 39, said she and her children were forced to cower in a corner of their main room as the army rifled through personal effects.
Palestinian children most affected as Israel tightens its grip in hunt for teens
TAFFUH, Palestine (The National) 19 June by Orlando Crowcroft // As the sun beat down on the concrete houses of the sleepy West Bank village of Taffuh, just two kilometres outside Hebron, a Israeli military convoy snaked its way through the dusty streets … A special forces officer in jeans and a flak jacket approached The National, warning us to stop following the convoy and threatened to confiscate IDs and “make big problems” if we did not comply. Whatever the Israel Defence Force (IDF) was doing in this hilltop village, it clearly did not want an audience. Sitting in a house a few streets away, Mohammed Mahmoud Ruziqat, 64, had already witnessed the Israeli military’s push into villages such as Tafuh, part of a campaign to find three teenagers kidnapped outside a settlement just a few kilometres away from Hebron on June 12. On Sunday, around 30 soldiers arrived at his son’s front door demanding somewhere to sleep for the night. After herding the family out of the house and into his own, Mr Ruziqat, his son and grandchildren had to wait until the following night before the soldiers left and his son’s family could return. But the father of 13 — who has five sons and eight daughters in all — said it was his two granddaughters, Nangis, 5 and Yasmeen, 6, who had been most affected by the incident. Unlike Mr Ruziqat and his children, who have lived through at least one intifada, the young sisters had never before seen heavily armed soldiers appear at their door. “They both have nightmares. They wake up screaming in the night. I hear them talking to each other, asking if the soldiers will ever come back,” he said.
5 injured, 30 detained as Israeli forces storm Duheisha camp
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 20 June — Five Palestinians were injured and around 30 detained in Bethlehem’s Duheisha refugee camp early Friday morning after clashes broke out when hundreds of Israeli soldiers stormed the area in a military raid early Friday. Local sources said that approximately 1,000 Israeli soldiers encircled the camp and the nearby area of Al-Salam southwest of Bethlehem overnight Friday as part of a massive search operation being carried out for three Israeli youths who went missing last week. During the raid, Israeli snipers deployed atop nearby buildings, while plainclothes special forces deployed in nearby streets including in the nearby al-Jebel area. Medical sources said that Malek Mustafa al-Sharif, 22, was wounded by rubber-coated steel bullets during the clashes. In addition, an Israeli military patrol vehicle ran over four youths from the camp, including Musa al-Khamour, 22, Hassan Mujahid Abu Joudah, and Marcel Mahmoud Zaghout, 19, who was arrested after he was struck in the head by the vehicle. The fourth injured individual was not identified.
Israeli forces detained 30 Palestinians during the raid including Bethlehem Mufti Sheikh Abd al-Majid Atallah and freed prisoner Aisa Abed Rabbo, who was released in October as part of a deal between Israel and the Palestinian Authority in which 104 Palestinian prisoners detained prior to the 1994 Oslo Accords would be let go in exchange for the restart of peace talks … A number of detainees were held and then released shortly, including Khaled al-Seifi and Aisa Abed Rabbo …
Additionally, Israeli forces stormed the nearby villages of [Khalayel] Al-Louz and Artas during the raids, conducting house-to-house searches and combing farmland and open areas nearby. Local sources in Artas estimated that 300 soldiers were present in the village during the raids. Earlier on Friday morning, Israeli forces closed the Beit Jala DCO checkpoint near Bethlehem as well.
Israeli forces raid Arab American University in Jenin
JENIN (Ma‘an) 20 June — At least one was injured as Israeli forces carried out raids on homes across the northern West Bank region of Jenin and stormed the headquarters of the Arab American University at dawn on Friday. Security sources in Jenin told Ma‘an that Israeli forces stormed the headquarters of the university and raided the building of the Dean of Student Affairs and the Student Union, detaining a number of workers and guards who were there for a short period of time. The sources added that Israeli forces confiscated papers and files from the buildings and in particular from the Student Union, before leaving the university after several hours. The sources also said that clashes broke out during the Israeli raid in Jenin and one Palestinian was injured after being struck in the shoulder. Amir Saadi, 17, was taken to the hospital with wounds described as being between minor and moderate.
Israel detains 49 in large-scale West Bank arrest raids
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 20 June — Israeli forces detained 49 Palestinians overnight Thursday as a large-scale detention campaign continued in the occupied West Bank for the eighth day. The Palestinian Prisoners Society said Israeli forces raided dozens of homes across the West Bank, with reports of assaults and theft. In Duheisha refugee camp, Ashraf al-Jaidi was detained after being assaulted and knocked unconscious, with his family claiming that Israeli soldiers stole 2,000 shekels ($580) from his wallet.
Most of those detained were ex-prisoners released in a 2011 swap deal, PPS said, with 20 Palestinians detained in Nablus, 12 in Bethlehem, seven in Hebron, four in Jerusalem, two in Tulkarem, two in Salfit and one from Jenin. [A list of their names follows] An Israeli army spokesman said that 25 Palestinians were detained as soldiers searched 200 locations across the West Bank. Since the beginning of the operation, 330 Palestinians have been detained, 240 of whom are affiliated to Hamas, he added.
LIVE UPDATES: Israeli forces sweeping area north of Hebron in search of the kidnapped
Haaretz 21 June — Latest updates: 10:48 A.M. Israeli troops arrested 20 Palestinians in Hebron in the West Bank overnight Saturday. (Jack Khoury) 10:33 A.M. Israeli soldiers clash with Palestinians in the West Bank city of el-Bireh near Ramallah on Saturday morning, the Palestinian news agency Ma‘an reports.
HRW: Israel orders removal of security camera that showed Nakba killings
Al Jazeera America 19 June by Renee Lewis — Israeli security forces briefly imprisoned and threatened a Palestinian man whose security cameras captured the killings of two Palestinian boys in May, Human Rights Watch (HRW) said Thursday. “Israeli military officers berated Fakher Zayed, 47, for sharing the security videos with human rights groups, claimed he had lied and fabricated evidence, and threatened to bring unspecified legal actions against him if he did not remove the security cameras,” HRW said in a news release. Zayed alleged that on June 17 four Israeli military vehicles with two dozen soldiers came to his carpentry shop in Beitunia, a town near the West Bank de facto capital of Ramallah, HRW said. It added that a witness, who was at the shop while Zayed made a delivery, said an Israeli officer told him: “If (Zayed) is not here in five minutes we are going to burn this carpentry shop down.” When Zayed arrived his identification documents were confiscated and he was taken for questioning to Ofer, an Israeli military prison, HRW said. “They told me that the video I gave to the press was fabricated, that everything I said and all my testimonies are a lie, that this is a serious violation of the law, and that I made the (Israeli army) look bad and caused a lot of problems,” Zayed said, according to HRW. “They told me the cameras need to be brought down within 24 hours,” Zayed said, according to HRW. “There were so many threats … One of them said, ‘We will squish you like a bug, you are nothing.’”
Israel orders dismantling of camera that captured murder of Palestinian boys
Electronic Intifada 20 June by Charlotte Silver — On 15 May, Israeli security forces fatally shot Nadim Nuwara, 17, and Muhammad Abu al-Thahir, 16, at a demonstration near the Ofer military prison in the occupied West Bank village of Beitunia. Four days after the killings, on 19 May, Defence for Children International-Palestine (DCI-Palestine) released footage from Zayed’s security cameras that showed the boys walking slowly in a calm scene when they were shot. Now the Israeli military has ordered Fakher Zayed, the man whose security cameras captured the closed circuit TV footage that shows Israeli security forces shooting the two teenage boys, to dismantle his cameras within 24 hours or face legal proceedings/ (The footage and an earlier interview with Zayed can be seen in the DCI-Palestine video above) .The Israeli military had already confiscated Zayed’s recording equipment on 22 May, and on 13 June seized all other recording equipment in the area — such as that owned by other shopkeepers. They now demand that Zayed remove his security camera as well, from which a live stream can be watched but not saved for subsequent viewing or examination … Israeli impunity has always been guaranteed by the military’s insistence on conducting internal investigations — for most of which the findings have yet to be revealed. Clearly, Zayed’s camera poses a threat to this impunity.
Palestinian kidnapped by Israeli forces in Awarta
AWARTA, Occupied Palestine (ISM Nablus Team) 16 June — At approximately 2:00 AM on the 15th June, Israeli soldiers conducted a night raid in the village of Awarta near Nablus, which was one of a series of raids and closures carried out by Israeli forces, following the disappearance of three Israeli settler youth close to al-Khalil (Hebron). Palestinian witnesses state that over 50 Israeli soldiers surrounded the village. During the operation around 20 Israeli military personnel forced entry to, and stormed the home of Sameer Abu Shayb. Palestinian residents state that the soldiers were aggressive and had their faces covered. Sameer was then handcuffed and interrogated at his home over the phone by a commanding officer, for approximately 15 minutes. Sameer was not accused of any offence, but was then taken outside, blindfolded, and abducted by Israel forces. This is the sixth time that Sameer has been imprisoned in recent years, totaling approximately 6 months. He has never been formally accused of an offence and has never been presented with any evidence to justify his repeated detentions. Sameer formerly ran a graphic design shop but was forced to close due to this harassment. Three and a half years ago Israeli soldiers broke into his office, stole a PC and camera, and broke a printer and other merchandise. The property has never been returned, nor has he received compensation.
Killing without consequence
EAST JERUSALEM, Occupied Palestine 19 June by Moira Jilani — Ziad and I met at a party at the University of Houston. Six months later Ziad proposed, saying, “I’m a Palestinian. I am only here to get an education. After graduating I’ll return home to Jerusalem. Come with me.” We married the following year and moved to Jerusalem. For nearly 20 years we lived happily, raising a family and enjoying our lives together. But my fairy tale came to an end on the afternoon of June 11, 2010. In the morning we made plans to take our daughters to the beach that afternoon, Ziad never made it home. The Israeli border policemen who shot and killed my husband declared that Ziad was a “terrorist” shot dead from a distance. But my husband was no terrorist. He loved life. He loved people and animals and he loved us, his family, with a passion. We had to conduct our own investigation to find out how my husband died … My husband was killed by a trigger-happy Israeli border policemen. They ought to face trial for both the crime and the cover-up. It’s time for the American government to step up, support American citizens such my daughters and I, and insist that Israel hold a proper trial.
Prisoners / Court actions
Israel to re-sentence prisoners released in Shalit deal
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 20 June — Israel’s public prosecution on Friday transferred seven Palestinian prisoners released in a 2011 swap deal to Haifa’s central court for re-sentencing, a prisoners group said. A lawyer from the Palestinian Prisoners Society told Ma‘an that a special committee in Haifa’s central court on Friday canceled the temporary parole order for seven prisoners released in the 2011 prisoners swap deal for captured Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit … The court will review violations of the prisoners’ parole with the aim of reinstating their previous prison sentences, the lawyer added. The seven ex-prisoners were detained on Wednesday after Israeli forces raided their homes in Jerusalem.
Legislation to send freed prisoners back to jail in case of kidnapping
Ynet 17 June by Moran Azulay — ‘They need to know that when they kidnap, they automatically send terrorists back to jail, not releasing them,’ says Likud MK Elkin — Five days after three Israeli teenagers had been kidnapped in Gush Etzion, chairman of the Knesset Foreign and Defense Committee, MK Zeev Elkin, announced Tuesday that he will promote legislation to send freed prisoners from recent deals back to Israeli jail. MKs from the Likud, Yisrael Beiteinu and Bayit Yehudi are expected to sign Elkin’s proposed bill, that demands to imprison anew every prisoner that has returned to terrorist activity, or that the organization the prisoner is affiliated with returns to such activity. The bill’s co-signers – Elkin, along with Coalition Chairman Yariv Levine and Bayit Yehudi MK Ayelet Shaked and Orit Struck – understand the legal difficulties of such a proposal, and therefore seek to word it in a way that defines any future pardoning of security prisoners as “conditional pardoning.”
Apparently these measures apply only to prisoners affiliated with Hamas
New series of punishments against Palestinian prisoners
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 20 June — Israeli Prison Services have begun a series of punishments against more than 5,000 Palestinian prisoners in Israeli prisons in response to the disappearance of three Israeli teens in Hebron last week. A report by the Palestinian Ministry of Prisoner Affairs said that Israeli Prisons Services have determined a series of new rules against Palestinian prisoners as punishment for the disappearance, with the approval of the Israeli minister of internal security.
The punishments include:
1. Allowing visits only once every two months for Hamas-affiliated prisoners, and possibly all prisoners.
2. Shutting the canteen and lowering the allowed amount of money from 1000 NIS ($290) a month to 400 ILS ($116).
3. Prisoners allowed to go out into the prison yard for an hour in the morning and an hour in evening, instead of eight hours, in addition to applying a search device at the gate of the yard.
4. Hamas-affiliated prisoners are not allowed to receive newspapers.
5. Hamas-affiliated prisoners are not allowed to watch TV.
6. Guards are allowed to search prisoners while they are in the prison yard.
7. Non-hunger striking prisoners are not allowed to interact with hunger-striking prisoners.
PA prevents march supporting hunger strikers
HEBRON (Ma‘an) 20 June — Palestinian security services on Friday prevented a march supporting prisoners in Hebron from taking place, participants and onlookers reported. Security services prevented a march that was called for by the Palestinian Prisoners Center for Studies to support hunger-striking prisoners in Israeli jails. Security services prevented journalists from doing their jobs, a journalist told Ma‘an. “Journalists were prevented from taking pictures of the march, and then they were allowed to but the march was prevented to walk to al-Manara. Then they were allowed to walk to al-Haras mosque and the security divided them there.” An employee of a US-based news network told Ma‘an that the security services beat reporters “savagely” and broke at least one camera.
WATCH: Palestinian Authority police assault CNN reporter, cameraman during pro-Hamas rally
Jerusalem Post 20 June — Members of the Palestinian Authority security services assaulted a CNN reporter and his cameraman on Friday in the West Bank town of Hebron. Ben Wedeman, the US news network’s correspondent who covers events in Israel and the Palestinian-administered territories, said that he was accosted by PA policeman who ordered that the cameraman cease filming a pro-Hamas demonstration. Wedeman later told CNN that he came away with “a couple of bruises and a few scratches,” though there was damage to the camera. Hamas had organized the demonstration as a show of solidarity for Palestinian prisoners languishing in Israeli jails.
Knesset legal counselor: Doctors can drug, force-feed prisoners
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 19 June — The legal counselor for Israel’s internal security ministry, Yoel Idar, said Wednesday that Israeli doctors can “drug” administrative hunger-striking prisoners and force-feed them. A Knesset member told Ma‘an that the legal counselor suggested, during a session for the committee in the Knesset, the possibility of drugging the hunger-strikers so doctors could force-feed them. The MK, Ahmad Tibi, said the meeting discussed Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s law of force-feeding the prisoners on hunger strike. Tibi responded to the legal counselor by saying that “force-feeding is dangerous and threatens the lives of the hunger-strikers and it offends their dignity.” He pointed out that there will be a vote on the force-feeding decision next Monday.
Jerusalem court sentences woman to 40 months
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 19 June — The Jerusalem central court sentenced Alia al-Sheikh Ali Abbasi, 49, from Silwan, to 40 months in prison for attempting to stab an Israeli soldier in 2012. Head of the Prisoners’ Families Committee Amjad Abu Asab said that Abbasi was detained on Jan. 2, 2012 at the Shuafat refugee camp checkpoint and was transferred to house arrest on Feb. 22, 2012. Abbasi is a mother of six, among which is a prisoner in Israeli jails Issa Daoud Abbasi, who was previously sentenced to 10 years imprisonment and has been in jail since 2010. Abbasi will turn in herself on Aug. 3, 2014.
Gaza under dual blockades
Israel launches airstrikes on Gaza, 6 injured
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 20 June — Israeli air forces launched a series of airstrikes on several targets across the Gaza Strip early Friday, leaving six Palestinians injured. Local sources told Ma‘an that air forces targeted a steel structure near an Islamic religious compound in al-Zaitoun neighborhood of eastern Gaza City, starting a fire in the area. Spokesperson for the Gaza Ministry of Health Ashraf al-Qidra said that six injuries were reported injured as a result of the raid, four of which were children. Al-Qidra added that the six were taken to the hospital with “minor” wounds from shrapnel and glass fragments. Airstrikes also targeted the “Al-Fajr” site belonging to the al-Quds Brigades, the armed wing of the Islamic Jihad movement, near al-Matahen area in the city of Deir al-Balah. Local sources said no injuries were reported in that strike. Israeli air forces launched another airstrike in an open area in eastern Rafah; no injuries were reported.
The Israeli military said in a statement that the strikes came in response to two rockets launched from Gaza late Thursday, one which hit an open area near Sderot and the other which was intercepted by Israel’s Iron Dome anti-rocket system.
Gaza: Qatari oil is running out
IMEMC 21 June by Chris Carlson — A supply of diesel donated by Qatar, used to fuel Gaza’s sole power plant, is to run out tomorrow … The coming power crisis is expected to double the suffering of the Gazans this summer, as the Qatari donation only helps to power two generators, making electricity available in 8 hour periods.
Qatari donations have been the subject of another recent debate, as Al-Jazeera reported that the new Palestinian unity government refused to receive $ 20m from Qatar. The money was promised to be paid as salaries for former Gaza government employees. PM Hamdallah’s office denied the accusation.
IOA allows 400 trucks into Gaza
GAZA (PIC) 20 June — The Israeli Occupation Authorities (IOA) allowed on Thursday the entry of 400 trucks carrying goods for commercial, agricultural, and transportation sectors in addition to humanitarian aid supplies into Gaza Strip via Karam Abu Salem commercial crossing. In a brief statement, head the coordination committee for goods’ entry into Gaza Strip Raed Fattouh said IOA allowed the access of 17 trucks loaded with cement, three trucks loaded with iron and 70 trucks loaded with gravel for UNRWA projects. Quantities of industrial diesel for Gaza power plant, transportation fuel and cooking gas will also be pumped through the terminal, he added.
link to www.palestine-info.co.uk/En/
6 die in Gaza explosion
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 19 June — Five members of Hamas’ al-Qassam Brigades and a Palestinian firefighter died in an explosion inside a tunnel in the al-Tuffah neighborhood near a Hamas military site in eastern Gaza City on Thursday. Ministry of health spokesman Ashraf al-Qidra said firefighter Hussein Tawfiq Masoud, 28, from Rafah died after inhaling gas in the tunnel. The dead Hamas fighters were identified as Salman Naim al-Harazin, Ahmad Khalil Ayyad, Ibrahim Salih al-Qar’an, Raed Kamil Marshoud, and Khalil al-Gharabli, all from al-Shujaiyeh neighborhood. Witnesses told Ma‘an that an explosion shook a house in the al-Tuffah neighborhood, and ambulances and civil defense services rushed to the scene. A day earlier the same neighborhood area was targeted by an Israeli airstrike.
Israel launches multiple airstrikes in Gaza, man injured
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 19 June — A Palestinian man was moderately injured overnight Wednesday as Israeli warplanes launched airstrikes across the Gaza Strip. The unidentified man was hit by shrapnel when an Israeli missile landed in the Sheikh Zayed neighborhood near Jabalia in northern Gaza. Israeli airstrikes also targeted a military site used by the Popular Resistance Committees west of Gaza City while two missiles hit the Abu Jarad military base of Hamas’ al-Qassam Brigades south of Gaza City. Airstrikes also targeted the Younis military base of the al-Qassam Brigades in Gaza City and another training site near Gaza’s power plant.
Israeli forces arrest 2 fishermen off Gaza coast
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 19 June — Israel detained two fishermen off the coast of northern Gaza on Thursday, locals said. Rights groups said Ramiz Saadallah and Eyhab Saadallah were detained after Israeli naval forces obstructed their boat off the Sudaniyya coastline.
Meanwhile, Basim Ali Tbeis, 42, was detained at the Erez crossing while on his way to seek medical treatment. The reason for his arrest is unclear.
Israeli bulldozers level Palestinian lands in Gaza
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 18 June — Israeli military vehicles entered Gaza and leveled Palestinian agricultural fields on Wednesday, Palestinian security sources said. The sources said four military bulldozers leveled lands near the al-Fukhari neighborhood east of Khan Younis in southern Gaza.
Hamas-hired employees in Gaza to protest if PA doesn’t pay salaries
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 19 June – The union of public sector employees in Gaza on Wednesday threatened to carry out protests without prior notice if the new government doesn’t pay monthly wages to some 50,000 employees hired by Hamas during years of rivalry with Fatah and the Palestinian Authority. The union’s chief Muhammad Siyam said in a statement that “all options are open and we will defy anybody who deprives us of our daily sustenance.” The statement urged all employees to join protests to be announced by the union. The salary itself, added Siyam, isn’t a top priority because the top priority is that the new government and President Mahmoud Abbas recognize the legal status of Gaza employees and pay them simultaneously with other employees in the West Bank.
Hamas summer camps for kids include military training
GAZA CITY (Al-Monitor) 19 June by Hazem Balousha — In the streets surrounding the Saraya neighborhood in central Gaza City, boys are lined up in groups like military battalions, wearing paramilitary clothes and surrounded by supervisors in full uniform and carrying weapons, while loudspeakers chant fiery Hamas anthems calling for jihad. A thousand students ranging in age from 12 to 17 gather in the afternoons for three hours, seven days a week, wearing fatigues, black shirts and green berets. They are trained in the basics of military action and security in the camps organized by the Hamas movement in the Gaza Strip during their summer vacation. Forty supervisors affiliated with the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades, the military wing of Hamas, divide the students into groups. Some groups are trained to carry and use arms and others to navigate obstacle courses, while another group is trained on debarkation techniques and safety. Each year, Hamas holds summer camps for male and female students of various ages. Some of these camps are predominantly recreational and cultural, while others focus on the military drills, all part of a program to promote Hamas and its ideology. Hamza Ahmad, a summer camp official in the Saraya region, said military drills fall in line with Hamas’ conviction that the Palestinians are in a state of conflict with Israel, and they must know the basics of military action in addition to the security and cultural aspects of the program.
IT and Internet offer possibilities of overcoming blockade in Gaza
GAZA CITY (Middle East Eye) 19 June by Khaled Alashqar — “After graduating, I joined the thousands of other graduates on the list of the unemployed. Then I read about a project that offers a technology incubator for youth projects, applied, was accepted and now I’m no longer on that list! Yasser Younis, who is now co-owner of a mobile applications and software development company, was describing his experience of the Palestine Information and Communications Technology Incubator, a unique programme set up and run by the University College of Applied Sciences (UCAS) in Gaza, with the support of Oxfam, which has the ambitious aim of bypassing the blockade imposed on Gaza. The idea behind the programme is to provide graduate students with the necessary sponsorship and financial support to develop their projects during a gestation period of six months, with project staff on hand to help them network with companies abroad and market their products online … The programme has been very well received in the Palestinian community and at international level, with some Arab investors offering successful participants the opportunity to travel and work in Qatar and other Arab countries interested in the field of technology and online markets, or to open headquarters for budding start-ups outside Gaza and increase investment in them … Two of the graduates from the OCAS programme are Yasser and Khalil Salim, owners of the Motawiron mobile applications and software development company. They graduated from the UCAS programme after six months of incubation and the company is now selling its products online for companies in Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and some other countries … Nevertheless, the blockade on Gaza prevented Younis and Salim from travelling earlier this month to Qatar for the Pan-Arab semi-finals of the “Imagine Cup”, although they possessed the necessary papers and the official invitation and tickets.
Gaza’s poor rummage through garbage for food
GAZA CITY 18 June by Mohammed Othman — Khalil, 32, was left with no choice but to dig through garbage in search of anything to feed his two children. His university degree in journalism and media communications and his experience as a writer and TV director did not help him find a job in line with his skills and degree. When Khalil (not his real name) rummages through a garbage bin, his quest is not limited to pieces of plastic and aluminum, which he transports on a donkey cart to sell. He also searches for food that he deems fit for consumption. Khalil, who graduated eight years ago from Al-Aqsa University in the Gaza Strip, told Al-Monitor that he has worked with many local and international media institutions. But after his temporary positions at these institutions ended, circumstances led him to dig through garbage. “Despite constantly searching, I was unable to find new employment, and this job does not require any capital or references. The government is aware of our situation — us dumpster divers — but does nothing about it. As a result, my monthly income is less than 300 shekels [$86].” Khalil could not have known that his university degree and experience would become useless as unemployment spread in the Gaza Strip, courtesy of the economic crisis brought by the Israeli-Egyptian siege … Poverty drives thousands of families to jobs that are unsafe and do not generate adequate incomes, such as dumpster diving. Data from the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics show that Gaza’s poverty rate has reached 38.8% of a population of 1.85 million, which means that the number of Gazans in poverty has exceeded 700,000.
Land, property theft & destruction / Restriction of movement
Israel to build 5 new villages on Palestinian land
IMEMC 20 June by Chris Carlson — Six new “residential areas” are to be constructed in the Negev, a sub-committee of the Israeli National Council for Planning and Building (NCPB) has agreed — five for Jews and one for Arabs. According to Al Ray Palestinian Media Agency, rights organisations assert that this measure undermines a number of unrecognized Arab villages already in the area, villages which have existed for decades, and that the project is to be carried out at the expense of those dwelling there. Environmental associations have also protested, calling for existing Jewish settlements to be expanded instead of constructing new ones, in order to reduce the environmental impact. The village of al-Araqib has now been demolished 71 times.
West Bank Bedouin: ‘We live in fear’
JABAL AL BABA, occupied West Bank (Al Jazeera) 20 June — A pile of rubble – with metal rods protruding from the concrete slabs – is all that is left of Suleiman Kayed’s home here on a mountain named after Pope Paul VI, whose 1964 pilgrimage to Jerusalem prompted the late King Hussein of Jordan to gift the Vatican a plot of land. In this Bedouin encampment amid the rocky foothills overlooking Ezarriyeh (Bethany), Mount Scopus, and the Israeli settlement of Ma’ale Adumim, Kayed’s cinderblock home was unlike many of the other makeshift structures made out of corrugated metal, wood and fabric. With no time to salvage any of the furniture, Israeli authority bulldozers tore through Kayed’s house on March 12. The European Union-funded trailer home given to him in the aftermath was also dismantled and confiscated, leaving his family of ten twice displaced in less than one month. “My eight children, my wife and I are now homeless,” said Kayed, better known as Abu Ghassan, who belongs to the Jahalin tribe, the biggest Bedouin community in the West Bank. Sitting in an airy tent used to host guests, the 54-year-old man said he was fearful the demolitions are part of an Israeli push to relocate his community, to make room for more settlements. “We are constantly living in fear,” Abu Ghassan said. “We can’t even go too far so our animals can graze because of the wall and the settlements.” … The Jahalin tribesmen, Palestinian officials, and aid organisations believe the recent increase in demolitions is a prelude to a broader bid to uproot the Bedouin and clear the area for further settlement expansion. In the Jabal Al Baba community alone, there are 18 Israeli demolition orders pending since February. “The Jahalin tribe in particular, which live in what’s known as the ‘E1′ corridor, now pose an obstacle to Israeli plans to link Jerusalem with Ma’ale Adumim,” said Atallah Mazara‘a, another member of the tribe.
Israeli demolitions leave 7 families homeless
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 18 June — Israeli forces demolished seven houses across the southern West Bank on Wednesday, leaving seven families homeless. Bulldozers demolished three houses and a well in the Bethlehem town of al-Khader on Wednesday, witnesses said. Locals told Ma‘an that two Israeli bulldozers, escorted by Israeli police, raided the town and demolished three properties belonging to Ali Salim Moussa and Ismail Mahmoud Moussa, leaving six families homeless. Israeli forces also destroyed a water well in the village during the raid. On Wednesday evening, meanwhile, Israeli forces demolished four buildings and two animal sheds in the Zeef area south of Hebron because they had allegedly been built without a permit. The buildings belonged to Eid Zayid Abu Thaher and his three children, his brother said. The family as well as the cattle they own have no place to stay, his brother added, noting that Israeli forces did not inform them beforehand of the demolition.
Video: Israeli forces demolish structures in South Hebron Hills
AT-TUWAMI 20 June — On June 18th, the Israeli army, along with border police officers and DCO (District Coordination Office) officers entered in the Palestinian village of Khallet Forem, in South Hebron Hills, and demolished seven houses, a bathroom, and a shelter. No demolition orders were delivered for these structures. According to Palestinian witnesses, a woman was injured by the soldiers during the operation. The seven houses, the shelter, and the bathroom were owned by the Abu Dahar family. These demolitions involved at least 26 people, 12 of them are children. On the same day, Israeli forces demolished the main road of Ar Rifa‘iyya Ad Deirat and built a roadblock in order to prevent the access from that road to the bypass road 356.
IOF sets fire to vegetable carts in Jenin, causing significant damage
JENIN (PIC) 19 June — Significant damage was reported when Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) deliberately burned at dawn Thursday vegetable carts in Jenin as part of its revenge policy. The vegetable vendor Mohamed Abu Naassa confirmed to PIC reporter that Israeli forces have deliberately set on fire the vegetable carts in Jenin market, causing significant material losses to Palestinian low-income working families. He added that Israeli forces carry out similar attacks and assaults at daily basis against Palestinian peoples and properties at flimsy pretexts. Burning vegetable vendors’ carts came as part of Israeli military operation waged along the past few days.
link to www.palestine-info.co.uk/En/
Hundreds perform Friday prayers in the streets of Jerusalem
[photos] JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 21 June — Hundreds of Palestinians performed Friday prayers in the streets leading to the al-Aqsa mosque after Israeli forces prevented those under 50 years old from entering the compounds of al-Aqsa. Three Palestinians were detained while attempting to enter the compound. Israeli forces were in neighborhoods near al-Aqsa and the Old City of Jerusalem, where they put up barriers, shut the roads and set off a “heat balloon” to monitor the streets. Worshipers performed their prayers in the neighborhoods of Wadi Joz, Herod’s Gate and Damascus Gate, Salah al-Din Street and the alleyways of the Old City. Israeli forces at Council Gate and the Chain Gate assaulted worshipers and pepper-sprayed them when they started pushing each other at the gates. Israeli police prevented participants in a funeral from entering the compound; instead the guard of the mosque took the casket inside of the mosque.
UNESCO group votes to protect ancient Palestinian terraces from Israeli wall
Mondoweiss 20 June by Samia Ayyash & Phil Weiss — We have just learned of a major victory for Palestine: the village of Battir south of Jerusalem, renowned for 2000-year-old terraced plots and ancient olive trees, has been named a World Heritage Site in Danger by a UNESCO committee meeting today in Qatar. The status is a blow to Israeli plans to divide the occupied village with the separation wall. We are informed that the Palestinian delegation was “hugely emotional” following the vote. First, here is a piece by Samia Ayyash explaining the village’s perilous situation:
43 B’nei Menashe make aliyah from India
JTA 19 June — Forty-three Bnei Menashe, who claim to be Jews descended from the biblical tribe of Menashe, arrived in Israel on aliyah. The new immigrants moved to Israel on Thursday from the northeastern Indian state of Manipur. Some 250 Bnei Menashe have made aliyah in June, among 410 who have arrived in Israel since January. Some 900 Bnei Menashe are expected to arrive in Israel in 2014, sponsored by the Jerusalem-based Shavei Israel organization. Bnei Menashe members must undergo a conversion process even though it is accepted as fact that they have Jewish roots. More than 1,700 Bnei Menashe are living in Israel. As many as 7,000 remain in northeastern India, according to Shavei Israel.
In ‘turning-point’ vote, Presbyterians divest from occupation-linked corporations
Mondoweiss 20 June by Philip Weiss & Alex Kane — Nearly 30 years after it divested from corporations complicit in South African apartheid, the Presbyterian Church voted 310-303 to divest from three corporations involved with the Israeli military and its occupation. The vote means that $21 million of Presbyterian stock in Caterpillar, Hewlett Packard and Motorola Solutions will be divested. The extraordinarily close vote (51% to 49% of delegates) came after an intense hours-long debate that featured emotional pleas on all sides. “It hurts me to know that we invest in the tearing apart of Palestinian lives,” said Emma Warman, a youth delegate, before the vote took place. The advisory voters, including the youth delegates, overwhelmingly recommended a positive vote for divestment. This close vote came two years after another close vote that went in the opposite direction. In 2012, the Presbyterian Church rejected divestment by just two votes.
Political, other news
Netanyahu: We expect Abbas to dissolve unity government
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 19 June — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Thursday that he expected the Palestinian national unity of government to dissolve and the the Israeli government was moving closer to finding three Israeli youths missing for the last week. The comments, which came during a press conference in the southern West Bank city of Hebron that has been besieged by Israeli forces since the kidnapping, signal renewed pressure on the Palestinian Authority to end a unity deal agreed on between Fatah and Hamas in late April … Netanyahu also reasserted that Hamas kidnapped the three young men, even though the Israeli government has yet to provide any evidence of the accusation.
‘Parts of West Bank operation were planned ahead of time’
972blog 19 June by Yael Marom — Parts of Operation Brother’s Keeper were planned in advance and are being implemented with no connection to their stated purpose – the return of the three kidnapped Israelis teenagers – according to an IDF officer in Jenin. The officer, who spoke to the ultra-Orthodox news outlet “Hadrei Hadarim,” (Hebrew) said that the army has been preparing for an operation in the city due to the arming of residents there. According to Hadrei Hadarim, the officer stated that the army is intentionally trying to agitate the population in order to provoke stone throwers, which will allow Israeli snipers to kill them. “There was a group of snipers on the roof – an entire unit that moves on the outskirts of Jenin in order to make noise and raise tensions,” he said. “This was actually the true goal: to provoke them into causing disorder, and then put down those causing the disorder.” +972 has not learned of any instances in which the army used live fire in Jenin since the start of the current operation. A top source in the IDF denied the accusations, stating that although Palestinians did throw stones, the soldiers did not respond with live fire. The IDF Spokesperson also responded to the claims, saying that they were “baseless” and that there “haven’t been any changes in orders regarding live fire.” In response to an inquiry by +972, the IDF Spokesperson added that Operation Brother’s Keeper has two objectives: returning the kidnapped teens, and dealing a serious blow to Hamas in the West Bank. The Spokesperson also stated that the operation will last as long as is necessary.
Palestinian leader defends cooperation with Israel
RAMALLAH (AP) 18 June by Josef Federman & Karin Laub — The Palestinian president on Wednesday defended his policy of security cooperation with Israel in a politically risky speech to senior Arab officials, even as Israeli forces escalated their most extensive West Bank crackdown in years in response to the apparent abduction of three Israeli teenagers. President Mahmoud Abbas’ comments were quickly condemned at home and shined a light on one of his most controversial policies — working with the Israeli military to keep the Hamas militant group, which Israel accuses of carrying out the kidnapping, in check …In a speech to Muslim leaders in Saudi Arabia, Abbas condemned the kidnapping, saying it had caused heavy damage to the Palestinians and that his forces were helping search for the missing teens. “We are still looking and searching to find out who carried out such an act,” Abbas said. “He who committed such an act wants to destroy us.”
Hamas: PA security coordination with Israel is a crime
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 20 June — Hamas on Thursday lambasted Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas for his cooperation with Israeli forces as a massive search operation for three missing Israeli teenagers across the West Bank enters its second week. Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said that security coordination with Israel “is a crime and a violation of the Cairo agreement which stated that security cooperation is punishable by law,” referring to an earlier reconciliation agreement between Fatah and Hamas … Abu Zuhri also called on Egypt to commit to its responsibilities as the sponsor of the prisoner exchange deal in 2011 that exchanged Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, after Israeli forces detained dozens of those freed in the deal. Egypt oversaw the deal, and has already demanded Israel end its arrest campaign across the West Bank. Abu Zuhri, in a press conference in Gaza, also warned against any possible Israeli attempt to exile Hamas leaders and lawmakers, saying that the Israel had previously tried it and failed, and saying that any attempt to exile the detainees “will open the gates of hell on the occupation.”
UN Mideast peace envoy condemns Israel’s arrest campaign
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 20 June — United Nations Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, Robert Serry, on Friday expressed concern over Israeli arrest operations in the occupied West Bank, as a mass campaign to detain Palestinians entered its eighth day. “The Special Coordinator is deeply concerned by reports that Israeli security operations in the West Bank since the abduction of three Israeli students have resulted in over 300 Palestinians arrested, many injured, and three Palestinians killed, including one minor this morning.” Serry urged Israel for “restraint” and to carry out all security operations in compliance with international law and “respect for the lives, dignity and livelihoods of Palestinians.”
Israel bans Islamic charity’s operations in West Bank over Hamas ties
JERUSALEM (Xinhua) 19 June — Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon signed a decree on Thursday banning a British-based charity from operating in the West Bank over its ties with the Hamas, expanding an intensive crackdown on the Islamic group. The decree said the Islamic Relief Worldwide (IRW) is “an illegal association,” banning its operations in the West Bank and Israel and forbidding it from transferring funds to the country, said a statement from the Defense Ministry. The decree follows Israel accusing Hamas of kidnapping three Israeli teens who went missing last Thursday in the West Bank. The statement said the IRW was one of Hamas’ sources of financing and soliciting donations on its behalf across the globe, adding that some of its field offices, including in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, are run by Hamas operatives. Founded in 1984, the IRW says on its official website that it has representatives in over 30 countries and describes itself as ” an international relief and development charity which envisages a caring world where people unite to respond to the suffering of others, empowering them to fulfill their potential.”
FIFA to monitor Israeli violations against Palestinian soccer
GAZA CITY (Al-Monitor) 17 June by Asmaa al-Ghoul — The international soccer federation has not sanctioned Israel for its violations against Palestinian soccer, instead giving a committee until December to monitor developments … … FIFA’s decision has dampened the hopes of Palestinian athletes about this issue before the World Cup. At the Gaza Sports Club where newcomers train, Palestinian soccer player Anas Yasser al-Helou said, “I feel injustice and frustration. I am spending the best days of my youth and professionalism, which I’m supposed to spend playing with the team, to train others.” … Issued in 2013, the booklet chronicling violations by the Israeli occupation against the Palestinian Football Federation is filled with hundreds of cases from the last five years. The violations are divided into several categories: blocking infrastructure projects and the bombing and destruction of more than 14 clubs and playing fields in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank; imposing restrictions on the movement of athletes between Gaza and the West Bank; preventing travel outside the West Bank and Gaza for players, managers, coaches and referees; and preventing the entry of foreign guests and international sports teams … Amssi said that the booklet issued by the Palestinian federation did not include violations from 2014, which include the arrest of player Sameh Maraiba in April when he returned from Qatar through the Karama crossing and the firing of dozens of bullets at the feet of players Adam and Jawhar Halabiyya in January as they returned from a training session at the Faisal Al-Husseini stadium, preventing them from playing soccer again due to injuries sustained.
Bet Lahem Live festival brings Star Street back to life
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) -18 June by Alex Shams — Star Street was once the bustling heart of Bethlehem’s Old City, a vital link on the 1,500-year-old pilgrimage route from Jerusalem to the Nativity Church. Lined with white sandstone homes dating back to the 19th century, the street has long been a central part of Bethlehem identity and a reservoir of the holy city’s architectural and cultural heritage. Since 2000, however, the street has fallen into disrepair, its gentle facades torn apart by the Israeli incursions of the Second Intifada and the erection of checkpoints throughout the Old City’s narrow alleyways. By the time the fighting ended and the troops withdrew, the social fabric of the place was severely damaged. Many residents had emigrated, while even those who remained kept their shops shuttered for lack of confidence in the prospects of an economic recovery. A new summer festival, however, is committed to changing this by bringing life, energy, and business back to the neighborhood. Bet Lahem Live, which begins Thursday and lasts four days, attracted 6,000 visitors to the street in its first run last year, and organizers are expecting double that number this year. “Bethlehem is a city of peace and it is open for everyone,” festival project manager Elias Deis told Ma’an while giving a tour of the area … Organizers have even convinced 55 residents who have closed their shops to re-open for the four days, meaning that for the first time in more than a decade a majority of the street’s commercial establishments will be open.
Israel elected as vice chair at the September session of the UN General Assembly on the Fourth Special Political and Decolonization Commitee
NEW YORK (EJP) 20 June —Israel has overcome a coordinated effort by Arab states to thwart its election as vice chair of a United Nations committee dealing with issues such as Palestinian refugees and human rights, The Times of Israel reported. Israel will serve as vice chair at the 69th session of the UN General Assembly on the Fourth Special Political and Decolonization Committee, in September. Mordechai Amihai, Israel’s former consul-general in Turkey, will represent the Western European and Others Group in this session. He was elected on Wednesday with 74 votes from UN member states. Sixty-eight countries abstained from the vote, and 15 votes were declared invalid. The minimum number of votes needed was 39. Britain, the US and Canada showed strong backing for Israel. Usually, however, these appointments are not voted on at all, but Syria called for the vote last week in an attempt to block Israel’s nomination. Qatar released a statement saying that Israel should not serve on the committee because of “its track record was rife with murder and its occupation has lasted more than 66 years.” Saudi Arabia compared it to apartheid-era South Africa presiding over a committee on racism. Lebanon, Libya and Egypt also strongly objected.
Australia moves to soothe ‘occupied’ East Jerusalem anger
SYDNEY (AFP) 19 June — Australian’s foreign minister met Arab and Islamic ambassadors Thursday to try to soothe concerns over Canberra’s stance on East Jerusalem, insisting there was no policy change despite moves to stop referring to it as “occupied”. The meeting followed fury after Attorney-General George Brandis said the term would not be used as it carried pejorative implications and was neither appropriate nor useful. Eighteen diplomats from countries including Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Indonesia protested and warned of possible trade sanctions. Australia’s export trade with the Middle East accounts for billions of dollars annually, particularly in wheat and meat. Foreign Minister Julie Bishop said there had been a “constructive” discussion and released a letter to the diplomats re-affirming there was no change in the government’s position on the legal status of the Palestinian Territories. “Our position is consistent with relevant UN resolutions adopted over many years, including UN Security Council Resolutions 242 and 338,” it read. “Senator Brandis’ statement was about nomenclature…”
West Bank prosthesis factory struggles with funding
BBC News 18 June — The West Bank’s only factory making prosthetic limbs says it’s struggling to provide treatment for its Palestinian patients. According to the World Health Organisation, Israeli controls on the import of medical supplies to the West Bank, and restrictions on the movement of patients and health workers, mean many Palestinians have difficulty accessing health services. Israel says the restrictions are necessary security measures. Now the Kolaykelah factory says it needs to be subsidised by the Palestinian government if it is to meet the rising cost of medical materials. Hadya Alalawi reports. Video produced by BBC Arabic’s Eman Ouriqat
Analysis / Opinion
The Palestinians: A kidnapped society
Haaretz 18 June by Avraham Burg — We are incapable of understanding the suffering of a society, its cry, and the future of an entire nation that has been kidnapped by us … Those three boys are truly unfortunate. They are unfortunate because of the trap of fear in which they have been captured, the uncertainty and the fact that their lives are in great danger. Our hearts are in pain, and go out to them and their families because of how, in a single moment, they had to step into the glare of publicity. And these teenagers are unfortunate because of the lie in which they have lived their lives — lives of supposed normalcy that were built upon the foundations of that greatest of Israeli injustices: the occupation. Now let us turn from their wretchedness to our own. For us, a dramatic or traumatic event is always a very clear, refined and transparent moment. All the plans and failures, the fears and hopes, burst out. Here are Israel’s shallow prime minister and the bumbling police, the masses who cling to futile prayers and not to a moment of human peace. Here are the country’s hypocritical chief rabbis, who just a month ago demanded promises from the pope regarding the future of the Jewish people, but in their daily lives remain silent about the fate of the people who are our neighbors, trampled beneath the pressure of occupation and racism under the leadership of rabbis who receive exorbitant salaries and benefits. Suddenly everything erupts, is expressed in its very essence, emerging from the darkness into the sunlight. This is precisely the moment to examine intentions — because, as said, everything is out in the open. First, Netanyahu’s hollowness. Not much needs to be said about it. After all, he is the one who guided all the Israeli-Palestinians talks into the tight corner of the prisoner release issue. He is also the one who, with his own words, violated Israel’s commitment to release the last group of Palestinian prisoners. He is also the one who maneuvered the Palestinian Authority into the corner of unifying with Hamas….
Israel’s double standard / Gideon Levy
Haaretz 19 June — Human life only refers to ours; concern for it and its liberty only matters when it’s us. Only we are permitted to be our “Brother’s Keeper,” as the IDF is calling the operation to find the three kidnapped teens — Only Israel is permitted. Only Israel is permitted to carry out illegal, immoral operations. Only it is permitted to be sanctimonious, to be shocked and to shout from the rooftops when others do the same thing to Israel. Only Israel is permitted to take hostages. Recall, for example, the 1989 capture of Sheikh Abd al-Karim Obeid, in an operation that was no less of a war crime than the abduction of three yeshiva students in the West Bank. In that operation, Israel kidnapped 21 Lebanese nationals to serve as “bargaining chips” it hoped would lead to the release of the missing Israel Air Force navigator Ron Arad. In addition to Obeid and Mustafa Dirani, head of security for Lebanon’s Amal militia, 19 other young men were abducted, including two 15-year-old boys and one man with severe developmental disabilities. They had no idea who Ron Arad was, and they languished in prison for years. When the elite special-operations force Sayeret Matkal kidnapped Obeid, it also killed a neighbor who dared to approach his home. An extra-large sack was tailor-made for the outsized Obeid. This was an abduction for the purposes of bargaining, just as that of the three West Bank teens may have been. But Israel did it, and therefore it was legitimate. Almost no one protested, the world wasn’t asked to denounce it and no one thought to define Israel as a “vicious terror organization,” as GOC Central Command Nitzan Alon called Hamas on Tuesday, declaiming his remarks like a bar-mitzvah boy, as thousands of his soldiers made war in the West Bank. Only Israel is permitted. Only Israel is permitted now to arrest dozens of Palestinians every night, most if not all of whom have nothing to do with the teens’ abduction. Only it is permitted now to launch a collective-punishment operation that includes the bullying of tens of thousands of innocent people. Only Israel is permitted to wallow in a bath of ultra-nationalist religious schmaltz, sticky and greasy, and to speak bathetically, at the drop of a hat, about the sanctity of its people’s lives — only theirs. And perhaps the teens’ kidnappers, with their cruel abduction, are trying to win the release of thousands of their brothers, imprisoned for long years in Israel, some of them without benefit of trial. Perhaps the three yeshiva students are also “bargaining chips.”….
West Bank violence: Seven good years / Ari Shavit
Haaretz 19 June by Ari Shavit — …After long years of demanding to suspend the violence, we received long years of suspended violence, which we totally missed. We misused the calm that descended on the West Bank’s roads and towns and settlements. We wasted the laid-back prosperity that visited Israel’s cities and shopping malls. We let the seven good years slip through our fingers. Will we be granted an eighth year? This is not certain. Beyond the human horror inherent in the youths’ abduction, the act also poses a strategic danger. As I wrote on the morning before the abduction, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict cannot tolerate a vacuum. When there’s no movement forward, a backward slide is expected. When there’s no peace process, an escalation is expected. At this point, there no peace process, no organizing principle and no stabilizing framework to prevent deterioration. This is an explosive situation in which any pessimistic scenario is possible. So if there are statesmen in Jerusalem, they must see the red warning light. The quiet is not something that can be taken for granted. If we’re lucky enough to receive another small part of it – we must hurry and take full advantage of it.
What evidence is there that the teens were abducted? / Philip Weiss
Mondoweiss 20 June — A great deal of misinformation has been spread about the missing Israeli teens in the West Bank. I did it myself in denying there was a campaign in support of kidnapping settlers – when there is. Jeffrey Goldberg did it, in exaggerating that campaign, and smearing French Muslims. Still, the public does not know very much at all about the fate of the missing teens, even as Israel insists that they were abducted and is using the alleged abduction as a political football and a pretext to send soldiers all over the West Bank, today killing a Palestinian teen. And there is growing pressure on Israel to provide evidence for its claims. Here is some of the back and forth over these issues:
Israelis close their ears to reasons for kidnap / Jonathan Cook
Middle East Eye 20 June — The apparent abduction of three teenagers — blamed by Israel on the Palestinian Islamic group Hamas — has provoked a wave of revulsion in Israel but almost no readiness to examine the causes of the incident or the appropriateness of Israel’s response … But with most Israeli Jews welcoming Israel’s harsh response, a Palestinian member of the Israeli parliament, Haneen Zoabi, discovered the cost of not joining the chorus of outrage … Foreign minister Lieberman responded by calling Zoabi a terrorist, adding: “The fate of the kidnappers and the fate of Zoabi, an inciter, should be the same.” … Reflecting on the furore, Zoabi said she was “surprised” by the controversy “since the injustice inflicted on the other side is so much greater. There are thousands of abducted Palestinians in Israeli prisons.” She concluded: “Just as I want the kidnapped Palestinian prisoners to be freed, I want the [Israeli] boys to be freed.” That kind of moral equivalence — however justified — is one very few Israeli Jews, or many in the international community, are willing to hear. But if they hope to avoid a future of ever-escalating violence that sucks in both Israelis and Palestinians, they need to listen to Palestinians like Zoabi. As Zoabi noted, Palestinian attempts to abduct Israelis are intimately tied to the issue of the 5,000 Palestinians in Israeli prisons, especially the nearly 200 of them held without charge in administrative detention. More than half of the latter group are nearly two months into a hunger strike to protest their continuing incarceration. Palestinian groups have long seen abductions of Israelis as leverage to free prisoners, as occurred in dramatic fashion in 2011 with the release of more than 1,000 prisoners in return for an Israeli soldier, Gilad Shalit, captured by Hamas five years earlier. Gaining bargaining chips has become an even more valued goal since Israel’s prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, reneged in April on a promise to release a final batch of long-term prisoners. The Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas, had engaged in months of fruitless peace talks in return for an agreement to free more than 120 prisoners. In fact, Netanyahu has responded to the abductions not with a new wariness on the issue of prisoners’ rights but by massively adding to Palestinian grievances about the prisoners.