West Bank / Jerusalem
Palestinian detained by Israel at Allenby suffers mental breakdown
NABLUS (Ma‘an) 16 Aug — On July 18, 30-year-old Muath Dureidi crossed the Allenby Bridge into the West Bank, excited to take a job in his native Palestine after receiving word that a local company had accepted his application. His excitement turned to horror, however, after Israeli forces detained him and kept him isolated from the outside world for the next 28 days. By the end of his ordeal, Dureidi had suffered a complete mental breakdown, and today sits completely mute in the Arab Specialized Hospital in Nablus. It was not supposed to turn out this way for Dureidi, a native of the Tulkarem-area village of Beit Lid in the northern West Bank. His father Nasr told Ma‘an that before his arrest, Muath had traveled to the United Arab Emirates in his quest for a job, completing in-person interviews with a number of companies in the wealthy Persian Gulf state. Shortly after arriving in the UAE, however, Muath received word from a West Bank company he had previously applied to that he had been accepted. He subsequently flew back to Jordan in order to return to his homeland, since Palestinians are forbidden by Israel from using the more direct route through Ben Gurion Airport. After disembarking at the airport near the Jordanian capital Amman and making his way to the Allenby Bridge over the Jordan River, his father said Muath made a short call home in which he said Israeli intelligence services had detained him….
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 16 Aug — Israeli soldiers on Friday shot and injured two young Palestinian men inside their home in the village of Silwad east of Ramallah, locals told Ma‘an. Witnesses said that one of the two was struck several times in the foot, while the other was hit by shrapnel from the gunshots. The victims were identified only as members of the al-Nahl family, whose house was stormed by Israeli soldiers during the course of a military raid on the village. The incident took place following fierce clashes in the village between local young men and Israeli soldiers who had stormed the village. Locals threw stones and empty bottles at the Israeli forces, while the soldiers fired tear gas, rubber-coated bullets, and live bullets at the protesters. As clashes took place in the streets and alleyways of the village, numerous bystanders and locals inside their homes including elderly people and children were hurt by the tear gas, which locals say Israeli soldiers used excessively and indiscriminately.
JERUSALEM (WAFA) 17 Aug – Israeli settlers on Sunday assaulted two Palestinians in two separate incidents in Jerusalem while they were at their place of work, according to media sources. On Sunday morning, a group of settlers assaulted a Palestinian while he was at his workplace in West Jerusalem, while chanting anti-Arab slogans, such as ‘death to Arabs.’ Earlier at night, settlers assaulted a Palestinian taxi driver after stopping his car in West Jerusalem. The settlers used foul language against him, beat him up and sprayed pepper gas at him.
PHOTOS: Israeli forces kill Palestinian and bulldoze his family home
Activestills 16 Aug — In an overnight raid in the West Bank village of Qabalan, Israeli forces kill 24-year-old Palestinian Zakaria Al-Aqra and injure six others. They then bulldoze part of his family’s house. Photos and text by: Ahmad Al-Bazz/Activestills.org
Israeli forces detain teenage boy from Nablus-area village
NABLUS (Ma‘an) 16 Aug — Israeli forces detained a Palestinian teenager after multiple predawn raids on private homes in the northern West Bank village of Salem east of Nablus. According to Palestinian security sources, several Israeli military vehicles stormed the village after midnight and launched a house-to-house inspection campaign before they handcuffed 17-year-old Ayman Jihad Hamdan and took him in a military jeep to an unknown destination. The sources said that Hamdan was a supporter of the Fatah movement, one of the main political parties in the West Bank.
Israeli settlers offered new West Bank homes if they vacate illegal outpost
Haaretz 17 Aug by Chaim Levinson — Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon has promised the Gush Etzion Regional Council to give legal status to an unauthorized outpost, approve 24 new homes and a new farm in exchange for the evacuation of a different unauthorized outpost that was established in July. The new outpost, Tekoa V, was set up near the settlement of Tekoa, together with the unauthorized outpost Ramat Hashlosha, after the kidnapping and murder of the three Israeli teens in the West Bank in June. Despite directives from the attorney general barring local governments from funding the establishment of such communities, the Gush Etzion Regional Council issued a press release announcing that it had “established two significant new outposts: Tekoa V, next to Tekoa, and Ramat Hashlosha, across from the village of Zureif, west of the settlement of Bat Ayin.”
In pictures: Women pray at Al-Aqsa gates
SILWAN, Jerusalem (SILWANIC) 13 Aug — The Israeli police which are still stationed at Al-Aqsa Gates are still imposing a blockade on the Mosque by closing its gates and controlling the entrance of Muslims in terms of men and young men and also completely preventing women from entering. The Israeli police took a new step in an attempt to silence the “free voice – women voice” inside Al-Aqsa and prevented all women from entering since the Dawn Prayer until 3 p.m. which are also the times when settlers carry out their break-ins through Dung Gate under the so-called “foreign tourism” program. The police took this step against women after nearly a month of preventing them from entering Al-Aqsa from 7 until 11a.m. While the women were gathered at the open gates of Al-Aqsa (Hutta, Al-Silsileh and Al-Majles Gates), they were assaulted and sprayed with pepper gas and were also verbally assaulted; note that Bayan Iblasi from Lod was arrested while being present at Al-Aqsa Gates. The women were forced to hold the Dawn and Noon Prayers at Al-Aqsa gates. The forces also arrested a young man when the settlers broke into Al-Aqsa and an old man while he was present at one of the Gates. They are: Mahmoud Abu Basal from Tamra and Khaled Tallouza from Nazareth.
Top Israeli official tours Aqsa mosque compound
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 17 Aug — Deputy speaker of the Israeli Knesset Moshe Feiglin on Sunday morning toured the holy Al-Aqsa mosque compound under heavy escort by Israeli special forces. A Ma‘an reporter in Jerusalem said that Israeli police closed most of the main gates of the compound, denying all Palestinian women and men under 50 access to the holy place, as the right-wing Israeli politician entered from the Moroccan Gate. Witnesses said Feiglin along with a group of right-wing Israeli Jews and a cameraman toured the compound before they left through the Chain Gate, adding that Feiglin had performed religious rituals beside the Dome of the Rock Mosque. Witnesses highlighted that Feiglin and his group toured the compound barefoot, apparently out of respect for the foundations of the Jewish temple they believe lies underneath the area. Separately, right-wing lawyer Yehuda Glick also toured al-Aqsa Mosque compound along with a group of settlers. They tried to perform Jewish rituals near the Hutta Gate (Gate of Remission), but Israeli police forced them to leave.
The police isolate 50 workers from their work location for 9 days
SILWAN, Jerusalem (SILWANIC) 14 Aug — The Israeli police isolated on Thursday afternoon dozens of Palestinian workers from their work locations in Ashdod for 9 days under the pretext of “throwing stones”. Wadi Hilweh Information Center was informed by one the workers, Amin Siam, that the Israeli police raided a building in Ashdod and arrested 150 workers present in the building including Arabs and foreigners and took them to the police center. After detaining and interrogating them, the police handed 50 Palestinian workers orders to isolate them from their work locations for 9 days under the pretext of throwing stones at the main street while they were at work.
UN releases Gaza Crisis Atlas documenting damage to Strip
Ynet 17 Aug by Itay Blumenthal — 108-page report with high-resolution satellite photos captures extent of destruction in Gaza, to be used by UN committee on Operation Protective Edge — …The Atlas overlays a grid over Gaza, dividing it into smaller parcels – with each one receiving a detailed page noting the locations of schools, mosques, and public buildings on high-resolution satellite footage … The UN’s Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, which released the document, explained that the damage assessment was based on analysis of satellite photos starting on August 1 and the previous month. The images were provided by UNOSAT, an organization created in cooperation with the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN).
Hamas says Israel stalling on agreement as Gaza death toll reaches 2016
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 17 Aug — A Hamas spokesman on Sunday accused Israel of “stalling” in ongoing negotiations in Cairo to achieve a long-term truce in Gaza, stressing that “the ball is in the Israeli occupation’s court.” … On Sunday, medical authorities in Gaza said that the total death toll of the assault in Gaza had hit 2,016 and more than 10,193 injured, as dozens more Palestinians succumbed to wounds sustained during the bombardment. Gaza-based spokesman for the Ministry of Health Ashraf al-Qidra told Ma‘an that the massive increase in the number of dead also included a number of bodies that were pulled from the rubble as thousands of displaced families and rescue teams took advantage of the calm to return to their former homes. Al-Qidra said that the dead included at least 541 children and 95 elderly, while 3,084 children and 368 elderly were among the wounded.
Israeli soldiers shoot, injure Palestinian at Gaza border
GAZA (WAFA) 17 Aug – Israeli soldiers on Sunday shot and injured a Palestinian near Karm Abu-Salem (Kerem Shalom) border crossing, on Gaza-Israel border, according to media sources. WAFA correspondent said soldiers stationed at the border checkpoint opened fire at the youngster and injured him, claiming he attempted to infiltrate the site. To be noted, Israeli naval boats continue to breach the temporary ceasefire by shooting at Palestinian fishing boats off the coasts of the Gaza Strip.
Body recovered in Shuja‘iyya a month after ‘massacre’
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 17 Aug — Search teams on Sunday recovered a body from rubble in Gaza City, medical sources said Sunday. The decayed body of 25-year-old Rami Ziad Quneita was found under the wreckage of his home in the Shuja‘iyya neighborhood, bringing the death toll from Israel’s offensive on Gaza to 1,981, the sources said. Medics say Quneita was likely killed on July 20, when the neighborhood came under heavy Israeli airstrikes and shelling in an onslaught Palestinians refer to as the Shuja‘iyya massacre. An initial count put the number of Palestinians killed in the attack at 66, but several bodies have been found in the rubble of flattened buildings in the weeks that followed.
Qatar to provide ‘emergency assistance’ to Gaza
Ynet 16 Aug by Roi Kais — Qatar will provide one thousand dollars as preliminary assistance to Palestinians whose homes were destroyed during Operation Protective Edge, said Gaza’s Social Affairs undersecretary Omar al-Darbi on Saturday … A senior Palestinian source in the ministry added that the committee governing the strip will supervise the aid and dispense the cash through the Social Affairs Ministry’s offices across the Strip. The ministry is currently in the process of determining the names of all the owners of the destroyed homes in order to prevent any mishandling of the Qatari funds and assure the aid reaches the innocent victims of the IDF operation. The source said the agreed-upon sum was defined as “emergency assistance” to families who lost their homes, in order to help them afford rent and purchase basic necessities during this difficult time.
Israel says no white phosphorus fired in Gaza during op
Reuters 12 Aug – IDF says it did not use artillery shells with toxic substance to create smoke-screens during current round of hostilities, although it did not rule out its use in future rounds — Israel fired almost five times more artillery shells into Gaza during the last month of fighting than in the 2008-2009 war there but did not use controversial white phosphorus this time around, an Israeli general said on Tuesday. Criticised by human rights groups after the previous conflict for posing a burn risk to civilians by shelling the congested Palestinian enclave with white phosphorus to create smoke-screens, Israel said last year it was phasing out those rounds … White phosphorous was being shunned, for now, mainly because “it photographs badly”, [artillery chief Brigadier-General Roy] Riftin said – a reference to the distinctive octopus-like clouds the shells formed over Gaza and ensuing showers of potentially lethal embers on civilian areas. [Nothing was said here about not using DIME weapons, however]
Protective Edge, in numbers
Ynet 14 Aug by Yoav Zitun – IDF’s logistics directorate releases preliminary figures on cost of operation: 1.1 million sandwiches, 4.8 million rounds of ammunition, and 11 million liters of diesel — …Some of the numbers published reveal what many in the IDF already knew, and one senior officer echoed on Thursday: “It was basically a preview of what will happen in the next war with Lebanon, where we will have 80 Shuja‘ias and a significant hit on the economy.” …the IDF provided its combat brigades with 4.8 million bullets, 43,000 artillery shells and 39,000 tank shells. Sources in Atal estimate that 60 percent of the supply was used, while the rest was returned to storage.
Train service to Sderot suspended for fear of anti-tank fire from Gaza
Ynet 18 Aug by Yoav Zitun –Defense Ministry orders Israel Railways to shut down Ashkelon-Sderot line until the company fortifies its trains.
Report: 5 of the 64 soldiers killed in Gaza invasion were killed by ‘friendly fire’
IMEMC 18 Aug by Celine Hagbard — A report by the Israeli military on Sunday August 17th found that during the Israeli invasion of Gaza that began on July 8th, fifteen different incidents of ‘friendly fire’ occurred, killing 5 soldiers and wounding 23. The report was published in the Israeli newspaper Bamahaneh, which obtained the data directly from the Israeli military. The paper reported that several of the incidents of ‘friendly fire’ were under investigation by the Israeli military, including an incident in which a tank from the Seventh Armored Corps Brigade fired four tank shells toward another tank located to the east of them while they were advancing southward into the Gaza Strip. The first Israeli casualty of the invasion, named by the Israeli military as ‘Operation Protective Edge’, was killed by so-called ‘friendly fire’. 20-year-old Eitan Barak was killed by tank fire, but some observers have questioned whether he was a victim of the so-called ‘Hannibal Doctrine’, in which Israeli troops allegedly shoot soldiers who are in the process of being taken prisoner. Another incident of ‘friendly fire’ that is under investigation by the Israeli military involved Rami Kahlon, an officer who was killed when a grenade on his armored vest exploded. The army said that it’s unclear if the pin had been removed or if the grenade itself was faulty.
Gaza running on 6 hours of electricity a day
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 16 Aug — Most of Gaza is currently operating on six hours of electricity per day, the Strip’s power authority said in a statement Saturday. The Palestinian Energy and Natural Resources Authority will be able to continue supplying Gaza with that amount of power each day for another two months, “unless the company is targeted by Israeli attacks again,” the statement said. Meanwhile, the Authority will begin working on a new power line running from an Israeli power company to the northern Gaza Strip to provide 35 additional megawatts of electricity. The statement said that priority for electricity will always be given to hospitals, civil institutions, and sewage treatment plants in order to provide essential services to Gaza residents. Gaza’s sole power plant came under Israeli shelling on July 29, and as a result of stopped functioning. The damage will take up to a year to fix, the Authority has said. The damages done to generators, poles, high pressure cables, main power containers, and warehouses across Gaza will cost $35 million to repair, the Saturday statement said.
Chances of long-term ceasefire appear remote despite new talks
IMEMC/Agencies 17 Aug — Western powers may seek truce via UN Security Council — Though indirect talks between Cairo delegation parties began anew, on Sunday, Israeli ministers are saying it’s quite possible that no deal will be reached. According to Ynet, a member of the Palestinian delegation told AP, Sunday, that the gaps between sides were still significant and that it was “far from certain whether a deal could be reached before the cease-fire expires”, contrary to earlier statements made by Deputy Secretary-General of the Palestinian faction of the Islamic Jihad, Ziad al-Nakhaala. “We are less optimistic than we were earlier,” said the delegate, his comments coming just following a statement by Hamas’ political chief Khaled Mashal, on Saturday, asserting that his group would not back down from a single one of their demands. A senior Israeli Cabinet minister told Ynet that “it is very possible that talks will end without an agreement, and it is possible that this is preferable in comparison to the other options currently on the table.” Furthermore, Egyptian diplomats reportedly told Turkish news agency Anatolia that Egypt is pursuing efforts to convince opposing parties to continue with the ceasefire until a final agreement is reached, rather than simply extend it for another length of time. According to Haaretz, senior Israeli officials have said that if Egyptian efforts to secure a long-term cease-fire should fail, Western powers are likely to push for a UN Security Council resolution which would call for an end to the fighting.
Turkish medical delegation in Gaza to treat war casualties
Middle East Monitor 16 Aug — A joint Palestinian medical task force said on Friday that a Turkish medical delegation arrived in the Gaza Strip to help treat Palestinian casualties caused by the Israeli war, Anadolu news agency reported. In a statement the task force said that the Turkish delegation, which consists of six senior surgeons, passed into the Strip through the Erez Crossing between Gaza and Israel to join Palestinian medical staff at Al-Shifa Hospital, the largest in Gaza. The task force consists of representatives from several ministries, including the health and welfare ministries. It was formed by the Palestinian reconciliation government to coordinate assistance and aid delegations entering into Gaza. Anadolu said that it had not had an opportunity to check with the Egyptians why the Turkish delegation was not allowed to enter to the Strip through the Rafah Crossing, between Gaza and Egypt. Turkey transferred 25 wounded Palestinians on two plane trips with Turkish Airlines to its hospitals in Ankara. This was part of its plan to treat 200 people in its hospitals. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced that his country is ready to treat all of the wounded.
Palestinian soccer set back by death of coach, 2 players in Gaza war
Haaretz 14 Aug — The recent killing of Palestinian soccer legend and coach Ahed Zaqout symbolizes the setbacks the local sport have suffered in the wake of renewed conflict in Gaza, according to website Inside World Football. “The war Israel is waging against the Palestinian people spares no one,” the website quoted Abdelmajid Hijjeh, the Palestinian soccer association’s secretary general, as saying. “The sports family in the West Bank as well as in the Gaza Strip is among those living through a real humanitarian catastrophe.” The Palestinian national soccer team has vastly improved with support from FIFA, reaching an all-time high ranking of 85 in July. The national team is preparing to play the Philippines in the Peace Cup on September 9 in a redux of the AFC Challenge Cup final in which Palestine qualified for the Asian Cup finals. Zaqout, who died July 30 at the age of 49, was arguably the best Palestinian midfielder ever, and is remembered for playing in a 1994 friendly against France in Jericho. That French squad featured Michel Platini, the current UEFA president. He later took up coaching – his team won the local championship in 2000 – and became a sports broadcaster. Zaqout’s wife told AFP of the day his home was hit by an Israeli missile: “I heard an enormous explosion. I rushed out of the bathroom and saw a cloud of dust. Then I knew that the rocket had fallen on us. I saw Ahed, his head and chest were soaked in blood. I couldn’t stop crying. The neighbors came and took him to hospital but he was already dead.” The soccer legend had no known connections to Hamas.
Psychologist to bereaved Gazans becomes one of them
Haaretz 18 Aug by Amira Hass — Hassan Ziadah, who lost five members of his family last month, has been treating traumatized Palestinians since 1991 — Hassan’s mother taught him how to read and write when he was five, even though she had only attended school until the 4th grade. Due to space limitations and relevancy considerations, that was a detail I left out of a piece I wrote about Henk Zanoli, the Dutch man who had been recognized by the Yad Vashem Holocaust remembrance authority as a righteous gentile, and who returned the medal that he received from Israel (“Holocaust honor returned,” August 15). He did so because Israel and its army had killed Hassan’s mother, Muftiyah Ziadah, 70, three of his nine siblings, Jamil, Omar and Youssef, his sister-in-law Bayan and his 12-year-old nephew Shaaban. A single Israeli bomb hit their house on July 20. The IDF spokesman said the army was looking into “exceptional” cases. Nine other families devastated on same day But the Ziadah family is not exceptional. That same day, I would stress again and again, precise and sophisticated Israeli bombs obliterated or nearly obliterated nine Palestinian families in their homes, 73 people all told. The Israeli human rights organization B’Tselem documented 60 such families that Israel killed in July and August, a total of 458 people, including 108 women under the age of 60; 214 children and 18 men and women aged 60 and older. “When an entire family is killed, society’s primary source of support is lost,” Hassan Ziadeh said in a phone call from Gaza. “When Israel targets entire families, it is destroying a social institution.”
Palestinian ambassador to Italy joins mourners of Italian journalist killed in Gaza
PITIGLIANO, Italy (WAFA) 16 Aug – Palestinian Ambassador to Italy Mai Al-Kaila joined Friday hundreds of mourners who gathered at Pitigliano church in Tuscany region to pay their last respects to Associated Press journalist Simone Camilli. Flanked with a delegation from the Palestinian Embassy and the Palestinian community in Italy, Al-Kaila paid her last respects to Camilli during the funeral service that was held at St. Peter and Paul Cathedral in Pitigliano. Italian journalist Simone Camilli, 37, who worked for Associated Press, and Palestinian photographer and freelance translator, Ali Abu Afash, 38, were killed when an Israeli unexploded missile went off Wednesday August 13 in Beit Lahia in northern Gaza Strip … Quoting the Associated Press, the Daily Mail reported that video images made by Camilli were projected in the cathedral complex in Pitigliano, and mourners streaming to the funeral Mass were visibly moved as they paused to watch.
Ministry of Interior reopens Gaza offices
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 16 Aug — The Ministry of Interior’s offices in the Gaza Strip reopened Saturday after being closed throughout the Israeli offensive, an official said. The manager of the ministry’s administration and finance departments, Ahed Hamada, said that the ministry would be open until the end of the five-day ceasefire on Tuesday. Hamada added that the ministry would exempt some residents who were injured during the offensive from paying fees for civil status transactions.
Palestinian-American entrepreneur to invest in Gaza
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 14 Aug — Prominent Palestinian-American businessman Farouk Shami announced Wednesday a decision to build a university, mosque, and a branch for his hair-care company Farouk Systems in the Gaza Strip. According to a statement by the Diaspora Affairs department of the Palestine Liberation Organization, Farouk Shami announced his decision Wednesday following a meeting with active members of the Palestinian community in the United States. Shami’s decision to invest in the Gaza Strip, according to the statement, stems from his willingness to help develop the Palestinian economy and create job opportunities through practical steps … The intended university, according to the PLO statement, will have close relations with the Farouk Systems factory to be created in Gaza. A portion of the factory’s profits will cover the running costs of the university, whose students will be entitled to training and employment at the factory.
When you Google Gaza: Techies’ ambitions on the embattled Strip
Huffington Post 15 Aug by Jennifer MacKenzie — Nearly four weeks into Operation Protective Edge, Ahmed Borai is explaining how to separate hydrogen from seawater. Gaza’s sole power plant was bombed out of commission four days earlier, leaving Gaza City blacked out and reducing the rest of the strip to two hours of electricity a day. The gasoline needed to run a generator costs two dollars a liter, the plant could take a year to repair, and Ahmed doesn’t have that kind of time or money to spare. So he’s using a car battery and a converter to run high voltage through a barrel of water to create an alternative — albeit highly explosive — source of fuel. “We’re bombed at any time here,” he declares over Facebook chat, “so not a big deal.” But while he concedes his workaround is “scary”, Ahmed has bigger worries. “If I lose the internet, I lose my company.” Fabraca, a 3D printing and product design company that he founded in early 2013, now includes four other employees from India, Serbia and Armenia, and the income it generates supports his entire family. Ahmed is not the only young entrepreneur on the strip seeking innovative solutions to economic straits … In recent years, other residents of the San Francisco-sized strip have also turned to online business platforms in hopes that virtual space will prove less vulnerable than on-the-ground infrastructure. One of its biggest success stories is Unit One, a company with a staff of over 200 that provides software development, data entry, online marketing and e-content development at what its founder, Saady Lozon, calls “highly competitive prices.” Lozon points out that each year, about 150 students graduate from Gaza’s four universities with degrees in IT-related fields, “and we’re trying to use the skills they have.”
‘Bombing the Dead’ — Max Blumenthal in Gaza
Mondoweiss 17 Aug by Philip Weiss — This is excellent. Max Blumenthal has taken his photos and tweets from Gaza, with the help of Dan Cohen, and made a Storify. This slideshow might serve a war crimes inquiry; for it conveys the overwhelming and indiscriminate devastation of Israel’s attack on two neighborhoods near the Israel border. Beit Hanoun and Shuja’iyeh were flattened; Israel even bombed a cemetery. The last image is particularly striking, as it shows the aftermath of the July 24th strike on the UN school in Beit Hanoun.
Photos of the week: Gazans search for normalcy among the ruins
Activestills 15 Aug – What does life look like in Gaza after both the Israeli army and the media leave? Photos and Text: Basel Yazouri
UNICEF State of Palestine – photo
Seven-year-old Maha is paralyzed below the neck down following an airstrike in Gaza. Her mom, her dad and four sisters were reported killed in the same airstrike, which injured several of her sisters. Doctors at al-Shifa hospital say the girl needs urgent surgery abroad to try to recover nerve function in her upper limbs. Maha, who can still move her head, gazes at people around her and listens to all they say. An aunt and several relatives are staying with her at al-Shifa hospital’s pediatric ward. Maha has been waiting for several weeks to be allowed to leave Gaza and seek treatment abroad. Coordinating the referral of patients abroad remains a complicated process that involves various stakeholders in the coastal enclave, which has been under closure since 2007. Israeli authorities told the media that the little girl has just been granted a permit. Photo: © UNICEF / Eyad El Baba [Let’s hope she’s been evacuated to Turkey]
Prisoners / Court actions
Mother of pre-Oslo prisoner from ‘Aida camp dies at 80
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 17 Aug — Sabha Abu Srour, the mother of veteran Palestinian prisoner Mahmoud Abu Srour, died Saturday at 80 before she was able to see her son return to his home in ‘Aida refugee camp near Bethlehem, a Ma‘an reporter said. Abu Srour was buried Saturday afternoon at the cemetery near Rachel’s Tomb. Her husband had died a few years earlier. Mahmoud Abu Srour was detained by Israeli troops 24 years ago. He is one of 26 veteran Palestinian prisoners, jailed before Oslo agreement of 1993, who remain in Israeli custody. It was agreed that Israel would release them as the fourth and final group of 104 pre-Oslo prisoners in a gesture to the Palestinian Authority in return for resuming peace talks. However, negotiations failed to reach any agreement after nine months when Israel refused to release the fourth group of veteran prisoners and the PLO acceded to various international organizations and treaties.
Reimposing the life sentences on six prisoners who were freed within the ‘Shalit’ deal
SILWAN, Jerusalem (SILWANIC) 16 July — The so-called “committee to monitor the violations of prisoners freed within the Shalit deal” decided on Tuesday night to re-impose the life sentences against six Jerusalemite prisoners who were released in 2011. The head of Jerusalemite detainees and prisoners families committee, Amjad Abu Asab, explained that the so-called “releases committee” decided to re-impose the life sentences against Ismaeel Abdullah Mousa Hijazi from Jabal Al-Mukabber, Jamal Hammad Hussein Abu Saleh from Silwan- Dung Gate, Rajab Mohammad Shihadeh Tahan from Ras Al-Amoud, Adnan Mohammad Ata Maragha from Silwan, Ala’ Eddin Ahmad Rida Bazian from the Old City of Jerusalem and Naser Mousa Ahmad Abed Rabbo from Sur Baher; note that they were rearrested last month. Abu Asab pointed out that the prisoners appeared in the District court in Haifa and were presented to a racist committee that discussed the prisoners’ cases individually and discussed the indictments submitted against them. The committee accused them of communicating with Hamas, Islamic Jihad, the Popular and Democratic Front as well as other terrorist organizations and also accused them of planning to carry-out terrorist attacks.
In a related matter, the occupation authorities decided on Wednesday night to release the Jerusalemite prisoner Ibrahim Mashal who is one of the prisoners released within the “Shalit” deal; note that he was rearrested after the Hebron operation.
Activism / Solidarity / BDS / Other news
Reeling from Gaza losses, Palestinians in the West Bank organize boycott
Middle East Eye 14 Aug by Bethan Staton — For the last month, a strange phenomenon has been emerging in the West Bank. Quietly and unexpectedly, stickers are appearing on particular brands of yogurt, coffee or shampoo in shops and markets. Blue-and-white, and smaller than a postage stamp, they’re printed with a mysterious figure: “16 percent.” What does the opaque figure mean? It’s explained in the labels’ small print: “16 percent goes to the Israeli army.” And now the warning stickers, and others like them, can be seen on thousands of made-in-Israel products, in stores all over the West Bank. They’re markers of a dramatic shift. For the last month, Palestinians here have looked on in powerless shock as Israeli jets killed nearly 2,000 of their compatriots in Gaza. As they watched as neighbourhoods in the strip were totally flattened and they hear from friends or family with life-changing injuries, they are both horrified and frustrated. Disgusted at the bloodshed created by the Israeli military, the West Bank is desperate to do something – and now, it’s boycotting Israel en masse to take a stand … The West Bank’s slickest and largest supermarket, Bravo, has committed to take Israeli products off its shelves. Its largest coffee and sweets chain, a heady wonderland of cocoa and coloured foil wrappings, no longer stocks them at all. Many smaller stores won’t replace their existing Israeli goods. At Zabaneh, an upmarket food store in Ramallah, proprietor Aziz Helweh indicated three rows which once held Israeli foods but are now dominated by Arab brands. “Some activists came here with their stickers, but they didn’t find anything to put them on,” he said.
Peaceful protest at Port of Oakland draws crowd of 500
OAKLAND (Contra Costa Times) 16 Aug by Theresa Harrington — About 500 protesters marched from the West Oakland BART station to the Oakland Port Saturday afternoon in what they called a victorious attempt to prevent an Israeli ship from unloading cargo. “We successfully blocked one of the most prominent shipping companies out of the state of Israel from docking in the Port of Oakland,” said Reem Assil, of the San Francisco-based Arab Resource Organizing Center, which coordinated the protest and rally with about 70 other groups. “We are really proud of this victory.” Members of the group, which included many people carrying signs and chanting, said they organized to block the Israeli-owned ZIM Lines ship from unloading cargo at the port’s Berth 57 as a way to protest Israel’s recent attack on Gaza and its occupation of Palestine. Protesters encouraged activists in other cities to hold similar protests as part of an international movement to boycott, divest from and sanction Israel … Longshoreman Clarence Thomas said people around the country and world are starting to unify around the theme of resistance. “The people in Ferguson are now related to people in Gaza,” he said. “Isn’t it ironic that a ship from ZIM can come here to be unloaded, but it has been four years since a ship has been unloaded in Gaza? This must be repeated elsewhere.”
10,000 protest in Tel Aviv for a just peace, end to occupation
972blog 16 Aug (Moriel Rothman-Zecher and Haggai Matar contributed to this report) — Some 10,000 Israelis flooded Tel Aviv’s Rabin Square under the slogan “Changing direction: toward peace, away from war” in the largest anti-Gaza war demonstration in Israel since the outbreak of hostilities more than one month ago. The protest was scheduled to take place last week, but was postponed after the police and Home Front Command revoked its permit, ostensibly to stop large gatherings during a time when missiles were being fired at Tel Aviv and other Israeli cities. Roughly 500 non-aligned activists flooded Tel Aviv’s Rabin Square anyway, in defiance of the ban. The major left-wing parties, including Meretz and Hadash, as well as Peace Now and other left-wing organizations, joined tonight’s demonstration, calling for a wide range of demands, from continuing negotiations between Israel and Hamas to an end to the occupation and Israel’s blockade of Gaza. Many who have demonstrated throughout the past weeks of hostilities expressed disappointment at Meretz and Peace Now for their refusal to support anti-war demonstrations until now. Meretz MK Zehava Gal’on addressed the protest, affirming that her party was against the Israeli military operation in Gaza all along. She lashed out at Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for not immediately recognizing the Palestinian unity deal and instead choosing war … To large applause, Hadash MK Mohammad Barakeh stated in Hebrew and Arabic, “We are building a partnership against the occupation, for a free Palestine.” He continued, “We are here for a two-state solution, for life and a future for people in Gaza and the South.” Famed Israeli author David Grossman addressed the large crowd, saying, “We won’t be able to breathe deeply in Israel as long as people in Gaza feel choked,” adding, “We will always be neighbors with people in Gaza. We must live together.”….
Tel Aviv protest: Ask essential questions about Gaza attack!
Alternative Information Center 16 Aug — A group of Israeli activists, representing the ghosts of silent victims without faces or names, walked through the streets of Tel Aviv on August 12. Describing themselves as the “missing elements”, the activists asked questions not raised in Israel during the Gaza attack. “We live under the rule of interests occupied with making profits for themselves”, wrote the activists, “politicians, arms manufacturers, senior military officials and media bodies. Each one of them in its way is busy with deepening our sense of fear – the more we fear, the more their profits grow”. Adding that “Throughout the entire attack on Gaza we, the society in Israel, swallowed the answers we received via the media without any doubt”, the activists added that “The essential questions were not asked in these broadcasts: 1. Why did Israel begin the attack and what were its goals and aims? Why was the stated reason for commencing the attack changed a large number of times in accordance with achievements of the previous days?
Israel ends export to EU of dairy, poultry produced in West Bank
AFP 18 Aug — Israel will end its export of poultry and dairy produce to the European Union from Jewish settlements considered illegal by the international community, Israeli and European officials said on Sunday. The restrictions stem from directives issued by the European Commission in February and affect chicken and milk products from settlements in east Jerusalem, the Golan Heights and the West Bank. “In keeping with previous decisions, the EU no longer recognized the authority of the veterinary inspections services of Israel to approve the export of poultry and (dairy products), the origin of which are in settlements,” a European official told AFP.
Speaker of El Salvador parliament visits injured Gazans in Jerusalem
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 16 Aug — Chairman of the parliament of El Salvador Sigfrido Reyes Morales on Friday visited a number of injured people from Gaza at al-Makassed Hospital in Jerusalem, the latest in a number of official visits in solidarity with the Palestinian people. According to a statement from the Palestinian Legislative Council, during the visit Reyes condemned Israeli “atrocities” against the Gaza Strip and confirmed that his government and the people of El Salvador would continue to support the Palestinian people in their efforts to establish an independent Palestinian state. Reyes was accompanied in his visit by Palestinian member of parliament from Jerusalem Bernard Sabella and secretary-general of the Palestinian parliament Ibrahim Khreisha. Reyes also visited the family of Palestinian teenager Muhammad Abu Khdeir, who was kidnapped and burned to death in a hate crime by a group of right-wing Jewish Israelis, in Jerusalem’s Shu‘fat. [More than 100,000 Salvadorans are of Middle Eastern descent. See here (El Salvador: Central American Palestine of the West?) for an article on the 2004 presidential election, in which both candidates were descended from Palestinian Christians from Bethlehem]
Oxfam: Lifting of Gaza blockade crucial to recovery
IMEMC/Agencies 17 Aug — A full recovery from the humanitarian catastrophe in Gaza will be impossible, according to Oxfam, unless Israel’s blockade is lifted permanently. Oxfam recently held a demonstration in London’s Parliament Square in highlighting the suffering which the ongoing blockade causes, and has released official statements in this regard. The Palestinian News Network (PNN) reports that Oxfam, along with other members of the Disasters and Emergency Committee, is delivering urgent humanitarian aid but that notes that reconstruction efforts have not yet begun in earnest.The need to rebuild Gaza’s destroyed civilian infrastructure alone makes it more urgent than ever to lift the blockade. Even before the destruction inflicted on Gaza by Israel, over the past month, seven years of blockade had turned urban essentials like power, clean water, and sewage systems into scarcities. Under the blockade, 80% of the people in Gaza are reliant on aid … Oxfam is now challenging the UK and international governments, says the PNN, in order to clarify what they are doing to bring an end to these crimes, noting that this the best step toward securing a lasting peace between opposing factions.
Fury after Jewish Chronicle apologises over advert appealing for money to help Gaza victims
Daily Mirror (UK) 16 Aug by Paul Cockerton — The Jewish Chronicle has been heavily criticised today after its apologised for running an advert appealing for funds to help the child victims of the Gaza conflict. Twitter and Facebook users vented their fury at the Chronicle’s apology, which has been branded “depressing” and “despicable”. More than £9 million was raised by the Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC) drive in its first week, partly thanks to full-page promotions in a number of newspapers. But the appearance in the Chronicle of the ad – which featured a picture of a young Palestinian boy and said thousands more were “injured, homeless and living in fear” – sparked anger from some readers. The newspaper has issued a statement on its Facebook page saying: “We apologise for the upset caused”. Including the ad was “meant as a purely humanitarian gesture” and was “not an expression of the JC’s views”, it said. It said readers would be given space to air their objections in the next edition, which would also include free advertising “encouraging readers to donate to a range of charities supporting Israel”.
Tourism sector suffers decline in face of Gaza assault
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 17 Aug — The tourism industry in Palestine has suffered a serious decline as a result of the Israeli offensive on Gaza, the head of the Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities said Saturday. Tourism has declined by approximately 60 percent since the beginning of the assault, which in addition to causing a humanitarian crisis in Gaza has led to increased tensions in the West Bank, Minister of Tourism Rula Maayah told Ma‘an. Before the war, the tourism sector was experiencing a boom, but thousands of tourists have since canceled their reservations, Maayah said. In August 2013, 83,000 tourists visited Palestine, but as war raged in Gaza at the beginning of August 2014, only 17,000 tourists visited. Hotel owners say all rooms would have been booked in September if reservations hadn’t been cancelled as a result of the Gaza war, the minister told Ma‘an. Maayah said she hoped tourism would improve ahead of the Christmas season, a time which typically sees the Palestinian city of Bethlehem swarming with tourists.
Israel’s tourism devastated as Gaza rockets fire
Bloomberg News 14 Aug — After more than five weeks of conflict, visitors are avoiding Jerusalem in the thousands. The latest Gaza violence has devastated Israel’s tourism industry. Bloomberg’s Willem Marx reports.
Analysis / Opinion
Eyeless in Gaza / Uri Avnery
Gush Shalom 16 Aug –THE TROUBLE with war is that it has two sides. Everything would be so much easier if war had only one side. Ours, of course. There you are, drawing up a wonderful plan for the next war, preparing it, training for it, until everything is perfect. And then the war starts, and to your utmost surprise it appears that there is another side, too, which also has a wonderful plan, and has prepared it and trained for it. When the two plans meet, everything goes wrong. Both plans break down. You don’t know what’s going to happen. How to go on. You do things you have not planned for. And when you have had enough of it and want to get out, you don’t know how. It’s so much more difficult to end a war than to start a war, especially when both sides need to declare victory. That’s where we are now. HOW DID it all start? Depends where you want to begin. Like everywhere else, every event in Gaza is a reaction to another event. You do something because the other side did something. Which they did because you did something … I also remember the day when the Israeli army withdrew from most of the Strip. Near Gaza city there stood a huge Israeli watchtower, many floors high, “so that the Israeli soldiers could look into every window in Gaza”. When the soldiers left, I climbed to the top, passing hundreds of happy boys who were going up and down like the angels on the ladder in Jacob’s dream in the Bible. Again we were happy. They are probably Hamas members now. That was the time when Yasser Arafat, son of a Gaza Strip family, returned to Palestine and set up his HQ in Gaza. A beautiful new airport was built. Plans for a large new sea-port were circulating …If the port had been built, Gaza would have become a flourishing commercial hub. The standard of living would have risen steeply, the inclination of the people to vote for a radical Islamic party would have declined. WHY DID this not happen? Israel refused to allow the port to be built. Contrary to a specific undertaking in the 1993 Oslo agreement, Israel cut off all passages between the Strip and the West Bank. The aim was to prevent any possibility of a viable Palestinian state being set up.
My plea to the people of Israel: Liberate yourselves by liberating Palestine / Desmond Tutu
Haaretz 14 Aug — Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu, in an exclusive article for Haaretz, calls for a global boycott of Israel and urges Israelis and Palestinians to look beyond their leaders for a sustainable solution to the crisis in the Holy Land — …Violence begets violence and hatred, that only begets more violence and hatred. We South Africans know about violence and hatred. We understand the pain of being the polecat of the world; when it seems nobody understands or is even willing to listen to our perspective. It is where we come from. We also know the benefits that dialogue between our leaders eventually brought us; when organizations labeled “terrorist” were unbanned and their leaders, including Nelson Mandela, were released from imprisonment, banishment and exile. We know that when our leaders began to speak to each other, the rationale for the violence that had wracked our society dissipated and disappeared. Acts of terrorism perpetrated after the talks began – such as attacks on a church and a pub – were almost universally condemned, and the party held responsible snubbed at the ballot box. The exhilaration that followed our voting together for the first time was not the preserve of black South Africans alone. The real triumph of our peaceful settlement was that all felt included. And later, when we unveiled a constitution so tolerant, compassionate and inclusive that it would make God proud, we all felt liberated.
Palestinian unity is no substitute for a viable political system / Sam Bahour
972blog 17 Aug — Where do the U.S. and Israel want Hamas: as part of a transparent political system, or in underground tunnels? — Palestinian “unity,” reconciling tensions between Hamas and Fatah, is being revered as the foundation that can extract Gaza from the misery wrought upon it by yet another brutal Israeli military onslaught. The devastation from what Israel called “Operation Protective Edge” is overwhelming: nearly 2,000 Palestinians dead, over 10,000 wounded and paralyzed, and a third of the 1.8 million people in Gaza homeless. Added to this human tragedy is the rabid destruction of Gaza’s civilian infrastructure. Palestinian political “unity” requires an operating political system, which is something that Israel dismantled long ago with official Palestinian acquiescence. Anyone seriously wanting to see Palestinians survive this latest Israeli attack should support the reemergence of a fully operating Palestinian political system, rather than just the replacement of a pair of failed political monopolies with a reconciled but leaderless political duopoly…
After all the dead are buried in Gaza and the mourning process comes to a close, politically we will be exactly where we were two months prior to this tragedy: living the illusion of unity in the absence of a legitimate political system. Meanwhile, the reality of military occupation keeps us physically and politically fragmented, led by unelected leaders, and sustained more than ever by foreign donors who have their own agendas. These are the ingredients for yet another round of violence.
Nothing will come of Israel’s quiet / Gideon Levy
Haaretz 17 Aug — The dead died and the killers killed in Gaza only to ensure another brief interlude of quiet for Israelis — The Tel Aviv Port was bustling again this weekend. A boisterous Indian food festival took place in the farmer’s market and hordes of screaming children were riding the merry-go-round — a retro model with old-fashioned cars as the speakers blasted songs from yesteryear. Thousands of Israelis filled the eateries, went shopping for trifles and strolled to the sound of breaking waves. Did a war really just happen? We still haven’t reached an agreement, yet that agreement is already behind us. The papers are eking out one more round of stories on courage, and in the homes of the bereaved parents the grief is there to stay. The wounded and shock victims are recovering and the south is still apprehensive, but it’s still summer and Israel is merry again. The sirens are silent, the experts have gone and the nonsense is back. Israel is back to its bubble. Protective Edge, what was that? Was that before Pillar of Defense or after Summer Rains? A momentary sense of oppression and fear has dissipated. After all, what did Israel seek? Quiet. What else could it ask for? One or two more years of denial, repression, illusion and living a lie — but mainly inaction … This must be Israelis’ most self-righteous and revolting demand. They want quiet and the hell with the surrounding noise and its causes. Let Gaza suffocate and the West Bank bow its head, as long as we have quiet. The victims didn’t die for nothing; they died for the benefit of our quiet. The rubble didn’t just pile up, it served the goal of achieving quiet. The lives of dozens of soldiers and 2,000 Palestinians were sacrificed to the phony quiet. International condemnation, fissures in our democracy, blows to our economy, thousands maimed, hundreds of thousands of homeless, the hatred over there — all in the service of Israel’s quiet … This was a war of choice. This was obvious when Israel launched its wild hunt for Hamas men in the West Bank after the kidnapping and murder of the three teenagers. It was a war of choice fought for nothing, as is evident now. Aside from the destruction of the tunnels, which were discovered by surprise and whose threat has been exaggerated, the war will bring no benefit to Israel. Nothing … When the rockets start falling again in a year or two, Israel will awaken and complain bitterly. How dare they? How dare they do this to us again? What gall to interrupt us just when we’re strolling in the port, which Israel has and Gaza will never have. This is Israel’s only goal – to maintain the present situation and sanctify the quiet. The Palestinians can go to hell. Don’t disturb Sleeping Beauty during her afternoon nap, or ever for that matter.
Every war, I lose more and more friends / Ruti Lavi
Haokets 15 Aug — This week I unfriended another friend who reacted to my posts on Facebook with so much anger and rage I just couldn’t take it anymore. How can one compare unfriending friends to losing lives, which has become so ubiquitous here? But life isn’t a balanced affair. Technically it was very simple – a click on the mouse and I was done. In reality, she is a friend whose life had been intertwined with mine for half of my life. A friend with whom I shared so much happiness, pain and love. Someone who became a part of me has disappeared, along with all the suffering, pain and happiness that were a part of my own life. And as so often happens, her anger did not stem from me calling for an end to this damned war. As always, what enraged her was seeing those horrible photos, the pain expressed over the suffering of the people of Gaza and their children. Every war I lose friends. In 2002 I cut ties with a woman who was like a mother to me, after she said that it was a good thing that a Palestinian girl died from lack of access to medication, because “had she grown up she would have turned into a suicide terrorist.” And so it goes, war after war. It happens not because I call for an end to end the war, but because I feel the pain of those who have become the Other in this land – those who have lost their humanity in the eyes of the state. I am trying to understand what is so scary about feeling someone else’s pain? You don’t have to agree with me in order to be able to admit that “yes, this is painful.” Why is the ability to feel or hurt so scary that it causes people to forget who I am and hate me? Why does the ability to empathize with another’s pain create a feeling of danger, so much so that the first impulse is to annihilate it? I’m trying to understand whether it is the fear of looking in mirror; the fear of understanding who we have become and what we have let ourselves be made to do. Or perhaps is it the fear that if we were indeed made to commit these atrocities to others, the same can be done to us? The fear forces its bearer to push out whoever he or she thinks brought it on. Because the only way to be sure that this evil does not befall us is if it is clear that they are non-human.
Netanyahu is talking to Hamas. It’s about time / Noam Sheizaf
972mag 16 Aug – Without Hamas, there will be no interim agreement and no long-term solution. The notion of the ‘moderates’ reaching an agreement between themselves while the ‘fundamentalists’ are ignored or even dealt with forcefully is a dangerous illusion. For the past week Israel has been negotiating with Hamas in Cairo. While the Palestinian delegation to the talks includes a representative of Mahmoud Abbas, and while the Egyptians are the ones carrying the messages back and forth between the two parties, everyone knows exactly what this is all about. These are no longer talks about prisoner exchanges, but rather a first attempt to touch upon the core issues relating to the siege on Gaza and the status of Hamas as ruler of the Strip. Israel is talking to Hamas (and to Islamic Jihad, which is closer to Iran). Better get used to it.