West Bank & Jerusalem: Violence / Incursions / Illegal arrests
Twilight Zone: A bullet through the heart of a Palestinian man – and entire community
Haaretz 15 Aug by Gideon Levy & Alex Levac — A social worker and father of three, Hashem Abu Maria was killed by an IDF sharpshooter during a protest against the Gaza war. Two others were also shot to death — Ayham awoke and phoned his father, Hashem, who told his son that he would be home soon to finish building a new cage for the ducks in the garden. About 10 minutes later, an Israel Defense Forces sharpshooter fired a bullet into Hashem’s heart, killing him on the spot. The sharpshooter then took his rifle and left the balcony of the house from which he had shot Hashem, according to the family who own the apartment which the soldiers had taken over. “The soldier completed his mission and got out,” says the family of the deceased. Afterward, soldiers fired two more live rounds of ammunition, killing two more demonstrators who had assembled on the street below, in the center of Beit Ummar, a town between Bethlehem and Hebron. This happened three weeks ago, in the midst of the war in the Gaza Strip. Hashem Abu Maria, 45 years old and the father of three, worked for the Geneva-based NGO Defense for Children International. He was a social worker who devoted his life to the protection of Palestinian children. On the day of his death, eyewitnesses and family members say, Abu Maria joined a solidarity march with the victims of the Gaza fighting, which set out from the main mosque in Beit Ummar. His aim was to protect the local children and prevent them from following their usual custom of throwing stones at the Israeli troops who raided the town. He stood at the back of the group of protestors, not in front, shooing the children away. Some people heard him tell them, “Go home, this is dangerous. It’s not for you. You are children – demonstrations are for adults. Go home and play with your computers.”
Palestinian killed near Salfit
IMEMC/Agencies 14 Aug by Saed Bannoura — Palestinian medical sources have reported, on Thursday morning, that a young Palestinian man was killed after being rammed by a settler’s vehicle near an illegal Israeli settlement, in the central West Bank district of Salfit. The sources said that Mohammad Abdul-Karim Abu Salim, 23, from Hares village, near Salfit, was struck by the settler’s vehicle as he was trying to cross the road, close to the Borkan illegal settlement. Israeli police officers and an Israeli ambulance arrived at the scene, but the Palestinian was already dead; a Palestinian ambulance moved the slain youngster to the Salfit governmental hospital. The Palestinian police said it is investigating the issue, in an attempt to determine whether the incident was a deliberate attack. The Palestinian TV said Mohammad was preparing for his wedding. Unlike dozens of similar incidents that led to deaths and injuries of scores of Palestinians, including children and elderly in different parts of the occupied West Bank, the settler actually did not flee the scene.
Wounded Palestinian kidnapped in Bethlehem
IMEMC/Agencies 15 Aug by Saed Bannoura — Undercover forces of the Israeli military kidnapped, on Thursday at night, a young Palestinian man, after shooting him in the ‘Aida refugee camp, north of the West Bank city of Bethlehem. Local sources said undercover soldiers of the Israeli military infiltrated into the camp using a vehicle carrying Palestinian license plates, and shot Arafa Abu Srour, age 25, in his leg before kidnapping him. Following the attack, dozens of soldiers invaded the camp firing round of live ammunition, gas bombs and concussion grenades, causing several injuries. The army and its undercover forces then left the camp, taking the kidnapped wounded Palestinian to an unknown destination, local sources said.
Also in Bethlehem, detained legislator Mahmoud al-Khatib has been released by Israel after a month in prison, without charges, and was ordered to a 10.000 NIS fine. Israel is currently holding captive 35 democratically elected Palestinian legislators from the West Bank.
Two Palestinians injured in Jerusalem
IMEMC/Agencies 15 Aug by Saed Bannoura — Palestinian medical sources in occupied Jerusalem have reported that two Palestinians have been injured during clashes with Israeli soldiers near an illegitimate Israeli settlement outpost. The sources said resident Mahmoud Khalil Abu al-Hawa was shot by a rubber-coated metal bullet to the abdomen from a close range, while resident Ali Mahmoud Abu al-Hawa suffered a broken arm after several soldiers assaulted him. Eyewitnesses said the soldiers also fired gas bombs and rounds of live ammunition, while a number of settlement guards also fired rounds of live ammunition into the air. Clashes have also been reported in the Shu’fat refugee camp, and Ras al-‘Amoud neighborhood, in addition to a number of neighborhoods.
Football fan slain by Israel predicted he would be the next martyr
Electronic Intifada 15 Aug by Budour Youssef Hassan — “If you call his number now, no one will answer. The friend you used to call so frequently is gone,” said Muhammad Qattri’s mother, Um Muhammad. She held her slain son’s phone and was speaking to one of his friends. Just a few hours prior to his killing on Friday, 8 August, 19-year-old Qattri had eaten his lunch at home. And as he so often did, he ate quickly and left the house to take part in a protest without telling his mother. For the last two years, Qattri — or Abu Hassan as they called him at his home in al-‘Amari refugee camp, south of Ramallah — regularly participated in protests across the occupied West Bank, including outside Ofer military prison and the Beit El settlement. But protests became an even bigger part of his life since the start of the most recent Israeli aggression on Gaza. “I want to do something for Gaza. I wish I were there. I hate that all we can do is throw rocks,” he had told his friend, also named Muhammad. Muhammad, whose last name is withheld for his safety, was with Abu Hassan at the protest when he was shot. The latest bloodbath in Gaza is transforming the lives and shaping the consciousness of an entire Palestinian generation, and Abu Hassan and his friends were no different.
Undercover Israeli forces detain Hamas leader in Beit Ummar
HEBRON (Ma‘an) 14 Aug — Undercover Israeli forces detained a Hamas leader in the town of Beit Ummar on Thursday, a local community leader said. The spokesperson of Beit Ummar’s popular committee said Israeli forces from an undercover unit who disguise themselves as Palestinians, known in Hebrew as Mistaravim, kidnapped Ahmad Khader Abed Abu Maria, 47, from his house at 10 a.m. His relative, Hashem Khader Abu Maria, 45, was shot and killed during a Gaza solidarity protest in the town on July 25. Locals in the town said they noticed 15 masked men hiding in an ice-cream truck in the town and began throwing stones at the vehicle. The masked men, who were undercover Israeli forces, fired live ammunition at the villagers, with no injuries reported. Israeli soldiers then fired tear gas canisters at locals who had attempted to push back the undercover unit, who retreated to the nearby illegal Karmi Tsur settlement.
Israeli forces also raided the home of Muhammad Munir Radwan Qawqas, 36, and pointed a gun at his mother. He was blindfolded, handcuffed and taken to Etzion military base. Muhammad is an ex-prisoner who spent 10 years in Israeli prisons. He is a married father of two girls and teaches Hebrew in a school in Bethlehem. Israeli forces also detained Usama Mahmoud Awad Kamil, 26, and Ahmad Khaled Mahmoud Kamil, 26, in the Jenin village of Qabatiya.
8 Palestinians injured in Gaza solidarity march in Bethlehem
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 15 Aug — Eight Palestinians were injured on Friday during clashes with Israeli soldiers in northern Bethlehem, locals said. Clashes broke out as Israeli soldiers dispersed a march of more than 150 Palestinians in solidarity with Gaza heading to an Israeli military watchtower near Rachel’s Tomb. Soldiers fired rubber-coated steel bullets, tear gas canisters and stun grenades at youths, injuring an unidentified man in the hand. Eight people were injured by the rubber-coated steel bullets, seven of whom were treated at the scene. One individual, who was hit in the head, was taken to Beit Jala Governmental Hospital for treatment. 20 others suffered from excessive tear gas inhalation during the clashes. Israeli forces also sprayed foul-smelling water toward protesters as well as local buildings, hitting the nearby Intercontinental Hotel directly … The areas around Rachel’s Tomb are a frequent site of clashes because the holy site is surrounded on three sides by the Israeli separation wall despite being in the middle of the Palestinian city of Bethlehem. Israeli forces have killed 17 Palestinians in protests across the West Bank over the last five weeks as tens of thousands rallied in solidarity with the besieged Gaza Strip.
Explosive device defused near Tubas
IMEMC/Agencies 14 Aug — Explosives experts of the Palestinian police in Jenin, defused on Thursday an explosive object, dropped by the Israeli army during training, in Tammoun town, in the central West Bank district of Tubas … The Public Relations department of the police called on Palestinians to remain alert in areas frequently used by the Israeli army, to stay away from unknown objects and inform the police. There have been many Palestinian casualties, including children and shepherds, resulting from explosive objects and materials left behind by the Israeli military during training, especially since the army uses various areas in the West Bank, mainly near Hebron and the Jordan valley, for conducting training using live ammunition and explosives.
Over 600 detained in Jerusalem since Abu Khdeir murder
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 14 Aug — Israeli forces detained dozens of Palestinians in East Jerusalem overnight Wednesday for the second night in a row as the number of Palestinians detained since the murder of Muhammad Abu Khdeir in early July surpassed 600. Israeli forces carried out pre-dawn raids in Silwan, Shu‘fat and the Old City, transferring detainees to the Russian Compound in West Jerusalem. Some detainees had to be transferred to Lod interrogation center as cells reached full capacity. Most of those detained were arrested following large demonstrations protesting the murder of Abu Khdeir by Jewish extremists.
During the overnight arrests, Israeli soldiers assaulted Hajj Khalil Abd ar-Rahim al-Abbasi and his son Imad in Silwan. Imad was taken to al-Maqasid Hospital in the Mount of Olives.
The mother and sister of Ziad Ahmad al-Qaq were also assaulted by Israeli officers when they raided his home and detained him, according to family members. They said Israeli officers punched the two before pushing them to the ground.
A spokesman of East Jerusalem committee of prisoners’ families, Amjad Abu Asab, told Ma‘an that as least 174 of those detained since July are children.
Israeli forces arrest AP photographer in Hebron
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 15 Aug– Israeli forces on Friday afternoon arrested Associated Press photographer Iyad Hamad during clashes in Hebron. Hamad was beaten, cuffed and led to an unknown destination, locals said. Clashes had started in Hebron after a march in protest of the Israeli assault on Gaza Strip. The Palestinian Journalists Syndicate criticized the arrest and accused the Israeli army of targeting journalists on duty, especially photographers. An army spokeswoman said Hamad was released shortly after being detained.
Israel releases 96 Palestinians arrested in Jerusalem
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 15 Aug — Israeli Police released 96 Palestinians and extended the detention of two others from Jerusalem who were arrested in the last few months. They were released from Ofek and Ashkelon prisons as well as al-Maskobiyeh detention center on 5,000-shekel bail, and on house arrest, a Palestinian prisoners’ society lawyer said. Mufeed al-Hajj said 17 were released from Ashkelon, four minors from Ofek, and the rest from al-Maskobiyeh in Jerusalem after they were bailed out.
The detention of Yahiya Abu Khdeir and Moussa Abu Khdeir who are at Hadarim and Nitsan prisons was extended until Sunday Aug. 15.
46 Palestinian detainees from Jerusalem released on bail
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 15 Aug — Israeli authorities will release 46 Palestinian detainees from Jerusalem on Friday, a prisoner rights group said. The Palestinian Prisoner’s Society said that the detainees, three of whom are children, will be released on bail … The detainees form part of nearly 600 Palestinians arrested in Jerusalem since the murder of teenager Muhammad Abu Khdeir.
Land, property theft & destruction / Ethnic cleansing / Restriction on movement
Settlers set up mobile homes on land belonging to Palestinian Bethlehem village
BETHLEHEM (WAFA) 13 Aug — Israeli settlers Wednesday set up mobile homes on lands belonging to the village Fureidis to the east of Bethlehem, according to a security source. Sources told WAFA that a group of settlers set up mobile homes or ‘caravans’ on lands belonging to Fureidis as prelude to take over the land and establish a settlement outpost there. The setting up of the two caravans came following an Israeli court’s ruling, two months ago, to remove two caravans that had been set up on the same spot, according to Coordinator of the Popular Anti-wall and Settlement Committee Hasan Breijah.
Palestinian refugees mark one year of return to destroyed village
KUFR BIR‘IM (Electronic Intifada) 15 Aug by Patrick O. Strickland – Kufr Bir‘im is one of the hundreds of Palestinian villages depopulated by Zionist militas during the Nakba (Arabic for “catastrophe”) — the ethnic cleansing which led to Israel’s foundation in 1948. Earlier this month, activists held a week-long youth camp in this village. More than seventy young Palestinians living in present-day Israel attended. The camp featured lectures and tours that teach the village’s Palestinian history, as well as arts and crafts activities and musical and theater performances. “For 66 years we have been trying to return,” George Ghantous, an organizer of the camp, told The Electronic Intifada. Harsh winter Though this is the 25th annual camp, Ghantous said that this year was special. It is the one-year anniversary of when more than a dozen Palestinian youths — descendants of the village’s refugees — returned to the remains of the village. Despite a harsh winter, which included a heavy snowstorm, and harassment by Israeli authorities, they set up camp and stayed on their ancestral lands.
Israeli police prevent women from entering Aqsa for second day
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 14 Aug — Palestinian women were forced to pray at the doors of the holy Al-Aqsa compound in Jerusalem’s Old City for the second day running after Israeli police denied Muslim Palestinian women entry on Thursday. Witnessess told Ma’an that Israeli police restricted women of all ages as well as men under 30 from entering the compound since dawn, as police barricades around the compound remained up for a second day. All gates into the compound were reportedly closed except for three. Dozens of people denied entry gathered near the gates and protested visits by Jewish worshipers with heavily-armed police escorts to the compound. Israeli police allowed Palestinians to enter the compound after 3:00 p.m, after a large Jewish group completed its tour.
Gaza death toll hits 1,980 as dozens succumb to war wounds
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 15 Aug — A Ministry of Health official warned Friday that the death toll in Gaza was expected to continue to rise as dozens succumbed to wounds sustained during the offensive and more bodies were recovered under the rubble of homes. Healthy ministry spokesman Ashraf al-Qidra said that the death toll had hit 1,980 on Friday with at least 10,181 injured. Dozens have been added to the death count despite a fragile calm maintained through back-to-back ceasefires in recent weeks. Al-Qidra said that many of those injured are still in a critical condition, and are not expected to survive their wounds. The low survival rate is also due in part to the continued lack of appropriate medical supplies and facilities for injured patients, while 18-hour daily power cuts and a lack of fuel for generators aggravate the condition of those hospitals still functioning. The PLO estimates that that 17 hospitals and seven clinics were damaged during the assault, 10 hospitals and 44 primary health clinics were closed, 22 ambulances were damaged, and 83 health personnel injured, along with 19 health personnel who died in Israeli airstrikes. The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said in a report on Thursday that supplies of medicine had managed to return to their June levels, when medicines were running at about 70 percent of their required volume due to the Israeli siege and Egyptian limitations on imports into Gaza … Despite the improvements, the inability of medical authorities to properly administer to the injured during the bombardment has had lasting effects being felt as the death toll rises rapidly in the days since. The massive scale of the destruction of residential neighborhoods — at least 16,800 homes were obliterated or severely damaged — means that it could also take weeks to find all of the dead beneath the rubble. Al-Qidra said that civil defense and ambulance crews were currently working around the clock to search for the many who are still reported missing in Gaza. As the days pass, however, the possibility of finding survivors under the rubble was fading and the focus was on recovering bodies. He added that the ministry’s toll also kept increasing as many families had buried their dead without taking them first to the hospital, as these families had feared being targeted amid intense Israeli bombardment.
just an example of three who didn’t make it
3 elderly Palestinians succumb to wounds from Israeli assault on Gaza
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 14 Aug — Three Palestinians died on Thursday evening as a result of injuries they sustained earlier during the Israeli assault, the Palestinian Ministry of Health said. Health ministry spokesman Ashraf al-Qidra named two of the dead as Jihad Ali Abu Zeid, 61, and Mahdheyah al-Mebayyed, 91, both of whom died as a result of injuries sustained during the Israeli offensive on the Shujaiyya neighborhood of Gaza City, which left more than 100 dead in less then 48 hours. The third deceased Palestinian man was identified as Ibrahim Ismail Abu Odeh, 64, from Beit Hanoun.
Palestinian killed in Khan Younis
IMEMC/Agencies 14 Aug by Saed Bannoura — Palestinian medical sources have reported that a man was killed on Wednesday evening, when an explosive object — likely to have been fired by Israel, previously — detonated close to him in the Rabwat area, west of Khan Younis, in the southern part of the Gaza Strip. Medical sources said resident Kamal ad-Daly, 26, died of his wounds at the Nasser Medical Center in Khan Younis.
Head of Gaza bomb squad killed as 1,000 tons of Israeli munitions remain
Electronic Intifada 13 Aug by Nora Barrows-Friedman — Six people were killed and six others seriously injured on Wednesday when an unexploded 500 kilogram Israeli missile blew up in Beit Lahiya, in northern Gaza, as weapons disposal experts were attempting to make it safe. Bilal Muhammad al-Sultan, Rahed Taysir Ali al-Hom, Hazem Ahmad Abu Murad and Saeed Talal Salman were killed in the explosion. They were part of a small team of experts who defuse unexploded munitions and were working constantly around the Gaza Strip in the last month since Israel began its attacks on 7 July … The Guardian reports that “One day last week, while the last tenuous ceasefire held in Gaza, al-Hom received seventy calls. In this conflict alone, he had dealt with 400 ‘objects.’” “My duty” An Al Jazeera English video report recently featured Hazem Abu Murad, head of field operations for Gaza’s police bomb squad, at work attempting to defuse missiles fired from US-made Israeli F-16 jets. “Of course my job is very dangerous, but I’m doing my duty for my people,” Abu Murad explained to Al Jazeera. (If you cannot view the video on Al Jazeera’s website due to content geoblocking, you can view it here) … Because of the Israeli-Egyptian siege and blockade on Gaza, these munitions experts have been prevented from accessing necessary protective gear and robotic equipment that their counterparts in other countries rely on to do this critical but dangerous work.
AP video journalist, translator killed in Gaza
[with video] GAZA CITY (AP) 13 Aug by Ibrahim Barzak & Josef Federman — Six people — including an Associated Press video journalist — were killed Wednesday when leftover ordnance believed to have been dropped in an Israeli airstrike blew up in the Gaza Strip. Simone Camilli and his Palestinian translator, Ali Shehda Abu Afash, were covering the aftermath of the war between Israel and Islamic militants in Gaza when they were killed. The blast occurred as Gaza police engineers were trying to defuse unexploded ordnance fired by Israel. Four police engineers also were killed, police said. Three people, including AP photographer Hatem Moussa, were badly injured. Moussa told a colleague that they were filming the scene when an initial explosion went off. He said he was hit by shrapnel and began to run when there was a second blast, which knocked him out. He woke up in a hospital and later underwent surgery before he was transferred to a hospital in Israel for more advanced care. Police officials in Gaza said the blast took place at a special site set up in the northern town of Beit Lahiya where authorities have collected unexploded ordnance to be defused. The cause of the blast was not immediately known. Hamas police spokesman Ayman al-Batniji said there had clearly been a ‘mistake’ and there would be an investigation. He said the Palestinians collect unexploded munitions but usually get help from international experts in disposing of them. “We never deal with these things alone,” he said, adding that police believe only a small fraction of unexploded bombs from the recent fighting have been recovered. An official said an Israeli tank shell caused the first explosion, triggering the more powerful secondary blast that included several bombs, including unexploded missiles dropped in Israeli airstrikes. The Israeli military carried out nearly 5,000 airstrikes in a month of fighting … Iyad al-Bouzm, a spokesman for Gaza’s Interior Ministry, estimated that Israel dropped about 10,000 tons of explosives on Gaza, including shells fired by tanks, artillery batteries and gunboats, as well as more powerful missiles delivered in airstrikes. He said there was no estimate on how many unexploded shells remained.
Day of prayer and truce in Gaza
GAZA CITY (AFP) 15 Aug by Laurent Lozano — Palestinian worshipers attended weekly prayers, relatively confident of their safety Friday as a fragile ceasefire held for a second day and tough talks loomed on a more lasting peace. For the first time since fighting began between Israel and Hamas on July 8, residents in Gaza City were able to attend the main weekly Friday prayers without fear of being killed. In the Shati refugee camp, a few hundred men prayed in the rubble of one mosque, lining up their prayer mats directly under the teetering remains of the minaret that looked as if it could collapse at any moment, after around two thirds of the mosque was pulverised …. Egyptian mediators won a new five-day ceasefire late Wednesday to give Israeli and Palestinian negotiators more time to thrash out a longer-term truce. The ceasefire got off to a rocky start in its first few hours, but Israeli officials said it had held into a second day Friday. Negotiations are expected to resume in Cairo on Saturday evening, as Palestinian and Israeli negotiators consult with their political leaderships about the parameters for an eventual long-term truce.
Palestinians accuse Israel of violating Gaza truce
GAZA (Reuters) 15 Aug – The Palestinian Interior Ministry in Gaza accused Israel on Friday of a cross-border shooting in violation of a truce that has largely held since getting off to a shaky start on Thursday. An Israeli military spokeswoman said: “We have no knowledge of such an incident.” The Palestinian ministry in the coastal territory dominated by Hamas Islamists said Israeli troops shot at houses east of the town of Khan Younis. The ceasefire, renewed on Thursday for five days after a previous truce expired, has largely halted more than a month of fighting in which 1,945 Palestinians, many of them civilians, 64 Israeli soldiers and three civilians in Israel were killed. The truce got off to a rocky start with Israel launching an air raid early on Thursday in response to rocket fire from Gaza in violation of the earlier truce. There were no reported casualties in any of these incidents.
3 Gaza detainees assaulted during arrest by Israeli soldiers
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 13 Aug — Three Palestinians who were detained during Israel’s ground offensive in the Gaza Strip were assaulted, injured, and denied medical treatment, a lawyer told Ma‘an on Wednesday. Youssef al-Nasasrah, a lawyer with the Palestinian Prisoners’ Society, said that Ahmad Taymur Abu Rida was detained from his home in Khan Younis and “brutally beaten” by Israeli soldiers. Khalid Kamel Ibrahim al-Najjar from Khuza‘a, a neighborhood of Khan Younis, was injured in an Israeli airstrike and arrested while still bleeding from his injuries.He was not given medical treatment following his arrest.Momen Khalid al-Najjar, also from Khuza‘a, was assaulted while being detained. Al-Nasasrah visited the detainees in Israel’s Ashkelon prison, where rights groups say 26 Palestinians are being held. Over 250 Palestinians were detained during Israel’s ground operation and uncertainty remains over the exact number still being held in Israeli prisons.
Israel releases 3 Gazans captured during ground assault
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 16 Aug — Israeli authorities on Friday night released three Palestinian men captured by Israeli forces during the ground invasion of Gaza, the Palestinian Ministry of Prisoner Affairs said. The release of the three comes amid Palestinian concern and Israeli silence over the fate of at least 250 individuals Palestinian groups allege were captured by Israeli forces during the assault. Director of statistics at the Ministry of Prisoner Affairs Abd al-Nasser Farawana named the three released men as Ahmad Muhammad Hmeidan Abu Lihya from Khan Younis, Abd al-Qadir Freih Salim Shalouf from Rafah, and Nafith Hussein Muhammad Shalouf, also from Rafah. Two of the men appear in a list of 26 people given by Israeli authorities to the Palestinian prisoner ministry last week that they said were the names of those detained during the fighting. Israeli authorities at the time said that those who had been captured in Gaza had been transferred out of the coastal territory and were being held in Ashkelon prison, just north of Gaza inside Israel. The third individual released on Friday night, however, does not appear on the list, re-igniting concerns that Israeli authorities have not been forthcoming about hundreds of Gazan men being secretly held inside Israel.
Handful of Gaza children evacuated to Jerusalem for treatment
[Video, case studies] Those receiving treatment outside of Gaza are not unique because of the severity of their wounds and trauma, but because they were allowed out, write Olivia Watson* and Ellis Garey* in their multimedia feature for DCI-Palestine. Ramallah, August 14, 2014 — Shaima al-Masri, 5, came to Saint Joseph’s Hospital in East Jerusalem from Beit Hanoun, in the north of the Gaza Strip. It has been five weeks since she was first injured in an Israeli airstrike, but Shaima is still recovering from serious injuries that led to extensive internal bleeding. After two surgeries in Gaza to remove the shrapnel lodged in her stomach, liver, and kidney, doctors urged human rights groups to intervene and facilitate her transfer to Jerusalem … “The situation in Gaza hospitals is very bad now,” said Samah. “In Shifa, Shaima shared a single hospital bed with four children. They don’t have enough resources, there isn’t medicine.” … In Saint Joseph’s, Shaima has a bed to herself, and only one roommate. A stream of Palestinians from East Jerusalem visit the hospital, bearing small gifts for the patients from Gaza. Shaima is quiet and seems dazed, but willingly shows visitors her toys. Yazan, the five-year-old boy from Gaza with whom she shares a room, doesn’t engage with the crowd of people. His mother says he hasn’t talked much since he was injured …
“We got here with the help of a human rights group. It wasn’t easy. On the way to Erez crossing, the ambulance was shot at with Shaima inside.” Though the children allowed out of Gaza for specialized care are often in particularly critical conditions, the exit process can delay their access to treatment. Mohammad, 14, another Gazan patient at Saint Joseph’s, was made to wait for hours while Israeli border officials searched him and his mother. Lifting his shirt to reveal a foot-long incision held together with metal sutures, Mohammad’s mother said, “They searched his whole body and all of our possessions, it took us a long time to get through.” The end of their treatment at Saint Joseph’s won’t mark the end of the recovery for the children from Gaza: they are among the 373,000 Gazan children in need of immediate psycho-social support for their trauma. How – or whether – their needs will be addressed is unclear.
344 children born in UNRWA shelters during Israeli assault
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 14 Aug — UNRWA vehicles generally tend to carry aid or supplies, but this time the car belonging to the UN’s Palestine refugee agency was crowded with women and new-born babies. The women and their children were being taken to attend a ceremony where they would be given a hygiene kit of milk and diapers to take care of the newborns. Among the attendees were just some of the 344 Palestinian babies who have begun their lives as internally displaced persons in UNRWA schools across Gaza, according to the agency. A Ma‘an reporter at the ceremony said that many of the attendees came dressed in their Muslim prayer dress, unable to find other clothes to wear, and some of the mothers had not been able to find any baby clothes for their newborn children amid the devastation across Gaza. A mother from the Abu Adwan family told Ma‘n that her house was bombed only hours before she gave birth to her baby daughter Ghadir….
Israeli warships open fire at Palestinian fishermen near Rafah
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 13 Aug — Israeli warships on Wednesday opened fire at Palestinian fishermen off the coast of the southern Gaza Strip, in the second such incident since an agreed-upon 72-hour truce came into effect, witnesses told Ma‘an.Witnesses said Israeli forces opened fire “heavily” at a Palestinian fishing boat near Rafah, but that there were no injuries.An Israeli army spokeswoman said a motor boat had “breached the military closure,” and that Israeli forces opened fire into the air. The motorboat then “returned to Gaza,” with “no injuries or damages.”A similar incident occurred the day before, when a Palestinian fishing boat came under fire by Israeli forces in the same area, a fishermen union official said at the time. Israeli naval forces regularly open fire at fishermen in Gaza if they venture further than three nautical miles from shore, a policy that has had a crippling impact on the fishing industry. As a part of any lasting ceasefire, Palestinian negotiators have demanded that Israeli forces extend the “designated fishing zone” by several nautical miles.
Despite devastation, Gaza school year to begin in September
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 15 Aug — The Palestinian Ministry of Higher Education has begun planning for the the upcoming school year in the Gaza Strip as normalcy slowly returns to the besieged coastal enclave devastated by five weeks of Israeli bombardment. Even with 277 schools damaged in the assault — including a large number which took direct hits — Minister Khawla al-Shakhshir said on Friday that the ministry is hoping to begin classes within three weeks. She said that the ministry is also focused on improving psychological services for students and families in the wake of the assault … The ministry’s plans include individual and group activities focusing on psychological counseling and awareness with specific attention paid toward the mental well-being of children.
Amid destruction, ordinary Gazans open homes, churches to displaced
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 13 Aug by Alex Shams — The first day the bombs began to fall on Gaza, Refqa al-Hamallawy called a meeting in her office at the al-Najd Developmental Forum where she is president to formulate a plan of action. As the windows of the Gaza City office were rocked by thuds both near and far from the explosions of Israeli airstrikes, the employees and volunteers of the community organization made a decision that they would stay at their posts for as long as the Israeli assault continued. Whatever happened, they promised, the organization would keep its doors open to all affected by the crisis. Thirty-eight days later, al-Hamallawy and the workers at al-Najd are still working overtime, like thousands of others in the Gaza Strip who have dropped everything to help their fellow Palestinians in their time of need … The St. Porphyrios Orthodox Church in Gaza’s Old City was another crucial place of refuge for thousands of Gazans. The church provided refuge for more than 3,000 people during the worst days of the Israeli bombardment, hosting 800 in the church itself and 2,500 in shops and homes in the surrounding community. The director of religious relations at the church said that hundreds of families streamed toward the church fleeing intense shelling in the nearby neighborhood of Shujaiyya as well as Beit Hanoun. “When we began to feel that people were in danger and the people started coming, we opened or doors to them to allow them to stay in this safe place,” the director, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told Ma‘an via telephone … Despite the fear, however, there were moments of joy, the director recalled. “When Eid al-Fitr came,” he said, “we celebrated together and brought toys and sweets for the children,” noting that during the Ramadan month of fasting, church officials served the evening iftar meal and the displaced said their prayers in the church’s outer sanctuary.
Authority: $34.4 million worth of damages to Gaza water sector
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 14 Aug — The Palestinian Water Authority said on Thursday that the water distribution network in Gaza had suffered $34.4 million worth of damage as a result of the Israeli offensive over the last five weeks, including dozens of destroyed facilities. The immense scale of the destruction of Gaza’s infrastructure has only become increasingly apparent over the last two weeks, as a relative calm due to back-to-back temporary ceasefire has allowed authorities to survey the damage. The water authority said in a statement that 11 water wells had been completely destroyed and 15 partially destroyed in the assault, while 17 kilometers of water supply networks were completely destroyed and another 29 partially destroyed. The authority also said that 5 water containers were completely destroyed while 11 water containers were partially or severely damaged, while two desalination units were completely destroyed, and four were partially damaged. In addition, more than seven kilometers of sewage networks were completely destroyed and more than 10 kilometers partially destroyed, while 12 pumping sewage stations were severely damaged and four waste-water treatment stations were partially destroyed. $9 million worth of damages, meanwhile, were caused to water services vehicles and machinery. The water network would also require some $32.6 million worth of emergency supplies to cover the Strip’s water needs for the next six months, the authority added, highlighting that because of the damage sustained by an Israeli airstrike on the territory’s sole power plant, fuel for the water network was an urgent concern.
Damages on Gaza agriculture to have long-term effects on the region
IMEMC/Agencies 16 Aug — The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) has warned that the Israeli assault on Gaza caused extensive damage to the region’s agricultural sector and will have long-term consequences. In a statement, the FAO said that the five-week assault has “forced farmers and herders to abandon their lands and has paralyzed fishing activities, bringing local food production to a halt and severely affecting livelihoods.” “The recent fighting has resulted in substantial direct damage to Gaza’s 17,000 hectares of croplands as well as much of its agricultural infrastructure, including greenhouses, irrigation systems, animal farms, fodder stocks and fishing boats,” the statement continued. The report noted, according to Ma‘an, that Gaza has lost half of its poultry in the attack, “either due to direct hits on their shelters or lack of water, feed or care resulting from access restrictions.”
Losses among Gaza’s fishing sector were estimated at 234.6 tons — about 9.3 percent of the yearly catch. According to the FAO, although Gaza imports most of its food, around 28,600 people in Gaza rely on farming (19,000 people), livestock raising (6,000) and fishing (3,600) for their livelihoods.
Deputy PM: Unity government to rebuild Gaza
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 15 Aug — The Palestinian unity government will take responsibility for the reconstruction of Gaza following Israel’s devastating month-long assault, deputy prime minister Ziad Abu Amr said Friday. “The Palestinian government will take responsibility for the Gaza Strip and its needs,” the deputy prime minister said during a visit to Gaza’s Shifa hospital … The official praised the “heroic” actions of medical staff in Gaza while health minister Yoused Abu al-Rish said the visit was a boost amid the suffering of medics who were injured or killed during Israel’s offensive. Medics and nurses had not been paid for months before Israel’s offensive began, Abu al-Rish added. Abu Amr arrived in Gaza on Tuesday in his first visit since the formation of a new unity government. The visit marks the first time Israel has allowed officials from the Palestinian unity government to enter Gaza through Erez since its formation.
Gazans displaced by war to be housed in ‘mobile homes’
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 13 Aug — Thousands of Gazans displaced in Israel’s recent assault on the besieged enclave will be housed in mobile homes until a permanent solution can be found, a Palestinian official said Wednesday. Mufid al-Hasaynah, minister for public works and housing, says the ministry is trying to arrange the entry of 3,500 mobile homes donated to Gaza by Turkey.
Dutch man returns Israeli WWII honour after family killed in Gaza
The Hague (AFP) 16 Aug — A 91-year-old Dutch man honoured by Israel for shielding a Jew from the Nazis has handed back his medal after six of his relatives were killed in a Gaza air strike. Henk Zanoli returned his Righteous Among the Nations award to the Israeli ambassador in The Hague this week after an Israeli F-16 destroyed his great-niece’s Gaza home, killing all inside. “It is with great sorrow that I am herewith returning the medal I received as an honour and a token of appreciation from the State of Israel for the efforts and risks taken by my mother and her family in saving the life of a Jewish boy during the German occupation,” Zanoli said in a letter dated Monday. According to Zanoli’s letter addressed to the Israeli ambassador, the bomb dropped by the Israeli military on July 20 during its massive Gaza offensive flattened a four-storey building at the Bureij Refugee Camp, killing all inside. “The great-great grandchildren of my mother have lost their grandmother, three uncles, an aunt and a cousin at the hands of the Israeli military,” Zanoli said in the letter, published by liberal Israeli newspaper Haaretz and widely circulated in the Dutch media. “It is particularly shocking and tragic that today, four generations on, our family is faced with the murder of our kin in Gaza. Murder carried out by the State of Israel,” Zanoli said.
French consul to sue Israel for destruction of Gaza home
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 13 Aug — French consul in Gaza Majdi Shaqqura says he is planning to take legal action against Israel after his home was destroyed by Israeli bombardment during a month-long assault on the besieged territory. “This wasn’t the first time Israeli forces bombarded my house,” Shaqqura told reporters Wednesday. His children broke down in tears when they saw the destruction caused to their family home. “All houses in Gaza have been targets for Israeli warplanes as part of a policy of collective punishment against all Gaza residents,” Shaqqura said. By targeting the house of a diplomat representing an EU country, “Israel is telling the whole world that it’s superior to everybody and to international law,” added Shaqqura. The diplomat said he will file a complaint against Israel and is in consultations with human rights groups over the best legal procedures to guarantee success.
Dr Clown brings joy to traumatized children of Gaza
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 15 Aug — Despite the drawings on their faces and the attempts to help them forget the horrible scenes they witnessed during the offensive on Gaza, the children at al-Shifa hospital in Gaza City are fragile, many still unable to speak. Sondos Hassunah, one of the many children at the hospital, inhaled poisonous gas after Israeli forces shelled fuel containers near her home, and has been silent and traumatized ever since. Like most of the 3,083 other Gazan children wounded in the war — on top of the 489 who were killed — Sondos’ smiles and laughter were stolen by the Israeli shells and bombs. That all changed, however, the day she met Dr. Clown. Her father Ashraf told Ma’an that she had refused to communicate with any of the people around her until she saw Haitham, or Dr. Clown as he is more popularly known, who has quickly become a favorite among the children at the hospital … Dr. Clown and his clown colleagues at al-Shifa carry bags almost identical to those doctors carry, except that their content is quite different. They wear white coats on top of their clown clothes and move between children’s beds in the hospital, juggling red balls and holding plastic needles, even performing magic tricks in an attempt to lessen the children’s pains and take their mind away from the horrible scenes they have survived … Muhammad al-Halabiya, projects manager for World Vision in Gaza, said that the organization had opened 20 “child-friendly spaces” which focus on providing psychological support for almost 2,000 children, especially those from the hardest hit areas like eastern Shujaiyya, Rafah, Beit Hanoun, and the border areas.
Animals caught in crossfire, trapped in Gaza zoo
GAZA CITY (AFP) 16 Aug by Tom Little — The lions sit dazed in the shade of their damaged pen, while nearby the decayed carcases of two vervet monkeys lie contorted on the grass of a Gaza zoo. The animals were caught in the crossfire in over a month of fighting between Israel and Palestinian militants … In one enclosure at the zoo a fly-covered pelican huddles in the corner with a duck. Opposite, a small crocodile sits motionless in an inch of stagnant water, next to the rotting corpse of a stork. A gazelle shares another pen with a goose. Around the corner, a baboon picks listlessly at the ground of the tiny pen it shares with the dried-out remains of another monkey. Everywhere, there is a sickly stench from the animals’ cages, which have not been cleaned for weeks. Shadi Hamad, the park’s director, said the zoo was damaged and that the animals died as a result of Israeli air strikes. An Israeli army spokesman told AFP that the military was looking into allegations that it fired missiles in the Al-Bisan park area …
The zoo — part of Al-Bisan City — was built by the Hamas government in 2008 as a tourist village to give Gazans some relief from the hardships of life in the Strip, and had a cafeteria and tables where families could sit and relax. The animals were all smuggled through tunnels that connected Egypt to Gaza
Why it’s hard to believe Israel’s claim that it did its best to minimize civilian deaths
Huffington Post 13 Aug by Idan Barir, former Crew Commander, Israeli Artillery Corps — …The images, evidence and army reports from recent operations in Gaza — of more than 1,900 deaths (a number which will likely increase by the time you read this) and a large amount of the population left without shelter — show that Israel has deployed massive artillery firepower. Such firepower is impossible to target precisely. Artillery fire is a statistical means of warfare. It is the complete opposite of sniper fire. While the power of sharpshooting lies in its accuracy, the power of artillery comes from the quantity of shells fired and the massive impact of each one. In using artillery against Gaza, Israel therefore cannot sincerely argue that it is doing everything in its power to spare the innocent. The truth is artillery shells cannot be aimed precisely and are not meant to hit specific targets. A standard 40 kilogram shell is nothing but a large fragmentation grenade. When it explodes, it is meant to kill anyone within a 50-meter radius and to wound anyone within a further 100 meters.
Photo: Israel’s ‘pinpoint’ bombing of Gaza
Jewish Voice for Peace 14 Aug — Image via @Abuzein11 (Mohammed Mansour)
Deep underground, Mohammed Deif shapes Hamas war with Israel
GAZA/JERUSALEM (Reuters) 14 Aug by Nidal al-Mughrabi and Maayan Lubell — Israeli assassination attempts may have left him badly hurt and driven him deep underground, but Mohammed Deif, the shadowy leader of Hamas’ armed wing in the Gaza Strip, has emerged as a mastermind of the war with Israel. As chief strategist behind a network of tunnels under Israel’s border, Deif caught his powerful enemy off guard with surprise attacks that caused heavy casualties. Despite punishing Israeli strikes in the month-old conflict, Hamas kept up its rocket fire, even against business capital Tel Aviv. Deif’s command position also gives him a voice among the Islamist movement’s leaders in steering it toward war or truce – a five-day ceasefire went into effect on Thursday. But he is said to prefer his military role to internal politics. Few people know what Deif, believed to be in his 50s, looks like today, after at least four Israeli attempts to kill him. Past images are scarce. Rare video footage from 2002 caught Deif covered in blood, sitting upright, dazed as a man tries to drag him away from the mangled wreckage of a car that had been hit by a missile from an Israeli helicopter. Hamas does not comment on Deif’s health and says he has been in full command of its military wing since the 1990s. Some Israeli reports say he is missing an eye, limbs and is confined to a wheelchair. His whereabouts are also a mystery; an Israeli minister said last month that Deif had been in hiding in his own tunnels for years. Nonetheless, a senior Israeli intelligence officer told Reuters, Israel believes Deif is playing a major operational role in the Gaza war.
Subtle voices of dissent surface in war-torn Gaza
BEIT LAHIYA, Gaza Strip (AP) 14 Aug by Hamza Hendawi — The group of neighbors surveyed the destruction wreaked on their residential complex by Israeli bombardment, with building after building flattened or punctured by shells. The men then began to voice something almost never heard out loud in Gaza: criticism of its Hamas rulers. Exhausted by a month of pounding by Israel’s military — on top of seven years of stifling closure of the tiny Mediterranean coastal strip — they questioned Hamas’ handling of the crisis and the wisdom of repeatedly going to war with Israel. “We do not want to be bombarded every two or three years. We want to lead a good life: Sleep well, drink well and eat well,” said Ziad Rizk, a 37-year-old father of two, a cigarette dangling from his mouth. He stared at the damaged apartment building where he lived. His sofa and a blue baby carriage were perched precariously on a tilting concrete slab that was his floor. It is impossible to say how widespread such discontent is among Gaza’s 1.8 million residents. Under Hamas rule, it’s rare and dangerous to share even as much as a hint of criticism of the government with outsiders.Still, the men’s boldness in voicing their opinions could be a telling sign that some Gazans see Hamas as weakened.
US president stalls shipment of hellfire missiles to Israel
IMEMC 15 Aug by Celine Hagbard — After officials in the Obama administration say they were ‘blindsided’ by the shipment of ammunition from the Pentagon to Israel, the administration decided to put a temporary halt on the transfer of a number of hellfire missiles. The move appears to be a ‘tit for tat’ response to the Israeli purchase of ammunition directly from the Pentagon, according to analysts familiar with U.S.-Israel relations. President Obama recently gave a speech assuring his administration’s full support for the Israeli offensive in Gaza, and authorized an additional $225 million approved by the U.S. Congress for Israel’s Iron Dome missile defense system – a system whose effectiveness has been called into question by military experts, in recent weeks. But, the decision on Thursday to delay the shipment of Hellfire missiles indicates that the Obama administration is, for the first time, hesitating in its previously unrestricted, blanket support for Israel. An unnamed official within the Obama administration told reporters from the Wall Street Journal that the ongoing Israeli assault on Gaza has “persuaded them that Mr. Netanyahu and his national security team are both reckless and untrustworthy.”
Gaza border crossings
EU says status quo for Gaza ‘not an option’
BRUSSELS (AP) 15 Aug by JUERGEN BAETZ and MOHAMMED DARAGHMEH — The European Union offered Friday to take charge of Gaza’s border crossings and work to prevent illegal arms flows, insisting on a durable truce and saying a return to the status quo before the latest war “is not an option.” As EU foreign ministers held an urgent meeting in Brussels about global conflicts, Hamas negotiators met with the Islamic militant group’s leadership in Qatar to discuss a proposal for a long-term truce with Israel. An official said the group was inclined to accept the Egyptian-mediated offer. The Gaza blockade remains the main stumbling block. It has greatly limited the movement of Palestinians in and out of the territory of 1.8 million people, restricted the flow of goods into Gaza and blocked virtually all exports. The EU is prepared “to play a strong role” in managing the crossings while assuring that Israel’s security is guaranteed, said the 28-nation bloc’s foreign policy chief, Catherine Ashton. The EU offered to reactivate and extend its monitoring of the Rafah crossing with Egypt and other border posts, provided there will be a U.N. Security Council mandate for the mission and a sustainable cease-fire in place. In addition, the EU says Israel must lift its blockade to allow “a fundamental improvement in the living conditions for the Palestinian people in Gaza.” The EU foreign ministers said the bloc is also prepared to prevent arms smuggling and launch a training program for Palestinian Authority police and customs officers to be deployed in Gaza. “The situation in the Gaza Strip has been unsustainable for many years and a return to the status quo prior to the latest conflict is not an option,” they said.
1416 tons of supplies entered Gaza Strip through Rafah during assault
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 13 Aug — 1416 tons of supplies including medicine, food, power generators, and tents entered the Gaza Strip from Egypt through the Rafah crossing during the Israeli offensive. The director of emergency services of the Palestinian Ministry of Health said in a statement of Tuesday that these supplies entered through the Rafah crossing through coordination with the Egyptian Red Crescent. Bassem al-Rimawi added that 75 percent of all supplies that entered Gaza through the Rafah crossing were from Egyptian sources, the vast majority of which came from the military … Al-Rimawi added that the UAE sent 90 tons supply of medicine and medical supplies, a power generator, six “field hospitals,” 3 mobile clinics, a field bathroom, an ambulance, and 40 tons of relief/emergency supplies. The government of Tunisia sent 28 tons of food, medicine and medical supplies, the government of Morocco sent 57 tons of medicine and food supplies, the government of Saudi Arabia sent 73 tons of food, and 35 tons of medicine and medical supplies were sent by the Islamic Development Bank and the Red Crescent. The Kuwaiti Red Crescent sent 10 tons of medicine and medical supplies, half a ton of medicine and medical supplies was sent from the Arab League, and the Jordanian lawmaker Muhammad al-Isha sent 25 tons of medical supplies and medicine to the Gaza Strip. Al-Rimawi added that the Egyptian Red Crescent is currently working on getting 25 tons of food and medical supplies that were sent from Kuwait into Gaza. [Still, 1416 tons is not that much for 1.8 million people]
Egypt opens Rafah crossing, denies Kuwaiti aid entry to Gaza
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 14 Aug — Egyptian authorities denied entry to a Kuwaiti delegation bringing aid to the Gaza Strip on Thursday as it opened the Rafah crossing for humanitarian cases. Palestinian crossing officials said that injured Palestinians, medical patients and foreign nationals were allowed to use the crossing and Gaza residents in Egypt were allowed to return. Egyptian security prevented a four-man Kuwaiti delegation carrying medical aid from entering Gaza. No reason was given for the refusal.
Kerem Shalom open Friday
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 15 Aug — Israeli authorities said that the Kerem Shalom crossing would be opened on Friday in order to allow the entrance of “limited quantities” of supplies into the Gaza Strip. The crossings committee of the Palestinian Ministry of the Interior said in a statement that 30 trucks of UNRWA humanitarian supplies would be entering the Gaza Strip through the crossing, the only way for goods to legally enter Gaza. The statement added that “limited quantities” of fuel and cooking gas would also enter on Friday. The Kerem Shalom crossing is usually closed on Fridays and Saturdays, but in recent weeks Israeli authorities have kept it open to allow the transfer of small amounts of humanitarian supplies.
Bahrain to donate $5.5 million to Gaza reconstruction
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 14 Aug — The Royal Charity Organization of Bahrain has pledged $5.5 million to the UN’s Palestine refugee agency UNRWA for reconstruction efforts in the heavily damaged Gaza Strip, according to a statement. $200,000 worth of essential supplies will also be provided by RCO, in a separate agreement, for Palestinians affected by the Israeli offensive on Gaza.
Malta pledges €300,000 in urgent medical aid to Gaza Strip
RAMALLAH (WAFA) 12 Aug — Head of the Representative Office of Malta to Palestine Mark Pace announced Tuesday that his country has pledged €300,000 in urgent medical aid to Gaza population. Pace made this announcement during a meeting with Assistant Foreign Minister for European Affairs Amal Jado at the Foreign Ministry in Ramallah. Pace noted that his country has pledged €50,000 in direct financial assistance for United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA)
Venezuela airlifts humanitarian aid to Gaza
CARACAS (Ma‘an) 13 Aug — The people of Venezuela collected and packaged about 300 tons of humanitarian aid to be sent to the Gaza Strip soon, a Palestinian Foreign Ministry said Wednesday. Venezuelan Foreign Minister Elias Jaua notified his Palestinian counterpart Riyad al-Maliki during a meeting at the former’s office in the Venezuelan capital Caracas, according to a statement. During the meeting which was held Tuesday, al-Maliki updated Jaua on the most urgent humanitarian aids needed to bring life back to the Palestinian coastal enclave. After the meeting, the two ministers left for Caracas international airport to officially announce the departure of the first plane carrying humanitarian aid to Gaza. A military plane took off at 13:41 p.m. heading to al-Ismailiya airport in Egypt. Venezuelan Minister of Defense Admiral Carmen Melendez attended the ceremony. More planes will take off in the coming days and the whole amount of aid will then be sent to the Gaza Strip via Egypt’s Rafah crossing.
Activism / Solidarity / BDS
Ireland’s biggest food retailer drops Israeli produce as European boycotts surge
Electronic Intifada 15 Aug by Michael Deas — Major Israeli food exporters are facing an unprecedented wave of cancelations in orders from Europe as a result of Israel’s most recent massacre of Palestinians in Gaza. SuperValu, the biggest food distributor in Ireland, told the Irish media last week that it has withdrawn Israeli products from its shops. And Israeli media reports suggest that other major European retailers have taken similar decisions without announcing them publicly. Israeli fruit and vegetable exporters have faced cancelations from Scandinavia, the UK, France, Belgium and Ireland. Retailers have become fearful of the rapidly growing consumer boycott of Israeli goods, according to an 11 August article in Hebrew business website The Marker. A spokesperson for EDOM, a major Israeli fruit grower and exporter that has extensive operations in illegal Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank, told The Marker: “Importers from Europe are telling us that they can’t sell Israeli produce … One European buyer has told me that he had been blocked in several chains in Denmark and Sweden, and then in Belgium. Last weekend, he told me that mangoes which had been packaged in the Netherlands, as always, and shipped to Ireland, were returned, claiming that Israeli produce would not be accepted … I’ve heard of major exporters from whom chains in southern France are no longer buying. There is no official boycott, but everyone is afraid of selling Israeli fruits. We can only hope that things do not get worse.”
Video — Part 1: Ireland’s ‘Road to Shatila’ aid convoy, 15-8-2014
Published Aug 15 — The First Pilot project took place in Shatila Refugee Camp, Beirut, if you would like more information about the initiative or would like to volunteer in Shatila Refugee Camp, Lebanon feel free to get in touch.
Block-aid: Protesters squeeze into boxes to highlight Gaza siege
RT 14 Aug — More than 150 men, women and children squeezed into tiny wooden boxes in Parliament Square as part of an Oxfam protest to highlight the suffering caused by the blockade on Gaza. The symbolic protest in the heart of Westminster on Thursday saw demonstrators place wooden boxes opposite Parliament to launch Oxfam’s nationwide campaign of action. The confined spaces within the wooden boxes signified the conditions faced by the population of Gaza. Amidst the sea of boxes the word Gaza fashioned in a quasi-industrial font was propped up with Big Ben looming overhead. The charity warned that full recovery from the humanitarian catastrophe in Gaza will be impossible unless Israel’s blockade is lifted permanently.
Urgent update – the apartheid boat is delayed! #BlockTheBoat at 3 pm August 16
US Palestinian Community Network 15 Aug — “With community backing, the International Longshoremen Workers Union refused to handle cargo from South African ships in the 1980s, spurring an international boycott that helped end the apartheid regime in South Africa,” says Monadel Herzallah of the US Palestinian Community Network. “We hope that this action and many others like it will encourage organized labor to join the global BDS movement to end Israel’s ethnic cleansing of Palestinians.” Stop Israel at the Port — Zionism isn’t welcome on our Coast! — West Coast Blockade of the Israeli Zim Ship — Port of Oakland [California]– Saturday, August 16th — PLEASE NOTE, there is a TIME CHANGE – The Boat is Delayed! Now meet at 3 PM! –3pm – meet at West Oakland Bart and march to Berth 57
Israel after the assault on Gaza
Israel arms itself for new Gaza battle – on legal front
JERUSALEM (AFP) 14 Aug by Daphne Rousseau & Jean-Luc Renaudie -- First Israel’s Iron Dome air defence system protected millions from rocket attacks. Now the state is assembling a “legal Iron Dome” to defend itself against potential allegations of war crimes in Gaza. For Israel, the threat of another fight — not on the battlefield but in the courts — materialised on Monday with the appointment of a UN committee to investigate “all violations of international human rights and humanitarian law” in the occupied Palestinian territories since mid-June … The investigators are due to present their findings to the UN Human Rights Council in March 2015 but Israel has already denounced its chairman, William Schabas, as anti-Israeli and its findings as inevitably biased. But neither was it surprised. From the start of Operation Protective Edge, which began on July 8, the army has been preparing the ground for any legal fallout by forming its own committee of military experts.
Thousands of Israeli protest war’s failure to halt Gaza rockets
TEL AVIV (Reuters) 14 Aug by Allyn Fisher-Ilan — Some 10,000 Israelis protested on Thursday in a Tel Aviv square against what they see as the failure of a five-week Gaza war to decisively halt rocket and mortar fire at southern towns bordering on the Palestinian coastal territory. Many demonstrators were bused in from parts of Israel hardest hit by rocket barrages in the recent fighting, joined by supporters in the Israeli business hub that also came under rocket fire on a daily basis in the fighting since July 8. Two successive truces since Monday, expected to last through Aug. 19, have largely quieted the guns, after 1,945 Palestinians, most of them civilians, 64 Israeli soldiers and three civilians in Israel were killed. But demonstrators were wary of seeing more hostilities erupt once the ceasefire ends and many felt the Israeli military should destroy the rocket arsenals of Hamas militants who dominate Gaza … Protester Haim Dahan, 39, a father of four from a collective farm near Sderot, applauded Davidi along with thousands of others and told a reporter he thought Israel had to destroy Hamas, which rejects Israel’s right to exist. “We feel as though there may be a ceasefire now, but wait another year and the situation will be worse than it was when the war began,” Dahan said.
‘Witch hunt’ against Israel’s war critics
Jerusalem (AFP) 14 Aug by Jennie Matthew — In Israel, dissent against the war in Gaza is bitterly quashed. The few who speak out complain of being harassed, intimidated or even sacked. The once mighty left has disappeared. It has been Israel’s deadliest conflict in years. More than 1,960 Palestinians were killed and 64 Israeli soldiers died fighting what some see as an unwinnable war. And yet the only significant protest in Israel so far saw thousands late Thursday demand an end to Hamas rocket attacks, dissatisfied with the status quo after ground troops pulled out and a ceasefire was extended. Liberal newspaper Haaretz decried Friday what it called a “witch hunt” against leftists and civil rights organisations after the director of the national service administration, Sar-Shalom Jerbi, told rights group B’Tselem it was being blacklisted as an employer. “I feel obligated to exercise my power and stop the state assistance provided to an organisation that works against the state and against soldiers who are heroically giving their very lives to protect the safety and well-being of all citizens,” Jerbi wrote in a letter. He accused B’Tselem of disseminating lies and slander, endangering the state and publishing information that encourages Israel’s enemies and leads to violent anti-Semitic acts against Jews around the world. The rights group denounced the move as an attack on Israeli democracy, and asked supporters to sign an online petition to support freedom of expression and democracy. Yizhar Beer of the Keshev Centre for the Protection of Democracy in Israel says it has never been more difficult to voice dissent in a country which prides itself on being the only democracy in the Middle East.
Israel bans national service with rights group B’Tselem in Gaza row
JERUSALEM (The Guardian) 15 Aug by Orlando Crowcroft – Israel has banned young people from serving with one of its most prominent human rights groups because of its opposition to the war in Gaza. B’Tselem, which campaigns against Israeli settlements in the West Bank, was informed on Wednesday night that it has been blacklisted as a civilian alternative to military service. The director of the body responsible for non-military options for Israelis who don’t want to serve in the IDF, Sar-Shalom Jerbi, told Channel 2 TV that B’Tselem had “crossed the line in wartime [by] campaigning and inciting against the state of Israel and the Israel Defence Force, which is the most moral of armies.” Hagai el-Ad, executive director at B’Tselem, said that the move was the latest in a campaign of intimidation and threats against the organisation over the last three weeks, during which it has voiced vociferous opposition to the war in Gaza. It had tried to have the names of Palestinian children aired on state TV during Operation Protective Edge, but was denied. Its appeal to the high court of justice was rejected on Tuesday.
Israel and the arms trade
For Israeli arms makers, Gaza is a cash cow
Haaretz 11 Aug by Shuki Sadeh — Factories worked around the clock turning out munitions as the army tested their newest systems against a real enemy. Now, they are expecting their battle-tested products will win them new customers.
Made in Israel: Exporting occupation technology
from 5 June — The Real News’ Lia Tarachansky visit the Tel Aviv Security Week Arms Expo to representatives of companies directly involved in the construction of Israel’s occupation over the Palestinians, whether by building walls, fences, checkpoints, or protest-suppression technologies. She also speaks to attorney Eitay Mack on his appeal to Israel’s Supreme Court to reveal the list of security and weapons exporters.
Video: New film exposes the Israeli weapon and security industry
[with transcript] Real News 21 May 2013 by Yotam Feldman –SHIR HEVER, TRNN PRODUCER: Welcome to The Real News Network. I’m Shir Hever in Germany. A new film has just come out, The Lab. The film has already been shown in Israel and will soon be released in venues around the world. The Lab is a film about Israel’s arms industry and security industry and how it became one of the pillars of Israel’s economy. Yotam Feldman is an Israeli journalist and the director of The Lab. Hello, Yotam. YOTAM FELDMAN, FILMMAKER AND JOURNALIST: Hi. HEVER: So can you tell us how this film came to be? FELDMAN: Yeah. The film began as I was working in Haaretz as an investigative journalist and I was writing quite frequently about issues concerning the relation between military operation and financial profit, about arms deals, about the national security industry. And I think at some point I got the conclusion that there is a much bigger story here that has to do with the Israeli economy, that has to do with the life of every one of us. And I’ve come to meet very unique characters, which I thought would be very interesting for a movie audience.HEVER: You talk about two kinds of exports in this film. One of them is the arms exports, actual weapons. And the other is exporting training, of expertise, by Israeli former officers, who train other military forces, police, and so on. What is the Isreali specialization? What differentiates Israeli exports from exports from other countries?
The Israelization of the US
Israel-trained police ‘occupy’ Missouri after killing of black youth
Electronic Intifada 15 Aug by Rania Khalek — Since the killing of eighteen-year-old Michael Brown by Ferguson police in Missouri last weekend, the people of Ferguson have been subjected to a military-style crackdown by a squadron of local police departments dressed like combat soldiers. This has prompted residents to liken the conditions on the ground in Ferguson to the Israeli military occupation of Palestine. And who can blame them? The dystopian scenes of paramilitary units in camouflage rampaging through the streets of Ferguson, pointing assault rifles at unarmed residents and launching tear gas into people’s front yards from behind armored personnel carriers (APCs), could easily be mistaken for a Tuesday afternoon in the occupied West Bank. And it’s no coincidence. At least two of the four law enforcement agencies that were deployed in Ferguson up until Thursday evening — the St. Louis County Police Department and the St. Louis Police Department — received training from Israeli security forces in recent years … While there is a wealth of scholarship on police militarization in the US, there has been little to no examination of the ways Israel’s security apparatus facilitates it. Decades of testing and perfecting methods of domination and control on a captive and disenfranchised Palestinian population has given rise to a booming “homeland security industry” in Israel that refashions occupation-style repression for use on marginalized populations in other parts of the world, including St. Louis. Under the cover of counterterrorism training, nearly every major police agency in the United States has traveled to Israel for lessons in occupation enforcement, a phenomenon that journalist Max Blumenthal dubbed “the Israelification of America’s security apparatus.” Israeli forces and US police departments are so entrenched that the New York City Police Department (NYPD) has opened a branch in Tel Aviv.
Palestinians share tear gas advice with Ferguson protesters
Al Jazeera The Stream 14 Aug — Ferguson, a suburb of the US city of St. Louis, has erupted in protest over the police killing of Michael Brown, an unarmed black teenager. After local police cracked down on protesters, some on social media noted displays of solidarity from across the globe.
This is the terrifying result of the militarization of police
Business Insider 12 Aug by Paul Szoldra — While serving as a U.S. Marine on patrol in Afghanistan, we wore desert camouflage to blend in with our surroundings, carried rifles to shoot back when under enemy attack, and drove around in armored vehicles to ward off roadside bombs. We looked intimidating, but all of our vehicles and equipment had a clear purpose for combat against enemy forces. So why is this same gear being used on our city streets? … Putting aside what started the protests for a moment, it’s worth discussing the police response to the outrage. In photos taken Monday, we are shown a heavily armed SWAT team. They have short-barreled 5.56-mm rifles based on the military M4 carbine, with scopes that can accurately hit a target out to 500 meters. On their side they carry pistols. On their front, over their body armor, they carry at least four to six extra magazines, loaded with 30 rounds each. Their uniform would be mistaken for a soldier’s if it weren’t for their “Police” patches. They wear green tops, and pants fashioned after the U.S. Marine Corps MARPAT camouflage pattern. And they stand in front of a massive uparmored truck called a Bearcat, similar in look to a mine-resistant ambush protected vehicle, or as the troops who rode in them call it, the MRAP. When did this become OK? When did “protect and serve” turn into “us versus them”?
Missouri police fire tear gas at TV crew and take their equipment
Business Insider 14 Aug by Harrison Jacobs — Wednesday night, police in Ferguson, Missouri, attempted to disperse several hundred protesters with tear gas, stun grenades, and smoke bombs. It was the fourth night of demonstrations in response to the death of Michael Brown, an unarmed black teenager, at the hands of a Ferguson police officer. News organizations have had a notoriously difficult time covering the demonstrations in recent days as the FAA has enacted a no-fly zone over the area, preventing news helicopters from covering the scene, and police have often turned away and arrested journalists. Wednesday night, local news channel KSDK caught footage and photos of a SWAT team firing tear gas at an Al Jazeera America TV crew that was covering the events behind the police barricade. The SWAT team then moved to dismantle and carry off their camera equipment. Here’s footage from Al Jazeera America:
Analysis / Opinion
Hashtag genocide: Why Gaza fought back / Ramzy Baroud
Palestine Chronicle 12 Aug — My old family house in the Nuseirat refugee camp in Gaza was recently rebuilt by its new owner, into a beautiful three-story building with large windows adorned by red frames. In Israel’s most recent and deadliest war on Gaza, the house sustained significant damage. A large hole caused by Israeli missiles can be seen from afar, in a part of the house where our kitchen once stood. It seems that the original target was not my house, however, but that of our kindly neighbor, who had spent his entire working-life toiling between manual jobs in Israel, and later in life as a janitor for UN-operated schools in Gaza. The man’s whole lifesavings were invested in his house where several families lived. After “warning” rockets blew up part of his house, several missiles pulverized the rest. My entire neighborhood was also destroyed. I saw photos of the wreckage-filled neighborhood by accident on Facebook. … The Israelis are losing control of their decades-long hasbara, a propaganda scheme so carefully knitted and implemented, many the world over were fooled by it. Palestinians, those in Gaza in particular, were never blind to Israel’s genocidal intentions. They assembled their resistance with the full knowledge that a fight for their very survival awaited. Israel’s so-called Protective Edge is the final proof of Israel’s unabashed face, that of genocide. It carried it out, this time paying little attention to the fact that the whole world was watching. Trending Twitter hashtags which began with #GazaUnderAttack, then #GazaResists, quickly morphed to #GazaHolocaust. The latter was used by many that never thought they would dare make such comparisons. Gaza managed to keep Israel at bay in a battle of historic proportions. Once its children are buried, it will once again rebuild its defenses for the next battle. For Palestinians in Gaza, this is not about mere resistance strategies, but their very survival.
Hellfire missile snafu is another flare-up in the ongoing Obama-Netanyahu feud / Chemi Shalev
Haaretz 15 Aug — Their dialogue on Gaza proves that while both leaders are masters of English oratory, they hardly ever talk to each other in the same language — It’s not completely clear whether we’re dealing here with a lone pyromaniac or with a group effort, but there’s no doubt that someone has been pouring high-octane fuel on the smoldering fire of U.S.-Israeli relations. Thursday’s Wall Street Journal report on the delay in supplying Hellfire missiles to Israel is just the latest in a series of leaks that highlight the links between Jerusalem and Washington, in general, and the ties between Barack Obama and Benjamin Netanyahu, in particular, in as negative a light as possible. The short list of immediate suspects is limited to those who have both the motivation to create havoc and accessibility to the secret materials, including transcripts that have found their way to the media in recent weeks. They could be senior figures in Israel, who are leaking directly or through American proxies, in order to pressure the administration and/or embarrass Obama; they could be senior American officials, who want to push Israel into a corner and/or distance themselves from Netanyahu; and it could be a free-for-all shootout from officials on both sides who can no longer contain their mutual distrust and suspicions. Obama is not the first president to hold up arms shipments to Israel – Gerald Ford stopped all major arms transactions for six months during the 1975 “reassessment” and Ronald Reagan halted shipments of new F-16’s after the bombing of the Osiraq nuclear reactor and of cluster bombs after the 1982 bombing of Beirut. From the WSJ report and the State Department clarification issued on Thursday, one can deduce that the delay in supplying the helicopter-borne Hellfires is meant as a shot across the bow for Israel and as a means for the White House to assert control over most arms transactions between the two countries. Nonetheless, the harsh language hurled by the feuding sides in the newspaper article – Netanyahu is “reckless and untrustworthy” while Obama is “weak and naïve” – indicates that the Hellfire is only symptom of a malaise at the top that is eating its way into the otherwise sturdy foundations of U.S.-Israeli ties.