In memory of the Balfour Declaration: an ongoing Palestinian catastrophe
IMEMC/Agencies/PNN 2 Nov — 97 years ago today, 2 November 1917, Arthur James Balfour, the British Foreign Secretary of the time, wrote to the American Lord Rothschild, promising British support for the Zionist programme of establishing a “national home for the Jewish people” in Palestine. This pledge of support was made without consulting the indigenous Christian, Muslim and Jewish inhabitants of Palestine, the Palestinian people. And it was made before British troops had even conquered the land. Balfour declared his support for the establishment of a Jewish homeland in Palestine, and British imperialism in Palestine began. Balfour illegally, and with no right whatsoever, promised Palestine to the Jews, to prevent the Jewish emigration to Britain. Ironically, in the British Cabinet, Lord Montagu, the only Jewish member opposed the declaration….
Jerusalem / Al-Aqsa
Photos of the month: The holy city nears its boiling point
Activestills 1 Nov — Photos by: Oren Ziv, Yotam Ronen, Ahmad al-Bazz, Fiaz Abu-Rmeleh, Tali Mayer — Just a month ago, Jerusalem’s residents were celebrating Eid al-Adha. Since then tensions have approached a boiling point, Muslims and Jews are adopting dangerous rhetoric about the Temple Mount and blood has been spilled on both sides. A month in photos.
28 injured as clashes rage across Jerusalem overnight
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 1 Nov — At least 28 Palestinians were injured as clashes with Israeli forces continued into the late hours of the night on Friday across Jerusalem, as anger over a series of killings by Israeli police boiled over into the streets of the city’s Palestinian neighborhoods. Clashes broke out in the occupied East Jerusalem neighborhoods of Silwan, al-Issawiya, al-Tur, and Wadi al-Joz, as hundreds marched and fought pitched battles with security forces in anger over the killing of Mutaz Hijazi, 32, early Thursday, as well as the killing of Abd al-Rahman al-Shaludi, 21, the week before. Both men were suspected by authorities of involvement in violent incidents targeting Israelis. But Palestinians have been outraged by their killings, highlighting that instead of being arrested both were shot dead by police on sight. An autopsy on Friday revealed that Mutaz Hijazi, 32, was shot 20 times by different officers and left to die on his rooftop, as Israeli police refused to allow locals to reach him — and later forced an ambulance to surrender his body, before returning it to the family late Thursday.
On Friday evening, Israeli forces raided the area around Hijazi’s home al-Thawri neighborhood in Silwan, and locals told Ma‘an that soldiers attacked a tent set up by the mourning family where friends and relatives were dropping in to offer condolences. Israeli forces reportedly fired stun grenades, tear-gas canisters, and rubber-coated steel bullets at mourners gathered at the tent, and several men and women suffered severe tear gas inhalation while many others were injured by rubber-coated bullets. Activist Jihad Oweida told Ma‘an that one mourner, Attiya Shabbaneh, was injured by shrapnel from stun grenades in his face and was taken to al-Maqasid Hospital for treatment. In the Bir Ayyub neighborhood, Israeli soldiers fired rubber-coated steel bullets and tear-gas canisters at more than 200 Palestinian youths who had gathered to visit the mourning tent set up in Hijazi’s home. Many suffered from excessive tear-gas inhalation and one was injured and received a fracture in his foot. A Palestinian youth identified as Rami Salah was detained by Israeli forces.
Israeli MP visits Al-Aqsa site, defying Netanyahu plea
JERUSALEM (AFP) 2 Nov by Jonah Mandel — An Israeli far-right lawmaker visited the flashpoint Al-Aqsa mosque compound in east Jerusalem on Sunday, defying calls for restraint from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. MP Moshe Feiglin was met with protests from Muslims crying “Allahu akbar!” (God is greater) when he visited the Old City site, an AFP photographer said. The hardline member of Netanyahu’s rightwing Likud bloc is a leading advocate of the right of Jews to pray there. Long-standing practice at the compound, known to Jews as the Temple Mount, allows visits by other faiths but limits prayer to Muslims. Netanyahu, who has repeatedly said he has no intention of changing the status quo, on Saturday urged the far right to act “responsibly” in the face of mounting tensions and near daily clashes in Jerusalem. “At this time we must show responsibility and restraint,” he said at the Sunday cabinet meeting. But he also told ministers that Islamic groups were using claims of plans to change the rules at the compound to foment anti-Israeli sentiment. “They are disseminating lies to the effect that we intend to destroy or harm the Al-Aqsa mosque and that we intend to prevent Muslims from praying there,” he said …Israel on Thursday ordered a rare closure of the compound as Palestinian youths clashed with police after officers shot dead a Palestinian suspected of trying to murder a hardline Israeli rabbi. It reopened the following day under heavy security and Friday prayers passed without incident.On Sunday, only male worshipers over 40 were admitted. Women were not subject to restrictions.
Netanyahu call for calm ‘unacceptable’
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 2 Nov – Palestinian member of the Israeli Knesset Ahmad Tibi says Israeli premier Benjamin Netanyahu’s request to try and calm the tension in the Old City of Jerusalem was unacceptable. He accused the Israeli government led by Netanyahu of being behind the ongoing escalation in the holy city. Speaking to Ma‘an, Tibi added that “the statement Netanyahu’s office released is unacceptable as I don’t agree to be viewed as an instigator if I go to the Al-Aqsa Mosque. “It is natural that I show (myself) in al-Aqsa, while the presence of extremist Jews there is provocative and instigative.” Tibi described Netanyahu as “a thief who tries to help find stolen things which he himself stole.” Following pressure by the United States and Jordan, Netanyahu released on Saturday evening an “exceptional” statement calling upon Knesset members to try and calm the escalating situation in the Al-Aqsa Mosque. “Show responsibility and restraint,” Netanyahu wrote in his statement. Commenting on that, Ahmad Tibi accused Netanyahu and his Likud lawmakers of creating the current escalation and “playing with fire.”
Israelis demand more police violence against Palestinians in Jerusalem
Electronic Intifada 1 Nov by Rania Khalek — Some Israelis are begging their government to intensify police violence against Palestinians in Jerusalem, according to British-Palestinian activist and writer Yara Hawari after she attended an ultra-nationalist demonstration that included students from Hebrew University. Speaking from her home in the eastern occupied Jerusalem neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah on Thursday, Hawari detailed her shocking encounters with the protesters and described concerns among Palestinians in the wake of rising Israeli violence in the occupied city … Rattled by the ongoing rise in anti-Arab sentiment, Palestinians are modifying their daily routines and behavior to avoid trouble. Hawari, who intentionally stays away from western Jerusalem — which has been almost exclusively Jewish since Palestinians were ethnically cleansed from that part of the city in 1948 — because “it doesn’t feel entirely safe.” She told me that her cousin, who commutes by train to work everyday, will not speak Arabic while on the phone.“She’ll speak in English because she’s too uncomfortable, too frightened to speak Arabic in West Jerusalem,” Hawari explained. [includes audio interview and transcript]
Palestinians ‘struggling for survival’ in Jerusalem
Electronic Intifada 2 Nov by Rania Khalek — “The message the Israelis are sending is that Jerusalem Palestinians are unwanted here and they are doing everything to reassert their control and squash any form of dissent and resistance to Israeli policies of ethnic cleansing in Jerusalem,” Twitter user @BDS4Justice, or Zalameh, told The Electronic Intifada from his home in the eastern occupied Jerusalem neighborhood of Shuafat on 29 October … In Zalameh’s own neighborhood, Shuafat — which been under siege by Israeli police since Jewish settlers kidnapped and burned alive his neighbor, 16-year-old Muhammad Abu Khudair, in early June — the police repression is suffocating. For the last four months Israeli forces have “punish[ed] the population for reacting to [Abu Khudair’s] gruesome murder,” waging “the largest arrest campaign since the second intifada,” said Zalameh, who has been forced to endure an Israeli army post stationed right outside his home. Several of my neighbors were taken in the middle of the night, were interrogated, placed in administrative detention, accused falsely of things they didn’t do,” Zalameh said. More recently, Israel has used fatal Jerusalem car crash at the Jerusalem light rail last week as a pretext to ramp up its campaign of harassment, flooding Palestinian neighborhoods in the occupied city with tear gas, drones, low-flying helicopters and more police. “[Y]ou cannot drive for more than two minutes without seeing an Israeli patrol,” said Zalameh, describing a police state … Listen to the interview using the media player above, or read the transcript below (which has been edited for clarity).
The only way to stop stone-throwing is to end the occupation / Mairav Zonszein
972mag 2 Nov — If Israel was serious about restoring security to its capital, it would recognize the Palestinian claim to East Jerusalem and find a way for all residents to live in dignity— Trying to make good on his promise to restore quiet in Jerusalem, Prime Minister Netanyahu and his cabinet approved an amendment to Israel’s penal code on Sunday, which would prescribe up to 20 years in prison for someone caught throwing stones at a vehicle (and 10 without having to prove intent to cause harm). Currently, Palestinians convicted in Israeli civil courts of throwing stones receive around two years in jail, so if this is enforced, it would be a significant increase in degree of severity. While in theory such a law would apply to Israeli citizens, the country’s history of discrimination and granting settler impunity, it is hard to imagine Israeli Jews will be more than nominally affected. While the amendment still needs to pass through committee and three Knesset votes, the message of the bill is clear: a Palestinian caught throwing a stone will go away for a long, long time. While the potential law would apply to all citizens of Israel, it is clearly directed at Palestinian residents of East Jerusalem — occupied, annexed and ruled under Israeli civil law. A similar law is already in place in the West Bank, which under direct Israeli military occupation is governed by Israeli military law. This strengthens the notion that Israel is looking to treat East Jerusalem Palestinians more like it treats West Bank Palestinians … The Israeli security establishment sincerely believes that it will be able to put a stop to Palestinian resistance by placing more Palestinians — many of them minors — behind bars. While that may solve the problem in the immediate short-term (and even that is doubtful, as riots have only increased despite the arrest of over 700 people since the start of the summer), history and common sense show it will do nothing for the security of Israeli Jews in the long-term.
Violence / Raids / Suppression of protests / Illegal arrests
Four Palestinians injured near Jerusalem
IMEMC/Agencies 1 Nov by Saed Bannoura — Palestinian medical sources have reported, on Friday evening, that four Palestinians were wounded by Israeli army fire near the Qalandia terminal, north of occupied Jerusalem. The injuries took place during clashes between Israeli soldiers and Palestinian youths who hurled stones and empty bottles while the army fired dozens of rounds of live ammunition, rubber-coated metal bullets and gas bombs. One of the wounded Palestinians, 14 years of age, was shot by a live round in his leg, while a 17-year-old Palestinian was shot by a live round in his abdomen, and was instantly moved to surgery. A third Palestinian, 23 years of age, was shot by a rubber-coated metal bullet in one of his eyes, and another Palestinian, 20, was shot by rounds of live ammunition in both of his legs.
19 injured in clashes near Qalandiya
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 2 Nov — Nineteen Palestinians suffered injuries Sunday afternoon as Israeli forces dispersed a protest near Qalandiya checkpoint north of Jerusalem. Two people were hit with live bullets in the thigh and arm, and 17 were struck with rubber-coated steel bullets in different parts of their bodies. Clashes broke in the vicinity of the checkpoint after Israeli forces fired live and rubber-coated steel bullets, tear gas and stun grenades at participants in a march in solidarity with the Al-Aqsa Mosque. Palestinians then responded by throwing rocks at Israeli soldiers. The march started at the main entrance of Qalandiya refugee camp and headed toward the checkpoint.
ISM activist shot in the head with rubber-coated steel bullet
RAMALLAH, Occupied Palestine (International Solidarity Movement) 2 Nov — Today [Sunday} during a protest at Qalandia checkpoint, an Italian ISM volunteer was shot in the head with a rubber-coated steel bullet. The injury is just two centimetres above her left eye. Giulia, the ISMer, stated, “I was just standing on the side of a street, and the military was firing tear gas at the protesters. I was photographing the army when I felt the bullets strike me, one in the head, and another in my leg, and then all I could see was blood.” At least one other Palestinian teen was hospitalized after being shot with a rubber-coated steel bullet. Giulia was immediately transferred to Ramallah Hospital for medical treatment, requiring stitches for her injury. Approximately 100 people attended the demonstration, where Israeli forces fired stun grenades, tear gas canisters, and rubber-coated steel bullets. The protest was called today to commemorate the 97th anniversary of the Balfour Declaration.
Twilight Zone — An American boy: From New Orleans to the grave, via the West Bank
Haaretz 1 Nov by Gideon Levy & Alex Levac — Elegantly attired, in a dark-blue jacket with gold buttons, his face set off by a well-groomed, coal-dark beard, the bereaved father entered the room in the back of the village’s large mosque. Speaking soft, fluent American English, which seemed somehow at odds with his religiously observant Islamic appearance, he related the story of his dead son’s life. Only once did he break down and burst into tears. That happened when he recounted the last telephone conversation he had with his son, between New Orleans and Silwad, last Friday – morning in New Orleans, afternoon in Silwad – about half an hour before an Israel Defense Forces sharpshooter fired one live round at the boy and killed him … There’s no mistaking the scene when you enter Silwad: war. A militant village. Both roads leading into the village were this week strewn with dozens of stones and the remnants of scorched tires. Vehicles entering or leaving had to carve a tricky slalom. It was here, in this West Bank village, north of Ramallah, that Hamas chief Khaled Meshal was born. It abuts the flagship settlement of Ofra, most of whose homes stand on private land that was expropriated from the inhabitants of Silwad and from a neighboring village, Ein Yabrud (58 percent of the built-up area in Ofra is on plundered private land). That could well account for the militancy. But it wasn’t just the stones and tires that suggested an intifada in Silwad this week. It was also the fact that no one wanted Israeli visitors, not even if they were journalists seeking to document the killing of a village son. The dead boy’s father barely agreed to talk to us, and refused outright to have his picture taken … Orwa Hammad was not yet 15 when he was killed. His father, Abd al-Wahhab Hammad, was born in the village 48 years ago, but has spent most of his life in the United States, to which his own father – Orwa’s grandfather – immigrated in 1970. Abd al-Wahhab has lived in both Denver and New Orleans, and has used-car businesses in both cities. The family returned to Silwad in 1999. The father didn’t want to raise his son in America. “I wanted a quiet, safe place, where my son could get a less dissolute education than in the United States, and have a more tranquil, less stressful life than in New Orleans. But you never know what God has in store for you,” he says.
Army invades Bethlehem
IMEMC/Agencies 1 Nov by Saed Bannoura — Israeli soldiers invaded, on Saturday at dawn, several communities in the Bethlehem district in the occupied West Bank, searched homes, and handed four Palestinians military orders for interrogation. Local sources said the soldiers invaded Shawawra village, east of Bethlehem, and handed Mo’tasem Amjad Abu Ramees, 18, and Amjad Odah Abu Ramees, military orders for interrogation in the Etzion military base. Soldiers also invaded Mrah Rabah village, south of Bethlehem, and handed similar orders to Walid Mousa Sheikh, 38, and Mousa Reef Sheikh, 28.
Soldiers invade various towns near Jenin
IMEMC/Agencies 1 Nov by Saed Bannoura — Dozens of Israeli military jeeps invaded, on Saturday at dawn, a number of towns south of the northern West bank city of Jenin, installed roadblocks, and broke into a number of homes and lands before searching them. Media sources in Jenin said the soldiers invaded the towns of Ya‘bad and Wadi Da‘ouq, stopped and searched dozens of cars and interrogated the residents while inspecting their ID cards. The soldiers also conducted military searches in the two towns. Soldiers also invaded Ya‘bad town after installing a roadblock on its main entrance, and conducted searches in the al-Malloul neighborhood. A number of military vehicles also invaded Marka [or Mirka] town, and searched a number of farmlands and various groves. Dozens of soldiers were also deployed in Wadi Da‘ouq area, and ambushed several Palestinians in olive orchards; no arrests were reported.
Israeli soldiers attempt to detain 2-year-old for rock-throwing
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 1 Nov — Israeli forces in occupied East Jerusalem on Friday attempted to detain two Palestinian children, a two-year-old and a nine-year-old, on suspicion of throwing rocks. Israeli soldiers were conducting a raid on the home of the Jaber family in the Silwan neighborhood in order to search for an individual suspected of throwing rocks at them from the roof, the family told Ma‘an. When the soldiers ascended to the roof to detain the alleged culprit, however, they found a two-year-old named Mimati Asaad Jaber who was playing with his mother. While they were playing, apparently, a rock had fallen into the street below. The boy’s grandfather, who was in the house during the raid, said that the boy was only playing and that he did not know there were soldiers in the street below the building when he tossed the stone. Upon seeing the two-year-old with his mother, however, the Israeli soldiers shifted their attention to a nine-year-old member of the family nearby. Members of the Jaber family told Ma‘an that once Israeli soldiers found out the nine-year-old boy’s name — Izz al-Din al-Qassam, also the name of a famous Palestinian national hero and used by Hamas as the name for its military brigades — they began questioning him. The Israeli soldiers attempted to detain the nine-year-old boy based on the fact that he had “colored rocks” in his pockets, presumably to throw at soldiers, but when they searched the child they found that the “rocks” were in fact candy. A new draft law being considered by Israeli lawmakers would lead to charges of up to 20 years, even if it could not be proven that rock-throwers intended to cause damage. A 2011 report by Israeli rights group B’tselem, meanwhile, noted that around 100 percent of all Palestinian children accused of rock-throwing are convicted, largely because minors are kept in prison for the duration of any trial so the pressure to plea bargain is high.
Israeli forces impose curfew on Nablus-area village
NABLUS (Ma‘an) 2 Nov — Israeli forces imposed a curfew Sunday evening on Huwwara village south of Nablus after a Molotov cocktail was thrown at a settler bus near the village. A Ma‘an reporter said Israeli forces searched people and closed all shops in the village and ordered its owners to keep them closed until 12 p.m. on Monday. Israeli forces arrived at the scene where the Molotov cocktail was thrown and carried out broad searches firing stun grenades in the area. Witnesses told Ma‘an that Israeli forces intensified their security procedures on Huwwara checkpoint near the village.
Photographed punching an Arab woman? Sue the photographer
972blog 29 Oct by Oren Persico — A freelance photographer who documented three young Jewish women attacking an Arab woman in Jerusalem is being sued for defamation after Israel’s most popular television news channel published her photos. Now she is asking for the public’s help to fund her legal defense.
Land, property theft & destruction / Ethnic cleansing / Disrespecting non-Jewish religions / Segregation / Restrictions on movement
Haaretz 27 Oct — How to murder human beings without using an explosive or a knife, how to empty them from within, how to steal from workers of the land the thing they hold most dear — Israeli evil is not at all banal. Abundant in inventions and innovations as well as in age-old techniques, it trickles like water and bursts out from hidden places. But unlike floods, it does not reach an end, and it affects some while being invisible, undetectable and non-existent for others. The genius of Israeli evil is in its ability to disguise itself as compassion and concern (thus providing Bernard-Henri Lévy and Elie Wiesel with yet another opportunity to praise the Jewish state in widely-read essays). Take, for example, the inventive technique of Israeli agriculture: two to five days per year of cultivating the land. A shmita (sabbatical) for land every year, instead of remaining idle every seven years. It does so 360 days each year. Our compassionate and generous army allows tens of thousands of Palestinians living in the West Bank to work their land for only three or four or five days per year in order to protect them from attacks by Israelis, colonizers, settlers – in short, Jews. For the rest of the year, the land is a mirage. Take, for instance, the village of Deir el-Hatab. The settlement of Elon Moreh and its outposts dominate about half of its 12,000 dunams (some 3,000 acres). Because of the proximity to the settlement, the village’s farmers are not permitted to cultivate about 6,000 dunams of their land, nor are they permitted to walk there, graze flocks, rotate crops, plow, weed, watch birds or transmit their family’s accumulated knowledge to the young generation. They may go there only two or three days a year to pick the olives that Allah made to sprout with his rain and that unknown Israelis did not manage to steal. Evil also excels at being patient. It knows that land whose owners do not access it for 360 days a year does not disappear. It becomes, de facto, land belonging to the master who loves nature and hikes and grazing flocks, just as our ancestors did … Add in the spring of Deir el-Hatab, the water source that the grandmothers of the village’s grandmothers enjoyed and used. It has now become a pool for ritual immersion and a place to relax for Jews only, by the side of the Palestinian-free road leading to Elon Moreh. Multiply it by dozens more springs that have suffered a similar fate….
Segregated buses mirror Israel’s racist society
Alternative Information Center (AIC) 3 Nov by Sarah Levy — As the lines blur between official Israeli state policy and the politics of individual extremists, Israel will have a hard time maintaining its shroud of “democracy,” particularly in the United States — The “only democracy in the Middle East” is slated to implement segregated buses for Palestinians and Jewish settlers traveling between the West Bank and Israel starting next month, in a move painfully reminiscent of the U.S. Jim Crow laws of the 1950s and that many Palestinians have deemed racist … Given the lack economic opportunities inside the West Bank due to the occupation, many Palestinians are left with no option but to work in settlements or inside Israel, sometimes even constructing settlements or building the Separation Wall. In order to work they must acquire a permit which they are required to show each time they cross a checkpoint into Israel. Those who hold permits are not allowed to sleep inside Israel, so must travel in and out every day. According to Gulf News, “out of the approximately 40,000 Palestinians who enter Israel for work daily from the West Bank, a total of 28,000 labourers hold official and legal work permits. Of this number, only 3,000 Palestinians use the Israeli bus lines to get to their home villages and towns.” Shaher Sa’ad, who heads the Palestinian General Federation of Trade Unions (PGFTU), explains that most Palestinian workers would rather avoid these settler buses, although often they have little choice. “The colonists are usually fully armed and constitute a real threat to Palestinian labourers, [so] the Palestinian labourers prefer to stay away from them,” said Sa’ad.
The battle of Silwan
Middle East Eye 2 Nov by Meron Rapoport — Jewish settlers have focused on the East Jerusalem neighbourhood of Silwan because of its historical past and strategic present. Their efforts have now made the district into a potent contemporary symbol — Three weeks ago, a few days after Jewish settlers took over 25 new apartments in the Palestinian neighborhood of Silwan, just south of Al Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem, a large advertisement appeared on the front page of “Haaretz” newspaper congratulating the new tenants on their “Zionist endeavor”. “The strengthening of Jewish presence in Jerusalem is our common challenge,” went the ad. “With your settlement act, you make us proud.” The advertisement’s content was not surprising, considering that it was sponsored by “Elad”, an Israeli organisation that for years has advocated in favor of the Judaisation of Silwan – or “City of David”, as they prefer to call it. The surprise lay in the identity of those who signed up to the ad: Nobel Laureate Eli Wiesel; Shlomo Aharonishky, ex-chief of staff of the Israeli Police; and retired general Amos Yadlin, former head of intelligence in the Israeli Defense Forces and now an influential commentator and a possible future contender for the leadership of the Labor Party. In short, not a bunch of right-wing lunatics but the flesh and bone of the Israeli establishment … Silwan was attractive to proponents of Jewish settlement for two main reasons. The first is emotional and religious. The northern part of the neighborhood, adjacent to Al Aqsa/Temple Mount, sits on an archeological site that is commonly called ‘City of David.’ More than a hundred years of almost constant excavations have not revealed undisputed proof of King David’s presence on the hill, but this has not deterred settlers and their followers from considering this area as the place where Jewish sovereignty began 3,000 years ago. The second reason has to do with politics. The first settlers entered Silwan in October 1991, coinciding with the opening of the Madrid Conference, the first such meeting at which Israel was forced to sit face-to-face with a Palestinian delegation. Settling inside populated neighborhoods at the heart of the Holy Basin surrounding the Old City was supposed to make sure that Jerusalem would not be divided into Palestinian and Israeli parts, and, if divided, ensure that the Old City would remain in Israeli hands. The fact that Silwan was at the center of the Palestinian uprising in Jerusalem known as the First Intifada, which started in late 1987, also helped to make it a target for tighter Israeli control….
Israeli settlers turn Palestinian village in West Bank into ‘prison’
RAMALLAH 31 Oct — Over the past 14 years, continuous Israeli settlement-building in the West Bank has gradually cut the Palestinian village of Burqa, located east of Ramallah, off from surrounding areas. Since 2000, Israel has blocked the main road into the village, which currently sits between four Israeli settlements built on large swathes of agricultural land seized over time from its Palestinian owners by Israeli forces. “Israeli settlement-building has ruined my family’s source of income,” Abdel-Moneim Ma’atan, a Palestinian resident of Burqa, told Anadolu Agency. Ma’atan says that Israeli settlers continue to hold 24 dunams of agricultural land that belongs to his family, even though they had produced proof of ownership after it was seized by Israeli authorities. To reach Burqa, one must pass through seven other Palestinian villages and cross under a highway-which Palestinians are barred from using-that leads to the Israeli settlements. Ma’atan said that, before the closure of the village’s main road, the commute to Ramallah took only seven minutes. “Now it’s a daily ordeal that takes considerable time and energy,” Ma’atan said of the detour, which is the resident’s only means of moving to and from the village. He added: “We live in a massive, open-air prison.”
Israel bans Muslim call to prayer in Hebron 61 times in October
HEBRON (Ma‘an) 2 Nov — Israeli forces have forbidden mosque leaders from calling for prayers through loudspeakers at the Ibrahimi Mosque in Hebron 61 times in October under the pretext that it bothers nearby Jewish settlers, the Palestinian ministry of endowment said Sunday. The ministry of endowment’s Hebron office said in a statement that banning the call for prayer “is racism and clear violation of freedom of worship which all international conventions maintain.”
First rains soak victims of war-torn Gaza Strip
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 2 Nov – With the first winter rains, fears of Gaza citizens whose homes were destroyed by Israel came true Friday and Saturday, especially in the Khuza‘a neighborhood in the southeast, where displaced citizens live in movable houses supplied by donor countries. “Rainwater leaked into the caravan from the roof and from the sides just as winter has begun,” says Osama al-Najjar who lives with his wife and daughter in a 30-square-meter caravan after his house was completely destroyed. He said that some of the caravans in the area moved from their places by floods of rainwater which sweep away sewage water and earth. Disappointed with her new living conditions, al-Najjar’s wife said that her family used to live in a 250-square-meter house before the war. “After we have been living in a big house not paying the least attention to rainwater, we are now spending our time and effort trying to repair the caravan we live in so it can stand in the face of storms and floods.” Commenting on the situation after the first rains, the mayor of Khuza‘a warned of a possible disaster which could be more difficult than the one caused by the war itself. The municipality, he told Ma‘an, has very little equipment for relief work. “As winter approaches, there will be a humanitarian disaster in Khuz‘aa because we can’t control the route of floods after the war has changed the structure of the landscape and destroyed all constituents of life in the town including water, electricity and telecommunication networks and infrastructure.”
VIDEO: Flooding hits impoverished Gaza Strip
Reuters 1 Nov — Palestinians clean up the mess left by heavy rains, as children take the opportunity to play in the mud. Rough Cut (no reporter narration).
Hamas: Closure of Gaza crossings ‘collective punishment’
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 2 Nov — Senior Hamas official Mousa Abu Marzouq early Sunday condemned an Israeli decision to close crossings into Gaza, calling it “collective punishment.” “The justifications given by the (Israeli) occupation to shut down crossings are unacceptable,” Abu Marzouq said in a statement. He also criticized the Palestinian Authority for what he called a failure to arrange the entry of goods into Gaza. “Where does the PA come in regarding this Israeli closure? And where does it come in regarding its responsibilities, especially after PA employees have resumed work at Gaza crossings?” He said Israel’s decision to close the crossings violated international laws and conventions. Instead of closing the crossings, he said Israel should establish more crossings in order to allow for greater freedom of movement for people and goods in and out of Gaza. Israeli authorities on Saturday announced that the Erez and Kerem Shalom crossings would be closed until further notice, following reports that a projectile fired from Gaza landed in Israel overnight Friday without causing damage or injuries. They said exceptions would be made for humanitarian emergencies.
Hamas arrests 5 Palestinians over rocket fire at Israel
Haaretz 2 Nov by Amos Harel, Gili Cohen & Haaretz — Israeli defense sources say Hamas told Egypt it is committed to cease-fire, not responsible for rocket attack — Hamas security forces in Gaza have arrested five Palestinians suspected of involvement in rocket fire toward Israel on Friday. Following the rocket attack, which caused no injuries or damage, Israel closed the Erez and Kerem Shalom border crossings into Gaza until further notice, defense establishment officials said. “The crossing points for people and goods, Erez and Kerem Shalom, have been closed until further notice except for humanitarian aid,” an army spokeswoman said, according to AFP. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon warned Hamas, via Egypt, that Israel would respond harshly to any additional projectile fire. Israeli defense sources told Haaretz that Hamas told Egyptian intelligence officials it was not behind Friday’s rocket fire, and that it is committed to the cease-fire achieved with Israel in August. Hamas is questioning the five detained Palestinians. As yet, it is unclear which Palestinian militant group they belong to.
Hamas: List of alleged Sinai militants includes children and dead Gazans
Middle East Eye 31 Oct — Hamas dubs naming of alleged Sinai militants ‘campaign of hatred’, as Egypt destroys Gaza tunnels and buffer zone plan wins US support — Hamas has categorically denied reports circulating in the Egyptian media alleging that Hamas operatives were involved in the deadly attack on Egyptian forces that killed at least 30 soldiers on 21 October. Egyptian daily el-Watan last week published a list, apparently taken from a source within Egypt’s Interior Ministry, of people thought to have links to the attack, which happened in the Sinai Peninsula town of Sheikh Zuweid, close to the border with the Gaza Strip. Gaza’s Interior Ministry on Thursday held a press conference to refute the names. A ministry spokesperson, Ayad al-Buzum, later published a statement, saying that six of the names were not even found on the Palestinian civil register. Two of the others, Buzum said, died over two months ago during the latest war in Gaza. Five others were Palestinians from the West Bank who, Buzum said, had never been to the Gaza Strip – among these was a 15-year old child. Hamas leader Musa Abu Marzuq called the list of names of Palestinians thought to be involved in the attack a “campaign of hatred” on Thursday.
Egypt: Rafah residents forced to leave their homes
RAFAH, Egypt (Al-Monitor) 2 Nov — Residents living along the border with the Gaza Strip were seen evacuating their homes, after the Egyptian government ordered them out, giving a 48-hour ultimatum. This decision by the authorities aims at establishing a buffer zone. Although army forces increased the number of checkpoints along the road leading to Rafah in a bid to bottleneck the movement of journalists, Al-Monitor — after great difficulty — arrived in the border area. About 200 meters (a tenth of a mile) from the stone wall separating Rafah on its Egyptian and Palestinian side lie hundreds of houses, awaiting demolition. Thousands of residents rushed to collect their belongings amid threats of their homes being demolished with them in it, should they refuse to leave. Abu Karim al-Qumbuz sits on top of a truck loaded with hastily packed pieces of luggage. While holding his baby and playfully tossing him in the air, he told Al-Monitor, “It is not important if we die, as long as they live. It is not important, my son, as long as the homeland survives.” As tears stream down his face, Qumbuz, who lives in Rafah’s Saladin neighborhood on the Egyptian side, shouts at the top of his lungs, “They want us to leave our home within 10 hours — to leave the home that I struggled to build while the government was absent, marginalizing us. Where should I go?” He added, “They want to give us 300 Egyptian pounds [$41] as a housing allowance for three months. Will someone tell them that moving our belongings costs 1,000 Egyptian pounds [$139]? Will someone tell them that renting a humble apartment to shield us from the cold costs 1,000 Egyptian pounds a month? Will someone tell the world that the allowances remain ink on paper?”
Egyptian authorities detain 38 Palestinians
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 2 Nov — Egyptian authorities detained 38 Palestinians after they were “swindled” by traffickers, Egyptian sources said Sunday. Police imprisoned the 38 Palestinian refugees in Alexandria after traffickers sailed from Turkey to an Egyptian island rather than to Italy.
Gaza Strip: War crimes documented
Alternative Information Center (AIC) 31 Oct — First comprehensive investigation of latest Israeli assault documents war crimes — In the wake of the 50-day Israeli assault that devastated the Gaza Strip, reconstruction must not be the only priority, according to the nonprofit organization Euro-Mid Observer for Human Rights. All perpetrators of war crimes must be held to account, and Euro-Mid has taken the initial step by completing the first comprehensive investigation into Israeli actions during “Operation Protective Edge.” … The initial fieldwork for the Euro-Mid investigation began on July 10, the second day of the massive Israeli assault on Gaza. Throughout the course of the conflict, 24 Gaza-based researchers, many with legal backgrounds, visited every hot spot that erupted, interviewing more than 432 individuals involved in or eyewitnesses to144 instances in which more than two Palestinians were killed at one time. The Euro-Mid investigation is summarized in two reports: “Indiscriminate Attacks and Deliberate Killing: Israel Takes Revenge on Gaza by Killing Civilians,” and “Israeli Matrix of Control: Use of Palestinians as Human Shields.”
Venezuela to sent humanitarian aid to Gaza
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 2 Nov — Venezuela will sent 10 tons of humanitarian aid and medical equipment for the war-torn Gaza Strip on Sunday, the Palestinian embassy in Caracas said in a statement. A plane will carry the aid from Caracas to the Amman airport on Sunday, and the same plane will bring 100 Palestinian students who have been granted scholarships to study in Venezuela to the country, the statement said. Last week, Venezuela’s president Nicolas Maduro said his country would grant 1,000 Palestinians scholarships for Venezuelan universities. Linda Subih, the ambassador of Palestine to Venezuela, said in the statement that she and 31 young Venezuelan men and women would accompany the aid to Amman, after which it would be sent to Gaza.
EU foreign policy chief lines up first visit to Israel, Gaza, West Bank
Wall St Journal blog 31 Oct by Lawrence Norman — The EU has said it is willing to play a broader role in Gaza, including manning transport links into the Palestinian territories and reopening a long-closed border crossing point at BAM Rafah between the Gaza Strip and Egypt — Incoming European Union foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini has said repeatedly she wants the EU to be a “player” as well as a “payer” in the Middle East peace process and it seems she is putting her money where her mouth is. A person briefed on her plans confirmed reports that Ms. Mogherini, who will start her EU role at midnight Friday, will make her first visit outside the bloc to Israel, Ramallah and Gaza on Nov. 7 and 8 … Ms. Mogherini has pressed an argument often heard among Brussels diplomats that while the EU is the biggest official donor to the Palestinians, Europe’s cash seems to be more welcome than its political involvement in trying to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. By choosing the region as her first foreign visit, Ms. Mogherini is sending a strong signal she hopes to change that.
Companies stop food supply to Gaza hospital amid unpaid bills
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 1 Nov — Companies in Gaza have stopped providing the al-Shifa hospital with food for meals in protest against not being paid for five months, a hospital official said Saturday. Nasr al-Tatar, the general director of al-Shifa hospital in Gaza City, told Ma‘an the move was dangerous as it impacts both patients and medical workers. The hospital owes 800,000 shekels (approximately $211,000) to the companies for food. Al-Shifa hospital serves about 1,500 meals a day, and this number doubled during the Israeli offensive on Gaza in July and August.
Health of Palestinian prisoners with disabilities deteriorating
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 1 Nov — The health condition of 10 Palestinian prisoners with disabilities in Israel’s al-Ramla hospital is deteriorating, the Department of Prisoner’s Affairs said Saturday. Hanan al-Khatib, a lawyer with the department, recently visited the prisoners in al-Ramla hospital, and warned in a statement that they are in “dangerous” condition. According to the statement, Muataz Obeido is in pain and needs surgery. Obeido was detained in Hebron in April 2013, and become paralyzed when Israeli forces shot him with expanding dum-dum bullets in the pelvis, stomach, bladder, and right foot. Nahed al-Aqra from Gaza has had both of his legs amputated and suffers from severe bone inflammation, the statement said. Ishaq Daraghma from Qalandiya refugee camp was “brutally assaulted” by Israeli forces when he was detained, and uses a wheelchair due to severe inflammation of the legs….
15 Palestinian prisoners held in solitary confinement for 3 months
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) — Fifteen Palestinian prisoners being held in solitary confinement reached their third month there, prisoners said on Saturday. The fifteen prisoners are being held in solitary confinement after they were moved from the Jalbou and Shatta prisons on June 12 as punishment for “attempts to dig tunnels,” prisoners told the a lawyer from the Palestinian Prisoner’s Society.
Since then, the prisoners have been kept in solitary confinement at the Gilboa, HaSharon, Ayalon, and Nafha prisons. Prisoners at Nafha prison, meanwhile, said that raids into prisoners’ cells at the facility have been increasing.
Prison Service declines Arabic privacy waiver
Haaretz 31 Oct by Amira Hass — The Israel Prison Service is refusing to provide a prisoner with his medical file because the privacy waiver he signed is in Arabic. The Public Committee Against Torture in Israel regularly asks to examine the medical files of prisoners who have filed complaints regarding torture. The prison service’s supervisor of freedom of information in turn sends out the medical-privacy waiver. Attorney Alona Korman of the public committee told Haaretz that some prisoners refuse to sign the waiver in Hebrew, which they either don’t know or understand fluently, and that they sometimes prefer to sign a bilingual document … Last week, however, officials from the freedom of information department demanded that Korman hand in a waiver for a prisoner from Ketziot Prison in Hebrew. When she insisted on the prisoner’s right to sign an Arabic waiver, attorney Hanani Kapach of the prison service’s legal department told her the matter was unacceptable … Korman also told Haaretz that the response that forms have to be filled out in Hebrew because no one in the prison service understands Arabic is shirking the organization’s obligations to the Arabic population under its jurisdiction, and amounts to denial of Arabic as an official language of Israel.
Hamas: No one can give away right of return
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 1 Nov — The Hamas movement’s department of refugee affairs said in a statement Saturday that no one could “give away” the right of Palestinian refugees to return to their lands. “No one has the right to give away the refugees’ right of return; it is a holy and unchanging right,” the statement said. It also called on Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza, in addition to Palestinian citizens in Israel, to resist the Israeli occupation of Palestinian lands. Today there are more than 5 million Palestinian refugees worldwide. They are the descendants of the more than 700,000 Palestinians who were expelled from their homes by Jewish militias during the 1948 Nakba, or “catastrophe.” Israeli authorities continue to refuse to allow the refugees to return to their towns, despite UN resolution 194 mandating they be allowed to do so under international law. Despite being one of those refugees, President Mahmoud Abbas has said he should not have the right to live in his hometown of Safed, now in modern-day Israel. Abbas has publicly dismissed the idea of literally carrying out of the right of return, referring to it as “flooding Israel with refugees.”
Abbas extends condolences to suspected Jerusalem shooter’s family
Haaretz 2 Nov — Letter to Muataz Hijazi’s family condemns ‘heinous crime committed by the murderous, terrorist gangs in the Israeli occupation army. — Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas sent a condolence letter to the family of Muataz Hijazi, the man suspected of shooting right-wing activist Yehuda Glick in Jerusalem last week. In the letter sent over the weekend, Abbas made no reference to Hijazi’s suspected involvement in the shooting. Instead, he wrote, “With anger and condemnation we received the message about the heinous crime committed by the murderous, terrorist gangs in the Israeli occupation army against Muataz Ibrahim Hijazi, who rose to heaven as a casualty in the fight for the Palestinian people’s rights and for the holy sites.” Abbas added that he strongly condemns Hijazi’s “barbaric” killing, which joins a long list of crimes perpetrated by Israel against the Palestinian people since the Nakba. But, he wrote, such incidents will not deter the Palestinian people from claiming their rights to a homeland – rather, they will only make them more resilient in the face of occupation.
PA sends extra security forces to Hebron for crackdown
HEBRON (Ma‘an) 2 Nov — The Palestinian Authority sent extra security forces to Hebron in the southern West Bank on Saturday, days after they announced they would be conducting an extensive campaign in the city to arrest “outlaws.” A Palestinian security source, speaking to Ma’an on the condition of anonymity, said that the campaign targeted perpetrators of armed robberies, arms and drug trade, shooting, and those who sold Palestinian property and land to Israelis. “The security arrangements in Hebron are special because large parts of the city — especially the south — are still under Israeli security control, and Palestinian security forces are not allowed to operate there,” the source said. “Thus, more than 60 outlaws use it as a shelter to escape from Palestinian security,” he added. He said there was security coordination with Israeli forces in place in order to allow the Palestinian security to work in south Hebron at specific hours. Some 40 Palestinians were arrested in Hebron in October by Palestinian security forces, he added.