Violence / Clashes / Arrests
Jewish extremists named behind Jerusalem school arson
AFP 11 Dec — Three members of an extremist Jewish group were named by Israeli security officials on Thursday as being behind an arson attack last month targeting a Jewish-Arab school in Jerusalem. The Shin Bet internal security agency said Jerusalem resident Yitzhak Gabai, 22, and brothers Nahman (18) and Shlomo (20) Twitto of the ultra-orthodox Beitar Illit settlement were members of Lehava, an extremist group which fights against intermarriage. On Sunday, police announced the arrest of several suspects in the torching of a classroom at the Hand-in-Hand school, a rare symbol of coexistence, without providing further details. The Shin Bet said on Thursday the three had confessed, saying they had done it to “raise the issue of objection to coexistence and intermarriage to the top of the public and media’s agenda”. Lehava activists follow the teachings of the late Meir Kahane, a virulently anti-Arab rabbi whose Kach party was banned in Israel, a Shin Bet statement said, noting that the slogans “Kahana was right” and “There’s no coexistence with cancer” had been scrawled on the school’s walls. Police said Lehava activists were tied to a number of other violent incidents. Lehava leader Bentzi Gopstein said his organisation does not act illegally, accusing the Shin Bet in a statement of trying to frame Lehava to thwart its “holy work of saving the daughters of Israel”.
Israeli forces shoot, seriously injure Palestinian teen near Ramallah
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 10 Dec — Israeli forces on Wednesday shot and injured a Palestinian teenager in the head during clashes at the entrance of al-Jalazun refugee camp near Ramallah, medics said. Raouf Hussein Snubar, 14, was hit in the head with a live bullet, causing fractures to his skull, medical sources told Ma‘an. They said he was in serious but stable condition. Several other Palestinians were injured with live fire and rubber-coated bullets, and others suffered from tear gas inhalation. Clashes erupted following a march that was organized in the camp in protest of the death of Palestinian Authority official Ziad Abu Ein. Abu Ein died after being assaulted by Israeli soldiers during a demonstration in the village of Turmsayya in the Ramallah district.
Palestinian shot after throwing acid at settler family
JERUSALEM (AFP/Ma‘an) 12 Dec — A Palestinian threw acid at a family of Israelis picking up a hitchhiker in the West Bank Friday before being shot and wounded, residents and the army said. An Israeli army spokeswoman said that a vehicle carrying a family of five picked up a hitchhiker near the tunnel checkpoint between Bethlehem and Jerusalem. “A vehicle carrying a family with four girls stopped to pick up a hitchhiker” near a checkpoint outside Bethlehem and close to the Gush Etzion settlement area, an army statement said. A Palestinian man standing next to the hitchhiker threw acid at both him and the family when the car stopped, it said. Initially the army said the attacker was a hitchhiker but later revised its statement. Israeli news site Ynet said three young children aged 8-10 suffered light burn wounds and a 40-year-old man suffered burns to his face and eyes. Another Israeli civilian shot the suspect in the leg as he fled, the Israeli spokeswoman added. The suspect was identified as Jamal Abd al-Majid Ghayatha, 45, from the village of Nahalin. Palestinian residents said he was mentally unstable and had received treatment at a mental health clinic in Bethlehem. He had been arrested before, they added. He was taken to Hadassa hospital for treatment.
Israeli forces assault Palestinian farmer in Jordan Valley
TUBAS (Ma‘an) 12 Dec — Israeli forces assaulted a Palestinian farmer while grazing his cattle in the northern Jordan Valley on Friday, a local official said. Aref Daraghmeh, head of a local council, told Ma‘an that Israeli soldiers raided the area and assaulted Muhammad Fahd Bani Odeh. Odeh suffered bruising in the incident and was treated at a hospital in Tubas. The circumstances behind the incident are unclear.
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 11 Dec — Israeli forces on Thursday searched the demolished home of attack suspect Abd al-Rahman al-Shaludi in the Silwan neighborhood of East Jerusalem, family members said. Al-Shaludi’s mother told Ma’an Israeli forces searched the rubble of the house they demolished last month in the al-Bustan area of Silwan, claiming the family had rebuilt parts of the home. Israeli officers also raided the home of al-Shaludi’s uncle where his mother and family have been living temporarily. She said that after searching each room, forces threatened to demolish the house as well. Al-Shaludi was killed by Israeli police after he drove his vehicle into a group of pedestrians at a light rail station in the Sheikh Jarrah area of East Jerusalem. The attack left two dead and several injured. Israeli forces demolished his family home in a punitive move on Nov. 19.
Palestinian family’s home invaded, two youths arrested by Israeli soldiers in ‘Azzin village
‘AZZUN, Occupied Palestine (ISM Nablus Team) 11 Dec — At 3 am, on the 8th of December in ‘Azzun whilst the Radwan family slept, dozens of Israeli soldiers surrounded their house and broke in. They damaged the door as they entered, sweeping through the house and also breaking the doors of the kitchen cupboards. They ushered the nine family members into one room and forced them all sit on one sofa at gunpoint. The mother, speaking to ISM volunteers the day after her home was invaded and her sons arrested, recalled that there were too many soldiers to count that night. They were everywhere, all over the inside and outside of the house. The soldiers took everyone’s mobile phones and the hard drive from their computer. They asked for seventeen-year-old Abdallah first, ordering another brother to get clothes and shoes for him. No one was told what was happening or why. The army then told the mother to say goodbye to her seventeen-year-old son, but he was surrounded by soldiers so she could not reach him or see him. She was was only able to cry out “ma‘a salama!” – goodbye. The soldiers then asked where 20-year-old Mohammed was. They ordered his clothes and shoes to be brought as well. Again his mother was told to say goodbye, but again she could not because there were so many soldiers in the way. Neither the family nor the boys were told why they were being arrested or where they were being taken. The ordeal lasted two hours. By 5 am, the army left and the family watched soldiers jumping from their roof and leaving from all sides of the house they had been surrounding … Since Abdallah and Mohammed were arrested, their mother found out that her sons are being detained in Al Jalama prison, Haifa. Israeli forces have given no reason for their detention, nor set a date for their trial.
Over 1,000 Palestinians clash with Israeli forces in Hebron
HEBRON (Ma‘an) 12 Dec — A Palestinian youth was injured by live fire on Friday as over 1,000 Palestinians clashed with Israeli military forces in Hebron, locals and Israel’s army said. A youth was shot in the foot after Israeli forces raided a festival organized by Hamas in a schoolyard in the city. Locals told Ma‘an that Israeli forces raided the school yard, smashed the stage set up for the festival, and confiscated signs and flags. Israeli forces set up several military checkpoints in the area and fired tear gas at hundreds of Palestinians who had gathered near a mosque by the school. Other marches set off in the city to celebrate the 27th anniversary of the establishment of Hamas. Around 100,000 people took part in the celebrations in the Gaza Strip.
3 Palestinians injured in Beit Ummar clashes
HEBRON (Ma‘an) 12 Dec — Three Palestinians were injured with rubber-coated bullets on Friday during clashes with Israeli forces in Beit Ummar near Hebron, a local spokesman said. Muhammad Awad, spokesman of the local popular resistance committee, told Ma‘an that Alaa Sadim Adel al-Sleibi, 14, was shot in the chest and the right foot with a rubber-coated bullet near the illegal Israeli settlement of Karmi Tsur. He was taken to Beit Ummar’s medical clinic in stable condition. Two others were injured, one in the hand and the other in the back, Awad said. They were treated at the scene.
19 injured in al-Bireh clashes following Abu Ein funeral
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 11 Dec — Some 19 Palestinians were injured on Thursday during clashes with Israeli forces in al-Bireh following the funeral of Palestinian official Ziad Abu Ein, a Ma‘an reporter said. Clashes broke out in the Jabal al-Tawil area between Palestinian mourners and Israeli forces who were heavily deployed inside the nearby illegal Israeli settlement of Psagot. Nineteen Palestinians were injured by rubber-coated bullets and dozens suffered excessive tear gas inhalation. Palestinians threw rocks and empty bottles at Israeli forces, who fired from inside the settlement.
Report: Israeli firefighters say November mosque fire ‘electrical’
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 12 Dec — Israeli firefighters claimed a fire at a mosque in the village of al-Mughayyir near Ramallah in November was not an act of arson, but an electrical fire, Israeli media reported Thursday. Firefighters said they found no traces of flammable materials at the scene, the Israeli newspaper Haaretz reported. They believe the fire was likely caused by a space heater. They also said no racist graffiti was found on the walls of the mosque. On Nov. 12, Palestinian worshipers said that when they went to the mosque to perform dawn prayer around 4:30 a.m., they saw smoke and flames coming from the first floor of the two-story building. The first floor was seriously damaged, and the second floor was lightly damaged, they said. They said settlers left behind racist slogans in Hebrew on the outer walls of the mosque.
Twilight Zone: Palestinian third-grader arrested by Israel Police
Haaretz 12 Dec by Gideon Levy & Alex Levac — 8-year-old Obeida Ayash was arrested on suspicion of stone-throwing in the village of Silwan in East Jerusalem, which was brimming this week with Border Police officers — Even his black eyeglasses are too big for him, and cover half his face. His gaze remains fixed on the floor most of the time, and he hardly speaks. When he does, his voice sounds high-pitched and hesitant. He is skinny and is missing his two front teeth; his baby teeth fell out not so long ago. His mother says that during the first nights after the arrest, he had trouble falling asleep, but now, thank God, he’s sleeping better. But he still looks a bit scared, especially around these uninvited Israelis who have come to ask him questions, again. Obeida Ayash lives in the village of Silwan in East Jerusalem. He is eight years old, a third-grader at the local school, where his mother Ibtiha works as the janitor. … Last Wednesday he was heading home as usual in the afternoon, while his mother stayed behind to clean. When he arrived home he saw that his favorite pen had fallen out somewhere along the way: It was a red pen, he wants us to know. He went back into the street, which was crawling with police, undercover officers and kids throwing rocks. He may have thrown a rock too, though he says he didn’t. Obeida couldn’t find the pen. This was on the street that winds up the hill above the school, not far from Obeida’s house, near a staircase that leads inside one of the buildings. The smallest, skinniest boy around – maybe that’s why the police caught him, while all the other kids managed to get away. He says the police threw a stun grenade at them. He says there were about 15 police and undercover forces in the street and they all surrounded him after he was caught. One grabbed his shirt from behind and took him with them. Obeida says he didn’t cry and he wasn’t afraid of the policemen. His mother is proud of her son. When she says, “He’s very brave” – it brings a trace of a smile to his lips.
Fearing Jewish violence, 100 Arab bus drivers in Jerusalem quit their jobs
Haaretz 12 Dec by Nir Hasson — Forty-seven years after the unification of Jerusalem, there are very few islands of Jewish-Arab coexistence in the city. Of these, one of the most noteworthy was the Egged bus cooperative. About half its drivers were East Jerusalem Palestinians, who say they received fair treatment, good wages and benefits – things few other East Jerusalem Palestinians enjoy. But the wave of violence in the city in recent months, which has included violent attacks on Arab drivers, has caused 100 of them – about a third of Egged’s Arab drivers – to quit. Forty have officially resigned, while 60 have simply not shown up for work. This has severely disrupted public transportation in Jerusalem. “I worked for Egged for six years,” said Arafat Tahan. “It was good work. But it’s better to earn less money and not come home in a body bag.” Last Wednesday night, yet another Arab bus driver was attacked. Two Jewish men on a scooter drove up beside his bus in the Gilo neighborhood and tried to break the windshield. When this failed, they forced the bus to stop, threw a stone that shattered the windshield and took off. In this case, the suspects were swiftly arrested. But usually, drivers say, the police are slow to react. Drivers say scarcely a day has passed in recent months without at least one violent attack on an Arab driver. Tamir Nir, head of the municipal transportation department, confirms this. And that doesn’t include cursing, spitting or racist remarks. “The situation is catastrophic,” said attorney Osama Ibrahem, who represents more than 40 drivers who have been attacked – mainly in the last four months. “Not a day passes without a physical assault,” he said. “I’m not talking about verbal assaults. They don’t even count those; that’s something they’ve learned to live with.”
Israeli forces detain over 20 in West Bank, East Jerusalem
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 12 Dec — Israeli forces detained at least 20 Palestinians in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem overnight Thursday, Israel’s army and locals said. Four people were detained overnight in Hebron, three in Bethlehem, two in Nablus and two in Jenin. Early Friday, Israeli forces raided ‘Aida refugee camp in Bethlehem and detained Shadi Atta Abu Aker, 30, and Ibrahim Abu Srur, 28. In Nablus, locals said Israeli forces detained Majd Ishtayeh and his brother Muath from Tell village. Israeli forces detained 10 Palestinians in East Jerusalem during raids, Addameer prisoner rights group said
The death of Ziad Abu Ein
Palestinian minister dies during protest
Al Jazeera 10 Dec — Ziad Abu Ein, a Palestinian minister, has died after clashes with Israeli forces, reportedly due to inhaling large amounts of tear gas in the occupied West Bank, sources told Al Jazeera. Abu Ein, who was the head of the Anti-Wall and Settlement Commission, died in Ramallah Hospital on Wednesday after inhaling the gas at a protest against the separation barrier near the village of Turmusayya, northeast of Ramallah. In addition to inhaling tear gas, Abu Ein, 55, was hit in the chest by Isreali soldiers, according to a Palestine TV reporter who was at the scene. Witnesses, including an Israeli journalist and a Reuters news agency photographer, also said he was assaulted by the soldiers during the protest. Others said he was headbutted and then collapsed. Activists said they were planting olive trees by the illegal settlement of Adei Ad when the soldiers attacked them and fired large amounts of tear gas at the group. Pictures of Abu Ein, who is a member of Fatah’s Revolutionary Council, showing him knocked out and on the ground quickly circulated on social media sites. Abbas also said “all necessary steps” will be taken after an investigation into Abu Ein’s death is carried out.Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas quickly condemned the death of Abu Ein calling it a “barbaric act which cannot be tolerated”. Al Jazeera’s Imtiaz Tyab, reporting from West Jerusalem, said tensions had been running high in Israel and the Palestinian territories, with consistent protests in the West Bank in the past several weeks.Jibril Rajoub, senior Palestine security adviser, told Al Jazeera the Palestinian Authority had decided to suspend all security coordination with Israel following Abu Ein’s death, which he called a “premeditated murder”. “The fact that a member of the government has died in these protests will further inflame the situation,” he said. Speaking shortly before his death, the minister told reporters why he was at the protest. “This is the army of the occupation and they are stopping Palestinians from acting on their rights. We came to our Palestinian land to plant trees and olive trees. They attacked us immediately without anyone throwing a stone or attacking them. This is a terrorist occupying army that stops Palestinians from enacting on their rights,” Abu Ein said. Abu Ein, a father of four, previously held the position of deputy minister of prisoners’ affairs. As a former detainee himself, he was sentenced to life in prison by Israel in 1982 but was released in a prisoner swap in 1985. Ramallah and El Bireh governorate have announced three days of mourning over Abu Ein’s death.
Bethlehem Christmas lights shut off in mourning
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 10 Dec — The Bethlehem municipality decided Wednesday to turn off the lights on the Christmas tree in the city in mourning for Minister Ziad Abu Ein. Mayor Vera Baboun told Ma‘an that the decision followed President Mahmoud Abbas’ call for a three-day period of mourning.
Thousands gather for funeral of Palestinian minister
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 11 Dec — Thousands of Palestinians gathered Thursday to mourn Palestinian minister Ziad Abu Ein, a day after he was killed by Israeli forces during a peaceful demonstration near Ramallah. The Palestinian leadership blamed Israel for the “killing” of 55-year-old Ziad Abu Ein. Officials and onlookers streamed into the Ramallah headquarters of President Mahmoud Abbas in the late morning, ahead of a planned funeral procession to a nearby cemetery, an AFP correspondent said. Uniformed Palestinians carried Abu Ein’s coffin, draped in a Palestinian flag, into the courtyard, as nationalist songs blared and mourners chanted “Revenge!” and “Your blood will not be spilled in vain!” Masked gunmen fired into the air as mourners waved Palestinian flags, Fatah flags and Islamic Jihad flags. Schools were closed in a day of mourning and posters of Abu Ein were plastered on walls throughout the West Bank city.
Israeli forces disperse Jerusalem march for PA minister
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 11 Dec — Israeli forces dispersed a march in Jerusalem on Thursday condemning the death of Palestinian minister Ziad Abu Ein, witnesses said. Israeli forces raided Salah al-Din Street as activists distributed black flags as a symbol of mourning for the senior official, who was killed a day earlier by Israeli forces during a peaceful demonstration near Ramallah. Israeli police confiscated the ID of a woman after a verbal dispute broke out between Palestinian youths and Israeli forces. Witnesses said an Israeli policeman opened fire in the air and border police fired stun grenades to disperse the march.
PA official Ziad Abu Ein was first Palestinian extradited from US to Israel
EI 11 Dec by Ali Abunimah –…Israeli media are today reporting that Abu Ein, 55, who headed a department that deals with Israeli settlements and land confiscation, “spent several years in Israeli prison for his role in a 1979 terrorist attack in Tiberias” which killed two Israeli 16-year-olds, Boaz Lahav and David Lankri. But details of his situation from more than thirty years ago show that it was not the open and shut case Israeli media now present. Back in 1981, The Christian Science Monitor reported: “A precedent-setting US court decision paving the way for the extradition of a Palestinian to Israel has been virtually ignored by the US press. But it nets headlines almost daily in Jordan and other Arab countries. The man at the center of the controversy is 20-year-old West Bank resident Ziad Abu Ein. Mr. Abu Ein has been held in a Chicago jail without bail since August 1979. Israel has charged him with planting a bomb which killed two children in a crowded Tiberias marketplace. Abu Ein claims that the two Palestinians who signed confessions incriminating him while held in Israeli prisons in connection with the same incident have since retracted their statements. He also claims to have 14 witnesses who can verify that he was miles away at the time of the bombing.” Here’s the crucial part: “Neither the retracted confessions nor Abu Ein’s documented assertion that he was elsewhere at the time of the incident was admitted as evidence in the extradition hearings. The court reasoned that such testimony contradicts rather than explains the Israeli charges and as such is appropriate only in the criminal trial itself. None of that mattered. The US court sent Abu Ein back to Israel, where Palestinians could not (and still cannot) count on anything resembling a fair trial and routinely faced torture in order to extract confessions. Just like Palestinian American community leader Rasmea Odeh today, Abu Ein’s case garnered broad support from Arab American activists at the time.
Palestinian autopsy reveals minister died from heart attack
Ynet 11 Dec by Elior Levy — Israeli and Palestinian medical officials seemed to agree on the results of the autopsy of the Palestinian minister who died after being shoved and grabbed by the neck by an Israeli policeman at a West Bank protest, but issued conflicting interpretations Thursday. Abu Ein, a Palestinian Authority cabinet minister, collapsed and died in the afternoon hours of Wednesday. Now a Palestinian-led autopsy claims his cause of death was a stress-induced heart attack. The report, being led by Palestinian, Jordanian and Israeli pathologists, said the death was caused by blockage in the coronary artery, and said there were signs of light internal bleeding and localized pressure on the neck, at least according to the Israeli version of the report published by the Health Ministry. The deceased suffered from heart disease, and there was evidence that plaque buildup were clogging more than 80% of his blood vessels, as well as signs that he had suffered heart attacks in the past. The Palestinian government issued a statement after its meeting, blaming Israel for the “murder” of Abu Ein. “After publication of the results, we can say that Israel is responsible for the murder of Abu Ein,” the government said. Initially, Hussein al-Sheikh, a top Palestinian official, told Reuters that Jordanian and Palestinian doctors involved in the late night examination of the body said Ziad Abu Ein, 55, had died from being struck, inhaling tear gas and not receiving prompt medical attention. However, Dr. Hen Kugel, the Israeli doctor who took part in the autopsy, told Ynet that the report was not final and that they were awaiting on the return of some tests, however “we know what happened there – he died from a heart attack. He had significant blockage of the arteries and his heart was in bad shape. When they grabbed his neck it caused massive stress which led to bleeding and then full blockage which is what killed him.” “There is no disagreement with the Palestinians about this, the only thing we still need to find out about is wounding to his front teeth, tongue and windpipe. These could be a result of resuscitation attempts or an attack as the Palestinians claim, but it doesn’t matter, he died because of his heart and stress,” Dr. Kugel said…. [includes video]
Ramallah public prosecutor examines PA official’s death site
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 11 Dec — A Palestinian public prosecutor from Ramallah on Thursday examined the place of death of Palestinian official Ziad Abu Ein in the village of Turmus‘ayya, the prosecutor told Ma‘an. Ahman Hannoun said he visited the area north of Ramallah where Abu Ein died to examine “the crime scene” and build a full portfolio for the case. The public prosecution is preparing for a full file on the case, to be presented in courts in the future, Hannoun said.
PA to ‘limit’ relations with Israel following Abu Ein death
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 11 Dec — Chief PLO negotiator Saeb Erekat told Ma‘an Thursday that the Palestinian leadership had decided to “limit” relations with Israel by halting security coordination. Erekat said Israel was completely responsible for the death of Palestinian Authority official Ziad Abu Ein. “It is not possible for (Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin) Netanyahu to continue seeking a Palestinian Authority without any authority, and an occupation at no cost,” Erekat told Ma‘an. He reiterated that the Palestinian leadership would also be proposing a UN Security Council resolution to uphold the 1967 borders and set a timeframe for an end to occupation. Erekat added that Palestine would be joining the International Criminal Court, and called on the High Contracting Parties to the fourth Geneva convention to assist the Palestinian leadership in doing so. He said President Mahmoud Abbas had also written a letter to UN chief Ban Ki-Moon to put a mechanism in place to protect the Palestinian people. The Palestinian leadership will meet again Friday evening to implement the decisions taken in the Wednesday meeting that followed Abu Ein’s death, Erekat added.
Circumstances of Palestinian official’s death ‘disturbing’: UN
GENEVA (AFP) 12 Dec — The UN’s human rights chief on Friday said the circumstances of the death of a senior Palestinian official while manhandled by Israeli soldiers this week were “disturbing” and called for a timely and impartial investigation. UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein welcomed an investigation launched by the Israeli military into the death of Ziad Abu Ein in the West Bank on Wednesday. He said the probe needed to be “quick and utterly transparent if people are to have faith in its findings”. “Peaceful protest is a human right and security forces must exercise appropriate restraint when policing protests in accordance with international standards,” he added. “Because of the well-established illegal nature of the Israeli settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, such protests will inevitably continue.”
Fatah armed group calls for response to ‘assassination crime’
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 10 Dec — The al-Aqsa Brigades, the armed wing of the Fatah movement, in Gaza on Wednesday called upon their operatives in the West Bank to respond to the “assassination” of PA official Ziad Abu Ein … The brigades also demanded an end to all sorts of security coordination with Israel, and called upon Palestinians to expand the intifada and resistance everywhere.
Separately, the Fatah movement’s central committee said it mourned the death of Abu Ein, “whose life ended where and how he and every patriotic Palestinian wishes.” It added: “Abu Ein died resisting; he was planting an olive tree on Palestinian land to protect it from being confiscated by Israel … and to plant hope for coming generations.” The statement said that “this crime will only make us more persistent to continue or political fight to end the Israeli occupation and establish an independent Palestinian state.”
Land, property theft & destruction / Ethnic cleansing / Banning & Deportation
10,000 dunams ‘slated for confiscation’ in Jordan Valley
TUBAS (Ma‘an) 10 Dec — Israeli authorities on Wednesday declared a vast area of private Palestinian land in the northern Jordan Valley a closed military zone in preparation to confiscate the land, an official said. Ribhi al-Khandaqji, the governor of the Tubas district, said in a statement that the land was located in the Ein al-Sakut area and measured about 10,000 dunams (2,500 acres) … He said the land, located near the Jordanian border, had been controlled by the Israeli military for decades, and that parts of it used to be covered in mines. The Israeli army recently evacuated the area after they removed the mines, the statement said. Since then, Israeli settlers have been controlling the land and have already planted in vast areas.
Tour guide and political activists banned from his native Jerusalem
EI 12 Dec by Rachelle Friesen — There is a political edge to the guided tours of Jerusalem that Daoud al-Ghoul gives. Walking through its Old City, the 31-year-old takes visitors to meet residents whose water has been cut off by the Israeli-controlled local municipality or who have been beaten by soldiers and arrested. The Palestinians that his guests encounter are struggling to maintain a strong and vibrant community despite how Israeli settlers and the authorities want to remove them from their hometown altogether. For the next few months, al-Ghoul’s tours will have to stop. In early December, he and four other activists — Majd Darwish, Saleh Dirbas, Akram Shurafah and Faris Abu Ghanam — were given Israeli military orders banning them from entering Jerusalem and returning home until 30 April next year. The men were not given any reason for the bans. All five men were born in Jerusalem and have previously been imprisoned by Israel. On 9 December — six days after the original bans were issued — al-Ghoul received a second deportation order, this time from an Israeli military court in the occupied West Bank. The second order excludes him from the West Bank in its entirety. Al-Ghoul is a youth coordinator of the Health Work Committees, a Palestinian organization providing medical services. The orders put him in an extremely difficult position: if he leaves Palestine, there is no guarantee that the Israeli authorities will allow him to return. If he stays put, he risks being jailed again … Israel’s military orders violate international law. The Fourth Geneva Convention of 1949 forbids an occupying power from deporting people under occupation … Between 1967 and 2010, Israel revoked the residency of more than 14,000 Palestinians in Jerusalem, according to the United Nations monitoring group OCHA. Ethnic cleansing inch by inch The ethnic cleansing of Jerusalem takes a variety of other forms. In most of the West Bank, Israel is actively confiscating land and building settlements. Yet in Jerusalem this process is being done house by house, inch by inch.
Israeli government attempts to shut down Nakba film festival in Tel Aviv
Mondoweiss 11 Dec by Sarah Levy — Imagine if in the U.S. it were illegal to teach about the genocide of the Native Americans or the violent and gruesome system of slavery in North America. Imagine if you could be punished for simply mentioning the suffering of the indigenous people on Thanksgiving, or for questioning the nobility of Columbus of Columbus Day. In Israel, this reality is not far fetched. Any Israeli institution with public funding that mentions, teaches, or mourns the Nakba (Arabic for “catastrophe”) can be fined, and individuals can be sentenced to prison for their involvement. Recently this law threatened to cause trouble for the Israeli non-profit organization Zochrot as they prepared for their second annual “48 mm—International Film Festival on Nakba and Return” in Tel Aviv.
75 new security guards start work at Asqa compound
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 11 Dec — Seventy-five new security guards took up posts at the Al-Aqsa Mosque in the Old City of Jerusalem on Wednesday, the director of the holy site told Ma‘an. Omar al-Kiswani said Jordan’s King Abdullah II had given instructions to increase the number of security guards at the compound. Ten women are among the 75 new guards, al-Kiswani said. Six new firefighters, five electricians, and an engineer were employed as well, he added. Jordan’s status as custodian of the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound is enshrined in the peace treaty the Hashemite Kingdom signed with Israel in 1994.
Prisoners / Court actions
Jerusalem legislator sentenced to 25 months in prison
IMEMC/Agencies 11 Dec — The Jerusalemite Prisoners Committee said, Thursday, that an Israeli court sentenced 64-year-old exiled Jerusalemite lawmaker Mohammed Abu Teir to 25 months in Ofer prison. According to WAFA correspondence, Abu Teir has been serving an illegal administrative detention since July 2nd of 2013. His detention has been renewed multiple times. In 2010, Abu Teir and other Palestinian lawmakers were arrested for entering occupied East Jerusalem after the Israeli interior ministry stripped them of their residency permits in the city. Abu Teir was forced into exile to Ramallah, prohibiting him from entering or living in Jerusalem.
High Court rules against Zoabi, upholds Knesset suspension
872mag 10 Dec by Mairav Zonszein — ‘In effect, from this day forward, Arab Knesset members will be subject to the political judgements of the Jewish majority,’ MK Zoabi’s attorneys say — The High Court of Justice on Wednesday rejected MK Haneen Zoabi’s appeal to overturn her six-month suspension from parliamentary discussions for a political opinion she expressed on the radio in June. As I reported yesterday, in deliberating her petition, the justices spent more time interpreting and judging Zoabi’s politics than whether the Knesset had the right to suspend her in the first place. In its decision (Hebrew), the justices essentially chose “not to interfere” with the Knesset committee’s decision, and said they took into account that her suspension will end before the next election, it will not affect her ability to run. The court agreed that Zoabi violated “rule 1a” of Knesset ethical conduct that a public trustee’s duty is to represent her electorate in a way that “promotes the good of the state.”
Group: 30 babies born in 2 years using smuggled sperm
NABLUS (Ma‘an) 11 Dec — A Palestinian prisoner rights group said Thursday that 30 babies have been born in the last two years through artificial insemination using sperm smuggled from Israeli jails. The Ahrar Center for Prisoner Studies and Human Rights said in a statement that the first such birth was in 2012, when Dalal al-Zein had a baby using sperm smuggled from her husband who has been jailed in Israel for 15 years. Al-Zein gave birth to another baby in 2014 using the same sperm sample smuggled for the first pregnancy, the statement said. Some 23 wives of jailed Palestinians have used smuggled sperm to conceive children, three of whom live in the Gaza Strip and the rest of whom are from the West Bank. Palestinian prisoners are denied conjugal visits by the Israeli Prison Service.
Prisoner released after 5 months in Israeli administrative detention
NABLUS (Ma‘an) 11 Dec — An Israeli military court on Thursday ruled to release former hunger striker Khader Adnan after five months in administrative detention. Adnan was detained in the Jenin village of ‘Arraba on July 8, 2014. The Islamic Jihad member launched one of the longest hunger strikes in Palestinian history in 2012 to protest his detention.
Dozens participate in Gaza solidarity protest for hunger striker
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 11 Dec — Dozens of Palestinians and former prisoners organized a sit-in protest outside of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights’ office in Gaza on Thursday. The protest was organized to express solidarity with Nahar al-Saadi, who has been on hunger strike for 22 days to protest being held in solitary confinement by Israeli authorities.
Gaza marks Hamas’ 27th anniversary
Middle East Monitor 12 Dec EXCLUSIVE IMAGES Mass marches were held after Friday prayers in Gaza today to coincide with the 27th anniversary of the formation of the Islamic Resistance Movement Hamas. The marches began in northern and central Gaza, as well as in the city of Khan Yunis, southern Gaza. Images by MEMO photographer Mohammed Asad.
Israel allows cooking gas, diesel into Gaza
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 12 Dec — Israel allowed 120 tons of cooking gas and 250,000 liters of diesel into the Gaza Strip on Friday via the Kerem Shalom crossing, a Palestinian official said. Palestinians in Gaza require around 450-500 tons of cooking gas to meet their daily needs.
Gas crisis in Gaza to come to an end after dispute solved
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 10 Dec – Domestic-use gas shipments to the Gaza Strip will resume Thursday after being suspended since Monday due to a dispute between the Palestinian General Directorate of Petroleum and the Gaza offices of the Palestinian Ministry of Finance, a PA official said Wednesday. Gaza office director of the General Directorate of Petroleum Ahmad al-Shanti told Ma’an that an agreement was reached to unify gas prices in the West Bank and Gaza … “We were hoping to have lower prices,” he said, adding that during the days of the Hamas-run government, a 12-kilo gas canister was 4 shekels lower than the price in the West Bank.
Gaza public institutions, schools on strike
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 11 Dec — All public institutions, ministries and schools went on strike Thursday in the Gaza Strip against the failure of the Palestinian national consensus government to pay salaries to Gaza civil servants. A similar one-day general strike took place on Nov. 11. Muhammad Siyam, head of the Gaza employees union, told Ma‘an that all civil servants are committed to the strike and will continue protest action if the PA does not respond to their demands.
Unpaid hospital cleaners in Gaza on strike for 10th day
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 11 Dec — Hospital cleaners in Gaza entered their 10th day on strike Thursday as a salary crisis continues to escalate in the coastal territory. Spokesman of the Ministry of Health in Gaza, Ashraf al-Qidra, told press that the crisis is continuing to grow “without any intervention by the Palestinian government at all.” Volunteers, including young people, journalists, and medics, have been organizing cleaning campaigns in hospitals to try to overt a health crisis. Schools, youth groups, women’s organizations, security services and several ministries have got involved in the campaign. Director of Shifa medical complex Dr Nasser al-Titir warned last week of dire repercussions of the strike on the hygiene and health condition of hospitals. Hospital cleaners in the Gaza Strip started protests in October against not being paid for several months. They staged partial strikes several times, but have been on full strike for 10 days.
UN envoy meets with top Hamas leader in Gaza
GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip (AP) 11 Dec — Hamas says a senior U.N. envoy held a rare meeting with the No. 2 in the Islamic militant group to find ways to speed up Gaza reconstruction after the summer war between Israel and Hamas. The group says Robert Serry, U.N. coordinator for the Middle East peace process, held talks with Moussa Abu Marzouk of Hamas at the U.N. headquarters in Gaza City on Thursday … U.N. officials would only say that Serry meets with Hamas officials when needed. The U.N. is leading rebuilding efforts in Gaza, where the war damaged or destroyed thousands of homes.
2 injured by bomb outside Gaza charity organization
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 11 Dec — Two passersby were lightly injured late Wednesday after a bomb exploded in front of a charity in the city of Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip. Witnesses said that a small device exploded at the main door of the Jebous charitable association, injuring a woman and child who were passing by the area. Locals said the charity was affiliated to Fatah. No-one has claimed responsibility for the bomb. In November, a series of bombs targeted the homes of Fatah officials in the Gaza Strip. Fatah officials blamed Hamas for the attacks but the movement denied responsibility and condemned the incidents.
Explosion damages French cultural centre in Gaza
GAZA (Reuters) 12 Dec — An explosion damaged a French cultural centre in the Gaza Strip on Friday and wounded a Palestinian policeman, security sources said. The sources said the blast, the cause of which was unclear, damaged a wall of the building, which also provides consular services for the French government. Palestinian police deployed a cordon of officers around the building as they investigated the cause of the explosion, the second at the site since October.
Video: Interviews with survivors of migrant boat rammed in the middle of the Mediterranean
Channel 4 News (UK) 2 Dec — In September 500 migrants fleeing wars in Gaza and Syria set sail from Egypt for Europe. The boat was rammed by traffickers and capsized. Only 11 survived. Channel 4 News has spoken to four of them. Matt Frei has this powerful report. [One from Syria, three from Gaza]
How Gaza families were given just ten minutes warning of Israel attacks
EI 10 Dec by Patrick O. Strickland — Saftawi, a 23-year-old journalist, was waiting for a taxi to come back to his home at the Zafir One tower in the Tal al-Hawa neighborhood of Gaza City on 23 August. As Israel’s bombs were striking areas across Gaza, he received a frantic call from a neighbor. “He told me don’t return to the tower because [Israel] called residents of Zafir Four, the building next to ours, and said they were going to strike the tower with a missile,” he told The Electronic Intifada. “Then they said they’d also hit Zafir One.” Saftawi explained that all of his belongings, including his passports and personal files, were still in his home. “I was very worried because we just moved into the home eight months earlier, after I got married,” he recalled. “Everything I owned was in the house.” In the end, the Israeli military struck the twelve-story Zafir Four, but not Zafir One. He waited outside the home for two days before returning because he “was scared that they would strike the building at any moment,” Saftawi said. After two days, Saftawi returned to his home to find the front door and all of the windows busted. Only four of the more than forty families that live in the building had returned. “The Zafir Four building across the street remained smoking for more than six days,” he recalled … During the 51-day assault, Israel targeted hospitals, homes, mosques, universities and other institutions crucial to the local economy, as it has done during previous attacks. Unprecedented, however, were its bombings of high-rise residential towers across Gaza.
Gaza: One war, one family. Five children, four dead.
NEWSWEEK [Note though that the Gaza cover of the magazine is the European one. The American cover is about ISIS. So the magazine still doesn’t have that much courage.] 12 Dec by Sarah Helm — In a house in Rafah in southern Gaza, near the Egyptian border, Nabil Siyam, aged 34, slowly lays out pictures of his family. He only has one arm, the other was blown off by an Israeli bomb during the summer war. The pictures show his wife, Shireen, and their children – Mustafa, 9, Ghaida, a girl aged 8, Abdul Rahman, 6, Badruddin, 5 and Dalal, also a girl, aged nine months. All but Badruddin were killed by the same bomb; the little boy lost a kidney and now plays on his father’s lap. Also killed were two of Nabil’s brothers, two of his brothers’ wives and three of their children, who lived in this house. Staring ahead with bloodshot eyes, Nabil, a vegetable farmer, says that when war broke out in July the family felt safe here. Gazans nearer the border came to this area to flee shelling where they lived. Nobody could escape into Egypt, which had closed its crossing at Rafah, and obviously it wasn’t possible to escape across the Israeli border into the line of fire. On the other side was the sea. “Everyone was trapped.” On 21 July, Israeli rockets hit the house next door and, at 6am, Nabil and his terrified family fled. “We ran into the street, children were with mothers. We got 10 meters away when I heard a drone. I heard the sound of the bomb – it is a special sound – and looked up. The Israelis must have seen us. Drones see everything. The next thing I knew was a cloud of dust and I looked around for my children.” … People nowadays call Gaza a giant prison, and as I saw the new perimeter wall, built since I was last here, looming through the torrential rain, I could see why. And yet Gazans on the other side are not there for committing a crime. The vast majority are descendants of Palestinians who came to Gaza 66 years ago for refuge. Before the 1948 Arab-Israel war, which brought about the creation of Israel, many of these Gazans had lived along this coast in towns like Ashkelon, which they still call Al Madjal. During the 1948 fighting they fled to Gaza as refugees and the towns they once lived in became part of Israel.
Hamas: Israeli Gaza war losses greater than was officially announced
Middle East Monitor 11 Dec — Israel’s acknowledgement of the presence of 500 disabled soldiers in its army is evidence of the great losses it suffering during its recent attack on the Gaza Strip, Hamas said. Hamas spokesperson Sami Abu Zuhri said yesterday that the figure proves that the losses that the resistance inflicted on the Israeli army are far greater than was officially announced. Israeli newspaper Maariv revealed that 1,620 Israeli soldiers were injured during the war. The paper said this figure represented the soldiers’ accounts proving the resolve of the resistance fighters. It said that the Israeli army has acknowledged that 500 soldiers are now disabled due to injuries sustained during the Israeli attack on Gaza, and that the army’s annual rehabilitation budget is 3.3 billion shekels ($0.84 billion).
Political and other news
PA official: External efforts delayed Palestinian play
Ynet 12 Dec by Elior Levy — A senior Palestinian official said Friday night that international and regional efforts were responsible for the decision to delay a convention of the Palestinian leadership to Sunday. According to the source, the efforts were intended to prevent an escalation in the area following the death of senior Palestinian minister Ziad Abu Ein, whose autopsy resulted in separate conclusions from the Israeli and Palestinian pathologists. The official also claimed a link between the postponement of the meeting and an expected vote in the United Nations Security Council on a resolution calling on Israel to withdraw from the West Bank by the end of 2016. He said the Palestinian leadership did not want to make hasty decisions that may influence their diplomatic efforts. In that light, it is of note that Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi made a surprise visit to Amman to meet with Jordanian King Abdullah … Next Wednesday the signatories to the Geneva Convention will meet in Switzerland; the Palestinians have considered demanding the members extend the Fourth Convention to the West Bank, East Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip.
Denmark to debate Palestine recognition as EU vote looms
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 10 Dec by Charlie Hoyle — The Danish parliament will debate a motion calling for the recognition of Palestine as a state on Thursday, the latest in a series of similar measures across Europe as the EU parliament holds a crucial vote on Palestine next week. Danish MP Holger K. Nielsen, one of the main drivers behind the initiative in Denmark, told Ma‘an that the first reading will take place Thursday before a potential vote in the second reading, which could take place in early 2015. The motion was introduced by the Red-Green Alliance, the Socialist People’s Party, and Greenland’s Inuit Ataqatigiit, three small left-wing parties. It calls on the government to recognize Palestine as a state within the 1967 borders. “I think there is strength now among European countries tired of Israel’s attitude to negotiations and it is therefore more important now to put pressure on Israel,” Nielsen, a member of the SPP, said … The Danish debate comes a week before the EU parliament is due to vote on recognizing Palestine as a state on Dec. 17, a motion postponed on Nov. 27 following reportedly intense pressure by Israeli diplomats. Spain’s significant rewording of its motion reflects the core split within the EU parliament: using unconditional recognition as a means to address the imbalance between both sides in the peace process, or recognition as a condition of the outcome of talks. A staffer in the European parliament told Ma‘an that the vote was extremely tight at the moment, with signs that there could be no majority for any text at all, a potentially damaging blow for the EU’s role as a serious global actor. The PA has also notably been absent from lobbying parliament members on the vote, the staffer said, with Israeli civil society actors lobbying passionately in favor of recognition and Israeli diplomats and other actors lobbying intensely against parliamentarians recognizing Palestine.
Irish parliament backs recognition of Palestinian state
DUBLIN (AFP) 10 Dec by Conor Barrins — Irish lawmakers urged their government Wednesday to recognise Palestine as a state in a symbolic motion that sailed through parliament unopposed. Ireland’s parliament is the fourth European assembly to call for the recognition of Palestinian statehood since October. Lawmakers in France, Britain and Spain also endorsed similar motions, reflecting growing frustration with the deadlocked Middle East peace process. Sweden has gone even further, officially recognising Palestine as a state in a move that prompted Israel to recall its ambassador.
France’s upper house urges recognition of Palestine
PARIS (AFP) 11 Dec — France’s upper house of parliament on Thursday urged the government to recognise Palestine as a state, following a similar and highly symbolic vote in the lower house. The Senate resolution, calling for French recognition of Palestine and an “immediate restarting” of peace talks between the Palestinians and the Israelis, passed narrowly, with 153 votes in favour and 146 against. The vote came as European countries seek alternative ways to restart the stalled Middle East process and followed an unopposed motion in the Irish parliament to recognise Palestine — the fourth assembly in Europe to do so. Lawmakers in Britain and Spain have already passed similar motions and Sweden has gone even further, officially recognising Palestine as a state, in a move that prompted Israel to recall its ambassador.
Portugal’s parliament calls for Palestinian recognition
IMEMC/Agencies 13 Dec — The Portuguese parliament adopted, on Friday, a recommendation calling on the government to recognize the Palestinian state, drawing votes from the majority and opposition. The motion, AFP reports, was filed jointly by the ruling center-right majority and the opposition Socialist party, proposing recognition “in coordination with the European Union, the state of Palestine as independent and sovereign”. Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad al-Maliki stated, in response to the motion,that Palestinian diplomacy had achieved another victory and that Palestinian leadership was pushing for more of such achievements.
US seeks to defuse tensions over Israeli-Palestinian resolutions
BOGOTA (Reuters) 12 Dec by Patricia Zengerle — U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said on Friday the United States was seeking to defuse tensions over proposed U.N. resolutions to end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict during talks in Europe next week. Kerry will meet Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Rome on Monday and senior European officials to discuss possible resolutions, which would require a vote in the U.N. Security Council where the United States holds a veto. “We’re trying to figure out a way to help defuse the tensions and reduce the potential for more conflict and we’re exploring various possibilities to that end,” Kerry told reporters in Bogota when asked whether there is a resolution the U.S. could support. Jordan has circulated a Palestinian resolution to the 15-member council calling for Israeli occupation of Palestinian territory to end by November 2016. Western diplomats have said the proposal is “unbalanced.” France, Britain and Germany are in the process of drafting a proposal.
PFLP calls for ending Oslo agreement
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 10 Dec — The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine called Wednesday for ending the Oslo Accords and taking the Palestinian cause back to the UN. The PFLP said in a statement that it was the time to end the Oslo Accords, along with its security and economic commitments. The statement added the Palestinian cause should be taken back to the UN and to call upon the UN to hold an international conference to apply its resolutions concerning the conflict especially resolution 194, on the right for refugees to return to their homes. The PFLP also said that “it is time to actually end the internal division and rebuild the PLO on democratic and national grounds.”
Israel to boycott Geneva conference
IMEMC/Agencies 12 Dec — Israel decided, this Thursday, to boycott the international Geneva conference scheduled for December 17th, and will also reconsider its relationship with Switzerland, according to Israeli sources. The decision comes following Switzerland’s call, on Thursday, for a special meeting of the high contracting parties of the Fourth Geneva Convention next week, which is expected to severely censure Israel for its actions in the West Bank and Gaza. PNN further reports that Switzerland, the Depository of the Fourth Geneva Convention, under the request of Palestinian Authority who joined the convention in April, summoned the meeting following the breakdown of the US-backed Israeli-Palestinian negotiations. According to Israeli daily news outlet, Haaretz, Israel is still hoping to lobby EU states “to get as many as possible to boycott the conference”. Furthermore, the gathering is likely to “intensify international criticism of Israeli policy in the territories, particularly with regard to the settlements“. The Fourth Geneva Convention prohibits harming those uninvolved in a conflict, be they civilians, wounded soldiers or POWs, as well as obliging the occupying side to maintain human rights and decent living conditions of an occupied civilian population. The US and Australia boycotted the meeting in 2001, in support of Israel, and they are expected to boycott it this year, as well. Canada is expected to do the same.
Jordanian plans to buy gas from Israel face mounting opposition
Al-Akhbar, AFP 11 Dec — Jordanian plans to buy gas from Israel aroused fierce opposition in the kingdom at a time of mounting criticism of the Zionist state’s policies towards the Palestinians. Jordan’s Parliament began debating the proposed gas deal on Tuesday, after 79 lawmakers in the 150-seat house filed a motion calling for it to be scrapped. “Gas supply is part of national security, so how can we link it to an enemy who does not respect its commitments?” asked Jamal Qamwa, who heads parliament’s energy commission. “We are bound to Israel by a peace treaty, but it does not respect it… It is also attacking our people (Palestinians) in the West Bank and in the Gaza Strip,” he told AFP. “This whole issue is not about importing gas or about prices. Buying from Israel will make us hostages to the Zionist enemy,” he said. Israeli newspaper Haaretz had previously reported in late November that opposition to the agreement is growing in Jordan. “The Jordanian [people are] not willing to accept this agreement. I will return to riding on a donkey and heating my house with wood before I would consider taking gas from Israel,” Yahya Mohammed al-Saud, a lawmaker and president of the Jordanian parliamentary committee on Palestine, was quoted as saying … The 20-year-old treaty between Jordan and Israel is deeply unpopular among Jordanians – almost half of whom are of Palestinian origin….
‘Truth commission’ to begin in Israel
Al Jazeera 9 Dec by Sophie Chamas — Israelis who served in the 1948 war and Palestinians uprooted from their homes will testify before an expert panel — On Wednesday, International Human Rights Day, the Israeli non-profit Zochrot will host the country’s first unofficial “public truth commission”, modeled on South Africa’s post-apartheid truth and reconciliation process. Israelis who served in the Negev Desert during the country’s War of Independence and Palestinian refugees uprooted from the area between 1947 and 1949, will share testimonies before an expert panel of human rights lawyers, scholars and civil society activists in Beersheba, Israel … Two years in the making, the commission is Zochrot’s attempt to introduce the language of transitional justice to Israel and Palestine. Along with testimonies from former Jewish fighters, displaced Palestinians and their descendants – many of whom now live in Gaza – the commission will hear from expert witnesses such as Safa Aburabia, an anthropologist specialising in the Arab Bedouins of the Negev. In addition to providing a historical overview, Aburabia will link the tragedies of the past to recent conflicts such as the Gaza war. The panel overseeing the commission will ultimately draft a final report, including recommendations on how to address alleged wrongdoings. While the report’s conclusions cannot be imposed on the Israeli government, organisers hope the process could be a model for future conflict resolution. “We’re testing the waters,” Zochrot’s Debby Farber, who has overseen the planning of the commission since January 2013, told Al Jazeera … Until Israel acknowledges its responsibility for the Nakba and rights its wrongs – including the refugee problem – there can be no peaceful and just resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Zochrot argues.
Islamic Relief defies Israeli ban and continues operations in Palestine
The Guardian 11 Dec by Randeep Ramesh — Britain’s biggest Islamic charity is due to resume its operations in Palestine in defiance of a ban on working in the territory after Israel’s defence ministry described the aid group as a “terrorist organisation”. Islamic Relief, a Birmingham-based charity that works in 44 countries, said an internal inquiry had not revealed any evidence to corroborate Israel’s claim that it should not be allowed to work in the West Bank because it had been collecting money for Hamas and its offices were run by terror operatives. In an exclusive interview with the Guardian, Islamic Relief’s chief executive, Mohamed Ashmawey, said months of work has turned up nothing and the charity would return to its “humanitarian work” in Palestine. Two days after the ban was announced the charity’s West Bank offices were raided. Computers were smashed, files taken and the office safe blown apart [see video]. Islamic Relief, which is widely regarded as a pillar of the UK establishment, immediately halted its work in the West Bank – leaving 78,000 people hungry and hospitals without incubators and dialysis machines … On Thursday night, the Disasters Emergency Committee, an umbrella group comprising 13 of the biggest UK charities, gave its backing to Islamic Relief. “The DEC has considered the independent audit report which reviewed Islamic Relief’s operations in Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories. We are satisfied that Islamic Relief has robust systems in place to ensure aid money is properly accounted for and spent appropriately. The DEC is not aware of any evidence that Islamic Relief has used aid funds inappropriately in Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories.”
[WATCH] The Druze in Israel: Resisting conscription (part 4)
Israeli Social TV 12 Dec — According to the mainstream Israeli narrative the Druze population in Israel is loyal to and maintains an alliance with the state, the most famous element of which includes mandatory military service. But is that really the whole story? The fourth part of this series looks at a new movement of young Druze women and men who challenging both the state and their predecessors by refusing to join the army.
Palestinian film ‘When I Saw You’ wins two awards at Greek festiva
[with trailer] EII 12 Dec by Sarah Irving — Palestinian director Annemarie Jacir’s film When I Saw You has received two awards at the Olympia International Film Festival For Children and Young People in Greece. The film, which was the Palestinian Oscar entry in 2013, had already won the “best Asian film” and “best Arab film” awards at festivals in Berlin and Abu Dhabi. Now it adds to those a UNICEF Award from the Olympia Festival, recognizing its role in highlighting social and political issues which affect young people. The festival’s “best actor” award went to Mahmoud Asfa, the child actor who gave such a stunning performance in the film’s central role of Tarek. When I Saw You, set in a Palestinian refugee camp in Jordan in 1967, tells the story of 11-year-old Tarek and his mother, Ghaydaa, as they try to adapt to loss and dislocation in the wake of the Israeli occupation of their West Bank home and the disappearance of Ghaydaa’s husband, Tarek’s father. The film has been widely praised for its moving storyline, powerful performances, compelling depiction of refugee life and of Palestinian resistance, and its vibrant soundtrack.
CIA: Torture was justified because Israel does it, too (video)
Ifyouonlynews.com 12 Dec by Jack Nimble — By now a majority of the American public should be at least somewhat informed of the atrocities that have been committed against detainees held in Guantanamo prison and other rendition prisons around the globe. Out of the thousands of documents outlined in a Senate Intelligence Committee report, only a 600 page summary was made available after it was decided what would be omitted and remained sealed from the public eye. Buried within the information that was released is the fact that very early on the CIA’s own lawyers and general counsel anticipated the need to seek out a defense for what they were doing. To excuse the harm being done by their agency, in case the truth ever came to light, they argued in a released memo: “The Israeli example could serve as a possible basis for arguing that ‘torture was necessary to prevent imminent, significant, physical harm to persons, where there is no other available means to prevent the harm.’” This is referring to a 1999 Israeli High Court decision that stated certain forms of torture could only be used as a defense against prosecution if there was a “ticking time bomb” situation. If human lives could be saved, then the ends justified the means, so to speak. The problem is, there is absolutely no evidence anywhere to suggest that torture saved anyone’s life. The United States needed an excuse to do what they were doing and this was their way of coughing one up. Israel, for its part, still uses this as a justification to perform crimes against children and humanity at large … Till this very day Israel continues to torture Palestinian prisoners and remains hidden from prosecution because they claim the “necessity defense.” Even children are not shielded from its abuses.