West Bank / Jerusalem: Violence / Raids / Clashes / Arrests
Palestinian cameraman shot by Israeli forces at Qalqiliya demo
QALQILIYA (Ma‘an) 5 Dec — A Palestinian cameraman was shot in the leg on Friday by Israeli forces while covering clashes in the Qalqiliya village of Kafr Qaddum. Bashar Nazzal, a cameraman with Palestine TV, was hit in the leg by live fire and taken to a local hospital for treatment. The bullet reportedly shattered the bone in his leg … Protests are held every Friday in Kafr Qaddum against Israel’s closure of a main road linking the village to its nearest city, Nablus, as well as against the Israeli occupation more generally.
One seriously, fourteen Palestinians injured in Ramallah
IMEMC/Agencies 6 Dec by Saed Bannoura — Medical sources have reported, Friday, that at least fourteen Palestinians have been injured by Israeli army fire, in several areas in the central West Bank district of Ramallah, and that one of the wounded suffered a serious injury. Several Israeli military vehicles invaded on Friday evening Sinjel village, east of Ramallah, and clashed with local youths, who hurled stones and empty bottles at them. Medical sources said a Palestinian identified as Islam Tawafsha was shot in the chest, causing severe bleeding in his lungs, after the soldiers fired rounds of live ammunition at him. Two Palestinians, identified as Fakher Shabana and Tareq Shabana, were also shot by live rounds in their legs. All wounded Palestinians have been moved to the Palestine Medical Center in Ramallah. Medical sources said the soldiers deliberately fired gas bombs and concussion grenades at several homes in the town, causing property damage, while scores of Palestinians, including children and elderly, suffered the effects of tear gas inhalation.
In Ni‘lin village, west of Ramallah, at least four Palestinians were shot by rubber-coated metal bullets, and many suffered the effects of tear gas inhalation, after several military vehicles invaded the village. Local sources said the soldiers assaulted several residents, and drove around in the village in a provocative manner, leading to clashes.
Five Palestinians have also been wounded during clashed with Israeli soldiers near the Ofer Israeli prison, built on Palestinian lands, west of Ramallah. Medical sources said two were shot by rubber-coated metal bullets, and three suffered the effects of tear gas inhalation.
In addition, several Israeli military vehicles invaded the Sateh Marhaba neighborhood in the al-Biereh town, near Ramallah, and clashed with local youths, wounding two by rubber-coated metal bullets, while many residents suffered the effects of tear gas inhalation.
On Thursday evening, resident Bassel Kamel Safi, 17 years of age, from Deir ‘Ammar refugee camp, West of Ramallah, was shot and injured by Israeli army fire, north of Beitello village. The Ramallah Today news agency said the soldiers shot Safi near the sand barrier the soldiers placed a few days ago, blocking the northern entrance of Beitello village junction. Medical sources said that Safi was shot by two live rounds in his abdomen, and was moved to the Palestine Medical Center suffering a moderate-but-stable injury.
Palestinian man injured after being hit by settler car
HEBRON (Ma‘an) 5 Dec — A 55-year-old Palestinian man was injured late Thursday after being knocked down by a settler car east of Yatta in the southern Hebron region. Locals said Muhammad Khalil Hamamdeh, 55, was riding a horse pulling a cart when he was hit by the settler vehicle. He was taken to hospital for treatment for moderate injuries, while his horse was also wounded. It is unclear whether the incident was deliberate or accidental. Israeli police who arrived at the scene requested that Hamamdeh present a license for having a horse-drawn cart.
Palestinian girl, 14, arrested at Qalandiya checkpoint
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 4 Dec — Israeli forces arrested a 14-year-old Palestinian girl at Qalandiya checkpoint on Thursday evening after allegedly wielding a knife at border police. Yathrib Salah Rayyan, 14, from Beit Duqqu village northwest of Jerusalem, was overpowered by Israeli forces as she walked in the car lane leading to the military checkpoint. Witnesses initially said that the girl had been shot twice by Israeli forces. An Israeli army spokeswoman told Ma‘an that a “female Palestinian suspect” approached a “civilian security guard” at Qalandiya carrying a knife. Israeli border police fired shots in the air and then detained the girl, she said. The suspect is currently being interrogated, she added. Witnesses at the scene refute claims that she attempted to stab a soldier. Video footage published by The Jerusalem Post showed Israeli forces using what appears to be pepper-spray to overpower the girl. She is then wrestled to the ground by several border police officers.
Meanwhile, a Palestinian youth was shot with live fire in the lower extremities during clashes west of Ramallah. Israeli forces opened fire in Beitillu village after residents protested the closure of the village for the past week.
Twilight Zone: Shot by IDF, this Italian protester declined its medical treatment
Haaretz 5 Dec by Gideon Levy & Alex Levac — A young peace activist miraculously survived being shot by the IDF during a West Bank protest. Declining to be treated in an Israeli hospital, ‘Patrick’ underwent surgery in Ramallah — A Palestinian flag covers the television in the room in the surgical ward of the Ramallah Medical Center. It’s the flag “Patrick Corsi,” not his real name, was waving during a demonstration in the West Bank village of Kufr Qadum last Friday. Patrick says he is not a nationalist, flags don’t turn him on, and the only reason he was holding one was to show that he wasn’t throwing stones. But even as he held the flag aloft, an Israel Defense Forces soldier took aim and shot him in the chest with a .22-caliber bullet – a “tutu” bullet, as the soldiers call it. It was removed from his body on Tuesday during surgery. Patrick, an Italian peace activist, declined the IDF’s offer to be hospitalized in Israel. No, thanks. It’s not reasonable, he says, that those who apparently wished to kill him should treat him afterward. Since he is using a fake name, Patrick says his parents back home don’t know he was wounded. Indeed, he and other activists from the International Solidarity Movement generally keep their names secret to avert deportation by Israeli authorities. (The ISM, says its website, is a Palestinian-led movement committed to nonviolent resistance to Israel’s occupation.) Another of the group’s activists, Scott, 67, an American who fought in Vietnam as a paratrooper, is also not using his real name. Based on his military experience, Scott is certain that the soldier who shot Patrick intended to kill him – the fact is the bullet struck him in the center of the chest … In 2001, the IDF military advocate general banned the use of Ruger bullets as nonlethal weaponry; they were to be used only in situations in which live fire was justified. Nevertheless, in 2009, the army, ignoring the ban, again began to use the Ruger to disperse demonstrations … At least three young Palestinians have been killed in recent years by the Ruger, during demonstrations in Na‘alin, Hebron and Bethlehem.
2 Israelis stabbed near Maale Adumim, teen suspect shot
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 3 Dec — A Palestinian was shot and injured east of Jerusalem on Wednesday after stabbing two Israelis in a Rami Levy supermarket, Israeli police said. The unidentified 16-year-old reportedly stabbed and moderately injured two Israelis in a store in the Mishor Adumim industrial zone of the Maale Adumim settlement. An off-duty Israeli security guard shot and injured the suspect. Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld told Ma‘an the Palestinian suspect was taken by a security guard to Ein Karem hospital for treatment. Rosenfeld wrote on Twitter that the suspect was in a “serious condition.” The Israeli news site Ynet reported that two Palestinians were arrested on suspicion of aiding the attacker.
Israeli forces detain relatives of stab suspect
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 3 Dec — Israeli forces on Wednesday detained the father and two brothers of a 16-year-old Palestinian boy suspected of stabbing two Israelis near Maale Adumim. Local committee spokesman Hani Halabiya said Israeli forces detained Samir Abu Sneineh and brothers Murad and Tariq after raiding their house in al-Eizariya. Clashes broke out following the arrests, with five Palestinians injured by rubber-coated steel bullets, including four in the head and one in the foot. Israeli forces fired tear gas and rubber bullets in the neighborhood. Earlier, Ibrahim Salim Abu Sneineh, 16, stabbed and moderately injured two Israelis in a Rami Levy store in the Mishor Adumim industrial zone of the Maale Adumim settlement.
Cousin of murdered Palestinian teen helped supermarket terror victims
JTA 6 Dec — …Mahmoud Abu Khdeir, whose cousin Mohammed Abu Khdeir was killed this summer in the Jerusalem forest in apparent retaliation for the murder of three kidnapped Israeli teens, rushed to help the wounded inside the Rami Levy discount supermarket in the Mishor Adumim industrial zone near Maale Adumim, east of Jerusalem. The assailant was identified as a 16-year-old Palestinian male with no prior record from a West Bank village. He was shot in the legs by a supermarket security guard. Abu Khdeir was working in the supermarket’s storeroom when Wednesday’s attack took place. He helped stop the bleeding on an injured man’s head and got him upstairs to an office for further treatment. “That’s how I was taught to behave by my family,” Abu Khdeir told Ynet. “When someone is wounded, you help them. It doesn’t matter where they’re from.” He added: “I was raised in a good family. I’m not at war. At work, when I see something like this, I have to help. It’s a matter of education: I believe that tomorrow the wounded man will see someone else and go help him. I hope that one day the situation will change and we will no longer have incidents such as this. But force brings more force, and peace brings peace.”
2 Palestinian youths injured in East Jerusalem clashes
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 5 Dec — Two Palestinian youths were injured by rubber-coated steel bullets late Thursday during clashes with Israeli soldiers in East Jerusalem, locals said. The youths were injured during clashes in al-‘Isawiya. Bashar Jabarin, 14, was detained during the clashes.
Israeli forces raid home of Ma‘an reporter in Jerusalem
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 4 Dec – Israeli forces broke into home of a Ma‘an reporter in Jerusalem after midnight Wednesday and inspected the house thoroughly looking for her brother Majdi who was at work when the soldiers arrived. Maysa Abu Ghazala said the forces detained her elderly father and her brother Ali to put pressure on Majdi to make sure he would turn himself in. The Israeli soldiers, she said, broke into the family house at 1:30 a.m. and said they wanted to detain Majdi. They were told that Majdi was at work, so they inspected every room thoroughly before they forced the family to telephone him and tell him to show up at Israeli police station. The soldiers then detained Majdi’s father Mahmoud Abu Ghazala, 72, and his son Ali, 29, and took them to Beit Orot settlement on the Mount of Olives, then to the Russian Compound interrogation center. The two were released after Majdi arrived at a police station in Salah al-Din Street. [Commenter ‘Mark’: “This sure sounds like hostage taking – a terrorist act if carried out by Palestinians or any other government on the planet.”]
Last stop: Fearful Arab drivers quit Jerusalem buses
AFP 4 Dec by Majeda El-Batsh — Fadi has endured verbal abuse and even the threat of suicide bombers during 15 years at the wheel of Jerusalem’s public buses, but like dozens of Palestinian drivers he has finally had enough. The 35-year-old began his career in west Jerusalem at a far more dangerous time, during the second Palestinian intifada when dozens of suicide bombers were targeting Israeli public transport on a regular basis. After a period of respite he again feels unsafe, but this time the threat is from Jewish extremists. “Since the war in Gaza during the summer, it’s clear now that there’s a war against Arabs,” said Fadi, who did not want to give his full name … Violence in Jerusalem spiked in November with several deadly assaults against Jews by lone Palestinian attackers. Then last month a Palestinian bus driver was found hanged in his vehicle following anti-Arab incitement by Jewish radicals. Israeli police said it was suicide, but Palestinians believe it was a murder linked to the wider conflict, and that incident alone prompted dozens of Fadi’s colleagues to resign. Bassem, another driver, did not hang around long enough to see if the regular death threats from extremist religious passengers were real. “They’d board the bus and when they saw I was Arab, would say things like ‘death to Arabs’ or ‘Arabs are sons of bitches’,” said Bassem, who also wished to remain anonymous. He resigned after six years of working for bus company Egged, following the death of the driver Yusef Ramuni. “You no longer feel safe,” Bassem said, recalling one occasion when he drove through an Israeli settlement. “A group of young Jews went onto the road and stood in front of the bus, forcing me to stop. They threw stones and began breaking windows. Thankfully some settler passengers convinced them to stop.” When Bassem resigned, the company was desperate to keep him on. Of 1,470 drivers employed by Egged, about 570 are Palestinian, according to union leader Mahmud Alqam, and the company cannot afford to lose them. During the funeral of Ramuni, around 500 Palestinian drivers staged a mass walk-out, striking for at least a day. Roughly 40 of them then quit.” … Alqam, the union leader, said requests to strengthen security and ensure the personal safety of Palestinian drivers — such as putting marshals on the buses and erecting glass screens to separate the driver’s compartment — were rejected. “The transport ministry told us that the extra security would cost around $64 million (51 million euros), and that they couldn’t afford it,” he said.
PHOTOS: Following arson, thousands march with integrated J’lem school
Activestills 5 Dec — Roughly 2,000 people — students, teachers and parents from “Hand in “Hand” schools from across Israel — marched through the streets of Jerusalem Friday morning to the Max Rayne bilingual school, which was the target of an arson attack last weekend. Many others joined the march in support the school and to speak out against racism, including activists and at least one member of Knesset, Jamal Zahalka of Balad. Last Saturday night, still unidentified arsonists broke into two first-grade classrooms, piled the books in the middle of the room and set them on fire. One classroom was completely destroyed and the second was severely damaged. The arsonists also left racist graffiti, reading “Death to Arabs” and “There can be no coexistence with cancer.” … Since the arson attack, a wide range of civil society groups and politicians have offered their support and solidarity as well as outrage over the hate crime. Other schools in the city marched in support and Israeli President Reuven Rivlin hosted the younger children at his official residence.
Hamas: Loss of hope behind Jerusalem violence
Sky News 5 Dec by Tom Rayner — The leader of Hamas has claimed rising violence in Jerusalem is the result of Palestinians having lost hope of any “just solution” to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. In an exclusive interview [see video] from his base in Qatar, Khalid Meshaal said the recent deadly attacks against Israelis were the fault of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu “playing with fire” by allowing right-wing activists to enter the Al Aqsa Mosque compound. Mr Meshaal warned it could lead to “chaos in the region”. Israel has repeatedly accused Hamas of being behind attacks on civilians, and said Palestinian leaders were inciting violence by misrepresenting its policies regarding the sacred area, known to Jews as Temple Mount. Hamas, deemed a terrorist organisation by EU governments and the US, has not claimed responsibility for the attacks – but Mr Meshaal refused to condemn them. “The Palestinian people no longer have anything to lose in light of the continuation of the occupation and settlements, stealing the land, the attacks on the women and children and the Holy sites,” he said. “The reaction is spontaneous …The Israeli stubbornness, combined with the international impotence in solving the Palestinian issue with a just solution, which gives the Palestinian people their self-determination, and gets rid of occupation … will lead to chaos in the region, not just in the Palestinian arena, but to an open conflict – a bloodbath.”
Detention / Prisoners / Court actions
Knesset approves tougher prison sentences on Palestinian stone-throwers
Middle East Monitor 6 Dec — An Israeli parliamentary committee has approved a bill that strengthens the sanctions on Palestinian “stone throwers” as part of an 8-step plan to prevent stone-throwing in East Jerusalem. The bill is widely seen as a prelude to the approval of a law that would withdraw residence from Palestinian perpetrators of attacks against Israelis, which is due to be finalised next Monday. In a statement issued on Thursday, a copy of which was received by a reporter for Anadolu Agency, the Knesset (announced that “the constitution, law and Justice parliamentary committee approved a bill that strengthens sanctions on stone throwers.” The Knesset pointed out that the bill, which was approved on Wednesday evening, “allows imposing a prison sentence of up to 20 years for throwing stones at a person inside a car”, noting that in order to condemn the stone thrower, “the prosecution has to prove that the stone thrower has intentionally injured a passenger in car or a mean of transport or exposed his life to danger.” The statement went on to say that, “according to the new law, the court can sentence a person who throws materials at means of transport while moving on the road to prison for 10 years.” It also said that under the new law, “those who intentionally throw stones or any other material on a policeman or police mechanisms for the purpose of obstructing the work of the police are subject to a prison sentence of 5 years.”
Israeli military court sentences Murad Eshtewi to 10 months in prison and a 10,000 NIS fine for participating in Kufr Qaddum protests
KAFR QADDUM, Occupied Palestine (Popular Struggle Coordination Committee) 4 Dec — Salem military court has sentenced activist Murad Eshtewi, from Kafr Qaddum village, to 9 and a half months of prison, with an additional 10,000 shekel fine. Israeli forces arrested Eshtewi on April 29th, 2014 in the middle of the night accusing him of participating in and arranging Kufr Qaddum demonstrations. The unjust decision of the military court states the following: 9 and a half months of actual prison time. 10,000 shekel non-refundable fine. A 5-year probation period after his prison term, where he cannot participate in any Kufr Qaddum peaceful demonstrations, or he will face a sentence of no less than 12 months in prison. A 3 year probation period after his prison term, where he cannot participate in any peaceful demonstrations against the Israeli military anywhere else, otherwise he will face a sentence of no less than 6 months in prison. Murad has been detained in Majedo Military Prison since his arrest in April, and has been suffered from many health problems during this time. His lawyer, Adel Samara, states that Murad has lost over 9 kilos in weight due to harsh and unsuitable holding cells.
Trial of American activist maimed by Israeli military to begin
Occupied Palestine (ISM) 5 Dec — Tristan Anderson’s civil trial against the Israeli Military will begin on Sunday 7 December at 10:00, Jerusalem District Court. Tristan Anderson was critically injured after being shot in the head with a high velocity tear gas grenade by Israeli Border Police following a protest against the construction of the “Separation Wall” in March of 2009 in the West Bank village of Ni‘ilin. Anderson, an international solidarity activist from Oakland, California, had arrived in the region a few weeks earlier with his American Jewish girlfriend who also attended demonstrations opposing the seizure of Palestinian land and freedoms for the building of the Wall. According to its manufacturer, Combined Systems Inc (of the USA), High Velocity Tear Gas grenades are intended as “barricade penetrators” and have a range of several hundred meters. Tristan was shot in the face from about 60 meters away, crushing his skull, blinding him in one of his eyes, and sending shards of bone penetrating deep into his brain. Years later Tristan continues to require around the clock care because of cognitive impairment and physical disability. He is also paralyzed on half his body and uses a wheelchair. No criminal charges were ever filed against the officers who shot Tristan Anderson and the investigation into his shooting has been widely regarded as a sham. The family of Tristan Anderson, represented by Israeli human rights attorney Lea Tsemel, have been waiting for years for their day in court…
Arab-Israeli man indicted for attempted lynching of Jewish motorist
JTA 4 Dec — Muhammed Haj-Yihyeh Accused of Throwing Lit Fireworks Into Car — An Arab-Israeli man was indicted for the attempted lynching of a Jewish man who drove past the village of Taibe. Muhammed Haj-Yihyeh, 21, was indicted Thursday on charges of aggravated assault, vandalism, and mayhem for the Nov. 9 incident in which the Jewish driver attempted to avoid burning tires on a major highway during Arab protests of the shooting by Israel Police of an Arab assailant in Kfar Kana. The Arab teen there was shot as he was running away from a police vehicle on which he had pounded and brandished a knife. Taibe is located in the area of the Triangle, a concentration of Arab-Israeli villages near the Green Line. It is slightly north of the central Israeli city of Kfar Saba. The motorist car outside of Taibe was surrounded by rioters who shouted “Jew! Jew!” and threw rocks at the car, breaking the window. Haj-Yihyeh is accused of throwing a lit package of fireworks into the car, which caught fire and burned completely. A resident of Taibe saved the man’s life, grabbing him away from the rioters and driving him to a police station. Haj-Yihyeh reportedly has confessed to the charges. He was also seen on a video calling for an intifada.
Israeli forces arrest 8-year-old in East Jerusalem
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 3 Dec — Israeli special forces on Wednesday detained an eight-year-old Palestinian in the Silwan neighborhood of East Jerusalem, a local information center said. Majdi Abbasi of the Wadi Hilweh Information Center said in a statement that Obeida Ayesh, eight, was arrested in the Ein al-Lawza area of the neighborhood. Obeida’s mother was allowed to accompany him, Abbasi said. There were no clashes going on in the area at the time of the arrest, he added. According to a 2013 report by the UN children’s fund, Israel is the only country in the world where children were systematically tried in military courts, practicing “cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment or punishment.” Over the past decade, UNICEF noted that Israel has detained “an average of two children each day.”
More prisoners taken, including minors, in West Bank & Jerusalem
IMEMC/Agencies 5 Dec — Israeli forces took into their custody, early Thursday, 21 Palestinians, including six minors, from the occupied West Bank and Jerusalem, according to security sources and a human rights center. Further abuse of Palestinian detainees in Israeli prisons has been documented. [details follow on detentions in East Jerusalem, Tuqu‘, Beit Fajjar, Zabda, Dura al-Qar‘, Tarqumiya, Idhna]
In related news, at least 10 Palestinian political prisoners incarcerated in the Israeli Nafha prison have been put in solitary confinement since last June, the Palestinian Prisoner’s Club (PPC) said, Thursday. An attorney with the PPC said that he visited the prison to find that the 10 Palestinian political prisoners are isolated in foul-smelling, strictly sealed cells with no windows. The cells are also aligned to others housing criminal inmates who frequently maltreat their political fellow inmates and verbally assault them. PPC also reported on a severe shortage of sufficient warm winter clothes and blankets for the prisoners. Prison administration prohibits prisoners from bringing blankets and warm winter clothes from outside, but allows them to buy blankets from the prison’s canteen. The blankets sold there are very expensive, very bad in quality and do not provide adequate warmth … According to the Committee for Prisoners’ Affairs, illegal, immoral and degrading practices are committed by the Israeli Prison Service against Palestinian inmates in Etzion detention facility in the southern West Bank, as well.
Israeli troops detain 13 Palestinians, mostly teenagers
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 4 Dec – Israeli forces carried out predawn raids across the West Bank and East Jerusalem Thursday detaining 13 young men and teenage boys, the Palestinian Prisoner’s Society reported … The statement added that Israeli troops raided the village of al-Jdeira in northwest Jerusalem and detained 19-year-old Muhammad Izz Al-Din. A lawyer who works for the Prisoner’s Society Mufid al-Hajj said Israeli troops stopped Palestinian citizen Nidal al-Fasfous while he returned home after he received medical treatment at a Jerusalem hospital following a work accident. Al-Hajj said the man was beaten brutally before he was released after interrogation.
Israeli forces detain 2 Palestinians in Tulkarem
TULKAREM (Ma‘an) 5 Dec — Israeli forces detained two Palestinians from the Nur Shams refugee camp in Tulkarem early Friday, the Palestinian Prisoner’s Society said. Nafez Abu Obeid, 42, and Muhammad Qarawi, 22, son of Palestinian MP Fathi Qarawi, were detained by Israeli forces.
Israeli warships ‘shell Gaza coast’, critically injure fisherman
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 3 Dec — A Palestinian fisherman was critically injured on Wednesday after Israeli warships fired several shells toward the coast near Gaza City, a union official said. Nizar Ayyash, head of the Gaza fishermen’s union, told Ma‘an that fisherman Fakher Nizar Abu Riyaleh, 32, was critically injured in the head by shrapnel from Israeli shells. Abu Riyaleh was taken to al-Shifa hospital for treatment.
Israeli forces shoot, injure 2 Palestinians in Gaza
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 5 Dec — Israeli forces shot and injured two Palestinians Friday evening in the northern Gaza Strip, a health official said. Ashraf al-Qidra, spokesman for the Ministry of Health, said two men in their twenties suffered moderate injuries after being shot in the legs by Israeli soldiers east of Jabalia. They were taken to the Kamal Adwan hospital in Beit Lahiya for treatment.
An Israeli army spokeswoman said around 70 Palestinians approached the security fence and Israeli forces fired warning shots, rubber bullets and tear gas to disperse them. Two men were then shot in the “lower extremities” after they came within 100 meters of the fence, she added. On Nov. 23, Fadil Muhammad Halawah, 32, was shot dead by Israeli forces east of Jabalia. Witnesses said he was hunting birds, while Israeli forces said they opened fire at two men after they approached the separation barrier.
Gaza teen seriously injured as Israeli ordnance explodes
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 5 Dec — A Palestinian teenager in Gaza was injured on Friday after an Israeli ordnance exploded near Rafah, a health ministry official said. Ashraf al-Qidra, spokesman of the Ministry of Health, told Ma‘an that the unidentified 14-year-old had surgery to amputate the fingers on his right hand following the explosion. He is now in a stable condition at hospital. In October, Muhammad Sami Abu Jrad, four, was killed after touching an unexploded Israeli ordnance left over from the summer military offensive. A month earlier, three Palestinians were killed and two were injured when an unexploded Israeli bomb blew up in the Shujaiyya neighborhood of eastern Gaza City. Although police teams have deactivated several tons of Israeli ordnance, bombs and explosive devices still litter the Gaza Strip,
Ministry begins removing rubble from Gaza neighborhood
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 3 Dec — The Ministry of Housing and Public Works in Gaza on Wednesday began removing rubble left by Israel’s 50-day military offensive on the coastal territory. The project will last for one year and is financed by the Swedish government. Mufid al-Hasayneh, Minister of Housing and Public Works, told Ma‘an that 140,000 tons of rubble will be removed from the Shujaiyya neighborhood during the first stage of the projects. Over 60,000 tons of rubble will be recycled and used to rebuild infrastructure. There is currently a shortageof heavy machinery for removing the rubble, al-Hasayneh said, adding that Israel must allow building material to enter Gaza in order for reconstruction to take place. Some 1,500 displaced families in Shujaiyya will receive financial aid to support their basic needs as reconstruction takes place.
Gaza hospitals suffer as unpaid cleaners go on strike
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 4 Dec – The Gaza Strip’s main medical complex Shifa and other public hospitals are facing a very serious problem after cleaning workers have completely suspended work in protest against not having received salaries for some seven months. Director of Shifa medical complex Dr Nasser al-Titir told Ma‘an Thursday that “all wards including the reception, the emergency room and the intensive care unit are full of garbage.” He added that surgery rooms and delivery rooms “are very dirty and in a disastrous condition.” Al-Titir warned of possible dangerous repercussions of this crisis on the health conditions of Palestinian citizens. “The emergency department can barely receive serious cases and operating rooms can’t afford numerous surgeries because there is nobody to clean after operations.” He added that some doctors and nurse volunteer to do some cleaning despite the fact that doctors and nurses do not receive their salaries regularly. In addition, some of them haven’t been paid for several months because they were hired by the former Hamas-run government … The monthly wage of a cleaning worker in Gaza is not more than 700 shekels.
UN begins inquiry into attacks and weapons in Gaza
GAZA (Reuters) 3 Dec by Nidal Al-Mughrabi — The United Nations has begun investigating Israeli attacks that hit U.N. facilities during last summer’s Gaza war and how Palestinian militants came to store weapons at several U.N. schools, officials said on Wednesday. A team of UN investigators arrived in Gaza on Tuesday to conduct the inquiry, three months after the war ended. They had already met with Israeli representatives in Jerusalem. The investigation is expected to last three weeks. “They are visiting the affected sites, they are conducting meetings and interviews with people who were involved,” Robert Turner, the director of operations for the UN Relief and Works Agency in Gaza told reporters. “It is specifically to look at violations of neutrality of UN installations.” During the July-August conflict, Israeli artillery and tank shells hit at least six UN-run facilities, killing around 30 Palestinian civilians who were sheltering there, according to Palestinian officials. Israel said it believed militants were using the facilities as cover to fire rockets into Israel. At the same time, several UN schools, all of them closed during the war, were found to have been used by Hamas militants to store rockets, prompting heavy criticism from Israel. Both Israel and Hamas, the Islamist group that dominates Gaza, have said they will cooperate fully with the inquiry, which was established by Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.
No Islamic State in Gaza, says Hamas, despite menacing fliers
Times of Israel 4 Dec by Elhanan Miller — Ramallah unity government condemns messages threatening women and intellectuals, but Salafi activists insist they’re fake — Hamas denied the presence of the Islamic State terror group in the Gaza Strip Wednesday, after fliers signed by the jihadist organization have emerged in the Palestinian territory in recent weeks, threatening women and intellectuals. “We would like to reassure everyone that ISIS does not exist in the Gaza Strip, and the security agencies are in full control of the situation,” Iyad Al-Bozum, a spokesman for Hamas’s interior ministry in Gaza, told Lebanese news channel Al-Mayadeen. The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) is the former name of the Islamic State, a jihadist offshoot of Al-Qaeda headed by Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, which has succeeded in gaining control of large swaths of land in northeastern Syria and northern Iraq in recent months. On Monday, reports of a flier signed by “ISIS – Gaza Province” emerged on social media websites, warning 18 Gaza-based writers to repent within three days “for offending the tenets of Islam” or face the death penalty for apostasy. The Ramallah-based Palestinian Authority unity government of Rami Hamdallah rushed to condemn the communiqué, calling it “a dangerous precedent that must be stopped immediately.” Another pamphlet, dated November 29 and titled “The hijab, the hijab” (the Islamic veil), instructed Gaza’s women to cover their heads “in accordance with Sharia” or face an Islamic trial … Jerusalem-based daily Al-Quds tried to investigate on Tuesday whether the messages were authentic. It interviewed two Gaza-based militant Salafi leaders who have spent years in Hamas prisons. The two men, Abul-Aynaa’ Al-Ansari and Abu-Nur Al-Maqdisi, rejected the notion that jihadist organizations had issued the announcements. “All of our fighters in Aknaf Bait Al-Maqdis [the Islamic name used for Israel and the Palestinian territories] support the Islamic State in every move it takes, but so far there has been no real bay’ah [Islamic pledge of allegiance] to the leader Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi. In other words, there is yet no province in Gaza belonging to the Islamic State.” Ansari insisted that the fliers were fabricated, pointing to the name “Islamic State in Iraq and Syria” which is no longer used by the organization. Al-Maqdisi accused “collaborators with the occupation” of circulating the fake communiques in order “to tarnish the name of the Islamic State.” He argued that relations between Gazas Salafis and Hamas have improved over the past year, following mediation efforts by a number of Arab clerics. Salafi Jihadist activity is not unknown to the Gaza Strip. In August 2009, Hamas security forces stormed the Salafi Ibn Taymiya mosque and killed jihadist preacher Abdel Latif Moussa who had declared Gaza an “Islamic emirate.” In April 2011, four Salafi activists kidnapped and killed Italian journalist and activist Vittorio Arrigoni. The four were sentenced to life imprisonment with hard labor in September 2012.
100 days on: Gaza’s children speak out
[with 30 photos] The Independent 4 Dec by Will George — Standing outside a youth centre in the north of Gaza, Mohammed, a confident 12-year-old,says he works hard at sciences in school and has big dreams: “I want to be an astronaut, I want to be the first astronaut from Gaza.” For children in the war-ravaged region, imaginations remain intact. But 100 days after the seven-week offensive launched by Israel in which homes were reduced to rubble, entire families killed – 89 in the recent offensive – and schools destroyed, achieving those dreams has become a separate battle in itself. The situation is desperate. Around half of Gaza’s population of 1.8 million are under the age of 18 – and though 500,000 children are back at school that means hundreds of thousands are without education. Thirty thousand children were displaced by the fighting. The seemingly constant cycle of violence means that any child over seven has now lived through three wars. But amid the destruction, children still want to play – and they want to learn. According to the UN, the summer conflict left more than 250 schools damaged, 26 beyond repair. Parents and school teachers say they can all see the toll the violence is taking on Gaza’s children. “For 51 days, friends and family of the children were killed, homes around them destroyed, no place was safe,” says Abu Sherif, a head teacher. “We are lucky they have come to help us”. He is referring to members of Hope and Play, a British charity set up by two Oxford graduates that aims to alleviate the trauma inflicted on children in the area by the conflict.
Portraits of Gaza’s children and their lost homes
ibtimes.com 3 Dec by Justin Michael Carissimo — … Anne Paq, a 38-year-old photographer, has been documenting the operation and its aftermath since the ceasefire on Aug. 26. While Israel Defense Forces soldiers are rarely seen in Gaza, the sound of drones, border shootings between Hamas militia and IDF troops and other ceasefire violations are constant reminders that Gaza is still very much a conflict zone. “It has been draining, both physically and emotionally. How can you witness such level of violence, such pain and be immune? This is impossible, and as many others of my colleagues, I was deeply affected,” Paq told International Business Times. Paq shoots for the photo collective ActiveStills, composed of Israeli, Palestinian and international photographers, and has been heavily involved in Palestine for the past 10 years. She now focuses on the families who were affected in last summer’s conflict by documenting children in their destroyed homes.
The Hunger Games are real in Gaza / Ramzy Baroud
Asia Times 4 Dec — I could have never imagined myself drawing parallels between my refugee camp, Nuseirat, in the Gaza Strip, its heroic people, and a Hollywood movie; the struggle of my people is too sacred for that. But I couldn’t help it as I watched the latest from The Hunger Games franchise, Mockingjay … It is as if the author of The Hunger Games, Suzanne Collins, knew so much about Gaza. As if she had fashioned her stories to tell of a real fight between a brutal Capitol, called Israel, and rebellious districts called Palestine. It is as if Gaza was the inspiration behind District 13 because despite attempts at repeated annihilation for the past 65 years – and in particular the last two genocidal wars in 2008-9 and 2014 – the resistance is still alive. Does Collins know that Katniss, who didn’t choose such a fate but had to step up in defense of her people, is represented in thousands of men, women, and yes, children of Gaza? Does she know that her stories were already written and enacted by real people, who may never have heard of her franchise and may never live to watch her movies? Does she know that criminal leaders such as President Snow are not something of fantasy, but they actually exist, here today in the persons of Benjamin Netanyahu and countless other Israeli leaders who call for the absolute annihilation of Gazans at a whim?
Land, property theft & destruction / Ethnic cleansing / Restriction of movement
West Bank Bedouin fighting Israel’s plan for forcible relocation
Haaretz 3 Dec — High Court petition aims to stop state relocating 12,500 Bedouin to new town — Twenty-six Bedouin communities petitioned the High Court of Justice on Monday asking that a plan to build a new Bedouin town north of Jericho be frozen.Israel’s Civil Administration in the West Bank, which is behind the plan, intends to forcibly relocate three Bedouin tribes there once the town, called Talet Nueima, is built. Wednesday is the deadline for filing objections to the plan with the Civil Administration’s planning office. Dozens of objections have already been submitted, and dozens more are expected to arrive Wednesday, mainly from Bedouin communities and from Palestinian villages located near the proposed town. The court petition, filed by Bedouin communities near Jerusalem that are slated to be relocated to Talet Nueima, argued that they were never consulted about the plan. The Bedouin say the plan gives no consideration to their traditional way of life or sources of livelihood. But unlike the objections filed with the planning office, the petition focused not on flaws in the plan itself, but on procedural flaws in the planning process. The plan calls for relocating some 12,500 Bedouin from the Jahalin, Kaabneh and Rashaida tribes to Talet Nueima. This is the largest plan the Civil Administration has drafted for West Bank Palestinians since the Oslo Accords were signed in 1993. If the plan comes to fruition, the evacuation of the Bedouin tribes would free up additional lands for settlement construction, especially in the E1 corridor between Jerusalem and the settlement of Ma’aleh Adumim. Two of the tribes currently live east of Jerusalem and the third in the Jordan Valley. The plan would force the three tribes to live together, in violation of their customs. Moreover, concentrating them north of Jericho would affect all the nearby Palestinian villages economically, environmentally, demographically and culturally. Both Bedouin and Palestinians fear Talet Nueima would become an island of poverty whose residents would have no opportunities for employment in the area. They also fear there would be social friction and competition over scarce water resources. The Bedouin are the weakest members of Palestinian society, with no influence over internal Palestinian politics. But because of this plan’s impact on nearby Palestinian communities, the battle against it is getting more support than usual from other Palestinians.
Israel pledges millions to east Jerusalem settlement
AFP 3 Dec — An Israeli local council said Wednesday it will spend millions of dollars beautifying a settlement in east Jerusalem, where mounting Palestinian anger has spilled over in to recent clashes. Jerusalem city council said in a statement it planned to use 50 million shekels ($12.5 million, 10.2 million euros) to fund construction of a park, children’s playgrounds, green spaces and new street lighting in Har Homa, as well as football and basketball grounds. It did not give a precise timeframe for the spending plan, only saying work would begin “in the near future”. Construction first began on Har Homa — or Jabal Abu Ghneim as the site is known to Palestinians — in 1997, well after the Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement. It sparked violent Palestinian protests and a freeze by the Palestinian Authority of high-level contacts with Israel. The settlement construction is considered a breach of the Oslo accords by the Palestinians but not by Israel, which does not see east Jerusalem as occupied territory.
Israeli forces demolish building, 20 stores in Shu‘fat camp
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 3 Dec — Bulldozers heavily escorted by Israeli forces on Wednesday demolished 20 stores and an ancient structure in Shu‘fat refugee camp in East Jerusalem, sources told Ma‘an. Locals said large numbers of Israeli police officers and troops from various divisions raided the camp and deployed in the streets and on rooftops. Troops then surrounded an ancient building known as the Cola building and all adjacent stores, denying local residents access to the area before blowing up the main doors of all the stores. The building and the stores belong to the Dajani family from Jerusalem. One of the owners, Abu al-Walid Dajani, told Ma‘an Israeli authorities carried out the demolition without notifying the owners … The area where the demolitions took place measures about 800 square meters, Dajani said. The building and the stores were built in 1963, he added. It had been populated and the stores were used as shops until the mid-1980s when the First Intifada broke out. Israeli authorities then prevented the family from using the structures. Dajani denied Israeli claims that the building and the stores were built without permits. He said the Dajani family originally owned 11,500 square meters in Shu‘fat camp before Israel confiscated 2,000 square meters for the construction of the separation wall. In 2008, Israel confiscated 6,000 square meters more, on which they set up a military checkpoint. In 2012, Israeli forces confiscated the rest of the land along with the structures built on it. Dajani attempted to reclaim his land and properties through Israeli courts, including the Supreme Court, to no avail. Courts always cited security pretexts, he told Ma‘an … Among the functioning stores was a coffee shop, a car repair workshop, a taxi office, a grocery, a chicken butchery, a frozen meat shop, and a shop which sold tree saplings, in addition to two stores used as warehouses for the al-Khatib Supermarket. During the demolitions, Israeli forces fired tear gas and rubber-coated bullets to prevent local residents from assembling, Fasfous said. A nearby school was also evacuated.
Settlers cut down ’50 olive trees’ in Nablus village
NABLUS (Ma‘an) 5 Dec — Settlers cut down over 50 olive trees in the Nablus village of ‘Aqraba on Friday, Palestinian official Ghassan Daghlas said. Settlers from Elon Moreh, located east of Nablus, attacked ‘Aqraba and cut down 50 olive trees from the Juhr al-Dik area of the village. The trees belonged to Said Bani Jame. Several other trees were damaged during the attack, Daghlas added. The villagers have filed an official complaint to Israeli authorities through the Palestinian liaison office.
Israel issues 4-month Jerusalem ban for 3 Palestinians
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 4 Dec — Israeli authorities late Wednesday delivered orders to three Palestinian Jerusalemites banning them from entering the city for four months. Addameer prisoner rights group said Daoud al-Ghoul, 31, Majd Darwish, 24, and Saleh Dirbas, 23, will be prohibited from entering their hometown from Nov. 30 until April 30, 2015. All three men are ex-prisoners. Deportation orders are a violation of Article 49 of the Fourth Geneva Convention, Addameer said.
Haaretz: Shin Bet opposes outlawing Islamic movement in Israel
Middle East Monitor 5 Dec — Israel’s Shin Bet security force is opposed to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s plan to outlaw the Islamic Movement in Israel, led by Sheikh Raed Salah, due to the lack of legal grounds for taking such a decision. Yesterday, Haaretz newspaper reported Shin Bet’s position which “was conveyed to an interagency team that was established to consider policy toward Salah as a result of Prime Minister Netanyahu’s desire to outlaw the movement.” The newspaper pointed out that “the Shin Bet has informed the team that the information that it has collected on the Islamic Movement does not link the group to actual violent activity or the transfer of funds to other entities that fund or carry out terrorist activity.” “The interagency team has not yet concluded its work, however, and the Shin Bet and the Israel Police are still exploring legal grounds that may be pursued. One of the directions that is being explored is an investigation of how the Islamic Movement is funded in an effort to link it to Hamas groups abroad,” Haaretz added.
Official: Jordan to appoint 75 new Aqsa mosque guards
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 5 Dec — Jordan is set to appoint 75 new guards to work at the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound, the director of the mosque said Friday. Sheikh Omar al-Kiswani told Ma‘an that the new employees will begin work in the coming days. Some 450 employees from the Jordanian endowment work in the Aqsa compound, 200 of whom are from the West Bank. Some 40 employees have been banned from entering the holy site for security reasons while seven guards are currently in Israeli prison custody. Israel eased restrictions again on Friday for the third week in a row, al-Kiswani said, although Israeli rightists are still frequently visiting the holy site. Employees are in regular contact with Jordanian officials to update them on the visits and other violations. Israeli security officials have been publicly mulling a bill recently to ban the presence of Muslim guards at the Aqsa compound.
190 Palestinians from Gaza head to pray at Aqsa
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 5 Dec — Around 190 Palestinians from Gaza headed to East Jerusalem on Friday to pray at the Al-Aqsa Mosque, Palestinian officials said. Officials at the Palestinian liaison office told Ma‘an that buses carrying the worshipers left Gaza City for the Erez crossing early Friday. On Oct. 5, some 500 Palestinians in Gaza prayed at the holy site for the first time since 2007. The move was hailed by Gisha, an Israeli NGO which calls for freedom of access and movement for Palestinians, which had repeatedly petitioned the courts over the matter, without success. “This hasn’t happened since 2007. Christians could leave (for religious holidays) but not Muslims,” said Gisha spokeswoman Shai Grunberg.
Wesleyan University dumps Sabra hummus after student campaign
Elecronic Intifada 5 Dec by Charlotte Silver — Last month, all Sabra brand hummus products were pulled from Wesleyan University dining locations, including two cafés and a campus supermarket. The Middletown, Connecticut, university’s Dining Service Committee agreed to remove the increasingly controversial brand after months of mounting pressure from student activists.Sabra is a frequent target for boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) campaigns because it is partially owned by the Israeli company Strauss Foods, which actively supports the Golani brigade, an “elite” unit in the Israeli army which is responsible for grave human rights abuses.
The month in pictures: November 2014
Electronic Intifada 5 December
Bethlehem filled with hope as Christmas season approaches
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 3 Dec by Alex Shams — The Bethlehem of today is a far cry from the little village of Jesus’ era, and the historic core of this West Bank hub has long since been superseded by the busy modern commercial areas around it. But come Christmastime all attention returns to the city center, particularly given the area’s 2012 inclusion on the UNESCO World Heritage List, and the memory of the moment 2,014 years ago when Jesus Christ is said to have been born in a Bethlehem manger takes center stage. This year, organizers are planning for one of the busiest seasons in memory, hoping to entice Palestinians from Bethlehem, across the West Bank, and inside Israel as well as visitors from around the world to spend the holidays in the holy city … A central complaint of both locals and workers in the tourism industry is that the vast majority of those who visit Bethlehem arrive as a part of Israeli tour groups, which generally limit visitors’ access to the city and instead show them the Church of the Nativity for an hour or two before returning to Jerusalem immediately after. Israel’s control over the Holy Land tourism industry and its restrictions on the use of Palestinian tour guides by foreign tourists not only hinders local economic growth, it also treats Bethlehem as a museum city of Christian monuments with no connection to modern Palestinian life and society. Elias Deis, however, is committed to changing that. A project director at Holy Land Trust, Deis is one of the main organizers of the night-time Christmas market that will grace Star Street from Dec. 21-24.
Watch Trailer: ‘Open Bethlehem’ premieres in UK
IMEMC/Agencies 4 Dec — Open Bethlehem, a documentary film detailing the effects of the Israeli occupation on the ancient biblical city, is due to premiere in the United Kingdom this week. This documentary film, by Leila Sansour, is part of a larger campaign of the same name to raise awareness about the crisis facing the Palestinian city. “I think Bethlehem is a microcosm for Palestine, and a very good one. There is almost no aspect of the nature of the Israeli occupation that does not hit you face on,” the filmmaker told Ma‘an News Agency, in September. “We need to fight tooth and nail for Bethlehem if we want it to survive as the city we know; otherwise it will just disappear.” The film is set to open in London on Dec. 5, with screenings across the United Kingdom throughout the month. The documentary was named by The Guardian as the “one film you should watch this week.”
Wife of jailed prisoner gives birth to twins from smuggled sperm
HEBRON (Ma‘an) 5 Dec — The wife of a Palestinian prisoner who has been jailed for almost 14 years gave birth to twins on Thursday after using her husbands’ sperm smuggled from jail. Ziad al-Qawasmi, from Hebron, spent two years in jail before being sentenced for a further 13 years. He was detained nine months after his wife first gave birth to their daughter. Ziad has five brothers in Israeli jails while two others were killed by Israel. Another brother was deported to Gaza, where he now lives.
Belgium calls on Parliament to recognize Palestine
IMEMC/Agencies 4 Dec — Following the Swedish government’s recognition of a Palestinian state, this past October, the Belgian government is set to become Europe’s second country to adopt the motion and recognize the Palestinian state based on the borders of 1967, with East Jerusalem as its capital. PNN reports that the four parties of the Belgian Coalition, Tuesday, reached an agreement to submit a motion to parliament formulating support for recognizing Palestinian statehood. The parties intend to pass the motion in parliament and implement through government policy, according to Le Soir daily news.
Israel bars Gerry Adams from Gaza
JERUSALEM (AP) 5 Dec — Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams said on Friday that Israel had barred him from making a planned visit to the Gaza Strip during a three-day tour of the region. Adams says he was not given a reason for the Israeli decision to prevent the trip. “I am not surprised by the decision but I am disappointed by it,” he said. A spokesman for Israel’s foreign ministry, Emmanuel Nahshon, said that in consultation with defence officials the ministry decided to bar Adams from entering Gaza because of “his longstanding anti-Israeli positions and his plans to meet in the territory with leaders of Hamas”. Nahshon said that if Adams wanted to visit Gaza he could enter the territory from Egypt … The Irish nationalist Sinn Féin party has long taken a pro-Palestinian position in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Earlier in his trip to the region, Adams met Isaac Herzog, leader of Israel’s opposition Labor party, and the Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas. Adams said he had intended to meet NGOs, and visit hospitals and other public institutions in Gaza. He also acknowledged that he planned to meet Hamas leaders.
Rasmea Odeh in prolonged solitary confinement in Michigan jail
Electronic Intifada 5 Dec by Ali Abunimah — Lawyers and friends of Rasmea Odeh are increasingly worried about the jailed Palestinian American community leader’s condition, as she has been held in solitary confinement for twelve consecutive days. Odeh, 67, from Chicago, has been held in St. Clair County Jail in Port Huron, Michigan, since her 10 November conviction on immigration fraud charges. Odeh has been in total segregation, locked up for twenty-three and a half hours a day. She is not allowed to receive visitors or mail, speak to other prisoners, or use the commissary. Most worryingly, she is suffering from back and dental pain, which makes it difficult for her to eat, as well as other health problems exacerbated by a lack of ability to care for herself with adequate exercise. Michael Deutsch, Odeh’s lead attorney, said that no reason has been given for this prolonged, punitive isolation.
After Salaita firing, Univ. of Illinois struggles to hire faculty
Electronic Intifada 4 Dec by Ali Abunimah — The University of Illinois is having difficulty hiring senior faculty. This is one of the negative consequences of administrators’ decision to summarily fire Steven Salaita last August. Concern about the university’s ability to attract faculty was expressed in a letter to incoming president Timothy Killeen about the fallout from the Salaita case, signed by three dozen department heads. The letter urges Killeen to reaffirm the university’s commitment to academic freedom, free speech and shared governance. Salaita had been hired to a tenured position in the American Indian Studies program, but his job was revoked by Urbana-Champaign campus chancellor Phyllis Wise after pro-Israel faculty, students and donors complained about his criticisms of Israel’s attack on Gaza.
Congress OKs watered-down bill on US-Israel ties
WASHINGTON (AP) 4 Dec — Congress approved legislation Wednesday deepening U.S.-Israeli cooperation after softening a push to grant Israelis visa-free travel rights to the United States even as the Jewish state persists in blocking some Arab and Muslim Americans from its territory. The bill, passed by a voice vote in the House, now goes to President Barack Obama for his signature. It cleared the Senate with unanimous support in September, but only after the elimination of language that critics saw as an endorsement of Israeli discrimination of some Americans. The bill now calls only for Israel’s inclusion in the U.S. Visa Waiver Program when it meets the requirements, the most elementary of which is reciprocal treatment for Americans.
Palestinian in America: Najib Joe Hakim’s ‘Home away from home’
Electronic Intifada 3 Dec — Combining photography and oral history recorded onto audio, the Home Away from Home project by Najib Joe Hakim shines light on the experience of Palestinians living in the United States. Hakim interviewed more than a dozen Palestinian Americans in the San Francisco Bay Area about their relationship to the US and to Palestine, and asked them what home means to them. The result is a compelling portrait series of Palestinian Americans of various generations — some who were born in Palestine and some who have never stepped foot there. Some describe dual identity issues common to other immigrant communities in the US. But particular to Arab and Muslim Americans at this moment is being treated as the enemy as the US wages war on or funds occupation in their homelands. Awareness of Israel’s occupation of Palestine, in some cases witnessed first-hand, fosters not only a sense of obligation to support the struggle for justice there, interviewees said, but also identification with other liberation movements around the globe. Others interviewed by Hakim describe a yearning for the sense of community and belonging so keenly felt back home in Palestine.
Analysis / Opinion / Reviews
Haaretz editorial: Vote against Netanyahu, save Israel
3 Dec — If Netanyahu wins again at the ballot box, Israel’s future is in danger — …The outgoing government was one of the worst in Israel’s history. It’s hard to list one achievement, while the damage was great. Foreign and security policies were suicidal. The government halted the peace process and accelerated annexation steps in the West Bank while upsetting the delicate status quo on the Temple Mount. It undercut democracy’s foundations with its repeated efforts to pass bills against illegal entry into Israel, its challenge of High Court rulings and its racist nation-state bills. It got entangled in a 50-day war with Hamas that ended in a tie despite the great price in casualties, destruction and treasure. It put Washington’s support at risk and brought Europe closer to imposing sanctions on Israel. The government’s economic policies were no less destructive. Lacking the ability to make decisions, and out of fear of facing off against the economy’s power brokers, Netanyahu and Lapid ran a profligate deficit budget and shunned reforms or structural changes. The Israeli economy’s basic problems – the high cost of living, the housing shortage, the powerful monopolies and the big unions – only got worse amid the neglect. Plans to fight poverty and fix the health care system were shelved in favor of inflating the defense budget. Under these circumstances, it’s not enough for this government to end its term. Anyone who fears for Israel’s future as a peace-loving democracy with a stable economy should join forces to keep Netanyahu from winning a fourth term. The prime minister has once again proved to be an extreme nationalist willing to sacrifice the country’s basic values to realize a destructive ideology. If he wins again at the ballot box, Israel’s future is in danger.
A very important person / Gideon Levy
Haaretz 4 Dec — The darkness has emerged into the light, the margins have become the center and ultranationalism has become politically correct. This is the Israel that Benjamin Netanyahu has fashioned. — …Netanyahu is the shaper of contemporary Israel … It is also unjust to view him as a cynical politician. He was one of Israel’s most ideological prime ministers ever, who could turn his extremist doctrine into the zeitgeist of the entire state. Even when he hid his beliefs, he did so in order to advance them. Netanyahu never believed in peace with the Arabs — and he removed peace from Israel’s agenda. He never believed in the rights of the Palestinian people — and he destroyed the two-state solution. He genuinely believed that Jews are the chosen people — and he brought Israel closer to a future apartheid state modeled on his beliefs, including in its constitutional aspects. Can one imagine a more sweeping success? Can one think of anyone who did more to advance his own worldview? … Once upon a time there was an Israel. An Israel that spoke about peace and believed in it, even if it did almost nothing to achieve it; an Israel that was democratic, at least for Jews; an Israel that respected the other countries of the world and took them into account; that knew its size, the limits of its power and the boundaries of its influence. Once there was an Israel that subdued its racism and was ashamed of it; that did not alternate only between rivers of hate and waves of intimidation. Where Arabs were not only suspicious objects and where war refugees were not only “infiltrators.” Where Judaism was not only for ultranationalists and the flag was not waved only by the settlers. Once there was hope, but it disappeared; someone severed it. Netanyahu shaped a different Israel, in his own image. He was the prime minister of fear and hate. Try to think of one positive mark he left, one significant way in which Israel is better after him than it was before him.
Book Review: The Reckoning by Patrick Bishop
Boston Globe 2 Dec by Nick Romeo — Mussolini’s Italy and Hitler’s Germany were hardly obvious allies for the Jewish population of Palestine in the early 1940s. But to a radical Zionist named Avraham Stern, certain shared interests made cooperation seem both possible and desirable. Stern sought recruits to swell the ranks of a Jewish army that could shake off British rule in Palestine, and the Axis powers also wanted to defeat the British in the Middle East. In addition, Nazi Germany could send its unwanted Jewish citizens to Palestine, and Stern would have the troops he needed to mount an uprising. Stern is the central character in British military historian Patrick Bishop’s fascinating new book, “The Reckoning: Death and Intrigue in the Promised Land.’’ When Stern was only 34, a British police officer shot and killed him in a Tel Aviv apartment. At the time of his death in February 1942 he was the most wanted man in Palestine. After masterminding a series of deadly bombings funded by bank robberies, Stern was widely denounced by Jewish Palestinians and British officials alike. But the contested circumstances of his death and the growing unpopularity of British rule catalyzed a movement to refashion Stern as a martyr and prophet. A man once regarded as a gangster gradually became elevated to the status of an Israeli national hero. Today several streets in Jerusalem bear his name and a postage stamp features his image … The Stern Gang’s politics also made them unpopular. A majority of Palestinian Jews in the late 1930s and early ’40s considered the British a necessary ally in the creation of a Jewish state in Palestine … Stern, however, was so desperate to overthrow the British that he actively courted the Axis powers.
How Pakistani law inspired Israel to seize Arabs’ land
Haaretz 26 Nov by Benjamin Pogrund — The new Jewish state used the legal techniques of a new Muslim state to deprive its own mainly-Muslim refugees of their properties. How ironic — …by 1948 only 5.7 percent of the land of then Palestine had been purchased. The War of Independence that year opened the way to far-reaching changes: the land allocated by the United Nations partition plan to Jews was extended by 38 percent as local Arab militia and invading Arab armies were defeated and driven back. The government seized the lands of Arabs who had left their homes, whether they fled outside the borders or remained inside. The new state ended up owning some 93 percent of the land, with the rest remaining as private property belonging to Arabs, Jews, Christian churches and the Muslim Waqf. Israel the conqueror did not behave uniquely: in seizing properties, policies were evolved from what had been done elsewhere in the world. Regulations to eliminate all rights of former owners derived from Britain’s Trading with the Enemy Act of 1939 which dealt with Nazi Germany, and by the actions of other countries where mass exchanges of population had taken place … In the government debates to decide what to do with the Arab “abandoned property,” the prime minister’s special adviser on land and border demarcation, Zalman Lifshitz, argued for the permanent use of refugee property for the political and economic benefit of the new state. He said that countries in similar situations, such as Turkey, Greece, Bulgaria and Czechoslovakia, had taken on vast powers to liquidate refugee property for state use and he urged the Israeli government “to proceed in a similar manner” as “there is no shortage of precedents.” He focused on Pakistan, the Muslim state which had come into violent existence in 1947 in the partition of colonial India … Pakistani lawmakers, he noted, had drawn on Britain’s Trading with the Enemy Act, but had also introduced new elements to assist expropriation and transfer of ownership: they had created a mechanism for seizing Hindu and Sikh refugee property in Pakistan and its reallocation for the settlement of Muslim refugees from India. Lifshitz presented his report on 30 March 1949 and the Knesset, parliament, duly enacted laws later that year. The legal machinery to appropriate Palestinian refugee land, he noted, was “based squarely” on the Pakistani legislation of 1948. But unlike Pakistan and others, a state (for Palestinians) did not come into existence at the time. So Palestinian refugees did not have the benefit of state sponsorship and they landed up in limbo in surrounding Arab states and inside Israel. Ever since, Palestinians, and the world, have paid dearly for that omission.