Gaza child whose home was bombed by Israel dies in freezing weather
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 9 Jan — A Palestinian infant fell ill and died due to severe cold in Khan Younis in the southern Gaza Strip on Friday, as winter storm Huda pummeled the region for a third day. Gaza Ministry of Health spokesman Ashraf al-Qidra said that two-month-old Rafah Ali Abu Assi died of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease as a result of the severely cold weather affecting the region. Ashraf al-Qidra said that the infant was taken to the Gaza European Hospital early Thursday for treatment but was pronounced dead at noon on Friday. The infant’s family lives east of Khan Younis in an area that was heavily damaged during Israel’s offensive on Gaza over summer. Her family reportedly continued living in their damaged home despite the destruction. Due to lack of alternative shelter, many of the nearly 110,000 Palestinians left homeless by Israeli bombardment have done the same, including many living in just tents. Temperatures in Gaza have been hovering only a few degrees above freezing in recent days as a freezing winter storm buffeted the region, flooding some areas in the small coastal enclave. The situation is aggravated by the lack of fuel for electric power, meaning that power is available roughly eight hours a day, with occasional cuts on top of that.
Video: Gaza’s ruined homes offer little shelter from storm
AFP 8 Jan — Living by candlelight with no electricity and reliant on sandbags to stop their ruined homes flooding, Gazans who survived last year’s war are now struggling with a brutal winter storm. Duration: 01:07
Flooding hits Gaza cities as farmers start facing storm losses
[with photos] GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 9 Jan — Hundreds of Palestinians in the southern Gaza Strip on Friday were forced to evacuate their homes due to rising water levels, as winter Storm Huda began to take a toll on the besieged coastal enclave on the third day of its landing. Hatem al-Khur, an official in the Khuza‘a municipality east of Khan Younis responsible for the displaced, said that 49 mobile homes had been inundated in the neighborhood of Abu Rida in his city, while 100 more families were living in destroyed homes that he deemed uninhabitable. “People are calling us for help and we are not capable of helping them after the recent war,” he said, highlighting that the families most severely affected by the storm had all lost their homes in Israel’s summer assault that left 2,200 dead and 110,000 homeless. He told Ma‘an that locals are calling upon international institutions to intervene and end their suffering, as local officials lacked the resources to help. Muhammad al-Meidana, spokesman for Gaza civil defense teams, told Ma‘an that other areas hit badly by floods were the al-Barahmeh and Obeida neighborhoods of western Rafah, where residents had to flee dozens of homes that were flooded by rain water … On Thursday alone, defense crews told Ma‘an that at least nine were injured due to the storm, including seven in roof collapses and two hurt after a water tank fell onto their home after being tossed by the wind from a nearby rooftop.
VIDEO: Palestinians in Gaza brace for major storm with little protection
IMEU 9 Jan — For the past three days, the coldest storm to hit the Middle East in decades has been pummeling the war-torn Gaza Strip. With much of the Strip’s infrastructure significantly damaged or destroyed during Israel’s 51-day offensive this past summer, the heavy rains and cold winds pose major threats to the 1.8 million people living in the 25-mile-long coastal enclave, the majority of whom are Palestinian refugees. Local authorities declared a state of emergency on Wednesday, and for good reason, as hundreds of residents have already been forced to leave their homes due to flooding. That and rising sewage levels combined with a lack of shelter, clean water, fuel, and other necessities puts thousands of people in Gaza in serious risk … Due to the insufficient electricity and gas resources, many families are resorting to lighting fires and candles to keep warm and for light, causing major fires and, in one reported case, the deaths of two young children. This footage, taken by Jehad Saftawi on Wednesday, January 7, shows the winds as the storm approached the severely battered neighborhood of Shojae’a. It also captures families igniting fires for heat. Shojae’a was one of the hardest hit areas by Israeli forces in the recent war and is in dire need of rebuilding. As the storm is predicted to last until Sunday, and with many parts of Gaza difficult to reach, the complete extent of its impact is yet to be seen.
VIDEO: Palestinian children killed after fire in West Gaza
Middle East Eye 9 Jan by Noor Harazeen — Two Palestinian children have died in the Gaza Strip after faulty electrical wire set fire to a house in West Gaza. Unable to escape the fire in their room, the two young boys hid in the closet. Though the deaths were accidental, many have been quick to blame the Palestinian authority and the unity government for not implementing effective safety measures.
Homes, lands targeted by Israeli fire in southern Gaza
IMEMC/Agencies 9 Jan by Saed Bannoura — Israeli soldiers stationed across the border fence opened fire on Thursday evening targeting Palestinian homes and lands east of the Khan Younis district, in the southern part of the Gaza Strip. Local sources said soldiers stationed on military towers across the border fence, and on a number of armored vehicles, fired dozens of rounds of live ammunition and several flares into border areas. They said the soldiers opened sporadic fire for more than an hour, while many armored vehicles left the Kissufim military base, and army helicopters hovered over the entire area.
Egypt to remove border city Rafah for buffer zone
CAIRO (Ma‘an) 8 Jan — The Egyptian authorities have decided to remove the [Egyptian] city of Rafah on the borders with the Gaza Strip completely, says the governor of North Sinai district Abd al-Fattah Harhour. In a news conference Wednesday, Harhour said it would be necessary to remove Rafah city completely in order to create a buffer zone on the borders with the Gaza Strip. “A new Rafah city is being established with residential zones appropriate to the nature and traditions of the residents of Rafah.” He confirmed that engineering units have already been asked to start work on the new city. The governor’s remarks came ahead of the second stage of evacuation of Rafah houses in preparation to create a buffer zone between Egypt and Gaza. According to the original plan, 1,220 houses were slated for evacuation. Some 2,044 families live in those houses.
Erez crossing still closed as Gaza, Ramallah trade accusations
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 9 Jan — Despite an announcement by Gaza officials that the Erez crossing into Israel had re-opened Friday morning, a source at the Palestinian liaison said employees had suspended work due to the entry of Hamas security officials into the area the day before. Sources at the Palestinian liaison told Ma‘an Friday morning that there were “no Palestinian liaison employees on the crossing,” all of whom had apparently refused to work given the dispute which occurred on Thursday, caused by the arrival of Hamas security officials at the crossing. Officials in Gaza, however, disputed the allegations put forward by PA employees, saying that they had abandoned their posts and that the crossing was working normally Friday, albeit with their seats empty. As part of the unity government agreement between Ramallah-based Fatah and Gaza-based Hamas, the Erez land crossing into Israel is supposed to be staffed by Palestinian Authority employees in order to assure Israel that construction material will not make its way into Hamas hands. In return, Israel has promised to ease the eight-year-old siege of Gaza, which largely prevents construction material — as well as almost everything else — from entering, causing great hardship for Palestinians who have been regularly bombed by Israel in the meantime. Director of the Gaza crossings and borders department, Maher Abu Sabha, said that the Palestinian liaison closed the Erez crossing on Thursday and left Palestinians stuck there, unable to move, while allowing only foreigners to cross. Abu Sabha added in a press statement that “what happened on the crossing on Thursday is that the Palestinian liaison refused to allow two members of the Palestinian police, who help passengers on the crossing every day, to take shelter from the rain and cold inside the liaison’s offices.” “This forced us to erect a mobile home for the policemen to take shelter in. The Palestinian liaison said the Israeli side rejected this step on our part, which later turned out to be untrue,” he said. Abu Sabha said that a number of people were stuck at the crossing after the employees closed it, and the police re-opened the gates and allowed Palestinians to cross back into Gaza. He said that on Friday the crossing was open in both directions, despite that lack of liaison employees.
Hamdallah says to visit Gaza Strip
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 7 Jan — Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah is scheduled to visit the Gaza Strip in the coming few days, a PA minister said Monday. Minister of Public Works Mufid Hasayneh said in a Facebook post that the government is doing all it can to to ease the suffering of people and aid them during the continuous siege and closure of crossings. A government delegation including eight ministers had paid a 4-day visit to the Gaza Strip last Monday to observe the work of ministries.
Explosions rock Gaza banks
GAZA CITY (Middle East Eye) 9 Jan by Mohammed Omer — A series of explosions have targeted several Bank of Palestine offices across the Gaza Strip. In central Gaza City, a bomb completely destroyed one ATM machine on Friday, while another sustained significant damage in the blast. The explosions came after leaflets were distributed last week across Gaza and on social media warning Palestinians to remove their money from that specific bank. The letters were signed by “Gaza staff members”, a vague reference that could include Gaza’s civil employees, most of whom have not been paid their salaries for several months. Those responsible for the bombings remain unknown. In a separate incident in Deir al-Balah, 15 kilometres from Gaza City, a group of fighters destroyed the surveillance camera at the local Bank of Palestine branch. Iyad Al Bizm, spokesman for the Palestinian ministry of interior and national forces, said that security forces had opened an investigation into the bombings. In a statement, Hamas called attacks on Bank of Palestine unjustified, and urged security forces to find those responsible. The Palestinian Monetary Fund announced late Friday that it would shut down all banks in Gaza as a result of the bombings until further notice. This was not the first time that banks have been targeted in Gaza. Last June, one week before the start of Israel’s 51-day war on the besieged territory, several ATMs were shot at and destroyed.
In a separate incident on Friday, a group of fighters in pickup trucks entered the Palestinian Telecommunications Company, and confiscated some of the equipment. Meanwhile, an explosion struck the home of Ihab Bseso, spokesperson for the Palestinian consensus government. While the interior ministry said the blast was the result of a faulty electricity generator, Bseso said he had received several threats, warning him that his house in Gaza City would be burned down.
High-tech startups launched by crowdfunding in Gaza
ANKARA (Andalu Agency) 9 Jan by Andrew Jay Rosenbaum — The al-Nuseirat refugee camp in Gaza is a warren of crumbling buildings and rubble. The mosque at the camp was destroyed by an Israeli airstrike. Power supply to buildings that still are livable is shaky and much of the water supply is contaminated. Established in 1948, the camp has been home to three generations of Palestinians, and shows all the signs of life in an ongoing conflict. In the midst of all this, 25-year-old Mariam Abultewi has started a social media business. Her app, named Wasseini, brings together car drivers with pedestrians seeking a lift. Abultewi, who reportedly started the business because she got tired of waiting for rides herself, now has more than 2,000 subscribers. Abultewi received help and support starting her business from a startup incubator called Gaza Sky Geeks, which is providing financial and technical support to hundreds of Gazans aspiring to become the next Bill Gates. Gaza Sky Geeks was created and run by 28-year-old American Iliana Montauk, who works for Mercy Corps., an international humanitarian organisation … Gaza Sky Geek has operated even through Israeli attacks.
Gaza to start importing citrus fruits from Israel starting Sunday
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 9 Jan — The Palestinian Ministry of Agriculture in the Gaza Strip said Friday that the coastal enclave will be allowed to import citrus fruits from Israel starting Sunday. The general director of marketing for the ministry, Tahsin Saqqa, said that the ministry will begin allowing the import of oranges, tangerines, grapefruits, and pomelos on Sunday through the Kerem Shalom crossing. Saqqa said that the decision was intended to help balance fruit prices in Gaza. He said that the Gaza Strip’s demand for citrus fruits could reach 36 thousand tons in total, of which 70 percent would be locally grown and the rest imported… Although Gaza has been under an Israeli siege for the last eight years that severely limits all movement of goods and people in and out, Israel has at times eased the blockade enough to allow small numbers of Israeli products and produce in.
Hamas presents exchange between Palestinian collaborator and Shin Bet agent
Ynet 9 Jan by Elior Levy — Rare recording published by Hamas-affiliated website allegedly reveals nature of ‘give-take’ relationship between Gaza collaborator and Israeli handler — A recording of an alleged telephone conversation between a Palestinian agent and his Shin Bet handler was recently released, providing a rare glimpse into the relationship between the two. A Hamas-affiliated website which published the recorded conversation claimed that the agent, who is apparently based in the Gaza Strip, was not aware of the fact that Hamas had entrapped him into conducting the exchange between the two. The Palestinian agent was recorded while talking with the handler through a handsfree cellular device. Those who made the recording and published it reportedly did so in order to prove their effectiveness in uncovering collaborators with Israel and deterring others … During the call, the agent requests that the handler give him $2,000 for a corneal surgery his father has to undergo. The agent specifies the needed amount for that purpose, and gently urges the man on the other side of the line to provide him with the required funds….
War on Gaza: A promise Israeli politicians can keep
+972 Blog 9 Jan by Yonatan Mendel — As they head into elections, Netanyahu, Livni, Herzog, Lapid and Yishai can agree on one thing: even after nine military operations in 14 years, the only solution to the conflict with Gaza is another war with Hamas — Election season is upon us, which means that the country’s best copywriters and campaigners are likely gathering with elected officials in meeting rooms in order to come up with a concise and clear message for the citizens of Israel – one that will inspire them to vote for those very same elected officials, and the brighter future they promise. Politicians and their PR experts know there are several formulas that work extremely well in these situations. Scare tactics are always good, since after all, this is a “tough neighborhood” and the difficult reality that surrounds us always work in the politicians’ favor. No less important is maintaining the same message that the public expects to hear, without inserting original statistics that will force the public to reprocess the statistics it has become accustomed to hearing. In other words, if over the past 14 years and nine military operations against Hamas in the Gaza Strip (Operation Rainbow, Operation Days of Penitence, Operation First Rain, Operation Lighting Strike, Operation Summer Rains, Operation Hot Winter, Operation Cast Lead, Operation Pillar of Defense, Operation Protective Edge) – operations that proved, one after another, that despite thousands killed and indescribable damage, there is no military solution to rocket fire – Israel’s leaders are now promising us a new dawn, and are preparing the ground for the next unnecessary war….
The orphans of Gaza
GAZA CITY (Al Jazeera) 8 Jan by Megan O’Toole — The rooms of the al-Amal Institute for Orphans in Gaza City could belong to any child, with Donald Duck stickers plastered to the walls and stuffed teddy bears arranged in rows upon tidy bedspreads. But the brightness is a facade: These children draw war. They sketch rockets and Israeli fighter jets, pictures of people shattering into pieces, because this is what they know. “Whenever I hear aeroplanes, I get scared,” eight-year-old Aisha al-Shinbary tells Al Jazeera, curling her legs underneath her on a cushion in one of Amal’s common rooms. “I lost my house during the war… I don’t want to remember my house,” Aisha says. “I wish I would die so I can go to my mother.” Aisha arrived at Amal several years ago after her father died naturally and her brother was killed in an Israeli air strike. Her mother could no longer care for all the children. During the 2014 war, the orphanage sent all its children to live with relatives while the facility was temporarily opened up as a shelter for hundreds of displaced Gazans. Aisha returned to live with her mother, but shortly afterwards, her mother, too, died in an Israeli air strike. Today, Aisha’s mother comes to her only in dreams. She kisses and hugs her little girl, and then she disappears. Aisha wakes up, orphanage administrators say, and she draws rockets. Aisha’s story is not unusual in the besieged Gaza Strip, where a 51-day Israeli assault killed more than 2,200 Palestinians this summer and injured scores more. The 2014 war created more than 1,500 new orphans, in addition to tens of thousands already living in Gaza, says Abed Almajed Alkhodary, chairman of Amal’s board of directors.
SHUJAYEA, Gaza (Al Jazeera) 5 Jan by Megan O’Toole –– On a quiet side street in Shujayea [or Shuja‘iyya], shadowed by the twisted wreckage of bombed-out buildings that were once their homes and livelihoods, people sit in the afternoon sunshine. They sit, and they remember. “This was once one of the most beautiful neighbourhoods in Shujayea,” Walid al-Zaza tells Al Jazeera. “We had houses, businesses, lives.” Today, displaced concrete slabs sag precariously above heaps of rubble inside the apartment complex that Zaza’s friends once called home. Up and down the street, as far as one’s gaze can sweep, devastation reigns. Zaza turns his attention to a young toddler in a purple fleece sweater, who looks out from the backseat of a truck parked nearby, and his face darkens. “Now this little baby knows what a drone strike is,” he says, “what war is.”
Land, property theft & destruction / Ethnic cleansing / Restriction of movement
Chiming in 2015, and leaving a community destitute
Haaretz 9 Jan by Gideon Levy & Alex Levac — Here’s how 2015 began for residents of the shepherds’ compound at Ain al-Hilweh, in the northern Jordan Valley: at the mercy of the cold and rain, under the naked sky, their homes reduced to rubble, utterly destitute. Heaps of ruins are all that remain, the wreckage of tents and shacks, with remnants of their meager belongings strewn around. Happy New Year to the 80 members of the Kaabana family, now homeless. Happy New Year to their neighbor, Khader Ibrahim, a shepherd, who lost a leg as a child when he stepped on an Israeli army landmine or unexploded shell, and is now sitting abjectly where his tents stood last week. Happy New Year to his eight children, who are now scampering among the ruins, their teeth chattering from the cold. Happy New Year to the dozens of newborn lambs and kids, the first litters of 2015, whose pens were also razed, leaving them exposed to the winter weather, as a result of which some died. Happy New Year, too, to the Israeli Civil Administration and the Border Police, who enforce the apartheid laws in the territories, and who last week raided this forlorn community of shepherds and destroyed all their property, ignoring the anguished outcries of women and the silent weeping of children; ignoring the fact that they left dozens of people exposed to biting cold in the Jordan Rift Valley; ignoring the gross injustice and inequality of the authorities’ attitude toward these wretched of the earth, in stark contrast to the attitude toward the settlers in the area. After all, someone has to do the dirty and repellent work of the slow, persistent, systematic ethnic cleansing of this valley….
Group: Settlers infiltrating closed Palestinian shops in Hebron
[with photos] RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 8 Jan — A local activist group in the Old City of Hebron on Thursday revealed that they have found a number of holes entering Palestinian shops closed by Israeli military order that are being used by Jewish settlers to enter and steal goods. Ahmad Amro, a member of the emergency operations squad of Youth against Settlements, told Ma‘an that they made the discovery while making the rounds on Shuhada Street and Tel al-Rumeida in central Hebron. Amro said that members of the group found the door of a Palestinian shop in the area — shut closed by Israeli military order since 2001 — ajar, and upon entering the shop they found large holes in the wall that led to other shops. He said that Israeli settlers had stolen goods from the shops and a few connected homes during their raids. Amro said that the squad was formed to help people in the area during the ongoing winter storm and provide them with the services they need, due to the fact that Palestinian defense services cannot reach the area because it is under Israeli control. 500 Israeli settlers live in the heart of Hebron’s Old City, many of whom have illegally occupied Palestinian houses and forcibly removed the original inhabitants. They are protected by thousands of Israeli forces. Settlers and Israeli forces regularly target local Palestinians for harassment, and many have been forced from their homes as a result. Settler frequently break holes into the walls of old buildings in order to expand the settlements into them.
Israeli settlers chop down 300 olive trees south of Hebron
HEBRON (Ma‘an) 10 Jan — Israeli settlers on Friday night carried out the second attack of the day on Palestinian farmers south of Hebron and chopped down about 300 olive trees. Coordinator of a local popular committee against Israeli settlements and the separation wall, Ratib al-Jubour, told Ma‘an that the settlers who carried out the attack came from the nearby Jewish-only settlement of Susiya. He said that they came at night and used the cover of the storm sweeping across the region to carry out the attack. He added the attackers chopped down about 300 olive trees, each of which had been planted between three and seven years ago. He said that the trees belong to the Shatat, Dawood, and Halabi families … Since 1967, approximately 800,000 olive trees have been uprooted in the occupied West Bank, according to a joint report by the Palestinian Authority and the Applied Research Institute Jerusalem. The olive industry supports the livelihoods of roughly 80,000 families in the occupied West Bank.
Israeli settlers chop down 45 olive trees south of Hebron
HEBRON (Ma‘an) 9 Jan — Israelis from a Jewish-only settlement on Friday raided Palestinian land and chopped down 45 olive trees outside of Yatta, south of Hebron in the southern West Bank. Coordinator of a local popular committee, Rateb al-Jubour, said that the settlers raided lands belonging to local farmers in the area of Shaab al-Butm, chopping down dozens of olive trees at least three decades old. He identified the farmers whose lands were raided during the attack as Jibril and Khaled Muhammad Abu Arram.
Israel razes Palestinian building in Negev
NEGEV (PIC) 8 Jan — An Israeli bulldozer at dawn Thursday demolished under military and police protection a Palestinian building in Arara town in the Negev region. The Israeli authorities claimed the building was constructed with no license. Local Bedouins told the Palestinian Information Center (PIC) that Israeli troops prevented Palestinian citizens from approaching the building during the demolition. They condemned Israel’s systematic demolition of their homes and property in the Negev as part of its ethnic cleansing policy that is aimed at expelling all natives from the region in order to build homes and facilities for Jewish settlers.
Hamas leader’s Israeli sisters rapped for Gaza visit
AFP 8 Jan — Sisters of Hamas chief Haniyeh given suspended prison terms for crossing into Gaza from Egypt in 2013 without obtaining permit from Israel; both say they traveled for purposes of family reunification — An Israeli court sentenced two sisters of former Hamas Gaza prime minister Ismail Haniyeh to suspended prison terms Thursday for illegally entering the coastal strip. Court documents said Sabah Haniyeh, 48, and Leila Abu Rkaik, 65, both Israeli citizens, were sentenced to eight months, suspended for three years, and fined 20,000 shekels ($5,000, 4,276 euros) for crossing into Gaza from Egypt in 2013 without obtaining a permit from Israel. Both women, who are the widows of Arab-Israeli men, said they made the trip to visit relatives they had not seen for several years … “The Israeli authorities only grant permits under conditions which are far too restrictive – the death or marriage of a close relative,” Gisha co-founder Sari Bashi said. “This policy does not respect the right of family reunification. There are Palestinians who have not seen their fathers or mothers for 20 years,” she said.
IOA prevents Palestinian judge from performing Umrah
RAMALLAH (PIC) 7 Jan — The Israeli Occupation Authorities (IOA) prevented Tuesday the Palestinian judge Sheikh Abduallah Turkman from traveling to Saudi Arabia to perform Umrah (minor pilgrimage). Local sources told the PIC reporter that Sheikh Turkman was prevented by Israeli occupation forces from passing through Karama crossing while on his way to perform Umrah under security pretexts. Sheikh Turkman, from Jenin, had spent several years behind Israeli bars.
Israeli forces install iron gate at entrance to Nablus-area village
NABLUS (Ma‘an) 7 Jan – Israeli forces on Wednesday installed an iron gate at a main entrance to the northern West Bank village of Jamma‘in south of Nablus. Palestinian security sources and witnesses told Ma‘an in Nablus that the Israeli forces installed the gate at the southern entrance which connects Jammain and the nearby village of Marda. The soldiers denied Palestinian citizens entry in both directions. The sources highlighted that the Palestinian Authority submitted an official demurral to the Israeli liaison department. They added that the Israelis gave no explanation about the sudden move.
Crippling overcrowdedness at crossing between West Bank and Jordan
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 7 Jan – The Allenby Bridge crossing between the West Bank and Jordan has been witnessing very serious overcrowdedness since Tuesday as tens of thousands are trying to leave to Jordan, the PA director of crossings said Wednesday. Nathmi Muhannad told Ma‘an via telephone that “for the first time ever, 7,200 passengers crossed to Jordan in a single day Tuesday.” The crossing, he said, operated from 6:00 a.m. to 1:30 a.m. the next day. The main cause of overcrowdedness is that 10,000 pilgrims were scheduled to travel to Saudi Arabia Tuesday and Wednesday, added Muhanna. He said that 4,000 pilgrims left on Tuesday and 6,000 are scheduled to leave on Wednesday. Pilgrims, he said, need to travel as quickly as possible because they have visas for a few days only. The travelers hall at the Palestinian side in Jericho was very overcrowded because passengers were unable to wait outside in the open due to the cold weather, says Muhanna. He said that the hall has 1,200 seats, but there were thousands inside on Tuesday. On Wednesday morning, hundreds of vehicles queued along the street in front of the first stop of the crossing in Jericho causing crippling congestion again. Muhanna added that the crossing would be shut down at 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday due to the expected snow storm.
Poll: Majority of Palestinians believe Israel will destroy Al-Aqsa
Middle East Monitor 8 Jan — A new poll revealed that as many as 86 per cent of the Palestinians believe that Al-Haram Al-Sharif, which includes Al-Aqsa Mosque and the Dome of the Rock, is in “great danger” while 77 per cent said that Israel intends to destroy the mosque and replace it with a Jewish structure. According to the poll, conducted by Palestinian Centre for Policy and Survey Research (PSR) in Ramallah, 21 per cent of respondents believe that Israel intends to divide the compound’s yard into Muslim and Jewish sections and that it will construct a synagogue in the Jewish area. Half of respondents believed that Israel will succeed in its plans while only six per cent believed that Israel intends to maintain the status quo in the compound and will ban Jews from praying there.
Violence / Raids / Suppression of protests / Arrests
Israeli police round up 8 Palestinians over Jerusalem stabbing
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 9 Jan — Israeli police detained at least seven Palestinians in a series of raids in the Old City of occupied East Jerusalem late Thursday and early Friday in the hours after a 21-year-old Israeli Jewish man was stabbed while walking nearby. Israeli police swarmed the streets of Jerusalem’s Old City and conducted body searches among Palestinian residents, setting up checkpoints at the Damascus, Lion’s and Herod’s Gates, and preventing locals from freely moving without showing identification. Israeli media said Friday that a 15-year-old Palestinian boy had been detained by police for the crime, and that he had been transferred to Israeli intelligence services for interrogation. The 15-year-old was one of at least seven Palestinians detained by Israeli forces, who locals said “deliberately” provoked local youths by holding them for hours and subjecting them to invasive searches. Director of the Palestinian Prisoner’s Society in Jerusalem, Nasser Qawwas, identified three of the seven detained youths as Muhammad Hijazi, Muhammad Miswadda, and Khalid al-Qawasmi. It was unclear if the youth suspected of involvement in the stabbing was one of the seven or was arrested separately. Clashes also erupted between youths and Israeli border guards in the al-Saadiya neighborhood in the Old City as soldiers fired rubber-coated steel bullets injuring several youths. They also reportedly physically assaulted a number of youths.
Jewish settlers attack Palestinian rescue team
AL-KHALIL (PIC) 9 Jan — A horde of Israeli fanatic settlers afternoon Thursday attacked an emergency rescue team in Yatta town, south of the West Bank city of al-Khalil. Coordinator for the anti-settlement committee Rateb Jabour said Jewish settlers attacked a rescue team providing assistance for a Palestinian civilian who broke his leg in Shaab al-Batam area in al-Khalil as a result of the harsh rainy weather. The settler brandished knives and guns at the rescue workers and forced them to leave the area, Jabour added. The Israeli vandals reportedly came from the Susya and Ma’on illegal settlements built on annexed Palestinian land east of Yatta town.
VIDEO: Snow and rain does not stop Kufr Qaddam protest
KUFR QADDAM, Occupied Palestine (ISM, Nablus Team) 9 Jan — Dozens of demonstrators braved the rain today to protest the continued closure of the Kufr Qaddum’s main road to Nablus. A peaceful march began at noon after prayers ended. Villagers, alongside Israeli and international activists, walked up Kafr Qaddam’s main street as soldiers looked on from about 100 metres away. Within minutes the first rounds of tear gas were fired. The wet weather and high winds only worsened the effects of the tear gas, which was blown in all directions, making it impossible to avoid. A local organizer and Kufr Qaddam resident ended the demonstration by a call to all gathered (translated), “Even in the snow, even in the bad weather we will keep resisting, to open our road… The amount of people gathered today, even in this weather, shows how powerful we are.” Villagers have been demonstrating every week for three years with one simple demand: to re-open the road that is the village’s main route to Nablus. The road has been closed for Palestinian access due to the neighbouring illegal Israeli settlement, Qedumin … Despite the tear gas and Israeli military presence in the village, today’s demonstration will be seen by many as a “quiet” one. In recent weeks, the Israeli military have used live ammunition against demonstrators, injuring many. Residents of Kufr Qaddum have made it clear that the resistance will continue.
Khader Adnan launches hunger strike against administrative detention
JENIN (Ma‘an) 8 Jan — Khader Adnan, a Palestinian prisoner in Israeli jails who staged one of the longest hunger strikes in history in 2012, has launched a new week-long hunger strike to protest his renewed detention without charge or trial by Israeli authorities. Adnan’s family told Ma‘an that his cellmates in Israel’s Hadarim prison sent them a letter on Wednesday saying that he was launching a week-long strike in protest against the renewal of his administrative detention with no change of charge of trial. The letter said that Israeli prison authorities had moved Adnan to solitary confinement as a result, and denied him the right to meet with his lawyer. Adnan was arrested near Jenin in July during an Israeli arrest campaign across the West Bank, one of many former prisoners re-arrested for unclear reasons. In November an Israeli military court ruled to release Adnan after five months without trial or charge, but that ruling was never implemented and Adnan remains in jail without any explanation as to why he has been arrested.
153 Palestinian prisoners killed so far, says report
RAMALLAH (WAFA) 8 Jan – At least 135 Palestinian prisoners held in Israeli jails have been killed since 1967 due to torture or live fire shooting, according to a report published by the Prisoners’ Center for Studies, a local group concerned with the issue of Palestinian prisoners held in Israeli prisons. Whereas 72 prisoners were killed as a result of extreme torture, 74 others were deliberately shot dead by Israeli live fire after their apprehension, the report uncovered. Seven other prisoners, however, were killed after being treated with excessive force by the Israeli authorities.
Palestinian detainee Dweikat released from Israeli jail
NABLUS (PIC) 9 Jan — The Israeli administration of Negev prison Thursday released the Palestinian administrative detainee Basel Khaled Dweikat, 30, from jail after he served a two-year prison term. Israeli jailers released the detainee at al-Dhahriya checkpoint, south of al-Khalil city, Dweikat’s family told the PIC. A group of his relatives, friends, and ex-prisoners received the detainee upon his release. Dweikat, who was arrested on February 3, 2013, had gone on hunger strike twice in protest at his administrative detention with no charge or trial.
Blizzards tear up prisoners’ tents in Negev jail
RAMALLAH (PIC) 8 Jan — Blizzards following the severe winter weather, which has been hitting the region for two days, tore up the detainees’ tents in the Israeli Negev desert prison on Thursday. Palestinian Prisoners Center for Studies said in a statement that some of the tents were destroyed completely. This led to the entry of dirty rainwater along with flying sand and dust, which spoiled prisoners’ belongings. This has doubled the suffering of the Palestinian detainees held in Negev jail in such severe weather conditions, the statement added. For their part, the prisoners asked the administration earlier on Wednesday to repair the tents and make it stronger to stand the storms. As contrary to the prisoners’ demands, the prison management is still prohibiting the entry of blankets, winter clothes and heating appliances, as part of the latest penalties enforced on them since mid last year.
Visits to Palestinian prisoners in Israel canceled due to bad weather
NABLUS (Ma‘an) 7 Jan – All family visits to Palestinian prisoners in Israeli custody scheduled for Wednesday have been cancelled due to bad weather, according to the Red Cross and Palestinian Prisoner’s Society. Sources in both organizations confirmed to Ma‘an in Nablus that visits would be rescheduled and the new schedule would be announced next week depending on weather conditions.
Palestinian refugees in Syria
Yarmouk camp victim of water wars in Syria
Al Jazeera 7 Jan by Aya Chebbi — The Syrian regime is using water as a tool of war in the Yarmouk camp, according to a recent report issued by the Palestinian League for Human Rights (PLHR). According to PLHR, a diaspora network established in 2012 with contacts all over the Palestinian camps, the camp’s water supply was entirely cut off with no justification provided, leading to a humanitarian catastrophe. “We live an atrocious tragedy and all forms of death are available here,” Abdullah al-Khateeb, a Palestinian activist living in Yarmouk, told Al Jazeera over the phone. Caught up in the war between rebel armed groups and the Syrian army, the camp paid a high price. Of the 160,000 Palestinians who used to live in the camp, only 18,000 remain. Established in 1957, Yarmouk camp is one of nine camps hosting Palestinian refugees in Syria; the number of registered Palestinian refugees, according to UN figures, is 517,255.
Shorter lives, poorer health for Palestinians in comparison to Israelis
RAMALLAH, (WAFA) 8 Jan — A new report by Physicians for Human Rights–Israel published Thursday a report which suggests Palestinians have a lower life expectancy and poorer health in comparison to Israelis, despite living in one region and under the same regime. The report, titled “Divide and Conquer”, made a comparison of health conditions in the Occupied Territories and in Israel by using health indicators and socio-economic determinants of health that influence the residents’ ability to exercise their right to health. The report found out there are significant gaps between indicators for the Israelis and Palestinians; the average life expectancy for Palestinians is about 10 years lower than for Israelis, infant mortality is five times higher in the Occupied Territories than in Israel (18.8 per 1,000 births as compared to 3.7), and maternal mortality is four times higher in the Occupied Territories than in Israel (28 per 100,000 births as compared to 7). Gaps were also found in the financing of, the services provided by, and the manpower available to the Palestinian healthcare system, it added. The report showed that the national expenditure on health per person in the Occupied Territories is about one eighth of the Israeli health expenditure….
Hamas slams Hamdallah gov’t for threat to fire Hamas civil servants
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 9 Jan– The Hamas movement on Wednesday slammed the Palestinian national unity government over its position on the issue of civil servants formerly employed by the Hamas-run government, after Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah suggested they could be fired. “We have endured a great deal from this government, but it still enjoys the sufferings of Gaza. They had better stop testing our endurance,” Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said in a tersely-worded statement. The statement came after Hamdallah said that the solution for the 42,000 civil servants employed during Hamas’ seven-year reign in Gaza was either to pay them end of service benefits or to offer them small projects to work on. The statement came as a shock to many in Gaza, who had hoped for a compromise agreement. It also dispelled a rumor promoted earlier by Hamas leader Moussa Abu Marzouq on his Facebook page that Hamdallah had pledged to guarantee job security for all governmental employees without exceptions. At the heart of the problem is that after Hamas in Gaza in 2007, the Palestinian Authority continued paying its own civil servants in the Strip despite the fact that they were not carrying out any work. When a unity deal between Hamas and the Fatah-led PA was signed in April, there was no discussion of which group of civil servants would be employed under the new government, and the issue has severely tested the national unity agreement. The extremely severe economic situation in the Gaza Strip due to the eight-year-old Israeli siege and repeated bombardments compounds the problem, as the former civil servants know that if they are fired there is little hope they will find any other work.
The storm that only affects Jews
+972 8 Jan by Haggai Matar — The Israeli media’s storm coverage is a constant reminder of the reality in the occupied territories: two peoples sharing the same land – but only one is worth talking about — If you’ve been paying attention to the Israeli media over the past few days, you may have noticed its superb coverage of the damage caused by the recent storm. Newspapers, nightly news broadcasts and radio stations haven’t missed a beat – from roads being shut down due to ice, to the thousands of homes currently without electricity to students who are forced to stay home from school. Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, the Dead Sea, Haifa, Gush Etzion, Yitzhar. The media has it covered. That is, unless you are a Palestinian in the occupied territories. This isn’t the first time the coverage looks like this. During last year’s harsh storm, every media outlet reported on the storm’s effect on West Bank settlements. Everyone talked about the outposts that were stuck without electricity, and how the army helped save the residents there. No one asked what was happening in the nearby villages, which were also stuck with no electricity and are under the rule of the same army. No one thought that they, too, might need help. This storm is no different….
Police help 450 people stuck in snowstorm across West Bank
[with photos] RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 8 Jan — Palestinian police forces on Wednesday rescued at least 450 people from incidents related to winter Storm Huda as it swept across the Holy Land, bringing snow in many places as temperatures dipped below freezing in the hilly West Bank. In a statement, police said that they had been called to help people who found themselves caught up in the wintry weather on the first day of the storm’s landing in the region. They said that the majority of cases were for those stranded in their vehicles on the road due to rain, snow, hail, and heavy winds. Other cases where police intervened included where people needed to be taken to the hospital or their places of work. Police also helped remove snow piled on main roads and aid residents whose houses were flooded with rainwater and snow. The statement urged people across the West Bank to stay home to avoid getting caught in the weather, the worst storm of the season so far. Storm Huda touched down on Wednesday and is expected to continue until Saturday, although its force is expected to gradually decline.
ICC ‘close’ to opening Gaza war investigation
Al Jazeera 9 Jan — Al Jazeera has learned that the chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) may be close to opening an initial investigation into last summer’s Gaza war. The news comes after Riyad Mansour, the Palestinian UN ambassador, told a group of reporters on Thursday that Palestine’s formal acceptance of the court’s jurisdiction starting June 13, 2014 gives prosecutor Fatou Bensouda a green light to take up the question of alleged war crimes on Palestinian territory without waiting for Palestine to formally become a member of the court on April 1. “It is within her discretion that she can do that,” Mansour said. Al Jazeera’s diplomatic editor James Bays, reporting from the UN headquarters in New York, said legal experts had said the chief prosecutor had “very little option but to open initial investigation into war crimes”. Fadi El Abdallah, a spokesman for the ICC in The Hague, Netherlands, confirmed that the prosecutor can now in theory begin a “preliminary examination” of potential cases in the Palestinian territories. Bensouda has not announced any such examination yet. The potential cases could include allegations of war crimes by Israel during last summer Gaza offensive which killed nearly 2,200 Palestinians. Israel’s settlement construction on occupied Palestinian lands could also be examined.
Despite punitive Israeli tax freeze, Palestinians to pursue war crimes charges with Arab League financial help
Mondoweiss 9 Jan by Allison Deger — Within days of Palestinians announcing they would join the International Criminal Court (ICC), Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced his country would stop transferring customs revenue to the Palestinian Authority. The punitive move was expected to lead to a crisis for the Palestinian leadership as government services would collapse across the West Bank without the funds. But the Palestinian Authority had an unexpected back-up plan. The Arab League has agreed to provide emergency funds to cover the VAT-taxes frozen by Israel. This Arab League safety net will help the Palestinians avoid the expected temporary bankruptcy and allow them to move forward with pressing for war crimes at the ICC. In fact, financial support from the Arab League was a key component, along with joining the ICC, of long-term strategy to pressure Israel into negotiations. Negotiating a safety net Joining the ICC was regarded as the Palestinians’s “nuclear option,” a last-ditch measure to pressure Israel to end the occupation of the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem and recognize the establishment of a Palestinian state….
Senator introduces bill to cut aid to Palestinians
WASHINGTON (AP) 7 Jan by Deb Riechmann — Republican Sen. Rand Paul introduced a bill on Wednesday that would immediately halt U.S. aid to the Palestinians until they halt their effort to join the International Criminal Court to pursue war-crimes charges against Israel … While Palestinian membership in the court doesn’t automatically incur U.S. punishment, existing law says any Palestinian case against Israel at the court would trigger an immediate cutoff of U.S. financial support. The Kentucky senator’s bill would ban assistance until the Palestinians stop their move to become a member of the court.
WATCH: Military indoctrination of Israeli youth starts in kindergarten
EI 9 Jan by Ali Abunimah — Last month, dozens of alumni and former staff members of an elite Jerusalem high school stated their refusal to serve in the Israeli military, and called on future graduates of the Israel Arts and Sciences Academy to reject the draft … One of the signers, activist and composer Amit Gilutz, was interviewed on RT by Abby Martin this week. Watch the video above. –Indoctrination– Gilutz speaks about the “significant role that the Israeli educational system has in the indoctrination of students to become obedient soldiers.” This indoctrination, Gilutz says, “starts in kindergarten” with the presence of “uniformed teachers.” Gilutz refers to the 2012 book Palestine in Israeli School Books, by Nurit Peled-Elhanan, which demonstrates how the Israeli educational system demonizes Palestinians. There is a “very high degree of cooperation” between the ministry of defense and the ministry of education, Gilutz says. This includes “field trips to the occupied territories, normalizing the occupation by sending students to Hebron.” Schools that produce the highest numbers of military recruits are given financial incentives from the government, Gilutz explains.
Orphaned war crimes, coming back to haunt us
Haaretz 8 Jan by Gideon Levy — That’s the way it is with orphaned war crimes, those for which no one was ever punished or at least took responsibility; they keep on pursuing us like ghosts. And that’s the way it is with politicians who brag, “I’ve killed a lot of Arabs and there’s no problem with that,” (Naftali Bennett). The massacre by the Israel Defense Forces at Kafr Qana has again arisen, as if from the depths, nearly 20 years after it occurred. Two respected journalists, Yigal Sarna and Raviv Drucker, criticized the performance of young company commander Bennett, whose behavior, they say, indirectly led to the massacre. Almost immediately the “how do they dare?” assaults began. How do “keyboard heroes” dare rummage through the military past of a heroic officer, the head of a rising political party who will soon be the next defense minister? To ask a politician if he smoked grass if fine, but to ask if he bore any responsibility for a massacre is forbidden. “Today we’re asking to leave the IDF out of politics,” reads a statement by army officers, a request that accompanies every military episode anyone tries to touch; the officers, who are “unaffiliated with political views or parties” as if there even is such a thing, went on to defend Bennett.
Why Israel will never control Palestinian minds
EI 8 Jan by Ron Such — A social media post I recently saw said: “I used to think Israel controlled Palestine. Now I know Palestine is the only Arab country Israel does not control.” That testimony to Palestinian resistance resonated with me as I read Palestine Speaks: Narratives of Lives Under Occupation (McSweeney’s, 2014). Although the voices recorded in this book vividly describe the matrix of control that Israel attempts to exercise over virtually every facet of Palestinian life, these same voices also tell of lifelong struggles involving incredible sacrifice and heroism. And the impression that one is left with is that the Palestinians have never been under Israel’s control. Palestine Speaks is one of a series of books from Voice of Witness, a not-for-profit organization co-founded by writer Dave Eggers and human rights activist Lola Vollen … The oral histories in Palestine Speaks attempt to convey a person’s life from birth to the present in novel-like detail. Editors Cate Malek and Mateo Hoke succeed admirably in undertaking this task.