UN: 1200 Palestinian children injured by Israeli forces in the West Bank in 2014
Middle East Monitor 4 Jan — Israeli forces injured a total of 1,190 Palestinian children in the West Bank during 2014, according to a UN agency report. The figure, contained within a weekly briefing covering the period 23-29 December, accounts for 20 percent of all Palestinian injuries. UN OCHA noted that 280 of the injuries were recorded in July in the Jerusalem governorate, in the context of confrontations with Israeli occupation forces after the murder of Mohammad Abu Khdeir, and in light of Israel’s attack on the Gaza Strip. More than in 1 in 5 of the child injuries were caused by Israeli forces’ use of live ammunition, with the rest from rubber-coated metal bullets, tear gas inhalation, and assault. Earlier this week, it was revealed that Israel had detained 1,266 Palestinian children in 2014, an average of seven children every two days.
Occupied Palestinian Territory – Humanitarian Needs Overview 2015
OCHA — Examples of statistics from this site: Trends in casualties: 2012 Fatalities Palestinian: 272, Israeli: 7; Injuries Palestinian: 4,660 Israeli: 345. 2013 Fatalities Palestinian: 38, Israeli: 4; Injuries Palestinian: 3,964, Israeli: 151. 2014 fatalities Palestinian: 2,333 Israeli: 76; injuries: Palestinian:15,788, Israeli: 129 (does not include Israeli injuries from July-Aug war)
Violence / Raids / Arrests — West Bank & Jerusalem
Israeli troops raid West Bank, shoot teenager
HEBRON (Ma‘an) 6 Jan – Israeli troops shot and injured a Palestinian teenager during a [presumably Tuesday] dawn detention raid in the southern West Bank town of Beit Ummar where six men were detained including teenagers, a local official said. Muhammad Ayyad Awad of Beit Ummar committee against Israel’s separation wall and settlements told Ma‘an that 19-year-old Noor Muhammad Hamid Za‘aqiq was shot in front of his house. He added that Za‘aqiq was on his way home after he finished work at a gas station. He was hit in the left foot and was evacuated to al-Ahli hospital in Hebron by an ambulance of the Palestinian Red Crescent …
Awad pointed out that Israeli soldiers assaulted Muhammad Abd al-Jawwad Ikhlayyil, 50, when they detained his son Amir. In addition, the soldiers attacked Muhammad Fathi Bregheith, 36, when they detained his brother Ismail. The Israeli troops ransacked a bakery in the town, seized the ID cards of all workers and forced them to lie on the ground in the open despite the cold weather.
Israeli troops also raided Hebron and detained 20-year-old Anas Fahd al-Qawasmah, 18-year-old Muatasim Muhammad al-Qawasmah, 20-year-old Muhannad Talal Sidir and 22-year-old Mahmoud Hijazai al-Hashlamoun. In the nearby town of Bani Na‘im east of Hebron, Israeli forces detained Asim Ali Ballut, 19, after ransacking his home. Another detention raid was also reported in the northernmost West Bank district of Jenin where Israeli forces detained Muhammad Kamal Walad Ali from the village of Sanur, according to a statement from the Palestinian prisoner’s society. The statement said that Israeli forces detained a young man at the southern entrance to Qalqiliya overnight, claiming he attempted to stab an Israeli soldier. The detainee, Abd al-Rahim Tahir al-Ashqar, 20, suffers from a psychological disorder, according to the statement. Amin Dweik and Muhammad Ashraf Iskafi were detained from Jerusalem, the statement added.
Soldiers kidnap 22 Palestinians in the West Bank
IMEMC/Agencies 6 Jan by Saed Bannoura — [in addition to the arrests detailed in the preceding Ma‘an article], one resident was kidnapped from his home in Thaheriyya town, south of Hebron. A young man, identified as Tal’at Jaradat, was also kidnapped from his home in Sielet al-Harethiyya nearby town. Soldiers also invaded various towns, near the central West Bank city of Ramallah, and kidnapped two young men, identified as Mohammad Yasser Hreish and Amin Hreish from their homes in Betunia town, west of Ramallah. One resident was kidnapped in Kharbatha, west of the central West Bank city of Ramallah, and one in ‘Ein ‘Arik, west of the city. One Palestinian, identified as Montaser az-Zaghal, was kidnapped from his home in the Tulkarem refugee camp, in the northern West Bank city of Tulkarem. In occupied Jerusalem, soldiers kidnapped two brothers, identified as Mohammad and Ahmad Tawil, after invading their home, and ransacking it.
Soldiers kidnap six Palestinians in Hebron and Jerusalem
IMEMC/Agencies 5 Jan — Israeli soldiers invaded various Palestinian communities in Hebron and Jerusalem, late on Sunday at night and on Monday at dawn, and kidnapped six Palestinians after searching and ransacking their homes. Media sources in Jerusalem said several military vehicles invaded Kufr ‘Aqab and Um ash-Sharayet, north of occupied East Jerusalem, and clashed with local youths who hurled stones and empty bottles at them. The soldiers also invaded the home of resident Omar Abu Sarah, 50 years of age, and kidnapped him. On Sunday at night, soldiers invaded the town of al-Ezariyya, southeast of Jerusalem, searched and ransacked homes, and kidnapped two Palestinians identified as Mohammad Suleiman Abu Zayyad and Mohammad Bassam Sinnawi. In Hebron, in the southern part of the occupied West Bank, soldiers kidnapped on Monday at dawn three Palestinians, also after searching and ransacking their homes. Eyewitnesses said the soldiers kidnapped Saleh Sihda Daoud, 19, Ahmad az-Zaro, and Raed al-Joneidi. Soldiers also invaded ath-Thaheriyya nearby town, and drove around in its streets before withdrawing later on. In addition, the army installed roadblocks on the main entrances of Sa‘ir and Halhoul towns, and the northern entrance of Hebron city, before stopping and searching dozens of cars while inspecting the ID cards of the residents and interrogating them. Earlier on Sunday, three armored military vehicles invaded Husan town, west of Bethlehem, briefly detained and interrogated a number of local youths.
Dozens hurt in two Israeli military invasions in West Bank
IMEMC/Agencies 6 Jan by Saed Bannoura — Israeli soldiers invaded, on Monday evening, the village of Zabbouba west of the northern West Bank city of Jenin, and Beit Ummar town north of the southern West Bank city of Hebron, and fired gas bombs causing dozens of Palestinians to suffer the effects of tear gas inhalation. The Palestinian News & Info Agency (WAFA) has reported that several military vehicles invaded Zabbouba, and conducted provocative acts in the streets of the village, leading to clashes with local youths. The soldiers fired gas bombs and rubber-coated metal bullets, causing dozens of residents to suffer the effects of tear gas inhalation. In related news, soldiers installed a sudden roadblock on the main Jenin-Nablus road, near the ‘Arraba Junction, detained and questioned two Palestinians, identified as Ahmad Husam Melhem, and Zaher Fateh Fareq, for several hours. In addition, medical sources in Hebron said several Palestinians suffered the effects of tear gas inhalation during clashes that took place after the soldiers invaded the ath-Thaher area, south of Beit Ummar town, north of Hebron city.
IDF probe said to clear soldiers in death of PA official
Times of Israel 6 Jan — An internal IDF probe of the death of a senior PA official in early December after a heated confrontation with soldiers cleared the troops of any wrongdoing, Channel 10 reported Tuesday. Ziad Abu Ein died on December 10 on the way to a Ramallah hospital after being involved in a scuffle with Israeli troops near Turmusaya, in the northern West Bank. Israeli officials have said a postmortem — attended by Palestinian and Jordanian physicians — showed Abu Ein died of a heart attack, possibly caused by the stress of the situation as well as a preexisting heart condition. Palestinians disputed this claim, saying he died after being struck by soldiers and inhaling tear gas. The findings in the preliminary investigation, carried out by the IDF’s Central Command, maintained that all soldiers on the scene — including one who was recorded grabbing Abu Ein by his neck and yelling at him — acted in accordance with army regulations. Moreover, the use of tear gas at the protest was warranted, it said. Due to the sensitive nature of the incident, the IDF investigation will be followed by a separate military police probe, the TV report said.
Israel’s military prosecution presents: How to whittle away an investigation
+972 Blog 6 Jan by Yesh Din, written by Yossi Gurvitz — A member of Israel’s security forces shot a bullet at Ashraf Muhammad Jamal Tufiq’s foot in 2009. The IDF’s investigatory bodies did their best to make sure they will never find the shooter —On Friday, January 16, 2009, someone – a member of the Israeli security forces – fired a bullet into the foot of Ashraf Muhammad Jamal Tufiq, from the West Bank village Bil‘in. According to Tufiq, the shooting occurred without any provocation and came after the weekly demonstration ended. As a result of his injury, Tufiq had to undergo an operation and had to give up on being a professional a soccer player. On November 4, 2013, the prosecution of the Office of the Military Advocate for Operational Affairs closed the case, reaching the conclusion that it contains no evidence whatsoever … November 4, 2013 – We’ve come to the end of this comedy of errors: nearly a year after the last investigation, and four years and 10 months after Tufiq was shot, the Operational Affairs’ prosecution closes case, citing lack of evidence. So what had we here? A failure from beginning to end. The investigation began almost three years after the incident, and from the start it was doubtful whether it ever stood a chance. Too much time had passed. But there is an even more important point to make here. Almost all the witnesses contradict each other. The battalion commander says only rubber bullets were fired – but the platoon commander thinks there may have been a Ruger bullet fired. The sergeant major thinks only gas was used, while all other witnesses report the use of rubber bullets. The medical documents speak clearly of a live bullet. Did someone pull the Beitunia trick by firing a live bullet and masquerading as if it were a rubber bullet? We’ll never know.
Peace activists raise Palestinian flags in illegal Israeli settlement in Bethlehem
IMEMC/Agencies 6 Jan — A number of nonviolent Palestinian activists managed to raise Palestinian flags, on Monday evening, in the Efrat illegal Israeli settlement, built on Palestinian lands south of the West Bank city of Bethlehem. Coordinator of the Popular Committee against the Wall and Settlements in Bethlehem Hasan Breijiyya said a group of activists managed to enter the illegal settlement through its eastern entrance, and raised Palestinian flags near a number of homes. Israeli soldiers and police officers then noticed the Palestinians, and chased them, but was unable to capture any of them. Mohammad Mheisin, Coordinator of the Popular Committee in the Southern Part of the West Bank, told the WAFA Palestinian News Agency that the Palestinians will continue their nonviolent resistance activities against Israel’s colonies in the occupied West Bank and Jerusalem.
Israeli forces arrest 3 Palestinians in Hebron
HEBRON (Ma‘an) 5 Jan — Israeli forces detained three Palestinians after raiding their homes, local sources said. Locals told Ma‘an Israeli forces in Hebron blew off the door of Majed al-Zaru’s home and searched the building before detaining his son Ahmad. Soldiers also detained Raed Rashed al-Juneidi and Saleh Shidh Daoud, the sources said.
The Month in Pictures: December 2014
EI 6 Jan — Muhammad Abed, a five-year-old from the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Issawiyeh, recovers at a hospital after surgery on 28 December. The child was shot in the eye with a rubber bullet fired by Israeli Border Police after a school bus dropped him off in front of his home on 24 December. (Tali Mayer / ActiveStills) … An Israeli soldier kicks an elderly Palestinian man during a protest marking International Human Rights Day in the village of Turmus Aya near the West Bank city of Ramallah on 10 December. Palestinian minister Ziad Abu Ein died during the protest after being beaten by Israeli forces and suffering tear gas inhalation. (Yotam Ronen / ActiveStills)
Land, property theft & destruction / Ethnic cleansing / Restriction on movement
Zionist settlers poison 13 sheep near ‘Aqraba
[with photos] ‘AQRABA, Occupied Palestine (ISM Nablus Team ) 6 Jan — Yesterday, ISM volunteers traveled to the area of Lifjim in East ‘Aqraba, where shepherd Mohammed Ibrahim Abu Hamed grazes his sheep. Thirteen sheep lay dead there, foaming at the nose and mouth, one with green vomit visible – a clear case of poisoning. Abu Hamed and the Aqraba Municipality reported seeing a settler named Assaf [IMEMC: from the nearby illegal settlement of al-Hamra] spread an unknown substance over the land shortly before the sheep died. As the area is under illegal cultivation by settlers, this could have indicated intentional poisoning or indirect toxicity from herbicides. At the municipality office, ISM interviewed a Public Relation Officer named Gloria, who detailed the many difficulties the villages around Aqraba continually deal with…
On Saturday, five shepherds were out grazing their sheep in the Area B part of ‘Aqraba when at least seven armed settlers came down and attacked them. The settlers shot at the unarmed shepherds and two were injured. A number of people from ‘Aqraba came out with the municipality in response to the shepherds’ call. An hour later the Israeli military showed up, deployed tear gas on the crowd and arrested four shepherds, accusing them of trying to steal from the settlement. They are still in prison as of now. This attack is emblematic of the violence experienced by Palestinians who live near the illegal Israeli settlements. Smiling even as she finished describing the hardships of life under Israeli occupation, Gloria told us she thinks the people here are strong. They hold onto their homes and lives here while facing violence and destruction week after week. Gloria herself speaks English, French and Spanish, allowing her to communicate with many international groups about the occupation. In ‘Aqraba, the phrase “existence is resistance” holds true.
Palestinian family’s agricultural building demolished by Israeli forces in Hebron
HEBRON, Occupied Palestine (ISM, Khalil Team) 6 Jan) On Monday morning in al-Khalil (Hebron), Israeli forces destroyed the building the Jaabari family used to house their farm animals. They appeared at 9:00 AM, armed with a bulldozer which tore up the ground and reduced the sturdy structure, used to house seventy sheep and thirty calves, to rubble. The Palestinian family, who rely on agriculture for their livelihood, had received no warning of the demolition, nor were they offered any explanation. The Jaabari family had seen the bulldozer approaching, and had enough time to move the animals out of their shelter to a neighbour’s property. Their onion crop, however, planted in the earth between the road leading to the family’s house and the place where the animal pens once stood, was not so fortunate. Walking through the jagged ruts and mounds left behind by the bulldozer, a few glances revealed hundreds of crushed plants. The family, which includes four boys and three girls, derive their income from their small-scale farm; the Israeli military’s attack on their property is a significant economic blow … Living in Wadi al Ghrous, a neighbourhood to the east of al-Khalil sandwiched between the illegal Israeli settlements of Kiryat Arba and Givat Harsina, the Jaabari family and their neighbours experience regular incursions and violence from the zionist settlers and the Israeli military system charged with upholding the settlers’ presence and power.
Jerusalem’s interfaith ‘Peace House’ faced with Israeli demolition order
Mondoweiss 6 Jan by Allison Deger — Haj Ibrahim Abu el-Hawa has shaken the hand of President Jimmy Carter, listened to Ravi Shankar perform in his honor, met the singer Alicia Keys, was a great friend to the moderate settler leader Rabbi Menachem Froman, and is also indebted to the city of Jerusalem for nearly $100,000 in fines and taxes—all of which was disclosed in the first five minutes of meeting him. The 73-year old Palestinian proprietor of the Jerusalem “Peace House,” a modest hostel in the Mount of Olives that was opened by his grandfather after the June 1967 war, built an extension to his personal family house. Because of this addition, Abu el-Hawa, a fixture of Jerusalem’s coexistence camp, has been entangled in legal woes that could end in his imprisonment and the demolition of his family home if he cannot cover the fines … Abu el-Hawa moved into this building six years ago. His family of more than 40 persons is cramped. They need more space and so in 2008 the decision was made to begin construction on 10 new rooms, intending to fix two additional apartments inside of the structure … The situation of home demolitions in East Jerusalem is not unique to the hostel owner. The United Nations estimates that one-third of all Palestinians in East Jerusalem live in houses without permits. The city of Jerusalem also limits the amount of space where Palestinians can legally build to around 13-percent of the eastern half of the city. And an average of five-percent of Palestinian requests for building in East Jerusalem are approved each year, and the processing takes between five and 10 years, according to the legal group St. Yves.
Israeli forces demolish shops in Bethlehem-area village
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 5 Jan — Israeli forces on Monday demolished several shops in a village near Bethlehem, a Ma‘an reporter said. Bulldozers destroyed Palestinian shops near the entrance of Hussan, with Israeli soldiers claiming the structures were built without permits.
Earlier Monday, Israeli forces raided Hebron and demolished a house under construction, locals said. Local sources told Ma‘an Israeli bulldozers demolished a house that was being built by Abd al-Rahim al-Jaabari in the Ein Bani Sleim area in eastern Hebron. Israel rarely grants construction permits to Palestinians in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, and regularly demolishes structures built without permits. Israeli bulldozers demolished at least 552 Palestinian structures in the West Bank in 2014, according to the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions.
Israeli government authorizes $18 million for 300 new units in Beit El settlement
IMEMC 5 Jan by Celine Hagbard — The Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, along with Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon, approved on Sunday the expansion of an Israeli colony located on stolen Palestinian land near Ramallah. The expansion of the Beit El settlement will cost nearly $18 million, and will result in 300 new units being constructed in the colony. The money will come from the defense budget, and will be used to close a militarized base in the colony currently used by the Israeli border patrol, and to construct new houses that will be open for colonization by Israeli civilians. The announcement of the expansion is the result of a promise made by the Israeli Prime Minister to the Beit El colonists that he would pay them this amount in exchange for their acceptance of a 2012 ruling by the Israeli High Court that ordered the removal of thirty units that had been illegally constructed on stolen Palestinian land. Secretly, the Israeli Prime Minister had made a promise to the colonists at the time of that court ruling that they would receive compensation that would allow for the further expansion of the colony. Prior to Sunday’s announcement of $17.8 million for the expansion project, an additional ninety units have already begun to be constructed, also as part of the under-the-table deal struck by Netanyahu with the colonists in 2012.
High Court orders razing of last 7 homes in West Bank Migron outpost
Jerusalem Post 6 Jan by Tovah Lazaroff — The High Court of Justice on Tuesday ordered the state to demolish seven empty structures on the site of the former Migron outpost in the Binyamin region of the West Bank within 45 days. It further mandated the State to remove the cellular towers on the site, but granted a 60-day appeal period to the relevant cellular companies. Finally, the court said the development firm Al-Watan, the company that had petitioned to save the structures, must pay NIS 30,000 to the Palestinian property owners. The seven structures and cellular towers are all that remain of the small fledgling community of 50 families that were forcibly evacuated from their hilltop homes to a nearby location close to the Psagot winery in September 2012. The rest of the Migron structures were demolished at that time. Migron was first built in 2001 without proper permits on property that belonged to the Palestinian villages of Burqa and Deir Dibwan. The Housing Ministry provided NIS 4.3 million for infrastructure and public buildings in Migron, and Israeli officials quietly promised its residents that one day the community would be legalized. But almost from the start it also was under threat of demolition from the government and the IDF. In 2006, Peace Now petitioned the High Court of Justice against the outpost on behalf of the Palestinian land owners. Tuesday’s ruling marks the end of the Peace Now petition.
The economics at the heart of Israeli settlements
JERUSALEM (IRIN) 5 Jan — Of all the hurdles to peace negotiations between Israeli and Palestinian leaders, perhaps the largest is the 150 or so Israeli settlements in the West Bank. These communities, considered illegal by the UN, are fracturing Israel’s relationship even with its allies: The pro-Israeli head of the UK parliament’s foreign affairs committee this year declared that a decision to develop a new settlement “outraged me more than anything else in my political life”. Despite an unofficial freeze on settlement planning, in late December the Jerusalem Planning and Budget Committee set the stage for approving building permits for some 400 homes on Palestinian land in Jerusalem, and approved a plan for 1,850 more homes in a neighbourhood that sits on the border. While they are often thought of as the result of a religious quest by Jews to claim new territory, in fact for most settlers the reasons for moving are economic – encouraged through government-planned incentive schemes to relocate. But for some, the process of living in a settlement may have a radicalizing effect … The increase in “quality of life” settlers is a major shift from the settler movement’s origins in the late 1960s, when after its victory in the 1967 war with Egypt, Jordan and Syria, Israel began moving its citizens into what it refers to as Judea and Samaria, the biblical names for the occupied West Bank. Many early settlers hoped to reclaim what they saw as biblical Israel, as Elie Pierpz, director of external affairs for the Yesha Council, explains … Dror Etkes, an expert on settlements, argues that the difference in terminology between economic or quality of life settlers and their more ideological counterparts can’t really be justified – all are part of the larger occupation project, whether they like it or not. “When ideology meets economy its always nicer, and the ideology eventually comes to align with self interest. People tell themselves stories … it’s very easy to be a settler. Whatever you don’t want to see, you don’t have to see.” Yet settlements, even those dominated by economic migrants, can shift beliefs towards the right. Etkes notes that several recent violent attacks on Palestinians have come from these so-called “non ideological” settlements. Last month, a bilingual Hebrew-Arabic school in Jerusalem was set ablaze. Two of the three suspects, who have confessed to the crime, hail from Beitar Illit, not previously known for its far right wing beliefs.
Collective punishment for Deir Istiya village
DEIR ISTIYA, Occupied Palestine (ISM, Nablus Team) 6 Jan — On 29th December, Israeli military barricaded the village of Deir Istiya, Salfit with a roadblock. This type of roadblock, termed an ‘earth mound’, is a pile of rubble and earth dropped over the road to obstruct access. It prevents access from the village to the main road towards Nablus and Qalqilyah where many Deir Istiya residents work and study. Residents and visitors must use the southern route to get in and out through the village of Hares. Hares is a small village with narrow winding roads. The increased traffic through Hares causes congestion and increases risk of car accidents. The diversion of at least 8 km adds to fuel costs as well as journey time. On the 4th January, a 58 year old resident of Deir Istiya suffered from a heart attack. The increased time to reach Nablus hospital could have proved fatal. The patient is still in intensive care in Nablus hospital. Residents of the village managed to reopen part of the road a couple of days after it was blocked. The army returned and only fortified it with even larger boulders that were impossible to remove by hand. Villagers say the army closed the road as ‘collective punishment’ for a youth who had thrown a Molotov cocktail at a car passing from a nearby illegal Israeli settlement but no arrests have been made. There are 5000 people living in the village of Deir Istiya. This kind of collective punishment is illegal under international law, breaking Article 33 of the 4th Geneva Convention.
Al-Aqsa, Ibrahimi Mosque
Islamic leader urges Muslims to visit Jerusalem holy site
JERUSALEM (AP) 5 Jan by Rawhi Razim — The head of the world’s largest Islamic organization on Monday paid a rare visit to Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa Mosque, urging Muslims to follow suit to strengthen Palestinian claims to the holy site. The visit by Iyad Madani, secretary-general of the 57-nation Organization of Islamic Cooperation, came at a sensitive time following months of tensions surrounding the spot in Jerusalem’s Old City. The hilltop compound is revered by Jews and Muslims and is a frequent flashpoint of violence. Madani is a citizen of Saudi Arabia, an Arab country that does not have diplomatic relations with Israel and is the guardian of Islam’s most important sites. Al-Aqsa is Islam’s third-holiest site, after places in the Saudi cities of Mecca and Medina. “Coming to the mosque is a right for me as well as every Muslim,” Madani said. “It is our right to come here and to pray here. No occupation authority should take this right from us.” … Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has encouraged Muslims to visit Jerusalem in solidarity with the Palestinians, despite claims by some religious leaders that the city should be avoided while under Israeli control.
Hamas refuses OIC call on Muslims to visit Jerusalem
ISTANBUL (PIC) 6 Jan — The Islamic Resistance Movement, Hamas, refused the call by the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) on Arabs and Muslims to visit Jerusalem under Israeli occupation. Hamas also refused, in a press release on Tuesday, turning the holy city into an Islamic touristic destination, saying that longing to visit the Islamic holy places does not justify the normalization of relations with Israel. Hamas’s statement came in response to the call made by OIC Secretary General, Iyad Madani, to visit the holy city during his speech delivered at the inauguration of “Al-Quds in Memory” exhibition in Ramallah on Sunday. The speech urged Muslims to visit the city in thousands and called for founding Palestinian and Jordanian touristic agencies to facilitate pilgrimage to Jerusalem as it is the case with Makkah in Saudi Arabia. Hamas said the liberation of Palestine and Aqsa Mosque is the duty of all Muslims all over the world, stressing that the only way for that is resistance. Hamas called on the Arab and Islamic countries to protect the Aqsa Mosque and other Palestinian sacred places as well as to support the Palestinian resistance and Jerusalemites’ steadfastness.
Israel banned call to prayer at Ibrahimi mosque 52 times in December
HEBRON (Ma‘an) 4 Jan — Israeli authorities banned the Muslim call to prayer through the speakers of the Ibrahimi Mosque 52 times in December, saying it bothered Jewish settlers, the Palestinian Ministry of Endowment said Sunday. The ministry said in a statement that the prohibition of the Muslim call to prayer was an “assault on heavenly religions and on the freedom of worship.” “This is an ongoing policy by the Israeli occupation authorities seeking to impose restrictions on Muslims and prevent them from performing prayers at the noble mosque,” the statement said. The statement added that in addition to restrictions on the call to prayer, Israeli forces regularly impose tough military restrictions at the entrances of the Ibrahimi Mosque. In October, Israeli authorities prohibited the call to prayer 61 times. The Ibrahimi Mosque, believed to be the burial place of the prophet Abraham, is located in central Hebron, a frequent site of tensions due to the presence of 500 Israeli settlers in the Old City.
Prisoners / Court actions
Israeli court hands Palestinian three life terms
JERUSALEM (AFP) 6 Jan — An Israeli military court on Tuesday handed three life sentences to a Palestinian militant convicted of organising the kidnapping and murder of three Israeli teenagers. Hossam Qawasme, 41, was also ordered to pay 250,000 shekels ($63,000/53,000 euros) in compensation to each of the three families at a hearing at Ofer military court near the West Bank city of Ramallah. Qawasme was arrested in connection with organising and financing the June 12 kidnapping of the three teenagers that triggered a series of events which led to a deadly 50-day war in Gaza.
AG: Arab lawmaker to stand trial for incitement to violence, pending hearing
Haaretz 6 Jan by Revital Hovel — Yehuda Weinstein decides to charge MK Haneen Zoabi, who allegedly incited to violence against Arab police officers, offended a public official, during a July court hearing; her attorney says Zoabi is victim of discrimination — Arab Knesset Member Haneen Zoabi (Balad) will stand trial, pending a hearing, on charges of incitement to violence and offending a public official, Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein said on Tuesday. Weinstein noted in his message that the decision was made following a recommendation from the unit for special assignments, that handles cases sensitive in terms of freedom of expression. The incident for which Zoabi is expected to stand trial occurred last July, two days before Operation Protective Edge officially began. Zoabi allegedly offended Arab police officers that represented the government in a hearing at the Nazareth Magistrate’s Court. Zoabi is said to have incited to violence against them and against other Arab police officers. The police sought to extend the remand of suspects detained for disturbing the peace in Nazareth following the murder of Mohammed Abu Khdeir in Jerusalem, and clashing with police officers. According to suspicions, Zoabi raised her voice and called the Arab police officers traitors. Later, after a lawyer shook one of the officers’ hands, Zoabi allegedly said that no one should speak to them or shake their hands, before yelling in Arabic to those in attendance to act against the Arab police officers who took action against Arab suspects.
Wounded woman moved back to prison despite need for further medical care
IMEMC/Agencies 6 Jan by Saed Bannoura — The Israeli Prison Authority transferred, on Tuesday, wounded female detainee, Amal Taqatqa, from an Israeli hospital to prison, despite her need for further medical attention and treatment. The Palestinian Detainees Committee stated that Taqatqa, 22 years of age, was moved from the surgery ward of the Hadassah Ein Karem Israeli hospital, in Jerusalem, to the women’s section of the HaSharon Israeli prison. The Committee said Taqatqa has not recovered from her injuries, cannot perform simple tasks, and requires constant medical treatment and observation. Taqatqa underwent several surgeries, and currently cannot move around without a wheelchair, and is still facing sharp pain in her loin, left leg and arm. On December 1st, Taqatqa was shot by several rounds of live ammunition, fired by Israeli soldiers at the Etzion Junction, south of the West Bank city of Bethlehem, after the army alleged she stabbed an Israeli settler, causing a minor cut to his neck.
Israel approves administrative detention orders for 13 more Palestinian prisoners
IMEMC/Agencies 7 Jan — The Israeli military court of Ofer, on Tuesday, approved administrative detention orders filed against 13 detainees, according to the lawyer of the Palestinian Prisoner’s Society (PPS). PPS reported that the orders were approved by the court for seven prisoners, and for a period of four months. The prisoners were identified as Murad Quteshat, Tariq Hammad, Thaib Njajra, Ibrahim Klieba, Mohammad Aslan and Amir Ya’eesh and Nader Takatka. Meanwhile, WAFA further reports, Abdallah al-Amleh, Mohammad Amro, Yousef Amarneh and Abed al-rahman al-A’tek were given a detention period of six months. Two others, identified as Nimer Damj and Abed al-Rahman Hindeyeh, received a sentence of three months. Administrative detention, a form of punishment dating back to the days of British Mandate Palestine, is a procedure which allows the Israeli military to hold prisoners indefinitely on secret information, without charging them or allowing them to stand trial. The terms are most often served under far more severe conditions than other prisoners, denying them of basic rights such as adequate medical care, and driving many detainees into extended states of extreme protest, including hunger strike.
Israel stops family visits for 50 Fatah prisoners
Middle East Monitor 6 Jan — The Israeli Administration of the Negev Military Prison has banned 50 Fatah prisoners from family visits for one month after they celebrated Fatah’s 50th anniversary, the Palestinian Prisoners’ Club (PPC) said yesterday. In a statement, the PPC said that the punishment was imposed in two departments of the Negev Military Prison. “At first, the Israeli prisons’ services raided the two departments and carried out a provocative inspection,” the PPC statement said. “Then they forced them out from their rooms into the extremely cold weather.”
Israeli occupation renews detention of lecturer and girl
RAMALLAH,(PIC) 5 Jan — The Israeli military court of Ofer extended the detention of the 14-year-old girl Malak Ali al-Khatib, from Bittin near Ramallah, for one week. The Palestinian Prisoner Society said in a statement on Monday that the extension came under the pretext of getting a conduct record of the child before passing any verdict. The Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) arrested the child from a place close to her school six days ago.
13 Palestinians leave Gaza to visit relatives in Israeli jails
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 5 Jan — Thirteen Palestinians from Gaza on Monday were allowed to enter Israel to visit family members jailed in Eshel prison, a Red Cross spokeswoman said. Suheir Zaqqut of the International Committee of the Red Cross told Ma‘an that 13 Palestinians, including two children, were able to cross into Israel to visit nine jailed relatives. There are some 450 Palestinians from the Gaza Strip in Israeli jails. Israel denied Gaza prisoners family visits when Hamas took control of the Gaza Strip in 2007, but in July 2012, family visits resumed. Only very close relatives are allowed to visit Gaza prisoners in Israeli custody.
6800 Palestinians currently imprisoned by Israel
IMEMC 5 Jan by Saed Bannoura — The Palestinian Prisoners Center for Studies has reported that the Israeli army kidnapped and detained 7110 Palestinians in 2014, adding that by the end of the year 2014 the total number of detainees arrived to 6800. The Center said 2014 witnessed a significant increase in the number of arrests carried out by the army, as the soldiers kidnapped 7110 Palestinians, compared to 4250 in 2013 … The official also stated that the soldiers have kidnapped 1200 Palestinian children in 2014, an issue that shows a 57% increase comparing to 2013, when the soldiers kidnapped 750 children. 700 of the kidnapped children are from occupied Jerusalem. The army kidnapped 126 women in 2014 compared to 83 in 2013, and also kidnapped 28 legislators in 2014 compared to eight in the previous year. In addition, soldiers kidnapped 76 former political prisoners who were previously released under the Shalit Prisoner Swap Deal, compared to eight kidnapped in 2013. The kidnapped Palestinians are from the West Bank and Jerusalem …
Furthermore, the center said the Israeli Navy kidnapped 61 fishers in 2014, after surrounding their boats and opening fire at them, while in Palestinian territorial waters. Al-Ashqar said the soldiers try to blackmail the fishers in an attempt to force their collaboration, especially while under interrogation and torture. “The soldiers surround the fishing boats after firing at them, then order the fishers to undress and swim towards the navy vessels,” the official said, “They are later cuffed, blindfolded and kidnapped, before they are taken to interrogation centers.”
FIFA delegation arrives in Gaza after Israeli ‘obstacles’
Middle East Monitor 5 Jan — A delegation from football governing body FIFA arrived in the Gaza Strip on Monday after being blocked by Israeli authorities for hours, a Palestinian football official has said. “The FIFA delegation arrived through the Erez crossing despite obstacles by the Israeli authorities, which blocked them for three hours,” deputy head of the Palestinian Football Association, Ibrahim Abu Selim, told The Anadolu Agency. The delegation, led by FIFA’s senior development manager for Asia, David Borja, is visiting the Gaza Strip to inspect stadiums that FIFA helped re-grass at a total cost of $1 million. During Israel’s recent onslaught on the Gaza Strip, at least 30 sports facilities were totally destroyed, with the Palestinian government reporting $3 million in losses. By the time the offensive ended on August 26, more than 2,160 Gazans had been killed, mostly civilians, including 32 athletes, according to figures released by the Palestinian government.
Egypt to expand Gaza buffer zone to up to 2 kilometers
Times of Israel 6 Jan by Avi Issacharoff — Egypt has in recent days begun the second stage of creating a buffer zone between the Sinai Peninsula and the Gaza Strip. The current zone is being expanded from 500 meters to a kilometer, which means the destruction of some 1,200 homes in Egyptian Rafah. However, The Times of Israel has learned, there will be additional stages, which will ultimately expand the buffer zone to between 1,500 and 2,000 meters. The plan will result in the eviction of hundreds of families from the area, initially to El-Arish and in the future to New Rafah, a suburb of sorts that is to be built next to the current Rafah, and New Ismailiya, which will be built near the existing city on the banks of the Suez Canal. These buffer zones are meant to help the Egyptian military in its fight against the fundamentalist Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis group, which has recently joined the Islamic State, at least symbolically. The army’s operation in the Sinai has been continuous in recent months, with 16-17 Egyptian battalions operating in the peninsula. The forces include commando, armored, and infantry units. By the army’s estimates, the operation is bearing fruit, and has forced dozens of jihadis to flee the Sinai for Libya. There has also been a sharp decline in terrorism in the Sinai, and what activity remains is concentrated in the northeastern corner of the peninsula, in Rafah and Sheikh Zaid. Egyptian intelligence has specific information on assistance that Sinai terrorists have been receiving from the Gaza Strip [strongly denied by Hamas]. Many activists trained in Gaza, and received arms there that they have been using against Egyptian forces. That is the source of the urgency around creating the buffer zone: the goal is to cut the jihadis off from their Gaza supply route.
95% of Gaza’s groundwater unfit for human consumption
GAZA (PIC) 7 Jan — 95% of the groundwater in the blockaded Gaza Strip is unfit for human consumption, a report recently issued by the Palestinian Water Authority revealed. A report issued by the water authority found out that the overall potable water consumption in Gaza reached 103.34 million cubic meters in 2013, equivalent to about 90 liters per capita, noting that the quantity and quality of water consumed is inadequate and lower than the recommended global rates. It warned that the water conditions in Gaza have remarkably gone downhill due to the limited capacity of the underground water, estimated at 55 to 60 million cubic meters annually, while the quantity of water needed in Gaza is estimated at about 200 million cubic meters per annum. The report further pointed out that the continued extraction of groundwater caused an increase in its salinity, fanning the flames of a crisis already exacerbated by the increasing contamination of the underground reservoir ratios as a result of the sewage leak. A total of 98% of water resources in the Strip comes from coastal underground water, while the remainder needs are covered from the limited quantities purchased from the Israeli Mekorot water company.
Gaza struggles with lack of shelter caused by two Israeli wars
EI 6 Jan by Rami Almeghari — Since 2011, Aaed al-Athamna, his wife Asmaa and their six children have been sheltering in a mud-brick home in the Izbet Abed Rabbo neighborhood in the northeastern Gaza Strip. They have been displaced since Israel’s three-week-long “Operation Cast Lead” assault which began six years ago. The area suffered heavy Israeli bombing and shelling in January 2009, destroying the family’s 230-square-meter cement home. The al-Athamnas’ life has been similar to that of thousands of families in the coastal enclave displaced during the Israeli attack six years ago. The situation has gotten catastrophically worse since Israel’s most recent attack in the summer, which left more than 2,200 people dead. “I consider myself lucky compared with tens of thousands of others,” Aaed, a taxi driver in his mid-thirties, told The Electronic Intifada. “At least my current home of sand and mud has sheltered my family from the sun and winter rains, even though it is only 80 square meters [860 square feet],” he said … Mushrif al-Irr lives in another mud-brick home with eleven members of his family, also in northeastern Gaza. What’s remarkable is that the house contains not a drop of cement, nor any steel reinforcement bars (known as rebar). “We started living in this home almost one year after the 2008-2009 Israeli war on Gaza,” al-Irr told The Electronic Intifada. “And since then, we have been living comfortably at all times of the year, including summer and winter. In summer, the home feels cool, while in winter it feels warm.” … The initiative to build the mud and sand houses has been backed by UNRWA, the UN agency for Palestine refugees and a number of other international aid organizations. Engineer Imad al-Khaldi, a designer of alternative buildings, told The Electronic Intifada that he had suggested the initiative to UNRWA … .the number of people likely to benefit is still a tiny fraction of those in need.
Hamas, Islamic Jihad hold joint meeting in Gaza
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 5 Jan — The Hamas and Islamic Jihad movements held a meeting in Gaza on Monday to discuss the latest political developments and the difficulties Palestinians are facing in the Strip, a factional spokesman told Ma‘an. Islamic Jihad spokesman Daoud Shihab told Ma‘an that the meeting, held in the office of senior Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh, was a part of a joint cooperation to face Gaza’s challenges. Members of both factions discussed crises that Gazans faced as a result of the Israeli-Egyptian siege on the territory, as well as ways to support the Palestinian unity government’s work and services, Shihab said. They also discussed the Palestinian political situation and the effects of regional and international developments on the Palestinian people.
The strategic failure of Operation Protective Edge
Ynet 6 Jan by Alex Fishman — Analysis: As the Egyptians are physically disengaging from Gaza, Israel is becoming increasingly involved in the Strip and is close to returning to the pre-disengagement days — …On the eve of the operation, Israel planned to weaken Hamas, but it now finds itself reinforcing the Islamist organization economically and humanitarianly. And it is not only reinforcing Hamas, it is also rattled by every sniper or every rocket someone discharges there. Since the operation, Egypt has done everything in its power to physically disengage from Gaza …. The Egyptians have shut off, and everything is being dumped on us: From the international pressure to the frustration of every single resident in Gaza … And who are the idiots charged with the duty of helping the Strip’s residents and perpetuating the Hamas rule? We. The PA turns to the United Nations, turns to the International Criminal Court in The Hague – and we will deal with Gaza’s destroyed infrastructures. Only recently, different international bodies – including the US State Department – asked Israel to consider building a gas pipe to Gaza in order to provide a stable solution to the energy crisis.
Israeli commander: It is impossible to deter Hamas
Middle East Monitor 5 Jan — A senior Israeli military commander has questioned the possibility of deterring the Palestinian resistance factions in the Gaza Strip, saying that talking about discouraging Hamas is nothing more than an act of bravado. The remarks, which came from the Gaza Division commander Brigadier General in the Israeli army Itay Virov, were made after Israelis living along the Gaza border protested against the evacuation of military posts in the settlements that are not adjacent to the border fence. The newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth’s website quoted Virov speaking during a closed meeting with the residents. According to the newspaper, Virov expressed doubts about the possibility of deterring the Palestinians in Gaza saying: “They do not have many alternatives other than war. We better not deter Hamas. Those who live in Gaza do not despair of war and have no alternatives other than war.”
UNICEF State of Palestine
Gaza mothers and children – some special photos
Mideast conflict enters new phase with Palestinian ICC bid
JERUSALEM (AFP) 6 Jan by Sarah Benhaida –– The Palestinians have moved into uncharted territory by bidding to join the International Criminal Court, analysts say, with the decades-old conflict with Israel now set to play out on the world stage. After years of threats, the Palestinians finally turned to the ICC last month after the UN Security Council rejected a resolution setting a deadline for ending Israel’s occupation of their lands. The moves dashed hopes of a return to peace talks that have failed time and again, including in last year’s aborted bid led by US Secretary of State John Kerry. Analysts say the Mideast conflict has moved into a new chapter, with the Palestinians pursuing a fresh strategy of putting pressure on Israel through the international community. “The peace process born at Oslo is dead and buried, and we’re now at the start of a new phase,” said Karim Bitar, a Middle East analyst based in Paris, referring to the 1993 peace accords. How far Israel will take its response to the ICC bid will be a key question, analysts say, as it will fear going too far in undermining the Palestinian Authority.
How Israel stands to lose at the ICC, without a single trial taking place
Haaretz 6 Jan by Daniella Peled — The devastating prospects of Palestine joining the International Criminal Court has less to do with the chances of prosecution of soldiers, and more to do with the impact it will have on Israel’s precarious international image — …The ICC is a court of last resort, and the prosecutor can only launch a preliminary examination (followed by a full criminal investigation) if Israel proves “unwilling or unable” to investigate itself. Israel could plausibly argue it had the ability and will to investigate its own alleged crimes – there are 13 investigations into Operation Protective Edge already underway – although its record of military investigation has been accused of falling far short of international legal standards. The occupation, however, could be put on trial. Jurists and international justice aficionados will happily dissect legal minutiae on this issue for years to come. Israel will be the test case, and this process will roll on and on, sucking all the oxygen out of Israel’s strategies for public diplomacy (while the Palestinian bid for recognition as a state will gain unstoppable momentum) … The mere prospect of an investigation by such a prestigious body serves as the ultimate delegitimisation, Jerusalem’s current bugbear. Unlike the United Nations, whose report on the summer’s war is expected to be devastating, the ICC cannot be accused of having an anti-Israel agenda. After all, it has so far only brought African cases to trial.
UN chief says Palestine will join int’l court on April 1
UNITED NATIONS (AP) 7 Jan by Edith M. Lederer — U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said late Tuesday that the state of Palestine will join the International Criminal Court on April 1, a high-stakes move that will enable the Palestinians to pursue war-crimes charges against Israel. The Palestinians submitted the documents ratifying the Rome Statute that established the court last Friday, the last formal step to accepting the jurisdiction of the world’s permanent war crimes tribunal. The U.N. said the secretary-general would review the paperwork. In a statement posted on the U.N.’s treaty website, the secretary-general announced his acceptance of the documents saying “the statute will enter into force for the State of Palestine on April 1, 2015” in accordance with the court’s procedures. He said he was “acting in his capacity as depositary” for the documents of ratification.
Palestinians recognize ICC jurisdiction for period covering Gaza war
THE HAGUE (AFP) – The International Criminal Court said Palestinian authorities had formally recognised the court’s jurisdiction to investigate crimes allegedly committed during last summer’s Gaza war. The legal declaration would allow the ICC to scrutinise offences allegedly committed since June 13, 2014, the start of Israel’s military operation, but does not mean the court would automatically launch an investigation, it said. Acceptance of the ICC’s jurisdiction differs from accession to the Rome Statute, the Court’s founding treaty … It was on June 13 that Israel began a massive crackdown on the West Bank after the kidnapping and subsequent murder of three Israeli teenagers, triggering a series of events which led to a seven-week Gaza war that killed nearly 2,200 [now believed to be 2,310] alestinians and 73 Israelis.
To take Israel to court, Palestinians say they’re willing to pay the price
Christian Science Monitor 6 Jan by Christa Case Bryant — The Palestinian decision last week to join the International Criminal Court (ICC), through which Palestinians plan to recommend legal action against alleged Israeli crimes in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, could incur a fairly high cost. Israel initially responded by withholding $127 million in tax revenues it collects on behalf of the Palestinian Authority – roughly equivalent to a month’s worth of PA salaries. It has also threatened further punitive measures. And more than $400 million in annual US aid would be imperiled if the PA initiates action against Israel at the ICC. But the Palestinian leadership remains unmoved. “Deterring one Israeli soldier from murdering one Palestinian child is worth every penny and every suffering and not having salaries,” says Husam Zomlot, an economist and senior foreign policy adviser for the dominant Fatah party. “Our major issue here is not that of salaries, our major issue is that of the status quo and the [Israeli] occupation.” At issue is how Palestinians can best establish an independent state and protect their rights after 21 years of failed negotiations to end the decades-long conflict with Israel.
Israeli’s president against Palestinian tax freeze
JERUSALEM (AFP) 5 Jan — Israeli President Reuven Rivlin said on Monday he opposed a freeze in the transfer of taxes to the Palestinians in response to their application to join the International Criminal Court. “Freezing taxes can be useful neither for Israel nor for the Palestinians,” Rivlin told ambassadors accredited to Israel in a speech. In his speech, a copy of which was seen by AFP, Rivlin said that Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas “continues to reject direct negotiations and tries to impose a deal by force”, adding that such an approach “warrants sanctions” … “Sanctions against the PA should be in line with Israeli interests, and a tax freeze is not,” Rivlin said.
US weighs cutting aid to Palestinians over court move
WASHINGTON (AP) 5 Jan by Bradley Klapper — The Obama administration said Monday it was reviewing its annual $440 million aid package to the Palestinians because of their effort to join the International Criminal Court to pursue war-crimes charges against Israel. At the same time, however, the U.S. criticized Israel for withholding tens of millions in tax revenues to the Palestinians, saying such a step “raises tensions.” Taken together, the statements reflected Washington trying to come to grips with a Palestinian move it has spent years trying to avert and a peace process that offers no hope for an immediate breakthrough. The Palestinian decision to join The Hague court came after the U.N. Security Council last month rejected setting a three-year deadline for an Israeli withdrawal from Palestinian-claimed lands. Israel fears Palestinian membership there could lead to a rash of politically motivated prosecutions that further isolates the Jewish state and makes it hard for Israeli officials to travel abroad. “We’re deeply troubled by the Palestinian action,” State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki told reporters. She said joining the court “is entirely counterproductive and does nothing to further the aspirations of the Palestinian people for a sovereign and independent state. It badly damages the atmosphere with the very people with whom they ultimately need to make peace.” Under American law, any Palestinian case against Israel at the court would trigger an immediate cutoff of U.S. financial support. Membership itself doesn’t automatically incur U.S. punishment.
Palestine and the ICC: Watch Ali Abunimah and Phyllis Bennis on Democracy Now!
EI 5 Jan submitted by Ali Abunimah — I appeared on Democracy Now! today, along with author and analyst Phyllis Bennis, to talk to Amy Goodman about the Palestinian Authority’s attempt to join the International Criminal Court (ICC). We also talked about the significance of the failed effort last week to pass a UN Security Council resolution ostensibly calling for Israeli withdrawal from the occupied West Bank. Will the attempt to join the ICC help bring Israeli leaders to justice for war crimes committed over the summer in Gaza, as well as for long-standing war crimes such as the colonization of occupied Palestinian land? Watch the video above or read a full transcript.
Israeli group files war crimes claim against Palestinians
JERUSALEM (AP) 5 Jan — An Israel-based rights organization said Monday that it has filed a war crimes complaint against three top Palestinian leaders it accuses of terrorism, torture and civil rights violations. The Shurat HaDin Law Center filed the complaint at the International Criminal Court in The Hague, The Netherlands, against PLO leaders Jibril Rajoub, Majid Faraj and Rami Hamdallah, the current Palestinian prime minister. The suit follows similar complaints the group filed against Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. The move appears to be a longshot as the court receives thousands of such requests and rarely takes action. But it comes a week after the Palestinians announced they would be joining the international court to pursue war-crimes charges against Israel. The gambit opened them up to their own set of potential war crimes allegations over rocket attacks by the extremist group Hamas on Israeli population centers and other violence against Jewish targets. Ahmad Assaf, a spokesman for the Fatah wing of the PLO, rejected the accusations. He said the ICC should focus on Israel and that “people under occupation have the right to resist their occupiers, according to the international law.”
Delegation heads to NY to prepare defense against PA terror charge
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 5 Jan — A Palestinian delegation will travel to the US to attend a court hearing of a case against the Palestinian Authority and the PLO for their “financial and resourceful support for seven separate attacks in Israel that killed or injured US citizens.” A statement from Finance Minister Shukri Bishara’s office said he, the minister of social affairs, a government spokesman, and Bishara’s adviser for international affairs will head to New York for a week to continue preparation for the Palestinian defense. The first hearing will take place on Jan. 12. Later, several witnesses will be called to defend the PA in this case, the statement said. A New York court on Thursday had ruled there was sufficient evidence that the PA and PLO were involved in attacks during the second intifada that killed US citizens, the Times of Israel reported. It said the suit was filed under the US Antiterrorism Act.
Hamas ‘totally opposed’ to Abbas plan for new UN bid
GAZA CITY (Palestinian Territories) (AFP) 5 Jan — Hamas said on Monday it was “totally opposed” to Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas’s plans to re-submit to the UN Security Council a resolution on ending Israel’s occupation which failed last week. “Hamas is totally opposed to any return to the UN Security Council by the Palestinian Authority,” spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said in a statement. “Such a step would be political foolishness which plays a dangerous game with the destiny of our nation … On January 2, the Palestinian leadership decided to refile a draft resolution setting a deadline for reaching a final peace deal and ending the occupation. The draft had failed to pass a vote in the Security Council on December 30. Speaking to AFP, Abbas’s spokesman Nabil Abu Rudeina said the resolution would be presented again “soon”, without saying exactly when.
Israel says Qatar expels Hamas leader; militant group denies
JERUSALEM (AP) 6 Jan by Ian Deitch & Mohammed Daraghmeh –– The Israeli government on Tuesday claimed Qatar had expelled the leader of the Hamas militant group, in what would be a significant diplomatic victory for Israel. Hamas officials denied the claims as “baseless.” The Israeli Foreign Ministry issued a statement saying it “welcomes Qatar’s decision to expel the head of the Hamas political bureau, Khaled Mashaal, to Turkey.” It said the Qatari decision came after heavy diplomatic pressure from Israel. “We expect the Turkish government to act responsibly in a similar way,” it added. Hamas officials in both Qatar and Gaza angrily dismissed the Israeli claims. Izzat Rishq, a top aide to Mashaal, said the claim was wrong. “There is no basis of truth about brother Khaled Mashaal leaving Doha. We are in Doha now,” he told The Associated Press. Hamas spokesman Hossam Badran in Qatar and Salah Bardawil, a Hamas official in Gaza, also told the AP the report was false.In Turkey, the Foreign Ministry said it had no information on a Qatari decision or plans by Mashaal to relocate to Turkey.
Israeli military divided over Gaza war probes
JERUSALEM (AP) 6 Jan — A fierce debate is raging within Israel’s military over the extent to which soldiers should be held legally accountable for their actions during last year’s Gaza war, with commanders increasingly at odds with military lawyers. The dispute has set off a firestorm in Israel, where many say the legal threat would shackle soldiers in any future battle, lower their morale and shatter a sacred trust on which Israel’s compulsory military service relies. But with the Palestinians announcing their application last week to the International Criminal Court, the decision to investigate becomes all the more pressing: A robust Israeli inquiry into its military’s actions could be essential in thwarting an embarrassing and potentially incriminating outside probe.
308 Israeli violations against journalists documented in 2014
BEIRUT (PIC) 6 Jan — 308 Israeli human rights violations against journalists were reported during 2014 in Palestinian lands, the Palestinian Media Forum said. In its new report, the forum said that 17 journalists including an Italian were killed during Israel’s summer aggression on Gaza and 58 others were injured while covering events in occupied Palestinian territories. The report documented the arrest of 25 journalists and the detention of 53 others while practicing their journalistic work. 42 other journalists were prevented during 2014 from covering the events in Palestine. The figures showed that nine journalists were subjected to threats while 23 others were brutally attacked. 23 journalists were prevented from leaving the country. 32 homes belonging to journalists were totally or partially destroyed during the Israeli offensive on Gaza, according to the report. The report documented 21 cases in which Israeli forces shelled or destroyed media institutions during the latest aggression while 13 others were stormed. 54% of the reported violations took place in the West Bank while 33% were documented in Gaza Strip and 13% in occupied Jerusalem. 77% of 2014 violations were carried out by Israeli forces and police in complicity with Jewish settlers. On the other hand, the report said that PA forces committed 17% of those violations while 2% of the violations were carried out by Gaza government.
Palestine’s Orthodox Christians celebrate Christmas
Middle East Monitor 6 Jan Images by MEMO Photographer Rich Wiles.— EXCLUSIVE IMAGES Bethlehem’s Orthodox Christians prepared to celebrate Christmas on Tuesday 6th January in accordance with tradition. Orthodox Christians celebrate Christmas Day on January 7th rather than December 25th which is recognised as Christmas Day by the Catholic Church. About 50% of the Palestinian Arab Christian community across all areas of historic Palestine (including the occupied Palestinian territories and Israel) belong to the Orthodox Church of Jerusalem. Within the Orthodox community, much of the Greek Orthodox Church in Palestine has over recent years been at odds with its leadership in Athens over the alleged sale of church-owned land to Israeli settler groups in 2005. Led by figures including Archbishop Atallah Hanna, many within the Palestinian Greek Orthodox church have been outspoken critics of such policies demanding that the church must reclaim all sold land.
Watch: Orthodox Christmas celebrations in Bethlehem
Reuters 6 Jan — The Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Jerusalem, Theophilos III, arrived in the Church of the Nativity in the West Bank town of Bethlehem on Tuesday (January 6) ahead of Christmas Eve celebrations. Christian tradition has the Nativity Church as the birthplace of Jesus and Christmas is celebrated by most denominations at the Bethlehem Church. The Patriarch was lead by a long convoy of marching bands and clergymen who marched ahead of his car. Upon his arrival at Manger square, Theophilos III, got out and walked as journalists and residents crowded his space in attempt to catch a glance of the holy man.
Palestinian team aiming for knockout stage at Asian Cup
AP 7 Jan — While it didn’t generate anything remotely like the attention of Germany’s 7-1 thrashing of Brazil at the World Cup, the Palestinian team’s 1-0 victory over the Philippines in the AFC Challenge Cup final may have been one of the most significant international football results of 2014. The teams, both outside the top 100, met at the Maldives in May, with the winner guaranteed a spot at the Asian Cup. And so it was a momentous win for the fledgling Palestinian team. And that set the newcomers on course for a big debut against defending champion Japan at Newcastle, Australia, next Monday. While the Palestinians are outsiders against continental heavyweight Japan, subsequent group games against Iraq and Jordan will likely be more important in determining whether the Cup rookies can surprise a continent by making the last eight.
Astronaut snaps stunning photos of Israel. Spot the ’67 lines from space!
The Forward 4 Jan by J. J. Goldberg — NASA astronaut Barry Wilmore shot a series of amazing photos of Israel from on board the International Space Station as it passed over the region on a crystal-clear Christmas morning 10 days ago. They were posted on the International Space Station’s Facebook page. They are not color-enhanced. This is what it actually looks like from up there … One of the most strikingly unexpected aspects of these photos is the clarity with which you can see the Green Line, the pre-1967 border between Israel and the West Bank. It’s clearest in the next photo, which is shot from over the Kingdom of Jordan, looking west (north is to the right, south to the left). You can see the West Bank as two brown oblong shapes in the middle of the photo, with the smaller Judean region to the left and the much larger Samaria to the right. They’re separated by the dark green finger of the old Jerusalem Corridor stretching down eastward from the coastal plain … Many Israelis are under the impression that they have erased the pre-1967 lines. Looking down from the heavens it doesn’t look that way. The reason for the sharp distinction between the Jerusalem Corridor, which is technically part of the Judean Hills, and the West Bank to its north and south, is the forestation program carried out between 1949 and 1967 by the Jewish National Fund.