Palestinian student arrested after Facebook post
Middle East Monitor 27 Jan — Palestinian intelligence services arrested a media student yesterday morning for “insulting a public official”. Bara Al-Qadi, 22, posted a status on Facebook mocking Jibril Rajoub, also known as Abu Rami, who leads the Palestinian Football Federation, after the Palestinian team lost 5-1 to Jordan in the Asian cup … The public prosecution has extended Bara’s detention for a further 48 hours for additional investigations to be carried out, despite him being continuously interrogated from yesterday morning according to family members. Last year, Al-Qadi was arrested with another journalist Mujahid Al-Saadi as part of the Palestinian Authority’s broader crackdown on social media activists.
Violence / Raids / Clashes / Arrests
Israeli forces shoot, injure Palestinian teen near Joseph’s Tomb
NABLUS (Ma‘an) 27 Jan — Israeli troops shot and injured a Palestinian teenager during clashes Tuesday morning near Joseph’s Tomb near Balata refugee camp in Nablus in the northern West Bank. Palestinian security sources told Ma‘an that several buses loaded with ultra-orthodox Jews and settlers arrived to Joseph’s Tomb escorted by more than 15 military vehicles at around 2:30 a.m. They then performed religious rites at the holy site. The sources added that clashes then broke out in the nearby Balata and ‘Askar refugee camps between young Palestinian men and Israeli soldiers. They said dozens of young men hurled stones at the Israeli soldiers who fired tear-gas canisters, stun grenades, rubber-coated bullets as well as live ammunition at the protesters. As a result, a teenage boy was shot in the foot. The sources identified him as 16-year-old Basim Zakariyya Suleiman and said that he was evacuated to Rafedia public hospital for treatment. The sources said Israeli troops and worshipers withdrew from the area in the early morning hours.
‘Kidnapping attempt’ in Silwan
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 28 Jan — An Israeli settler on Wednesday morning assaulted a teenage Palestinian boy from the al-Thuri neighborhood near Silwan in Jerusalem while the boy was walking to school, the boy’s father says. Jamil Gheith told Ma‘an that the settler attempted to kidnap his son Ibrahim, 14, but he managed to run away. Gheith explained that a group of settlers from one of the illegal outposts in al-Thuri stopped their private car and one of them stepped out and brutally attacked Ibrahim. The settler then tried to drag the boy forcibly into the car, but the boy started to scream for help and managed to run away, the father added. Family members and other residents in the nearby houses heard the boy screaming and rushed to help him. At that point the attacker ran to the outpost and his escorts sped away, the father added. Locals called Israeli police who arrived and instead of looking for the attacker they started to beat the Palestinian residents who were at the site, including family members of the assaulted boy. The victim was then taken to Shaare Zedek medical center in West Jerusalem for treatment and his father filed a complaint at an Israeli police station. [Sounds all too similar to the July 2 abduction of Mohamed Abu Khdeir, who was murdered shortly thereafter. There have been other attempts.]
Undercover soldiers kidnap a child in Jerusalem
IMEMC/Agencies 27 Jan by Saed Bannoura — Undercover soldiers of the Israeli military kidnapped, on Monday evening, a 10-year-old Palestinian child [Ma‘an: Muhammad Said Oweida] near his family home in Shu‘fat neighborhood, north of occupied Jerusalem, and released him later on. The child was walking back home after buying some groceries from a shop next door, and as he was entering the main gate of the residential building, the undercover soldiers assaulted and beat him, before kidnapping him. The child was handcuffed and blindfolded before the undercover soldiers placed him in an Israeli car, and drove away. Talking to Ma‘an News, his uncle denied reports that Israeli settlers kidnapped the child, and said the kidnappers were undercover Israeli soldiers, who were initially believed to be settlers. The Israeli Police in occupied Jerusalem said it arrested a child who allegedly “hurled stones at the light rail.” The kidnapping of the child led to clashes between the soldiers and local youths who hurled stones and empty bottles at them, while the army fired gas bombs and concussion grenades. Later on, the police unconditionally released the kidnapped child.
Israeli forces injure 3 Palestinians during clashes in al-Ram
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 27 Jan — Three Palestinians were injured with rubber-coated bullets in clashes with Israeli forces northeast of Jerusalem on Tuesday, a Ma‘an reporter said. Dozens of Palestinians were protesting the closure of the main entrance of the village of al-Ram when Israeli forces fired stun grenades, tear gas, and rubber-coated bullets at them. Youths threw stones and empty bottles and shot fireworks at Israeli forces, preventing them from deploying at the top of a nearby hill. Several Palestinians in the area suffered excessive tear gas inhalation. Early Tuesday, Israeli forces used cement blocks to close the main entrance of al-Ram.
Israeli police detain 3 Palestinian women at Aqsa compound
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 26 Jan — Israeli police detained three Palestinian women as they were leaving the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound Monday, a Ma‘an reporter said. The women were taken to a police station near the Chain Gate for interrogation.
Israeli forces detain 2 teens in Beit Ummar
HEBRON (Ma‘an) 26 Jan– Israeli forces detained two teenagers in Beit Ummar at dawn on Monday, a local committee said. Spokesman Ayyad Awad told Ma‘an that Ibrahim Yusuf Ikhlayyil, 17, and Omar Suleiman Abu Ayyash, 19, were arrested in the al-Bayada neighborhood. Youths in the town threw stones and empty bottles at Israeli military jeeps during the raid. Another teenager, 19-year-old Maazooz Ibrahim Awad, was detained late Sunday in the town after returning from the Augusta Victoria hospital in Jerusalem, where he was visiting his brother. Meanwhile, a 17-year-old sustained bruising after falling downr while being chased by Israeli soldiers in the al-Thahir area. A total of 38 youths have been detained in the town in January, the local committee said.
Israeli forces storm northern West Bank village, apprehend 3 youths
QALQILIYA (Ma‘an) 27 Jan – Israeli troops on Tuesday stormed the northern West Bank village of ‘Azzun east of Qalqiliya and apprehended two young Palestinian men and a teenager. Locals told Ma‘an that Israeli soldiers stopped the three at the main entrance to the village for more than two hours. The mayor of ‘Azzun approached the soldiers and tried to convince them to release the detainees but the soldiers instead took them to an unknown destination. They were identified as 17-year-old Ahmad Mustafa Khirfan, 27-year-old Malik Zuheir Miskawi and 25-year-old Ahmad Baseem Radwan.
Jerusalem light rail suspended service to help Israeli army invasion
EI 27 Jan by Adri Nieuwhof — The Jerusalem light rail suspended its services Monday to help Israeli undercover forces kidnap a child, according to an eyewitness. Supported by a large military force, the undercover unit arrested a ten-year-old boy who lives near the light rail in Shuafat, a neighborhood of occupied East Jerusalem. The boy has been accused of throwing stones at the light rail. The trains that usually run on the light rail line were absent for the period of the invasion, suggesting it must have been coordinated with the light rail operator. French multinational Veolia plays a key role in the day-to-day operations of the light rail. The Israeli undercover forces were dressed as Palestinians while carrying out the arrest operation at around 7:45 pm – the busiest time in the evening. Regular Israeli forces provided massive support while the undercover unit surrounded the targeted house with a barrage of stun grenades, a Jerusalem resident who goes by the pseudonym Zalameh, said in a message to me. Zalameh, a resident of Shuafat (and frequent contributor to The Electronic Intifada who Tweets as @BDS4justice) witnessed the whole arrest. “Israeli forces assaulted literally anyone they saw on their way. Beating the women and children at the house they entered and arresting a number of youth who resisted the attack,” Zalameh added. The construction of Israel’s light rail line connecting West Jerusalem with illegal Israeli settlements in occupied East Jerusalem has reduced Shuafat neighborhood’s main road to one lane on either sides of the light rail track. Every 300 meters a traffic light along the Shuafat light rail stretch slows down the traffic, because the eight lights are only green for about ten seconds.
Six arrested in Jerusalem over attack on Israeli Druze man
Ynet 26 Jan by Roi Yanovsky — The Jerusalem police arrested six men on Monday on suspicion on involvement in the brutal attack on 21-year-old Druze student Tommy Hassoun last week. The suspects were brought Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court for a hearing on the extension of their remand. Tommy Hassoun was brutally attacked by a group of Jewish men in Jerusalem on Thursday – reportedly after they heard him speaking Arabic. What Tommy Hassoun’s assailants did not know was that they were attacking a young man who had completed his IDF service three months earlier and had recently moved to Jerusalem to study music.
Prisoners / Court actions
Court extends detention of 3 Palestinian minors in Negev
BEERSHEBA (Ma‘an) 26 Jan — An Israeli court in Beersheba on Monday extended the detention of three Palestinian minors who were detained after clashes with police last week in the Bedouin town of Rahat, a Ma‘an reporter said. The three were identified as Haitham al-Qasasi, 17, Muhammad al-Katanani, 15, and Issa Abu Ltayyif, 13. Beersheba’s magistrate had initially ruled for their release on conditions, including being deported from Rahat. But the prosecution presented an appeal for the magistrate court to extend their detention until Feb. 8 and the court accepted the appeal. Al-Qasasi was hit by an Israeli police vehicle on Jan. 21, sustaining light-to-moderate injuries before being taken into custody. The arrests came amid protests in the wake of the police killing of Sami al-Jaar, 22, who was shot dead while standing on the patio of his home during clashes between police and local youths in the neighborhood. Tensions heightened when 42-year-old Sami Ibrahim Zayadna died after inhaling tear gas fired by Israeli police at mourners during al-Jaar’s funeral. Many Bedouins were forcibly settled by the state of Israel in the area after 1948, particularly after attempts to drive them permanently across the border into neighboring countries failed.
87 Palestinians in Gaza visit relatives jailed by Israel
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 26 Jan — Around 87 Palestinians left the Gaza Strip on Monday to visit relatives being held in Israeli jails, the International Committee of the Red Cross said. Spokeswoman Suheir Zaqut told Ma‘an that 29 children were among the group, including 13 aged between 10 and 16. It is the first time since 2010 that Israel has allowed children over 10 to participate in the visits to Israeli jails. There are around 450 Palestinian men from the Gaza Strip in Israeli jails. hhIsrael denied Gaza prisoners family visits when Hamas took control of the Strip in 2007, but in July 2012, family visits resumed.
Palestinian MP holds longest administrative detention record at 134 months
IMEMC/Agencies 27 Jan — The Ahrar Center for Detainees Studies and Human Rights has stated that 57-year-old Palestinian member of parliament Hatem Qafisha now holds the record for the longest period of administrative detention in Israeli prisons. Qafisha has been imprisoned for a total of 134 months now (11.7 years), in addition to 8 months of exile in the beginning of the 90s, PNN reports. Director of Ahrar Fuad Al Khuffash said, in regard to the case, that Israeli authorities torture the prisoner, keep him hostage and consume his powers with no charges whatsoever. Mr. Al-Khuffash said that Qafisha was arrested 9 successive times in addition to the 8-month exile of 1992. In 1994, Qafisha spent 5 months of administrative detention: 27 months beginning in 1996, 13 months beginning 2002, 11 months in 2005, 21 months beginning 2007, and 26 months beginning in 2010. His last arrest was on February 4th of 2013, under which he is still being held without charge or release date, making for a total of about 134 months, to date. Administrative detention is a procedure which allows the Israeli military to hold prisoners indefinitely on secret information, without charging them or allowing them to stand trial.
Israeli troops open fire at Gaza farmers near border, no injuries
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 27 Jan – Israeli forces on Tuesday morning fired at Palestinian agricultural lands across the border between Israel and the Gaza Strip, witnesses said. Witnesses told Ma‘an that several Israeli military vehicles stationed near a gate on the border fence east of Khan Younis opened fire several times toward Palestinian fields on the other side of the border. No injuries have been reported. Farmers were forced to leave their fields.
Israeli navy sinks Palestinian fishing boat in Gaza, kidnaps 4 fishermen
IMEMC/Agencies 27 Jan — A Palestinian fishing boat drowned [sank], on Monday evening, after Israeli navy ships fired rounds of live ammunition at it in Palestinian waters, west of Gaza city. The soldiers also kidnapped four fishermen. Eyewitnesses said the navy first fired live rounds at the boat, then used loudspeakers ordering the four fishermen on board to jump in the cold water, and swim towards them. The four were then cuffed and blindfolded, before they were taken to an unknown destination. The boat belongs to members of the al-Habeel family, for whom fishing is their only source of livelihood.
Ministry of Agriculture calls for protecting fishermen
GAZA (PIC) 27 Jan — Ministry of Agriculture in Gaza demanded the protection of Palestinian fishermen. It condemned the latest Israeli aggressive action of kidnapping four fishermen and sinking their boat on Tuesday, to the north of Gaza city. The ministry said, in a statement, that the Israeli occupation bears the responsibility of the lives of the four kidnapped Palestinians. It also demanded their immediate release along with returning back the boats and other fishing tools that have been lately confiscated. The statement said Israel has been harassing the Gazan people over the only source of living left for them. The ministry called on the international and human rights organizations to urgently intervene to provide protection for Palestinian fishermen in Gaza. The statement also referred to the daily violations and tightening measures of the Israeli occupation in Gaza. It mentioned firing machineguns at the fishing boats, arresting fishermen, bargaining them to work as agents for Israel and preventing them from fishing, which all run contrary to human rights.
UN halts Gaza house repairs saying donors failed to pay up
GAZA CITY (AFP) 27 Jan — The UN agency for Palestinian refugees said on Tuesday that it cannot afford to repair Gaza homes damaged in last year’s war with Israel because donors have failed to pay. “The agency has exhausted all funding to support repairs and rental subsidies,” the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) said in a statement. “$5.4 billion was pledged at the Cairo (aid) conference last October and virtually none of it has reached Gaza. This is distressing and unacceptable. “It is unclear why this funding has not been forthcoming,” it added. UNRWA said that the homes of more than 96,000 Palestine refugees were destroyed or damaged during the conflict. They made up the vast majority of the more than 100,000 homes that were hit during the 50-day conflict between Israel and Gaza’s Islamist de facto rulers Hamas. UNRWA said: “Some funds remain available to begin the reconstruction of totally destroyed homes.” But it added that cutting subsidies to displaced residents currently renting alternative accommodation could force large numbers back to UN schools and centres which are already sheltering 12,000 people. “UNRWA in Gaza has so far provided over $77 million to 66,000 Palestine refugee families to repair their home or find a temporary alternative,” it said.
Hamas says UNRWA decision to cut programs ‘shocking’
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 27 Jan — Hamas on Tuesday said that UNRWA’s decision to suspend funding for displaced Gazans due to a lack of funding was “shocking.” Spokesman Fawzi Barhoum said that the decision would add to the suffering of thousands of Gaza families displaced by Israel’s military offensive. He urged the UN agency to reconsider their decision and exert pressure on donor countries to fulfill pledges made last year at a conference in Cairo. “President Mahmoud Abbas is also responsible to a great extent for these dangerous results as he played a role in preventing the arrival of reconstruction money to those who deserved it,” the Hamas official added.
The Gaza Strip: Life amongst the ruins
B’Tselem Eyes Wide Open photoblog Dec 2014 — The following photographs were taken by Muhammad Sabah, B’Tselem’s field researcher in the northern Gaza Strip. This is his account of the story behind the images .. For the past three months, B’Tselem’s three field researchers in Gaza – Khaled al-‘Azayzeh, Muhammad Sa’id and I – have been carefully going through the Gaza Strip, following up on reports one neighborhood at a time, one house at a time. We take pictures of formerly vibrant, densely populated neighborhoods that have been reduced to rubble. We meet people living amidst the ruins. They have nothing. They tell of their efforts to take shelter from the elements, to ward off the cold and the rain. They tell of their despair and helplessness. The extent of devastation defies the imagination. It is nightmarish. The only ray of hope is the sight of children playing, playing in the rubble.”
New film ‘Journalists under Fire’ launched in Gaza
Middle East Monitor 27 Jan — VIDEO — The Palestinian Center for Development and Media Freedoms (MADA) held a meeting in Gaza city yesterday (26 January) to present its special report and short documentary film on the Israeli violations against journalists and media outlets during the latest attack on the Gaza Strip in summer 2014. The journalists who participated in the meeting stressed on the need to hold the Israeli leaders accountable for their crimes against journalists and media outlets in Palestine, especially in the Gaza Strip. MADA’s coordinator in Gaza Dr Ahmad Hammad … added: “During the last three Israeli attacks on Gaza, MADA monitored a total of 191 Israeli violations, most of which were severe aggressions: the IOF killed 24 journalists and media workers in the three attacks, and shelled and destroyed 61 local, Arab and international media outlets.” He observed that the killing of journalists in the latest attack equals 77% of the total of killings committed by the IOF against journalists in Palestine in the last 14 years and a half. This attack raised the number of killed journalists since the year 2000 to 39 journalists and media workers.
Investigators: Israel fired on Gaza civilians carrying white flag
EI 28 Jan by Charlotte Silver — The Israeli military opened fire on a mass march of civilians who were carrying white flags and calling out “peaceful, peaceful” as they tried to exit Khuza‘a village in southern Gaza, which had been under siege for three days, corralling them back into the village. Those who were trapped in the village had tried to coordinate a safe evacuation with the International Committee of the Red Cross, but Israel’s shelling would not let up. This is one of the many disturbing findings from one of the only international and independent fact-finding missions that Israel has allowed to access the Gaza Strip since the 26 August ceasefire that ended 51 days of intensive bombing. Last week the mission published “No Safe Place,” a more than two hundred-page report on their findings from their forensic investigation. The mission’s aim was to assess the types, causes and patterns of injuries and deaths and to collect evidence for potential use in local or international justice mechanisms. The investigation devotes special attention to the siege on Khuza‘a, detailing the attempts civilians made to flee Israeli fire and finding that the army used people as human shields, executed civilians at close range, and intentionally neglected mortally wounded children. During the four days of heavy bombardment of the village, scores were critically injured. While the report refers to twelves deaths specifically, it says the total number of casualties remains unknown. The report also finds that most of those who were killed during the summer assault were crushed to death, frequently in their homes, and often with other members of their family by their side….
Egypt court overturns decision to ban Hamas
CAIRO (Ma‘an) 26 Jan — Egypt’s Emergency State Security Court on Monday overturned an earlier decision to list Hamas as a terrorist organization, a Ma‘an reporter in Cairo said. The court ruled that determining whether or not Hamas is a terror group does not fall under the court’s jurisdiction. The same court had decided in March 2014 to ban Hamas activities in Egypt and ordered the movement’s assets to be seized. At the time, Egyptian lawyer Samir Sabri filed a lawsuit against Hamas, saying it was behind attacks in the Sinai Peninsula and that Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal had planned them. Egyptian news site Aswat Musriya had reported in December that a Cairo-based court was to rule on Jan. 17 as to whether or not to list Hamas’ military wing, the al-Qassam Brigades, as a terror group. Hamas has denied any involvement in any attacks in Egypt, as has the Muslim Brotherhood, which was also blacklisted by Egypt as a terror group in 2014. Most of the attacks in the restive Sinai Peninsula have been claimed by Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis, a militant group that has pledged allegiance to the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria.
Hamas welcomes Egyptian court ruling on Hamas
GAZA (PIC) 26 Jan — Islamic Resistance Movement, Hamas, welcomed an Egyptian court decision on Monday rejecting a lawsuit, due to lack of jurisdiction, that sought to label Hamas a “terrorist” movement. Hamas leader Ismail Radwan welcomed the ruling, saying Hamas viewed the verdict positively. Radwan told the Anadolu Agency that “The court decision is in line with Hamas’s repeated denials that it is interfering in Egypt’s affairs”. “We hope the ruling will be a first step towards the restoration of relations between Egypt and Hamas,” he said.
Egypt extends Sinai state of emergency by 3 months
CAIRO (AFP) 26 Jan – Egypt on Sunday extended by three months a state of emergency in force since late October in areas of North Sinai after an attack that killed 30 soldiers. The authorities are battling a dogged insurgency in North Sinai, where militants have carried out regular attacks on security forces since the army ousted former president Mohamed Morsi in July 2013. On October 24, a suicide bomber and gunmen killed 30 soldiers near the provincial capital of El-Arish. The cabinet decided to extend the emergency by three months, including a night-time curfew between 7:00 p.m. and 6:00 a.m. The military is building a buffer zone along the border with Gaza to prevent militants infiltrating from the Palestinian enclave. The entire city of Rafah is set to be evacuated to create the buffer zone, and under President Sisi nearly 1,600 tunnels have been destroyed. In late October Egypt also closed the Rafah border crossing, Gaza’s only gateway to the world not controlled by Israel.
Thousands march in Gaza to commemorate PFLP founder
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 26 Jan — Thousands of Palestinians marched in Gaza on Monday to commemorate the death of George Habash, the founder of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine. The march, led by PFLP leaders and national factions, set off from the Unknown Soldier’s Square in Gaza City and called for national unity and an end to political division. “Our message today, on the memory of the death of al-Hakim (the wise one), George Habash, is to hold to the values he represented during his lifetime, since founding the Arab Nationalist Movement until the day he left us,” PFLP leader Kayid al-Ghoul said. Habash was “known for his revolutionary ethics as an entrance to a clean policy based on our people’s rights, the history of Palestine and his deep faith in the ability to achieve victory against Israel,” al-Ghoul added. George Habash, a Palestinian Christian, founded the leftist PFLP and led the party until 2000, when health issues forced him to resign. He died in Amman on Jan. 26, 2008, at the age of 82.
DFLP military wing says prepared to fight against Israel
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 27 Jan — The military wing of the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine said Tuesday that it had organized several military training courses for hundreds of fighters across the Gaza Strip. The National Resistance Brigades said in a statement that they are fully prepared to fight back against any Israeli aggression on Gaza. Spokesman Abu Khaled called for all Palestinian military wings to unite in one “resistance front.”
Gaza office of Palestinian Prisoners Committee burned
IMEMC 27 Jan by Saed Bannoura — The Palestinian Commission Of Detainees in Gaza City has reported that unknown assailants burned its main office, before dawn on Tuesday, and that some of its computers were stolen. The Commission said the main door of the office was smashed, and it appears the fire was deliberately set, after the assailants had stolen some computers. A representative of the Commission added that the attack targets all Palestinian political prisoners who are held by Israel, as the attackers are (consciously or unconsciously) serving the interest of the Israeli occupation in disenfranchising the population of Gaza. The Commission demanded that the Palestinian Police and security forces in Gaza investigate the attack and apprehend the assailants. Abdul-Nasser Ferwana, head of the Census Department of the Commission in Gaza … told IMEMC, “We never discriminated against anybody; we are here to serve the detainees; the attack only serves the interests of the Israeli occupation,” he said, “We are calling on the security forces and police to investigate the attack, its motives, and bring the assailants to justice.”
Land, property theft & destruction / Ethnic cleansing / Restriction of movement
Israel confiscates hundreds of dunams in Hebron
HEBRON (Ma‘an) 27 Jan — Israeli forces have confiscated hundreds of dunams of Palestinian land in the Beit Ula town in northwestern Hebron claiming the property is “state land.” An Israeli court issued a confiscation order earlier in January to confiscate hundreds of dunams of land in the al-Mekhath and Attus areas in Beit Ula to “Judaize” Area C and empty it of its original residents, the coordinator of a local popular committee said. Issa al-Emla added that owners of these lands have farmed them and resided on them since the Ottoman era, and that Israel started raiding and razing the lands in 1982 in preparation to confiscate them. Al-Emla added that Israel was executing its plans to take over Area C, which is around 60 percent of the West Bank.
Israeli forces deliver demolition orders south of Hebron
HEBRON (Ma‘an) 27 Jan — Israeli forces on Tuesday delivered demolition notices for two steel structures and a tent in Yatta, south of Hebron, a local popular committee coordinator said. Rateb al-Jubour said in a statement that Israeli troops issued a notice to Nasser Mahmoud Khalil for the demolition of a steel structure he is using for his sheep. Soldiers also brought a demolition order for a steel structure used to house sheep belonging to Samir Muhammad Hassan al-Hamamdeh, in addition to a tent his family lives in, the statement said. They also delivered a notice ordering Khalid al-Umour to remove solar cells from a building. The area is frequently targeted by demolitions, with Israeli authorities delivering more than 120 notices last year, al-Jubour said. Israel rarely grants construction permits to Palestinians in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and regularly demolishes structures built without permits.
Israel issues demolition orders near Hebron
IMEMC/Agencies 27 Jan — Israeli authorities, Tuesday, notified local residents of At-Tabban, a small village to the south of Hebron, of demolition orders for two animal barns and a residential facility in the village. Rateb Jabour, of the Anti-Settlement Committee in Hebron, said an Israeli army force broke into the village and served notices to Nasser Abul-Abed and Samir Hamamdah, two local residents, informing them that the said structures would be demolished in a week. Jabour said that more than 120 similar notices — in which the demolition of Palestinian-owned animal barns, residential structures, tents, fodder warehouses and water tanks were included — were handed to local villagers last year alone.
100 settlers invade northern West Bank
Alternative News 26 Jan by Ahmad Jaradat — Some 100 settlers invaded the northern West Bank village of ‘Awarta early Monday morning under the pretense of praying at sites they claim as holy in Judaism. Guarded by dozens of Israeli soldiers, the settlers prayed in three areas of ‘Awarta, a village of 7,000 residents located to the south of Nablus: Ritual al Azez, Ritual al Mafal and in ‘Awarta’s cemetery, located in the centre of the village. Local residents report that the settlers remained in the area for three hours, after which they moved through the streets of ‘Awarta, shouting and cheering over loudspeakers. ‘Awarta is located in Area B of the West Bank, which is ostensibly under full Palestinian civil control and joint Israeli-Palestinian security control.
Israeli forces close main entrance to al-Ram with concrete cubes
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 17 Jan — Israeli forces on Tuesday morning placed huge concrete cubes in the middle of the main road at the entrance to the town of al-Ram in northern Jerusalem. Mayor of al-Ram Ali Maslamani told Ma‘an that Israeli forces arrived in the early morning hours and closed the northern entrance to the town with huge concrete cubes. The closure, he said, crippled the traffic at the busiest entrance to al-Ram. The mayor added that his town is densely populated as it has about 60,000 residents the majority of whom use the northern entrance almost every day. The northern entrance, says al-Maslamani, is the main exit to several other towns and villages. “Closing the entrance will strangle the town more after it has been segregated by the separation wall,” added al-Maslamani. He said that more than 100,000 people from neighboring areas visit the town every day to do shopping or visit banks and public service offices.
Israeli authorities prevent PA minister from leaving Gaza
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 26 Jan — Israel prevented the Palestinian Authority Minister of Public Works and Housing from leaving the Gaza Strip to travel to the West Bank, a statement said Monday. The ministry said that Mufid al-Hasayna was scheduled to take part in the Fifth International Energy Conference and meet his Jordanian counterpart, housing minister Sami Halsa. The statement slammed the Israeli move, saying the obstructions on the freedom of movement of Palestinian officials prevents them from taking part in many activities and international conferences in the West Bank … In response, a spokeswoman of the coordinator of the Israeli government’s activities in the Palestinian territory denied al-Hasayna’s remarks. In a phone call to Ma‘an, she said “al-Hasayna didn’t ask for permission to leave to the West Bank.”
PCHR report on Israeli human rights violations in the oPt (15-21 Jan 2015)
PCHR-Gaza 27 Jan — Shootings: During the reporting period, Israeli forces wounded 6 Palestinian civilians, including a child and woman, while wounded 3 international human rights defenders, including a woman. Eight of these civilians were wounded in the West Bank and the ninth one was wounded in the Gaza Strip … Incursions: During the reporting period, Israeli forces conducted at least 69 military incursions into Palestinian communities in the West Bank. During these incursions, Israeli forces arrested at least 76 Palestinians, including 10 children and 3 women. Nineteen of these Palestinians, including 5 children and the 3 women, were arrested in Jerusalem. The detainees included an editor at Hona al-Quds network, from Beitounia village, west of Ramallah, and a reporter of al-Aqsa satellite channel, from Hebron….[very long report]
Exclusive: ICC backers defy Israeli call to cut funding to war crimes court
THE HAGUE (Reuters) 27 Jan by Thomas Escritt & Anthony Deutsch – Many leading backers of the International Criminal Court will ignore Israel’s call for them to cut funding in response to an inquiry into possible war crimes in the Palestinian territories, officials told Reuters. The continued support from countries which provide more than a third of the court’s cash, including Germany, Britain and France, averts the risk of paralysis at the world’s first permanent war crimes tribunal. The already financially-stretched court in The Hague – set up to hold to account leaders responsible for crimes that go unpunished at home – could have been unable to pay salaries. It would have struggled to move ahead with cases such as those against Kenyan Deputy President William Ruto, former Ivorian President Laurent Gbagbo and Ugandan rebel commander Dominic Ongwen. Prosecutors incurred Israel’s wrath this month when they said they would examine any crimes that may have occurred since June in the Palestinian territories, opening a path to possible charges against Israelis or Palestinians. Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman said the country was lobbying states to cut funding to what he described as a political body. He and other Israeli officials said their efforts would target Germany, Canada, Australia and Japan … That many of the states are Israeli allies complicates matters. But backing away from the court, regarded as a successor to the Nuremberg trials of Nazi leaders after World War Two, is anathema for many members….
Hundreds protest across West Bank calling for boycott
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 26 Jan – Hundreds of Palestinians in the West Bank on Monday participated in protests organized by the Fatah movement calling for a boycott of Israeli products and expressing support for Palestinian officials, officials said. In Ramallah, hundreds gathered at al-Manara Square in protest of Israel’s decision to freeze tax funds owed to the Palestinian Authority. Jamal Muheisen, a member of Fatah’s Central Committee, said that Israel “should not be allowed to steal our money and gain profits by selling their products in our markets.” “Despite several boycotting campaigns there are still Israeli products in our markets,” Muheisen said. “Our merchants and officials should not allow this to continue.” He told Ma‘an that the marches were called for in order to increase support for Palestine’s international political actions, referring to UN Security Council resolutions and Palestinian membership of the International Criminal Court. Another Fatah Central Committee member, Mahmoud al-Alul, said that the protests were sending a message to the world that Palestinians supported their leaders. Meanwhile, hundreds of Palestinians in Hebron also participated in protest marches. Hebron governor Kamel Hmeid and local Fatah officials joined in the march. Similar protests were held in Tubas. Fatah spokesman Ahmad Assaf said the protests sent the message that Palestinians supported President Mahmoud Abbas.
Fatah: If two-state solution fails, we’ll push for one state
Alternative News 25 Jan — If the two state solution for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict fails to materialise, the Palestinian Authority will push for a one-state solution, according to a leading figure in the ruling Fatah party. Dimitri Diliani, member of the Fatah Revolutionary Council, said in an interview with the Alternative Information Center that such a one state solution would be democratic, involving “one person, one vote” and not be some form of a binational state. Diliani added that the PA plan to push for a UN Security Council resolution concerning an end to the Israeli occupation would effectively pressure Israelis to elect a government serious about reaching peace as partners with the Palestinians. This partnership is crucial and would replace the model of Benjamin Netanyahu, in which the Palestinians are slaves to their Israeli masters. Speaking about the situation in Jerusalem, Diliani acknowledged there is a percetion that the PA is not doing enough to challenge Israel’s ongoing occupation of East Jerusalem. Although noting that the PA can only work indirectly in the city in accordance with the Oslo Accords, the biggest impediment he cited is financial; Israel’s budget for building settlements in East Jerusalem and Judaising the city is larger than the entire budget of the PA as a whole. This massive discrepency in resources can be offset, according to Diliani, by removing the issue from its economic and security aspects and grounding it firmly in resistance. Diliani stressed that Netanyahu wishes to drag the Palestinians from their current peaceful protests into violence in order to help his bid in Israel’s March elections.
Suspend EU-Israel treaty, urge dozens of MEPs
Middle East Monitor 27 Jan — A group of 63 cross-party MEPs have urged EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini to suspend the EU-Israel Association Agreement. The Agreement is the main treaty between the EU and Israel that has facilitated trade since 2000, and allows Israel to participate in a wide range of EU initiatives. The MEPs’ letter notes how “Amnesty International and Palestinian organisations have documented that Israel deliberately targeted civilians and committed other war crimes during its recent onslaught against Palestinians in Gaza.” …. The MEPs “call on the Commission to consider the suspension of Association Agreement with Israel unless Israel takes substantial and immediate steps to bring its conduct in line with international law”
French president’s Holocaust Day speech presages crackdown on Palestine supporters
EI 27 Jan by Ali Abunimah — French President François Hollande used an International Holocaust Memorial Day speech to confirm that his government plans to tighten its control over what people are allowed to say online. The planned crackdown raises concern that French authorities will use their powers to further censor speech critical of Israel under the guise of combating anti-Semitism. “Anti-Semitism has changed its face, but has not lost its age-old roots,” Hollande said at a Paris commemoration of the seventieth anniversary of the Soviet Army’s liberation of Auschwitz. Today, he said, “it is also nourished by hatred of Israel” and “imports the conflicts of the Middle East.” This conflation of anti-Semitism with criticism of Israel presages even harsher efforts in France to suppress the Palestine solidarity movement. Hollande’s speech comes in the wake of a broad crackdown in France that has seen dozens of people sentenced to prison for things they have said or written since three French gunmen murdered 17 people earlier this month in attacks on the offices of the racist magazine Charlie Hebdo, on a Jewish supermarket and on police….
Israeli intel unit drops soldiers who refused to spy on Palestinians
JERUSALEM (Reuters) 26 Jan by Ori Lewis — Israel’s top military electronic surveillance unit expelled dozens of veterans on Monday for refusing to spy on Palestinians living under occupation, Army Radio said. The commander of Unit 8200, named as Brigadier-General “A”, barred the 43 reserve soldiers who wrote to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and top army chiefs in September, saying they could no longer serve in the unit, the radio said. Coming a few weeks after Israel’s 50-day war against Islamist militants in the Gaza Strip, the letter was seen as an unprecedented rebuke of Netanyahu’s security policies but the military dismissed it as a publicity stunt by a small fringe. By decrying the sweep of eavesdropping on Palestinians, and the role such espionage plays in setting up air strikes that have often inflicted civilian casualties, the move opened a window on clandestine practices. “We refuse to take part in actions against Palestinians and refuse to continue serving as a tool for deepening military rule in the occupied (Palestinian) territories,” the Yedioth Ahronoth daily quoted the letter as saying. No signatories’ names were published, in apparent keeping with their non-disclosure commitments to Unit 8200, which monitors enemy Arab states and Iran as well as the Palestinians. Several were interviewed anonymously in the Israeli media, however, and complained about what they described as the gathering of Palestinians’ private information – for example, sexual preferences or health problems “that might be used to extort people into becoming informants
Palestinians urged to abolish death penalty
GAZA CITY (AFP) 27 Jan — A rights group on Tuesday urged Palestinian authorities to abolish the death penalty, after two new sentences were handed down this month in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank. The Gaza-based Palestinian Centre for Human Rights called for “an immediate moratorium on the use of the death penalty as a form of punishment because it violates international human rights standards.” Authorities in Hamas-controlled Gaza sentenced a 24-year-old to death by hanging on charges of murder, and a court in Hebron in the West Bank handed a sentence to another man on charges of collaboration with Israel, it said.Under Palestinian law, collaboration with Israel, murder and drug trafficking are all punishable by death … All execution orders must be approved by the Palestinian president before they can be carried out, but Hamas no longer recognises the legitimacy of Abbas, whose four-year term ended in 2009. Hamas executed 18 men in August for alleged collaboration with Israel during the 50-day Gaza war, having executed two others in May on the same charge. The PCHR’s statement on Tuesday was directed specifically at the PA, which it said had issued 157 death sentences since its creation in 1994, and so far carried out 32 of them.
In Hamas leader’s exit from Qatar, signs of growing Saudi-Egyptian influence
Christian Science Monitor 26 Jan by Taylor Luck — With the strengthening of an Egyptian-Saudi axis in the Gulf that is hostile to the Muslim Brotherhood, Qatar could no longer serve as a base of political operations for Hamas leader Khaled Meshal — Hamas political leader Khaled Meshal, arguably Qatar’s most famous resident, has left Doha, his departure marking a deeper geopolitical shift taking hold in the region. While the reasons for Mr. Meshal’s departure in late December were cloaked initially by official denials from both Hamas and Qatar – Meshal’s refuge and base of operations since fleeing unrest in Damascus in January 2012 – Hamas officials and observers now say it was brought about by pressure from Qatar’s Arab Gulf neighbors. The main force at play in the region is a strengthening of an Egyptian-Saudi axis that is increasingly hostile to Islamists, particularly the Muslim Brotherhood, of which Hamas is the Palestinian chapter. Egyptian leader Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, who succeeded ousted Islamist President Mohamed Morsi and regards the Brotherhood as his political enemy, has already made life difficult for the Hamas government in the Gaza Strip. And Saudi Arabia has blacklisted the Brotherhood as a “terrorist organization,” a measure later adopted by the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain. Qatar, on the other hand, has spent the better part of the last decade backing the Brotherhood and other Islamist movements across the region to use as proxies to push its political agenda. Observers say Qatar’s shift toward the Saudis and Egypt and away from Islamists is purely pragmatic.
Study: Germans have skeptical view of Israel
BERLIN (AP) 26 Jan byKirsten Grieshaber— Seventy years after the liberation of Auschwitz, some 58 percent of Germans say the past should be consigned to history, while three-quarters of Israelis reject the idea of putting the past behind them. Some 48 percent of Germans also say their opinion of today’s Israel is poor and the Germans’ view of the Israeli government is even worse, with 62 percent expressing a negative opinion. Israelis have a much better view of today’s Germany, with 68 percent saying they have a positive image of the country, while only 24 percent have a poor opinion.The figures are the results of a study by the Bertelsmann Foundation released Monday. The foundation questioned 1,000 Germans and 1,001 Israelis for the poll; the margin of error was 3 percent. According to the study, the perception of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has an increasingly dominant impact on the way Germans view Israel as a whole. Some 35 percent of Germans equate Israeli policies toward the Palestinians with Nazi policies toward the Jews, an increase from 30 percent in 2007, when the foundation conducted a similar study. Nonetheless, a majority of both Israelis and Germans believe that Germany still has a special responsibility toward Israel because of its history … “In Germany the persecution of Jews is viewed as a dark chapter in German history, but not as an essential part of its identity; quite the opposite, Germans would prefer it as an anomaly,” the authors of the study wrote in an analysis of their findings.
Rockets fired from Syria hit Israeli-held Golan
JERUSALEM (AFP) 27 Jan – At least two rockets fired from Syria hit the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights on Tuesday prompting Israeli forces to return fire, the army said. There were no immediate reports of casualties on the Israeli side. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu later warned that Israel was “ready to respond with force” to any attack. Israeli army spokesman Peter Lerner said the Syrian fire was “intentional, not spillover from the Syrian civil war” as has sometimes been the case in the past … Tensions have soared along the ceasefire line since a January 18 air strike attributed to Israel killed six Hezbollah fighters and an Iranian general near Quneitra on the Syrian-held side of the strategic plateau. Defence Minister Moshe Yaalon said Friday that Israel was prepared for any retaliation by Lebanon’s Hezbollah, which is operating in Syria in support of President Bashar al-Assad.
Israeli warplanes attack Syrian army sites
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 28 Jan — Israeli warplanes on Wednesday attacked Syrian army artillery posts in response to rockets which struck the Golan Heights a day earlier, the military reported. “The IDF holds the Syrian Government accountable for all attacks emanating from its land, and will operate by any means necessary to defend Israeli civilians,” Lt. Col. Peter Lerner said in a statement. He added: “Such blatant breaches of Israeli sovereignty will not be tolerated.” “At least two” rockets fired from Syria hit the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights on Tuesday, the army said. There were no reported casualties on the Israeli side. Israeli forces fired at least 20 artillery shells into Syria in response, Israeli media reported Tuesday.
Iran warns US of ‘consequences’ for Israeli attack
TEHRAN (AFP) 27 Jan — Iran has told the United States that Israel should expect consequences for an attack on the Syrian-controlled Golan Heights that killed an Iranian general, a senior official said Tuesday. Revolutionary Guards General Mohammad Ali Allahdadi died alongside six fighters from Lebanon’s Hezbollah group in the January 18 attack on forces supporting President Bashar al-Assad in Syria’s civil war. Israel has not officially acknowledged carrying out the attack, but was already warned last week of an eventual response. “We have sent a message to the United States through diplomatic channels telling the Americans that the Zionist regime crossed Iran’s red lines by this action,” said Deputy Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian … Last week, the defence minister, Brigadier General Hossein Dehqan, said “this action of Zionists will not be left without a response. The important thing is the question of the time and place of this response.”