IMEMC/Agencies 11 Jan — An armed fanatic Israeli settler provocatively entered a Palestinian market, in the Old City of occupied East Jerusalem, started insulting local residents before attacking a young man, and opened fire. Local sources said that the Israeli assailant lives in one of the illegal colonial outposts in the Old City, and that he started walking provocatively in the market, while carrying his government-issued automatic rifle. He then started shouting and cursing at the Palestinian merchants and residents before assaulting a young man, identified as Anwar Mona, 24 years of age. The settler also opened fire at the Palestinians in the area, causing no injuries, while Israeli soldiers arrived at the scene, provided protection to the Israeli assailant, and kidnapped Anwar. The soldiers also installed sudden roadblocks, on Saturday evening, blocking most Gates of the Old City of Jerusalem, especially Bab al-Amoud (Damascus Gate), Bab al-Asbat (Gate of the Tribes) and Bab al-Khalil (Hebron Gate), and prevented the Palestinian from entering or leaving the area for more than 30 minutes. The soldiers also stopped and interrogated dozens of Palestinians, especially young men, and inspected their ID cards.
Violence / Raids / Arrests
Israeli forces shoot 2 Palestinian youths with live fire in Burin
NABLUS (Ma‘an) 10 Jan — Two Palestinian teenagers were injured Saturday after Israeli forces opened fire with live bullets during clashes with locals in the village of Burin south of Nablus in the northern West Bank. Ghassan Daghlas, a Palestinian official who monitors settlement activity in the northern West Bank, told Ma‘an that Abbas Jamal Asous, 18, was shot with a live bullet in his thigh during clashes between Israeli forces and dozens of Palestinian youths in the village. Daghlas added that Asous was taken to the Rafidia Governmental Hospital, where his injuries were reported to be between light and moderate. Fourteen-year-old Muhammad Yasser Najjar was also injured with a live bullet in his leg during the clashes.
another account of same event:
Two children injured by Israeli army fire near Nablus
IMEMC/Agencies 10 Jan — Medical sources have reported that two Palestinian children have been injured, on Saturday morning, during clashes that took place in Burin village, south of the northern West Bank city of Nablus, after several Israeli military vehicles invaded it. Eyewitnesses said a number of extremist Israeli settlers attacked local youths and children while [they were] playing in the snow in the eastern area of the village, close to an illegal Israeli colony. The settlers attacked the children before the soldiers invaded the area and fired rounds of live ammunition and gas bombs at the Palestinians to force them away. Medical sources said the two children suffered moderate injuries after being shot by live rounds, and were moved to a local hospital.
Settler shoots Palestinian in village south of Hebron
HEBRON (Ma‘an) 10 Jan — A Palestinian youth was injured Saturday when an Israeli settler shot him while he was in the Palestinian village of al-Rihiya south of Hebron. Locals told Ma‘an that Ibrahim Issa Suleiman al-Tubassi was injured after an Israeli from the nearby Jewish-only settlement of Beit Haggay opened fire. Al-Tubassi was taken to the Hebron Governmental Hospital for treatment. Medical sources said the youth was struck in the thigh. An Israeli military spokeswoman did not return calls seeking comment. Beit Haggay is located on a major road south of Hebron, and is built on land confiscated from a number of neighboring Palestinian farming villages.
12-year-old injured after settlers hurl rocks at Palestinian car
NABLUS (Ma‘an) 11 Jan — A Palestinian girl from Nablus sustained wounds on Saturday night after a group of Israeli settlers hurled rocks at the car she was traveling in. Local sources said that 12-year-old Rua Hazim Sawalha was in a car just north of Ramallah near the Jewish-only settlement of Beit El when the rocks struck her car and injured her. Sawalha was evacuated to St. Luke’s Hospital in Nablus as a result of her injuries. The group of settlers was reportedly standing on the side of the main road, throwing rocks at cars with white Palestinian license plates. Jewish settlers in the West Bank have yellow Israeli license plates, meanwhile. In 2014, there were at least 329 incidents of settler violence against Palestinians in the occupied West Bank, according to the UN.
Settlers attack snowstorm emergency crew in Hebron
Hebron (WAFA) 8 Jan — Israeli settlers residing illegally in the settlements of Susiya and Ma’on, east of Yatta in Hebron, Thursday chased after a team of Palestinians deployed to provide services to residents in need during the harsh snowstorm that has affected the region since late Tuesday. Coordinator of Anti-wall and Settlement Popular Committee Ratib Jabbour told WAFA that a group of settlers chased after a vehicle which is deployed to provide immediate care to those in need. They arrived in the area to attend to a man who sustained a broken foot in the Shu‘ab al-Batam area, but were confronted by settlers who raised their weapons toward the unarmed crew, who left the area immediately.
Army kidnaps eight Palestinians in Silwan
IMEMC 11 Jan by Saed Bannoura — Israeli soldiers invaded, on Saturday evening, the town of Silwan, in occupied Jerusalem, and kidnapped eight Palestinians. Soldiers also detained and interrogated several residents. The Wadi Hilweh Information Center in Silwan said the soldiers invaded the neighborhood after a car belonging to an Israeli settler living in one of the illegal colonial outposts in the central neighborhood on the town caught fire. The Center said the soldiers were heavily deployed in the area, and installed a roadblock at the entrance of the al-‘Ein Street before searching dozens of Palestinian cars, and inspected the ID cards of local youths while interrogating them. The soldiers kidnapped seven Palestinians identified as Mahmoud Jaber, 20, Hamdi Jaber, 14, Hamza Jaber, 20, Mohammad Mustafa Shweyyat, 20, Khaled Kasteero, 20, Murad Kastero, 21, Fares Abu Naab, 19, and Khalil al-Resheq, 15. They also invaded a home belonging to resident Abed Zeitoun, and violently pushed his wife while searching the property. The soldiers also invaded the home of Nidal Zeitoun, before questioning the residents while inspecting their ID cards, and took pictures of the interior and exterior of the invaded homes.
Soldiers invade Bethlehem, hand 4 Palestinians interrogation orders
IMEMC/Agencies 11 Jan by Saed Bannoura — A number of armored Israeli military vehicles invaded, on Sunday at dawn, Hindaza area and the ‘Aida Refugee Camp, in the West Bank district of Bethlehem, broke into and searched several homes, and handed four Palestinians military warrants for interrogation. Local sources said the soldiers invaded the homes of Mohammad Nidal Abu ‘Aker, 21, Hazem Mustafa Abu ‘Aker, 21, and his brother Majdi, 17, in ‘Aida refugee camp, and Ismael Daoud Nabaheen, 23, in Hindaza area. The army violently searched the invaded homes, interrogated the families, and handed the interrogation orders to the four Palestinians. Soldiers also invaded the home of Ayman Abu Khadija, in ‘Aida refugee camp, and searched it.
In addition, the soldiers invaded Kafreet village, southwest of the northern West Bank city of Jenin, and broke into several stores before detaining the ID cards of a number of local youths. Eyewitnesses said six Israeli military vehicles invaded the village after the army surrounded it, and conducted a search campaign of various homes, before detaining and interrogating local youths.
IOF raids towns in Jenin, kidnaps three young men
JENIN (PIC) 12 Jan — The Israeli occupation forces (IOF) last night stormed different towns in Jenin and kidnapped three Palestinian young men in Tiba town. Local sources told the Palestinian information center (PIC) that Israeli troops broke into and ransacked the house of Khaled Aghbariya in Tiba town, west of Jenin, and kidnapped his two sons and one of his relatives. They added that the IOF interrogated Aghbariya and his family members during the raid. Other sources reported that the IOF stormed Yamun and Kafr Dan towns, west of Jenin, and combed different places there in a search for water wells. A large number of Israeli soldiers also raided the industrial zone in Jenin and established a makeshift checkpoint near al-Hamama roundabout where they embarked on stopping passing cars and checking the ID cards of citizens.
Suspect arrested on suspicion of stabbing policemen in Jerusalem
Haaretz 12 Jan by Nir Hasson — A 24-year-old Ramallah man was arrested last week on suspicion of stabbing two Border Policemen in Jerusalem’s Old City two weeks ago, police made public on Sunday. The police alleged that Musa Ajluni, who was arrested following an intelligence tip, had hidden a knife in the nearby Muslim cemetery, and when he saw the two officers near the Lions Gate, he used it and attacked them from behind, injuring both men. The attack was documented on security cameras, which showed the two policemen struggling unsuccessfully to subdue the assailant. After stabbing them, he was able to flee the scene, evading capture by blending into the crowd that was on its way to prayers at the Temple Mount. Ajluni was arrested a week ago in Ramallah by Special Forces officers. His remand has been extended until Wednesday, when the police plan to indict him.
Meanwhile, a 15-year-old Arab, apparently a resident of northern Jerusalem, was arrested on Saturday on suspicion of stabbing a young Jewish man in the back near Damascus Gate. The suspect fled the scene of the attack into the Old City, where he was arrested during the night after police spotted him on Al-Wad Street.
License to kill, part 1: Shot to death while in custody
+972 Blog 10 Jan by John Brown & Noam Rotem — When you first hear the story of Yasser a-Tmeizi, the first thought that comes to mind is that this has to be fiction, that there must be something else behind the dry facts of this report, one in hundreds we read about Israeli soldiers shooting a Palestinian. Even if you delve into the details of the case — the details the Israeli media publishes, at least — the feeling does not change. Surely it is impossible that a handcuffed man is shot to death inside a military base, by a soldier, and nobody is indicted. Only when we received the records from the investigation conducted by the Israeli Military Police in this matter, including detailed testimonies of all the soldiers involved, did we realize to what extent things are rotten in the kingdom of Judea. The records of this case, which was also handled by B’Tselem and Yesh Din and reviewed by the Turkel Commission, reveal what lies beneath laconic media reports of “an attempted [terrorist] attack” that ended in the death of a detainee. The files arouse suspicion of collusion between those giving testimony, reconstructions being conducted with a go-through-the-motions approach, of police ignoring critical details and testimonies, as well as what seems to be a common interest among those in charge of the investigation and those being investigated: that it not result in any indictments. In other words, an investigation that is not conducted with the purpose of getting to the bottom of things, but rather to feign some sort of action vis-a-vis the outside world. This report is the first in a series that will present an analysis of Israeli Military Police investigations.
Man and 3rd infant perish in Gaza due to freezing weather
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 10 Jan — Two Palestinian babies and a young man were found dead in Gaza on Saturday, bringing the total death toll in winter storm Huda to four after Palestinians in the tiny coastal enclave endured their coldest night of the storm yet. On Saturday afternoon, a two-month-old baby girl was found dead in a shelter for the displaced in Beit Hanoun in the northern Gaza Strip. A relative of the baby told Ma‘an that two-month-old Salma Zeidan al-Masri was found dead in the Rashad al-Shawwa shelter in Beit Hanoun. The relative said the child had turned blue from the cold by the time she was found. A young fisherman was also found dead in Gaza on Saturday, having perished due to the extreme cold. Nizar Ayyash, head of the Gaza Fishermen’s Union, told Ma‘an that Ahmad Sufian al-Lahham, 22, died while working on the shore west of Khan Younis in the southern Gaza Strip. The deaths on Saturday afternoon came after a newborn was found dead earlier in the day. One-month-old baby Adil Maher al-Lahham succumbed to severe cold in his home in western Khan Younis.
Two-month-old infant Rahaf Abu Assi, meanwhile, died of severe cold on Friday in Rafah due to lung problems caused by the cold. Her family was living in a home that was partially destroyed by Israel during bombardment over the summer … Nearly 110,000 Palestinians were left homeless by Israel’s summer offensive, which left 2,200 dead as well. Due to the eight-year-old Israeli siege on Gaza, the vast majority of those displaced by the war have been unable to rebuild and many are left living in mobile homes or other substandard forms of housing. The situation is aggravated by the lack of fuel for electric power, meaning that power is available roughly eight hours a day, with occasional cuts on top of that.
Palestinian fisherman feared dead as boat capsizes in rough Gaza seas
NUSEIRAT (PIC) 11 Jan — A Palestinian fisherman went missing while three others were injured after their fishing boat capsized in rough seas off the Nuseirat refugee camp, in central Gaza. The boat, reportedly carrying four Palestinian fishermen on board, keeled over on its way back from a fishing trip due to the extreme weather conditions and torrential rain rocking the blockaded Gaza Strip. The 22-year-old sailor Haithem Ibrahim al-Akraa went missing after the vessel tipped over, Palestinian security sources told the PIC. The duly notified rescue crews and marine police plunged into the sea in search for the missing fisherman using lamps and emergency boats but failed to find out the casualty. Bystanders at the scene said the sailor most probably died of a cardiac arrest hitting his body due to icy water and freezing weather temperatures in Gaza. “True, no wise man would take the risk to set sail in such sub-zero temperatures,” an on-the-spot fisherman said. “But we have no other way out. This is our only source of income to feed our starved offspring.”
2 workers injured as tunnel collapses on Gaza-Egypt border
GAZA CITY (Ma ‘an) 10 Jan — Two Palestinians were injured as an underground smuggling tunnel collapsed on the border between the Gaza Strip and Egypt on Saturday, witnesses told Ma‘an. The sources said the tunnel collapsed due to heavy rains. Both workers were taken to Abu Yousef al-Najjar Hospital in Rafah. Meanwhile, the Egyptian army discovered another smuggling tunnel as it was evacuating homes while preparing to create a buffer zone with Gaza, security sources told Ma‘an. An Egyptian security source said that the army’s border guard officers found the tunnel in the Duhniyya neighborhood of the Egyptian side of Rafah city. The tunnel’s opening was about 600 meters away from the border on the Egyptian side, the source said. A pickup truck was parked near the opening, loaded with a large amount of cigarettes and other goods smugglers planned to bring into Gaza, he added. He said four smugglers ran inside the tunnel towards Gaza as the military approached.
Egypt reneges on promises to open Rafah crossing
GAZA (PIC) 12 Jan — The Egyptian authorities went back on promises to unblock the Rafah crossing on humanitarian grounds, just a couple of hours after they decided to open the passageway for three days as of Tuesday. Head of Gaza’s border crossings authority said the Egyptian side broke its promises to open the crossing just two hours after it had notified us of their intents to unlock the route for three days — Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday — allegedly due to the disappearance of a security officer from an Egyptian seaport. Abu Sabha voiced deep disappointment over the annulment, warning of the serious repercussions of such a move on thousands of Gaza’s patients, humanitarian cases, students, and stranded wives. He slammed the alleged abduction of the Egyptian officer, dubbing it an injudicious act that only sharpens the crisis rocking the besieged enclave.
Hamas MP slams unity govt for Gaza employee decision
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 10 Jan — A senior Hamas member of the Palestinian Legislative Council on Friday slammed the national consensus government for its latest decisions regarding government employees in Gaza. In a Friday sermon Ahmad Bahar delivered at Palestine Mosque in Gaza City, he said the unity government “has shown its real face to Gaza employees and proved that it is a government for the West Bank only.” He said the government was intentionally marginalizing Gaza government employees and denying them their rights. “These decisions are completely worthless and won’t be put into effect at any rate,” Bahar said. “If this government does not assume its responsibilities toward Gaza, it must quit.”
In late December, the unity government pledged to rehire tens of thousands of Palestinian Authority workers laid off seven years ago, potentially threatening the livelihood of the 50,000 or so people Hamas hired to replace them when it took power in the Strip. Government spokesman Ihab Bseiso said an unspecified number of the Hamas government’s employees would also be taken on but only in case of ministerial “need.” Hamas, which technically stepped down in June but has remained the de facto power in Gaza, has demanded that the government take responsibility for its employees. But they have not been paid in seven months. By contrast, the 70,000 workers laid off in 2007 have remained on the Palestinian Authority’s payroll, despite being unemployed.
4 Gaza ministries go on strike over unpaid wages
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 12 Jan — Civil servants at four ministries in the Gaza Strip went on strike Monday in protest over unpaid salaries, a local union said. The head of Gaza’s public employees union, Muhammad Siyam, told Ma‘an that all civil servants were encouraged to join a sit-in protest in front of the Palestinian Legislative Council in Gaza City on Tuesday. Employees at the labor, justice, women’s affairs, and public work ministries have not received their monthly wages for nearly 12 months, he added.
PLO factions meet, criticize Hamas
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 11 Jan — PLO factions met on Sunday and discussed a recent Hamas statement that held nationalist Palestinian factions responsible for the dire situation in Gaza, sources said. Rafiq Abu Dhafli, a member of the Palestinian Popular Struggle Front, told Ma‘an that the factions that met included Fatah, the PPSF, the Palestine Liberation Front, the Palestinian Democratic Union, and the Palestinian Arab Front. The groups said they held Hamas responsible for hindering the work of the Palestinian unity government in Gaza and for the failure of the unity government to take real control over Gaza. PLO Executive Committee member Zakariya al-Agha in a statement also accused Hamas security forces of carrying out explosions targeting Fatah members in recent months, a charge Hamas has repeatedly denied.
Hamas invites all parties to emergency meeting in Gaza
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 11 Jan — The Hamas movement on Sunday morning invited Palestinian parties from across the political spectrum to an emergency meeting to be held in Gaza City at noon to discuss the crises facing the coastal enclave, including electricity and the civil servants dispute. Representing Hamas in the meeting will be deputy chief of the movement’s politburo Moussa Abu Marzouq, who is in charge of coordination with other Palestinian factions.
Israeli attack on Gaza was ‘massive state terror’: former UN official
EI 9 Jan by Nora Barrows-Friedman — As a brutal winter storm hits Gaza, where tens of thousands of Palestinians remain without proper shelter after Israel’s summer attacks, a former United Nations official warns of a “humanitarian emergency of the highest order.” “The evidence seems overwhelming as to the commission of massive war crimes,” former UN special rapporteur Richard Falk told The Electronic Intifada. Yet justice is as out of reach for Palestinians in Gaza as relief from the dire humanitarian situation there … Richard Falk, the former United Nations official, says that the aftermath of Israel’s summer attacks — which he regards “as a form of massive state terror directed at the entire population of Gaza” — is no less than “catastrophic.” Falk is the author of the recently published book Palestine: The Legitimacy of Hope. Speaking to The Electronic Intifada in Berkeley last month, Falk talked about Israel’s attacks on Gaza last summer and gave his analysis of the Palestinian liberation struggle. Listen to the interview via the media player above, or read the transcript below.
Military advocate general to decide soon on Gaza war probes
Haaretz 11 Jan by Gili Cohen & Amos Harel — The Israel Defense Forces military advocate general, Maj. Gen. Danny Efroni, is due to make decisions shortly on whether to open four military police investigations into incidents that took place during last summer’s fighting between Israel and Hamas and its allies in Gaza. In particular, Efroni must decide whether to probe the events that took place in the Rafah area of the Gaza Strip on August 1, which has come to be known as “Black Friday.” On that day, dozens of Palestinians, most of them civilians, were killed in the course of the IDF’s efforts to foil the abduction of Israeli officer Hadar Goldin. Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon last week expressed strong opposition to any criminal investigation of that incident. Efroni must also decide whether to pursue an investigation over possible wrongdoing in three other cases involving the death of large numbers of Palestinians during the 50-day conflict: one in connection with the aerial bombing of the home of the family of Gaza police chief Tayseer Al-Batsh, which resulted in 21 deaths; the shelling of a school run by the UNWRA, the United Nations refugee relief agency in the Jabaliya refugee camp; and the civilian casualties suffered in the Gaza City neighborhood of Shuja‘iyeh. Efroni has already ordered criminal military investigations into 13 other incidents in the course of the fighting during Operation Protective Edge … The major issue facing Efroni is whether any of the IDF actions constituted a violation of the international laws of war, particularly with respect to the proportionate use of firepower in relation to the danger that Israeli forces were facing.
50.000 school bags filled with care for Gaza children
Emirates News Agency 10 Jan — As many as 50,000 children in Gaza will have a reason to smile when they see their new school bags. Packed with school stationery and books, the school kits have been put together by thousands of UAE residents as part of a new initiative launched by Dubai Cares. Hossein Omeid, a student of Philadelphia Private School was among the volunteers who turned up on the first day of the community campaign. “Most of my classmates have come here to help in the initiative,” said Hussain, an Iranian national. The school kits include notebooks, pens, calculator, sketchbooks, erasers, sharpeners and crayons among other stationery. The campaign is being hosted under the initiative “Rebuild Palestine. Start with Education.” The latest round of fighting took a particularly devastating toll on Gaza’s youngest and most vulnerable. Families lost, houses destroyed, classrooms razed — the hopes of a young generation were gunned down in the carnage.
Land, property theft & destruction / Ethnic cleansing / Settlements / Restriction of movement
3rd attack in 3 days: Settlers chop down 170 olive trees near Nablus
NABLUS (Ma‘an) 11 Jan — Israeli settlers tore down more than 170 olive trees in the village of Yasuf south of Nablus on Sunday, the third such attack in the West Bank in three days. Ghassan Daghlas, a Palestinian official who monitors settlement-related activities in the northern West Bank, told Ma‘an that settlers from the illegal Tappuah settlement in the northern West Bank completely chopped down more than 170 ancient olive trees in the village. The attack took place in private Palestinian groves located nearby the settlement’s perimeter fence. The destroyed trees were reportedly “Roman,” a term used in Arabic to describe olive trees with huge trunks that are known to be at least hundreds of years old. The attack came only two days after settlers south of Hebron carried out two different operations that destroyed around 345 olive trees belonging to Palestinian farmers.
Attacks on olive trees are a key way that Palestinians are forced out of their homes and their lands confiscated for settlement construction, as the loss of a year’s crop can signal destitution for many. The olive industry supports the livelihoods of roughly 80,000 families in the occupied West Bank. Since 1967, approximately 800,000 olive trees have been uprooted in the occupied West Bank, according to a joint report by the Palestinian Authority and the Applied Research Institute Jerusalem.
Photo: Separation Wall allows water to destroy roots of olive trees
Haitham al-Khatib, photographer — The illegal separation wall slowly kills all forms of life. Here our olive trees [in Bil‘in?] are suffering due to the water collecting on the ground which will eventually destroy the roots.
Israel razes shade structures in Muslim cemetery in Yaffa
YAFFA [Israel] (PIC) 12 Jan — Israeli municipal bulldozers on Sunday morning demolished shade structures built a few week ago in Taso cemetery by the elected Islamic council in Yaffa (Jaffa) city. According to the website Yaffa 48, Israeli municipal workers and bulldozers stormed the cemetery at dawn and removed two shade structures built to protect visitors from sunlight and rains at the pretext of unlicensed construction. The Islamic council warned that the demolition of the shade structures in the cemetery would offend the feelings of Muslims in the city. “Desecrating Taso cemetery and its sanctity is considered a very serious action, and the municipality flouted the feelings of Muslims when it sent its bulldozers to demolish the shades in the cemetery,” the council stated.
Consequently, the Islamic council in the city held an emergency meeting on Sunday evening and decided to organize events and rallies during the current week to protest the demolition of structures in the cemetery. In a statement released following the meeting, the council strongly condemned the Israeli action as “a barbaric act that can only be done by thugs,” pointing out that the Tel Aviv municipal authorities broke the locks of the cemetery’s main gate at dawn before carrying out the demolition. It said that it would start on Monday to build three shade structures in the cemetery instead of the razed ones after it had received generous donations from Palestinian citizens in the city.
Court forbids Silwan settlers from making changes to properties
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 12 Jan — A Jerusalem magistrate court has ruled that Israeli settlers who occupied Palestinian homes in East Jerusalem may not make substantial changes to the properties, a lawyer said Monday. Medhat Diba told Ma‘an that the court issued a preliminary order on Jan. 8 on behalf of the Qarain family for two properties in Silwan. The homes were part of 23 properties in the flashpoint neighborhood which were taken over by settlers from the Elad group on Sept. 30. The court ruled that the settlers may not rent, sell or make any changes to the two homes belonging to the Qarain family. The properties are commonly owned by several heirs of the Qarain family and therefore any decision to sell or rent the homes must have their approval, Diab said. The claim by settlers that they bought the properties is void as the heirs did not sign a contract authorizing the sale, he added. The Ir David Foundation, or Elad, is an organization that promotes a Jewish connection to parts of the Silwan neighborhood in occupied East Jerusalem, including the “City of David” archaeological site. Jewish groups buying up property in the heart of Palestinian neighborhoods is an explosive political issue because it touches on the future of East Jerusalem, which the international community sees as the capital of a future Palestinian state. The groups are looking to establish a contiguous Jewish presence in the area, thereby preventing any future division of the Holy City under a peace deal with the Palestinians.
IOF orders evacuation of Palestinian hamlet in Jordan Valley
TUBAS (PIC) 10 Jan — The Israeli occupation forces (IOF) on Friday stormed Wadi Baziq area in the Jordan Valley, east of Tubas city, and ordered its residents to evacuate their homes regardless of the harsh weather conditions in the region. Chief of Baziq area Mohamed Harroub told the Palestinian information center (PIC) that Israeli troops came to Baziq hamlet on Tubas Mount and threatened its residents with forced evacuation if they did not leave their homes voluntarily. The residents were given eight days, between 12 and 20 January, to move to another place at the pretext that the army would use the area to conduct military drills, Harroub added. He affirmed that the residents of Baziq area are exposed to never-ending suffering because the Israeli army systematically orders them to move to another place at the pretext of military activities. The residents of Baziq are Palestinian refugees who were displaced by the Israeli occupation in 1948. They are barred from utilizing the natural resources in the region at the pretext it is a military zone.
Israeli forces block entrances to northern Nablus town
IMEMC/Agencies 12 Jan — Israeli forces, early Sunday morning, closed all entrances to the town of ‘Asira Ash-Shamaliya, north of Nablus, according to a local official. Head of the town’s municipality, Nasir Jawabreh, told WAFA Palestinian News & Info Agency that Israeli soldiers in military vehicles arrived at dawn, closing all four entrances leading to the town, preventing anyone from leaving, while only allowing entry to its residents. The Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories, B’Tselem, stated that Israel imposes restrictions on Palestinian travel within the West Bank, obstructs access to areas where it seeks greater control, and prevents travel between the Gaza Strip and the West Bank. “Israel’s policy results in real hardships and constant uncertainty in people’s daily lives in terms of everyday tasks such as getting to work or school or visiting relatives. It also reflects the view that freedom of movement is not an inalienable right but a privilege that Israel can choose to bestow or withhold, ” the group further stated….
How Bibi is turning the defense budget into a settler slush fund
+972 Blog 9 Jan by Yesh Din, written by Yossi Gurvitz — Prime Minister Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ya’alon will transfer NIS 70 million from the defense budget to compensate the Ulpana Hill lawbreakers. How will the common soldier interpret the command’s will? — Israel’s Channel 10 exposed earlier this week another layer in the unending saga of Ulpana Hill: Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon agreed to transfer NIS 70 million from the security budget as part of the Ulpana Hill compensation deal. Meaning: the tax money that was to be spent on defending the citizens of Israel will, in fact, be transferred to settlers as compensation for implementing the High Court of Justice’s ruling.
Yedioth: A US tourist planned to detonate the Dome of the Rock
OCCUPIED JERUSALEM (PIC) 10 Jan — The Shin Bet, Israel’s internal intelligence agency, claimed it had thwarted a terrorist attack on the Aqsa Mosque’s Dome of the Rock planned by an American tourist, according to Yedioth Ahronoth newspaper [Hebrew only?]. The newspaper said the attack could have triggered a destructive fire in the Middle East if it had not been frustrated by the Shin Bet. 30-year-old Adam Livvix, an American extremist Christian, prepared two plans to carry out the attack, the first one with a missile and the second with a bobby-trapped drone. The Israeli newspaper noted that Livvix planned the attack at the behest of Zionist and fanatic Christian groups in the US. The terrorist told his interrogators that he had seen a vision in his sleep urging him to detonate the Dome of the Rock. His dream to explode the holy site did not come true because the Shin Bet arrested him about one and half months ago during a raid on an apartment in Tel Aviv, Yedioth Ahronoth said. Livvix was found in possession of weapons, ammunition and explosives kept in a storage shed next to his apartment in Tel Aviv. His accomplice, who lived with him in the same place, was an Israeli soldier. The soldier is accused of supplying Livvix with means of combat and explosives stolen from the military base where he served. An Israeli court ordered the identity of the soldier to be kept anonymous. The court do not intend to level terror charges against the defendants. Livvix had arrived in Israel on March 7, 2013 as a tourist and outstayed his visa. [Note that it was an Australian evangelical Christian, Denis Michael Rohan, who burned Saladin’s minbar in the al-Aqsa Mosque in 1969.]
Palestinians raise concerns over dangers facing Al-Aqsa Mosque
Middle East Monitor 10 Jan — After the announcement of a thwarted attempt to bomb the Dome of the Rock, Palestinian Minister for Jerusalem Affairs Adnan al-Husseini announced Palestinian fears regarding the dangers facing Al-Aqsa Mosque, Felesteen newspaper reported on Friday. Al-Husseini blamed the Israeli occupation authorities for all dangers facing Al-Aqsa Mosque and the other facilities in the Al-Aqsa compound, including the Dome of the Rock. In its weekly supplement, the Israeli Hebrew newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth reported on Friday that the Israeli intelligence agency Shabak had thwarted an attempt to bomb the Dome of the Rock by an American migrant. Speaking to Palestine newspaper, Al-Husseini did not rule out such an outrage happening and said that this was not the first attempt. “Many similar attempts planned to target the Dome of the Rock or the main Mosque in Al-Aqsa sanctuary were revealed and thwarted,” he said. He held the Israeli authorities responsible for these attempts because they protect the “extremist settlers when they break into Al-Aqsa Mosque and its compound.”
Report: Israel punishing Palestinian prisoners by keeping them exposed in frigid weather
IMEMC 12 Jan by Celine Hagbard — The Palestinian Prisoner Society filed an appeal with the Israeli High Court Saturday calling on Israeli authorities to provide adequate clothing and covers for Palestinian prisoners held in Israeli prison camps, as many of the prisoners are held in outdoor camps with no heat, in the midst of a severe winter storm. The appeal also included reports that the placement in outdoor cages was being used by Israeli interrogators as a form of torture. The Israeli High Court denied the appeal, but Palestinian prisoner groups say that the practices are ongoing, and many Palestinian prisoners are facing death or severe frostbite as a result of the cold, sleet and wind. Issa Qaraqe‘, the head of the Palestinian Prisoner Society, stated, “The Israeli occupation is using the extremely cold weather to kill the Palestinian prisoners as its interrogators expose them to the cold weather in order to extract confessions.” … In January 2014, during a similarly severe winter storm, the Israeli Public Defenders Office reported that Palestinian children were placed in an outdoor cage during the storm, writing on their website “During our visit, held during a fierce storm that hit the state, attorneys met detainees who described to them a shocking picture: in the middle of the night dozens of detainees were transferred to the external iron cages built outside the IPS transition facility in Ramla” … There has been no followup since last January to that report, and the practice of placing children in outdoor detention during the winter is apparently unchanged since that time. Even those held in indoor facilities face the problem of a lack of heating in the prisons, and the cells where most prisoners are held are no warmer than the temperature outside, which continues to be below freezing….
Israeli Ramon prison closed as detainees nearly froze to death
IMEMC 12 Jan by Saed Bannoura — The Palestinian Commission of Detainees and Ex-Detainees Affairs stated Sunday that the Israeli Prison Authority closed, on Sunday January 11, the Ramon Prison due to the extreme cold weather, especially after the rain flooded all sections and rooms. It stated that several the detainees nearly froze to death, and became unable to move their limbs due to the cold in their rooms. “Their suffering escalated after the Prison Administration refused to allow their families to provide them with winter clothing and sheets,” the Commission reported, “They have no heating in their rooms, while the freezing temperatures are even depriving the detainees from sleeping.” The commission said thousands of political prisoners, in various Israeli prisoners, detention and interrogation centers, are exposed to extreme cold as temperatures continue to drop due to the current snowstorm in Palestine. The Commission stated that more than 6,500 Palestinians, including at least 250 children, are currently held by Israel, facing very difficult conditions, constants harassment, and are now subject to the impacts of the current freezing weather.
And it’s not only Palestinians who are treated this way:
Provide asylum seekers with heaters, rights groups demand in court
+972 Blog 11 Jan by Yael Marom — Following media reports and the intervention of two members of Knesset, the Israel Prison Service provided African asylum seekers with heating pads, which one asylum seeker says are inadequate. As temperatures drop below zero, Tel Aviv residents protest conditions at the Holot detention facility — Two Israeli refugee rights organizations petitioned the High Court of Justice on Sunday, demanding that the State provide bedroom heaters for asylum seekers imprisoned in the “Holot” detention facility. “Despite the freezing cold the Israel Prison Service, which operates ‘Holot,’ is not providing or installing electric heaters, air conditioners or radiators in the [aslylum seekers’] rooms — and is not even letting [them] bring in and use their own electric heaters into their rooms,” the Hotline for Refugees and Migrants and the Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI) wrote in the petition. The High Court ordered the State to respond to the petition by Monday afternoon … Over 2,000 African asylum seekers from Sudan and Eritrea are currently being held in Holot without charge or trial, under Israel’s Prevention of Infiltration Law. Israel’s High Court has twice invalidated the law, only to have the government pass new versions of it.
Israeli court sentences injured Palestinian to 8 years
JENIN (Ma‘an) 11 Jan — An Israeli military court near Jenin on Sunday sentenced an injured Palestinian detainee to eight years in jail, family said. Relatives of detainee Muhammad Ibrahim Naghnaghiya told Ma‘an that he would also be fined 8,000 shekels (around $2,000). Naghnaghiya was shot in his right leg before being detained from his home in Jenin refugee camp. His family says he needs surgery but that the Israel Prison Service has not given him access to proper medical treatment. Around 7,000 Palestinians are currently being held in Israeli prisons, more than 2,000 of whom were arrested by Israeli forces over this summer amid heavy tensions and violence in the West Bank and Gaza.
IOA to renew Khader Adnan’s administrative detention
JENIN (PIC) 12 Jan — The Israeli Ofer Court is scheduled to hold a hearing Monday to renew Islamic Jihad leader Sheikh Khader Adnan’s administrative detention for six months, family sources said. The sources pointed out that Sheikh Adnan declared a hunger strike a week ago protesting his renewed detention for the second consecutive time. The Israeli Hadarim prison administration transferred Sheikh Adnan to solitary confinement and denied him meetings with his lawyer as a punitive measure following his declaration of hunger strike. Sheikh Adnan was arrested during the Israeli summer offensive on Gaza, where he was held in administrative detention according to which hundreds of Palestinian prisoners are being held without charge or trial in violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention.
IOA cancels prisoners’ family visits for Monday
GAZA (PIC) 12 Jan — The Israeli Occupation Authorities (IOA) decided Sunday evening to cancel Palestinian prisoners’ family visits scheduled for Monday in Nafha prison. Spokeswoman for the Red Cross in Gaza Strip Suhair Zakkut confirmed that the Israeli authorities informed its administration of their decision to cancel the prisoners’ visits without giving any reason, the local al-Quds newspaper said. The International Committee of the Red Cross’s duty in this regard is to facilitate family visits to Palestinian detainees held in Israeli jails in coordination with concerned authorities, she pointed out.
Palestinian refugees in other countries
Lebanon a hostile refuge for Palestinians fleeing war in Syria
BURJ AL-SHEMALI REFUGEE CAMP (EI) 9 Jan by Ray Smith — …The Palestinian refugee camps in Syria were established in the wake of the 1948 Nakba in Palestine — the massive act of ethnic cleansing in which Zionist militias drove out half of the Palestinian population by force. The ongoing war in Syria has forced nearly 80,000 Palestinian refugees there to flee to neighboring countries — refugees all over again. An estimated 560,000 Palestinian refugees lived in Syria before the war. While nearly 15,000 Palestinian refugees from Syria are recorded with UNRWA, the United Nations agency for Palestine refugees, in Jordan, approximately 44,000 have so far reported to UNRWA’s field office in Lebanon, many of them fleeing the siege of Yarmouk. Palestinian refugees from Syria are scattered all over Lebanon and often live with family members. According to UNRWA, 7,000 live in and around Tripoli, 7,300 in the Beqaa valley, 7,500 in Beirut, 14,200 in and around Sidon and 8,000 in Tyre and its surroundings (including Burj al-Shemali camp). As Palestinians, they are not allowed to register with the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, unlike Syrians who have fled their country. Instead, families receive $100 per month for housing and $30 per person each month for food and clothes from UNRWA … Lebanon is close to making illegal even those Palestinian refugees from Syria that still have a valid residency visa. This means severe restrictions on the refugees’ freedom of movement, and they live in constant fear of arrest. Families are torn apart, as relatives cannot follow to join their loved ones in Lebanon. Without legal status, Palestinians from Syria are unable to register births, deaths, marriages or divorces, access social services or obtain work permits. Even cash assistance is difficult: UNRWA transfers credit on cash cards, but there are no cash machines in the camps. Many Palestinians are afraid to even leave the camp to withdraw money.“All of this forces the already vulnerable Palestinian population to take life-threatening risks, such as attempting to escape by boat on the Mediterranean, often with tragic consequences,” warned UNRWA spokesperson Chris Gunness.
2,596 Palestinians killed in Syria since beginning of war
DAMASCUS (PIC) 11 Jan — 2,596 Palestinian refugees have been killed in Syria since the civil war started in 2011, the action group for the Palestinians of Syria stated in a brief report on Saturday. The action group said that many of those victims were either killed during artillery attacks on different refugee camps and Syrian areas or tortured to death in Syrian jails and detention centers. Several others died under blockade, especially in al-Yarmouk refugee camp, as a result of starvation and absence of medical care or during bombing incidents, and some others drowned in the Mediterranean as they were trying to reach Europe.
Palestinian refugees detained in Laos freed, sent to Malaysia
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 11 Jan — The Palestinian Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement Sunday that a group of Palestinian refugees detained in Laos after entering the country illegally have been released. The Palestinians arrived in Laos after fleeing their refugee camps in Syria due to the war. After entering the country using fake passports, they were caught and detained for four months, the statement said. Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad al-Maliki urged the Palestinian ambassador to Vietnam to work out an agreement with the Laos authorities to guarantee the release of the refugees.The authorities have finally agreed to release them without forcing them to pay fines, but they had to leave the country immediately, the statement said.The refugees have since arrived in Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia in coordination with Malaysian authorities.
Why I won’t serve Israel
TEL AVIV (New York Times) 11 Jan by Moriel Rothman-Zecher — “WHAT are you,” he asked, “a leftist?” We were both wearing the surplus United States Marines uniforms given to prisoners at Israeli Military Jail No. 6. “It depends how you define ‘left,’ ” I said. “Don’t get clever with me. Why are you here?” “I didn’t want to be part of a system whose main task is the violent occupation of millions of people.” “In other words: You love Arabs, and don’t care about Israeli security.” “I think the occupation undermines all of our security, Palestinians’ and Israelis’.” “You’re betraying your people,” he said. “Why are you here?” I asked. “Me? Desertion.” There is a growing chasm between Israeli rhetoric and reality. In the discourse of Israel’s Knesset and media, the Israel Defense Forces represent a “people’s army.” Refusal to serve is portrayed by politicians and pundits — many of whom began their careers through service in elite units — as treacherous and marginal. This rhetoric becomes the common wisdom: A popular bumper stickers reads, “A real Israeli doesn’t dodge the draft.” The outrage is disproportionate. Rarely do more than a few hundred Jewish Israelis publicly refuse to serve each year in protest against Israel’s occupation of the Palestinian territories. The shrill condemnation of refusers is thus an indication of the establishment’s panic. Last year brought something of a surge in refusals. Open letters of refusal were published by a group of high schoolers, a group of reservists, veterans of the elite intelligence Unit 8200 and alumni and former staff members of the prestigious Israel Arts and Sciences Academy.
I won’t hold a weapon against my people: Druze refuse to serve in Israel’s military
RAMA (EI) 9 Jan by Sawsan Khalife‘ — Palestinians in Israel campaigning under the banner of “Refuse, your people will protect you” say they are gaining momentum in their efforts to abolish the military draft of youths from the Druze religious minority. The campaign, which goes by Urfod (“Refuse” in Arabic), was launched in early 2013, and held its second conference recently in Rama, a village in the Galilee region of historic Palestine. The home of the Palestinian resistance poet Samih al-Qasim, who died last year, Rama has a proud, decades-long history of activism against the conscription of Druze to Israel’s military … Unlike the majority of the estimated 1.7 million Palestinians in Israel, Druze youths have been required to serve in the army since the 1950s. As part of its divide-and-rule strategy to suppress Palestinian nationalism, Israel has designated the Druze as a national group distinct from the rest of the Palestinian community in the state. Israel is now attempting to drive further sectarian wedges by pressuring young Christians to enlist in the military. “We do not take this struggle for granted or underestimate it. It will be a long journey,” campaigner Awan Ali told The Electronic Intifada. “It will end when the military enlistment law of the Druze ends. We will not stop until this law drops…”
African-American leaders visit Palestine, vow solidarity with Palestinian liberation movement
IMEMC 11 Jan by Celine Hagbard — A delegation of young African American leaders from Ferguson and other US cities organized by ‘Dream Defenders’ are traveling through the Occupied Palestinian Territories this week to see first-hand the reality of life under military occupation. According to one of the delegation organizers, Ahmad Abuznaid, “The goals were primarily to allow for the group members to experience and see first hand the occupation, ethnic cleansing and brutality Israel has levied against Palestinians, but also to build real relationships with those on the ground leading the fight for liberation. In the spirit of Malcolm X, Angela Davis, Stokely Carmichael and many others, we thought the connections between the African American leadership of the movement in the US and those on the ground in Palestine needed to be reestablished and fortified.” … Some of the organizations represented in the delegation include Black Lives Matter and the Black Youth Project 100 (BYP100). Patrisse Cullors, a co-founder of Black Lives Matter, told reporters from Ebony magazine that her first impression of occupied Palestine was that, “This is an apartheid state. We can’t deny that and if we do deny it we are a part of the Zionist violence. There are two different systems here in occupied Palestine. Two completely different systems. Folks are unable to go to parts of their own country. Folks are barred from their own country.” ….
Water management project underway in Hebron villages
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 11 Jan — Representatives of the Dutch government recently visited a number of villages in the Hebron region as part of project focused on expanding Palestinian farmers’ access to land through improved management of water resources. The project, entitled “Land and Water Resource Management for Agriculture Development in the West Bank,” is slated to last three-and-a-half years and is being implemented in 46 areas across the West Bank with the support of a number of Palestinian organizations. During the recent visit, the First Secretary of Economic Affairs at the Netherlands Representative Office in Palestine, Wijnand Marchal, met with local stakeholders, beneficiaries, and members of regional committees and councils in Halhul, al-Shuyukh, Bani Na‘im, and al-Dhahiriya, all villages in the Hebron region. There, the secretary reviewed a number of ongoing projects, including a land reclamation project over 1,500 dunums (370 acres), the opening of 150 kilometers (93 miles) of agricultural roads, and 1,100 dunums (270 acres) of water harvesting and deep rooting techniques, among others … The project is slated enhance water supplies and irrigation water use “through installing water networks and constructing steel balance water tanks,” the statement added, noting that the project will also “empower women to enhance their involvement in land development and agriculture and ease their access to inheritance law and rights.” The project will develop 3,000 dunums (740 acres) of unused land through the construction of 59 communal cisterns, helping farmers irrigate areas that were not previously arable. The opening of agricultural roads, meanwhile, will improve access to the areas for Palestinians, who are in many cases forbidden from using the network of well-developed Israeli settler roads that crisscross the West Bank, particularly in rural areas around settlements. The development of unused agricultural lands available to local Palestinian farmers fills a particularly urgent need as land that sits unused for more than a few years is often confiscated by Israeli authorities for the construction of Jewish-only settlements. Access to areas around these settlements, in turn, are increasingly limited to Palestinians, often leaving farmers destitute as they are progressively forced to give up chunks of their lands … The senior project manager of the project, Mohammad Awad, said in the statement that the project would directly benefit 13,301 people and indirectly benefit 154,357, reducing levels of poverty among West Bank farmers. [now if only the Israelis don’t destroy the cisterns and tanks, as they have done before, no matter who built them]
Palestinian medics working ‘around the clock’ as Huda enters 4th day
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 10 Jan — The Palestinian Medical Relief Society on Friday opened several emergency rooms across Palestine to deal with the consequences of winter storm Huda, an official said. Mustafa Barghouthi, a Palestinian politician and the head of PMRS, said crews and volunteers have been working around the clock in most of the affected areas in the West Bank and Gaza. PMRS staff are working in Gaza City, Nablus, Jerusalem, Hebron, Bethlehem, and Salfit. In Tulkarem, Jenin, and the Jordan Valley, the organization is working in coordination with Palestinian Authority civil defense crews. Meanwhile, the Palestinian Red Crescent reported four incidents of people having trouble breathing due to the firm closure of their homes in cold conditions. It said 13 people from Hebron were taken to the hospital. Hebron Police Director Muhammad Tayim urged families to keep their houses ventilated. The winter storm is expected to last until Sunday, bringing snow in higher areas around Jerusalem, Ramallah, and Hebron in the occupied West Bank as well as in northern Israel, while flooding is expected along the coastal plain, including in the Gaza Strip.
Huge disparities between Israeli, Palestinian health-care systems, says rights group
Haaretz 11 Jan by Ido Efrati — New report finds that government expenditure per person is nearly 10 times higher in Israel than in territories — At the Al-Najah Hospital in Nablus, they are hoping to hear soon that Israeli authorities will approve the purchase of a PET-CT scan machine – a medical imaging device which is an important tool in diagnosing cancer and malignant growths. PET-CT scanners have been in common use in Israeli hospitals for years. But if the Israeli authorities respond positively to the request by the Nablus hospital, it will be considered a real coup, because it would be the first such machine anywhere in the territories. Until they get a PET-CT device, West Bank doctors will continue to refer their patients to hospitals in Israel for diagnostic scans. The convoluted process involves a referral from a Palestinian specialist physician, a wait for approval by the Palestinian Authority Health Ministry and a request to the Israel Defense Forces’ Coordination of Government Activities in the Territories for permission to enter Israel, which is not always granted. Even if the efforts are successful, the problem represented by the absence of PET-CT scanners in the territories is overshadowed by a wider crisis that the Palestinian medical system has been facing for years. The system suffers from a regular shortage of medications, medical equipment, specialist physicians, and medical personnel in general. During certain periods, Palestinian hospitals are on a strike footing, working just three days a week. Occasionally, patients are sent to pharmacies to buy injections themselves, while medical staff sometimes find themselves lacking even basic equipment such as syringes and rubber gloves.
Palestinians gather in Ramallah, Gaza to support France
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 11 Jan — Hundreds of Palestinians in Ramallah and Gaza City on Sunday participated in rallies in solidarity with France in light of the spate of attacks last week. Participants in Ramallah gathered in al-Manara Square raising Palestinian flags and signs condemning all forms of terrorism. Yasser Abed Rabbo, secretary-general of the PLO Executive Committee, said at the rally that Palestinians reject terrorism, including that which is inflicted upon them by the Israeli occupation. “Our message to France is that we defend our common values — the values of freedom, justice, and equality between peoples — and we are sure that terrorism will be defeated,” Abed Rabbo said. “The way to do that is through democracy,” he added. Fatah Central Committee member Abbas Zaki said the attacks in France were an “against civilization,” adding that the rally in Ramallah emphasized Palestinian solidarity with the French people and government. “This is a message to the world that the Palestinian people, who are the people who have suffered the most due to terrorism, reject terrorism in all its forms,” Zaki said.
Meanwhile, in Gaza, Palestinians lit candles in front of the French Cultural Center in Gaza City in solidarity with the victims of the Charlie Hebdo attack in Paris. AFP photographer Muhammad al-Baba, who participated in the event, told Ma’an that he came to stand for freedom of expression and against violence in the name of religion. “We as journalists and Muslims came here to tell everyone: Yes to freedom of expression without hurting the freedom of others; no to those who target others with weapons in the name of Islam,” al-Baba said. Amjad al-Shawwa, the director of the Palestinian Network of NGOs, told Ma’an that the event was organized to send a message to the French people that Palestinians condemned terrorism “whatever its justifications were.”
Hamas condemns Charlie Hebdo attack
GAZA CITY (Palestinian Territories) (AFP) 10 Jan — Palestinian Islamist group Hamas condemned Saturday the killing of 12 people in an attack on French satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo’s offices by two French Islamists. A statement in French said Hamas “condemns the attack against Charlie Hebdo magazine and insists on the fact that differences of opinion and thought cannot justify murder.” It also rejected Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s comments, in which he compared the Paris attack to Hamas firing rockets from the Gaza Strip at civilians in Israel. “Hamas condemns the desperate attempts by … Netanyahu to make a connection between our movement and the resistance of our people on the one hand and global terrorism on the other,” it said.
Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas called France’s Francois Hollande to express condolences, Palestinian foreign minister Riyad al-Malki told AFP. He said that Abbas assured the French president of “the solidarity of the Palestinian people and leadership with France after this terrorist attack.” Malki said that a delegation of Palestinian Muslim and Christian clerics would pay a solidarity visit to France “in the coming days.”
Fatah prisoners in Israeli jail denounce ‘terror attacks’ in France
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 11 Jan — Fatah-affiliated Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails on Sunday denounced the last week’s “terror attacks” in France, a statement said. In a message from prison, representatives of Fatah-affiliated prisoners said the prisoners “condemn and denounce all sorts of terror.” “We announce our solidarity with the French people and all of France in the event of the ugly terror attack which occurred” in Paris, the statement added.
Let’s talk about the other dead journalists
Middle East Monitor 10 Jan by Rafia Zakaria — The grisly killing of 10 journalists and two police officers at the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo on Jan. 7 was met with global indignation. A day later, Agence France-Presse reported the Libyan branch of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) beheaded two Tunisian journalists. Investigative journalist Sofiene Chourabi and photographer Nadir Khtari were kidnapped in September, with the group accusing them in a statement of working for a “satellite channel that fights religion.” Their beheadings received scant media coverage but, if confirmed, they made January the bloodiest month for journalists since 2012. In France, as in elsewhere in the Western world, the attack on Charlie Hebdo is being lamented, and the dead journalists are being celebrated as heroes whose work exemplifies a fearless and defiant pursuit of freedom of expression. However, this fight for freedom of speech is not always seen as a Muslim struggle. Yet the number of Muslim journalists killed defending journalism tells a different story. More than half of 61 journalists killed in 2014 were Muslims, many working in conflict-affected countries such as Iraq, Syria, Pakistan and Somalia. But few have received the recognition or commemoration accorded to Western journalists or a handful who worked for Western media outlets.
No outrage for Palestinian cartoonist who was arrested and jailed in Israel
Counter Current News 10 Jan by Zeidy David & M.A. Hussein — In the wake of the Paris terror attacks on the satire magazine Charlie Hebdo, a number of other instances of censorship and terrorism against artists and satirists have been ignored – perhaps even deliberately – by the mainstream media. The cartoonist Mohammad Saba‘aneh was arrested at the Allenby Bridge checkpoint in Israel and sentenced by the Israeli Salem Military Court in April of 2013 for “contact with a hostile organization.” But Saba‘aneh and his supporters say that this was all backlash against his political cartoons, by the State that he was so critical of. Saba‘aneh was held without charge from the beginning. The military courts couldn’t decide if they wanted to have formal charges brought against a political cartoonist, so they just held him indefinitely, extending his detention. Meanwhile, his attorney protested that there was no evidence Saba‘aneh had committed any offense whatsoever. But that didn’t matter to the State, or to the media abroad which completely ignored this case. The State alleged that Saba‘aneh had contacted a publishing company about publishing his cartoons in a book. That Jordanian publisher also put out a book about Palestinian prisoners. The State of Israel said that this book was a threat to national security. Saba‘aneh’s contact with this publisher was thereby used as a pretext to lock up the controversial cartoonist before he could connect with a broader audience via this publishing house. Saba‘aneh was ultimately sentenced to five months in jail after serving out his informal and continuously extended detention. He was also fined 10,000 shekels for his “contact with a hostile organization.” His brother, Adel Saba‘aneh, said. “The only thing Mohammad did was contact a publisher in Amman who publishes a book about Palestinian prisoners.” … So while you are reading all about freedom of speech and the like, in the aftermath of the Charlie Hebdo bombing, remember that Muslims are not the only ones to send men with guns to come after journalists and political cartoonists. They just happen to be the only ones that the mainstream media focuses on.
In Israel, Charlie Hebdo would not have even had the right to exist
Haaretz 12 Jan by Ido Amin — … In France, freedom of speech is considered a universal right, while in Israel such a weekly would not be able to exist because of the Israeli law that bans “offending religious sensibilities.” During my years as a cartoonist I have had to become familiar with the laws restricting the Israeli press. But note that the law against offending religious sensibilities is not a law against racism, smut or slander (there are other laws for that). This is a very specific draconian law, a real anti-Wolinski law. The law prohibits illustrating Moses, Jesus or Mohammed in a way that would hurt the feelings of believers … I found out about the law only years later, when my caricature in a well-known newspaper that criticized the cruel pre-Yom Kippur custom of kaparot — swinging a chicken over one’s head to atone for sin — was brought up for discussion in the Knesset. (And there weren’t even any boobs in the picture!) From the rostrum, the police minister compared my work to the caricatures in the Nazis’ Der Stürmer, and on the minister’s instructions my editor and I were summoned for questioning. Sometime later I was cut from the paper’s staff. Since learning about the law, I’ve noticed court decisions based on it.
Israel moves quickly to exploit Paris attacks
EI 11 Jan by Ali Abunimah — After hesitations reportedly over cost and security, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu finally decided to attend the “solidarity” march in Paris on Sunday, ostensibly in support of “free expression” and other “Western values.” Netanyahu evidently could not resist the publicity given that it is election season in Israel, and he would not want to risk being upstaged by political rivals who had announced their attendance, including such violent racists as foreign minister Avigdor Lieberman and economy minister Naftali Bennett. (Update: Israeli media are reporting that Netanyahu gatecrashed the march, defying a request from French President François Hollande that he stay away — more below). Many people circulated images like the one above of world leaders linking arms with Netanyahu, noting the perverse irony of a march for such things as “freedom” and against “terrorism” being led by such figures, including the man who ordered the bloodbath in Gaza last summer … While Netanyahu was certainly playing to a domestic audience, his presence in Paris is also part of Israel’s swift move to capitalize on the horror in France on a number of fronts: to attack the Palestinians, to sharpen the dangerous discourse of a “war of civilizations” and to speed up the population transfer of Jews from Europe.
For Palestinians, Asian Cup more than a game
AFP 10 Jan by Hossam Ezzedine — From the West Bank to the Gaza Strip, Palestinians are pinning both sporting and political aspirations on their national football team as it prepares for its Asian Cup debut in Australia. For many Palestinians, sporting prowess is just as important as political and diplomatic moves to achieve statehood with the national team viewed as a part of the national “resistance” – dubbed “Al-Fidaee” after the militants who fought Israel in the decades after its establishment in 1948. “Sport is still an important weapon in politics,” said Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas as he greeted the 23-man squad at a ceremony to mark their departure for the tournament. The Palestinians have made some inroads towards achieving statehood, winning the rank of observer state at the United Nations in 2012, but have struggled to gain full membership. FIFA, however, recognised the Palestine national team in 1998. Following a diplomatic blow last month when the UN Security Council rejected a Palestinian-drafted resolution seeking to set an end date for the Israeli occupation, all eyes are now on Al-Fidaee.
Asian Cup: Palestine thrashed by Japan in Group D opener
NEWCASTLE, Australia (AFP) 12 Jan — Defending champions Japan thrashed Palestine 4-0 in their Asian Cup opener on Monday, giving them the perfect start in their quest for a fifth title. The Blue Samurai, who won the tournament for a record fourth time in 2011, needed only eight minutes to take the lead against a Palestine team making their first appearance in Asia’s showcase competition.
Hezbollah chief Nasrallah: Extremists harm Islam more than cartoonists
BEIRUT (AP) 9 Jan — The leader of the Lebanese Hezbollah group says Islamic extremists have insulted Islam and the Prophet Muhammad more than those who published satirical cartoons mocking the religion. Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah did not directly mention the Paris attack on the offices of Charlie Hebdo that left 12 people dead, but he said Islamic extremists who behead and slaughter people — a reference to the IS group’s rampages in Iraq and Syria — have done more harm to Islam than anyone else in history. Nasrallah spoke Friday via video link to supporters gathered in southern Beirut. Nasrallah’s Shiite group is fighting in Syria alongside President Bashar Assad.His remarks are in stark contrast to those of Sunni militants from the IS group and al-Qaida who have called for attacks on Western countries.
Swedish foreign minister cancels Israel visit
Ynet 7 Jan by Itamar Eichner — Sweden’s Foreign Minister Margot Wallstrom has canceled her scheduled visit to Israel after Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman announced he would boycott her visit and accused Sweden of abandoning Israel just as European countries abandoned Czechoslovakia in 1938 after pressure from the Nazis in the Munich agreement. The Swedish Foreign Minister was scheduled to arrive in Israel in mid-January in order to attend a memorial service for the Swedish diplomat Raoul Wallenberg who saved Jews during the Holocaust. In December, Lieberman announced he would boycott the Swedish Foreign Minister’s visit … The confrontation between Lieberman and Wallstrom began after the Swedish government recognized Palestine as a state. As a response, Israel called back its ambassador to Stockholm for consultation and after three weeks returned the ambassador to Sweden on a symbolic date – the 29th of November: the day the UN Partition Plan for Palestine was passed.