No home rebuilt in Gaza after 2014 Israel war: UNRWA
Press TV 25 Apr — The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) says no house has been reconstructed in the besieged Gaza Strip eight months after the end of the Israeli regime’s latest war on the blockaded area — “Not a single home has been rebuilt” in the besieged Gaza Strip since the end of the Israeli military’s devastating offensive against the territory in the summer of 2014, said UNRWA spokesperson Chris Gunness on Thursday. The Israeli regime started its latest war on Gaza in early July last year. The offensive ended on August 26 with a truce that took effect after indirect negotiations in the Egyptian capital, Cairo. “To date, 9,161 Palestine refugee houses have been considered totally destroyed and 5,066 have suffered severe, 4,085 major and 124,782 minor damages,” Gunness added. He further said that the UN agency has received “funding to reconstruct 200 of the 9,161 houses totally destroyed.”
— Chris Gunness (@ChrisGunness) April 23, 2015
Israel bars entry of 85% of metal materials to Gaza
GAZA (PIC) 26 Apr — 1250 establishments out of work and 6000 workers unemployed — Muhammad Hamad, the vice president of Metal and Engineering Industries Union, affirmed that Israel is preventing the entry of 85% of necessary equipment and metal materials to the Gaza Strip causing the workers in this sector to sustain heavy losses. Hamad said in an exclusive statement to the PIC on Saturday that the siege imposed on the Strip by Israel has badly affected the metal and engineering industries sector; these effects started to surface since the beginning of the siege in 2006 but have aggravated lately … He pointed out that Israel only allows the entry of specific kinds of zinc and tinplate ranging in thickness between 0.3 to 0.7 cm [to be] used for the international projects while the needs and requirements of the Gazans remain unmet.
First soldiers of Gaza war indicted for theft, obstruction of justice
JPost 26 Apr by Yonah Jeremy Bob — The IDF prosecution on Sunday announced that it has filed its first indictments against soldiers relating to the past summer’s Gaza War. The indictments are for theft and obstruction of justice, and they were filed last week, though they were only announced Sunday. Two soldiers were indicted for theft of NIS 2,420 and obstruction of justice in its investigation, while a third soldier was indicted for aiding and abetting. The theft allegedly occurred in a residence in the Shejaia neighborhood in eastern Gaza City where the soldiers were temporarily located during the war. On March 19, the IDF released its third report on the status of over 120 investigations into incidents of allegations of war crimes during the war. The first report was released in September and the second in December. Counting the current three indictments, 19 criminal investigations have been ordered so far, though some of the other investigations involve incidents where Palestinian civilians were killed, making the potential allegations more serious and the timeline for announcements of indictments or closing the cases longer. There are many incidents under investigation in which multiple civilians were killed, even up to a couple dozen civilians … All indictments, investigations and closed cases (a few-dozen incidents have already been closed) are under hyper global scrutiny as the International Criminal Court prosecutor has opened a preliminary examination to review several issues, including whether Israel’s investigations of its own soldiers are sufficient.
Violence / Attacks / Clashes / Arrests
Dozens of Palestinians injured in clashes in East Jerusalem
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 25 Apr — Dozens of Palestinians were injured in violent clashes across al-Tur and al-‘Issawiya neighborhoods in occupied East Jerusalem on Saturday as Palestinians protested the death of Muhammad Abu Ghannam, 17, shot dead by Israeli police late Friday. Sources told Ma‘an that the clashes in al-Tur were concentrated near the Mount of Olives and had broken out when Israeli forces stormed a Palestinian Martyrs’ center and began indiscriminately firing tear gas canisters, which Palestinian youths responded to by throwing stones. The 17-year-old Abu Ghannam, who came from al-Tur, was shot dead at Al-Zayyim checkpoint in occupied East Jerusalem after he allegedly attempted to stab Israeli checkpoint officers. Israeli police claimed that the teenager began running toward a number of police officers at a checking station “wielding a large knife.” A state of mourning was called for in al-Tur, which led to a mass strike, and witnesses reported that streets across the neighborhood were nearly empty as local schools and institutions closed for the day. Palestinian Red Crescent official Dr. Amin Abu Ghazaleh said 26 Palestinians had been injured by rubber-coated steel bullets during the clashes, mostly in their upper bodies, and that around 50 had suffered excessive tear gas inhalation. He said that Israeli forces, including snipers positioned around al-Maqased Hospital, had targeted ambulance crews belonging to the Palestinian Red Crescent Society. Two Palestinian medics were injured — Ahmed al-Shalawdi, who was shot in his shoulder, and Fadi Abedi, shot in his lower extremities. Abu Ghazaleh said the Palestinian Red Crescent had established a field clinic in the area as ambulances had been prevented from reaching the area. Meanwhile, in nearby al-‘Issawiya, a local committee member reported that Israeli forces had stormed the neighborhood just as students were finishing school.Violent clashes broke out as Israeli forces attempted to block students and teachers from leaving the schools. Israeli forces reportedly fired tear gas canisters indiscriminately and dozens of Palestinians suffered excessive tear gas inhalation.
Two Palestinian children injured in blast near Qalqiliya
QALQILIYA (Ma‘an) 25 Apr — Two children were injured when an unidentified object exploded in ‘Azzun ‘Atma village south of Qalqiliya on Saturday. Locals said that the two children, aged 5 and 6, had been playing close to an Israeli checkpoint when the explosion was heard. Local sources said it had apparently been caused by an unidentified object left by Israeli forces. The two children, whose injuries were described as moderate, have been moved to Dr. Darwish Nazzal’s hospital in Qalqiliya. Palestinian security forces have opened an investigation into the incident. Last year, three Palestinians were killed by unexploded ordnance left by Israeli forces in the West Bank’s Jordan Valley, and the Gaza Strip remains littered with unexploded ordnance following last summer’s devastating war between Hamas and Israel. Within three months of the war, 10 Palestinians had been killed by unexploded ordnance, including a four year-old child.
PHOTOS: Demonstration in Nabi Saleh
NABI SALEH, Occupied Palestine (ISM, Ramallah Team) 26 Apr — ISM is bringing the story of Friday’s weekly demonstration in Nabi Saleh, 20 kilometers northwest of Ramallah, the Occupied West Bank, in photos. Israeli forces shot one Palestinian teenager in the head with live ammunition and fired stun grenades at the press.
Israeli soldiers assault Palestinian farmers near Nablus
NABLUS (Ma‘an) 25 Apr — Several Israeli soldiers held several Palestinian farmers and shepherds and assaulted them late Friday near the Yitzhar Street in southern Nablus, locals told Ma‘an. Sources added that Bashir Qadus, 42, one of the assaulted farmers, was taken to the Rafidiya Governmental Hospital in Nablus for treatment. Mahdi al-Najjar and Muhsen Qadus were also identified among those assaulted. An Israeli army spokesperson told Ma‘an the incident was currently under review. The villages south of Nablus are frequent sites of both settler violence and Palestinian clashes with Israeli forces as they are located beside the notoriously violent Israeli settlements of Yitzhar, Bracha, and Itamar.
Settlers attack Palestinian homes in Hebron
HEBRON (WAFA) 26 Apr – Israeli settlers Sunday attacked Palestinian homes with stones in the Hebron neighborhood of Tal Rumeda, according to local sources. Imad Abu Shamsiya, a local resident, told WAFA that a group of settlers from a nearby illegal settlement entered the area and hurled stones at Palestinians’ homes, spreading fear and panic among children. The settlers also sabotaged residents’ personal properties and some of the infrastructure in the neighborhood, including the external water lines, according to Abu Shamsiya … Illegal Jewish settlers have repeatedly attacked Palestinian property and worship places. Settlers’ violence includes property and mosque arsons, stone-throwing, uprooting of crops and olive trees, attacks on vulnerable homes, among others. According to the Israeli human rights group B’Tselem, Israeli security forces do not always deploy in advance to protect Palestinians from settler violence, even when such violence could be anticipated. “In some cases, rather than restricting violent settlers, Israeli security forces impose restrictions on the Palestinians.”
Thousands attend funeral procession of slain Palestinian in Hebron
IMEMC 27 Apr — Thousands of Palestinians participated, Sunday, in the funeral procession and ceremony for the young man who was killed on Saturday by Israeli army fire near the Ibrahimi Mosque, in the southern West Bank city of Hebron. The Israeli military claimed that the soldiers shot and killed Mahmoud Yahia Abu Jheishe [photo], 20 years of age, “after he stabbed a soldier.” Abu Jheishe was buried in a graveyard in his hometown of Ethna, west of the southern West Bank city of Hebron. He was shot with an expanding bullet which detonates upon impact. His family stated that he went to the Ibrahimi mosque to pray, and strongly denied the Israeli allegations, adding that Israel just wants to justify its crimes. The father said that he and other family members had no idea their son was dead until they saw his pictures posted by media outlets, and demanded Palestinian leadership to include his case in its file of Israeli war crimes that is to be submitted to the International Criminal Court. The mother could not attend the funeral because she is in Mecca, on religious pilgrimage. The slain Palestinian could not be immediately identified, as he did not carry any personal documents when he was killed, and was only identified later on Saturday, after the soldiers allowed the transfer of his body to the Palestinian side.
Thousands attend funeral for Palestinian accused of stabbing soldier
[photos] HEBRON (Ma‘an) 26 Apr — Thousands of Palestinians attended the funeral of Mahmoud Abu Jheisha on Sunday, after the 20-year-old was shot dead by Israeli forces outside the Ibrahimi Mosque in Hebron when he allegedly stabbed an Israeli soldier. The funeral procession began at the Amari Mosque in Abu Jheisha’s hometown of Idhna, west of Hebron, where family and friends paid their final respects, before he was taken to be buried in the town cemetery. Participants reportedly chanted slogans condemning Israeli crimes and calling for an end to Israeli practices as part of the occupation. Abu Jheisha was shot dead by Israeli forces after allegedly stabbing an Israeli soldier at the Ibrahimi Mosque in the southern West Bank city of Hebron. Witnesses told Ma‘an that he stabbed the soldiers a number of times before Israeli forces shot him dead. The Israeli soldier, who was moved to a Jerusalem hospital, received stab wounds in his head and chest, and his condition was described as moderate. Speaking at the funeral, Abu Jheisha’s father Yahya denied that his son had stabbed the soldier, saying that his son had left home on Saturday to pray in the Ibrahimi Mosque. He added that his family had been shocked to see photos of their son published in the media, and he called on the Palestinian authorities to bring his son’s death to the International Criminal Court. Abu Jheisha was not carrying personal documents at the time of his death, and he was only identified late last night, after early reports mistakenly identified him as Assad al-Salayma. AFP reported that Israeli soldiers had been preventing Palestinians from accessing the mosque when the incident took place … In the six months to the end of February, the UN reported that 17 Palestinians were killed by Israeli forces and settlers across the West Bank and East Jerusalem, while 10 Israelis were killed in Palestinian attacks. Thousands of Palestinians were injured by Israeli forces in the same period.
Israeli authorities to release Abu Ghannam’s body
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 26 Apr — Israeli authorities have agreed to release the body of a 17-year-old Palestinian who was shot dead by Israeli police on Friday after he allegedly ran at them “wielding” a knife. Lawyer of Addameer human rights group Muhammad Mahmoud said that Israeli authorities would release the body of Muhammad Abu Ghannam to his family after midnight on Sunday. Israeli authorities said they would allow 70 people to attend his burial at a cemetery close to his home in al-Tur. They refused on Saturday night to release his body after a Palestinian from Shu‘fat refugee camp allegedly rammed his car into a group of Israeli police officers, injuring four. Abu Ghannam’s father Muhammad told Ma‘an earlier on Saturday that after identifying his son’s face, Israeli security forces had prevented from seeing his son’s body and he had not been able to see where or how many times he had been shot. At that point, he told Ma‘an, Israeli intelligence had told him that his son’s body would be delivered to the family on the condition that only 20 people attend the funeral. He told Ma‘an he had refused these conditions, demanding that his son’s body be released to the family unconditionally. The funerals of Palestinians killed by Israeli forces are often highly politically charged. Earlier this month, Israeli forces shot and killed a Palestinian at his cousin’s funeral in Beit Ummar. [Family sources told WAFA that they had to pay a financial guarantee of $5000 as a condition to release their relative’s body, adding that they were threatened that in case any clashes were provoked by the mourners during Abu Ghannam’s funeral procession, the family would not get their money back.]
PA forces assault 15-year-old boy
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 25 — A 15-year-old Palestinian was injured and his brother arrested when the two were assaulted by Palestinian police in Nahalin in southwestern Bethlehem late Friday, his family said. The parents of Abd al-Hamid Ahmad Mahmoud Najajreh told Ma‘an that their son had been badly hurt in his head, arm and foot by PA police officers who hit him with the butts of their rifles and sticks while breaking up a fight that the boy’s family say he had not taken part in. “Rocks were thrown at PA forces, but not by my sons,” their father told Ma‘an, adding that the police arrested Abd al-Hamid’s older brother, Mahmoud, 18, for throwing rocks at PA forces even though he had not been in the town at the time of the fight. He said Mahmoud had been with him in Bethlehem at the time of the fight, but was arrested as soon as they arrived home. Speaking of Abd al-Hamid, the father said: “My son was assaulted by PA forces and thrown in the street; locals gave him first aid and took him to the town’s clinic, which transferred him to the al-Yamama Hospital where he currently is.” … Abd al-Hamid is currently in stable condition. The Palestinian Authority has come under fire before for human rights abuses against Palestinian civilians in the occupied West Bank.
Palestinian police now in Jerusalem suburbs after Israeli ban
ABU DIS, West Bank (AP) 25 Apr by Mohammed Daraghmeh — After years of Israeli objections, armed Palestinian police in dark blue uniforms have taken up positions in this lawless West Bank suburb of Jerusalem, highlighting the shared interests of Israel and the Palestinian self-rule government on day-to-day issues even when political tensions run high. The officers hope to catch scores of fugitive criminals and break up a rampant trade in drugs and stolen cars in three Arab areas on the outskirts of Jerusalem. The criminal activity, some in Arab-Jewish partnerships, routinely spills over into Israel, with most cars stolen there and some drugs sold in Jewish neighborhoods of Jerusalem. “Crime has no color,” said Adnan Damiri, a spokesman of the Palestinian security forces. “It can harm us and them.” … In Abu Dis, which abuts east Jerusalem, unarmed police patrolled the streets in the 1990s, but were ordered by Israel to leave after the outbreak of an armed Palestinian uprising against Israeli military rule in 2000. Since then, Israel only has permitted Palestinian police to return for specific needs, such as crowd control or arresting fugitive criminals, Damiri said. At the same time, Abu Dis and other Arab suburbs of Jerusalem fell outside the jurisdiction of Israeli civil police, leaving a vacuum that drew car thieves and drug dealers.
Israeli police arrest Palestinian over alleged hit-and-run
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 26 Apr — A Palestinian suspected of ramming his car into a group of Israeli policeman in occupied East Jerusalem on Saturday night has been arrested by Israeli police, a police spokesman said Sunday. The attack left four Israeli police officers injured, with three sustaining light injuries and one moderately hurt. Israeli news source Ynet named the suspect as 31-year-old Fadi Saleh from Shu‘fat refugee camp, although Israeli police spokesman Mickey Rosenfeld was unable to confirm the suspect’s identity. He told Ma‘an that search operations had continued through Saturday night and that a Palestinian man was arrested Sunday morning. Rosenfeld said he was being questioned and was “the main suspect in the terrorist attack.” The alleged hit-and-run came after a day of clashes across occupied East Jerusalem that left dozens of Palestinians injured.
5 Palestinians arrested in West Bank
AIC 27 Apr — Israeli forces arrested five Palestinians overnight and early Monday morning in the West Bank. Jenin region: Two Palestinians were arrested in the northern West Bank city of Jenin. Nablus region: One Palestinian was arrested in the village of al Jabal al Shamali. Bethlehem region: One Palestinian was arrested in the ‘Aida refugee camp. Hebron region: One Palestinian was arrested in the town of Idhna. All five Palestinians were transferred to Israeli interrogation facilities for questioning.
Israeli forces shoot, injure Palestinian in northern Gaza Strip
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 26 Apr — Israeli forces shot and injured a Palestinian man east of Beit Hanoun in the northern Gaza Strip on Sunday. A Ministry of Health spokesman, Dr. Ashraf al-Qudra, said that the 37-year-old man had been shot in his right foot in the Abu Safiya area east of Beit Hanoun. Al-Qudra said the injured man had been moved to Kamal Adwan hospital for treatment, and described his condition as moderate. The injury came as Israeli forces opened fire on fishermen and farmers across the Gaza Strip. Witnesses reported that Israeli naval forces fired on fishing boats four miles off the coast, damaging the boats and forcing the fisherman to return to land. Meanwhile, Israeli border forces fired smoke bombs at farmers’ land east of Maghazi refugee camp in the central Gaza Strip.
Gaza’s water crisis — in pictures
The National 26 Apr Photos by Heidi Levine — The 50-day bombardment of Gaza by Israel took a huge toll on Palestinians and their access to basic amenities such as clean water.
Al Jazeera 26 Apr by Charlotte Silver — Israel’s laws are meant to save them from the past and protect them from the future — In the coming days, Israel will announce whether an incident known as “Black Friday” will warrant a criminal investigation. On that day, August 1, 2014, with no warning, the Israeli army let loose a torrent of shells, missiles, drone strikes and mortars on the southern Gaza city of Rafah, in order to prevent the capture of an Israeli soldier by ensuring his death. The army killed at least 123 Palestinians. The act was derived from the Hannibal Directive, a policy developed in the 1980s that calculated a soldier was of more strategic value dead than alive and turned into something with which to be bartered by an enemy army. Since Israel began its internal investigations into its 51-day assault on Gaza last summer, the Military Advocate General (MAG) has opened 19 criminal investigations. That’s a handful more than were opened after Israel’s 2008-2009 assault on Gaza. Those investigations led to a single criminal indictment and a firm scolding by Israeli human rights organisations, B’tselem and Yesh Din, for their inexorable ties to the military’s interests. – Self-investigation process – The army has insisted that its self-investigation process has since sufficiently improved to satisfy critics (and the International Criminal Court) since it implemented the recommendations of the Turkel Commission from 2013. But comparing the list of cases already closed without further investigation with those that have been opened makes it clear that the MAG is determined to exonerate the policies that wreaked the most systematic death and destruction on civilian life in Gaza while, maybe, scapegoating a few low-ranking soldiers….
Report: 10% of needed construction materials enter Gaza
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 26 Apr — The amount of construction material that entered Gaza for its reconstruction since August 2014 amounts to only 10 percent of the market’s needs, a report issued Sunday said. The Popular Committee to End the Siege said that between the period of Oct. 14, 2014, and April 23, 2015, 2,252 truckloads of cement weighing around 90,000 tons entered Gaza with an average of 473 tons daily, but Gaza needs 3,000 tons daily. An additional 175 truckloads of re-bar weighing 6,125 tons and 1,540 truckloads of aggregate weighing 61,000 tons are also needed. The report added that the amount of re-bar entered would be enough for building 500 apartments, while 30,000 apartments were destroyed during the war. Some 58 truckloads of cement at 2,320 tons entered for Qatari-funded projects, while 12,750 truckloads of base-coarse and aggregate which amounts to around a half-million tons also entered.
Gaza’s bookstores struggle
GAZA CITY (Al-Monitor) 22 Apr by Mohammed Othman — With the purchasing power of Gazans on the skids, people are reading less, and some libraries and book shops are barely scraping by and others are closing down — Dust has covered the shelves that were once home to thousands of books in the Hashemite Library on Al-Jalaa Street in central Gaza City. Readers have stopped visiting the library, one of the oldest in the Gaza Strip. This library, which housed the work of hundreds of Palestinian and Arab writers and poets since its establishment in 1942, currently lacks visitors. The writers and the library eventually grew apart, and those who do visit only do so occasionally. The library’s owner and manager, Salama Abu Shaaban, reflects on the era when her establishment was frequented as a “sweet memory.” The Hashemite Library remained a beacon of knowledge and a destination for readers and intellectuals until 2000, when the number of readers started to dwindle, given the tough economic situation in the Strip.
Gaza women shed veil, spark controversy
GAZA CITY (Al-Monitor) 23 Apr by Asmaa al-Ghoul — Two weeks ago, journalist and film director Razan Madhoon took off her veil and posted her picture on Facebook. The move stirred a fierce backlash of comments against her and her husband, who supported her decision. Madhoon’s decision came as a shock for the Gaza public, given the region’s rising religiosity. Women wearing the veil or niqab and frequenting mosques have become commonplace in the Gaza Strip. This phenomenon calls for an analysis of its underlying reasons. Is it because society is conservative that people are prone to be more religious, or because a movement affiliated with political Islam is in power? Have the wars and experiences with death drawn people closer to religion? Sheikh Abdel Aziz Aoude told Al-Monitor, “Our society has always been religious, whether it was ruled by an Islamist party or not.” He added, “Perhaps religiosity in Gaza is only in form and does not include real social and cultural indications. For instance, praying is related to decency and order, but unfortunately the lives of religious people are chaotic, and this religious notion is not reflected in the rhythm of their [daily] lives.” Though it may be widely believed that Gaza is a conservative society by nature, no one knows where this idea came from, as society was not as it is now in the 1960s and 1970s. Most families keep photos of their female members in their homes, unveiled and sometimes even wearing revealing clothes. The trend toward conservatism came about with the first intifada in 1987– and the birth of political Islam in Palestine, represented by Hamas.
Gaza’s dying bamboo crafts industry
GAZA CITY (Al-Monitor) by Rasha Abou Jalal — Handmade bamboo furniture, which is part of the Palestinian identity, is endangered as the financial crisis is worsening in Gaza — Amer Khalaf cuts and shapes bamboo culms into arcs to make handmade furniture. Although he was preoccupied with work, he did not look satisfied. It appears that people no longer care about this profession amid a decline in demand for bamboo products. Those who work in the bamboo furniture industry in the Gaza Strip fear the near extinction of a craft that is one of the Palestinians’ most important traditional handicrafts carrying a long historical legacy. Khalaf, 29, was dusting off his creations that were stacked in his workshop in Omar Mukhtar neighborhood in Gaza City. “This profession has been at risk of extinction for several years now. There is little to no demand for bamboo furniture; I barely sell a single chair in a month,” he told Al-Monitor, noting that his craft is no longer enough to support his family of three. He attributed the craft’s decline to several reasons, including the deteriorating economic situation and the lack of purchasing power among citizens due to the financial crisis on the one hand, and the high price of bamboo furniture compared to products imported from abroad on the other hand.
Palestinian refugees – Syria
2771 Palestinian martyrs in Syria
DAMASCUS (PIC) 26 Apr — A documentary report of the Action Group for Palestinians of Syria disclosed that 2771 Palestinian refugees in Syria were killed from the beginning of the conflict until the end of March, 2015. The report stated that 1800 Palestinians were killed in 12 refugee camps in Syria in addition to those who were killed outside of their camps in different cities in Syria and abroad. The report pointed out that the martyrs died due to direct and indirect reasons of the conflict. The direct ones are bombardment, clashes, torture in prisons, and siege. Indirect reasons include drowning while trying to reach Europe via what have been known as “death boats”. The report also documented 73 Palestinian victims who died under torture since last March. The victims were recognized by leaked photos and a testimonial of a man released from the Syrian regime’s jails.
Land, property theft & destruction / Ethnic cleansing / Restrictions on movement / Apartheid
Israel invites bids for 77 East Jerusalem settler homes
JERUSALEM (AFP) 27 Apr — Israeli authorities invited tenders on Monday for the construction of 77 homes in settlement neighborhoods of annexed East Jerusalem, settlement watchdog Peace Now said.Peace Now spokeswoman Hagit Ofran told AFP it was the first such announcement in East Jerusalem since a March 17 general election win by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s rightwing Likud party.
Understand the Israeli-Palestinian apartheid in eleven images
Global Research 25 Apr by Ahmed Naguib — All the graphics are from the site Visualizing Palestine, a site dedicated to creating informative and impactful graphics about the occupied region. Check out many more of these images on their site.
Israeli military training critically damaging to Palestinian farmers
‘AQRABA, Occupied Palestine (ISM, Huwwara Team) 25 Apr — On 25th April 2015 ISM volunteers met with the mayor of ‘Aqraba, Ayman Bani Fadl, who has asked internationals to document the intrusive Israeli occupation forces’ actions over the past week. The Israeli forces have been using civilian farm land to carry out training operations. The military have an encampment where they have stationed around ten tanks and approximately fifteen more armored vehicles, as well as numerous troops. The military training in this area is hugely damaging to the farming economy, due to the fact that this season’s harvest began earlier in the month. Farmers are now prevented from carrying out their harvest by the presence of the Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF). The mayor stated that it is likely the military chose the time and area in a deliberate attempt to disrupt the harvest and the livelihoods of the civilian population. He also claimed the actions of the IOF were strategically designed to expropriate the land, forcing the farmers to leave the area. He went on to say that the military have already designated 150,000 dunams of ‘Aqraba land as a military zone. Meaning, the military have full control of the area. Despite this, the IOF have chosen to carry out their present training operations on the 10,000 dunams that remain accessible to the farmers.
Palestinians in Israel call for general strike
AIC 26 Apr — A general strike has been called for Tuesday in protest of the recent wave of home demolitions in Palestinian communities throughout Israel. The strike, called for by the High Follow-Up Committee of Arab Citizens of Israel, will conclude with a protest demonstration in Tel Aviv on Tuesday evening … Sikkuy, The Association for the Advancement of Civic Equality, notes that while Israel’s Palestinian and Jewish communities have grown at similar rates since 1948 (eight to ten times), some 700 new cities and towns were established for Jewish citizens, while not one new city has been established for Palestinian citizens, apart for townships in the Negev for Bedouins who were moved from their lands.
Facebook group shares checkpoint wait in real time
Al-Monitor 21 Apr by Daoud Kuttab — Thousands of Palestinians are using Facebook to share traffic updates to help each other avoid spending hours every day waiting to drive through Israeli checkpoints — The first thing that Tanya George does when she wakes up in her Ramallah home is to check the Facebook group “Status of the Road, Qalandia and Hizma.” She scrolls to the latest entry checks and reads the status of Palestine’s worst checkpoint. If it is crowded, she would take the longer road to her job in East Jerusalem, where she works to support underprivileged students, rather than risk waiting in line for hours, or might decide to do some work at home and leave for the office later … The success of the group lies in the information that users voluntarily contribute to it. At almost any hour of the day, at least one of the 32,000 users is crossing the checkpoint and posting its status. “Traffic coming from Jerusalem is backed up, but leaving Ramallah is smooth,” wrote Ahmad. Hanan gave more specific reports: “The road from Jerusalem is backed up to the Qawasmi gas station.” “Don’t go to Hizma. It is backed up to Mikhmas,” Safwan said. Another post by Ashraf provides pictorial evidence from his phone’s camera of how bad the traffic leading to the checkpoint going into Ramallah is.
Report finds even in high-tech, travel restrictions slow Gazan business
JPost 26 Apr by Niv Elis — Travel restrictions between the Gaza Strip and the West Bank are preventing the Gazan industry from expanding, even in the hi-tech realm, according to a report published Sunday. The report, published by Gisha, an NGO that advocates for increased freedom of movement for Palestinians, looked at five industries in Gaza that have largely fallen apart since Hamas took over in 2007: furniture, food processing, agriculture, textile, and information and communications technology. ICT is often considered less vulnerable to physical restrictions than other areas of business. Companies tout the effectiveness of holding meetings via video-conferencing and delivering digital products online. But according to the study, in which representatives from each industry were interviewed, Gazans working in the ICT field feel shut out of the West Bank economy. “The restrictions on travel, for instance, block entrepreneurs from the ICT industry who, contrary to what one might think, cannot make do with a virtual link to their colleagues and clients alone,” the report said. “They too must have access to the social circles where decisions are made, personal relationships are fostered and business opportunities are identified and cultivated.”
3 French activists denied Israel entry
AIC 27 Apr by Michel Warschawski — Three French activists, Christiane Berninger, Guy and Ilham Peterschmitt Nouairi, are currently held in the detention centre of the Tel Aviv airport, scheduled to be deported to France on Sunday. The three came as part of a support mission for Palestinian agriculture, in coordination with the Consulate General of France in Jerusalem. This administrative decision by Israel is even more scandalous concerning Christiane Berninger, who was denied entry last year,as the Israeli court ruledthen that next time she comes to Israel, the authorities “should favourably consider” her entry request. Israel’s Interior Ministryclaims this verdict involves an explicit entry request at an Israeli consulate in France, an absurd contention since French nationals are not required to receive a visa before arriving in Israel … Through Israeli attorney Lea Tsemel, the three appealed their deportation order, an appeal that will be heard in court on Sunday.
UNESCO resolutions raise Palestinian hopes
Al-Monitor 24 Apr by Daoud Kuttab — The United Nations Education Science and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has finally produced resolutions “with teeth.” Elias Sanbar, the permanent Palestinian representative to UNESCO told Al-Monitor that the resolutions adopted April 20 in Paris attempts to address the usual Israeli apathy to UNESCO decisions in a practical way. Sanbar, who has been the head of the Palestinian mission to UNESCO since 2012 said that in the past, the UNESCO executive board would meet once every few months, issue resolutions and await the Israeli reaction, “and the Israelis simply ignored the resolutions.” Sanbar believes that ignoring the most recent resolutions will have consequences. “The resolutions overwhelmingly passed by the executive board have deadlines and consequences,” he said. While previously UNESCO would send missions — which were either allowed or denied visits to Jerusalem — UNESCO has resolved to appoint a permanent representative to be stationed in East Jerusalem … Sanbar told Al-Monitor that the decision to have a UNESCO officer in Jerusalem was fought the hardest by some of the pro-Israel delegates on the executive board. “The US and especially Germany fought extremely hard against this actionable part of the decision,” Sanbar said.
To return, we must feel what our grandparents went through
972blog 25 Apr by Samah Salaime — So what if we didn’t liberate Palestine on our rain-soaked March of Return? Each and every one of us got a little taste of what life was like for our forefathers in 1948 — There is no doubt that this year’s “March of Return” was the most difficult, physically and mentally, of these past years. The inclement weather forecasts did not deter thousands from coming to Hadatha, a small village located on the road between Kfar Tavor and Tiberias … The big topic of discussion between members of the crowd was around whether “to go home and give in to nature, since it chases us Palestinians even on the one day of the year when we feel we have an identity, a flag and a struggle, or should we remain and never give up our right to return and our right to the land.” A teenage girl wrapped in a flag begged her father to go home: “We aren’t giving up on the land. It is just very cold here, and there is no shopping or crafts bazaar this year.” “We aren’t going until it’s over,” her father responded, “go buy yourself some mankusha (pita bread with za‘atar) near the oven. It is warmer there.”
PHOTOS: Palestinian journalist held in administrative detention
Activestills 24 Apr Photos and text by Ahmad Al-Bazz — Palestinian journalists and activists protested against the administrative detention of Palestinian journalist Amin Abu Wardeh earlier this week. The demonstrators stood outside the Red Cross offices in the West Bank city of Nablus and demanded that the organization intervene and help release him. Israel is currently imprisoning and detaining 20 Palestinian journalists, according to the Palestinian Journalists’ Syndicate. Abu Wardeh was also arrested in 2011 and held under administrative detention for 10 months. He runs the Asda’ news website. Israeli forces arrested Abu Wardeh in the early morning hours of April 15 during a large arrest campaign that saw 27 Palestinian civilians arrested in Nablus and its suburbs. Those targeted in the arrest campaign included former prisoners, a journalist, engineers, university lecturers and the wife of a former prisoner. The majority are members of Hamas. Palestinians described the arrest campaign as a political step, while Israel claimed the detainees had recently been involved in “Hamas activity.”
Princeton students buoyed by close vote in Israel divestment referendum
EI 25 Apr by Ali Abunimah — A student referendum calling on Princeton University to divest from firms profiting from the Israeli occupation in Palestine has been defeated by a very narrow margin. But campaigners are seeing the result as a major achievement as 965 undergraduates (47.5 percent) voted for the measure compared to 1,067 (52.5 percent) against. “Though divestment did not pass this time around, we encourage you to take heart, for we won in many other ways,” the campaign coalition Princeton Divests said on its website, Friday. Graduate students are set to vote in a similar referendum on 29 April. “Divestment has always been an uphill battle, and we knew from the outset that failure (in the strictly electoral sense) this time around was likely,” the group adds. “From the very beginning, we saw this campaign as one step of many in laying the groundwork for change.” More than seventy tenured faculty at Princeton backed the campaign urging the university to pull investments from firms including RE/MAX, Caterpillar and Hewlett-Packard.
In stealth move, Congress backs Israelis right’s war on settlement boycotts
The Forward 24 Apr by J.J. Goldberg — The finance committees of the House and Senate have approved amendments to a trade bill that equate boycotts of West Bank settlement products with boycotts of Israel, strengthening efforts by the Israeli right to silence opponents of West Bank settlements. Both committees approved the amendments unanimously. Each committee then approved its version of the trade bill on a split vote, with Republicans in favor and Democrats divided for and against. The nearly identical amendments require U.S. trade negotiators to “discourage politically motivated actions” by foreign countries and international organizations that aim to “penalize or otherwise limit” commercial relations with Israel or “persons doing business in Israel or in territories controlled by Israel.” The Senate Finance Committee took its action on Wednesday evening and the House Ways and Means Committee on Thursday evening. A separate measure approved by the House panel as an amendment to the customs bill goes a step further and takes action against some foreign companies if they shun the settlements, as called for by 16 of the 28 member-states of the European Union….
Hamas leader reveals indirect ‘chats’ with Israel
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 26 Apr — Hamas leader Ahmad Yousef said Sunday that there were “chats” taking place between the Islamist movement and Israel under European mediation. Yousef told Ma‘an “we await the formation of an Israeli government so things can get more serious. European diplomats and civil society activists come to the Gaza Strip constantly and pose Israeli viewpoints and convey the reaction of the movement through unofficial chats. “For instance, he said, there are talks on the issues of the ceasefire and the seaport that aim to “find a way out on the issue of the siege by opening a seaport to connect to the outside world.” Yousef denied that there were direct talks between Hamas and Israel taking place.
In regard to former US president Jimmy Carter’s visit to Gaza Strip, Yousef said he would meet Hamas leaders including Ismail Haniyeh to discuss national reconciliation. He added that since Egypt has no role in mediation now, Carter would come accompanied by international officials to meet Hamas leaders and then President Mahmoud Abbas. Carter will also meet faction leaders in Gaza and ministers, and he will discuss a ceasefire with Israel and Palestinian elections. Yousef revealed that international parties were mediating in the issue of the remains of Israeli soldiers said to be in Gaza. “Hamas has a lot of important cards to play, and surprises on the topic of the missing soldiers,” he added. The official said that Hamas informed all parties that no new deal would be made before Israel commits to earlier agreements and releases all those who were re-arrested after the abduction of three Israeli settlers last year. He explained that the file will be discussed after the formation of a new Israeli government, concluding that Israel would be forced to deal with “Hamas’ surprise.”
Gaza’s employee crisis derails latest reconciliation attempt
GAZA CITY (Al-Monitor) 24 Apr by Asmaa al-Ghoul — Enraged, the national consensus government delegation left the Gaza Strip and headed to its headquarters in Ramallah on April 20 after being insulted by the security apparatus that is still operating under Hamas in Gaza, a delegation member told Al-Monitor on condition of anonymity. The Cabinet ordered the delegation to spend one week in Gaza and one week in Ramallah on a regular basis. The source added that the delegation — made up of 11 members, including ministers and undersecretaries — felt they were locked up in the ArcMed Al-Mashtal Hotel, where they stayed in Gaza. The source told Al-Monitor, “The security men forbade the delegation members from receiving visitors, and they would ask visitors at the hotel entrance if they were abstaining employees. They impeded the work of different committees in each ministry and the meeting with employees who were appointed before June 2007.” An “abstaining employee” is one who was appointed by the Palestinian Authority before Hamas took over the Gaza Strip by force in June 2007 and did not return to work based on political convictions. Hamas appointed 40,000 workers to replace missing staff.
Minister: No dialogue between unit government and Hamas
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 26 Apr — The national unity government has cut off contact with Hamas in the wake of a high-profile visit to Gaza that ended in disarray last Monday, Minister of Labor Mamoun Abu Shahla told Ma‘an on Sunday. Abu Shahla said: “There has been no contact between the government and Hamas since the return of the ministerial delegation, which was unable to achieve its aims due to restrictions imposed by Hamas.” The government delegation of eight ministers was visiting the coastal enclave in a bid to tackle an employee dispute with Hamas. Since last year, when Fatah and Hamas formed a unity government, Hamas has demanded that the government regulate the salaries of its 50,000 employees, who took up their positions when the movement seized power in 2007, and replaced 70,000 former Palestinian Authority employees. However, the Fatah-dominated PA has pledged to return the 70,000 former employees to their positions, saying that the Hamas workers would only be hired “according to need.” The government delegation, which arrived in Gaza last Sunday, had intended to register these former employees, but they allege that Hamas prevented them from carrying out their work by confining them in their hotel. The delegation departed the next day. A Hamas spokesman rejected the claims, saying the ministers had refused to leave the hotel … The labor minister said he was not optimistic about the next steps as officials seek to close the developing rift. He also said it was unlikely that Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah would visit Gaza this week.
Abbas to visit Russia in May
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 24 Apr — President Mahmoud Abbas will head to Moscow in May to participate in Russian “Victory Day” celebrations, less than a month after he last met with Russian President Vladimir Putin. The Palestinian ambassador to Russia, Faed Mustafa, told Ma‘an that Abbas will join 30 other world leaders at the ceremony on 9 May, which celebrates the Red Army’s victory over Nazi Germany in 1945. Mustafa said Abbas’ stay will last from May 8 to 10, adding that Putin is also planning a visit to Palestine in coming months, during which the Russian president is expected to open a cultural center.
Armenians in Palestine mark 100 years since Genocide
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 23 Apr by Alex Shams — The Armenian community of the Holy Land this week marks the 100th anniversary of the beginning of a series of massacres and pogroms against the community in their ancestral homeland in Eastern Anatolia. Large numbers of the community’s approximately 5,000 members in Palestine are expected to take part in commemorations for the 1.5 million lives lost in the Armenian Genocide, which took place during the dying days of the Ottoman Empire. The official centenary date falls on Friday, April 24, but commemorations are expected to begin on Thursday and continue over two days. On Thursday evening at 6.15 p.m., bells from the 13 major churches in the Old City will toll 100 times to commemorate the deaths. Later that night, Armenians will march by candlelight from the Old City to an Armenian church in West Jerusalem near the German Colony. The church is part of a large amount of property Armenians lost in 1948, when Zionist militias expelled Palestinians — Arab and Armenian alike — from their homes in what became Israel. On Friday evening, meanwhile, inter-communal services will be held at the Church of the Holy Sepulcher with representatives of all churches from across Jerusalem present. Earlier in the day, a protest will be held in front of the Turkish Consulate in Jerusalem. Although the killings were organized by elites in the Ottoman Empire, the predecessor state to the Turkish Republic, Turkey has long denied that the killings were pre-planned and community members are angry at what they see as Turkey’s continued impunity for the slaughter … There are also about 2,000 Assyrians in the Holy Land today who trace their roots to the Genocide. About two-thirds of that community, which also comes from Eastern Anatolia, lives in Bethlehem, with the remainder primarily in Jerusalem.
Two Swedish hostages released in Syria: foreign ministry
Stockholm (AFP) 25 Apr — Two Swedish men held hostage in Syria have been released with the help of Palestinian and Jordanian authorities, Sweden’s foreign ministry said Saturday. The ministry declined to give details of the case but Foreign Minister Margot Wallstroem thanked the Palestinians and Jordan for helping secure the men’s release. “A special thanks to Palestine and president (Mahmud) Abbas personally who engaged in a decisive way, as well as to the Jordanian authorities,” she said in a statement to news agency TT.
Netanyahu’s blessing to Druse gets warm reception on holiday
JPost 26 Apr by Ariel Ben Solomon — Tens of thousands showed up on Saturday and President Reuven Rivlin is scheduled to attend on Monday — Likud Druse MK Ayub Kara passed on a blessing from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to tens of thousands of Druse congregated at the grave of Nabi Shu’ayb for their annual holiday on Saturday. “The Prime Minister asked me to read out a blessing to the Druse” congregated for their holiday at the shrine of the prophet Shu’ayb, which Druse tradition recognizes as the Biblical Jethro, the father-in-law of Moses, Kara told The Jerusalem Post in an interview on Sunday. “Because it was held on Shabbat and he [Netanyahu] couldn’t come, he asked me to transmit his blessing, which was received with love and cheers,” said Kara. Netanyahu’s message not only noted that we cooperate in blood, but are partners in building the holy land of Israel, he said. A knowledgeable political source in the Druse community told the Post that “there was anger” at the end of last year when the cabinet approved a bill to anchor in law Israel’s status as the nation-state of the Jewish people, legislation critics say could undermine its democratic foundation and the rights of minorities. “This was one of the reasons that large numbers of Druse didn’t vote for Bibi [Netanyahu],” claimed the source, adding that now he has a chance to embrace the Druse anew and appoint a Druse minister in his government.
Israeli air strike kills four planting bomb at Syria frontier: source
JERUSALEM (Reuters) 27 Apr — An Israeli air strike killed four militants on Sunday as they placed an explosive on a fence near Israel’s frontier with Syria in the annexed Golan Heights, an Israeli military source said. “Four terrorists placed an explosive on a fence near Majdel Shams and an Israeli aircraft shot and killed them,” the source said, speaking on condition of anonymity, and identifying a village in the territory at the foot of strategic Mount Hermon. The Israeli military spokesman issued a terse statement saying the air force had thwarted an attack at the Israeli-Syrian border, saying it “targeted the squad, preventing the attack.” Tensions have risen in the Golan Heights, territory Israel captured from Syria in a 1967 war and later annexed in a move never recognized internationally, amid the civil war raging in Syria in the past four years. Israel is concerned about the role of Islamist militants seeking to overthrow Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, as well as Assad’s increasingly strong Lebanese militia ally, Hezbollah, which is backed by Israel’s arch-enemy, Iran.
Hezbollah keeps quiet about border airstrike
BEIRUT (Daily Star) 27 Apr — Hezbollah refused to comment Sunday on reports that Israel targeted its interests on the Syria-Lebanon border over the weekend. News outlets reported Saturday that Israeli fighter jets hit Syrian and Hezbollah targets on the Syria-Lebanon border overnight Friday. When contacted by The Daily Star, a Hezbollah spokesman refused to confirm or deny the reports. According to sources quoted by Al-Jazeera, the attack in the Syrian region of Qalamoun targeted the 155th and 65th Brigades of the Syrian Army, which deal with strategic weapons and long-range missiles. The sources reported several explosions in the Syrian towns of Al-Qutayfa, Yabroud and Qara on the outskirts of Damascus. Al-Arabiya news channel reported that the attack targeted Syrian weapons depots, and that Wednesday Israel allegedly attacked two weapons convoys, reportedly killing one person.
How Jewish and Palestinian cultural artifacts became Israeli property
Haokets 25 Apr by Gish Amit — A new book looks at the ways in which ancient religious manuscripts belonging to Yemenite Jews, as well as thousands of books owned by Palestinians and Holocaust survivors became part of Israel’s National Library in Jerusalem — The book “Ex Libris: History of Robbery, Preservation, and Appropriation in the National Library in Jerusalem,” addresses three affairs that took place within the walls of the Israeli National Library in Jerusalem: the robbery of Yemenite Jews’ manuscripts, which migrated to Israel during the 1940’s and 50’s; the collection of many thousands of book owned by Palestinians, which became part of the library’s collection; and the political struggles surrounding the redistribution of books belonging to Holocaust victims after World War II.
Eying Arab ties, Israel to observe nuclear pact meeting
JERUSALEM (Reuters) 26 Apr — Israel will take part as an observer in a major nuclear non-proliferation conference that opens at the United Nations on Monday, ending a 20-year absence in hope of fostering dialogue with Arab states, a senior Israeli official said. Assumed to have the Middle East’s sole nuclear arsenal, and having never joined the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, Israel has stayed away from gatherings of NPT signatories since 1995 in protest at resolutions it regarded as biased against it. Citing the example of disarmament talks in other regions, Israel says it would consider submitting to international nuclear inspections and controls only once at peace with the Arabs and Iran. Those countries want Israel curbed first.