Violence / Attacks / Raids / Arrests
Israeli settlers pepper spray 11-year-old child
IMEMC/Agencies 5 Apr — Israeli settlers, on Saturday, opened pepper spray on 11-year-old Qamar Qafisha, from Hebron, on Shuhada street in the city. PNN reports that settlers from Beit Hadassah and Ramat Yishai settlements, illegally built on Palestinian lands in the Hebron district, opened OC poisonous spray in the girl’s face while she was standing in front of her house in Hebron. Qamar suffered intense asphyxiation, and was treated on the spot by residents. Violations on Palestinian children by Israeli settlers are not uncommon in the region, taking place in the form of multiple hit and run attacks with moving vehicles, kidnapping attempts, torture and even burning, as in last summer’s case of 17-year-old Muhammad Abu Khdeir … Israeli forces shot and injured at least 30 children across the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem since the beginning of this year,
PHOTOS: Soldiers fire live ammo, wound two in Nabi Saleh protest
Activestills 5 Apr Photos and report: Anne Paq — Israeli soldiers fired live ammunition against nonviolent Palestinian protesters in the West Bank village of Nabi Saleh on Friday. Two Palestinians were wounded, including activist Manal Tamimi. Tamimi was shot in her leg as she was standing and talking to her friends, only minutes after the protest had begun, along with another young Palestinian. Both were transferred to a Ramallah hospital where they received treatment for their wounds. Activists report that the army has stepped up its use of live ammunition in the village over the past few months. Nariman Tamimi, a prominent activist in the village’s Popular Struggle Coordination Committee, was shot with live ammunition on November 22, 2014. She is still recovering. Nonviolent protests in Nabi Saleh began in 2009 after residents from the nearby settlement Halamish took took control over the Ein al-Qaws spring — owned by a resident of the village — preventing Palestinian access to their land.
Israeli forces detain 5 in Silwan
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 4 Apr — Israeli forces detained five Palestinians in occupied East Jerusalem during clashes in the Ein al-Luza neighborhood of Silwan late Friday. Lawyer of the Addameer Prisoners Support and Human Rights Association, Muhammad Mahmoud, identified those detained as Hani Shweiki, 27, Bassel Shweiki, 20, Mahmoud Ashur, 16, Amjad Shweiki, 16, and Tawfiq Shweiki, 17. The detainees were transferred to different interrogation centers. Majdi al-Abbasi from the Wadi Haliweh Information Center in Silwan said that clashes erupted late Friday in the neighborhood, where Israeli soldiers opened live fire into the air to disperse protesters. Al-Abbasi added that an Israeli police jeep caught fire when youths threw Molotov cocktails at Israeli forces, who fired both live and rubber-coated bullets in return. Israeli forces also fired stun grenades and tear-gas canisters targeting homes and vehicles, and set up flying checkpoints to search vehicles in the area.
Israeli army arrests five Palestinians in West Bank
WEST BANK (WAFA) 5 Apr – Israeli army Sunday arrested five Palestinians during predawn and night raids in the districts of Hebron, Tulkarm and Bethlehem, according to local and security sources. In the city of Tulkarm, Israeli army units stormed an orphanage during late night hours, where they arrested 18-year-old Ibrahim Salmi. The orphanage shelters about 50 male and female orphans. In the meantime, army broke into Bethlehem and the nearby Dehesha refugee camp, where they arrested Ahmad Hureimi, 25, and Rabee Sharmouk, 33. The incursion into the camp provoked confrontations with local residents, during which army fired teargas canisters, causing multiple cases of suffocation. Meanwhile, army forces broke into Hebron, in the southern West Bank, and arrested Kamal Husseini, 25, after raiding and searching his family home. The forces also stormed another house and arrested Baraa Dofash, 22, and physically assaulted his brother, reported a security source. The army also stormed a home near the illegal settlement of ‘Kiryat Arba’, and notified the residents about an army order to transfer the house into a military base. Israeli soldiers broke into nearby Bani Na‘im and transferred a house into a military barracks for hours.
Father, his child, and a third Palestinian receive interrogation orders in Bethlehem
IMEMC/Agencies 6 Apr — Israeli soldiers invaded, on Monday at dawn, the town of Beit Fajjar, south of Bethlehem, and handed a father, his 12-year-old child, and a third Palestinian, military warrants for interrogation. The army also invaded Beit Surif near Hebron and searched homes. Eyewitnesses in Beit Fajjar said the soldiers invaded the town before storming the home of Mohammad Ismael Za’oul, and violently searched it. The soldiers handed him and his 12-year-old son, Ezzeddin, military warrants ordering them to head to the Etzion security base, south of Bethlehem, for interrogation. A third Palestinian, identified as Ahmad Kamel Thawabta, 26, received a similar order after the soldiers stormed and searched his home. The army withdrew from the town after handing the military orders; no clashes or injuries were reported. In addition, soldiers invaded Surif town, northwest of Hebron city in the southern part of the West Bank, stormed and violently searched several homes belonging to members of the al-Hour and Ghneimat families. Soldiers also installed roadblocks on the northern entrance of Hebron city, and Farsh al-Hawa area, south of the city, in addition to the main road of Sa‘ir town, before stopping and searching dozens of cars, and interrogated several Palestinians while inspecting their ID cards.
Ahrar: ‘525 Palestinians, including 42 women, 78 children, kidnapped in March
IMEMC 5 Apr by Saed Bannoura — The Ahrar Center for Detainees’ Studies and Human Rights stated in its monthly report on Israeli violations in the occupied territories that Israeli soldiers kidnapped 525 Palestinians, including 42 women and 78 children, in March. The Center said the arrests took place in different parts of the occupied West Bank, the besieged Gaza Strip, and occupied East Jerusalem. It said that 42 women were kidnapped, largely in occupied Jerusalem, and that the police have released most of the kidnapped women after interrogating them, while many faced high fines, and were denied access to the Al-Aqsa Mosque for different periods. Ahrar added that the soldiers kidnapped 78 children, mainly in occupied Jerusalem, while the second largest number of children’s arrests took place in Hebron, in the southern part of the West Bank. Most of them were interrogated and released later….
Gaza returns to 8-hour electricity schedule
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 6 Apr — The Gaza Strip electricity distribution company said Sunday that the Gaza Strip would return to the 8-hour program for electricity, in which power is supplied and cut off in 8-hour intervals. Jamal al-Dardasawi, a spokesman for the company, told Ma‘an that it has started to receive the first batches of electricity generated by the local generation station which returned to work Sunday evening. Al-Dardasawi said the first 24 hours of the new schedule would be confusing, but the schedule would be balanced in all areas with a day. The return to the program comes after the government’s decision to exempt the station of tax on fuel for three months. The plant, Gaza’s sole power station, was to be supplied with fuel on Sunday after more than a month-long closure when the Gazan energy authority ran out of funding. Nathmi Muhanna, PA director of border crossings in the Gaza Strip, said that 10 trucks carrying 400,000 liters of fuel would be passing though the Kerem Shalom commercial crossing on Sunday, and that a regular supply of fuel would be resumed during the week. On Mar. 2, the Hamas-run energy authority closed the plant after they were unable to afford the taxes demanded by the PA for importing fuel into besieged Gaza.
Army carries out a limited invasion in Khan Younis; navy ships open fire on fishing boats near Rafah
IMEMC/Agencies 6 Apr — A number of armored Israeli military vehicles carried out, on Monday morning, a limited invasion into Palestinian lands, southeast of Khan Younis, in the southern part of the Gaza Strip. Media sources in Khan Younis said the soldiers first opened fire from military towers in the Kissufim base, across the border; no injuries were reported. Following the shooting, at least four Israeli army bulldozers and a few vehicles, stationed in the Sofa army base, advanced nearly 200 meters into Palestinian lands, and conducted military searches in the area.
In related news, Israeli navy ships opened fire on a number of Palestinian fishing boats in Gaza territorial waters, close to the shore, near Rafah in the southern part of the coastal region. The attack forced the fishers back to shore; the fishers managed to escape the attack physically unharmed.
Minister announces start of construction for 1,000 Gaza homes
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 5 Apr — The Palestinian minister of public works and housing on Sunday announced the beginning of a new project to build 1,000 housing units in the Gaza Strip. Mufeid Hasayneh said at a news conference that his ministry had a method to build a ground floor for each family whose homes were destroyed during the 2014 war in the first phase of the project. The remainder of the floors are to be built in later phases. Hasayneh said he expected the construction to be completed in a short period if Israel allows the construction material into the enclave without delay.
Q&A: Wheelchairs for Gaza
Al Jazeera 5 Apr — On the last day of Israel’s 2014 assault on the Gaza Strip, Shams al-Amal, Gaza’s only school for disabled children, was leveled, leaving the school’s 140 students without a viable alternative. The school is now being rebuilt via the Save Gaza Project, which has launched a crowd-funding campaign to raise money for wheelchairs, mobility aids and educational supplies. The project, which also aims to raise funds to purchase wheelchairs for other children who became disabled or had limbs amputated in the 2014 war, hopes to see the new school reopened in June. The two-month crowd-funding campaign ends on April 10. Al Jazeera spoke with Basel Abuwarda, a doctor and human rights activist who founded the Save Gaza Project, about how the children most affected have been coping with all of this … Al Jazeera: How has this affected the students at Shams al-Amal, many of whom already faced a challenging future? Abuwarda: Shams al-Amal is the only school dedicated to the needs of physically disabled children in Gaza. The destruction of the school left the disabled students with no comparable alternative for their education. Each and every one of the children suffered greatly during the war, even without the destruction of their school. The loss of stability and of the routine of going to school caused the children to suffer even more trauma during times of hardship. A school should always be a place of safety and trust for children, but after the destruction, it is likely that these children will never feel truly safe in any school again.
Aid convoy carrying 40 trailers dispatched to Gaza
AMMAN — The Jordan Hashemite Charity Organisation on Saturday dispatched a seven-truck aid convoy laden with 40 prefabricated trailers to Gaza, according to JHCO Secretary General Ayman Mifleh. JHCO donated 20 of the housing units, while the International Transport Workers’ Federation and the Electricity Workers Union each donated 10. Mifleh added that JHCO has sent over 500 trailers, and will continue to send them to the Palestinian public works ministry to distribute to families displaced due to Israeli attacks on Gaza.
Iran ‘is intensifying efforts to support Hamas in Gaza’
The Telegraph 4 Apr by Con Coughlin, Defence Editor — Iran has sent Hamas’s military wing tens of millions of dollars to help it rebuild the network of tunnels in Gaza destroyed by Israel’s invasion last summer, intelligence sources have told The Sunday Telegraph. It is also funding new missile supplies to replenish stocks used to bombard residential neighbourhoods in Israel during the war, code-named Operation Protective Edge by Israel. The renewed funding is a sign that the two old allies are putting behind them a rift caused by the conflict in Syria, where Shia Iran is backing President Bashar al-Assad against Hamas’s mainly Sunni allies. Iran has sponsored Hamas’s military operations for years, despite the contradiction that Hamas is part of the worldwide, Sunni-supremacist Muslim Brotherhood, while Iran is Shia. Hamas’s leader, Khaled Meshaal, who left Damascus for Qatar after falling out with the Assad regime, has often fought with Hamas’s military wing over the strength of the Iranian connection. However, with the Sunni Arab world joining forces against Iran, led by Saudi Arabia and President Abdelfattah el-Sisi of Egypt, who are both hostile to Hamas, the Palestinian militant group has been left little option but to accept the Iranian largesse….
Al-Yarmouk tragedy highlights Palestinians’ right to return, points out Erekat
RAMALLAH (WAFA) 5 Apr – Amid calls initiated by the Palestinian Authority and talks with Arab, International and humanitarian parties to interfere and put an end to the ongoing slaughter of helpless Palestinian refugees in al-Yarmouk refugee camp, PLO Executive Committee Member Saeb Erekat said that the situation is a reminder of Palestinians’ right to return. In a press statement that WAFA received on Sunday, Erekat stressed that the humanitarian disaster is a reminder of the need to realize the inalienable right of return for all Palestine refugees, in line with international law and relevant United Nations’ resolutions. “The tragedy unfolding in Al-Yarmouk shall remain a testament to the collective human failure of protecting civilians in times of war.”
2,000 evacuated from Syria’s Yarmouk camp after IS advance: Palestinians
DAMASCUS (AFP) 5 Apr – – Around 2,000 people have been evacuated from the Yarmuk Palestinian refugee camp in Damascus after the Islamic State group seized large parts of it, a Palestinian official told AFP Sunday. “Around 400 families, approximately 2,000 people, were able to leave the camp on Friday and Saturday via two secure roads to the Zahira district, which is under army control,” said Anwar Abdul Hadi, a Palestine Liberation Organisation official. “The evacuations are continuing on Sunday and some people are now in Yalda (a district under regime control) and waiting to be taken to shelters.” State news agency SANA also reported the evacuations, saying they were carried out in coordination between the army and Palestinian factions and that the government had set up shelters for those fleeing. Palestinian forces inside Yarmuk are largely surrounded by IS fighters who have captured large swathes of the camp since an assault that began Wednesday. Abdul Hadi said most of those evacuated from the camp were being hosted in government shelters, with at least 25 wounded taken to hospital. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a Britain-based monitoring group, confirmed that “hundreds” of people had been evacuated from the camp. It said at least 26 people, including civilians as well as fighters from IS and Palestinian factions, had been killed in the camp since Wednesday. The UN agency for Palestinian refugees UNRWA said it had on Sunday given “life-saving humanitarian support to 94 civilians, including 43 women and 20 children, who fled Yarmuk.” UNRWA spokesman Chris Gunness urged the warring parties to “show maximum restraint so other civilians who wish to leave can be evacuated.” – ‘Paying the price’ – Since the jihadist advance began Wednesday, regime forces have pounded the camp with shells and barrel bombs, according to the Observatory. Palestinian officials have urged humanitarian access to the camp and called for its residents to be protected. “The Palestinians are paying the price for wars and violence that are not of their making,” Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas said in a speech Sunday. He said a solution must be found “to protect the residents of Yarmuk who have done nothing to deserve this.” His comments came as some 100 protesters gathered in Ramallah, on the West Bank, in a show of solidarity with their fellow Palestinians in the camp.
Official: Hamas forces join fight against IS in Damascus refugee camp
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 5 Apr — An official in the support network for the Palestinian refugee camps in Syria said Sunday that a Hamas-affiliated group is fighting the Islamic State in Damascus’ Yarmouk refugee camp. Ayman Abu Hashem told Ma‘an that the Aknaf Bayt al-Maqdes group was fighting IS despite a decision by PLO factions to remain neutral in the Syrian civil war. Abu Hashem said that the group was once among the biggest armed groups in the camp, before becoming weakened in recent weeks. Only a few dozen remain fighting, he said. But Farouk al-Rifai, a spokesman for the Palestinian civil society network in Syria, told Ma‘an that Aknaf Bayt al-Maqdes fighters were joining some civilians in defending the camp.
Hamas holds Gaza march for besieged Yarmuk refugees
KHAN YOUNIS, Palestinian Territories (AFP) 4 Apr — Hundreds rallied Saturday in the Gaza Strip in support of thousands of fellow Palestinians trapped in Syria’s Yarmuk camp, which has been largely overrun by jihadist fighters. Hundreds, many waving Hamas flags, took to the streets in the southern Gaza city of Khan Yunis in a march organised by the militant Islamic movement, the de facto power in the coastal enclave. “We say it for the thousandth time: hands off the Yarmuk camp, hands off our people, hands off the slaughtered, killed and starved,” senior Hamas official Salah al-Bardawil told them. He called on the UN agency for Palestinian refugees UNRWA to use all the influence at its disposal. “Your role today is…to exert your pressure in order to find a way out for those besieged,” he said.
PLO delegation heads to Syria for talks on camp crisis
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 5 Apr — A Palestine Liberation Organization delegation will be sent to Syria to discuss the crisis in Yarmouk refugee camp after it came under attack by the Islamic State group. The delegation, led by PLO executive committee member Ahmad al-Majdalani, was sent by President Mahmoud Abbas to meet Syrian official and faction leaders. Al-Majdalani said the delegation would try hard to enter the camp to look into the situation and try to find a resolution to end the suffering of the camp’s residents. He added that the PA was in constant contact with Syrian officials and international organizations like UNRWA and the Red Cross to ensure the entry of food and to evacuate the injured.
Yarmouk-based NGO chronicles week of ISIS attacks on the Palestinian refugee camp in Syria
Jafra Foundation for Youth Development and Relief 5 Apr — 9 AM, April 1, 2015 Armed groups belonging to the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) launched an attack on Yarmouk Camp, entering the camp from the southern neighborhood of Hajar Al Aswad. In coordination with Jabat al-Nusra (Nusra), ISIS captured large portions of southern neighborhoods in Yarmouk Camp by around 2PM. They were able to control the camp by positioning snipers in the tallest buildings inside the southern portion of the camp. Aknaf Beit Al Maqdis, the largest organized armed Palestinian militia inside the camp, was surprised by their entrance and once informed, immediately began resisting the entrance of ISIS. Many civilians volunteered to join the fight to defend the camp from ISIS’s entrance. By 6PM on April 1st, Aknaf Beit Al Maqdis took back more than 70% of the areas captured by ISIS earlier in the day. At the end of April 1st, ISIS controlled Palestine Hospital, kidnapping 5 volunteers who had been injured. The whereabouts of these 5 volunteers are still unknown. Since then the hospital has been closed. Clashes continued until 2AM….
Prisoners / Court actions
Legislator Jarrar sentenced to six months
IMEMC 5 Apr by Saed Bannoura — An Israeli military court held a hearing Sunday to discuss the file [case?] of detained leftist Legislator Khaleda Jarrar, and sentenced her to six months under arbitrary Administrative Detention orders, without charges. Jarrar, an elected legislator and a senior political leader of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), will attend another court hearing on April 8 to officially instate the ruling, especially since the army might be thinking about asking for an additional sentence, or a longer detention period. The army kidnapped Jarrar, a leading intellectual and a feminist figure, on Thursday at dawn, April 2. The legislator is also the head of the Prisoners’ Committee of the Palestinian Legislator Council (PLC). The Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network has reported that Israel has been denying Jarrar the right to travel outside of Palestine since 1988, and that, in 2010, it took a public campaign lasting for six months before the Israeli Authorities allowed her to travel to Jordan for medical treatment. Related: Ashrawi: Jarrar’s arrest a politically motivated violation of parliamentary immunity
Wounded detainee facing sharply deteriorating conditions
IMEMC 5 Apr by Saed Bannoura — Family of a young Palestinian detainee held by Israel voiced an urgent appeal to local international, legal and human rights organizations to intervene and save their wounded detained son from deteriorating conditions that could lead to his death. The family of Mahmoud Jamil Abu al-Kamel, 25 years of age, said their son was shot, and injured, by Israeli army fire, prior to his arrest in August of 2014. The soldiers shot him with two live rounds to the back and one of his legs; since then he has been facing frequent complications and infections, especially since one of the bullets struck him near his spine. He requires specialized medical attention, and rehabilitation, but is even denied this right.It is worth mentioning that 207 Palestinians died in Israeli prisons and detention camps since Israel occupied the West Bank, Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem in 1967. Around 72 of them died as a result of torture, and 52 others who died after being denied the needed and specialized medical treatment. Some were shot and killed during their arrest and even while in prison.
Israel cuts off power to sick prisoners
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 4 Apr — Israeli prison services cut off the power supply to sick prisoners’ wards in Al-Ramla Prison on Saturday, a lawyer for the Palestinian Prisoner Affairs Committee said. Hanan al-Khatib, a committee lawyer, said that the power was cut for more than 12 hours as a punitive measure, adding that Israeli authorities were claiming the power cut was carried out for maintenance purposes. She said that the cut was “immoral and inhumane” and was aimed at breaking down the determination of sick detainees. Sick prisoners in the al-Ramla jail suffer from illnesses including paralysis, cancer and liver diseases.
Land, property theft & destruction / Ethnic cleansing / Restrictions on movement
Israel destroys home of blind brothers in East Jerusalem
JERUSALEM (EI) 5 Apr by Jesse Rubin — More than one hundred Israeli soldiers turned up at Nureddin Amro’s home at 5:30 in the morning last Tuesday, accompanied by bulldozers and dogs. It quickly became clear that the soldiers had one item on their agenda: demolition. Nureddin tried to reason with the soldiers, only to be told “you cannot negotiate with us,” he said. “We tried to oppose it [the demolition], but they pushed all of us inside the house and started to hit the kids and the women,” he added. “They started to beat us and to point their weapons at us.” Twelve people lived in the Amro house in the Wadi al-Joz neighborhood of occupied East Jerusalem. They included Nureddin and his brother, Sharif, both of whom are blind, their wives and seven children, all under fourteen years old. When the family did not immediately leave the house, a soldier threatened them and said he would demolish the house while they were still inside, Nureddin said. The military also cut the Internet, phone and water connections. “They beat him so bad” Yahya Totah, a neighbor of the Amros, recalled how one soldier “kept saying, tear it down, tear it down.” “I asked him: ‘do you have a permit or a court order to come here and do what you do to us?,’” Totah told The Electronic Intifada. “He looked me in the eye and said they didn’t have a permit to demolish. In my personal opinion, they have no rules.” “My brother came back from work when he heard [about the soldiers’ arrival],” Totah added. “And they wouldn’t let him come down the street. They beat him so bad.” The Israeli authorities also demolished parts of other houses along the road. Totah said that Israeli soldiers knocked down a small room where children played, as well as horse stalls. They even destroyed a year’s supply of horse feed belonging to the Totah family, with soldiers stepping on and soiling it on purpose, he said. The Amro family has lived here for seventy years, they say….
Successful olive tree planting in Bruqin
SALFIT region, Occupied Palestine (ISM Nablus Team) 4 Apr — On 4th April 2015 over 25 Palestinian activists from Bruqin and the surrounding area of the Salfit region of the West Bank gathered on top of a nearby hill to plant roughly 30 olive saplings. The group were joined by international activists who accompanied the locals in planting the young trees across the hillside. Unusually, this time the protesters managed to successfully plant all trees mere meters from the settlement without facing harassment or violence from settlers or military. Locals are planning further actions to continue their grass-roots non-violent struggle. Today’s tree planting was an act of resistance against the expansion of Ariel West Industrial Park, an illegal Israeli settlement originally colonized by Israel in 1999. As in the rest of the West Bank, this settlement growth is causing daily life of Palestinians in the villages of Bruqin and Kufr al-Dik to steadily deteriorate. Land is progressively being confiscated for settlement growth, sewage from settlements flows freely onto Palestinian owned land, including between the village houses. Despite plentiful water resources, water for the Palestinians is highly restricted. There is not nearly enough land to support Palestinian population growth. To the north of the villages is the settlement of Bruchin, to the northwest are Alei Zahav and Lesham, to the northeast is Ariel, to the west is the Industrial Zone, and to the southwest Peduel settlement. This illegal expansion is referred to by some as the ‘long finger of the occupation’; its aim is to divide the occupied West Bank in two halves, separating Nablus from Ramallah.
Civil society and politics march for Negev Bedouin recognition
JERUSALEM (IPS) 4 Apr — There was a symbolic dimension to a recent four-day march from the periphery of Israel to the corridors of power in Jerusalem to seek recognition for Bedouin villages. The march, which began in the unrecognised Bedouin village of Wadi Al Nam in the Negev desert in southern Israel, ended on Mar. 29 with delivery of ‘The Alternative Master Plan for Unrecognised Bedouin Villages’ to the Head of State’s office in Jerusalem. On this occasion, Negev Bedouin community leaders and hundreds of representatives of civil society organisations (CSOs) were joined by Arab and Israeli members of the Knesset from a political society actor, the Joint List, a political alliance of four Arab-dominated parties in Israel – Hadash, the United Arab List, Balad and Ta’al … “Because the Joint List is stronger now and we have a common goal, we think we can put more efficient pressure on the parliament and on the government to find a just solution for the people in the unrecognised villages,” Fadi Masamra of the Regional Council of Unrecognised Villages (RCUV) told IPS … The common goal is gaining recognition for some 46 unrecognised Bedouin villages in the Negev which do not exist on any map and do not receive any basic services such as running water or electricity … The Alternative Plan draws a different map of the Negev in which unrecognised villages are “legalised” and can access the same development opportunities as their Jewish neighbours.
Palestinian Christian leaders criticize Israeli restrictions on Easter celebration
IMEMC 5 Apr by Celine Hagbard — The archbishop of the Sebastian Greek Orthodox Church, Atallah Hanna, addressed crowds in the town of al-Ezzariya (Lazarus) on Saturday, condemning the Israeli restrictions on Easter celebrations, and calling on Christians around the world to pray and to voice their support for their Christian brethren in Palestine. The speech by Archbishop Hanna followed a press conference this past Tuesday in which leaders from a variety of churches called on Israel to cease its restrictions of Christian religious commemorations of the Easter holiday … Archbishop Hanna called on Israeli authorities to cease their relentless and ongoing attacks on Palestinian Christians — referring specifically to an attack by Israeli soldiers on the Palm Sunday ceremonies in Beit Jala, near Bethlehem, this past Sunday. This year the Orthodox Holy Week of Easter coincides with the week-long Jewish commemoration of Passover. During Passover, Israeli troops shut down large parts of the Palestinian Territories for security purposes, and close checkpoints for extended periods of time as they commemorate the Jewish holiday. This causes extreme difficulty for Palestinians in the West Bank, who must cross through the Israeli-controlled checkpoints for work, school and medical treatment. This year, as in past years, Israeli troops have set up checkpoints at Christian holy sites in Jerusalem, both at the Gates and in the alley, thus preventing the worshipers from free access to the Via Dolorosa, the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, and the vicinity of the Christian Quarter.
Israel to close Ibrahimi Mosque to Muslims for Jewish holiday
HEBRON (WAFA) 5 Apr – The Israeli authorities informed Muslim officials in Hebron that the Ibrahimi Mosque, also known as Cave of the Patriarchs, will be closed to Muslim worshippers on Sunday and Monday, Hijazi Abu Sneineh, director of the Mosque said Sunday. The Mosque will be open only to Jews who will be celebrating the Jewish Passover holiday, while Muslims will not be permitted access to pray as usual at the holy Mosque. While both members of the faith attend separate prayer areas inside the Mosque during normal times, Israel closes it for Muslims during Jewish holidays and for Jews during Muslim holidays. The director considered this Israeli measure an assault on and desecration of Muslim holy sites and Muslim sovereignty considering that the Mosque was illegally taken over from Muslims … Nowadays, Israel controls Palestinians’ access to the Mosque, prevents many from praying there on a regular basis and frequently bans the call for prayer under the pretext of disturbing the settlers.
Activism / Solidarity / BDS
Oregon activists succeed in getting Israeli company ‘SodaStream’ to change labeling
IMEMC 5 Apr by Celine Hagbard — An Israeli manufacturer based in an illegal West Bank settlement has changed its product labeling due to complaints from human rights activists. The Israeli SodaStream corporation, maker of home beverage carbonation systems, recently changed the labels on its products to say “Made in the West Bank.” SodaStream made the change following a complaint to the Oregon Department of Justice by a group of Oregon human rights activists who accused the company of violating Oregon’s Fair Trade Practices Act by labeling its products as “Made in Israel,” when in fact its principal production facility is located in the illegal settlement of Ma’ale Adumim in the occupied Palestinian West Bank … “This appears to be the first time that an Israeli settlement manufacturer has corrected its labels for products sold in the United States,” said activist Rod Such of the PDX Boycott Occupation Soda! Coalition based in Portland, Oregon. “Many people of conscience refuse to purchase products made in Israel’s illegal settlements on occupied Palestinian land in the West Bank, but in the case of SodaStream they were deceived by false labeling that claimed the products were produced within Israel’s internationally recognized borders.”
Defying college’s threats, California students build mock Israeli wall
EI 2 Apr by Nora Barrows-Friedman — Student activists at Pitzer College in southern California are risking administration sanctions this week to bring attention to Israel’s violations of the rights of Palestinians. Members of Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) had constructed a mock wall on campus on Tuesday as part of their actions marking Israeli Apartheid Week — a global series of events intended to spark discussions on campuses about Israel’s occupation in Palestine and the Palestinian-led boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement. On 27 March, the Pitzer administration warned SJP that their plans to construct the mock wall would be “in blatant defiance” of college policy. The mock wall is a colorful, sixty-foot-long replica of Israel’s wall in the occupied West Bank, emblazoned with artwork, facts and statistics highlighting Israel’s violations of human rights. By going forward with their creative direct action, Pitzer SJP could face punishment by the administration.
Divestment referendum blocked at Northeastern
EI 31 Mar by Nora Barrows-Friedman — Activists at Northeastern University in Boston say they have been silenced by their student government after it blocked a divestment referendum from appearing on an upcoming election ballot. The referendum would have asked students whether they would support divestment from four US companies that profit from Israel’s violations of Palestinians’ rights. More than 900 undergraduate students signed a petition in support of putting a divestment referendum up for a vote. The signatures were presented to the student government during a three-hour hearing on 16 March.However, the Northeastern Student Government Association voted to prevent the referendum from appearing on the ballot in a move students say is a direct affront to campus democracy, free speech and open debate.
Other news / Opinion
PCHR report on Israeli human rights violations in the oPt (26 March- 1 April)
PCHR-Gaza 6 Apr – Israeli attacks in the West Bank & Gaza: Shootings During the reporting period, Israeli forces wounded 13 civilians, including an international solidarity activist, a child and a female journalist, in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Eleven of them, including the international activist, child and journalist, were wounded in the West Bank and the two others were wounded in the Gaza Strip. In the Gaza Strip, Israeli forces continued to target Palestinian fishermen and open fire at border areas along the Gaza Strip … Incursions During the reporting period, Israeli forces conducted at least 51 military incursions into Palestinian communities in the West Bank and 10 in East Jerusalem. During these incursions, Israeli forces arrested at least 72 Palestinians, including 14 children and a woman. Thirty-nine of these Palestinians, including eight children and the woman, were arrested in Jerusalem … Settlement activities and attacks by settlers against Palestinian civilians and property: …On Thursday, 26 March 2015, Israeli settlers from “Asfar” settlement and “Bani Kadim” settlement outpost northeast of Hebron … uprooted and destroyed 1200 olive and almond seedlings … On Sunday, 29 March 2015, an Israeli settler deliberately ran down a herd of sheep while passing the main road (Qana Valley Street). As a result, two sheep had fractures while 27 others were hurt … Full, detailed document, including info on patrols and border crossings available at the official PCHR website.
The Month in Pictures: March 2015
Electronic Intifada 3 Apr — During the month of March, Israeli forces shot and killed two Palestinian men in the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip. Twenty-year-old Ali Safi was shot in the back with live ammunition during confrontations with Israeli soldiers in Jalazone refugee camp near the West Bank city of Ramallah on 18 March. He died a week later from his wounds. In Gaza, 34-year-old Tawfiq Abu Reyalah, a father of four, was struck by a bullet when Israeli forces opened fire on his fishing boat which was sailing within the six nautical mile limit imposed by Israel. – Remnants of war – Meanwhile, explosive remnants of war killed and maimed Palestinians in Gaza during the month. A 21-year-old man was killed and his 17-year-old brother was severely injured east of Rafah on 1 March when an explosive detonated while they were gathering sand from the remnants of a destroyed house to use as construction material, according to the United Nations monitoring group OCHA. Later in the month, a farmer near Rafah was injured by explosive remnants of war, as was a man in his house in Nuseirat refugee camp, OCHA reported….
Abbas rejects Israel’s partial transfer of Palestinian tax revenues
GAZA (Reuters) 5 Apr – Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas said on Sunday Israel had released frozen tax revenue to the Authority but that he had ordered the funds to be returned because money had been deducted to cover debts to Israeli utility companies. Israel started withholding around $130 million a month in tax and customs revenue in December. The move came after the Palestinians announced that they were joining the International Criminal Court (ICC), a move finalised on April 1. Under international pressure, Israel agreed last week to resume the transfers, saying it would immediately pay around $400 million, the withheld revenue minus the amount owed by the Palestinians for utilities supplied by Israel. Abbas said those deductions amounted to a third of the total sum that Israel owed the Palestinians. “We are returning the money. Either they give it to us in full or we go to arbitration or to the court (ICC). We will not accept anything else,” he said in a speech.
Abbas: Willing to meet Netanyahu, renew peace process
Haaretz 4 Apr by Jack Khoury — Palestinian president says the Israeli people must understand current situation will lead to apartheid — Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said on Saturday he is willing to meet Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and resume the peace process with Israel. During an interview with Arab-language news outlet Kul Al-Arab., Abbas referred to Netanyahu’s recent re-election: “I cannot pick who I’m talking to… contrary to some of Israel’s leaders who say I’m not a partner,” he said. According to Abbas, even though Netanyahu’s statements during the Israeli elections did not advance the prospect for peace, security and stability, he will wait until after an Israeli government is formed to understand where the Israeli leadership is headed. Abbas said his hand will always be outstretched in peace, and he expects Netanyahu to do the same. “The Israeli people must understand that there’s no option of leaving the current situation as it is.” Without a two-state solution, Abbas said, the situation would lead to an apartheid regime.
US administration silent about Palestine’s effective membership at the ICC
Middle East Monitor 2 Apr — The U.S. State Department announced in January that it ‘will continue its opposition to any move against Israel in the International Criminal Court being incompatible with peace efforts’. ‘We do not recognize Palestine as a state, so we do not believe they are eligible to join the International Criminal Court’. The White House remained silent on Palestine ICC membership that went into effect on 1 April 2015; a move that angered its ally Israel, the Anadolu agency reported … Moreover, the US media did not address the issue with the exception of two brief reports by the CNN network and the New York Times newspaper report while the Huffington Post included an opinion article by human rights lawyer, Catherine Gallagher.
Blatter to meet Palestinian FA chief over Israel ban call
RAMALLAH (Reuters) 5 Apr by Ali Sawafta — FIFA president Sepp Blatter is set for a series of meetings in the Middle East ahead of a Palestinian bid to suspend Israel from world soccer’s governing body, Palestine FA chief Jibril Rajoub said on Sunday. Accusing Israel of hampering its soccer activities, the Palestine FA said last week it would submit its proposal at the May 28-29 FIFA Congress in Switzerland. “I am going to meet Blatter in Cairo on Tuesday to discuss the draft resolution that we have requested — that either Israel honour its commitments or it will be suspended from membership of FIFA,” Rajoub said. “The meeting is at Blatter’s request.” Next month, ahead of the congress, Blatter will meet Arab soccer chiefs in Bahrain to discuss the bid and will also visit the Palestinian territories, Rajoub said. A spokeswoman for the Israeli FA declined to comment on whether Blatter would also meet Israeli soccer chiefs during his trip. In past visits, the FIFA president has met with both neighbours. Despite efforts by Blatter to ease tensions, the Palestinians remain frustrated at restrictions they say Israel imposes on the movement of their athletes between the Gaza Strip and the Israeli-occupied West Bank.
PLO: Israeli policy devastating tourism in Palestine
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 4 Apr — Through the blurring of territorial lines between Israel and Palestine, the Israeli Ministry of Tourism has both claimed and profited from Palestinian sites, the PLO Negotiations Affairs Department said in a report released this week. “Israeli measures and policies rise to an effective and de facto annexation of the tourism sector, while using tourism as a means to spread its own narrative and spew its propaganda,” the report stated. In the report, the PLO criticized Israeli Ministry of Tourism maps that erase Palestinian presence by using “Judea and Samaria,” hindering the ability for tourists to know whether or not they are viewing sites within the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem. Many tourists and religious pilgrims spend time within occupied Palestinian territory however leave under the impression their entire itinerary was based in Israel. The Israeli Ministry of Tourism has in the past printed material designating Bethlehem as an Israeli destination. Brochures targeting Christian pilgrims marketed several Christian sites including the Church of Nativity in Bethlehem as Israeli sites. In response, PLO Negotiations Affairs Department argued that scenarios like this violate UN Security Council and General Assembly resolutions 181, 242, and 338, by both excluding Palestinians from tourism revenue while denying the link of Palestinian Christians ownership to an integral part of their history and identity.
Israelis targeted UN peacekeepers in Lebanon: Spanish report
MADRID (AFP) 5 Apr – A confidential Spanish military report on the death of a Spanish UN peacekeeper in Israeli shelling in Lebanon said he was manning a post that appeared to have been targeted, a newspaper reported Sunday. El País cited extracts from the report which drew on testimony from soldiers following the January 28 incident when the Israeli military shelled border areas following a Hezbollah attack that left two Israeli soldiers dead. Corporal Ivan Lopez Sanchez, who was stationed nearby, told investigators that the UN position was clearly targeted. “Every time, they corrected the trajectory from Majidiye to the 4-28” post, where the UNIFIL peacekeepers were stationed, he said. Spain and Israel have agreed to carry out a joint probe into the death of 36-year-old corporal Javier Soria Toledo.
Opinion: Secrets revealed of how Israel manipulates public opinion / Brett Arends
Marketwatch 20 Mar — Schedule military attacks when the media is distracted by other things — One of the Israeli government’s secrets to manipulating the American media has been revealed for the first time by new research. Israel habitually launches its most unpopular and, sometimes, deadly attacks against Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza to coincide with big news events here in the U.S., so that they don’t get too much public attention, according to the study. The news management is so sophisticated that the Israeli government is especially good about avoiding damaging “follow-up” or “day two” stories about its attacks — stories most likely to include awkward human interest details about the casualties and their families. So finds a study conducted by Ruben Durante, professor at Sciences Po in Paris, and Ekaterina Zhuravskaya, professor at the Paris School of Economics Read the study: Attack When the World is Not Watching? International Media and the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict. … The researchers looked at Israel’s military interventions in Palestine over an 11-year period, from 2000 to 2011, and then compared them to what was going on in the news at the time. That included looking at whether there was big other news, and whether that other news was scheduled –such as, say, the Super Bowl — or unscheduled, such as an earthquake or tsunami or plane crash somewhere in the world. “We find that Israeli attacks are more likely to occur prior to days with very high news pressure driven by clearly predictable events,” they found. There were statistically significant upticks in Israeli military action in the West Bank and Gaza Strip before big holidays or sporting events, but not before things that the Israeli military could not anticipate … In the days following 9/11 of 2001, when the rest of the world was transfixed by the terrorist attacks in New York and Washington, the Israeli government under Ariel Sharon seized the chance to send tanks into the West Bank, and attack helicopters into Gaza….
Freedom of speech and the state of Israel / Ghada Karmi
Al Jazeera Opinion 5 Apr — The best way to end this pro-Israel bullying is to stand up to it – firmly and every time — It has become the norm in Europe and the US for any adverse comment about Israel, however mild, to evoke a ferocious counterattack from pro-Israel groups. The fear of provoking these intimidatory reactions has prompted a widespread pre-emptive self-censorship with regard to anything Israeli or Jewish among individuals and organisations seeking to avoid them. Scarcely any western public organisation, official or newspaper today dares to flout these strictures and pay the price. There are two main reasons for this situation: first, the deliberate conflation of hostility to Israel with that to Jews under the common and pejorative heading of anti-Semitism and second, the striking success of pro-Israel lobbyists in using their influence to stifle criticism of the “Jewish State”. It was a combination of these two factors that prompted Britain’s Southampton University’s decision to cancel its forthcoming conference, “International law and the State of Israel: legitimacy, responsibility, and exceptionalism”. ‘Toxic speakers’ I write as one of 52 so-called “toxic” speakers, as the Board of Jewish deputies describes us, who had been slated to participate in the conference, which the press has emotively and inaccurately reported to be about “Israel’s right to exist”. In fact, it would have been a ground-breaking event, drawing together a large number of noted domestic and overseas scholars to examine fundamental questions about Israel’s establishment and what constitutes its legitimacy. In a democratic society that respects freedom of speech, these are legitimate subjects of debate, and the conference deserved better than to have been summarily cancelled by the university authorities….