Violence / Attacks / Raids / Suppression of protests / Arrests — West Bank, Jerusalem
‘Fail to obey and we will break your legs’
AL-KHALIL, Occupied Palestine (ISM, Al-Khalil Team) 24 May — On the 21st of May, a 16-year old Palestinian, Baraa Kalaid Madhun, was banned from his own home in Al Khalil (Hebron). Armed Israeli soldiers came to his house at 8 pm and told him to step outside. Allegedly stones had been thrown at the military base, which is adjacent to Baraa’s home, and the soldiers were accusing him of this incident. For four hours the Israeli forces searched the house, whilst Baraa was held at gunpoint outside. They then told him that for the next 30 days, he was not allowed to be in his house between 6 in the evening and 11 in the morning. The logic behind this arrangement is based on the assumption that if during these 30 days no stones were thrown, then Baraa would be found guilty of the initial incident. The soldiers threatened to break his legs if he did not acknowledge these restrictions. Since then, armed Israeli soldiers have been searching his house each night, to see if he is there. This latest incident is one of many. The family is constantly being harassed by the Israeli occupation forces. Baraa himself has already been arrested six times. During those previous arrests, the soldiers have been very violent, once even fracturing his shoulder. Related to one of his previous arrests, Baraa has a court case coming up on the 10th of June.
Dozens injured in Kufur Qaddoum weekly protest
IMEMC 23 May by Saed Bannoura — Israeli soldiers used excessive force against Palestinian protesters conducting the weekly protest against the Wall and settlements in Kufur Qaddoum village near Qalqilia, and demanding Israel to open the main road of the village that has been shut down for the thirteenth consecutive year. The Israeli attack led to dozens of injuries. Coordinator of the Popular Committee against the Wall and Settlements in the village Murad Eshteiwy said the soldiers used excessive force against the protesters, fired dozens of gas bombs, sprayed the them with toxic waste-water mixed with chemicals, and also fired sponge-tipped bullets. Israel closed the main road of the village 13 years ago, to allow easy access for settlers living in the illegal Kedumim colony, built on Palestinian lands. Eshteiwy said the locals, accompanied by a number of international activists, marched from the center of the village following Friday noon prayers, carrying Palestinian flags and chanting against the occupation and its illegal policies. In addition, soldiers invaded the village, and clashed with dozens of youths who hurled stones and empty bottles on them. The army fired rounds of live ammunition, dozens of gas bombs and sprayed the protesters with toxic waste-water mixed with chemicals. The “sponge-tipped bullets” were first used against the Palestinians in occupied East Jerusalem two years ago, and have proven to be very dangerous as they to led the death of a teenager, in addition to broken bones, fractured faces, and even causing some residents to lose eyesight.
Another violent attack on Palestinian family
AL-KHALIL, Occupied Palestine (ISM, Al-Khalil Team) 23 May — On the 23rd May, settlers in Al Khalil (Hebron) blocked the entrance to Hashem Younes Azzeh’s house and attacked his family. Large rocks were thrown at them and his daughter was hit in the hand. Hashem lives with his wife and four children in Tel Rumeida, part of the H2 area of Al Khalil. H2 is under Israeli military control and many settlers have constructed illegal homes within this part of the city. For the Palestinians, it has become an extremely tense place to live due to daily harassment from the settlers and the Israeli army alike. Early in the morning, the settlers had parked their car right in front of the entrance to Hashem’s house, making it a tight squeeze for anyone to get by. Later on, as Hashem was walking an international group of Quakers back to the checkpoint, six settler boys, aged between 10 and 12, started throwing large amounts of stones at them. The internationals quickly escaped and when Hashem got home, he found five Israeli soldiers there. They were checking the IDs of his daughter, Raghad, and his wife, Nisreen. Raghad attempted to show the soldiers a video of the attack, but because she had filmed while trying to avoid big stones thrown at her, the footage was blurry. The soldiers called her a liar and were about to arrest her, blaming her for the stone throwing. All of a sudden, under the eyes of the soldiers, the settlers started throwing stones at them again and injured Raghad’s hand. Unable to support their lie anymore, the soldiers said that they would go and check on the settlers and come back – hours later, they still have not returned.
The Azzeh family has been subjected to regular attacks since 1984, when the settlers arrived in Al Khalil. Their neighbor is the leader of the Jewish National Front, Baruch Marzel. This man has a sticker on his wall that says “God gave us the right to kill Arabs and we love it”. Hashem’s house has been invaded and turned upside down by settlers and soldiers several times, with furniture and equipment smashed. He has been shot at inside his house, narrowly missing him and his family. Hashem has been threatened, intimidated and beaten up by settlers, of which the scars on his face bear witness. His wife has suffered two miscarriages due to being beaten by settlers….
Stabbing attack in Jerusalem’s Old City leaves two Jewish youths wounded
Haaretz 24 May by Nir Hasson — Two Jewish youths were stabbed by a knife-wielding assailant in Jerusalem’s Old City late Saturday night and hospitalized with light to moderate wounds. The suspect, a Palestinian man, fled the scene but was later apprehended by security services at his East Jerusalem home. The two youths, aged 15 and 18, were attacked near the Damascus Gate while heading for the Western Wall. Security services commenced a large-scale sweep of the area in an attempt to locate the attacker. A suspicious figure was identified in footage taken by security cameras in the area, and the suspect was arrested upon returning to his residence. A search conducted in the vicinity of his home revealed a knife and several other items linking him to the attack. The man was then taken for questioning. This is not the first time a suspect has been apprehended after being filmed on security footage in the Old City, which is equipped with an extensive camera network. The male victims were found on the scene, fully conscious, with multiple stab wounds to their torsos. A Magen David Adom paramedic team rushed them to Hadassah University Hospital, Ein Karem. The 18-year-old was stabbed in the back and lightly wounded. The 15-year-old was stabbed in the chest, suffering light to moderate wounds. July 1 will mark the first anniversary of the brutal murder of Palestinian teenager Mohammed Abu Khdeir, an act that triggered a wave of violent uprisings in East Jerusalem. During the winter, it seemed as if the situation in the capital had stabilized and that the violence was abating, but the events of recent weeks have shown that any optimism was premature. Saturday’s stabbing marks the fourth attack in two weeks on Israelis in the Jerusalem area …
Thursday, a group of some 20 Jewish youths attacked five Palestinian youths in central Jerusalem without provocation. Aviv Tatarsky, an activist from a Jerusalem group combating racism, witnessed the incident. “They were five up against about 20 Jews. The Jews came down on them, and one of the Palestinians took a serious blow to the head. Instinctively I began to scream ‘Police! Police!’ Immediately, the group of Jews ran off. I approached the Palestinians, two of whom were Canadian citizens who came to visit family from East Jerusalem. They were extremely frightened and asked me in English what the assailants wanted from them. I told them this is the situation here, and they need to find a way to get away,” said Tatarsky. During the incident, Tatarsky attempted to attract the attention of two nearby Border Police officers, but he said they remained indifferent, and later checked the Palestinians’ documents.
Israeli troops detain 4 children near Tulkarem
TULKAREM (Ma‘an) 24 May — Israeli troops on Sunday morning detained four minors from a boys’ school in the northern West Bank village of Farun near Tulkarem, local officials told Ma‘an. The secretary of Farun’s local council, Ahmad Darwish, said that the boys were arrested near a gate used by Palestinian farmers to access their land behind the Israeli separation wall. Darwish said that Israelis refer to the gate by its number “708,” which is one of eight gates in Tulkarem operated by Israeli forces. Darwish identified three of the four boys as Tariq Muhammad Fathi Badir, 12, Abd al-Rahman Sufyan Salih, 9, and Samid Amir Ahmad Omar, 13. The fourth detainee has not yet been identified. Darwish said that the village council had contacted the Palestinian military liaison department whose director Muhammad Yasin said he had been in touch with his Israeli counterparts in an attempt to get the boys released. An Israeli army spokeswoman’s account differed from the Palestinian version of events. She confirmed two arrests in Tulkarem, which she said came after four Palestinians threw stones at Israeli forces near crossing number “407.” She said that the other two “got away.”
UPDATE: Israel arrests 11 Palestinians, summons 2 for interrogation
JENIN (WAFA) 24 May – Israeli forces Sunday arrested nine Palestinians from across the West Bank, including Jerusalem, as well as summoned two youths in Bethlehem for interrogation, according to local and security sources. Israeli forces arrested Amer Bajawi, 14, and Snnd Masharqa, 16, while they were present near their homes in the town of Ya‘bod to the west of Jenin. Forces further stormed Bir Al-Basha village southwest of Jenin city and raided the home of Sharif Ghawadreh, where they interrogated its residents, destroyed the house’s furniture, and wreaked havoc in its yard. However, no arrests were made … In the meantime, Israeli forces handed two Palestinian youths notices ordering them to appear before the Israeli intelligence for interrogation. They were identified as Abd al-Rahman Billo and Anwar Taqatqa, 21. Forces further raided and searched several homes in the town of Taqou‘ to the east of Bethlehem. Israeli police also arrested six Palestinians, including a cameraman who was severely beaten before his arrest, while they were exiting al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem for attempting to fend off settlers’ provocative tours to the mosque’s yards. They were identified as cameraman Mohammed al-Qazaz, in addition to Jarrah Abu Saleh, Tamer Shla’ta ,Rami al-Fakhouri ,Qusai Dandis and another lady whose identity is still unknown.
Israeli troops detain 2 Palestinians near Nablus
NABLUS (Ma‘an) 23 May — Israeli forces stopped two Palestinians, including one teenage boy, at military checkpoints before taking them into custody near Nablus in the northern West Bank Sunday morning. Palestinian security sources told Ma‘an that 30-year-old Khamis Ishtewi Mubarak from Tubas had been detained at Huwwara checkpoint south of Nablus. Separately, 15-year-old Diyaa Ismail Dweikat was detained at a flying checkpoint that Israeli forces had set up near the main entrance to the village of Beita. An Israeli army spokeswoman said she was looking into the arrests. Israeli forces routinely detain Palestinians throughout the West Bank, often on the pretext of a perceived security threat, and Addameer estimates that 40 percent of the Palestinian male population has been arrested at some point.
Israeli police kidnap eight Jerusalemites in overnight raids
OCCUPIED JERUSALEM (PIC) 25 May — The Israeli occupation police kidnapped eight Palestinian young men from their homes during raids last night and at dawn Monday in different areas of east Jerusalem. Local sources said the police stormed at an early hour today some neighborhoods of Silwan district, south of the Aqsa Mosque, and kidnapped Ahmed Ghaith, 17, Hamdi Jaber, 17, Sa’eid al-Keswani, 16, and Mohamed Ruwaidi, 15. Two other young men were also taken prisoners during raids at dawn in ‘Issawiya district. Last night, the Israeli police said it had arrested two young men identified as Laith Shalabi and Yousuf Abu Remaila during a campaign in the Old City of Jerusalem.
Israeli police ban Palestinians from entering Aqsa for days
OCCUPIED JERUSALEM (PIC) 25 May — The Israeli occupation police in occupied Jerusalem on Sunday released six Palestinian young men after arresting them at the Aqsa Mosque, on condition of staying away from the Islamic holy place for seven days. Photojournalist Mohamed Qazaz, who works for a local media center, was among the young men who were detained and assaulted by policemen at the Aqsa Mosque. Qazaz said he was covering the events that erupted when scores of Jewish settlers stormed the Mosque’s courtyards under police protection. The journalist suffered several bruises and injuries during the police attack. The Israeli police also banned the entry of a young man to the Mosque for one day and another for 15 days as punitive measures for their alleged involvement in the events.
Land, property, resources theft & destruction / Ethnic cleansing / Judaization
Israel to confiscate 820 dunams for new settlements dumping ground
IMEMC 24 May by Saed Bannoura — The Israeli authorities have decided to confiscate around 820 dunams (202 acres) of privately owned Palestinian lands to establish new dumping grounds for its illegal colonies, in the central West Bank, in the Ramallah district. More than 140 Palestinian families, from Rammoun and Dir Dibwan villages, own the lands that Israel plans to illegally confiscate to establish the new dumping grounds. The dump, according to the Israeli authorities, “would serve the settlements and the Palestinians in the area,” but would be run completely by Israel and Palestinians would have no access to it. If the Israeli government manages to take control of the 820 Palestinian dunams, the total impacted area from the new dumping grounds would be around 2000 dunams, which would be contaminated by runoff and debris. These lands contain fertile soil and farmland, in addition to many water wells, Palestine TV has reported. The residents plant their lands with various crops, mainly wheat, and use parts of this land as grazing grounds for their livestock. Some of the land is slated for development as residential areas, but this would be impossible once Israel takes control of the land and turns it into a dump. Local villagers told Palestine TV that Israel is trying to push them out of the area to turn their land into a dump – many of these villagers have already lost land in past seizures by the Israeli military for the construction of illegal colonies. There are three settlements near the lands in question, in addition to a settlement road and a military roadblock.
Ariel settlement sewage water pollutes touristic areas in Salfit
PNN 24 May — The farmers and citizens of Salfit city, and of Kafr Al-Deek town, in the southern occupied West Bank, on Sunday, made complaints about the dangerous environmental damage they were facing because of the skunk water poured by the illegal Israeli settlement of Ariel. Farmers said that the pollution is causing hideous smells and contamination of surface and groundwater after mixed with settlement sewage water. Researcher and activist Khaled Ma’ali said that the Ariel settlement and university daily pour more than 10,000 cups of sewage water in Palestinian areas, causing the pollution and contamination of many water springs and soil, sabotaging the most touristic natural areas in Salfit. Ma’ali added that 24 settlements and 4 industrial zones were draining the environment and spreading unemployment by engorging land and releasing pigs in agricultural zones, which was damaging the economy in Salfit severely. The sewage water problem has been going on for years now. In December, eyewitnesses and Palestinian shepherds complained that the factories in the Industrial Zone of “Burkhan” Israeli Settlement near Salfit, north West Bank, every Thursday and Friday utilize the weekend to pour waste-water all at once into the Salfit valleys.
Pictures and details: ‘Ateret Cohanim’ seeks to control 5 dunams of land in the neighborhood of Batn Al-Hawa in Silwan
SILWAN, Jerusalem (SILWANIC) 23 May — The settlement organization “Ateret Cohanim” is seeking to confiscate 5200 square meters in the “Middle Neighborhood” in Silwan south of Al-Aqsa Mosque. Wadi Hilweh Information Center-Silwan obtained a map and aerial photographs illustrating one of the plans of “Ateret Cohanim” in the “Middle Neighborhood” and revealed their intention to confiscate nearly 5200 square meters under the pretext of being owned by the Jews of Yemen since 1881. The targeted area is divided into 6 pieces of land (numbers: 73, 75, 88, 95, 96 and 97) and the settlement organization claim that the Israeli Supreme Court approved the ownership of settlers from Yemen to lands in Batn Al-Hawa. Wadi Hilweh Information Center explained in a statement issued Saturday that the lands at risk of being confiscated currently have 30-35 residential apartments established on them where 80 families and nearly 300 individuals live. All the residents have been living in the neighborhood since the 1960’s after they bought the lands and property from the previous owners using official documents. The Center added that Palestinian families own the lands as well as the buildings established on them where all the families own more than one apartment in the area. The families are: Abu Nab, Rajabi, Sarhan, Abu Rammouz, Gheith, Shihadeh, Basbous, Dweik and Silwadi. According to the aerial photographs, some of the houses are at risk of confiscating parts of it that fall within the area allocated in the map.
Municipality, ACRI debate causes for growing poverty in East Jerusalem
The Media Line 24 May — During the past nine years, the number of Arab residents of East Jerusalem living below the poverty line has increased to the point where three-quarters of the population is living with insufficient means according to claims published by the non-governmental organization, the Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI). The group claims that as many as 83.9 percent of Arab children in the city fall below the poverty line … ACRI argues that the large increase in poverty is principally due to the onset of construction of the security barrier in 2006, because the barrier has economically dislocated Arabs living in Jerusalem from communities in the West Bank. During this period, the population has also increased putting additional strain on available resources … A spokeswoman for the Jerusalem Municipality dismissed ACRI’s figures saying, “It is unfortunate that ACRI chooses every year to recycle the report that is distorted and cut off from reality hoping to get press coverage.”
Arab MKs: Acre municipality forcing out Arab residents
The Media Line 24 May — Joint Arab List MKs says Jewish-led Acre municipality perpetuates poor state of housing in order to drive the mostly Arab residents — Minarets, green domes and an Ottoman-era clock tower look out over the brightly painted fishing boats that line the quayside. Tourists stroll beside gaggles of children on outings from nearby Muslim schools. The old city of Acre is made uniquely beautiful by the sparkle of blue water from the Mediterranean Sea surrounding the ancient port town on three sides. For its examples of Ottoman architecture – a citadel, mosques, khans and a Turkish bathhouse – and for the Crusader ruins buried below, the city was awarded UNESCO (United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organization) heritage status in 2001. Acre features heavily in the long history of the region, with the remains of both the largest Crusader town left in the world and evidence of permanent habitation dating back five millennia. The modern day city’s 46,000 residents are mixed demographically with around two thirds being Jewish, and one third Arab. The winding alleys and timeworn buildings are what gives the old city its atmosphere, valued by both tourists and UNESCO alike. But many of these ancient buildings are in need of repair. The beauty of such structures goes hand-in-hand with the difficulty present in maintaining them – any repairs must be done using materials which preserve the ancient look of the old city. This makes repairs unaffordable to many of the residents of the old city, an area which suffers from high levels of poverty … “For many years the aim was to evacuate most of the old city of its own inhabitants and to turn it into a touristic city that is mostly inhabited by artists and investors, hotels, small boutique hotels – businesses that are mainly for tourism,” Touma-Suleiman said, adding that a combination of racism against Arabs and naked capitalist interest were behind the drive to force out Arab families. The mayor’s office sharply rejected claims that they are trying to force Arab residents out of the old city….
Israeli extremists smash doors of Palestinian stores in Hebron
IMEMC/Agencies 23 May — Several fanatic Israeli settlers smashed, Saturday, the doors of a number of Palestinian stores and shops, in Shuhada Street, in Hebron’s Old City, in the southern part of the occupied West Bank. The Palestinian News & Info Agency (WAFA) said the settlers came from a number of illegal outposts, in the center of Hebron city. Meanwhile, Israeli soldiers prevented the Palestinians from entering Shuhada Street for several hours, denying them access to their own homes and shops, an issue that pushed some to seek alternate, extended, routes.
PA pledge support for Bedouin community facing forced displacement
[with photos] RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 24 May — Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah on Sunday pledged $50,000 to the Bedouin community of Abu Nuwwar east of Jerusalem that is currently facing forced displacement by Israeli forces. Hamdallah made the pledge during a high-profile visit to the Palestinian community in the company of four government ministers, the EU envoy to the Palestinian Territories John Gatt-Rutter, and UN Humanitarian Coordinator James W. Rawley. “We came to visit you today… to show solidarity and to support our people in the Bedouin dwellings who have shown legendary steadfastness facing (Israel’s) displacement and transfer plans,” Hamdallah said during the visit. Two weeks ago, dozens of Palestinian families living in Abu Nuwwar were told they would be forced from their land in less than a month to clear way for the expansion of the illegal Israeli settlement of Maale Adumim … Hamdallah said Sunday that the Palestinian government and President Mahmoud Abbas were making efforts at an international level to prevent the displacement of Palestinian Bedouin families, which he said was “a blatant violation of the principles of human rights.” He added that Israel’s “targeting” of Palestinians in Area C extended to “46 Bedouin communities, 70 percent of whom are refugees.”
How Jerusalem makes Palestinians disappear / Orly Noy
+972 mag 23 May — While the exclusion of Palestinian cab drivers from a Jerusalem megaplex is illegal and immoral, it is just the tip of the iceberg in a city that constantly tries to erase Palestinian existence — “If she wants a Jewish driver, she’ll get a Jewish driver, I don’t understand what difference it makes.” This is how Merav Basher, the representative of Cinema City Jerusalem, responded to Thair Raga, a cab driver from East Jerusalem, when he confronted her about the megaplex’s policy of ordering Jewish-only drivers for some of their workers … The truth is that I believe Basher … I believe her because Basher is working in a city where sidelining Palestinians is a way of life — it’s practically policy. I believe her because the mayor of the city where she works doesn’t see Palestinians, giving little more than the crumbs of the municipal budget to a population that makes up approximately 40 percent of the city’s residents. I believe her because in Jerusalem the Israeli government does all it can to make invisible the Palestinians in the name of the settlement and Judaization of the eastern part of the city…. I believe her because in Jerusalem, it isn’t rare to see street signs with Arabic sprayed over in black. I believe her because in Jerusalem, when settlers want to hold a violent and provocative march in the heart of the Muslim Quarter, the police makes sure to keep away the Palestinians locked in their homes. I believe her because the Israeli education also disappears Palestinians (in contravention of its own laws), and doesn’t see that thousands of children in East Jerusalem have no classrooms to learn in….
Right-wing Jews tour Al-Aqsa compound
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 24 May — Dozens of right-wing Jewish Israelis entered the Al-Aqsa mosque compound under the protection of Israeli forces on Sunday morning to celebrate the Jewish holiday of Shavuot. Director of the compound Sheikh Omar al-Kiswani said that tensions quickly rose after the group of up to 50 right-wing Jewish Israelis began to perform religious rites near the compound’s Golden and Chain Gates. Israeli police officers reportedly arrested a right-wing Jew after he swore at one of the compound’s Palestinian guards. “As the numbers of Jews who broke into the compound increased, more worshipers shouted ‘Allahu Akbar,’ and in response 12 Israeli special forces officers stormed the compound to protect the settlers,” al-Kiswani said. Witnesses said that as the group left through the Chain gate, they performed religious dances and other rituals in order “to provoke Muslim worshipers.” … The Jewish holiday of Shavuot, celebrated this year on May 24, marks the day Jews believe God gave the Torah to the Jewish people while they were gathered on Mount Sinai.
Why won’t Israeli peace groups talk about the Nakba? / Tom Mehager
Haokets 23 May — It’s 2015 and Israeli peace groups still refuse to talk about the mass dispossession of Palestinians in 1948, including those who became Israeli citizens. Tom Mehager says it is time for a real conversation about the right of return — Israeli non-profit organizations that strive for a society based on coexistence most often focus on the most pressing issues vis-a-vis Jewish-Arab relations: educating toward democratic values, mutual recognition and teaching the Arabic language; equal allocation of resources and land; integration into the workforce and strengthening economic investment in Arab towns and villages; proper representation in decision-making processes; legitimacy for Arabic in the public sphere; changing state symbols, and more. In this respect, these organizations are making important conversations. But what those same organizations, which demand equality between Jews and Arabs, do not speak about or deal with is the right of return of Palestinian refugees to their homeland. 1948 is the elephant standing in the center of the room. Many of our Palestinian colleagues in these organizations come from families who were uprooted from their homeland, with much of their nation still living in the diaspora. I do not want to speak in the name of Palestinians and claim that they want to open up a conversation with us, Jewish Israelis, about the right of return. But I do want to ask why it is that we never raise questions about 1948 when speaking of a life of coexistence or about our vision of equality.
Detainee begins hunger strike in protest of familial visit deprivation
IMEMC/Agencies 24 May — 38-year-old Palestinian detainee Mohammad Idrees Rashdan, from the village of Einabus [or ‘Aynabus] near Nablus, has launched an open-ended hunger strike after being denied family visits by Israeli authorities, the Palestinian Prisoner’s Society (PPS) reported Thursday. PPS said, according to WAFA, that Rashdah has not seen any member of his family for six years due to security pretences, and is currently serving a 22-year prison sentence. So far, Rashdan has served 15 years.
Since early May, former Palestinian hunger striker and prisoner Khader Adnan started an open-ended hunger strike, in protest of administrative detention without charge or trial. He was transferred to solitary confinement by the Israeli prison administration, as a punitive measure.
PA official: Israeli interrogators using ‘brutal’ methods
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 24 May — Israeli interrogators are using “oppressive and brutal” methods to frighten Palestinian detainees and force them into confessing to attacks against Israel, a Palestinian official said Sunday. Issa Qarage, who heads the Palestinian Authority prisoners’ affairs committee, made his comments during a visit to prisoners’ families in the northern West Bank village of Qusin in Nablus district, where he met with former detainee Noor Muhammad Hilmi Hamamrah, 15. Hamamrah told him that during his interrogation in the Etzion detention center, Israeli interrogators had made him open his mouth while they used a utility knife to forcibly pry out part of his braces, causing bleeding. An interrogator then told Hamamrah that he would pull out all of his teeth if he didn’t confess to throwing stones at Israeli vehicles, Qarage relayed. Qarage said that the boy eventually made the confession. Hamamrah was detained from his family home on April 15 at 3:00 a.m. and was taken in a military truck to the nearby Beitar Illit settlement where he was held for three hours before being taken to the detention center.
Israeli forces open fire on fishermen, farmers in Gaza
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 24 May — Israeli forces opened fire on Palestinian fishermen and farmers in the Gaza Strip Sunday morning, with no injuries reported. Witnesses told Ma‘an that Israeli naval boats fired on fishing boats off Sheikh Ijlein and Nuseirat on the northern Gazan coast, forcing the fisherman to return to land. Meanwhile, Israeli troops stationed in watchtowers along the borders with Gaza fired gunshots at Palestinian farmers working on their fields near the border area in northwestern Khan Younis in the southern Gaza Strip. Israeli forces have repeatedly opened fire on Palestinian fisherman and farmers since the ceasefire agreement signed Aug. 26, 2014 that ended a devastating 50-day Israeli military offensive against the Gaza Strip.In March alone, there were a total of 35 incidents of shootings, incursions into the coastal enclave, and arrests, according to the Palestinian Center for Human Rights.The shootings left 10 injured, including three minors.
New road parallel to Israeli buffer zone in Gaza
Middle East Monitor 23 May — This week, the Hamas military wing started to pave a new road along the Israeli military buffer zone along the eastern borders of the Gaza Strip. Farmers in the nearby areas said that they saw bulldozers owned by Al-Qassam Brigades had approached the buffer zone and started working. “At first, a Palestinian bulldozes owned by the Palestinian housing ministry started working,” a farmer from the middle area of the Gaza city said. He continued: “The Israeli monitoring tower opened fire at the bulldozer, pushing it to retreat. A few time later, a new bulldozer escorted with two Qassam 4×4 vehicles returned to the same area and started working.” A senior Qassam source stated, “the construction of a new road along the buffer zone is underway.” The source said that the road will be 300 metres from the borders and Qassam is planning to setup monitoring towers opposite to the Israeli towers. Since the ceasefire announced on August 26 that ended a 51-day Israeli offensive, Al-Qassam has deployed its members along the borders to prevent any Palestinians firing rockets or carrying out any offensive against the Israeli side. However, the Israeli occupation has been breaching the truce almost every day as it opens fire at Palestinian farmers in the east of the Strip and fishermen off the Gaza coast.
Egypt to open Rafah crossing into Gaza for 2 days
CAIRO (Ma‘an) 24 May — Egyptian authorities will open the Rafah border crossing for two days on Tuesday and Wednesday allowing passengers to travel from Egypt into Gaza, although not the other way around, Egyptian security sources told Ma‘an. Palestinian officials have reportedly been notified so as to make the necessary arrangements. Rafah crossing has been the principal connection between Gaza’s 1.8 million residents and the outside world since the imposition of an Israeli blockade on the coastal enclave since 2007. However, for the last two years, the Egyptian authorities have largely kept the crossing closed, due in large to Egyptian allegations that Hamas is supporting an Islamist insurgency pitched against the Egyptian government in the northern Sinai. Last week dozens of Palestinians were sentenced to death by an Egyptian court for allegedly carrying out espionage on behalf of the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas between 2005 and 2013, “with the aim of perpetrating terror attacks in the country in order to spread chaos and topple the state.” Hamas has denied the allegations.
Gaza’s only commercial crossing closed by Israeli authorities
IMEMC/Agencies 24 May — Israel closed the Gaza Strip’s only functioning commercial crossing (Kerem Shalom), on Sunday, for the Jewish holiday “Feast of Weeks”, a Palestinian official said. “The Israeli closure would disrupt trade traffic in the strip and negatively affect the flow of fuel into the enclave,” Mounir al-Ghalban of Gaza’s border authority said, according to World Bulletin/Al Ray.
Gazan boats to receive Flotilla 3 at sea
GAZA (PIC) 24 May — A number of Gazan boats will sail from Gaza port to receive the Freedom Flotilla 3 on May 31 on the anniversary of the Israeli attack on the Turkish solidarity ship Mavi Marmara, the representative of Miles of Smiles convoys Ali al-Nazli said. Nazli revealed, in a statement on Sunday, that the Gazan boats will be raising the flag of Palestine along with other flags of the participating countries in Flotilla 3. The boats will raise banners calling for lifting the siege on Gaza as well. He also renewed the Palestinian welcoming of Flotilla ships saying “it is time to end the illegal and unmoral siege on Gaza and to hold accountable all those who contributed to the siege which is a collective punishment crime”. Nazli called on the Arab and Muslim peoples in addition to all countries of the world to support the Palestinians and to end the Israeli occupation. On the same day, marches and demonstrations will be launched in several Arab countries including The Sudan, Morocco and Lebanon as well as European and African capitals including London, Copenhagen, Rome and Cape Town.
Damaged gas cylinders become another threat to Gazans
GAZA CITY (Al-Monitor) 24 May by Rasha Abou Jalal — Palestinians in the Gaza Strip continue to fall prey to cooking gas cylinder explosions in apartment buildings, as most poor families cannot afford to replace their old gas cylinders with new ones due to their weak purchasing power. In addition, there is a lack of government control on the gas cylinders. Ali Mehanna had his gas cylinder filled at a nearby warehouse in the al-Nasr neighborhood in Gaza City, and although his cylinder was damaged and covered with rust, the warehouse owner filled it, knowing that this poses a major risk. Mehanna, who is very poor, told Al-Monitor, “I’m extremely worried that this cylinder might explode at any time. I don’t have another option because I cannot afford to buy a new one at a cost of 220 shekels [$57].” … There are no local statistics about the number of victims who are affected by the explosion of gas cylinders. These incidents recur every now and then and raise concerns among the public opinion in the Gaza Strip as to the causes behind them, amid questions about the presence of any means of control.The most recent incident took place on March 3, when a gas cylinder weighing 48 kilograms (106 pounds) exploded in a restaurant in the city of Deir al-Balah in the central Gaza Strip. The explosion killed a young man, Kamel Abu Shaaban, and injured 15 others, some of whom were seriously wounded. Fayez Abu Shaaban, the victim’s uncle, told Al-Monitor, “The gas cylinder exploded, although the cylinder was newly purchased. However, it turned out that it was damaged, and we only realized that after the civil defense forces, who rushed to put out the fire, investigated the cause of the accident.”
Free bread distributed in Gaza bakeries
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 24 May — A female philanthropist based in the United Arab Emirates has initiated a campaign to distribute free bread to poor Palestinian families living in the Gaza Strip who are unable to afford their basic living costs. Several bakeries are taking part in the campaign, where separate shelves of bread have been set up with signs reading: “The bread is free for those who want.” “The disastrous financial situation of Gaza’s people pushed me to take this initiative as a way to help provide part of their basic daily needs,” the philanthropist told Ma‘an on Sunday. “I hope many more people, including bakery owners, will do the same.” She added that she had told bakery owners involved in the campaign to make sure that their staff never question anyone taking the bread from the free shelves. The initiative mirrors similar campaigns in other Arab nations, she added.
UNRWA high school principal injured by gunman fire in Khan Younis
IMEMC/Agencies 24 May — Palestinian security sources in Gaza have reported that unknown gunmen shot and injured, on Saturday at dawn, the principal of an UNRWA school in Khan Younis, in the southern part of the Gaza Strip. The sources said Ali al-Kashef was shot while heading back home following dawn prayers in a local mosque, and was moved to a local hospital suffering several gunshot injuries to his legs. The police in Gaza said it is conducting an investigation into the attack. UNRWA is the United Nations Agency that works with Palestinian refugees in Gaza and around the world. The Agency operates many of the schools in the Gaza Strip.
How Israel plans to evacuate Gaza border towns during next war with Hamas
JPost 23 May by Noam Amir/Maariv Hashavua — Towns located up to seven kilometers from the border of the Gaza Strip will be evacuated according to predetermined, mapped locations which will make room for the proper defense management without harming citizens. Ten months after Operation Protective Edge, the Israel Defense Forces, the National Emergency Authority and the local authorities in the South are in the final stages of formulating a plan to evacuate the residents of the South in the event of another Gaza conflict. The program, entitled “safe distance,” will provide an evacuation plan for all communities within a seven-kilometer radius of the Gaza Strip. Each community will be informed of its evacuation plan and in that way residents will know where to go and who will be hosting them before there is a need to evacuate. The distribution of evacuation maps is already under way. The military will be the one with the authority to determine when it is time to evacuate.
Palestinian refugees – Syria
Report: Majority of refugees have left Yarmouk camp
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 23 May — Up to 13,000 refugees have fled the beleaguered Yarmouk refugee camp in recent days in fear of the Islamic State group and al-Nusra Front, a local Palestinian official said Saturday. The secretary-general of the coalition of Palestinian factions in the camp, Khalid Abd al-Majid, told Jordanian newspaper al-Ghad on Saturday that fewer than 7,000 refugees remained in the camp. He added that these remaining refugees may be forced from the camp in the coming days as well. Yarmouk — once a thriving, working-class residential district of the capital and home to some 160,000 people — is the largest refugee camp in Syria, but has suffered heavily during the Syrian civil war. Since December 2012, when the first clashes broke out between Syrian regime forces and rebels, more than 150,000 Palestinian refugees have fled from Yarmouk. The camp came under a devastating 18-month long government siege after rebel forces took up positions inside, including elements of the extremist al-Nusra Front. The camp was subsequently overrun by Islamic State militants in April, leading to further government bombardment. “It is unlikely that refugees who left the camp would be able to go back because of the ongoing armed clashes in the camp between IS and Jabhat al-Nusra,” al-Majid said Saturday. He added that IS fighters have been trying to gain control of parts of the camp that are currently under the control of armed Palestinian factions. Last week, PLO official Anwar Abdel Hadi said that while IS has been pushed to the southwest area of the Damascus district, Palestinian factions control the north and east of the camp, with “intermittent clashes” breaking out. While al-Nusra and IS are both fighting Syrian government forces, their relationship with one another inside Yarmouk remains unclear.The former residents of Yarmouk are part of more than half a million Palestinian refugees to have suffered over the past five years of the Syrian civil war.
Other news and opinion
PalFest opens in Ramallah and Gaza
Middle East Monitor 24 May — EXCLUSIVE IMAGES — The Palestine Festival of Literature, popularly known as PalFest, opened on May 23rd simultaneously in Ramallah and Gaza. A large crowd packed Ramallah’s Ottoman Court to hear a range of readings by both local and international writers and artists. Literature has a strong and proud history in the Arab world, and specifically in Palestine literary figures such Ghassan Kanafani, Edward Said and Mahmoud Darwish are still revered today long after their deaths. The tradition of weaving art and politics remains intrinsic in the work of many amongst the new generation of Palestinian writers. In contrast to some other recent cultural festivals in Palestine, PalFest seems again to be remaining true to its roots. Events are held inclusively in cities across historic Palestine and it continues to include many Palestinian and Arab writers alongside international figures. Venues are selected that can be near capacity whilst appreciating that single events will not draw thousands of people. Alongside the busy program of events, participants are taken on tours around Palestine to help deepen their understanding of Palestinian realities and struggles where they hear first hand from local people. The writers and artists are also encouraged to use their international profiles to publish internationally about their experiences in Palestine once the festival has drawn to a close.
Hiking the path of Abraham through unseen corners of West Bank
The Forward 24 May by Naomi Zeveloff — Bani Naim is a Palestinian village straight out of the Bible. Tradition has it that the beige hilltop hamlet is the site from which Abraham watched the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. It is also supposedly the resting place of Lot, Abraham’s nephew in the Book of Genesis. On my hiking trip to the village last fall, Bani Naim’s ancient tableau was interrupted by a reminder of the present. Two Israeli soldiers in head-to-toe fatigues climbed down from a nearby watchtower to question my tour group. Our guide, George Rishmawi, ran interference: The soldiers wanted to know if anyone had taken a photo of the watchtower, which overlooked a road leading to a Jewish settlement. Two Frenchmen raised their hands. The soldiers demanded that they delete the photos from their digital cameras, and watched to make sure they complied. When I later asked Rishmawi whether the interaction bothered him, he demurred with a shrug: “It is an opportunity to tell the military what we do,” he said. Rishmawi is the optimistic force behind a new community-based tourism project in the Israeli-occupied West Bank. His organization, Masar Ibrahim Al Khalil (Abraham Path to Hebron), leads weekly hikes through the Palestinian territory, including remote areas where tourists and activists almost never venture. Each walk ends with a traditional Palestinian meal at the home of a host family. I have been hiking with Masar Ibrahim on and off since September on a north-south trail that begins in Jenin and ends in Hebron. Run-ins with the Israel Defense Forces are rare, except for in Hebron, where Israeli troops guard hundreds of Jewish settlers. But, over nine months of trekking, I saw firsthand that the West Bank is much more than the Israeli military occupation that has come to define it for the outside world. From the Byzantine ruins of Sebastia to the lush flora of Wadi Qelt to the vast Jericho desert, the West Bank is a varied and dazzling landscape.
The Palestinian Summer Celebration 2015
Siraj Center — Come and celebrate Palestine! The Palestinian Summer Celebration is a unique annual program that gives people from all over the world the chance to encounter the life, culture, and politics of Palestine. Learn Arabic at Bethlehem University, spend time with local families and volunteer with a community organization. The Palestinian Summer Celebration 2015 will take place in Bethlehem from July 05 to August 28. The program consists of two terms: July 05 to August02, and August 02 to August 28. Program participants can choose to stay for one or both terms. The celebration is organized by Siraj Center for Holy Land Studies in partnership with Bethlehem University (www.bethlehem.edu). Program participants will have the opportunity to meet and learn with accomplished speakers, experts, activists, and officials. Read about some of our participants’ experiences
Palestinians in Israel rally against Morsi death sentence
KUFR KANA, Israel (AFP) 23 May — Thousands of Palestinians marched in northern Israel on Saturday to protest the death sentence issued in Egypt against ousted president Mohammed Morsi. Organizers said 5,000 people took part in the demonstration led by Sheikh Raed Salah, a cleric who heads the Islamic Movement’s northern wing. They marched through the Galilee village of Kufr Kana, bearing signs that read “Cut the rope of penalty” and chanting “We won’t rest till the murderer Sisi is executed.” Morsi, who hails from the now outlawed Muslim Brotherhood, was ousted from power in July 2013 by then army chief and now President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi. Morsi, whose rule lasted just one year, was among more than 100 defendants sentenced to death on May 16 for their role in a mass jailbreak during the 2011 uprising. The Islamic Movement is tolerated in Israel but is under constant surveillance because of its perceived links with the Hamas movement, as well as with other Muslim groups worldwide. Saturday’s rally ended without incident.
Israel thanks US for stand on Mideast nuclear arms ban at UN
UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) 23 May by Louis Charbonneau — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu thanked the United States for blocking an Egyptian-led drive on a possible Middle East nuclear weapons ban at a major United Nations conference, an Israeli official said on Saturday. It was a rare expression of diplomatic harmony with the United States from Netanyahu, whose relations with President Barack Obama have been strained over U.S.-led nuclear talks with Iran and differences over Israeli-Palestinian diplomacy. A month-long conference on the 1970 nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) ended in failure on Friday over disagreements on how to achieve a Middle East atomic weapons ban. Washington blamed the failure on Egypt, which in turn blamed the U.S., British and Canadian delegations. Netanyahu conveyed his gratitude to President Barack Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry in a call to Kerry, said a senior Israeli official, requesting anonymity. “The United States kept its commitment to Israel by preventing a Middle East resolution that would single out Israel and ignore its security interests and the threats posed to it by an increasingly turbulent Middle East,” the official said. Israel also thanked Britain and Canada for joining the United States in blocking consensus, the official said … Israel neither confirms nor denies the widespread assumption that it controls the Middle East’s only nuclear arsenal. Israel, which has never joined the NPT, agreed to take part in the review meeting as an observer, ending a 20-year absence.
My big fat Israeli arsenal / Uri Misgav
Haaretz 23 May — It warms the heart to hear of the Pentagon’s “compensation deal” with Israel in exchange for the agreement with Iran. The deal consists of 8,000 smart bombs, 14,500 smart bomb guidance systems, 50 bunker busters, 4,100 “small” bombs (only 110 kilograms of explosives) and 3,000 Hellfire missiles for the Apache helicopters. The overall cost is $1.8 billion. This does not include separate deals for another 3,000 bomb guidance kits and enlarging the F-35 stealth bomber fleet. What is all this armament intended for and where? To ensure an Israeli attack in Iran, immediately after the powers sign an international agreement with it? Perhaps just to replenish stockpiles after the last war rampage in Gaza, which broke all the Israel Defense Forces’ records in ammunition use? The Pentagon announced that these deals reflect the “American commitment to Israel’s security.” Funny thing, the pace of armament keeps increasing, yet I don’t feel any safer over the years. History has proved that reckless armament doesn’t lead to security. It leads mainly to wars. Since 2006, when Israel began to base its warfare almost exclusively on fire power and pounding from the air, we’ve had one war in Lebanon and three in Gaza. Four wars in less than a decade. That’s why it appears to me that these deals reflect mainly the American commitment to the American arms industries. One suspects that Israel is indeed “the American aircraft carrier in the Middle East.” But not as a metaphor or a simile — a real aircraft carrier. An enormous arsenal. An impenetrable bunker whose scope is impossible to discuss, not to mention its very existence. According to this bitter logic, the Americans won’t help us end the conflict, at the most they’ll help us manage the flames. The conflict produces just too many jobs for them and their politicians.
Israel’s obsession with hummus is about more than stealing Palestine’s food / Ben White
The National 23 May — When Israel expelled hundreds of thousands of Palestinians from their villages and homes in 1948, many left with little more than the clothes on their back. Food was left on the stove. Crops were left unharvested. But the land emptied of its inhabitants was soon occupied by new residents. From 1948 to 1953, almost all new Jewish settlements were established on refugees’ property. The myth of making the desert bloom is belied by the facts: in mid-1949, two-thirds of all land sowed with grain in Israel was Palestinian land. In 1951, “abandoned” land accounted for nearly 95 per cent of all Israel’s olive groves and almost 10,000 acres of vineyards. During these early years, many Palestinian refugees attempted to return to their lands. By 1956, as many as 5,000 so-called “infiltrators” had been killed by Israeli armed forces, the vast majority of them looking to return home, recover possessions, or search for loved ones. Palestinian women and children who crossed the frontier to gather crops were murdered. The Nakba in 1948 was the settler colonial conquest of land and the displacement of its owners, a dual act of erasure and appropriation. Citing “reasons of state”, Israel’s first premier David Ben-Gurion appointed a Negev Names Committee to remove Arabic names from the map. By 1951, the Jewish National Fund’s “Naming Committee” had “assigned 200 new names”. But it did not stop with dynamite and new maps. The Zionist colonisation of Palestine has also included culture, notably cuisine. This is the context for the so-called “hummus wars”: it is not about petty claims and counterclaims, rather, the story is one of colonial, cultural appropriation and resistance to those attempts. In the decades since the establishment of the State of Israel on the ruins and ethnically cleansed lands of Palestine, various elements of the indigenous cuisine have been targeted for appropriation: falafel, knafeh, sahlab and, of course, hummus. Though these dishes are common to a number of communities across the Mediterranean and Middle East, Israel claims them as its own: falafel is the “national snack”, while hummus, according to Israeli food writer Janna Gur, is “a religion”. In a 2002 article on recipes, the Israeli embassy in Washington acknowledged that “Israel lacks a long-standing culinary heritage”, adding that “only a few years ago, Israelis even doubted the existence of their own authentic cuisine”. Such an admission is hard to find these days, as appropriation has become propaganda….