Violence / Invasions / Suppression of protests / Arrests – West Bank, Jerusalem
Palestinian taxi driver killed by Israeli army fire near the Al-Hamra roadblock
IMEMC/Agencies 27 June — Palestinian medical sources have reported, on Friday afternoon, that a young Palestinian taxi driver was shot and killed by Israeli army fire on the Al-Hamra roadblock, between the West Bank districts of Jericho and Nablus. Head of the al-‘Oja [or al-‘Auja] Village Council, north of Jericho, Fakhri Najjoum said the soldiers shot and killed Hammad Jom‘a Romanim, 27 years of age, near the Al-Hamra roadblock in the West Bank Plains. Najjoum said the slain Palestinian is a taxi driver who was heading to the northern West Bank city of Nablus. He added that the soldiers also invaded al-‘Oja, before breaking into the home of the slain Palestinian, and violently searching it. The invasion led to clashes between the soldiers and local youths who hurled stones at them; the soldiers fired gas bombs and rounds of live ammunition. One Palestinian was shot with a live round, while scores suffered the effects of tear gas inhalation, including the mother and grandmother of the slain young man. The Israeli army claimed the Palestinian taxi driver opened fire on the soldiers, and that the army fired back seriously wounding him, but he later died of his wounds. The army said no soldiers were injured, and declared the area a closed military zone. The body of the slain Palestinian was handed to his family more than five hours after his death. Hundreds of Palestinians marched in his funeral procession in al-‘Oja, before prayers, and during burial ceremony.
Woman injured by a settler’s car in Jerusalem
IMEMC 26 June — Medical sources have reported that a Palestinian woman was injured, late on Thursday evening, after being struck by a settler’s car, in Sultan Suleiman Road, in occupied Jerusalem. Eyewitnesses said a speeding Israeli settler rammed the woman, near Bab al-‘Amoud area, while she was walking across a pedestrian crossing, and fled the scene. The Wadi Hilweh Information Center (Silwanic) said a number of young Palestinians chased the settler and called the police; the officers ticketed the driver, and released him. The wounded woman has been identified as Zohour at-Tawil.
Nearly a month ago, a Palestinian child, identified as Hani Eskafi, 15 years of age, suffered various cuts and bruises when a settler’s car struck him while riding his bicycle, in Jerusalem. http://www.imemc.org/article/71718
On Thursday, May 7, a young man was injured after being struck by a speeding Israeli settlement bus, near the southern West Bank city of Hebron. http://www.imemc.org/article/71497
Israeli forces suppress weekly marches across West Bank
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 26 June — Dozens of Palestinian and foreign activists suffered excessive tear gas inhalation when Israeli forces suppressed weekly protests across the West Bank on Friday. In the village of Bil‘in, clashes broke out shortly after the march left the village center. Protesters raised Palestinian flags, held signs condemning Israeli rights violations, and chanted in support of Palestinian prisoners. They also reportedly held signs saying “Justice for Imad” in Arabic, English, and Hebrew, in solidarity with Imad Rizqa, who was shot in the head and injured with a tear gas canister by Israeli forces five years ago in Bil‘in. Meanwhile, dozens of activists suffered excessive tear gas inhalation when Israeli forces dispersed the weekly march in Kafr Qaddum village near Qalqiliya. A popular resistance coordinator in the village, Murad Shtewi, said that Israeli forces raided the village to prevent the protest from taking place, deploying snipers atop village buildings and spraying foul-smelling skunk water. He said that several hundred activists managed to reach the main exit of the village after Israeli forces withdrew. They burned tires, before Israeli forces fired tear gas canisters at them and at homes in the village, causing dozens of light injuries that were treated on the scene.
Soldiers enter 20 Palestinian homes near Nablus late at night, unjustifiably intimidating the families and disrupting their lives
B’Tselem 24 June — Testimonies gathered by B’Tselem indicate that in April and May 2015 the military entered the homes of twenty Palestinian families at night: sixteen in the village of ‘Awarta and four in the village of Madama, both near the city of Nablus in the West Bank. B’Tselem’s field researcher in the Nablus area, Salma a-Deb’i, found the soldiers’ actions followed the same pattern. Upon entering the house, they demanded that the entire family be woken, including children; they wrote down the names, ages and ID numbers of all the occupants. They went through the house, surveying the house, writing down the number and size of the rooms and listing the furniture. They also took photographs inside and outside the house, including the fa?ade and entrances. In most of the cases, some of the soldiers were masked. B’Tselem does not know of any arrests made in the villages during or following these incursions … Maha Qawariq, 26, lives in ‘Awarta with her husband and three daughters. She related how soldiers entered their home on the night of 8 April 2015: … The testimonies given to B’Tselem, coupled with the fact that the soldiers did not carry out arrests during these incursions or detain for interrogation anyone from these households, indicate that the night raids in Madama were designed to scare the families and motivate them to take action to prevent stone-throwing at the road to Yizhar. B’Tselem is familiar with this type of activity, which is part of what the military terms “mapping” and has been documented throughout the West Bank
Thousands of Israeli police deploy across Jerusalem for Ramadan
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 26 June — Thousands of Israeli police, border guards and special forces were deployed across the streets of Jerusalem for the second Friday of Ramadan, police announced. Israeli forces were stationed across Jerusalem’s Old City, at the Qalandiya checkpoint in northern Jerusalem, as well as at the Rachel’s tomb checkpoint in Bethlehem, in order to “regulate traffic and maintain security” as thousands of Muslim worshipers traveled to Jerusalem to pray. Palestinian men from the West Bank above 40 years of age were allowed to enter to pray in the Al-Aqsa Mosque while there were no restrictions on women entering the holy city. General director of the Jerusalem Endowment and Al-Aqsa Mosque Affairs, Sheikh Azzam al-Khatib, told Ma‘an that 350, 000 worshipers performed Friday prayers in the Al-Aqsa mosque from Jerusalem, the West Bank and Islamic countries … The police called on worshipers to stick to instructions given by deployed policemen and threatened strict measures to any party that “disturbs the public order,” adding that several streets of the city were closed and will be re-opened in the evening. Tens of thousands of worshipers from the West Bank, Jerusalem and Israel are expected to pray in the Al-Aqsa Mosque on Friday, while 500 Palestinians were prevented by Israeli authorities from crossing to Jerusalem. The mass deployment of Israeli forces throughout the area comes as an Israeli border policeman was stabbed and seriously wounded by a Palestinian at the Damascus Gate outside the Old City on Sunday, before the officer then shot his attacker, leaving him in critical condition.
Israeli Police arrest seven minors in Jerusalem following Ramadan night prayers
JERUSALEM (WAFA) 24 June – Israeli police last night arrested seven Palestinian minors while they were leaving al-Aqsa Mosque compound following Taraweeh (Ramadan night prayers), according to local sources. The children were identified as Noor-Eddin Abu Hadwan, 15, Omar al-Tawil, 15, Morad Alkam, 14, Mohammad Jaber, 13, Omar Yasin, 14, Mohammad Tayeh, 16, and Saleh Ishti, 15.
Army kidnaps eight Palestinians, searches homes
IMEMC/Agencies 25 June — Israeli soldiers kidnapped, late on Wednesday at night and on Thursday at dawn, at least eight Palestinians in different parts of the occupied West Bank, and clashed with dozens of residents near Ramallah. One of the kidnapped is a young woman, who was taken prisoner near the Al-Aqsa Mosque. Several military vehicles invaded Kharbatha al-Misbah village, west of Ramallah, broke into and searched several homes, causing significant property damage, and kidnapped three Palestinians. The kidnapped have been identified as Shadi Abdul-Raouf Enjass, Abdullah Salim Enjass and Mahmoud Mustafa Enjass. The invasion led to clashes between the soldiers and dozens of local youths, while the army fired rounds of live ammunition and concussion grenades. The soldiers conducted thorough and violent searches of homes, while Israeli security officers also interrogated the families. The Israeli army said it is looking for the person who shot and killed an Israeli man last Friday. The armed wing of Hamas claimed responsibility for the attack.
In addition, soldiers invaded the Shiokh [or al-Shuyukh?]town, east of the southern West Bank city of Hebron, and kidnapped one Palestinian, identified as Mohammad Mousa Halayqa, before moving him to an interrogation center. A Palestinian teenager, identified as Abed Walid at-Teety, 18, was also kidnapped from his home in the al-‘Arroub refugee camp, north of Hebron. Late on Wednesday evening, soldiers invaded the ‘Aida refugee camp, north of Bethlehem, and kidnapped two Palestinians identified as ‘Omar Badawna, 20, and Ali Mohammad Hammad, 21.
Israeli forces detain 6 women from Aqsa compound
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 25 June — Israeli forces detained six Palestinian women, including a journalist, from the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound on Thursday. Witnesses said that journalist Fatima Abu Isbitan, mosque guard Zeina Qatmeira, Huda Abu Isneineh, Ikram Ghazzawi, Baraa Abdin, and a unidentified 17-year-old girl from the Abu Nab family were arrested. There were no further details about the reason for their detention. [IMEMC: In Jerusalem, soldiers kidnapped a young Palestinian woman, identified as Aya Abu Nab, while entering the Al-Aqsa Mosque courtyards, and took her to the al-Qashla Police Station, in the Old City. She was taken prisoner while groups of Israeli fanatics stormed the mosque courtyards, through the al-Magharba Gate, and harassed several women.]
Israel shoots four boys enjoying evening walk in Gaza
Electronic Intifada 26 June by Charlotte Silver — On Monday, 22 June, Israeli soldiers fired on a group of four boys aged 16 to 17 in the southern Gaza Strip village of Khuza‘a. Two of the boys were hit in the legs and one was critically injured. The four friends had walked out to the edge of the village to spend the final hour of their fast for Ramadan. “We were there to waste time before iftar [the meal that breaks the fast],” Muhammad Sami Abu Reda, 17, told The Electronic Intifada. Muhammad was one of the two boys who escaped injury on Monday. “It’s a very nice area. You can see the fields and farms, and we go there because it used to be closed off but now they told us we can go there,” he explained … The “buffer zone” was supposed to be reduced in size under the terms of last August’s ceasefire between Hamas and Israel following Israel’s 51-day attack. However, it remains unclear just where Palestinians can safely walk, drive or farm. In the month of May alone, Israeli soldiers fired on 14 people who were close to the boundary, leaving six Palestinians injured, according to the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR). Islam Samir Tawfiq Abu Reda, 16, is one of the boys shot on Monday. Lying on his hospital bed, he told The Electronic Intifada that “everyone went to the road since it was announced on the news that it had been opened.” Islam’s calf was struck by a bullet. While his wound required more than a dozen stitches, he is healing well. But the other youth, Ibrahim Abu Reda, remains in intensive care. The outcome of his far more severe injuries is uncertain. Two bullets entered his right leg, one near the ankle and another below the knee, shattering his shinbone and severing veins and arteries….
Egyptian authorities close Rafah crossing
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 25 June — Egyptian authorities on Thursday closed Rafah Crossing as planned after being open for three consecutive days. The Gaza Crossing and Borders Department said that four buses managed to enter Egypt on Thursday before the crossing closed, and a fifth bus crossed into the Egyptian side but was turned back. Three ambulances carrying patients and companions also left through the crossing, as cement and building materials were transported inside of the Gaza Strip. During the three days of being open in both directions, 921 Palestinians exited Gaza, and 229 entered it while 60 people were rejected entry, the department said.
Israel prevents hundreds of Gazans from entering Jerusalem
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 26 June — Hundreds of Palestinians from the Gaza Strip were prevented from reaching Jerusalem to pray in the Al-Aqsa Mosque on Friday. Israeli authorities revoked this week’s permits for Gazans to visit the holy site after a rocket fired from the territory hit an open area near the town of Ashkelon in the western Negev early Wednesday, sources at the Palestinian liaison told Ma‘an. Israeli official Yoav Mordechai told Ma‘an at the time that the 500 men and women scheduled to leave Gaza would not be allowed to travel because “the security conditions around the crossing aren’t stable,” adding that the recent rocket fire landed “not far from the Erez crossing” on the Gaza-Israel border … Mordechai said Wednesday that Israeli authorities would reevaluate the security conditions next week in order to determine future travel by Gazans into Jerusalem, adding that he held Hamas “responsible for depriving worshipers of prayer in Al-Aqsa Mosque during Ramadan,” acknowledging that while the group was not responsible for firing the rocket, they are responsible for controlling the Gaza Strip. The 500 Gazans barred from traveling to Al-Aqsa join other Palestinians unable to access the mosque compound this week, as several were detained or barred from the compound by Israeli forces and permission for 500 West Bank Palestinians to fly via Israel’s Ben Gurion airport was canceled.
Drone from Gaza crashes in Israel
JERUSALEM (AFP) 25 June — A drone launched from the Gaza Strip crashed inside Israel on Thursday, the Israeli military said, the third such incursion in just under a year, with previous incidents claimed by Hamas. “Some kind of unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) was spotted entering Israeli airspace from the Strip,” an army spokeswoman told AFP. “Fragments of it were later found in Israeli territory… right next to the (border) fence,” she said. She could not immediately say if the UAV was armed or fitted with a surveillance camera. Hamas’s armed wing has previously displayed a drone several metres in length and with the appearance of a small plane, though it was not immediately clear if Thursday’s UAV was similar. Last July Israel shot down a Hamas drone near the southern city of Ashkelon close to the Gaza border and in a separate incident downed another off the Mediterranean port of Ashdod, 28 kilometres (17 miles) north of Gaza and a similar distance south of Tel Aviv. There was no immediate claim of responsibility for Thursday’s flight.
Israel largest state user of explosive weapons in 2014 due to Gaza war
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 26 June by Charlie Hoyle — Israel was the single largest user of explosive weapons among international states in 2014 as a result of its war on Gaza, a London-based NGO said this week, providing further testimony to its devastating use of force on the coastal territory last summer. In a report entitled ‘Explosive States: Monitoring explosive violence in 2014,’ Action on Armed Violence said that Gaza — together with Iraq, Syria, Nigeria, and Pakistan — saw one of the highest number of global casualties from explosive weapons as a result of Israel’s use of military force during Operation Protective Edge. The majority of the 2,200 Palestinian victims during the war – including 500 children — were killed by explosive weaponry, with 53 percent killed by aerial weapons such as bombs, missiles or airstrikes and 47 percent by ground or naval artillery shelling, AOAV said. Gaza accounted for a staggering 35 percent of global fatalities from aerial explosives and experienced the largest increase in civilian deaths from explosive weaponry in 2014 — in line with a five percent rise in total casualties worldwide. Syria topped the list for aerial explosive fatalities, accounting for 43 percent of global deaths … The statistics reinforce findings from the United Nations Commission of Inquiry on the 2014 Gaza war, which on Monday decried the “huge firepower” used in Gaza which caused unprecedented “devastation and human suffering.”
Rebuilding of Gaza’s destroyed homes set to begin
GAZA CITY (AFP) 24 June — The rebuilding of thousands of homes destroyed in last summer’s Gaza war is to begin in the coming days, almost a year after the conflict began, the Palestinian housing minister said Wednesday. The July-August war in the besieged Gaza Strip destroyed or partially damaged tens of thousands of homes, leaving 100,000 Gazans homeless. “Some 90,000 partially damaged homes have already been repaired in coordination with the United Nations,” Mufid Hasayneh told journalists in Gaza City. “In the coming days, the operation of reconstructing those totally destroyed will begin,” he said.Some 18,000 homes were destroyed or severely damaged, according to UN figures … Hasayneh said that Israel had allowed only 128,000 tonnes of cement into the Strip since the war ended … “We (the Palestinians, the UN and Israel) have come to an agreement about the mechanism to allow construction materials to enter from the Israeli side,” Hasayneh said. The mechanism, he said, would stipulate that owners of destroyed houses be vetted in order to receive building materials. Homeowners would register with local authorities to obtain a building permit, after which their details would be passed onto the housing ministry, headquartered in Ramallah — the seat of the Western-backed Palestinian Authority. The ministry would then work with Israeli authorities to get the final go-ahead for Gazans to rebuild their houses.
Palestinian who murdered Italian activist escapes Gaza prison to join ISIS
JPost 24 June by Ariel Barbieri-Aghib — A Palestinian convicted for involvement in the abduction and murder of Italian activist Vittorio Arrigoni in 2011, reportedly escaped recently from Gaza to Syria in order to join Islamic State while on leave from prison to visit his family for the month of Ramadan. Palestinian newspaper Al-Quds reported that it was unclear whether Mahmoud al-Salfiti left Gaza using tunnels or crossed through the Rafah border using a fake identity. A Hamas-run court sentenced him to a life sentence in 2012 for his involvement in the killing of Arrigoni. Arrigoni, a pro-Palestinian activist, was found strangled in an abandoned house in 2011 after a jihadi Salafi group aligned with al-Qaida abducted him and threatened to execute him unless Salafi leader Hisham al-Saidni was freed. Arrigoni had lived in Gaza since arriving in 2008 aboard a humanitarian aid boat that Israel had admitted to the Strip.
Israeli foreign office demands UN to take action against Ship to Gaza
Ship to Gaza 24 June — The Israeli paper Israel Hayom declares Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs director-general Dore Gold has written a letter to the UN secretary-general Ban Ki-moon in protest against the Freedom Flotilla (including Ship to Gaza) and their attempt to break the Israeli blockade against Gaza. Gold writes: “It has come to our attention that a group called the ‘Freedom Flotilla Coalition’ is making its way to the Gaza Strip with the expressed intention of breaching the maritime blockade Israel has placed on the area. The reports indicate these ships are scheduled to reach the area near the Gaza Strip at the end of June. This may have dangerous ramifications, with the sole purpose of creating a provocation that would be in violation of international law,” Gold continues saying that the maritime blockade is a legitimate defensive act to prevent the import of weapons to the Gaza Strip and urge on the international community “to send an unequivocal message to the organizers and participants of such provocations that these initiatives only fuel tension in the region. Israel has no interest in a confrontation, but it will enforce the blockade meant to prevent arms smuggling into the Gaza Strip.”
On the contrary, published for journal Haaretz, Schlomo Gazit– a general and former chief of the Israeli military intelligence, calls on the Israeli government not to intervene with the convoy, which doesn’t carry any weapons but instead wishes to turn the world’s attention to the 1,8 million Palestinians living in Gaza. Gazit writes that the control of import and export of goods from Gaza practically means a continuation of the occupation of the territory, which Israel claim has ceased.
Arab List MK hits back at Knesset move to suspend him for Flotilla role
Middle East Eye 23 June by Simona Sikimic — Basel Ghattas, a Knesset member for the Joint Arab List, has hit back at condemnation of his participation in the Freedom Flotilla III, which is about to set sail to Gaza in an attempt to deliver humanitarian supplies. Speaking to Middle East Eye on Tuesday, Ghattas accused his Knesset colleagues of flouting democracy after the Knesset Committee complained to the Ethics Committee and asked it to probe Ghattas’s behaviour and suspend him from the Knesset. “This is a ritual by the Israelis and by their ministers. They cannot understand what democracy is about and what it means to be an MP and to try and represent your constituents,” he said via phone from Greece where the three main Flotilla boats have currently docked ahead of their expected voyage to Gaza. “The issue should not be about my participation [in the flotilla], it must be about the cruel conditions that Palestinians have been subjected to. People [in Gaza] are living with little clean water, food or medicine.”
Shin Bet detains left-wing Israeli activist to glean intel on Gaza-bound flotilla
Haaretz 24 June by Chaim Levinson — The Shin Bet security service detained a left-wing activist at Ben-Gurion Airport earlier this week upon her return from a vacation in Greece in an apparent attempt to glean information about Israelis planning to join the Gaza-bound Freedom Flotilla set to leave Greece any day. Reut Mor, a Jaffa resident, was on the Finnish ship Estelle that in October 2012 sought to break the blockade on the Gaza Strip and was intercepted by the Israel Defense Forces en route. During the elections earlier this year she had served as a spokesperson for Hadash, one of the parties that merged to form the Arab Joint List. Earlier this month she flew to Greece for a vacation and returned on Sunday. “When I got off the plane they detained me for over an hour,” she said. “Afterwards I was called to a side room where a Ben-Gurion security officer handed me a summons to appear at the Yarkon police station (in Tel Aviv), which didn’t say anything except to ask for Rona. I asked her what this was about and she said, ‘I’m sure you know.’” “Rona” is the pseudonym of the Shin Bet coordinator responsible for gathering information from left-wing activists in Israel. [Read an article by Reut Mor about her detention here at +972 blog]
Gaza flotilla ship ‘sabotaged’ days before expected arrival
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 25 June — One of the ships taking part in a flotilla headed towards the Gaza Strip was sabotaged south of Crete, an activist aboard one of the ships said Thursday. Israeli-born Swedish activist Dror Feiler told Nazareth-based al-Shams radio that the ship had been sabotaged by professionals, and would have sunk if sailed at sea. “Somebody went underneath the ship at night and sabotaged its propellers, just like they sabotaged the same ship in 2011,” Feiler said, referring to similar damage that was inflicted upon a ship participating in a previous flotilla. Feiler, who relinquished his Israeli citizenship after moving to Sweden, boarded the trawler Marianne of Gothenburg in Sweden with 18 other activists six weeks ago. The crew had refrained from stopping at European ports prior to avoid being held by authorities, but their trip was cut short after realizing that they might have drowned had they continued. Despite the sabotage, the remainder of the flotilla convoy will move as planned with the ships expected arrive in Gaza in succession within three days, Feiler said.
Gaza flotilla boat sets sail from Greece
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 26 June — The first boat from the Freedom Flotilla III set sail for Gaza from the Greek island of Crete overnight Thursday, activists said. Mazin Khalil, head of the European Campaign to End the Siege on Gaza, told Ma’an that 70 rights activists, journalists and politicians are aboard the flotilla, together with a cargo of humanitarian aid, solar panels, and medical aid. The flotilla organizers have taken the necessary arrangements to prevent a repeat of the deadly Israeli raid of the Turkish Mavi Marmara ship in 2010, which killed 10 civilians, and have notified international institutions and officials of the flotilla’s mission … The Marianne of Gothenburg is part of the so-called Freedom Flotilla III — a convoy of ships carrying pro-Palestinian activists including Ghattas, a former Tunisian president, and at least one European lawmaker. The boat last month sailed from Sweden to waters off Crete, where it was to be joined by a number of other vessels carrying around 70 people, according to the Platform of French NGOs for Palestine.
Hamas closing Gaza’s mobile phone company over ‘tax dodge’
GAZA CITY, Palestinian Territories (AFP) 26 June – Hamas authorities ordered Friday the closure of the offices of Jawwal, the only mobile phone company operating in the Gaza Strip, accusing it of tax dodging … “Public prosecutor Ismail Jabr has issued an order for the closure of the Jawwal company’s headquarters as a preliminary measure against it for tax evasion,” his office said in a statement. It warned that all other “tax dodgers will be pursued in earnest,” a possible reference to banks operating in Gaza, which is controlled by the Islamist movement. It was unclear when the offices would be closed. An executive from Jawwal, one of the principle telecoms providers in the Palestinian territories, insisted that “the company is not avoiding any of its (payment) commitments.” … Business analyst Omar Shaaban said the closure could mean cessation of all mobile phone services in Gaza. “There is no alternative in Gaza to the services provided by this company,” he told AFP. Shaaban said it was likely Jawwal was paying taxes to the West Bank-based Palestinian Authority and not the Hamas authorities in Gaza.
One story behind the suicides taking place in Gaza
Mondoweiss 24 June by Anas Jnena — The Palestine News Network announced this week that the suicide rate in the Occupied Territories jumped 68.4 percent last year. In Gaza, Al-Shifa Hospital, which was destroyed during last summer’s assault by Israel, said that at least one person attempted suicide every day — in a culture where taking one’s own life carries a heavy moral penalty. But those are just numbers. What are the stories behind them? Telling such stories is the mission of We Are Not Numbers, a project that links developing English writers in Gaza with authors and teachers abroad to help them improve their language skills while educating others through their powerful narratives. One of the participating writers, Anas Jnena, wrote recently about a story behind the attempted-suicide statistics. Here is his story, bringing those numbers alive. – Pam Bailey, International Director of We Are Not Numbers.
Book: The Drone Eats with Me: Diaries from a City under Fire
Palestine Chronicle 23 June by Vacy Vlasna — “We prepare the suhoor. We all sit around five dishes: white cheese, hummus, orange jam, yellow cheese, and olives. Darkness eats with us. Fear and anxiety eat with us. The unknown eats with us. The F16 eats with us. The drone, and its operator somewhere out in Israel, eat with us.” I read The Drone Eats With Me: Diaries from a City Under Fire by Atef Abu Saif in almost one sitting – resenting that I had to break to cook and eat dinner. These beautifully written searing diaries recounting each of the horrific 51 days of Israel’s monstrous war on the people of Gaza sweeps the reader into Atef’s anguished experience. An experience so dreadfully encompassing of the dark depths of human sentience that it is simultaneously personal and collective … Atef shares with us the mental and emotional torment of every Palestinian parent, child, husband, wife, sibling, friend trapped in Gaza, as Chomsky puts it in the foreword, “under remorseless, relentless assault by the most advanced technology of killing and destruction that the ingenuity of modern civilization has devised.”
On the ground in Incredible Shrinking Gaza
AL-SHUJA‘IYA, Gaza (Daily Beast) 25 June by Jesse Rosenfeld — ‘The overall policy behind this destruction is that if are no houses there, they can’t surprise us.’ A vast swathe of twisted rebar and broken slabs of cinderblock lines Gaza’s eastern border almost a year after Israel’s devastating war in the besieged coastal strip. The smell of death may have gone from the fields of destruction where Palestinian civilians and fighters alike met their fate, but even now it looks like the war could have ended yesterday. Here and there residents in war-wrecked buildings, tents, metal one-room portable homes and tin shacks are all that’s left of the Palestinian communities on the edges of Beit Hanoun, Al Shujaiya, Khuzaa, and Rafah. During the 50 days of fire and bloodshed last year, Israel threatened to create a 3-kilometer-wide no-man’s land in Gaza, which the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs warned at the time would effectively shrink the strip by 44 percent. Although in the end no official buffer zone was created, there’s no question that one of the most densely populated places on Earth has been made denser by the rubble from a war that achieved little for either side … “We have heard—especially from those in the central Gaza region—that part of the strategic goal for the day after the war was that they wanted to destroy houses to enable Israel’s scouts to be able to see into Gaza,” says Avihai Stollar. The earnest 32-year-old former first sergeant in the army’s Kfir Brigade is the director of research for the Israeli NGO Breaking the Silence, which documents and publishes the testimonies of soldiers’ experiences serving in Israel’s wars and occupation.
Animal welfare group Four Paws race to rescue lion cubs from Gaza refugee camp
[with video] The Independent 25 June by Doug Bolton — An international animal welfare group has launched an emergency mission to rescue two lion cubs living in a Gaza refugee camp, because they pose an increasing risk to the people living around them. Animal charity Four Paws wants to save Mona and Max, two lion cubs that made headlines earlier this year after they were bought from Rafah Zoo in Gaza by a man wanting to give his grandchildren a present. At just two months old at the time, the cubs were manageable – however, they have since grown considerably, and the family is finding it harder and harder to pay for the food they need. But the financial burden isn’t the main reason for Four Paws’ intervention – Dr Amir Khalil, leader of the group’s emergency team, said: “Both cubs have already grown quite a bit bigger and stronger since their arrival to the refugee camp, and they now represent a significant danger to the inhabitants of the camp.” Four Paws wants to take the lions to the New Hope Center, an animal shelter that acts as a transit station for the Al Ma’wa Wildlife Sanctuary in Jordan.
Land, property theft & destruction / Ethnic cleansing / Restriction of movement
Israel approves demolition of 1000 homes per year in the Negev
Middle East Monitor 24 June — Israel’s Ministry of the Interior and Israel Land Administration Agency, in cooperation with Regavim NGO and the Jewish National Fund (JNF), are demolishing 1,000 homes in the Negev every year under the pretext that they were built without a permit. This has been revealed by Amichai Yogev, the southern region director of Regavim, which was founded in 2006 in order to confiscate land and build settlements in the West Bank and the Negev Desert. In an interview today with Jewish Voice, Yogev said that there are 220,000 Arabs in the Negev today and that they are living on 13,000 km2 of land. According to estimates, there are about 70,000 unlicensed homes in the “recognised” and “unrecognised” towns and villages. This means that these homes are at risk of being demolished at any moment, according to Regavim’s way of thinking. Yogev also claimed that the Israeli NGO is frustrated by the current situation, as the Palestinian residents of the Negev build 2,000-3,000 homes a year in the unrecognised villages and gatherings. He added that despite their aggressive nature, the demolitions have less of an impact on the reality of the demographic spread that the Israeli establishment is seeking to reduce by means of these campaigns. Asked what a village needs in order to be classified as “unrecognised”, Yogev said that all the villages located in the Beersheba-Arad-Yeruham triangle are “illegal” and therefore they may be destroyed and their residents expelled. The indigenous people of the Negev describe Regavim NGO as a racist organisation. They say that most of its inspectors, who stick demolition notices on their homes, working with the so-called Israel Land Administration Agency, are settlers living in settlements located in the Negev near Mount Hebron.
Settlers under the protection of Israeli forces prevent Palestinian shops from opening
AL KHALIL, Occupied Palestine 24 June by ISM, Al Khalil Team — Around 8:30 this morning on Shuhada street in Hebron, Israeli settlers, soldiers, and border police arrived and put up a breakfast tent right outside of two shops owned by a Palestinian man. The settlers remained in front of his shops for around three and a half hours under Israeli police and army protection. The owner of the shops, which will be used to grind wheat into flour, is Ghassan Azzedine Abu Hadid. HRC has been working with him to facilitate the restoration of his two shops. Because of the presence of the settlers, he has been prevented from working on his shops in order to make them ready for opening … At around 12:00 PM, most of the settlers walked back to the illegal settlement of Beit Hadassah. Only one settler remained behind as the Israeli army helped him to pack the tent and chairs away. Another Palestinian shop owner, who would like to remain anonymous, told ISM activists: “This is not the first time that Israeli settlers and soldiers have done this, they targeted these two shops specifically because they are getting ready to be opened. The settlers caught wind that this Palestinian man was planning on opening and now they are here with the tent.” He then stated about the recent news of 70 Palestinian shops opening on Shuhada street as “an Israeli publicity stunt.”
Extremist settlers torch farms near Ramallah
RAMALLAH (PIC) 24 June — A group of extremist settlers set fire to large areas of Palestinian agricultural lands in Taiba town near Ramallah on Wednesday morning, local sources revealed. The sources pointed out that fanatic settlers torched dozens of dunums of Palestinian lands planted with wheat, causing great damage. The settlers came from the nearby Jewish Rimonim outpost constructed on Palestinian lands in Taiba, the sources noted. The Palestinian owners of the burned lands were about to harvest their crops of wheat before being burnt by the fanatic settlers, the sources underlined.
Israel to remove agricultural structures near Bethlehem
BETHLEHEM (WAFA) 24 June — The Israeli authorities on Wednesday notified a local resident of Kisan, a village to the east of Bethlehem, about their intent to demolish agricultural structures that he owns, according to local sources. Head of the village council of Kisan, Hussein Ghazal, said an Israeli army force pasted a notification paper at the farmland of Ali Abu Dayyeh, a local farmer, informing him that a number of agricultural facilities and retaining walls of his own in the area will be demolished.
Israel’s Arab citizens fight for a roof over their heads
Middle East Eye 24 June by Jonathan Cook — Official ‘Judaisation’ policy blamed for severe housing crisis as anger mounts over family made homeless twice in two months — The start of the Muslim holy fasting month of Ramadan has been bitter for Tareq Khatib. The Israeli authorities razed his home for the second time in two months last week. Now under house arrest, he is confined to a friend’s home and separated from his wife and children. His lawyer has warned that he should expect a bill from the state for hundreds of thousands of dollars to cover the costs of the demolitions and security operations. Fingering prayer beads, the 48-year-old father of five looked disconsolate, his hopelessness compounded by fatigue from the afternoon heat and a long day without food or water. “Where are my family and I supposed to live?” he asked. “It seems the government thinks the only place for us is out on the street, without a roof over our heads…” In the darkness before dawn on June 15, hundreds of Israeli police entered the Galilee town of Kafr Kana, close to Nazareth, to destroy Khatib’s almost-completed house. It was carried out like a military operation, he told Middle East Eye. Police, some on horseback, sealed off the roads to the area while others fired stun grenades and rubber bullets as dozens of neighbours and relatives tried to stop the demolition. Four people were arrested, including Khatib himself. – Treated like an enemy – Khatib’s long and unsuccessful battle to build his family a home legally has come to symbolise a much larger struggle by Israel’s Palestinian minority against decades of land confiscations, severe planning restrictions and an ever-escalating housing crisis. Israel’s 1.5 million Palestinians, a fifth of the population, have citizenship but their leaders say they are treated more like an enemy population … A recent study, according to Haaretz, showed that approval of at least 100,000 additional homes was needed over the next decade to avert a deepening housing crisis among the Palestinian minority.
Israel official says PA ‘not cooperating’ with Ramadan travel plans
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 24 June — An Israeli official said Wednesday that the Palestinian Authority was not cooperating with plans to allow worshipers to travel directly from the occupied West Bank to the Al-Aqsa Mosque in East Jerusalem for Ramadan. Last Tuesday, a spokeswoman for COGAT, the Israeli defense ministry unit which manages civilian affairs in the West Bank, said that for the first time, Palestinians will be able to travel by bus directly from West Bank cities to the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound in occupied East Jerusalem. However, as the second Friday of Ramadan approaches, the plans have failed to materialize and Palestinians have traveled through military checkpoints in lure of potential transport from their city center due to confusion and a lack of planning. COGAT chief Yoav Mordechai on Wednesday told Ma‘an that the Palestinian Authority was not cooperating and was “not doing its duty to serve the people during Ramadan.” … Israel had reportedly asked the Palestinian side to take care of “administrative arrangements” related to the entry of buses into Jerusalem, but Mordechai reported that the Palestinian side said in response that this would be “difficult” to do, and failed to comply. Administrative arrangements, according to Mordechai, include contracting appropriate bus companies, setting ticket prices, checking safety measures and making sure that “those who board the buses are eligible according to the conditions announced by Israel.”
A Palestinian official, who wished to remain anonymous, told Ma‘an that Israel had demanded that PA security forces take over security responsibilities from Israel and check all Palestinian buses before they left cities in the West Bank. “Israel wants us to carry out security tasks by preventing Palestinian men who are below 40 from boarding buses,” he said. “They want us to thoroughly inspect men before they board the buses and to inspect the buses as well, and this is something we completely refuse.” Israel, he added, likes to call these procedures “administrative arrangements” while in reality they are “purely security arrangements.”
PHOTOS: Palestinians cross into Jerusalem for Ramadan
Activestills 26 June Photos and text by Oren Ziv — Tens of thousands of Palestinian women and men over 40 make their way to Qalandiya checkpoint to cross over to Jerusalem in honor of the second Friday of Ramadan. Those who aren’t allowed to cross? They found their own way — Dozens of young Palestinians crossed Qalandiya checkpoint Friday morning in order to make it to the second Friday prayer of Ramadan at the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem. Since Israel allows only men above 40 to cross the checkpoint, dozens of young Palestinians attempted to climb the separation wall and reach Jerusalem using ladders which they leaned on the eight-foot tall wall. “We don’t need any permits from the army, we just cross to Jerusalem by ourselves,” said one young man from Jenin. But the clever strategy only worked for a few minutes. Soldiers and policemen arrived on the scene, and many of the men who waited patiently for their turn to climb went home disappointed … Meanwhile, at the Bethlehem checkpoint the number of people who wanted to enter Jerusalem was so large that the soldiers at the checkpoint were unable to check everyone entering; hundreds simply ran toward Jerusalem. Soldiers searched East Jerusalem’s Gilo neighborhood, near the checkpoint, checking vehicles and passersby in an attempt to find those who entered without permits.
Sense of belonging draws Palestinians to West Bank
NABLUS, West Bank (Al-Monitor) 25 June by Aziza Nofal — On a Saturday in Nablus, people are lining in front of the al-Aqsa sweet shop. The place is packed. Staff member Mohammad al-Nabulsi says the shop receives more customers on the weekends than on weekdays because of Palestinians visiting Nablus from Israel. On weekends, the shop operates at a faster tempo to fill the large number of requests for kunafa, a Levantine cheese pastry. In the last four years, some 90,000 Palestinians from Israel have been crossing into the West Bank annually, after a long hiatus that began with the 2000 intifada, when the security situation prohibited such travel or made it too difficult. Areej Makroush, from the town of Kafr Kana in the Nazareth district, told Al-Monitor, “The West Bank has become our internal tourism destination for shopping and entertainment, especially given the low prices compared with the cities in Israel. … In the West Bank, we have a sense of belonging and security. We don’t feel estranged, unlike shopping in Israeli cities. Here, signs and banners are in Arabic, and we are not obliged to speak Hebrew.”
Prisoners / Court actions
Twilight Zone: A rare moment of humanity in an Israeli military court
Haaretz 27 June by Gideon Levy & Alex Levac — Yafa and Suha Jarrar have spent their whole lives visiting their parents in Israeli custody. As children, it was their father. Now, it’s their mother, Palestinian parliament member Khalida Jarrar — It was a one-of-a-kind moment of grace, humanity and compassion in the dominion of injustice and evil known as the military court of Judea, in the West Bank. In a spontaneous decision, Israel Prison Service officer Bassem Kashkush allowed Yafa and Suha Jarrar to approach their mother, Khalida, and embrace her. Even the elders of the court can’t remember anything like it. The young women walked up to their mother, hugged her long and hard, and the tears flowed unbidden. Mother and daughters cried; the husband and father, Ghassan Jarrar, wept bitterly. The sympathizers and international observers who are attending Jarrar’s trial cried, too, and a tear was even spotted in a female prison guard’s eye. “What’s this, is everyone crying here today?” she blurted out. Twenty-nine-year-old Yafa hasn’t seen her mother for about a year, and her sister, Suha, 24, for about six months. Last week they arrived from Canada for a vacation. They are both graduate students, Yafa working toward a doctorate in law, Suha about to begin her Ph.D. in environmental studies, and this week they had an emotional reunion with their mother in court. Unlike in previous hearings, Jarrar was brought to the courtroom without iron shackles on her feet. Khalida Jarrar, a member of the Palestinian Legislative Council, has been in detention for almost three months. At first she was in administrative detention, as Israeli authorities had no intention of putting her on trial. But after a wave of international protest, she was remanded in custody until the conclusion of legal proceedings against her and indicted on 12 counts – all of them saliently political – which include such ludicrous charges as attending a book fair and visiting a released prisoner in his home. Her trial began this week in the Ofer military prison courtroom. Internationally, Jarrar is a story, but in Israel she’s a non-story. The judge, Lt. Col. Zvi Heilbron, like the prosecutor and the judge in the previous round of hearings, wears a skullcap. This military court increasingly resembles a synagogue.
Israel releases prominent Hamas official year after arrest
JERUSALEM (AFP) 25 June — Israel on Thursday released a prominent Hamas leader in the West Bank, the Islamist group said, a year after his arrest along with hundreds of others following the killing of three Israeli teenagers. Hamas says Hassan Yusef, who has spent years in Israeli jails and was elected to the Palestinian parliament in 2006 while in Israeli custody, has worked entirely in the political wing of the movement. He is also known for having disowned his son after he worked as an informant for Israel’s Shin Bet internal security agency under the codename “The Green Prince.” “Occupation forces (Israel) on Thursday released Hassan Yusef after he was in administrative detention for an entire year,” Hamas said in a news report on its website, Hamas.ps.
Thousands march for Khader Adnan at Aqsa Mosque
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 26 June — Hundreds of Palestinians marched through the Al-Aqsa mosque compound on Friday in support of Khader Adnan, as the Palestinian prisoner passed his 53rd day on hunger strike.Carrying banners depicting Adnan, the marchers crossed toward the Dome of the Rock chanting slogans and calling for his immediate release … Tens of thousands of Palestinians were at the mosque compound to mark the second Friday of the holy month of Ramadan, with Israel relaxing normally severe access restrictions from the West Bank into East Jerusalem. Adnan, 37, began his hunger strike nearly two months ago to protest the Israeli practice of administrative detention, under which Palestinians can be held without charge or trials for months or years. He was detained in July last year and sentenced to administrative detention for the 10th time in his life. It is the second time Adnan has gone on hunger strike against the practice, following a 66-day long hunger strike he undertook in 2012 — the longest carried out by a Palestinian in Israeli detention. In recent days, however, his health has deteriorated sharply, with the International Committee of the Red Cross saying on Monday that his life was “at immediate risk.”
Jailed PFLP leader moved to Nafha prison
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 24 June — Ahmad Saadat, the leader of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, was moved to Nafta jail on Wednesday by Israeli authorities, a prisoner rights group said. The leader, who is serving a 30-year sentence, was previously imprisoned in Gilboa jail, the Palestinian Prisoner’s Society said. A lawyer from the group said that Palestinian detainees in Gilboa will refuse their evening meals to protest the move. Saadat has been in Israeli custody since March 2006, when Israeli forces detained him from a Palestinian Authority jail in Jericho and put him on trial for allegedly masterminding the assassination of Israeli Minister of Tourism Rehavam Zeevi in 2001. He was charged in 2008 for heading an “illegal terrorist organization.”
Israeli court extends detention of Palestinian journalist administratively for 5th time
RAMALLAH (PIC) 25 June — An Israeli military court has extended the administrative detention of Palestinian journalist Abdul-Razzaq Farraj, 53, for the fifth consecutive time. The Palestinian Prisoner Center for Studies said the court renewed the administrative detention of journalist Farraj for four more months. Farraj, from al-Jalazoun refugee camp in Ramallah, has already spent a total of 15 years in different Israeli jails. The Israeli jailers in Ofer have prevented Farraj from seeing his family since his detention in February 2014, according to the prisoner center.
Israelis who faked West Bank kidnap arrested
Ynet 24 June by Aviel Magnezi — Niv Asraf, who faked his own kidnapping in the West Bank, was indicted at the Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court on Wednesday, along with his friend Eran Nagauker. The two 22-year-olds from Be’er Sheva were charged with providing a false report and fraudulently obtaining benefits. Asraf put the entire country on edge when he decided to fake his own kidnapping, hiding near Kiryat Arba while thousands of police and IDF troops searched for him. His friend Nagauker, who was serving as an NCO in the military at the time, reported Asraf’s false abduction to the police … As a result of Nagauker’s report, the military put into action its emergency procedure, fearing that Asraf was kidnapped. Thousands of soldiers, several Special Forces units, aircraft, and other technological measures were deployed in the area to search for Asraf. The army set up several checkpoints in the area, and sweeps were conducted in nearby villages, while restrictions were imposed on local residents. In some cases, clashes broke out where the military was conducting its search for Asraf….
Palestinian refugees – Syria, Lebanon
PLO: Palestinian refugees in Syria face imminent threat from fighting
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 25 June — Some 150,000 Palestinian refugees in four camps on the outskirts of Damascus face severe threats due to ongoing fighting in the Syrian conflict, a PLO official said Thursday. “We are deeply concerned about refugees in Khan al-Sheikh camp, which is the closest to ongoing fighting between the Syrian army, rebels and the al-Nusra Front,” Ahmad Majdalani, a PLO Executive Committee member, said. “Refugees from Danoun, Mirjan and Sayyida Zeinab are all within range of the ongoing events,” he added. The majority of Palestinians in those camps are originally from Yarmouk refugee camp, which has been on the front line of the Syrian conflict and severely affected by fighting. Around 7,000 Palestinian refugees remain in Yarmouk, Majdalani said, with the situation there growing “worse and worse.”
The PLO official said that refugees in Ein el-Hilweh camp in Lebanon are also under threat due to fighting between Salafist groups, the Lebanese army, and Hezbollah, with several groups trying to involve refugees in the fighting.
Parties explore ways to improve life for Palestinian refugees
BEIRUT (Daily Star) 26 June by Elise Knutsen — As UNRWA, the U.N. agency charged with aiding Palestinian refugees, faces a major funding crisis, representatives from all the major Lebanese political parties have come together to discuss means to improve the lives of half a million Palestinian refugees in the country. After months of discussions, the Lebanese Palestinian Dialogue Committee met with Prime Minister Tamma Salam this week, presenting him with five recommendations to improve social and economic conditions of Palestinian refugees. Abdel-Nasser al-Aiye, office director of the LPDC, said the five recommendations consist of recommendations to the Interior Ministry about regularizing work for Palestinians; easing the burden of social security payments for those who employ Palestinians; establishing formalized relations between UNRWA and Lebanon; conducting a national census of Palestinians in the country; and strengthening the internal mechanisms of the LPDC itself. Aiye said the recommendations, which were all agreed upon unanimously by representatives from rivaling political factions, come at a critical time: “There has never been such a shortage of funding for UNRWA to support their programs and staff.”
UN OCHA Weekly Report on the oPt — 9-15 June
Weekly highlights: Israeli forces shot and killed two Palestinian men in separate incidents in the West Bank … 15 Palestinians, including three children, were injured by Israeli forces across the oPt … In the Gaza Strip, an 18-year-old mentally disabled youth was shot and injured while trying to scale the fence; on at least 12 other occasions, Israeli forces opened fire towards civilians present in the Access Restricted Area (ARA) on land and sea, resulting in no injuries … Israeli forces arrested 98 Palestinians … 251 Palestinians, half of them children, were displaced from their homes for six hours during an Israeli military training exercise. The affected families live in four herding communities in the northern Jordan Valley … The Israeli authorities demolished sixteen (16) Palestinian-owned structures in Area C thirteen (13) and East Jerusalem three (3) for lack of Israeli-issued building permits, affecting a total of 95 residents half of them children … Two Israeli settler attacks resulting in damage to Palestinian property were recorded … Israeli media reported three Palestinian attacks against Israelis in East Jerusalem, including the injury of an Israeli woman as a result of stone-throwing and damage to a settler’s residence and a vehicle.
Hamas: PLO isn’t the right body to form Palestinian government
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 27 June – Hamas rejected plans Friday made by the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) Executive Committee to begin forming a new Palestinian national consensus government. The group said in a statement that the PLO “isn’t the right body to form a government.” Palestinian factions, who signed the Cairo agreement as an interim Palestinian leadership, should follow up with all issues of unity and reconciliation, the group argued, referring to the 2012 agreement signed by Hamas, Fatah, and the Palestinian National Council to form an interim government in preparation for national elections which haven’t been held since 2006. “In light of what have been circulated about the PLO’s Executive Committee tasking Azzam al-Ahmad with conducting consultations over the formation of a new government, Hamas calls upon all factions signatories of the Cairo agreement to start comprehensive dialogue,” the Hamas statement said.
Palestinian minister hands ‘war crimes’ files to ICC
THE HAGUE, Netherlands (AP) 25 June by Mike Corder — Palestinian Foreign Minister Riad Malki handed International Criminal Court prosecutors a file Thursday detailing possible Israeli war crimes in Gaza and settlement construction in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. The file, based on findings by a Palestinian commission of inquiry and information from non-government groups, feeds into a preliminary investigation by ICC prosecutor Fatou Bensouda into possible crimes on Palestinian territory. Bensouda’s initial probe aims to establish if there is enough evidence to merit opening a full-scale investigation that could ultimately lead to charges against both Israelis and Palestinians. It is not clear how long the process will take. Malki said the information forms “a compelling case for the prompt opening of an investigation.” He said it included details on Israel’s settlements and military offensive throughout the occupied Palestinian territories, particularly last year’s Gaza War, and also outlined allegations of crimes committed against Palestinian prisoners. The filing, “confirms that the absence of accountability has led to the recurrence of violations and crimes and will continue to do so if gone unchecked,” the Palestinians said in a statement before the filing.
US: Palestinian moves against Israel at ICC ‘counterproductive’
WASHINGTON (AFP) 25 June — The White House said Thursday that efforts to have Israel charged with war crimes at the International Criminal Court were “counterproductive” and would be opposed by Washington … The Palestinian Authority has also tried to join the court as a signatory to the Rome Statute, part of a much broader effort to win diplomatic recognition and eventual statehood. The United States, which is not a signatory to the ICC, has also opposed that move. “We do not believe the Palestinians are eligible to accede to the Rome Statute and join the International Criminal Court,” said Baskey.
Analysis: PA war crimes charges aren’t really about Gaza
JPost 26 June by Yonah Jeremy Bob — Where does the Palestinian Authority’s Thursday submission of a report on alleged war crimes by Israel fit into the big picture confronting Israel and the International Criminal Court? Regarding the 2014 Gaza war in which some 2,100 Palestinians and 73 Israelis were killed, it is just another report. It may have some new information, but it is more of a footnote – like Israel’s own report that came out around two weeks ago, with the UN Human Rights Council’s report issued on Monday likely carrying far more weight with the ICC prosecutor. But the report pushes forward hard on an entirely separate front with ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda that, absent the Gaza war, she might be more likely to stay away from. The separate issue is whether the Palestinians can convince Bensouda to go after the settlement enterprise since June 2014 – and possibly since November 29, 2012, when the UN General Assembly declared “Palestine” a state – as an ongoing war crime. There is no agreement as to what Bensouda will do with the settlements-as-war-crime allegations, particularly since no one has ever been prosecuted by any war crimes tribunal for establishing settlements. Pushing forward with the settlements- as-war-crime would require Bensouda to ignore a wide range of legal issues. These include parts of the Oslo Accords, which appear to block an independent “Palestine” emerging without Israeli consent….
Israel punishes rights group aiding UN inquiry
IMEMC/Agencies 25 June — The Israeli government removed, on Tuesday, Israeli human rights group B’Tselem from its service programme after contributing to the UN Gaza inquiry. B’Tselem was one of ten human rights groups which wrote to the Israeli Attorney General last July to raise “concerns about grave Israeli violations of international humanitarian law” in the bombing and shelling of residential buildings in the Gaza Strip. The decision by Israeli authorities to ban B’Tselem from the national service programme was made because the organisation was among the sources for the UN inquiry’s data regarding the offensive on Gaza. Uri Ariel, minister responsible for the National Insurance Institute, which supervises the scheme, said Tuesday that he had given the warning that volunteering with groups seen as hostile to the Israeli state would no longer be recognised as national service. “Is the state of Israel supposed to finance those who work against it… against its soldiers? There is a limit,” he told Israeli public radio. “It is not just B’Tselem,” he added. “It is not just one organisation, there may be others and it applies to them as well.”
New bill could make it harder for Israeli Arab MKs to get reelected
Haaretz 25 June by Jonathan Lis — The Ministerial Committee for Legislation is expected on Sunday to vote on a bill that could significantly restrict the chances of Arab MKs to be reelected to the next Knesset and for Arab political activists to contend for a Knesset seat. The bill, submitted by MK Sharon Gal (Yisrael Beiteinu), toughens the criteria for contending for the Knesset by demanding that candidates prove they have never encouraged the armed struggle against Israel by making public expressions of support for “illegal activity against the State of Israel.” Gal explained that the move is aimed at discouraging Arab MKs from participating in events like flotillas to break the Gaza blockade.
World Bank allocates $2 mn to West Bank water sector
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 25 June — A $2 million grant to the Palestinian water sector has been given by the World Bank to strengthen the capacity of the water authority and contribute to implement reform initiatives as outlined in the water law. “With the new water law, the Palestinian Authority has a good framework to deal with the severe challenges the sector faces, such as limited resources, insufficient waste water treatment and reuse, and an alarming situation in Gaza where 96 percent of water resources are unfit for human use,” said Steen Lau Steen Lau Jorgensen, World Bank director … The additional financing comes from the Partnership for Water and Urban Development, Multi-donor Trust Fund that received contributions from the Swedish International Development Agency (SIDA), the governments of Denmark, Finland, the Netherlands, Norway, Croatia and Portugal, and the Agence Française de Developpement (AFD).
US Congress members demand end to Israel’s ‘cruel’ abuse of Palestinian children
EI 24 June by Ali Abunimah — In rare defiance of the stifling pro-Israel consensus in the US capital, members of Congress are calling on the Obama administration to push Israel to end its systematic abuses of Palestinian children. Congresswoman Betty McCollum released a letter on Tuesday co-signed by 18 other members of the House of Representatives urging Secretary of State John Kerry to “prioritize the human rights of Palestinian children living in the Occupied West Bank in the bilateral relationship with the Government of Israel.” – “Indefensible”– A press release from the Minnesota Democrat’s office says the letter “specifically addresses Israel’s ongoing military detention of Palestinian children in which they are arrested, interrogated, held incommunicado, and frequently physically abused.” “Israel’s military detention of Palestinian children is an indefensible abuse of human rights. I hope this letter results in State Department pressure on the Government of Israel to end this systemic abuse immediately,” McCollum states … A copy of the letter is below … Ten of the 18 signatories are members of the Congressional Black Caucus.
Interview with a suicide bomber
Mondoweiss 25 June by Dan Cohen — “The doctors asked me, ‘Why did you want to die?’” “I told them, ‘Because I can’t do anything while I’m living in my country. I can’t learn. I can’t do business with my father and he is out of work. Every day there is siege and killing.’” 17-year-old Mohammed Zaidan had awoken in an Israeli hospital, recovering from serious injuries to his stomach, eye socket, head and arm. He had gone on a suicide bombing operation, but the explosives he brought failed to properly detonate. 15 years later, I interviewed Zaidan in his home in Gaza City. “The doctor asked me, ‘What’s your view of the future? Is it death?’” “I replied, ‘I didn’t want to end my life or yours.’” “I didn’t see a place to live with dignity,” Zaidan told me. I met Mohammed Zaidan riding in his taxi in Gaza City. After nearly a decade in Israeli prisons, he was released in the Gilad Shalit prisoner swap in 2011, and banished to the Gaza Strip. Now, Zaidan earns a meager living as a driver.
Israeli, Palestinian support for two states slipping: poll
JERUSALEM (AFP) 25 June — A joint Israeli-Palestinian poll published Thursday shows dwindling support on both sides for a Palestinian state alongside Israel as a solution to the conflict. The survey, by the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research, shows 51 percent of Israeli respondents in favour of what is known as the two-state solution, down from 62 percent last June. Support among Palestinians was also 51 percent, down from 54 percent a year ago. Shortly after the previous survey, Israel fought a war in the Gaza Strip that killed some 2,200 Palestinians, most of them civilians, and 73 on the Israeli side, mostly soldiers. And in March 2015 Israel voted into power a government consisting largely of nationalist patrons of West Bank Jewish settlement, the ultra-Orthodox and opponents of Palestinian statehood. “After forming a right wing government in Israel led by Benjamin Netanyahu, we asked both sides about their expectations for the future,” a Hebrew University statement said. “The level of perceived threat on both sides regarding the aspirations of the other side in the long run is very high.” “Fifty-six percent of Palestinians think that Israel’s goals are to extend its borders to cover all the area between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea and expel its Arab citizens, and 25 percent think Israel’s goals are to annex the West Bank while denying political rights to the Palestinians.” “Forty-three percent of Israelis think that Palestinians’ aspirations in the long run are to conquer the State of Israel and destroy much of the Jewish population.
Israel arrests several Druze after ‘lynching’ of Syrian
JERUSALEM (AFP) 24 June — Israeli police said Wednesday they had carried out a wave of arrests of suspects involved in two attacks by Druze on military vehicles transporting wounded Syrians to hospital. Israeli media said nine Druze were arrested over the attacks Monday, when a mob killed a Syrian and wounded another in the Golan Heights and an ambulance was stoned in the Galilee town of Hurfesh … Further details of the investigations into both incidents remain under a gag order. Syria’s Druze minority are traditional allies of President Bashar al-Assad, and the rioters on Monday probably believed the men in the ambulance were rebels fighting to unseat him … Army spokesman Major Arye Shalicar told AFP there was “no change” in the Israeli policy of providing “humanitarian” medical care to wounded Syrians who approach the ceasefire line on the Golan Heights.
Vatican under fire from Israel over accord with Palestine
VATICAN CITY (AFP) 26 June by Angus MacKinnon — The Vatican came under fire from Israel Friday after signing a historic first accord with Palestine, two years after officially recognising it as a state. The accord, which covers the activities of the Church in the parts of the Holy Land under Palestinian control, was the first since the Vatican recognised Palestine as a state in February 2013. The product of 15 years of discussions, the agreement was finalised in principle last month despite Israel’s opposition to both the symbolism of Palestine signing international accords and the specific content of the agreement. “This hasty step damages the prospects for advancing a peace agreement, and harms the international effort to convince the Palestinian Authority to return to direct negotiations with Israel,” Israeli foreign ministry spokesman Emmanuel Nahshon said in a statement. Palestinian Foreign Minister Riad Al-Maliki said at Friday’s signing ceremony that it would “not have been possible without the blessing of his Holiness Pope Francis for our efforts to reach it.” The minister said the “historic” accord enshrined Palestine’s special status as the birthplace of Christianity and the cradle of the monotheistic religions (Christianity, Islam, Judaism).
Christian event in Jerusalem? Only if rabbis approve
Ynet 25 June by Moshe Heller — The Jerusalem Municipality has decided to consult the city’s rabbis before approving any Christian event that may include missionary activity. The decision came after ultra-Orthodox officials expressed their anger at the Municipality and the management of the city’s multi-purpose sports arena for allowing Christian organizations to hold a major conference last month. The event was eventually held as planned despite the haredi outcry, but the Municipality decided to give in to the haredi demand concerning any future events … The haredi media asserted that the event was aimed at convincing Jews to join Christianity with the help of missionaries who had arrived in Israel for that very purpose. The city’s rabbis also intervened and asked the Municipality to call off the event, but their demand was rejected due to legal issues.
Israeli diplomat in Berlin: Maintaining German guilt about Holocaust helps Israel
Haaretz 25 June by Nir Gontarz — A spokeswoman for the Israeli embassy in Berlin recently told Israeli journalists it was in the country’s interest to maintain German guilt about the Holocaust, and that it isn’t seeking full normalization of relations between the governments. Embassy spokeswoman Adi Farjon made the comments in a closed briefing session with journalists at the embassy. “We were all in shock,” said a female journalist present at the briefing. “The spokeswoman clearly said it was an Israeli interest to maintain German guilt feelings. She even said that without them, we’d be just another country as far as they’re concerned.” Others present at the event confirmed the journalist’s account. Some added that the Israeli ambassador himself, Yakov Hadas-Handelsman, was present for some of the briefing … A spokesperson for the Foreign Ministry in Jerusalem said Farjon’s comments had been taken out of context … This year is a special one for the German and Israeli governments, with Berlin and Jerusalem marking 50 years since the start of diplomatic relations between the two countries. German support for Israel also appears to be at an all-time high