Wanted for war crime: killer of Hadil al-Hashlomon
Tikun Olam 2 Sept by Richard Silverstein — Thank you to Shaul Hanuka for his wonderful work creating this wanted poster featuring the killer of Palestinian student, Hadil al-Hashlomon. I appeal once again for any Israelis who know this person to step forward and name him. He deserves to be held accountable for what Amnesty International has called an “extrajudicial execution.” Please circulate this poster online everywhere you can.
The IDF must come clean about the Hebron shooting
+972 Blog 27 Sept by Noam Rotem — Why is the Israeli army refusing to release its footage from the shooting of 18-year-old Hadeel al-Hashlamon? — Was the shooting an act of self defense by the soldiers wearing ballistic vests in the checkpoint, standing behind a steel barrier separating them and the young woman, as claimed by the IDF Spokesperson? Or was it an “extrajudicial execution,” as Amnesty claimed, and which B’Tselem said in more cautious terms. It won’t be difficult to find the answer. It would actually be very easy. The IDF has video footage of the entire event, showing the entire sequence of events. To this day, five days since the shooting, the army has chosen not to release that video, a choice that raises questions about its motivations. Is the army covering up for yet another soldier who sentenced a civilian to death in the West Bank? Did the young woman threaten to attack the armed soldiers to the point that they felt a threat to their lives and that they had no choice but to shoot her? Did Hashlamon pull out and wave a knife at the soldiers? Could she have actually reached soldiers standing on the other side of the barrier separating them? And after the first shot, was there a justification for shooting the 18-year-old in her stomach and chest, while she was lying unresponsive on the ground? All of the evidence is available, all of the testimonies have been recorded. The military prosecutor must put on trial the soldier who cut short Hadeel al-Hashlamon’s life, or alternatively, release the video showing that it was indeed self defense. The IDF Spokesperson had no response when asked why video of the event hasn’t been published yet and whether it intends to do so.
Violence / Detentions
Israeli forces injure 3 with live fire near Bethlehem
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 26 Sept — Three Palestinian youth were injured by live Israeli fire during clashes that erupted in the town of Tuqu‘ [or Taqu‘, Teqou‘a] in southeastern Bethlehem on Friday. Locals told Ma‘an that Israeli military forces arrived to the town and were deployed onto the rooftops of resident’s homes, targeting youth with bullets and tear-gas. Clashes had erupted between the youth and Israeli forces around the town’s municipality building when Israeli soldiers fired live ammunition and rubber-coated steel bullets, injuring the three youth in the legs with live fire, locals said. The youth received aid at the town’s medical clinic before being taken to the Beit Jala Governmental Hospital by Palestinian Red Crescent ambulances. Their injuries were reported as moderate.
Arresting four children from the village of Al-Tur
SILWAN, Jerusalem (SILWANIC) 28 Sept — The occupation forces arrested four children from the village of Al-Tur east of the walls of the Old City of Jerusalem on Monday early morning. Sources from the village explained to Wadi Hilweh Information Center that the occupation forces raided several houses and arrested four children aged between 11-13 years. The detainees are: Abdullah Zakaria Abulhawa, Mohammad Mohannad Abulhawa, Mu’ath Munther Abulhawa and Khalil Kamal Abulhawa.
Double standards, one rule for all – except Palestinians
NABI SALEH, Occupied Palestine 27 Sept by ISM, Al-Khalil Team — On the 28th of August, Mahmoud Tamimi was arrested in Nabi Saleh during the weekly nonviolent demonstration. Every Friday, just after the prayer, the residents demonstrate against the expansion of the illegal settlement of Halamish which has continuously confiscated Palestinian land as well as the only water source of the village: ‘Ain al-Qaws. During the Friday march towards the expropriated lands the residents were stopped by Israeli forces using excessive brutality, shooting tear gas, rubber coated steel bullets, live ammunition and sound grenades against civilians. Additionally, demonstrators are often arrested and beaten up. On the 28th of August, in the course of the demonstration I, as a foreigner, was arrested by Israeli forces together with the 19-year old Palestinian Mahmoud Tamimi. Both of us have been brutally beaten by the soldiers with punches, kicks and the butts of their guns. Both of us were arrested and secluded for 6 hours, kept blindfolded and handcuffed in a small room in a military base. Afterwards, we were taken to the police station based in the illegal settlement of Ben Yamin and, at that point, our paths were divided: he was brought to the military prison of Ofer and I was brought to “Ramle” near Tel Aviv. Within a few days, my predicament was positively solved: I was acquitted from the charges of throwing stones and other objects, and returned to be a free citizen. Regarding Mahmoud, although the charges were exactly the same, because he’s Palestinian, the situation is completely different: in fact Mahmoud is still under arrest in Ofer military prison and is waiting to attend his first hearing, to be held on the 28th of October, that is 60 days after his arrest . . . In my case, hard evidence would be required to bring charges against me; for Mahmoud in contrast, as a Palestinian, no evidence is required at all. All the trial is only based on the statement of 18-year old soldiers . . . .
Israeli army denies shooting Palestinian girl with rubber bullets
Haaretz 26 Sept by Jack Khoury — A 7-year-old Palestinian girl and her father were wounded Friday in clashes between Palestinians and Israel Defense Forces soldiers in the village of Kadum [or Qaddoum] in the northern West Bank. According to Murad Ashtawi, one of the organizers of the weekly demonstrations in the village, the girl was standing in her window and was injured in the head when soldiers who surrounded the house “fired in every direction.” According to Ashtawi, the girl’s father, Col. Abd el-Latif a-Kadumi [or Qaddoumi], the commander of the Palestinian police in Nablus, was shot in the head attempting to evacuate his daughter from the scene in his car. The Palestinian news agency Ma‘an reported that the girl was struck by a rubber-coated steel bullet aimed directly at her by the soldiers. The girl and her father were taken to Rafadiyah Hospital in Nablus with moderate injuries and their condition is described as stable. According to Ma‘an, the soldiers raided the village and set up a number of ambushes in order to prevent the weekly demonstration.
The IDF Spokesperson’s Unit said: “A preliminary investigation showed the girl was wounded by stones thrown by the villagers, during a violent disruption against IDF soldiers. The IDF regrets the girl was injured.” The IDF also said that “any other report is a false report which aims to slander the forces working to keep law and order in the area.”
Israel suspends officer over assault of AFP journalists
JERUSALEM (AFP) 27 Sept — The Israeli military has suspended the officer in charge during an incident in the West Bank that saw soldiers assault two AFP journalists, take their equipment and destroy it, the army said. “The officer in charge of the operations on the ground has been suspended from operational duty until further notice,” Lieutenant Colonel Peter Lerner said of the incident on Friday. Lerner said the move was an immediate step “pending further disciplinary measures” against the officer or other soldiers and that investigations were continuing. He added that the Israeli military considered it a “grave” incident. “Lessons from the incident will be learnt and disseminated within the (Israeli army),” Lerner told AFP late on Saturday. The two AFP journalists, Italian Andrea Bernardi and Palestinian Abbas Momani, were covering clashes between Palestinians and Israeli soldiers in Beit Furik near Nablus following a funeral when they were assaulted by soldiers. Bernardi is a video journalist and Momani is a photographer. The soldiers pointed their weapons at them and shoved them. Bernardi was thrown to the ground, with a knee pressed against his chest until he was able to show his press card. They were identifiable as journalists not only by their equipment but also by their body armour clearly marked “Press”. They had been previously authorised to enter the area. The soldiers smashed a video camera and a stills camera, while also taking away another stills camera and a mobile phone. The incident was filmed and posted online by a local production company. On Friday evening, the army told AFP that it had identified those involved and that disciplinary measures would be taken. It also said it had recovered equipment. Severely damaged equipment was returned to AFP on Saturday, though without the memory cards that had been inside. AFP as well as the Foreign Press Association in Israel and the Palestinian Territories have strongly condemned the assault.
Israeli police hold 4 Palestinian youths over driver’s death
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 26 Sept — Israeli police said Saturday that they were holding four Palestinians aged 16-19 who they accuse of causing an Israeli driver’s death by throwing stones at his car earlier this month. Israeli police spokesperson Micky Rosenfeld said the four Palestinians, from the East Jerusalem village of Sur Baher, were detained on suspicion of “carrying out the attack over the Jewish new year.” Rosenfeld said: “They admitted carrying out the attack. They planned it ahead of time.” A police statement identified the youths as Muhammad Salah Muhammad Abu Kiff, Walid Fares Mustafa al-Atrash and Abed Mahmoud Abed Rabbo Dawiyat, while the identity of the fourth was under gag order. Israeli police have said they believe the Israeli driver, 64-year-old Alexander Levlovich, lost control of his car after a stone was thrown at it on Sept. 13, during the Jewish new year holiday. They have so far released no evidence, and shortly after the accident took place the Jerusalem’s Magistrate Court issued a gag order on details of the incident. During a visit to the accident site several days later, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowed “war” on Palestinian stone-throwers. Israel’s security cabinet has since broadened the rules under which stone-throwers can be targeted by live fire and has announced a minimum four-year prison sentence for those found guilty of stone-throwing.
East Jerusalem residents feel they have nothing left to lose
Haaretz 26 Sept by Amira Hass — Even when they don’t agree with stone throwing, Palestinians in East Jerusalem say their existence is constantly under threat — Rami received Israeli citizenship two years ago. He is a student in his mid-20s, born and living in East Jerusalem. Repulsed by the stone throwing, he has undergone a conscious and self-chosen “Israelization” since high school. Rami (not his real name) reached the conclusion that he wouldn’t get ahead in life without learning Hebrew, becoming familiar with Israeli culture and even befriending Jews, and pursuing studies and work opportunities through Israeli institutions. He submitted two citizenship applications to the Interior Ministry, which rejected him both times. Only after paying a lawyer a decent sum of money that put him in debt was he granted citizenship. It is not Israeli patriotism that motivated Rami to become a citizen. Like most Jerusalem Palestinians who have managed to receive Israeli citizenship or have pursued it, he did it to be able to study and stay abroad without fear of not being permitted to return to his city and home. “Our existence in Jerusalem is constantly threatened,” says Rami, who calls himself a Jerusalem Arab rather than Palestinian. Variations of this theme arise in every conversation with East Jerusalem residents, especially during the current, publicized confrontations between police and youths. Morning, noon and night, every Palestinian in Jerusalem lives and breathes the Israeli desire, which they perceive in the state’s policies, for them all to abandon the city and move abroad or to Ramallah. As residents but not citizens, they are subject to Israeli entry laws – as if they had asked to move there and not been annexed. Extended residence outside the city – for studies, work or living in the West Bank – puts them at risk of losing their Jerusalem residency status and expulsion, with the High Court’s approval. . . .
Jews throw stones too, but Arabs get harsher sentences
Haaretz 28 Sept by Yaniv Kubovich — In verdicts over recent years, Arabs are much more likely to get prison sentences that approach or exceed a year — . . . A look at verdicts in recent years show differences in sentencing for Jewish and Arab stone-throwers. In February, a Tel Aviv District Court judge sentenced an East Jerusalemite to 16 months in prison for throwing stones at a vehicle on the road to Ma’aleh Adumim. A month before, a Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court judge, Dana Cohen-Lekach, sentenced two minors to six months and eight months respectively for throwing stones at cars in East Jerusalem. And in 2011, Magistrate’s Court Judge Rivka Friedman-Feldman sentenced an East Jerusalem resident who threw stones at a demonstration during Gaza fighting to nine months in prison. “I have a 14-year-old about whom we agreed with the prosecution for a 10-month sentence for throwing a firebomb that didn’t hit anything,” Mahmoud said. “Two weeks ago a 16-year-old client got 10 months in prison for throwing a stone at a bus. Today the punishment is very harsh for minors.” According to Mahmoud, Arabs don’t receive the option to swap a prison sentence for community service or another alternative. When Jews disturb the peace, “the court doesn’t find them guilty, and if it does, they don’t get more than three months,” while no Jewish minors are sentenced to prison at all, Mahmoud says. Recent verdicts show that there is truth to Mahmoud’s claims. For example, a Jewish Israeli took part in a demonstration by Jews, Palestinians and foreigners on the outskirts of the village of Nabi Saleh and was caught throwing stones at police. He was sentenced to two months in prison, which was replaced by community service at the Tel Aviv Cinematheque. In 2013, the president of the Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court, Shulamit Dotan, sentenced to six months’ community service a man convicted of attacking police during demonstrations by the ultra-Orthodox against the opening of a parking garage on Saturdays. In July, Jerusalem District Court Judge Amnon Cohen sentenced an ultra-Orthodox man who set fire to garbage dumpsters, threw stones at police and hit a policeman in the face with a fist-sized stone to only seven months in prison . . . .
PLO: Israel’s new live fire law ‘dehumanized a whole nation’
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 26 Sept — The PLO secretary-general said Saturday that new Israeli regulations authorizing forces to use live ammunition in occupied East Jerusalem served to “dehumanize” Palestinians. Israel’s security cabinet on Thursday broadened the rules whereby stone-throwers can be targeted with live fire, allowing Israeli forces to open fire when they determine that the life of a third party is under threat. Arguing that the new law gifts Israeli soldiers with wide discretion for determining this “threat,” PLO Secretary-General Saeb Erekat described the measures as “a mere pretext to justify the escalating Israeli crimes against the people of Palestine.” He said the new laws would expand the level under which Palestinians may be directly targeted by Israeli forces. “The Israeli government continues to incite against Palestinian lives, with a culture of hate that dehumanizes a whole nation,” Erekat said. Erekat said the PLO would hold Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the members of the security cabinet responsible for “the new crimes to be committed under this new regulation,” adding that any violations of international law carried out under the new law would be reported to the International Criminal Court (ICC) . . . Israeli rights group B’Tselem warned last week that the approval of live fire against stone throwers in occupied East Jerusalem would “exacerbate the cycle of violence with lethal results” rather than restore order in the city.
Is Bibi using J’lem violence as an excuse to target all Arabs? / John Brown* & Mihal Rotem
+972 Blog 27 Sept — Netanyahu is trying to expand the open-fire regulations so that they target Arabs inside Israel. The outcome? Only more bloodshed — For the past few weeks it has been difficult not to avoid reports on stone throwing in East Jerusalem. Government representatives compete with one another over who will offer up the firmest way to deal with these youth in order to “do away with this phenomenon.” Of course none of them offers dealing with neglected East Jerusalem, the discrimination, the home demolitions, and the fact that 75 percent of East Jerusalem residents — and 84 percent of children there — live below the poverty line, or the fact that there is no framework to take care of children and teenagers after school is over. It is strange that not a single politician has offered to shoot settlers when they throw stones following the demolition of their illegal structures in the West Bank. The opposite is true: they are granted hundreds of new housing units . . . So why is Netanyahu wrapping up the issues of Jerusalem and the Negev in one fancy package, especially when the issue of stone throwing is a minor one in the south? It’s unclear. One possible reason is that Netanyahu is a seasoned campaigner, he knows that the next election campaign begins where the previous one ends, and so that his voters go out in droves when he tells them that the Arabs are going out in droves to vote . . . But there is another, more frightening option . . . Netanyahu does not respond to past events — he responds to future ones. He knows that the process of dispossession will meet severe resistance, and he is laying down the legal infrastructure that will allow widespread use of live fire against Bedouin children and teenagers. It is unlikely that disproportional police violence will bring an end to this resistance; it is much likelier that it will only increase the violence, which will allow the government to justify taking care of “the Bedouin problem,” using the excuse of “security” to continue dispossessing the residents of their land in the Negev.
New clashes as Israeli forces raid Al-Aqsa Mosque compound
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an/AFP) 28 Sept — Israeli forces raided the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound on Monday and deployed heavily in the courtyard, leading to clashes with Palestinian worshipers ahead of the Jewish holiday of Sukkot. Officials from the Palestinian Authority Ministry of Endowment told Ma‘an that dozens of Israeli forces raided the holy site and fired stun grenades and rubber-coated steel bullets “haphazardly” in the area. Sources with the Jordanian-run organisation that administers the site, the Waqf, told AFP that police stun grenades provoked four fires inside the building that were brought under control. Around 15 snipers deployed on the roof of the southern mosque, while Israeli forces in riot gear were stationed in the main courtyards. Witnesses said Israeli forces closed the doors of the southern mosque with chains and forcibly evacuated worshipers from the area through the Hatta Gate. Locals also said that Israeli soldiers used hammer drills and oxy-fuel welding tools to remove several windows from the mosque. Only the Hatta, Chain, and Council Gates were open for Palestinians to access the holy site, with worshipers performing dawn prayers outside of the compound early Monday . . . Recent weeks have seen a series of Jewish holidays during which there has been an uptick in visits by Jews that have sparked repeated clashes. The same situation is feared over Sukkot.
Israel imposes severe Aqsa entry restrictions ahead of Jewish festival
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 27 Sept — Israeli police on Sunday imposed severe entry restrictions on Palestinians to the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound ahead of an eight-day Jewish festival. Israeli police prevented all Palestinian men under 50 from accessing the site while holding the IDs of those men that were allowed to enter. There were no age restrictions on Palestinian women. Witnesses said that large numbers of Palestinian men performed evening prayers outside the mosque compound’s gates after they were prevented from entering. Earlier Sunday saw clashes across the compound after Israeli police stormed the holy site and fired rubber-coated steel bullets and stun grenades at Palestinian protesters. During the four-day Muslim Eid al-Adha holiday that ended Sunday, non-Muslims were prevented from accessing the compound, while age restrictions on Palestinians were lifted. However, tensions rose sharply ahead of the eight-day Jewish Sukkut festival, which began Sunday evening and is expected to see large numbers of Jews visit the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound. Palestinian protesters on Sunday were reportedly preparing “to defend” the compound during the festival, stocking stones inside the southern mosque and planning to sleep in it. Right-wing Jewish organizations have reportedly called on Jews to visit the compound in coming days, while Palestinian leaders in Israel have called on Palestinians to “protect” the mosque compound “in masses.” Palestinians have expressed fears that Israel is seeking to change rules governing the site, with far-right Jewish groups pushing for more access to the compound and even efforts by fringe organisations to erect a new temple.
Isolating 21 Palestinians from Al-Aqsa Mosque and the city of Jerusalem
SILWAN, Jerusalem (SILWANIC) 27 Sept — The occupation authorities isolated 10 young Jerusalemite men for periods that varied between two weeks and 6 months from Al-Aqsa Mosque. Wadi Hilweh Information Center was informed that the occupation forces stormed into several houses in the city, arrested the young men and handed them calls for interrogation at Al-Qishleh police center; they were then handed the isolation orders. They are: Thaer Zghayyar, Abdullah Nimer (2 weeks), Mohammad Arafeh (6 months), Ibrahim Abu Sneineh, Walid Tufaha, Nour Shalabi, Mohammad Hashlamon and Mahmoud Jundi (two months), Amir Bilbeisi (one month) and Mustafa Hashlamon. In a related matter, four young men from the 1948 lands were isolated from Al-Aqsa Mosque. They are: Amin Abu Diab, Sindbad Taha, Sheikh Fouad Abu Qmeir and Khalil Akri. Also, people from the 1948 lands were ordered to stay away from the city of Jerusalem for periods between two weeks and three months. Sheikh Hussam Abu Leil, second deputy for the Islamic movement in the 1948 lands, Ala’ Abu Al-Hayja’, Mahdi Masalha, Dr. Hikmat Na’amneh and the photographer of Al-Jazeera Live TV, Omar Siam, were handed orders of staying away from Jerusalem for two weeks whike Wisam Sweiti was ordered to stay away for three months.
A play date at Al-Aqsa / Sayed Kashua
Haaretz 27 Sept — . . . “So who is behind all this?” the anchor of a major TV news program asked, as he, his correspondents, his commentators and his interviewees kept repeating the same phrases: stone-throwing terror, firebomb terror, waves of murderous terror, the terror of Islamic rioters. You really don’t know who’s behind it? Have you been to Jabal Mukaber lately? Have you ever been to Silwan? Have you wandered through the alleys, visited the schools there? Have you seen the homes of the settlers and the buildings of their not-for-profit associations? Did you ask what the parents do, what their income level is, or about future development plans and the number of demolition orders that have been issued? And now they want to take Al-Aqsa away from the children of the eastern part of the city, too? And people ask what’s behind it? I will not talk about Al-Aqsa in any religious sense; call it the Temple Mount, or whatever you want. I will talk about it as the only place where the children of the Old City and the adjacent neighborhoods have to play. The only venue for which a play date can be set. I will talk about it as a garden, as the only place in the Old City that is not choked with buildings, dirt and the distress of everyday life. I used to walk a great deal in the plaza outside the mosque there when I lived in Jerusalem. I never prayed there. I also took my kids there, until they started to ask my daughter to cover her head. Many children go there, because they have nowhere else to go to. It’s a beautiful, magical plaza, far from the overcrowding and duress that lurk behind every Arab door in the Old City. Every child knows that it’s the loveliest place in the Arab part of the city. That you can play there, dream and imagine a different reality there – one with a bit of hope. And even though Israeli police are present at the entrances, the compound is free of direct Israeli rule. But now you won’t even leave that small area to the Arab children, whether in the name of the Temple or in the name of Israeli sovereignty, freedom of worship, archaeology and Israeli security?
Abbas, Sisi discuss Israeli violations at Aqsa
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 26 Sept — Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and his Egyptian counterpart Abdul Fattah al-Sisi met in New York Saturday to discuss potential action to halt Israeli violations in occupied East Jerusalem, Egyptian media reported.Egyptian media reports said the two discussed the Palestinian Authority’s plan on the ground and at an international level to stop increasing Israeli violations at the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound in East Jerusalem.They also reportedly discussed other regional issues, with no further details provided.
Hamas says fighter dies in Gaza smuggling tunnel
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 28 Sept — A member of the Al-Qassam Brigades died on Monday inside a smuggling tunnel in the Gaza Strip, Hamas said. The fighter was identified as Majid al-Sakani from the Shuja‘iyya neighborhood of Gaza City. Hamas did not give details about how, or where, the fighter died. [He looks to have been severely burned at some point]
Egypt leader defends ‘security measures’ along Gaza border
CAIRO (AFP) 26 Sept – Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi on Saturday said the security measures taken by his country along the border with Gaza were not aimed at “harming” Palestinians. “The measures taken by Egypt to secure its eastern borders are in full coordination with the Palestinian Authority and cannot have the aim of harming our Palestinian brothers in the Gaza Strip,” Sisi was quoted as saying in a statement sent by his office. “The measures seek to protect the Egyptian borders and maintain Egyptian and Palestinian national security,” it added. The Egyptian leader reportedly made the comments during a meeting with Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas in New York, where they are attending the United Nations General Assembly. Egypt began creating a wide buffer zone along the Gaza border in late 2014 in a bid to destroy the hundreds of smuggling tunnels Cairo says are used by Palestinian activists to deliver weapons to jihadists who are battling Egyptian forces in the Sinai peninsula. In recent weeks, Egypt has also been carrying out digging work in the area that Palestinians believe is intended to flood the last remaining tunnels between Gaza and the Sinai. The work has been criticised by Hamas, the Palestinian Islamist movement that runs the Gaza Strip, with chief Ismail Haniyeh on Thursday accusing Egypt of further besieging the enclave, which is already under an Israeli blockade.
PA must take control of Gaza crossings, Sissi tells Abbas
Timed of Israel 27 Sept — The Palestinian Authority must take charge of the crossings in and out of the Gaza Strip, and restore control to the coastal area, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi told PA President Mahmoud Abbas in a meeting Saturday in New York, Al Jazeera reported. The two met on the sidelines of a United Nations summit on climate change, as world leaders gathered in New York for the annual UN General Assembly, the report said. During the meeting, Sissi said PA control over the Gaza access points would have major impact on the Rafah crossing between the Strip and Egypt.
Israel closes Gaza crossings for Jewish holiday
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 28 Sept — Israeli authorities closed the Kerem Shalom and Erez crossings between Israel and the Gaza Strip on Monday for the Jewish Sukkot holiday. An official at the Palestinian liaison department told Ma‘an that more closures would follow in coming days during the eight-day Jewish festival, although he said the crossings would be open on Tuesday. The crossings were partially open on Sunday . . . Earlier this month, the crossings were closed during the Jewish new year holiday as well the Yom Kippur holiday. The Kerem Shalom crossing in southern Gaza is a vital entry point for goods into the Israeli-blockaded coastal territory, while Erez is the only crossing for people traveling between Gaza and Israel, although travel is heavily limited by Israeli authorities.
Anguish and joy from Gaza to Mecca
MECCA (Al Jazeera) 26 Sept — Hussain Tarneesi had never crossed a bridge or walked near a wide, paved road in his life. Tarneesi, who is from the besieged Palestinian enclave of Gaza, had never stood in front of a skyscraper or a shopping centre. He had never been out of the territory where infrastructure is severely lacking after repeated Israeli military campaigns, which flattened many neighbourhoods. This week, at the age of 55, Tarneesi boarded a plane for the first time in his life and headed to Saudi Arabia, discovering the marks of a modern city. The glare of Jeddah and Mecca was riveting, he said, but it was the sight of the Kaaba, the holiest structure in Islam, that caused him to collapse in tears. “I started crying because I wasn’t even hoping to see it,” he told Al Jazeera, wiping away more tears. “I didn’t expect to get a permit. It was a shock. When I saw the Kaaba, I started crying from happiness.” Travel for Tarneesi and hundreds of thousands of others in Gaza is next to impossible. Israel has imposed a blockade on Gaza – which residents refer to as an “open-air prison” – since 2007. Gaza’s only other neighbour, Egypt, opens the border crossing of Rafah for a few weeks each year. For a few days earlier this month, the crossing was opened to allow pilgrims to fly to Saudi Arabia through Cairo’s airport. The five-hour trip from Gaza to Cairo’s airport took 13 hours by bus, pilgrims told Al Jazeera. They said they were told by Egyptian authorities that the bus had to reroute for unspecified security reasons. Saudi Arabia this year offered to fully fund the Hajj journeys of 1,000 Palestinians, half from Gaza and the other half from the occupied West Bank. The majority of pilgrims were family members of Palestinians killed in Israeli military operations. “I am someone who has no money, someone who is not allowed to travel. Suddenly, the doors of heaven opened for me. I look at the streets here, and I think I am entering into heaven,” Tarneesi said. Under the Kaaba, the black cube at the centre of Mecca’s Grand Mosque, Tarneesi felt he could finally let go of his composure and sob. He prayed for his son, who was killed at 21 during clashes with Israel in 2004. “They shot him dead, 10 metres away from me. Every time I remember him I cry. He was engaged … I couldn’t even see him get married,” Tarneesi told Al Jazeera in the Mecca hotel that is accommodating the Palestinian pilgrims.
VIDEO: From Gaza to Makkah
Al Jazeera 26 Sept 1:48 min — “We (Muslims) want to see the Kaaba and imagine the prophets Abraham and Adam were here. To walk where the Prophet Muhammad walked.” Every year, 500 Palestinians from Gaza are given grants to go to Mecca for Hajj, the annual pilgrimage of the Islamic faith. Some have never left Gaza before. Al Jazeera’s Basma Atassi speaks to them about the experience.
Israel breaches truce, opens machine gunfire on Gazan civilian homes
GAZA (PIC) 26 Sept — The Israeli occupation soldiers afternoon Friday opened heavy machine-gun fire on Palestinian civilian homes and agricultural lands east of the blockaded Gaza Strip, flagrantly violating the Cairo-brokered ceasefire accord. A PIC news correspondent quoted Palestinian locals as reporting that Israeli army jeeps and patrols deployed near military watchtowers at the border fence unleashed random spates of machine gunfire on Palestinian civilian homes and cultivated land lots in the al-Shuja‘iya neighborhood, in eastern Gaza. The blockaded Gaza Strip has frequently been subjected to Israeli machine-gun fire and limited incursions in what observers branded a barefaced violation of the Cairo-brokered truce deal struck in the wake of summer 2014 Israeli aggression on the besieged coastal enclave.
IOF arrests 3 Palestinians for trying to cross the security fence in Gaza
GAZA (PIC) 26 Sept — Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) arrested three Palestinians for trying to cross the security fence in eastern Gaza Strip Friday evening. Local sources revealed that the IOF arrested three unarmed young Palestinian men at the security fence to the east of Central Gaza and transferred the arrested to a nearby military camp. Palestinians’ attempts to sneak into the 1948 Occupied Palestine for work purposes have increased recently due to the continuation of the siege on the blockaded enclave leading to hard economic conditions. Over 140 Palestinians have been arrested since last November.
In Gaza no figures can express the sorrow
GAZA STRIP, Occupied Palestine 26 Sept by ISM Gaza Team — I don’t know if pain can destroy or fortify, I only know that pain changes everything. I also know that the recollection of such suffering shall remain, has to remain in my memory. At the beginning of the Israeli aggression, the first days of last July, I had promised myself not to forget the names of the children that were killed, those who I photographed horrified in the nightmare’s morgues in Gaza under fire. In that moment I didn’t know that it would be impossible to keep that promise. More than 500 names of children, destroyed by bombs should be now pronounced by my voice, one by one. However, I do not forget, I can not nor want to forget. The crimes and brutality do not deserve forgetfulness nor forgiveness, only rage. An unmitigated rage that drives us to act, to fight to prevent that their murders go unpunished, so that death won’t be in vain, even though the death of children always is. They are gone, we cannot bring them back to life, but we can, have to punish their executioners. It is 10 am and several drones’ fire impact onto a house in Deir Al Balah while a Bulldozer recovers the remains of a family, buried under a one-ton bomb dropped by a F-16, those that leave craters, smoke and smell of death, where before were homes, affections, dreams, lives.The ambulance fills with wounded persons in seconds, a man enters carrying a small body of a child about six or seven years old, the boy lacks the right calf, his foot is hanging from a tendon or a shred of skin, I don’t know, I don’t want to look, but I do . . . .
In Gaza, it may not be perfect but it’s Eid
[with PHOTOS] MEE 25 Sept by Mohammed Omer — Despite all the hardships and ongoing blockade, Gazans of all ages attempt to enjoy Eid celebrations with loved ones — The mosque loudspeakers are busy sending out messages of welcome, mostly from children chanting the special Eid Takbeer. At 6am in West Rafah, the street is filled with adults and children, including little Ismail shouting to his younger brother, Zuhdi, also heading towards Bilal Ben Rabah mosque. Some of the people are leading cows and sheep to be sacrificed for the celebration after Eid sunrise prayers, their meat is distributed among the poor so they can celebrate too. Eid al-Adha marks the end of the Muslim Hajj by sacrificing precious livestock to mark reverence to Prophet Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice his son – Ismail – on God’s command. Down the street, more women are heading towards the local mosque. For Umm Ahmed, 55 years old, it is a very special day when women attend Eid prayers and get the chance to chat with the other ladies. “We also use this joyful occasion to remember those we have loved and lost during last year’s war,” says Umm Ahmed, who lost her young brother-in-law in an Israeli airstrike. Everyone is heading towards something on the first day of Eid – whether it be joy or mourning.
10 injured as amusement ride collapses in Gaza City
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 26 Sept — Ten Palestinians were injured on Saturday when an amusement park “discovery” ride collapsed in a park in southern Gaza City.Ashraf al-Qidra, the spokesperson for Gaza’s Ministry of Health, said that 10 Palestinians, including an elderly woman, were injured in the accident. He said that they were taken to al-Shifa Medical Center, where three were reported as being in moderate condition.
Wounded child detainee could lose his leg
[with photo] IMEMC 28 Sept — The Palestinian Detainees Committee has reported, Sunday, that detained wounded child, ‘Issa ‘Adnan ‘Abdul-Mo’ty, 13 years of age, currently hospitalized at the Hadassah Israeli medical center in Jerusalem, could lose his leg. Lawyer Tareq Barghouth of the Detainees’ Committee said the child, from Bethlehem, was shot and injured on September 18 with an Israeli dumdum bullet, near the northern entrance of Bethlehem city. Barghouth managed to visit the wounded child, to find him cuffed and shackled to his hospital bed despite his serious injuries, in addition to the fact that Israeli soldiers guard his room. “His health condition is very serious; the doctors might even have to amputate his right leg,” the lawyer said, “Yet, he is shackled to his hospital bed…” The lawyer further stated that the Detainees’ Committee is trying to secure the child’s release due to his serious injuries and his very young age. The wounded child underwent surgery on his leg, but it failed. “Shooting children, especially with bullets that expand upon impact, is illegal and immoral,” he added, “And yet, the Israeli government has granted the soldiers a green light to even use sniper rifles against Palestinians who throw stones on the military.”
PA: Israel ‘trying to kill’ hunger striking Palestinian prisoners
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 27 Sept — The Palestinian Authority’s committee for prisoners’ affairs on Sunday said that Israeli authorities have thus far refused the committee’s requests for seven Palestinian hunger strikers to be transferred to hospitals for treatment. In a statement, the committee accused Israel of “trying to kill” seven hunger striking prisoners who have been on strike for 40 days, alleging that the “Israeli government is wearing down the prisoners on purpose in order to force them to end their hunger strike by depriving them of medical treatment and sending them to prison wards where criminal prisoners are being held.” The statement pointed out that the prisoners’ committee had submitted an emergency appeal to Israel’s High Court, asking the court to order the prisoners’ hospital transfers. A spokesperson for the Israeli Prison Service told Ma‘an over the phone on Sunday that the ISP could confirm the prisoners had not been transferred to hospitals, stating that the prisoners had “only been [hunger striking] for 30 days, and they are not required to be moved to a hospital until after 35 days.” However, Ma‘an first reported that at least five of the hunger strikers began their strike on Aug. 18, exactly 40 days before. The prisoners’ committee said the striking prisoners are in dire need of medical treatment, reporting that the men have lost “all power and strength.”
Other news, analysis
Palestinian Christian schools end strike after temporary agreement
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 27 Sept — Thousands of Palestinian schoolchildren will attend school for the first time this academic year, after Palestinian Christian schools in Israel announced the end of a nearly month-long strike on Sunday. Abdel Massih Fahim, a Franciscan priest and director of the Catholic church’s Custody of the Holy Land which oversees the Christian schools, told Ma‘an that the 47 Christian schools across Israel had reached a temporary agreement with Israel’s Ministry of Education. The agreement will see the ministry allocate a one-time payment of 50 million shekels ($12.6 million) to the Christian schools. “Tomorrow morning, we are happy to say we will open the schools,” Fahim told Ma‘an. “We arrived at an agreement with the Ministry of Education, but I want to stress that this is not a final agreement.” Fahim said the schools had created a committee to continue negotiations with the Israeli government in order to come to a permanent solution for the budget constraints and lack of funding experienced by Palestinian Christian schools in Israel. “Until we achieve complete equality we will not accept a permanent agreement,” Fahim said. “We don’t accept that this current agreement is equality, but through the committee we have created, we will explain why we have the right for equality and we will demand better in the future.” The strike, which affected 33,000 Palestinian pupils — 40 percent of which are Muslim — as well as 3,000 staff, was announced last month, with parents and school officials accusing the government of discrimination in funding their establishments. Christian schools in Israel reportedly receive a third of what the Israeli government allocates to Jewish schools.
Abbas to meet with world leaders around UN General Assembly
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 27 Sept — Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas is scheduled to meet with a number of international officials in New York this week, as world leaders gather in the city for the United Nation’s 70th General Assembly, the Palestinian foreign minister told Fatah-affiliated Mawtini radio on Sunday. Riyad al-Maliki said President Abbas will meet with a number of foreign ministers from Arab countries in order to help prepare the agenda for an upcoming meeting between Arab leaders and the Middle East Quartet, an international body involved in mediating the peace process in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. In addition, he is also scheduled to meet with the foreign minister of Norway, prime minister of Poland and the Emir of Qatar. Abbas will also meet with Egyptian president Abdul-Fattah al-Sisi to discuss bilateral relations between Egypt and Palestine and the possibility of renewed peace talks with Israel, among other things, al-Maliki said. Al-Maliki also said the president is scheduled to deliver a speech before the General Assembly on Wednesday, where he is expected to urge the international community to “commit to its responsibilities” concerning Palestine. The speech, he added, will reflect the reality of the Palestinian people’s daily life in light of Israel’s violations concerning the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound, lack of commitment to the Oslo Accord and the “foiling of all efforts” to achieve peace.
French FM to attend Palestinian flag-raising at UN
UNITED NATIONS (AFP) 26 Sept — French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said Saturday he will attend a ceremony next week to raise the Palestinian flag at the United Nations, despite opposition from Israel and the United States. The Palestinians have invited hundreds of leaders to attend the event on Wednesday in the presence of president Mahmud Abbas. Fabius told reporters in New York that his presence at the ceremony would highlight France’s “continued support for a two-state solution.” “We cannot allow the two-state solution to fall apart before our eyes,” he said. “We cannot risk seeing Daesh take over the Palestinian cause,” he said, referring to the Islamic State group that now controls parts of Syria and Iraq . . . UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon is planning to attend the flag-raising event held just after Abbas takes the podium at the General Assembly to deliver his address. On that same day, Ban will be hosting a meeting of the diplomatic quarter seeking a political settlement to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. In a shift, Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and the Arab League have been invited to the meeting along with the foreign ministers of Russia, the United States and EU foreign affairs chief Federica Mogherini.
Palestinians excluded from Israel police map of southern West Bank
[includes photos of map] Haaretz 27 Sept by Amira Hass — The map of the Hebron region used by the Israel Police excludes all the Palestinian villages and communities in the area, other than the three big cities, and omits written data about the Palestinian population. In the map’s segmentation of the terrain between “built-up” and “open” areas, the populated Palestinian areas are included under “open.” . . . The map, a photograph of which was obtained by Haaretz, is framed and hangs on the wall in the patrol room of the Kiryat Arba-Hebron police station. It consists of a large information board, in the center of which is the map. Only the cities of Bethlehem, Halhul and Hebron appear on the map, alongside Israeli settlements (but excluding unauthorized outposts.) The other Palestinian cities, towns, villages, shepherding communities – together numbering more than 200 localities – don’t appear. Areas A, B and C as defined by the Oslo Accords are color coded. The police don’t operate in Area A, but are authorized to operate in areas B and C, in other words to enter the dozens of villages and communities in those areas. They are also authorized to detain, arrest and issue traffic tickets to any Palestinian traveling the roads in Area C. The information section of the map puts the “number of residents” at 82,000. An asterisk points to a note that reads “Irrespective of the Palestinian population.” The religious segmentation of the area is given as 99.6 percent Jews and 0.4 percent others.
Black labor: How a white elite uses black soldiers to enforce its will
Haokets 25 Sept Photos by Mari Milstein, text by Tom Mehager — A new photo project focuses on the soldiers of Israel’s Border Police, the main military unit used to enforce the occupation of the Palestinians. Shot in various locations across Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories, ‘Black Labor’ looks at the points of impact where Israel’s elite pits black Jews against Palestinians — Mati Milstein’s “Black Labor” project reveals the face of the “Second Israel,” the antithesis of those Israelis who have always been viewed as the “salt of the earth.” When the parents of those photographed arrived to this country, the establishment viewed them as both morally and intellectually inferior — people who need to be re-socialized in order to become a part of the State of Israel’s moral regime. . . .
Israeli universities still failing Arab students when it comes to inclusion
Haaretz 27 Sept by Yarden Skop — Institutions are trying to attract Arab students to fill lecture halls, but in many instances they ignore requests for Arabic signage or websites. Arab faculty, meanwhile, are nearly nonexistent —An examination found that only Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Tel Aviv University and the University of Haifa have Arabic signage, and even then it is only in central locations. Bar-Ilan University, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, Technion – Israel Institute of Technology, Haifa, and Ariel University (in the West Bank) have no Arabic signage at all. And only the University of Haifa and Hebrew University make Muslim and Christian holidays official vacation days. In addition, the university’s websites only feature partial Arabic versions, with Arab content often difficult to access. Over the years, only a few university conferences – mostly dealing with the Middle East – have been conducted in Arabic, an official state language and the native language of 20 percent of the population . . . “There is a correlation between the low status of Arabic and the low status of Arab citizens,” said Yonatan Mendel, an Arabic language researcher from the Van Leer Institute, “and one of the ways to promote equality in Israel and a positive attitude toward Arabic culture is by changing the attitude toward the language. We are not trying to make any university bilingual. By promoting conferences in Arabic, we are drawing attention to the fact that there are a lot of conferences in English and there are conferences in French – but holding a conference in Arabic is not seen as obvious. It’s as if the language didn’t exist.”
Court calling for indictment of ‘inciting’ rabbi
Haaretz 27 Sept by Chaim Levinson — Two organizations petitioned the High Court of Justice on Thursday, asking it to order the state to indict a rabbi for writing an article six years ago that allegedly incited to violence. Rabbi Yosef Elitzur teaches at the Od Yosef Chai yeshiva, an institution considered a hotbed of right-wing extremism that’s located in the West Bank settlement of Yitzhar. He is also coauthor of the controversial book “Torah Hamelech,” which discusses the circumstances under which Jewish law would permit Jews to kill non-Jews. He was banned from entering Britain in 2011 as a result of writing the book. The article that is the subject of the petition, “Mutual Responsibility,” was published in late 2009 on the website Hakol Hayehudi, and includes the line, “If the Jews have no peace, Arabs should also have no peace.” But despite the almost-six years that have since elapsed, the attorney general still hasn’t decided whether to file charges. The petitioners – the Reform movement’s Israel Religious Action Center and the Tag Meir organization – argue that this lengthy delay is so unreasonable as to be illegal. Moreover, the petition said, “It is clear that, today, the destructive and horrifying influence of the statements made in this article is no longer a hypothetical assessment … The events of the last summer proved that incitement doesn’t end with acts like hateful graffiti, uprooting olive trees and puncturing car tires, but is translated into murder for racist motives.” The latter refers to an arson attack that killed three members of the Dawabsheh family and seriously wounded a fourth in the West Bank village of Duma in July. Jewish extremists are presumed to be behind the attack . . . .
Israel’s army and schools work hand in hand, say teachers
HAIFA (MEE) 27 Sept by Jonathan Cook — The task for Israeli pupils: to foil an imminent terror attack on their school. But if they are to succeed, they must first find the clues using key words they have been learning in Arabic. Arabic lesson plans for Israel’s Jewish schoolchildren have a strange focus. Those matriculating in the language can rarely hold a conversation in Arabic. And almost none of the hundreds of teachers introducing Jewish children to Israel’s second language are native speakers, even though one in five of the population belong to the country’s Palestinian minority. The reason, says Yonatan Mendel, a researcher at the Van Leer Institute in Jerusalem, is that the teaching of Arabic in Israel’s Jewish schools is determined almost exclusively by the needs of the Israeli army. Mendel’s recent research shows that officers from a military intelligence unit called Telem design much of the Arabic language curriculum. “Its involvement is what might be termed an ‘open secret’ in Israel,” he told MEE. “The military are part and parcel of the education system. The goal of Arabic teaching is to educate the children to be useful components in the military system, to train them to become intelligence officers.” Telem is a branch of Unit 8200, dozens of whose officers signed a letter last year revealing that their job was to pry into Palestinians’ sex lives, money troubles and illnesses. The information helped with “political persecution”, “recruiting collaborators” and “driving parts of Palestinian society against itself”, the officers noted. Mendel said Arabic was taught “without sentiment”, an aim established in the state’s earliest years. “The fear was that, if students had a good relationship with the language and saw Arabs as potential friends, they might cross over to the other side and they would be of no use to the Israeli security system. That was the reason the field of Arabic studies was made free of Arabs.” . . . The teaching of Arabic is only one of the ways the Israel Defence Forces (IDF), as the Israeli military is known, reaches into Israeli classrooms, teachers and education experts have told MEE.
Israel hits back after Golan rockets fired from Syria
JERUSALEM (AFP) 27 Sept — A rocket fired from war-torn Syria strayed into the Israeli-occupied sector of the Golan Heights Sunday, prompting the Israeli army to respond after the second such incident in as many days. The Israeli military said the rocket crashed into a field without causing any casualties or damage, but that the Syrian army would be held to account for any spillover that violated the Jewish state’s sovereignty. It said that it was the result of Syria’s conflict in which various factions are fighting against the regime of President Bashar al-Assad, as well as each other. The Israeli army later retaliated with artillery fire against two Syrian army positions located on the Golan, said a military spokeswoman. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the Israeli fire targeted army positions in a town in southwest Quneitra province, on the Golan. At least three or four Israeli strikes hit a regime military position inside Saryeh, near the regime’s administrative capital of Baath City, said Observatory head Rami Abdel Rahman. They were fired from inside the occupied Golan Heights, he said, but did not have details on any casualties.
Hostile intelligence: Reflections from a visit to the West Bank / David Graeber
International Times 20 July 2015 — . . . . For most, it’s as if the very texture of everyday life has been designed to be intolerable — only, in a way that you can never quite say is exactly a human rights violation. There’s never enough water. Showering requires almost military discipline. You can’t get a permit. You’re always standing in line. If something breaks it’s impossible to get permission to fix it. Or else you can’t get spare parts. There are four different bodies of law that might apply to any legal situation (Ottoman, British, Jordanian, Israeli), it’s anyone’s guess which court will say what applies where, or what document is required, or acceptable. Most rules are not even supposed to make sense. It can take eight hours to drive 20 kilometers to see your girlfriend, and doing so will almost certainly mean having machine guns waved in your faces and being shouted at in a language you half understand by people who think you’re subhuman. So you do most of your dalliance by phone. When you can afford the minutes. There are endless traffic jams before and after checkpoints and drivers bicker and curse and try not to take it out on one another. Everyone lives no more than 12 or 15 miles from the Mediterranean but even on the hottest day, it’s absolutely impossible to get to the beach. Unless you climb the wall, there are places you can do that; but then you can expect to be hunted every moment by security patrols. Of course teenagers do it anyway. But it means swimming is always accompanied by the fear of being shot. If you’re a trader, or a laborer, or a driver, or a tobacco farmer, or clerk, the very process of subsistence is continual stream of minor humiliations. Your tomatoes are held and left two days to rot while someone grins at you. You have to beg to get your child out of detention. And if you do go to beseech the guards, those same guards might arbitrarily decide to hold you to pressure him to confess to rock-throwing, and suddenly you are in a concrete cell without cigarettes. Your toilet backs up. And you realize: you’re going to have to live like this forever. There is no “political process.” It will never end. Barring some kind of divine intervention, you can expect to be facing exactly this sort of terror and absurdity for the rest of your natural life. But when someone does snap under the pressure, and, say, stabs a soldier at a checkpoint, or joins a cell to shoot at settlers, there’s no one specific act one can point to that seems to justify what seems like an act of disproportionate madness . . .
But what of the policies towards the Palestinians? How does that make any sort of sense? . . . The only answer that makes sense is that the Israel forces want the Palestinians to seethe; they want there to be resistance; but they also want to ensure that political resistance is completely ineffective. They want a population that is compliant on a day-to-day basis, but that periodically explodes, individually or collectively, in an unstrategic and uncoordinated fashion that can represented to the outside world as irrational demonic madness. And why would they wish to do this? Almost every Arab political analyst I talked to considered the answer self-evident. Israel’s economy has become largely dependent on the high-tech arms trade, and the supply of complex electronic “security” systems. Israel is today the world’s fourth largest arms exporter, after the US, Russia, and UK (it has recently pushed back France to #5). This is actually quite a feat for such a tiny country. But as everyone also hastens to add: Israeli arms and security systems have an enormous advantage over their rivals, one Israeli firms never fail to emphasize in their promotional literature. They are extensively field-tested. This new type of shell that was used to destroy tunnels in Gaza! This new type of random-distribution tear gas dispenser was successfully used against protesters in the Balata refugee camp . . . .