Health ministry: 142 Palestinians killed including 27 minors since October 1 2015
RAMALLAH (WAFA) 29 Dec – Since early October 2015, Israeli army forces have killed 142 Palestinians including 27 minors and seven women; in addition to 15,620 Palestinians who were injured during clashes with Israeli soldiers in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, according to the Palestinian Ministry of Health. In a statement Tuesday, Ministry of Health stated that 1,887 Palestinians were injured with live ammunition and 3,104 were injured with rubber-coated metal bullets. Red Crescent crews provided medical treatment for 1,974 injured Palestinians on the scene, according to the Ministry of Health. The statement mentioned 10,231 Palestinians suffocated by inhaling tear gas, while 360 Palestinians suffered from bruises and fractures due to Israeli army and settlers’ frequent attacks. Meanwhile, 38 Palestinians suffered from burns during various clashes with Israeli soldiers, the statement added.
Killings — West Bank, Jerusalem
2 Palestinians killed after stabbing Israeli soldier in Huwwara
NABLUS (Ma‘an) 27 Dec — Two Palestinians were shot dead after stabbing an Israeli soldier in the village of Huwwara south of Nablus in the occupied West Bank, locals and Israel’s army said. An Israeli army spokesperson told Ma‘an that two Palestinians stabbed and wounded a soldier before Israeli forces on site opened fire, resulting in the death of both attackers. The spokesperson said that initial reports suggested that an additional soldier was injured as a result of fire directed towards the attackers. One Israeli soldier received stab wounds to the face, while the other was injured by a gunshot wound to the leg, according to Israeli media. Both soldiers were evacuated to a hospital for medical treatment. Locals identified the Palestinians as Muhammad Rafiq Hussien Sabana [Saba‘aneh],17, and Noor al-Deen Muhammad Abdul-Qadir Sabana, 23. The Huwwara area — particularly the military checkpoint next to the village — has been site to frequent confrontation between local Palestinians and Israeli military and settlers in recent months.
Palestinian killed after vehicular attack at military checkpoint
NABLUS (Ma‘an) 26 Dec — Israeli soldiers opened fire on and killed a Palestinian at a military checkpoint near Nablus after he rammed his vehicle into forces on site, locals and Israel’s army said. An Israeli army spokesperson told Ma‘an that a Palestinian approached the Huwwara military checkpoint and “rammed his car into security forces manning the position,” injuring one soldier. Locals in the area at the time said that the driver — identified as Maher al-Jabi, 56 — had sped past several vehicles at the checkpoint before forces opened fire. Al-Jabi was critically injured and evacuated by Palestinian medics to the Rafidiya hospital in Nablus where he died shortly after from gunshot wounds to the jaw and neck. The soldier injured in the car-ramming was 20 years of age and sustained light wounds before being taken to Beilinson Hospital in Petah Tikva, according to Israeli media. Israeli military reinforcements were deployed at the checkpoint and closed the road in both directions following the car-ramming.
Family: Musab al-Ghazali ‘killed in cold blood’
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 29 Dec — The family of 26-year-old Musab Mahmoud al-Ghazali on Tuesday accused Israeli forces of “executing him in cold blood.” Musab, who suffered a mental disorder, was shot dead on Dec. 26 after Israeli police say he pulled a knife on an officer in Allenby Square in Jerusalem. However, a witness said at the time that he had not seen a knife in the young man’s hand, and his family denied that he would have carried out an attack. Musab’s parents and brothers were detained from their home and interrogated by Israeli intelligence at the Russian Compound police station in Jerusalem following his death. “We told the interrogators that Musab was a student at the al-Nur School for people with special needs, and had never been affiliated to any political party,” Musab’s brother, Mutaz, told Ma‘an. “He didn’t even know what the word attack means,” Mutaz said. “He suffers from a mental disorder and doesn’t care about politics or about what has been going on. All he cares about is watching TV soap operas.” Mutaz said that Musab left his home on Saturday morning in order to collect scrap metal, a routine task carried out by the 26-year-old in order to make a living. His family was shocked when they later heard that Musab had been killed, Mutaz said, adding that when his brother left for work that morning, he had no idea “the bullets of the occupation were awaiting him.”
Qaraqe‘: Slain Palestinian child beaten to death after being shot by military
[with photo] IMEMC/Agencies 29 Dec — Head of the Prisoners and Ex-Prisoner Affairs, Issa Qaraqe‘, on Tuesday, said that Ma‘moun Al-Khatib (16), from Al-Doha town in Bethlehem, whose body has been returned on Sunday after three weeks of detention, was beaten to death after being shot. He said that there are marks of torture and savage beating on his body, which is the case of other countless Palestinian victims of the Israeli forces. Speaking at the funeral of 16-year-old Ma‘moun Al-Khatib, Qaraqe‘ said that even the most fascist countries would not torture their victims even after killing them, torment their families and place restrictions on their burial or funerals, except for Israel. He said, additionally, that the Israeli retention of Palestinians’ bodies after killing them was a shameful moral stigma that challenges all human and religious values. “Israel has willfully killed civilians and still refuses to return their bodies to their families. The bodies of these victims are violated as worthless carcasses, and when returned, the killer places his own conditions in unprecedented insolence and a doubled crime.” The shooting took place on December 1st, when Israeli forces claimed that the boy tried to stab a soldier on Etzion checkpoint. to the south of Bethlehem. Israel has returned several bodies of slain Palestinians whom they willfully killed over the past few months, and still retains some 50 bodies, refusing to give them back.
PA: Israel returns bodies of 7 slain Palestinians
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 27 Dec — Israeli authorities on Sunday released the bodies of seven Palestinians who were killed by Israeli forces, some of them more than a month earlier, the Palestinian Authority of Civil Affairs told Ma‘an. Ministry officials said the bodies belonged to Muhammad Zahran from Kafr Addik village near Nablus, Mamoon al-Khatib from Bethlehem, Issam Thawabta from the town of Beit Fajjar south of Bethlehem, Samir al-Sarisi from Jenin, Muhammad al-Shubaki from Hebron, Issa al-Huroub from Hebron, and Shadi Matariyya from al-Bireh northwest of Ramallah. Since a wave of unrest swept the occupied Palestinian territory at the beginning of October, Israel has routinely held the bodies of Palestinians it alleges were attempting to attack Israelis when they were killed. Israel’s Public Security Ministry said in mid-October that the bodies of alleged Palestinians attackers would no longer be returned to their families and would instead by buried in “secret.” A spokesperson for the ministry said at the time the decision was made in order to stem protests that frequently accompany the funerals of Palestinians killed by Israeli forces. However, Israel’s withholding of bodies has only further stoked tensions in the occupied Palestinian territory, and Israeli authorities have since returned many of them of them to their families, on what they refer to as a “case-by-case” basis.
Funeral held after Israel returns body of Kafr Ad-Dik Palestinian
SALFIT (Ma‘an) 28 Dec — Hundreds of Palestinians attended the funeral of Muhammad Zahran on Sunday, whose body was held by Israel after he was killed while attacking Israeli security guards days before. The funeral procession set off from the Yasser Arafat public hospital in Salfit towards Zahran’s hometown of Kafr Ad Dik to the north. The body was taken to the Zahran family home where relatives bid their final goodbyes, before carrying his body for burial in the village cemetery. “Muhammad was the youngest of my six sons. He was calm, tolerant and everybody loved him,” his mother told Ma‘an before the funeral. “On Thursday before he left to work he asked me to make tea and I did. We sat for a few minutes and after we finished the tea, his farewell felt different from usual.” Zahran was shot dead on Thursday after he stabbed and wounded two Israeli security guards in the industrial district of the illegal Ariel settlement north of Salfit, the Israeli army said following his death.
Israeli authorities return bodies of 3 Palestinians
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 29 Dec — The Israeli authorities on Tuesday released the bodies of three Palestinians shot dead by Israeli forces after allegedly attacking Israelis. Officials with the Palestinian Civil Affairs told Ma‘an that the bodies of Eyad Idies from Hebron, Baseem Salah from Nablus, and Mazen Araiyba from al-Eizariya had been delivered to them. Idies was shot dead near Hebron on Dec. 24 after he allegedly stabbed an Israeli soldier with a screwdriver, while Salah was killed Nov. 30 after an attack left an Israeli police officer wounded near Jerusalem’s Old City. Araiyba, meanwhile, was shot dead near Hizma on Dec. 3 after he allegedly opened fire on Israeli forces, injuring two of them. Local authorities in Nablus later told Ma‘an that the funeral of 38-year-old Salah would be delayed until Wednesday as his body remained frozen and could not be buried. They added that the Israeli authorities were demanding they bury him on Tuesday.
Israeli police detain 5 after Israeli wedding incited murder
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 30 Dec — Israeli police have arrested five Israelis involved in a Jerusalem wedding ceremony that incited violence towards Palestinians, Israeli media reported Tuesday. The groom of the wedding — reportedly a well-known member of the radical right — was arrested in addition to an Israeli soldier and two minors, Israeli daily Haaretz said. Israeli police also arrested renowned extremist settler Daniel Pinner from the illegal settlement of Tapuah, who was among a number of others seen dancing with a gun in video footage of the wedding ceremony, Haaretz reported, adding that Pinner’s attorney claimed the gun was a toy. Israeli police opened an investigation into the wedding last week after video footage aired by Israel’s Channel 10 went viral. Israeli police spokesperson Luba al-Samri said in a statement at the time that the investigation was opened due to “numerous and serious offenses seen in the video.” The video shows Israelis present at the wedding dancing and singing songs of revenge while waving knives and guns in the air. At one point during the ceremony, a masked Israeli youth waves a firebomb while another stabs a photo of Ali Dawabsha, an 18-month-old Palestinian burned alive in an arson attack carried out by Jewish extremists over the summer. The infant’s parents later died from severe burns, leaving their four-year-old child Ahmad as the sole survivor of the attack. Controversy over the video erupted as Israel’s right slammed Israel’s internal security agency Shin Bet for its investigation into the Dawabsha murders, which has increased internal tensions within the national religious right.
Other Violence / Detentions
Palestinian girl survives kidnap attempt by Jewish settlers in J’lem
OCCUPIED JERUSALEM (PIC) 27 Dec — A 23-year-old Palestinian girl on Saturday evening suffered neck injuries and a trauma after fanatic Jewish settlers attacked her car and physically assaulted her in an attempt to kidnap her in Occupied Jerusalem. A group of masked and armed settlers threw stones and opened fire at the car of Inas Asiyouri and then assaulted her after she lost her way and arrived in Ramot area near Shuafat town, northeast of Jerusalem, according to her husband Samer Asiyouri. The husband explained that the settlers forced his wife to stop and leave her vehicle before one of them grabbed hold of her coat and tried to strangle her, but she managed to slip out of the coat and run away. He added that the settlers stole her cellphone and caused damage to the car, noting that his wife was admitted to Hadassah hospital in Jerusalem for medical treatment.
7-year-old chased by notorious Israeli settler in Hebron
HEBRON (Ma‘an) 29 Dec — A Palestinian father living in Hebron’s Old City told Ma‘an that his 7-year-old daughter was injured while being chased by notorious Israeli extremist Baruch Marzel on Monday. Raed Abu Irmeileh said that he had to take his daughter, Dana, to the Hebron Governmental Hospital “after she had fallen to the ground while being chased by Baruch Marzel near the Ibrahimi mosque.” Irmeileh told Ma‘an that Israeli forces present in the area did not stop Marzel from chasing his children, and assaulted his 10-year-old son Hutasem as well as two brothers Nabil, 14, and Farhat Nader al-Rajabi, 10.
3 Palestinians shot, injured in clashes near Qalqiliya
QALQILIYA (Ma‘an) 27 Dec — Israeli forces on Sunday shot and injured three Palestinians with rubber-coated steel bullets during clashes at the northern entrance to the village of ‘Azzun east of Qalqiliya, medics said. The Palestinian Red Crescent told Ma‘an that in addition to the three who were shot, at least 25 others had suffered excessive tear gas inhalation. Locals told Ma‘an that the clashes broke out after protesters marched to the village’s northern entrance demanding that Israel release 15-year-old Kreman Akram Sweidan, who was detained on Sunday outside a nearby a settlement for alleged possession of a knife.
Israeli forces shoot 2 in Qalandiya refugee camp, detain 3
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 28 Dec — Two Palestinians were shot and injured after Israeli forces on Monday raided the Qalandiya refugee camp north of Jerusalem in the occupied West Bank, detaining three residents. Locals told Ma‘an that the forces stormed the camp at 4:00 a.m. and used explosives to break down apartment doors, ransacking several homes and stores in the camp. Clashes broke out during the raid between the military forces and Palestinian residents of the camp, leaving two injured. An Israeli army spokesperson told Ma‘an that “during an operation to arrest suspects in the Qalandiya refugee camp, a Palestinian crowd assaulted Israeli soldiers, throwing rocks.” The spokesperson said that Israeli forces used tear gas in order to disperse the crowd but that live fire was not used. The spokesperson could not confirm the total number detained, but said that those detained were suspected for “illegal activity.”
Separately, Israeli forces carried out predawn raids in the Ras al-Ein neighborhood of Nablus in the northern West Bank and detained three Palestinian security sources told Ma‘an. Detainees were identifed as 25-year-old Abdul-Halim al-Sayih, 21-year-old Ahmad Sarwan and 19-year-old Adel al-Fakhouri.
Police detain Palestinian after Israeli soldier stabbed in Jerusalem
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 27 Dec — Israeli police Sunday morning detained a Palestinian suspected of stabbing and injuring an Israeli soldier near the central bus station in Jerusalem, police said. Israeli police spokesperson Luba al-Samri said in a statement that a Palestinian man in his 30’s stabbed an Israeli soldier, 21, on Yirmiyahu Street behind the central bus station. The man — identified as Saed Muhammad Qumbuz from al-Eizariya — was held by a security guard on site until he was detained by police who arrived to the scene shortly after. Israel emergency service Magen David Adom said that medics treated the soldier on site, who was in moderate condition and transferred to the Ein Karem branch of Hadassah hospital.
2 Palestinians detained in West Bank for carrying knives
HEBRON (Ma‘an) 27 Dec — Two Palestinians, including a 14-year-old, were detained Sunday for carrying knives during separate incidents in the occupied West Bank. A Palestinian girl reportedly armed with a knife was stopped by Israeli security forces from the illegal Maale Shomron settlement east of Qalqilya, an Israeli army spokesperson told Ma‘an. Israeli media reported that the girl dropped the knife when security drove towards her, before being detained and questioned on scene. Locals identified the girl as Kariman Akram Muhammad Sweidan from the village of ‘Azzun, directly northwest of Maale Shomron. Shortly after, another Palestinian teen was detained for carrying a knife near the Ibrahimi Mosque in Hebron’s Old City in the southern West Bank.
Palestinian detained after alleged stabbing attempt in Jerusalem
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 27 Dec — A Palestinian man was detained in Jerusalem’s Old City on Sunday after he allegedly attempted to stab Israeli police officers as they inspected him. Israeli police spokesperson Luba Samri said that Israeli police officers demanded to see the Palestinian’s identity card after he “raised their suspicions” in the Old City’s Muristan area. Samri alleged that while the officers were inspecting his identity card, the Palestinian raised a knife from “under his shirt” in an attempt to stab them. They were able to overpower and detain the Palestinian before taking him to a nearby police station for interrogation, Samri said. She added that the Palestinian was from al-Bireh northeast of Ramallah.
The occupation forces arrest two children from the village of Esawyeh
SILWAN, Jerusalem (SILWANIC) 29 Dec — The occupation forces arrested on Tuesday two children from the village of Esawyeh. Lawyer Mohammad Mahmoud explained that the forces arrested 14-year old Mohammad Mahmoud Darwish and 13-year old Majd Dari. The lawyer added that the forces accused the children of throwing stones.
A sit-in was held at the entrance of the village of Esawyeh to condemn the closure of one of the village’s entrances since a year and a half ago; members of the Knesset, activists and supporters participated in the sit-in.
10 Palestinians detained in predawn raids
HEBRON (Ma‘an) 27 Dec — Israeli forces on Sunday detained ten Palestinians from across the occupied West Bank, locals and the Israeli army said. In the Hebron-area village of Halhul, locals told Ma‘an that the Israeli military raided the home of Imad al-Sada and detained his sons Suliman and Asem. Nearby in the town of Beit Ummar, local activist Muhammad Ayyad Awad said that Israeli soldiers entered the Khallet al-Ein area of the town and stormed the home of Ibrahim Hamad Zamel abu Maria. Israeli forces also raided the home of Ibrahim’s brother, Bilal, 27, before detaining him. Ibrahim said that Bilal was transferred to the Etzion military site for investigation, adding that his brother had served four years in Israeli jails previously. An Israeli army spokesperson confirmed three arrests made in the Hebron area for “suspected illegal activity.” Two suspected Hamas operatives were also detained from the city of Hebron, and five others detained from other areas of the West Bank.
28 Palestinians detained across occupied West Bank, Jerusalem
HEBRON (Ma‘an) 30 Dec — Israeli forces early Wednesday detained 28 Palestinians from across the occupied West Bank and Jerusalem in search and arrest raids, locals and Israel’s army said. Locals told Ma‘an that Hussni Omar al-Murqtin, 16, Alaa Mazen Dababsah, 24, and Raef Muhammad Ahmad Qabaja, 24, were detained from Tarqumiya west of Hebron after several homes in the village were searched . . . In the Shweika neighborhood of Tulkarem, Israeli forces detained 17-year-old twins Dana and Diana Abdullah Khweiled, as well as Hamza Ahmad Abdul-Karim Hamed, 22, after raiding their homes, the head of the PPS’s Tulkarem branch, Ibrahim Nimer told Ma‘an. Nimer said that Muhammad Yousef Hissien Suliman, 24, was also detained from Tulkarem, adding that more than 200 Palestinians have been detained from Tulkarem since Oct. 1, 82 of whom were detained in December alone. . . .
Gazan succumbs to wounds sustained during Friday demonstation
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 28 Dec — A Palestinian man on Monday died after being shot by Israeli forces during demonstrations in the central Gaza Strip days prior, medics said. Medical sources in Gaza told Ma‘an that 48-year-old Yousif Abu Sbeikha al-Buheiri from the al-Maghazi refugee camp succumbed to gunshot wounds he sustained Friday when Israeli military forces opened fire on protesters. Sbeikha’s death came after another demonstrator, Hani Rafiq Wahdan, 22, was shot in the head near the al-Shujayyia neighborhood during protests in the Gaza Strip on the same day. Last Friday marked the third Friday in a row that Israeli forces shot dead Gazan demonstrators during weekly marches. At least 22 Palestinians have been killed in the Gaza Strip since Oct. 1, the majority shot during demonstrations, and two — a 2-year-old and her pregnant mother — killed in an Israeli airstrike on their home. Palestinians in the Gaza Strip began demonstrations in solidarity with Palestinians in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem when unrest grew in the occupied area in October.
Photos: Funeral of Yousef Abu Sbeikha al-Buheiri, al-Maghazi refugee camp
28 Dec by Hassan Jedi — The funeral of Yousef Abu Spihh [Abu Sbeikha al-Buheiri] 48-year-old resident of Maghazi refugee camp, who died in surgery [of wounds suffered] a week ago following clashes in east of the Gaza Strip.
Hamas affiliate killed in tunnel collapse
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 28 Dec — A Hamas-affiliated militant was killed in a tunnel collapse in the southern Gaza Strip on Monday morning, the movement’s military wing said.Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades said in a statement that 29-year-old Abd al-Rahman al-Mubashir from Khan Younis was killed after a tunnel collapsed. The statement added that the tunnel “belonged to resistance” without giving further details about the accident. A number of Palestinians in Gaza have been killed in the vast tunnel networks that lie below the besieged enclave, which are largely used for smuggling in the coastal enclave’s south and military purposes in the north. The Institute for Palestine Studies reported in 2012 that Hamas authorities had counted 160 deaths inside the tunnels since the Israeli blockade began in 2007, and in August 2014, Al Jazeera reported that figure to be as high as 400
Desperate Gaza escape try leads to death, and recriminations
GAZA (NY Times) 27 Dec by Majd Al Waheidi & Kareem Fahim — Something drove Ishaq Khalil Hassan, 28, into the Mediterranean last week, to walk naked in the shallow surf, to attempt what has become all but impossible for Palestinians: an escape from the Gaza Strip. Palestinian officials insisted that Mr. Hassan, who tried to wade across the border into Egypt on Thursday, was mentally ill. His family said he was sane, but desperate — he had been trying all year, unsuccessfully, to legally enter Egypt for medical treatment for an old injury. “Ishaq thought that Egyptians will be like Europeans, who deal with Syrians and welcome them,” said his brother, Ibrahim Hassan. But as soon as Mr. Hassan crossed the frontier, Egyptian border guards opened fire, spraying the sea with bullets while ignoring a Palestinian guard who whistled and frantically gestured with his hands that Mr. Hassan had mental problems. A video that captured the shooting made at least one thing clear: Mr. Hassan appeared to pose no immediate threat to anyone. When the firing stopped, Egyptian soldiers pulled Mr. Hassan’s apparently lifeless body from the water, as the camera kept rolling: an image that evoked the perilous journeys of migrants across the Mediterranean but also laid bare the hemmed in lives of Palestinians in Gaza, unable to wander even a few steps from their own borders . . .An Egyptian military spokesman declined to comment on the shooting on Sunday. But some hoped Mr. Hassan’s death might put more pressure on Egypt to ease its blockade. “Perhaps Hassan broke the siege in his own way, and permanently got peace,” said Mohammed Lubbad, who organized a demonstration outside the Egypt’s embassy in Gaza on Sunday . . . But his family strongly denied that Mr. Hassan suffered from any mental illness, saying that he was preparing a new apartment and searching for a wife. They also said he had been studying English at an American nonprofit organization that provides education and training in the Middle East. But he was frantic to leave Gaza, they said. Mr. Hassan was still suffering from gunshot wounds to the leg he sustained in 2007, when he was shot while shopping during clashes between rival Palestinian factions, his relatives said. “He could not sleep at night due to the pain,” said his brother Ibrahim Hassan . . . So sometime Thursday, Mr. Hassan took off his clothes, and laid them on a rock on the beach, near the border. He undressed, his family said, so that the border guards would know that he was a civilian and unarmed . . . “This story is not just about Ishaq,” [Mr. Hassan’s sister, Neama] said. “It became about everyone. Now people feel that their sons could be Ishaq at any moment.”
Photos: Egypt’s seawater pumping project endangers Gazans’ lives
Gaza, occupied Palestine 24 Dec by ISM, Gaza Team — During recent months the subsidence of the land along the Egyptian border have become a great danger for the population of Rafah. This is due to the Egyptian project that has been pumping seawater all along its border with the Gaza Strip. The goal of this project is to flood the tunnels that provided access for the Palestinian people who have been locked in Gaza since the implementation of the blockade imposed by the Israeli occupation. Abdel Aziz El Atar, Head of the Civil Defence Office in Rafah, explains how they are receiving daily calls alerting about the appearance of new holes in the land, the flooding of more agricultural areas by seawater or the flooding of more homes. All of this continues to happen despite the fact that most of the homes near the Egyptian border have been evacuated due to the flooding and the high risk of land subsidence. The staff of the Civil Defence Office regrets not having the technology and the equipment required to cope with this situation, “we fear that with the winter and the heavy rains it will just get worse…” “Besides the flooding, we are suffering from the contamination of the aquifers with sea water, the salinization of the croplands… And moreover, this project broke several pipelines that supplied drinking water and destroyed as well the sewage system in some areas near the border” . . . ISM also met the Head of Security at the border, who said that actually their biggest concern is that “the wall that separates Egypt from Gaza has been sinking in several points… we are afraid that during the next months it will collapse completely, making it almost impossible for us to keep the security of the border… several security posts have been already displaced due to land subsidence”. He continues, “However, that’s not the only aggression we suffer from the Egyptian authorities; every day, the Egyptian soldiers insult and open fire both against the Palestinian civilian population from Rafah and against our security forces. Two weeks ago for example, they shot three workers that were fixing a subsidence near the border. After that, the soldiers entered Palestinian territory and kidnapped the three injured workers. Until now, the government from Gaza doesn’t have any news about them.” He also adds, “Just another example happened a few days ago, when the Egyptian soldiers shot a drinking water deposit”.
IDF admits spraying herbicides inside the Gaza Strip
+972 mag 30 Dec by Michael Schaeffer Omer-Man — The army says aerial spraying was meant to ‘enable security operations.’ Palestinian farmers say hundreds of acres of crops were damaged or destroyed — The Israel army has confirmed that it used crop-dusters to kill off vegetation — and perhaps inadvertently, agricultural crops — inside the Gaza Strip last week. According to Palestinian officials, over 420 acres of land were damaged by the spraying. For years now, the IDF has unilaterally maintained a lethal “no-go zone” on the Palestinian side of the border with Gaza. Now, it seems, it has also implemented a “no-grow zone.” . . . Palestinian Agricultural Ministry officials told Ma’an news that farmers said Israeli planes had been spraying their agricultural lands adjacent to the border fence for several days straight. Spinach, pea, parsley and bean crops were reportedly destroyed around the al-Qarrara area in eastern Khan Younis and the Wadi al-Salqa area in central Gaza, according to the report. The military spokesperson did not respond to a follow-up question about the destruction of agricultural crops. The spraying of herbicides in Gaza was not reported in the Israeli media . . . From an Israeli military perspective, the buffer zone helps the army counter the laying of IEDs, ambushes and border infiltrations. Ground forces regularly enter the Strip in order to clear obstructions to army’s line of sight, including by demolishing structures and trees. The logic behind the herbicidal clearing of foliage and crops along the border area, one can assume, is to clear a line of sight for soldiers seeking to identify threats. . . During the Vietnam war, the United States famously sprayed Agent Orange, napalm and other herbicides and defoliants to destroy vast swathes of jungle in Vietnam for military purposes. After the health and environmental effects such practices became clearer, however, the international community initiated the Environmental Modification Convention restricting the use of herbicidal warfare, which came into force in 1978. Israel is not a party to the convention.
Indonesia Hospital to treat northern Gaza residents
GAZA (PIC) 28 Dec — The Palestinian Health Ministry has officially opened the Indonesian Hospital on Sunday to treat the residents of northern Gaza, after the closure of Kamel Odwan Hospital for maintenance purposes. Indonesian volunteers have supervised the construction of the hospital in north Gaza. The hospital, which was initially inaugurated on June 15, was built on donations by Indonesian citizens. In the hospital there are 100 beds, four operating rooms, 10 ICU beds and 10 emergency beds.
Spokesman for the Ministry Ashraf Qudra said that the new hospital is to be the main hospital in northern Gaza, as it provides distinctive and modern medical services. The hospital which was given the name Rumah Sakit Indonesia also has complete medical support facilities. Such as, 24-hour clinic, CT-Scan tools, as well as a number of modern and up-to-date medical equipment, he underlined. Starting from Sunday, the residents of north Gaza can head to the new Indonesian hospital for medical services, the spokesman declared.
31 Palestinians from Gaza visit relatives jailed in Israel
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 28 Dec — Some 31 Palestinians from the Gaza Strip visited family members being held in an Israeli jail on Monday, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said. ICRC spokesperson Suheir Zaqur told Ma’an that the group, including three children, left the besieged coastal enclave via the Erez crossing to visit 32 relatives held in Israel’s Eshel prison.
Photos: Women with disabilities venturing into basketball, Gaza
GAZA (Demotix) 27 Dec by Hassan Jedi — In Gaza Strip women and girls with disabilities meet in sports stadiums for basketball despite their disability after their involvement in motor sports project for the disabled in a scene category.
Gaza Strip’s artists seek to build hope in a society ruined by conflict
[with PHOTOS] GAZA CITY (Sydney Morning Herald) 26 Dec by Ruth Pollard — The small, childlike drawings depicting scenes of everyday life are sketched on torn pieces of brown paper, ripped from the bags of cement given to families whose houses were destroyed by Israeli airstrikes in last year’s war in Gaza. There are 400 paintings and the artist, Majdal Nateel, says they are not designed to represent all of the 495 children killed in the 50-day conflict with Israel, nor the thousands more maimed or the 300,000 children in need of psycho-social support after living through at least one, if not three, wars in five years. Instead, the 28-year-old artist says, they represent the lost hopes and dreams of those children. What could have been if they had lived. “The idea was to paint the dreams of children who were killed in the last war … to show them playing, painting, drawing, flying kites, doing the everyday things they would be doing if they had not died,” Nateel says from the tiny studio inside her home in Gaza City . . . As Gaza heads into a second winter with many families still living in the rubble of their destroyed homes, the scars of the war, physical and mental, are visible from north to south, she says. After a successful showing of her exhibition in London that she was unable to attend because Israel would not issue her with a permit to leave Gaza, If I Wasn’t There is heading to New York in February and this time Nateel is traveling with it.
Israel to demolish Palestinian home months after alleged attack
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) Dec — Israeli forces on Monday issued a final home demolition order to the family of a Palestinian who was shot dead more than two months ago during an alleged attack in Jerusalem, the family told Ma‘an. Shafiq al-Halabi, the father of Mohannad al-Halabi, said Israeli forces issued the notice after Israel’s court rejected the family’s appeal against the first demolition order, which was issued on Oct. 15. The final order said the home, in Ramallah’s Sirda village, would be demolished within 10 days. Shafiq added that his family had evacuated their home two days after his son was shot dead, and have been living in a rented home ever since. On Oct. 3, Mohannad allegedly stabbed and killed two Israeli settlers near Jerusalem’s Old City and injured two more, including a two-year-old child, before Israeli forces shot him dead. Mohannad was one of the first Palestinians who was killed following alleged attacks at the start of October.
Israeli army raids homes of killed Palestinians for anticipated demolition
JENIN (WAFA) 29 Dec – Israeli forces Tuesday raided the family homes of three Palestinians who were killed by Israeli forces following alleged stabbing attacks against soldiers in Nablus and Jerusalem, as an apparent prelude to punitively demolish them. The Israeli army Sunday fatally shot two Palestinians, including a minor, after they reportedly stabbed and lightly injured two Israeli soldiers in central Huwwara village, south of Nablus. The two were identified as Nour-Adin Saba’aneh, 23, and Mohammed Rafeeq Saba’aneh, 17; Both are from Qabatia town near Jenin in northern West Bank. The relatives of the above-mentioned Palestinians informed WAFA that a large military force raided their homes, and proceeded to take photos and measurements. Another military force reportedly raided the funeral that was held for both Palestinians; Nour-Adin and Mohammed Saba’aneh, and ripped up their photos. On Monday, the youngsters’ parents were summoned for interrogation at al-Jalama Israeli military camp. One parent was briefly detained before his release.
Meanwhile, Israeli troops raided the family house of ‘Anan Abu Habsa, who was shot dead last Wednesday [12/23] near Jerusalem’s Jaffa Gate following an alleged stabbing attack. Troops reportedly took measurements of Habsa’s family house in preparation of planned demolition.
Land, property theft & destruction / Ethnic cleansing / Settlements / Immigration
Report: Israel’s Ministry of Housing continuing canceled E1 plans
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 28 Dec — Israel’s Ministry of Housing has been working on plans for thousands of housing units in the controversial E1 corridor despite the cancellation of tenders for the units in 2013, a settlement watchdog reported. International condemnation of settlement construction in the controversial area led Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to cancel the tenders at the time. Israeli watchdog Peace Now reported Sunday that the Ministry of Housing began “quietly” planning for 8,372 housing units in the E1 area in November 2014, hiring architects to work on many of the plans that had been canceled. The revelations are likely to spark controversy, as construction in E1 would effectively split the West Bank into separate northern and southern parts, making the creation of a contiguous Palestinian state nearly impossible. The ministry’s plans include moves to retroactively legalize a number of illegal outposts in occupied areas, as well as to create urban continuity between illegal settlements to Jerusalem, the watchdog said. One of many plans underway would place 800 housing units between Palestinian areas of Al-Jib and Biddu, connecting the illegal Givat Zeev settlement to Jerusalem, preventing a potential Palestinian West to East corridor, Peace Now said. One thousand units for the Jahalin Bedouin are also being planned, so that the tribe can be evicted them from the area of the illegal Maale Adumim settlement and E1 and moved to the planned village, the group reported. Construction plans for over 12 thousand housing units in occupied East Jerusalem and the Old City are also underway by the Ministry of Housing, the report said, adding that around half of 55,548 settlement units expected to be built through the ministry’s plans lie on the Palestinian side of the separation wall. Yariv Oppenheimer, the director general of Peace Now, told Israeli daily Haaretz, “The government of Israel is not wasting a single day and is investing tens of millions of shekels in expanding and establishing new settlements. Behind the scenes they are secretly planning the establishment of a binational state,” he continued.
Israeli forces hand out stop-construction notices for 15 houses in Bethlehem area
BETHLEHEM (WAFA) 29 Dec – Israeli forces Tuesday handed out stop-construction notices for 15 Palestinian-owned houses in Battir, west of Bethlehem in the southern West Bank, under the pretext of unlicensed building, said a municipal source. WAFA reported the Head of Battir Council, Maher al-Harbuk, as saying that Israeli troops stormed the village and placed stop-construction notices on facades of 15 houses. Eight homeowners were identified as Fadi al-Qaisi, Fadi ‘Ubaidillah, Ibrahim al-Najjar, Yasser Qattush, Hazim ‘Abdul-Wahhab, Hazim al-Shuli, Muhammad al-Shami and Hamza Hamamda. Dating back to the Roman and Canaanite eras, Battir is famous for its ancient terraces and Roman-era irrigation system which is still used for crop irrigation. The irrigation system channels water from natural springs down stone terraces to villagers’ orchards via sluice gates. The village has come under threat following Israeli plans to build part of the West Bank wall that would cause irretrievable damage to the ancient irrigation system.
Monitor: Israel to confiscate 500 dunums of land in southern Nablus
NABLUS (Ma‘an) 29 Dec — The Israeli authorities are planning to confiscate 500 dunams of land (123 acres) currently held by the Palestinian Authority near Nablus in the northern occupied West Bank, a local monitor said Tuesday. Ghassan Daghlas, a local PA official who monitors settlement activity in the northern West Bank, told Ma‘an the land would be confiscated from from the Palestinian villages of Jurish and Qusra. A spokesperson for Israel’s Coordination of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) denied the reports, telling Ma‘an that no land in that area had been confiscated by the Israeli state. However, Daghlas said that Israeli forces had delivered an order to locals classifying the land as Israeli “state land.” He called on locals with private land in the area to present an objection to COGAT. Large sections of the land included in the order are covered in olive trees and hold water wells used by Palestinians for irrigation, Daghlas added. Daghlas said that he believed the land in question was likely to be incorporated into the nearby illegal settlement of Migdalim. Land belonging to Palestinian residents in Jurish and Qusra is under continual threat from nearby settlements, and residents report regular harassment and attacks carried out on their property by Israeli settlers. The Migdalim settlement was established on land confiscated from residents of Qusra in 1984 and residents have watched the settlement expand further onto their land since.
Israel prevents land rehabilitation near Nablus
NABLUS (WAFA) 27 Dec – Israeli army Sunday prevented Palestinians from rehabilitating their land near Qusra, to the south of Nablus, according to local sources. Director of the field projects of Rabbis for Human Rights, Zakaria Sedda, told WAFA that Israeli troops obstructed the work of bulldozers working to rehabilitate the land, which is located in Area B of the occupied West Bank, under joint Israeli-Palestinian control, and near the Illegal Israeli settlement outpost of ‘Yesh Kodesh‘. According to al-Haq Human Rights center, Israel imposes restrictions on Palestinian farmers who want to access the olive groves located in proximity to settlements or behind the Annexation Wall. “Palestinian farmers are required to apply for permits in order to be allowed entry into their own lands. . . .
Israeli military razes land near Bethlehem
BETHLEHEM (WAFA) 29 Dec – Israeli army on Tuesday razed agricultural land near Beit Sahour, east of Bethlehem, according to local sources. Hassan Berejiya, member of the Anti-Settlement Committee in Bethlehem, said Israeli troops, accompanied by bulldozers, proceeded to raze a land in the town, apparently for the benefit of settlement expansion.
Army delivers military order to take over land near Hebron
HEBRON (WAFA) 29 Dec — Israeli authorities Tuesday delivered a military order to take over around 370 square meters of Palestinian-owned land in the town of Beit Ummar, north of Hebron, according to local sources. Mohammad Awad, who monitors settlement activities in Hebron, said the Israeli army notified Palestinians in the town about their intent to take over 370 square meters of private Palestinian land, located along the Hebron-Jerusalem road, for “military purposes”. The land is owned by local Palestinian families Sabarneh and Alami. Meanwhile, Israeli troops placed a seven-meter high barbed wire around the town’s cemetery and erected metal barriers along the sides of a road located adjacent to Hebron-Jerusalem road near the town, causing a traffic jam.
Israeli army orders construction on house in Hebron to stop
HEBRON (WAFA) 28 Dec – Israeli forces Monday notified Nemer Jaber, a local in al -Baqa‘a area, east of Hebron, to stop the construction of his house under the pretext of ‘unlicensed construction’, according to a local official. Atta Jaber from al-Baqa‘a informed WAFA that Israeli forces accompanied by the so-called ‘planning and construction’ authorities in the Israeli civil administration broke into the area, and handed Nemer Jaber an order to halt the construction of his house.
Israel bulldozers demolish house under construction in Jerusalem
JERUSALEM (WAFA) 29 Dec – Bulldozers of the so-called Israeli West Jerusalem municipality, Tuesday, demolished a two-storey house under construction belonging to one of the Palestinian locals in the village of Sour Baher to the southeast of Jerusalem, citing un-permitted construction as a pretext. A municipality staff, backed by an Israeli military force, stormed and cordoned off the area prior to the demolition of the house. The house belongs to local Eisa Raba’yeh. Israel frequently utilizes the lack of construction permits as a pretext for demolishing Palestinian houses.
Israeli army continues to fence Palestinian olive fields in Jenin
JENIN (PIC) 27 Dec — The Israeli occupation army on Saturday embarked, for the second consecutive day, on building a fence around hundreds of dunums of Palestinian-owned cultivated land, located along road 585 near Ya‘bad town, southwest of Jenin city.
According to the Palestinian Information Center (PIC) reporter in Jenin, the Israeli army started on Friday night to fence the olive fields, which extend along the main road from Mariha village to Ya‘bad town. This measure was taken according to a recent military order that declared the entire olive area a closed military zone. The PIC reporter affirmed that the fencing is intended to prevent the Palestinian landowners from entering their property for cultivation and harvest. The seized olive fields belong to the families of Abu Baker, Abu Shamla, Amarna and Sheikh Ali. Last week, the Israeli occupation forces stormed Ya‘bad town and distributed notices announcing the area a closed military zone and warning of any attempt to approach it.Local sources believe the measure was punitive aimed at preventing further stone-throwing attacks on cars of settlers from Mevo Dotan settlement, which was illegally built on annexed Palestinian land.
Immigration to Israel reaches 12-year high
Globes 29 Dec — France and Ukraine provided the highest number of Jewish immigrants in 2015, the Jewish Agency reports — More than 30,000 immigrants (olim) came to Israel in 2015, the highest immigration (aliyah) figure since 2003, and 10% more than 2014, the Jewish Agency for Israel and Ministry of Immigrant Absorption report. 7,900 immigrants arrived from France in 2015, a record figure from that country, and up 10% from last year. The ongoing terror attacks in that country have made it the largest contributor to immigration for the second successive year. The fighting between Ukraine and Russia also boosted immigration. 7,000 immigrants reached Israel from Ukraine in 2015, up 15% from 2014 and 6,600 immigrants arrived from Russia, up 40% from 2014. Immigration from North America fell slightly to 3,768 in 2015 from 3,871 in 2014. Half of new immigrants were under the age of 30 in 2015.
Prisoners / Court actions
Young prisoner, Marah, is fighting medical negligence to get her high school diploma
GAZA, Occupied Palestine 23 Dec by Hamza Abu Eltarabesh — As they left the gate of their school, residing at the western area of Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood in east Jerusalem, Marah Bakeer, a student in her last year of high school (Tawjihi), insisted to her friend, Asma’a Elkhatib, to join her family to take lunch at her home. At first, Asma’a refused her friend’s invitation, but after many attempts of convincing her, she had eventually accepted Marah’s request. On the way home … The two 16-year old girls, wearing their dark blue uniform, and school bags on their backs, left the bus at the entrance of Beit Hannina town, and were excitedly talking about their school life and the crucial year they have to pass; to move to college and build up their future. In the midst of their talk, the Israeli forces stopped them at the main road of the town. One of the soldiers came close to them, and fired twelve bullets towards Marah’s small body, while he was shouting “Subversive .. subversive!”. Asma’a freaked out and had no idea about what to do or where to go when she saw her friend Marah covered with blood, crying, while the soldiers were only watching her bleeding. Marah was left bleeding till she lost consciousness; then the soldiers moved her to the Israeli hospital Hadassah to receive medical treatment, while her friend Asma’a was finally able to escape. This was on 10.12.2015 at noon. . . Israel claims that “Marah”, who lives in a family of five members, was holding a knife in her hand to stab one of the soldiers who were in the place of the accident. However, their story was denied by Asma’a and a group of students who were in the place at the time of the incident. Also, a video tape was published and widely shared via social media showing Marah screaming and crying with no knife near her. After she was moved to the Israeli hospital, she was taken to the operations department for a nearly two-and-half-hour surgery in her left shoulder; where multiple bullets had settled. According to the lawyer assigned by the family for Marah’s case, Sana’a Kwaik, the doctors had inserted platinum bars to the injured girl’s shoulder and hand, as a result of significant fragmentation in the shoulder’s bone. Marah spent twenty days in the hospital bed, without a mother beside her to comfort her, or a father to give her strength. The only thing she had was herself, with too much pain and weeping, and a little sleep (Continued)
Palestinian journalist on hunger strike to protest admin detention
+972 blog 27 Dec by Yael Marom & Noam Rotem — It took Israeli authorities weeks to even tell Muhammad Al-Qiq why he is being imprisoned without charge or trial — ‘incitement.’ He has been on hunger strike for 32 days — Palestinian journalist Muhammad al-Qiq, 33 from the Hebron area, has been on hunger strike for 32 days — since Israeli forces arrested from his home without explanation last month. Al-Qiq, a reporter who works for Saudi news station Almajd, was transferred to the medical center at Ramle Prison early last week. Immediately after his arrest, al-Qiq was taken in for interrogation at Israel’s Kishon (Jalame) detention center, where he was not allowed to make contact with either his wife or his attorney for many days, his lawyer said through the Palestinian Prisoners Club (PPC). Four days after his arrest, during which the authorities refused to provide a reason for his detention, al-Qiq began a hunger strike, according to the PPC. His attorney, Salah Ayoub, has submitted a complaint to the Israel Prison Service detailing violence allegedly used against al-Qiq during the interrogation, and demanding to know why he wasn’t notified that his client had launched a hunger strike. Al-Qiq was not permitted to meeting with his attorney for a week, and only after three weeks was Ayoub notified that his client was being interrogated for “incitement.” Due to the lack of evidence, his attorney was informed, interrogators threatened al-Qid with extended imprisonment under administrative detention. That threat became reality this week: authorities placed al-Qiq in administrative detention for a period of six months, which can be renewed indefinitely.
Israel issues 53 prisoners administrative detention orders
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 29 Dec — The Israeli authorities on Tuesday issued a further 53 administrative detention orders against Palestinian prisoners ranging from periods of two to six months, the Palestinian Prisoner’s Society said.A lawyer for the society, Mahmoud al-Halabi, told Ma’an that 36 orders were issued against recently detained prisoners while another 17 were renewed orders against prisoners that have been in Israeli custody for months and years. There are now more than 500 Palestinian prisoners being held under administrative detention, a controversial Israeli practice that allows internment without trial for six-month intervals that can be renewed indefinitely . . . The Palestinian Prisoner’s Society issued a full list of the prisoners most recently placed under administrative detention: 1. Ahmad Abd al-Fattah Ishteiwi, Ramallah, 4 months; 2. Youssef Ghaleb Katbeh, Hebron, 4 months. (Continued)
Israeli authorities continue internment of 4 Palestinian brothers
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 28 Dec — Israeli forces have continued the internment of four brothers in Israeli prison, despite pressure from the Palestinian Prisoners’ Society (PPS), the society said on Monday. The society said three of the four brothers, identified as Muhammad Zamaareh, 16, Bahaa Zamaareh, 17, and Abed Zamaareh, 23, were detained at the start of October during a detention raid in the southern occupied West Bank district of Hebron’s Halhul village. The fourth brother, Ahmad Zamaareh, 19, has been held in Israeli prison for a year, while the youngest brother, Muhammad, has been sentenced to five months in prison on unknown charges and fined 3,000 shekels ($773). It is unknown whether the other two brothers have had charges levied against them. The PPS said it has not been uncommon for Israeli forces to detain multiple members of the same nuclear family during the most recent spate of detention raids, leaving many families without a source of income.
Jordanian prisoner in Israeli custody ends 47-day hunger strike
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 27 Dec — A Jordanian prisoner in Israeli custody ended a 47-day hunger strike on Sunday after he reached an agreement with the Israeli Prison Service. Prisoner Abdullah Abu Jaber went on hunger strike on Nov. 11 demanding that Israel allow him to see out the remaining five years of his 20-year sentence in Jordanian custody. He was imprisoned in December 2000 after he was convicted of detonating an explosive device in a bus in Tel Aviv. Hanan al-Khatib, a lawyer for the Palestinian Authority Committee for Prisoners’ Affairs, said Abu Jaber had ended the hunger strike but she did not provide details of the agreement reached with Israel’s prison service. She said that Abu Jaber was receiving medical treatment at the Ramla prison clinic. Last week, the prisoner was moved to a civilian hospital after his health deteriorated, and the Israel authorities threatened to force-feed him if he continued his hunger strike.
Israeli court releases Jewish terror suspect after more serious allegations were dismissed
Haaetz 28 Dec by Chaim Levinson — The Petah Tikva Magistrate’s Court on Monday released one of the suspects in a West Bank arson-murder case to house arrest, after all the more serious suspicions against him proved baseless. Police said they planned to indict him for assaulting Palestinians. The suspect, 18, who frequented the Baladim outpost near the West Bank’s Kochav Hashachar settlement, was arrested a month ago by the Shin Bet and was blocked from meeting with his lawyer for 18 days. He was questioned on suspicion he was involved in the Duma arson attack that killed three members of the Dawabsheh family, but after a month of interrogation the case against him fizzled out. However, during questioning it emerged that the youth had been involved in a scuffle two years ago in which he and others beat a Palestinian man near the outpost. Police submitted an intent-to-prosecute declaration and asked to extend his remand until he was charged, but the court rejected the request and sent the youth to house arrest. Police have appealed his release to the district court.
Two intent-to-prosecute declarations were meant to be issued Monday against the main Duma suspect and another suspect, but they were not submitted in the end and their remands were extended for two days. Prosecutors were still debating whether the second suspect can be charged with murder for his small role in the incident.
Other news / Review
Israeli forces raid charity, shut down prisoners’ rights group
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 29 Dec — Israeli forces on Tuesday ransacked the Bethlehem headquarters of the district’s Palestinian Authority-run committee for charitable work as well as a prisoners’ rights group office in Nablus, destroying and confiscating property. The treasurer of the Bethlehem charity, Mahmoud Khalifa, told Ma‘an that “occupation forces broke into the headquarters at 2:40 a.m. and ravaged the place, breaking down the doors of administrative and accounting offices.” Soldiers cut open two safes in the headquarters and confiscated all materials, as well as a number of files and hard discs from office shelves, said Khalifa. Khalifa told Ma‘an that the headquarters sponsors around 1,200 orphans from Bethlehem-area villages, cities, and refugee camps. “The committee does social duties only and we have nothing to do with political issues,” Khalifa said, adding that their activities are authorized by the Palestinian Ministry of Endowment. Palestinian Minister of Endowment Yousif Ideis denounced the raid on Bethlehem’s charity headquarters. Ideis said in a statement that confiscation of files will “affect the process of distribution of charity” to orphans and needy families rely on assistance.
Separately, Israeli forces stormed offices of the Ahrar Center for Prisoners Studies and Human Rights in Nablus in the northern West Bank, confiscating materials, the center director told Ma’an. Fuad al-Khuffash said that Israeli soldiers broke into the fifth-floor office and confiscated computers, fax machines, and all files and documents related to Palestinian prisoners in Israeli custody. The forces left a letter ordering the office to remain closed until further notice, al-Khuffash told Ma‘an, referring to the move as “an attempt to silence the voice which exposes all Israeli violations of human rights and prisoners rights.” . . .
Charitable organizations in the occupied Palestinian territory have been raided or shut down in the past by Israeli forces who say the groups’ activities are a “security threat.”A number of Palestinian radio stations have been shut down in recent months by Israeli authorities on the grounds that the media outlets were encouraging “incitement” against Israel.
Erekat denies proposing secret negotiations with Israel
JERICHO (Ma‘an) 28 Dec — PLO Secretary-General Saeb Erekat on Sunday denied reports that he proposed to start secret negotiations with Israel last summer. The statement from the PLO official came shortly after the Israeli Broadcasting Authority published on its Reshet Bet website that Erekat had proposed secret negotiations, but that Israel had turned down the offer.
According to unidentified sources in the Israeli report, Erekat had made the proposal during a meeting on July 24 in Jordanian intelligence offices in Amman with the outgoing Israeli minister Silvan Shalom, who was in charge of negotiations with the Palestinians. Reshet Bet also said that Erekat and Shalom met again three months later in Cairo where Shalom notified Erekat that the Israeli government rejected his proposal about secret negotiations. The PLO official confirmed in a statement that he met with then-Israeli Vice PM Shalom in Amman and Cairo in July and August, but said that he had not asked for secret negotiations. The two reportedly discussed Palestinian demands regarding a return to negotiations, which were then rejected by Shalom during the meeting, Erekat said. Erekat added that he demanded a return to 1967 borders, the release of prisoners, as well as an end to settlement expansion. The PLO official said that Israeli leadership is attempting to “claim to the US Congress” that Palestinian, not Israeli leadership, is responsible for a continued freeze in negotiations. The Israeli Prime Minister’s office also denied the Reshet Bet reports, saying that Israel has always been willing to start negotiations but it was the Palestinian side who refused.
Israel bill set to impose new measures on rights groups
IMEMC/Agencies 29 Dec — Israeli ministers have voted in favour of a bill that will crack down on human rights groups receiving funds from abroad, a move EU officials have said is reminiscent of totalitarian regimes. Opponents say the bill unfairly targets leftwing organizations critical of government policy, leaving rightwing pro-settlement groups immune from the same scrutiny, as those tend to rely on private donors – who are exempt from the measures. The so-called transparency bill, sponsored by the justice minister, Ayelet Shaked, according to The Guardian/Al Ray, requires organizations to provide details of the countries funding their activities in any communication with elected officials, imposing a 29,000 shekel (£5,000) fine on any who fail to do so. Employees would also be required to wear special tags when working in Israel’s parliament. The measures passed the first major legislative hurdle Sunday, when government ministers agreed to it in principle, making it almost certain to pass into law. The legislation is expected to receive support from all the coalition factions within the Israeli government when it is put to a final vote. It was part of a coalition agreement made by Shaked’s Hayabit Hayehudi party and Benjamin Netanyahu. . . . The organization Breaking the Silence, comprised of former soldiers who oppose Israel’s actions in the occupied territories, said the timing of the bill was intended to distract attention from the charging of suspects arrested in connection with the arson attack on a Palestinian family in the West Bank village of Douma.
A growing Arab middle class makes a home in Jewish cities
Haaretz 25 Dec by Shuki Sadeh — The community aspires to services better than what’s available in Arab towns, but Jewish residents often put up resistance — Zahra and Samer Aziza married eight years ago. She came from a village north of Acre, and he’s from Nazareth, a largely Arab city. Like any young couple, they wondered where they should settle down. The default should theoretically have been Nazareth, a bigger city with more opportunities, and Samer knows it well because he grew up there. Both he and his wife are urban professionals; Zahra works in human resources and Samer is an accountant. Their salaries are likely to keep increasing. But they knew they probably couldn’t build a house there, or buy one, because of price and the lack of land allocated for development. So they bought an apartment in a relatively new neighborhood in the city next door, Upper Nazareth, newly defined as “mixed.” “We were attracted to the idea of living in a family home with a garden,” says Zahra. “In Nazareth it would have cost us double.” The former owners of the apartment, Jews, moved to Kibbutz Mizra. A “mixed city,” according to the definition by the Central Bureau of Statistics, is one where at least 10% of the residents are registered as Arabs. (Continued)
Palestinian schools in East Jerusalem face neglect
JERUSALEM (The National) 29 Dec by Ben Lynfield — It is morning break at the Jebel Mukaber Secondary School for Boys in Israeli-occupied East Jerusalem. But none of the students are playing sports – the schoolyard does not have the space for that. Inside, the school is cold because there is no heating and some of the classrooms are dark because lights are broken. One classroom is only three metres wide, with pupils crammed into the tight space in rows of four. Jebel Mukaber is one of many schools in East Jerusalem, illegally annexed by Israel in 1967, where students meet in converted apartment buildings rather than structures designed as schoolhouses. The condition of the school is part of a long-standing pattern of neglect in education and other services for Arabs, who are a third of the population in a city that Israel considers its “eternal, undivided capital”. “This building is not qualified to be a school. It’s as if you are entering a cave,” says one teacher. “This depresses people. It’s like a prison. We are sitting in a prison. There is no exercise, no sport, the general condition is chaos.” “There is no equipment to teach correctly,” he adds. “I need a projector to show students examples and to illustrate ideas but there is not one projector for this school.” (Continued)
How the Israel boycott movement struck major blows in 2015
EI 30 Dec by Ali Abunimah — In September 2014, on the eve of the Jewish new year, Israel’s leading financial daily named Omar Barghouti among the 100 people most likely to influence the country’s economy in the following year. Calcalist, the business supplement of the mass circulation newspaper Yediot Ahronot, said that the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement, which Barghouti helped found, was “already worrying the government.” It cited government studies warning that Israel would lose billions of dollars a year in exports and GDP and thousands of jobs if current boycott trends continued. “The credit and honor go to the entire BDS movement, of which I am a modest part, to each and every BDS activist in Palestine and around the world who has contributed to making BDS one the most effective forms of resisting Israel’s regime of occupation, settler-colonialism and apartheid,” Barghouti told The Electronic Intifada this week. And 2015 has proven Calcalist right. As the year closes, Palestine’s Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions National Committee (BNC), the broad coalition that backs the BDS movement, is pointing out some of the successes of the last 12 months:
Brazil and Israel square off in diplomatic showdown over settler envoy
Mondoweiss 29 Dec by Annie Robbins — Brazil is not interested in having a right wing settler envoy as Israel’s ambassador and Israel won’t take “No” for an answer. A diplomatic crisis has been unfolding between the two countries since last August when Netanyahu publicly announced the appointment of Dani Dayan, the former head the Yesha Council from 2007 to 2013, as Israel’s next ambassador to Brazil — without first consulting the Brazilian Foreign Ministry. The Yesha Council is the foremost umbrella organization representing the settler/colonialist movement which promotes the establishment and maintenance of illegal Jewish-only settlements on Palestinian land in the West Bank. Reportedly, Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff rejected the proposition in September expressing concerns it would “be understood as support of Israeli settlements“ . . . Reportedly, in what Haaretz referenced as a “leak”, a Brazilian official told The Times of Israel that Brazil (still) rejects the Dani Dayan’s appointment, they were “angry at choice of settler leader”, and waiting “until Jerusalem gets the hint and proposes a different envoy to its capital”. That doesn’t seem to be in the cards. Last week Barak Ravid reported in Haaretz’s “The Brazilian Crisis” that “Jerusalem understood it had a problem” but there’s no sign out of Israel they are considering a different envoy. Instead they are digging in their heels. Ravid interviewed Dayan in a followup article who said if Israel doesn’t fight for his appointment, Brazil’s rejection could set a precedent for other countries barring settlers from representing Israel in the future. He says he is “fighting for the next ambassador who is a settler“: (Continued)
The Palestinian-Israeli singer challenging everyone’s misconceptions / Orly Noy
+972 mag 25 Dec — Call her a traitor, call her a normalizer — Palestinian-Israeli singer Amal Murkus has heard it all. Now as she gets ready to release her brilliant new album, the avowed Marxist and feminist is speaking out against the racism of the Israeli mainstream as well as Palestinian attempts to silence her — When I came home after my interview with Amal Murkus in a Jerusalem cafe, I turned off the engine and remained in my car with my eyes closed for an hour until the sounds of her new album “Fatah al-Ward” (“The Roses Bloomed”) came to an end. This is Murkus’ fifth album. Even after listening to her previous album, “Barani,” it is difficult not to make use of superlatives; Markus’ voice is simply gorgeous, which coupled with her melodies makes her album one of the best and most beautiful of the past year. (Continued) [She is versatile: try this song, “On this Earth” by Mahmoud Darwish, with paintings of Ismail Shammout; many listeners will probably recognize the melody as ‘Gracias a la vida’]