Violence / Detentions — West Bank, Jerusalem
Soldiers kill a Palestinian child, south of Nablus
IMEMC/Agencies 17 Dec — Israeli soldiers shot and killed, on Thursday morning, a Palestinian child near the Huwwara roadblock, south of the northern West Bank city of Nablus, allegedly after he attempted to stab soldiers. Israeli sources said the soldiers shot the Palestinian, and claimed that he “approached them while carrying a knife.” The Israeli National News said the soldiers “spotted a subject, and approached to question him,” and claimed that, “he ran towards them, before they shot him.” Eyewitnesses said the child did not carry any weapon, and never attempted to attack the soldiers. Ambulance driver Kamal Badran said the soldiers surrounded the Palestinian, and prevented the medics from approaching him. The slain child was later identified as Abdullah Hussein Ahmad Nasasra, 15, from Beit Forik town, east of Nablus. The soldiers closed all military roadblocks, south of Nablus.
Young Palestinian woman dies of wounds suffered on October 23
IMEMC 17 Dec — Palestinian medical sources have reported, on Wednesday afternoon, that a young woman who was shot in the head by Israeli army fire on November 23, while in a car with her father, died of her wounds. The sources said Samah Abdul-Mo’men, 20 years of age [18 according to Ma‘an], died in the Beilinson Israeli hospital. She was first transferred to Rafidia Palestinian hospital, in the northern West Bank city of Nablus, and was later moved to the Israeli medical center, due to the seriousness of her condition. Samah, from ‘Ammouria village in Salfit District, was shot in the head after Israeli soldiers randomly opened fire, allegedly after Alaa’ Khalil al-Hashshash, 16, from the Balata refugee camp in Nablus, carried out a stabbing attack targeting Israeli soldiers, before they killed him. Samah was with her father in a car driving near the Huwwara roadblock when the soldiers starting firing at Palestinian cars after the alleged attack. Talking to Ma‘an TV, the father said the soldiers never even signaled the car to stop, and just randomly opened fire in different directions.
Hundreds lay slain Nablus teen to rest
NABLUS (Ma‘an) 17 Dec — Hundreds of Palestinians on Thursday marched in the funeral procession of 19-year-old Samah Abd al-Mumen in the Nablus-area village of Ammuriya village in the northern occupied West Bank. Samah died on Wednesday from wounds sustained nearly two months prior when she was caught in Israeli crossfire during an attempted stab attack at Huwwara military checkpoint. The funeral set off from the village’s school after prayers and headed to the local cemetery. Mourners chanted national slogans and waved Palestinian flags. At the ceremony, Secretary of the Fatah movement, Jihad Ramadan, said: “As Israel keeps committing crimes against Palestinians every day, Nablus is giving farewell to one martyr, Samah, just to receive another martyr.” Shortly before the funeral began, a 15-year-old Palestinian was shot dead at the Huwwara checkpoint after the Israeli army said he attempted to stab a soldier. Ramadan said that Palestinians would continue to resist by all legitimate means until the Israel ended its ongoing military occupation and an independent Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital was established.
Palestinian killed after attempted vehicular attack near Ramallah
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 18 Dec — A Palestinian was killed and another injured Friday after reportedly attempting to carry out separate vehicular attacks on Israeli military in the Ramallah district of the occupied West Bank. An Israeli army spokesperson told Ma‘an that Israeli forces shot a Palestinian man after he attempted to run his car into military forces during a “riot” near the town of Silwad northeast of Ramallah. The man — identified by locals as Muhammad Abd al-Rahman Ayyad, 21 — died shortly after, the spokesperson confirmed. Ayyad was reportedly left to bleed in his vehicle before an Israeli ambulance arrived, taking his body in a black plastic bag to an unknown destination, according to locals. Locals told Ma‘an that Ayyad had left a will before carrying out the attack.
Just an hour earlier, another Palestinian was shot and detained after he reportedly attempted to run his vehicle into Israeli forces deployed at the Qalandiya military checkpoint near Ramallah, Israeli police said. A spokesperson for Israeli police, Luba al-Samri, said that a man in a vehicle with Palestinian license plates approached the checkpoint and sped towards Israeli police and soldiers in an attempt to run them over. “A guard then opened fire at the car as it hit a cement column,” al-Samri said in a statement. Israeli forces opened fire again when the man in the vehicle — a Palestinian in his thirties — reportedly exited the car and jogged towards security forces, al-Samri continued. The man was hit in the lower extremities before he was detained and taken to a hospital after receiving first aid on the scene.Al-Samri said the suspect was from the Turmusayya village north of Ramallah. The military checkpoint — a main entry and exit point for Palestinians to Jerusalem — was closed to traffic in both directions following the attempted attack. No Israeli injuries were reported in either incident.
Palestinian killed in village near Ramallah, third Palestinian killed on Friday
IMEMC 19 Dec by Saed Bannoura — A 33-year old man died Friday of wounds sustained earlier in the day during an Israeli military invasion into the town of Sinjel, near Ramallah. The man, identified as Nash‘at ‘Asfour, was shot in the chest and critically wounded by invading Israeli military forces, who shot him at close range with a ‘dumdum’ bullet, which is an exploding bullet that is considered illegal under international law. These bullets explode on impact, shattering the body of the person shot by them with hundreds of tiny fragments of the bullet. They are frequently used by Israeli forces during their invasions of Palestinian towns and villages, which occur on a daily basis. The shooting of the 33-year old father took place during clashes that erupted between youth in the town and the invading Israeli military forces. The military arrived in Sinjel in armored vehicles and jeeps, and began firing live rounds at youth in the street, who responded by throwing stones at the soldiers. After being shot by the Israeli troops, ‘Asfour was taken by a Palestinian ambulance to the Palestine Medical Center in Ramallah, where he was immediately moved into surgery. Later the same night, the doctors announced that they were unable to save ‘Asfour’s life. He was a father to three children, including a newborn. ‘Asfour was the third Palestinian killed on Friday, and the 127th killed by Israeli forces since the beginning of October. [One Palestinian killed on Friday, Mahmoud Mohammad Saed al-‘Agha, died in Gaza]
Israel to hand over body of 16-year-old to Qalandiya family
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 18 Dec — Israeli authorities will return the body of 16-year-old Hadeel Wajih Awwad to her family in the Qalandiya refugee camp near Ramallah on Friday, according to local sources. Local sources in the refugee camp told Ma‘an that Israeli officials informed the Palestinian liaison that the teen’s body will be turned over at the nearby Qalandiya military checkpoint. A funeral procession and burial is expected to take place after the handover, locals added. Awwad was killed by Israeli forces and her 14-year-old cousin was shot and critically injured after they reportedly carried out a stab attack in West Jerusalem on Nov. 23. Video footage of the incident shows an Israeli security guard shooting the girls several times after they had both fallen to the ground. Hadeel’s body was one of several to be withheld inside of Israel after Israel’s security cabinet announced in October that the bodies of Palestinians shot dead by Israeli forces after carrying out attacks on Israelis would no longer be returned to their families. Hundreds of Palestinians from the Hebron district demonstrated on Thursday for the return of the bodies of 21 Palestinians from the area. Residents of Qalandiya refugee camp last week staged a protest demanding that Israel deliver the body of Hadeel, as well as six others from the area around the camp.
List of Palestinians [and Israelis] killed between Oct 1 and Dec 18
IMEMC 19 Dec by Celine Hagbard — The following is a list of names of all Palestinians shot and killed by Israeli fire in the occupied West Bank, including Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip, including one in the Negev, in the period between Thursday October 1st and the end of December 18th, as confirmed by the Palestinian Health Ministry.. The Israeli army has killed 127 Palestinians, including 25 children and six women, since October 1, while around 14.740 have been injured, including at least 4698 with live fire and rubber-coated steel bullets. Twenty of the slain Palestinians were killed in the Gaza Strip, one in the Negev, and the rest in the occupied West Bank, including Jerusalem. The army also shot and injured 333 children with live rounds, and 149 with rubber-coated steel bullets, while 53 children suffered fractures and bruises after the soldiers and settlers assaulted them, and eighty others suffered the effects of tear gas inhalation, including some who were shot with gas bombs. The Health Ministry said 1660 Palestinians were shot with live rounds, 1040 with rubber-coated steel bullets, and were all moved to hospitals, while Palestinian medics provided around 2000 persons with the needed treatment after the soldiers shot them with rubber-coated steel bullets. Approximately 9650 Palestinians suffered the effects of tear gas inhalation, 350 suffered fractures and bruises after being attacked by Israeli soldiers and settlers, and 40 others suffered burns due to gas bombs and concussion grenades.
‘Dawabsheh family not entitled to compensation’
Ynet 17 Dec by Amihai Attali & Elisha Ben Kimon — The Dawabsheh family, which lost three of its members in an arson attack on their home in Duma, will not receive compensation from the State of Israel, despite promises made by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. In response to a parliamentary question from Joint Arab List MK Yousef Jabareen, Deputy Defense Minister Eli Ben-Dahan said on Wednesday that the Dawabsheh family was not entitled for compensations from the state because the law that ensures recompense to victims of terror attacks only applies to Israeli citizens. The deputy defense minister said the Dawabsheh family can submit a request for compensation from a special committee in the Defense Ministry. [new photo of Ahmad Dawabsheh, 4, with bandages removed]
78 Palestinians shot by Israeli military in Friday demos
NABLUS (Ma‘an) 18 Dec — Israeli forces on Friday shot and injured at least 78 Palestinians, two critically, when clashes broke out across the occupied Palestinian territory for the second day in a row. Medical sources told Ma‘an that a Palestinian was hit with live fire in the chest during clashes in the village of Sinjil northeast of Ramallah. The man was taken to the Palestine Medical Complex in critical condition. The medical sources said he was resuscitated after heart and respiratory failure, and was undergoing an operation [but he has since died].
Clashes also broke out at the Beit Einun junction east of Hebron, where Israeli forces shot a demonstrator with live fire in the head. Doctors at al-Ahli hospital in Hebron told Ma‘an the protester was left in critical condition. Another Palestinian was shot in the foot during the same clashes, while two others were injured by rubber-coated steel bullets in clashes at Halhul bridge north of Hebron. A local activist, Muhammad Ayyad Awad, told Ma‘an that two Palestinians were injured with rubber-coated steel bullets during clashes in Beit Ummar that broke out after Israeli forces attacked a funeral in the village. Awad added that an Israeli settler attempted to run over three Palestinians in the same area while Israeli forces stood idly by. No one was hurt in the incident. Separately, witnesses told Ma‘an that five demonstrators were injured by live fire and 20 by rubber-coated steel bullets in the village of Beit Furik east of Nablus. A member of the Palestinian Popular Struggle Front party, Munadhel Hanani, said that protesters marched calling for the return of Palestinian bodies withheld by Israel before clashes broke out in al-Qa‘da area of the village. A 15-year-old resident of the village, Abdullah Hussein Nasasra, was killed Thursday after the Israeli army said he attempted to stab a soldier at the Huwwara military checkpoint.
The Palestinian Red Crescent told Ma‘an that two Palestinians were also injured Friday by live fire and four by rubber-coated steel bullets during clashes near the northern entrance of Bethlehem . . . Clashes also took place in the West Bank and Gaza Strip on Thursday
Photos: ‘We need our children’
AL-KHALIL, Occupied Palestine 17 Dec by ISM, Al-Khalil Team — On Thursday, December the 17th, hundreds of Palestinians in occupied Al-Khalil (Hebron) gathered to protest against Israel’s policy of withholding the bodies of Palestinian martyrs killed since the beginning of October. The peaceful demonstration started at Haras Mosque and continued towards Ibn Rushd roundabout with many martyr posters, signs, Palestinian flags and chanting. Many friends and relatives of the martyrs were present, mourning the loss of the more than thirty martyrs from Al-Khalil and more than 123 martyrs from all around the occupied Palestinian territory killed since the beginning of October this year. The demonstration was organized by the movement “We need our children” (Bidna awladna). This movement was created recently on the initiative of the families of the martyrs in Al-Khalil to demand the release of Palestinian bodies still being kept in Israel. This unlawful policy not only violates international law but also denies the families the right to mourn the loss of their husbands, sons, mothers and daughters. “Some of the mothers haven’t realized that their sons are dead. Sometimes the fathers try to call their sons on the mobile”, a brother of a martyr explains. For the past two weeks a solidarity tent has been established near the Haras mosque in order to create a space for the families to mourn, share the pain and support each other.
The university where Israeli soldiers train on campus and shoot Palestinian protesters
[with videos] MEMO 15 Dec by Ben White — There can’t be many universities around the world where an occupying army has built a firing range on campus. But that is the reality for Palestine Technical University in the West Bank. Since October, the Tulkarm campus has been under repeated attack by Israeli forces, with student demonstrations suppressed by rubber-coated metal bullets, tear gas – and even live ammunition. In an approximately six week period, 350 students were injured by the Israeli army. According to data provided by UN OCHA, Israeli occupation forces injured 726 Palestinians in clashes at the university from October 1 to end of November (including both students and non-students). Of those, 48 were injured by live ammunition, and 126 by rubber-coated metal bullets. More than 20 students have been arrested by Israeli forces in the context of the protests – including five who were “ambushed” on campus. By November 22, the university had been forced to evacuate the premises on at least 10 occasions over the previous weeks, “due to tear gas or skunk water.” (Continued)
Israeli forces shoot, injure 15 students at Tulkarem university
TULKAREM (Ma‘an) 16 Dec — Israeli forces on Wednesday shot and injured 15 students with rubber-coated steel bullets and live fire during protests at Palestine Technical University in the northern occupied West Bank district of Tulkarem, medical sources at the Red Crescent told Ma‘an. Sources said five youths were shot and injured with live fire, while 10 more were shot with rubber-coated steel bullets and at least four suffered from severe tear gas inhalation. Four of those shot with rubber-coated bullets were treated at the scene, while the rest of the 19 injured were evacuated to a nearby hospital. In addition, 25 other students suffered from moderate tear gas inhalation and were treated at the scene by medics. Witnesses told Ma‘an that Israeli forces opened fire at the students during a protest which erupted into clashes. During clashes, Israeli forces raided the campus.
Updated: Five injured in Ni‘lin weekly nonviolent protest
IMEMC 18 Dec by Saed Bannoura — Israeli soldiers attacked, Friday, the weekly nonviolent protest against the illegal Israeli Annexation Wall and settlements, in Ni‘lin village, near the central West Bank city of Ramallah, wounding five, while dozens suffered the effects of tear gas inhalation. The Popular Committee in Ni‘lin said the soldiers fired rubber-coated metal bullets, and gas bombs, targeting the nonviolent protesters as they marched towards the isolated Palestinian lands and orchards. The soldiers also invaded the southern area of the village, and clashed with dozens of residents, wounding five with rubber-coated steel bullets, and also fired gas bombs, causing scores of protesters to suffer the effects of tear gas inhalation. Also on Friday, the soldiers attacked the nonviolent Palestinian, Israeli and international protesters in Bil‘in nearby village, and fired dozens of gas bombs.
Israeli forces shoot, detain Bethlehem teen, block medics
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 17 Dec — Israeli forces shot and detained a 19-year-old Palestinian overnight on Wednesday during clashes in the southern occupied West Bank district of Bethlehem’s al-Obayat village, a spokesperson for the Red Crescent told Ma‘an. Muhammad Abu Rayan said that Israeli forces shot and injured a teen identified as Ayman Ameen Hassan al-Khatib before detaining him. Rayan was unable to speak to al-Khatib’s condition, as Red Crescent medics were prevented by Israeli forces from treating him. Rayan added that Israeli forces seized the identity cards of the Red Crescent staff who tried to treat the teen. Al-Khatib was taken away to an unknown location.
Rehab Nazzal was shot in the leg last week by a sniper while taking research photos in Bethlehem
London Free Press (Canada) 15 Dec by Kate Dubinski — A controversial Palestinian Canadian artist completing her doctorate at Western University was shot last week while doing research in the West Bank. Rehab Nazzal, who is in her third year of PhD studies in Western’s visual arts department, was shot in the leg while taking pictures of a “skunk” weapon, a tank that sprays a foul-smelling mist as a form of crowd control by the Israeli Defense Forces. Nazzal is in Bethlehem, in the West Bank, doing research with money provided by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada. She’s been there since the end of July. Her research focuses on the effect of weaponry on senses — sight, sound and smell. She said she was out in the streets of Bethlehem last Friday when she saw people start running. “I saw the skunk (machine) and I wanted to document it. I was taking shelter every few blocks, and just as I lifted my camera to take a picture, I felt a burn,” Nazzal said in an interview with The Free Press via Skype on Tuesday. “I didn’t realize I was hurt, but when I looked down, there was a lot of blood. Paramedics were running to me yelling ‘Lie down, lie down.’ As I lay down, I felt the tear gas, too, even though I was wearing a mask. I was suffocating.” Treated at a hospital, Nazzal was told that a bullet from a .22 caliber gun, commonly called a “tutu” bullet, passed through her leg without hitting bone. “I was alone with no one around me. There was no one around me so why was I shot? Why did they shoot at me?” Nazzal said.
UN: Respect monitors in West Bank
Church Times 18 Dec by Gerald Butt — THE UN has called on the international community to take action to ensure that civilian human-rights defenders in Hebron, in the West Bank, are allowed to carry out their monitoring work without harassment from Israeli settlers. The UN was responding to reports that human-rights activists have been threatened and physically attacked. The call comes against a background of increasing tension in the West Bank, where numerous individual stabbings and shootings have been carried out by Palestinians on settlers and Israeli security personnel, leading to violent retaliation from settlers. Hannah Griffiths (Back Page Interview, 23 October) is among those attached to the Ecumenical Accompaniment Programme in Palestine and Israel (EAPPI), established by the World Council of Churches in 2002, and managed by the Quakers in the UK and Ireland. In one incident, on 14 October, Ms Griffiths was chased, punched, and kicked in Hebron, in an area controlled by the Israeli authorities. Speaking later, she said: “The situation has got so much worse in the last few months. We are being targeted, but it is worse for the local Palestinians, who tell us they are scared to go to work. Teachers are scared to go to work, and children are scared to go to school.”
Photo story: Daily harassment by Israeli forces on the way to school
Al-KHALIL, Occupied Palestine 18 Dec by ISM, al Khalil Team — On Thursday, 17th December 2015, Israeli forces yet again body-searched every male adult – and also youth – passing Ziad Jaber school in occupied al-Khalil (Hebron). Most female adults were also searched by male soldiers, a clear violation of their privacy. Various female students were also searched or had their bag searched. These body-searches by Israeli forces are humiliating and often conducted aggressively with soldiers kicking the legs of the Palestinians and pushing them in the kneepit almost making them fall. Not even children and youth – especially protected by UN-Conventions and international law, are exempted from these rigorous, frightening and humiliating searches. All of this happens regularly both on the way to and from school thus also infringing on the children’s basic right to education.
Shooting of teen attackers sparks concern at Israeli use of force
QALANDIYA (Palestinian Territories) (AFP) 19 Dec — Palestinian mother Maleeha Awwad still cannot explain what happened the day her 14-year-old daughter stabbed a man with scissors and was shot dead by police. As far as she knew Hadeel had walked to school with her cousin Norhan, 16. Instead the two girls went to Jerusalem’s central market and carried out the attack. Nearly a month later, Israeli authorities finally released Hadeel’s body on Friday to enable the family to bury her. “I still don’t understand what happened,” Awwad said at her home on the edge of the Qalandiya refugee camp near Ramallah, shaking her head and close to tears. The United Nations and human rights groups have voiced concern that Israeli security forces are responding to attacks with excessive force. The Israeli police officer who shot the teenagers has been placed under investigation — the first such probe since a wave of violence began on October 1. Security camera footage from the incident on November 23 appears to show the two girls in school uniform chasing a man with scissors before being shot. Police said the girls had stabbed and lightly wounded a 70-year-old Palestinian nearby, apparently mistaking him for a Jew. The footage shows both girls shot and on the ground. The policeman runs back towards one of them — apparently Norhan — and opens fire despite her being curled in a ball. Norhan was seriously wounded, but survived and has been charged with attempted murder. Lawyers for the policeman have said he was concerned that the girls may have been wearing explosive belts. Suicide bombings were common during the second Palestinian intifada between 2000-2005, but have not occurred in the current unrest. This week a UN spokeswoman voiced deep concern over the “unacceptable” wave of attacks, as well as “reports of excessive use of force by Israeli forces.” “The response from Israeli security forces has resulted in alleged attackers, protesters and even bystanders being killed and injured,” said Cecile Pouilly, spokeswoman for the UN human rights office. Amnesty International’s Philip Luther welcomed the probe by the justice ministry as a positive development but warned other cases did not appear to be getting the same treatment. “The fact that this is the first such investigation into killings by police since… October is deeply troubling, particularly given the strong indications that many Palestinians were killed when they were not posing an imminent threat to life or of serious injury,” Luther said . . . Critics say many of the suspects could be tasered and arrested — as was done this month in London when a man stabbed three people in a train station. (Continued)
Israeli forces detain radio journalist in Bethlehem
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 16 Dec — Israeli forces on Wednesday detained a Palestinian radio journalist in the southern occupied West Bank city of Bethlehem, the journalist told Ma‘an after being released. Bara Abdullah Hamdan,19, said Israeli forces handcuffed him and took him to a nearby Israeli military base, adding that they seized his mobile phone and deleted all photos on the device before releasing him four hours later. The reason for Hamdan’s detention is unknown and he was not charged. Palestinian press freedoms watchdog MADA said last month that violations against the press in the occupied Palestinian territory in 2015 had “witnessed an enormous escalation.” According to the Palestinian Ministry of Information, Israeli forces injured at least 98 journalists in the month of October alone. In November, Israeli forces closed down three popular radio stations based in Hebron on accusations that the radio stations were encouraging “stabbing attacks” and “violent riots,” and reporting “false and malicious claims of security forces executing and kidnapping Palestinians in order to provoke violence.”
Israeli forces detain 23 Palestinians across West Bank
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 17 Dec — Israeli forces detained at least 23 Palestinians across the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem overnight Wednesday, the Palestinian Prisoners Society (PPS) said. The society told Ma‘an that at least seven Palestinians were detained from occupied East Jerusalem (Continued)
PCHR Weekly Report 10-16 December: 6 Palestinians dead from Israeli attacks; 6 wounded
PCHR-Gaza 18 Dec — In its Weekly Report On Israeli Human Rights Violations in the Occupied Palestinian Territories for the week of 10 – 16 December 2015, the Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR) found that Israeli forces killed 5 Palestinian civilians, and a child succumbed to her injuries, making a total of 6 Palestinians dead of Israeli-inflicted injuries this week in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. 96 Palestinian civilians, including 14 children and 5 journalists, were wounded by Israeli troops . . . During the past week, Israeli forces conducted 106 incursions into Palestinian communities in the West Bank. 107 Palestinian civilians, including 28 children, were abducted. 20 of them, including 14 children, were abducted in occupied Jerusalem. Full Report
Closures / Control measures
Photos: Palestinian workers forced to cross overcrowded checkpoint every day
TULKARM, Occupied Palestine 17 Dec by ISM, Tulkarm Team — In the early morning of the 17th of December, Israeli security guards kept parts of the al-Tayba checkpoint closed, causing tension and frustration among the waiting Palestinian workers. Every morning, 8000 to 10 000 Palestinians have to cross the al-Tayba checkpoint, located in the outskirts of Tulkarm, to be able to go to work in Israel. For them, commuting to work is frustrating, time-consuming and dangerous. One of the Palestinian workers that ISM-activists spoke to this morning explained that under normal circumstances, it would take him a maximum of one hour to go from Tulkarm to his work in Tel Aviv. But with the checkpoints, it adds multiple hours to his daily commuting. Every morning he leaves his home before three, and after spending several hours at the checkpoint, he arrives in Tel aviv at around 6-7 o’clock, just in time to start working. Not knowing how long it will take him to get through, or if he even will be allowed to cross at all, is for him worst part. When the security guards open the checkpoint at 4 o’clock, workers have already been waiting for hours. All workers goes through four lanes leading to four separate turnstiles, that they have to pass one one at a time before finally passing metal detectors and being ID-checked by the staff. Workers also complain that the turnstiles often remain closed for no reason. . . Many people suffer from the overcrowded checkpoint. The owner of a coffee stand located next to the entrance says that people get injured almost every day. According to Maannews, 2 Palestinians were squeezed to death at this checkpoint in 2014.
In Hebron, even the kids have numbers
Hebron, Occupied West Bank (Al Jazeera) 16 Dec by Allison Deger — Every sunset, 23-year-old Alaa stands in the balcony of her modest stone house overlooking Hebron’s Shuhada Street. “I count the minutes until he [her husband] comes home. I wait by the window, and I tell him not to be late,” she said . . . Shuhada Street (Arabic for “Martyrs Street”) was once a bustling thoroughfare running through the heart of the West Bank’s largest city, connecting Hebron’s outdoor market to the Ibrahimi Mosque . . . The area is also home to 500 hardline Israeli settlers, and has long been a flashpoint for unrest between Palestinians and the Israeli military. Over the past month, the few Palestinians, who still live on or nearby the street, are enduring a new set of army restrictions and security searches. On October 30, the Israeli military announced a closed military zone over the area of Hebron under full Israeli security control. “No one who can come to visit us. My father couldn’t come to see us,” Alaa said. To enforce the closure, the Israeli army introduced a new system of identification numbers for the 30,000 Palestinian residents of the cordoned-off H2 district which encompasses about 20 percent of Hebron and includes Shuhada Street and a number of Israeli settlements.In addition to presenting their identification cards at 17 internal checkpoints and undergoing security checks, Palestinians must now orally give soldiers their new ID number when entering and leaving the blockades that enclose Shuhada Street . . . “Anyone who does not have a number is removed or arrested. The Israeli army detained at least 20 international volunteers who monitor H2 area,” said Sohaib Zahda, of the Hebron-based activist group Youth Against Settlements. Those who forget their ID numbers or chose not to register sneak in and out of the H2 area through fields, careful not to be caught in the heavily monitored region. “Even the little kids have numbers,” said Anas Murakatan, 27, who lives in an apartment near a checkpoint at the entrance to Shuhada Street. “I am 58; she is 59,” Anas said, pointing to his pregnant wife, Fadwa Murakatan. His children are 60 and 61. “When the baby is born, she will get one too.” . . . Fadwa explained that when she goes into labour, she will have to walk down Shuhada Street and cross a checkpoint, and only then will she be able to enter an ambulance. She said she had to wait 30 minutes the last time she needed an ambulance
Netanyahu promises millions to improve security on West Bank roads
Haaretz 16 Dec — Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has promised to invest tens of millions of shekels towards bolstering security in West Bank due to the wave of terror, Israel Radio reported. In a meeting with the head of the Samaria Regional Council Yossi Dagan, Netanyahu said the state has invested and will continue to invest tens of millions of shekels in strengthening security in the West Bank. The new funds will go towards providing lighting on roads, improving cellphone coverage, and reinforcing security at locations where terror attacks commonly occur. Netanyahu said that security forces have found that these three components are critical for restoring a feeling of personal security on the roads, as well as activities that are both offensive and defensive. “We are acting with all the means at our disposal to strengthen security in Judea and Samaria. The activities of the security forces are focusing at this stage on the roads. The IDF is acting and will continue to act with the full support of the political leadership at all times and everywhere it is needed,” Netanyahu was quoted as saying.
Israeli police stop workers from repairing Al-Aqsa Mosque water leak
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 16 Dec — Israeli police forces on Wednesday prevented workers from repairing a water leak in the Al-Aqsa Mosque and threatened to detain workers, head of the Ministry of Endowment’s Jerusalem department said. Azzam al-Khatib said Israeli police also seized identity papers of a ministry employee during the incident. Al-Khatib condemned Israeli interference in maintaining the Al-Aqsa Mosque and said “the actions of the Israeli police confirmed the intention of the Israeli authority to control Al-Aqsa Mosque in every way.” In accordance with a decades-old agreement between Israel and Jordan, the Jordan-based Ministry of Endowment is supposed to be permitted full control over the holy site; however Israeli authorities often breach the agreement. In October, Israeli police prevented the Islamic Endowment from installing surveillance cameras around the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound, al-Khatib said at the time.
Army kills two Palestinians, in Khan Younis and Ramallah
IMEMC 18 Dec — . . . In the Gaza Strip, the Palestinian Health Ministry said the soldiers shot and killed Mahmoud Mohammad Saed al-‘Agha, 20, [see photo] during clashes that took place east of Khan Younis, in the southern part of the besieged coastal enclave. It is worth mentioning that Mahmoud is the brother of Bassem al-‘Agha, who was killed during Israel’s war on the Palestinians in Gaza, in the summer of 2014, leading to the death of more than 2142 Palestinians
Palestinian shot dead in Gaza demo near Khan Younis
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 18 Dec — Israeli forces on Friday killed one Palestinian and shot 40 others during clashes in the Gaza Strip, the Ministry of Health said. A spokesperson for Gaza’s Ministry of Health, Ashraf al-Qidra, told Ma‘an that 20-year-old Mahmoud Muhammad Saed al-Agha was shot dead by Israeli forces when clashes broke out near Khan Younis in southern Gaza. Al-Qidra said 31 others were shot and injured by live fire, 9 by rubber-coated steel bullets, and 14 suffered from severe tear gas inhalation.
Gaza farmer injured by Israeli fire
IMEMC/Agencies 16 Dec — Israeli forces shot and injured a Palestinian farmer south east of Khan Younis in the southern Gaza Strip, the Ministry of Health said. The 20-year-old farmer sustained moderate injuries in the leg and the hand after being shot near the Sofa crossing, located between the al-Fakhari and Rafah areas, the spokesperson for Gaza’s Ministry of Health, Ashraf al-Qidra, told Ma‘an News Agency.
Israeli forces level Palestinian land near Gaza border, injure 3
GAZA (Ma‘an) 17 Dec — Israeli forces shot and injured three Palestinians after entering a border area in the southern Gaza Strip on Thursday in order to level Palestinian land, local residents said. Witnesses told Ma‘an that four Israeli excavators entered the border area near Deir al-Balah refugee camp before leveling the land. Israeli soldiers fired gunshots in the area, shooting and injuring at least three Palestinians, according to witnesses. Israeli forces frequently shoot at Palestinian farmers and other civilians inside the Gaza Strip if they approach areas near the border that the Israeli military has deemed no-go zones. Two Palestinians have been shot and injured by Israeli forces this week while tending to their fields, according to Gaza’s Ministry of Health. A “security buffer zone” along the border between the besieged enclave and Israel extends between 500 meters and 1500 meters onto Palestinian land, making large portions of agricultural land off-limits for farmers.
Israeli bulldozers enter southern Gaza
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 18 Dec — Several Israeli bulldozers entered the city limits of Khan Younis in the southern Gaza Strip early Friday, witnesses said. Witnesses told Ma‘an that the bulldozers entered the eastern area of al-Qarrara, located in Khan Younis, and searched the area. Several Israeli bulldozers had also entered al-Qarrara on Thursday. Separately Thursday, Israeli forces shot and injured three Palestinians after entering a border area in the southern Gaza Strip in order to level Palestinian land. Israeli forces have made a total of 52 military incursions into the besieged enclave since the start of 2015, according to documentation by the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. Two Palestinian farmers were shot and injured by Israeli military forces this month while farming near the border area, according to Gaza’s Ministry of Health.
Gaza rocket fired at south Israel, falls short: army
JERUSALEM (AFP) 17 Dec — A rocket fired at Israel from the Gaza Strip fell within the Palestinian enclave, the Israeli army said Thursday, correcting an earlier announcement that it had hit the Jewish state. “Preliminary review suggests that the rocket launched earlier today at Israeli territory fell short in the Gaza Strip,” a statement said. Sirens had sounded in southern Israel, and the army had announced that a rocket had “hit an open area.
Explosive device detonated at southern Gaza-Israel border
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 16 Dec — An improvised explosive device (IED) was detonated along the southern border of the Gaza Strip on Wednesday, an Israeli army spokesperson told Ma‘an. The spokesperson said the explosive device was detonated with the intentions of targeting Israeli forces, but no injuries were reported. Locals in Gaza confirmed hearing an explosion in the area, and also reported an exchange of fire between Palestinian gunmen and Israeli forces.
Four Palestinians injured in Gaza
IMEMC/Agencies 17 Dec — Palestinian medical sources in the Gaza Strip have reported that four residents were injured, on Wednesday evening, after Israeli soldiers fired shells into farmlands, east of Khan Younis, in the southern part of the coastal region. The Israeli army said it fired shells into Gaza after an explosive object detonated near a military vehicle across the border fence, causing no injuries. Israeli TV Channel 2 said the vehicle was damaged due to the blast. Medical sources in Gaza said three of the wounded Palestinians are farmers, working in their lands when the army fired the shells, while a fourth resident was injured in his home, after the soldiers fired live rounds. Eyewitnesses said the army fire was apparently targeting a training center for the al-Qassam Brigades of Hamas, in the nearby area in al-Farahin.
Powerful IEDs found near Gaza border
Ynet 18 Dec by Yoav Zitun — A potentially devastating terror attack was foiled on Friday when IDF engineers found powerful, unexploded improvised explosive devices at the border with Gaza. Some of the devices were connected to remote-controlled timers via a cell phone. The engineers were examining the location where a similar device detonated earlier in the week near IDF troops. It was the first time since Operation Protective Edge in 2014 that an explosive device was used against IDF troops at the Gaza border. The Shin Bet and IDF have begun investigating the suspicion that terrorists had planned a large-scale terror attack on IDF troops near Gaza.
Gaza flowers barred from export to Europe
IMEMC/Agencies 16 Dec — For the third year in a row, the farmers in the Gaza Strip will not be able to export flowers to European markets, due to Israeli restrictions. Since Dutch funding for the Gaza farmers was stopped three years ago, farming spaces shrank in size, ultimately affecting the amount of flowers produced throughout the year. Farmers now plant only 15 dunams of flowers, after planting nearly 150 dunams previously, according to Al Ray . . . The Gaza Strip exported about 50 million flowers annually to Europe until 2004. But farmers in 2012 were able to export no more than five million flowers, because of repeated Israeli closures and constraints at border crossings.
Thwarted hopes on Gaza’s border with Egypt
RAFAH, Gaza Strip (EI) 18 Dec by Isra Saleh al-Namey — It was extremely difficult for Maher Shawa to accept that the two-day window during which the Rafah crossing opened for humanitarian cases earlier this month had closed before he could get through. The 67-year-old is in urgent need of heart surgery. He was due to receive treatment, he said, in a Jordanian hospital, where he’d had a first operation in 2004. “I have my papers completed, and I should have been able to cross the border this time,” Shawa, who spent six years in Israeli prison, said. “I am dying here.” Shawa is among the thousands of priority cases who have applied for permission to leave Gaza for medical treatment or study abroad, or because they hold foreign passports. But Egypt has kept Rafah crossing — the sole point of exit and entry for the vast majority of the 1.8 million Palestinians in tiny Gaza — almost entirely closed since October 2014 . . . The interior ministry in Gaza says it has registered more than 25,000 cases of patients who urgently need to leave the Strip for medical treatment. Ministry spokesperson Eiad al-Bozum said only some 380 people with priority cases successfully crossed on 3 and 4 December.
Land, property theft & destruction / Ethnic cleansing
Israeli forces issue 3 stop-work orders in Ramallah-area village
HEBRON (Ma‘an) 17 Dec — Israeli forces on Wednesday issued three stop-work orders for two homes and a steel structure used as a sheep barn in the occupied West Bank village of Idhna, the mayor of the village told Ma‘an. Abdul-Fattah Islimiya said Israeli forces issued the orders under the charges that the structures were being built without Israeli authority construction permits on Area C land, which falls under full Israeli control. The people who received the notices have been identified as Khalil Muhammad Awad, Adnan Muhammad Awad and Ahmad Dakhlallah.In the village of Kherbit al-Ras, west of Idhna, Hamza Hashim al-Batran and Musab Hashim al-Batran were also issued stop-work notices for their homes. Islimiya said that “Israeli troops are preventing the people from building in Area C, but we are doing our best to provide the needed services for the residents in that area.” He urged humanitarian organizations to take serious steps to support the Palestinians suffering in Area C. Islimiya added that Idhna has received 300 demolition notifications during the past several years. Israel frequently demolishes dwellings of Palestinian communities living in Area C, as well as the temporary structures often donated to the displaced residents by humanitarian groups following such demolitions. Nearly 600 Palestinian structures were destroyed in 2014, according to documentation by the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), displacing over 1,000 Palestinians. Earlier this month, the EU missions in Jerusalem and Ramallah demanded that all Area C demolitions be halted, and that confiscated humanitarian materials — including shelter for both residents and livestock — be returned. Israel has historically ignored EU requests to halt violations against Palestinians as well as demands to stop settlement expansion.
Israel accepts appeal against demolitions in unrecognized village
LOD (Ma’an) — An Israeli central court in Lod on Wednesday accepted an appeal preventing the demolition of six homes in the Palestinian village of Dahmash in central Israel. Residents of Dahmash — located between Lod and al-Ramla and situated outside Tel Aviv — were told by planning officials earlier this month that the demolition orders had been issued decades ago, but were to go into “immediate” effect. Lawyer Qays Youssef Nasser issued an urgent appeal Wednesday evening to prevent the demolition of six homes in the village after Israeli police had toured the village earlier this week in preparation to carry out the demolition. The Israeli magistrate court of al-Ramla had previously issued a ruling refusing to freeze the demolition order until the Israeli Supreme Court ordered the recognition of the Dahmash village. Dahmash is one of many Bedouin villages that were never recognized following the establishment of Israel and have been under threat of demolition since. In the appeal, Nasser said that the Israeli Ministry of Interior was investigating the village in order to find appropriate solution. The director of the ministry had reportedly scheduled a hearing to be held on Dec. 27 for Dahmash residents, and Nasser argued that demolishing the six homes before the hearing was held was “unreasonable.” . . . Israel’s refusal to recognize a number of Palestinian Bedouin villages in the area has come under fire from rights groups as well as Israeli leadership.
Israeli bulldozers reduce Palestinian house to rubble in Galilee
NAZARETH (PIC)16 Dec — Israeli bulldozers demolished on Tuesday a Palestinian home in Tamra city, in the Western Galilee area of 1948 Occupied Palestine, under the pretext of unlicensed construction. Local sources said the Israeli bulldozers knocked down the house of Omar Yassin shortly after policemen raided al-Hamra neighborhood and cordoned off the home. The Israeli policemen arrested the house-owner right after the demolition on allegations of obstructing police work. A couple of weeks ago, the Israeli authorities ordered Yassin to self-demolish his own home and threatened to charge him with all demolition fees in case he does not abide by the order. Meanwhile, the Tamra municipality announced Wednesday a day of general strike in protest at the demolition procedure. The Israeli authorities have been denying Palestinians’ living in 1948 Occupied Palestine the right to expand their homes or to build new ones, resulting in remarkable overcrowding
Power struggle: Church in evacuated Arab village finally gets electricity
Haaretz 18 Dec by Noa Shpigel — After long-running legal battle, Christian descendants of Iqrit plan to celebrate Christmas in long-abandoned Galilee village — Last July, the High Court of Justice ruled that the church in Iqrit be hooked up to the power grid, after three years of hearings and a dispute stretching back decades. The Arab-Christian residents were removed from their homes in the northern Galilee villages of Iqrit and Biram in November 1948, during the War of Independence, and never allowed to return. Initially, they were told they would be allowed to return within 15 days of the evacuation, once the security situation stabilized, but this never happened. Despite an original High Court decision allowing their return in 1951, the houses in the villages were blown up by the Israel Defense Forces in 1953 and the land transferred to the Israel Land Authority. Since then, some of the land has been used by the IDF and neighboring settlements. Iqrit Community Association chairman Nemi Ashkar said that after this year’s High Court decision, a “long and trying journey with the authorities” began. . . The former residents of Iqrit and Biram, and their descendants, have held religious ceremonies and social events in the village churches for decades. The churches are the only structures left – except for the well-tended nearby cemeteries. The former residents hope to make use of the power grid to allow families to return, said Ashkar. They plan on celebrating Christmas in the Iqrit church on December 25, even if the electricity is not yet working. In recent years, the second and third generations of the descendants of the original villagers have shown raised awareness about the villages, and a group of young people has even built an unauthorized outpost among the ruins. A few of the activities have resulted in confrontations with representatives of the Land Authority. (Continued)
Mayor: Israel to confiscate 25 acres of Bethlehem land
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 16 Dec — Israeli forces plan to go ahead with the confiscation of 102 dunams (25 acres) of land in the Bethlehem district, the Mayor of Bethlehem told Ma‘an. Vera Baboun said Israeli forces plan to confiscate lands in Bethlehem city as well as neighboring Beit Sahour and Beit Jala, with the intention of using the land for nearby illegal Israeli settlements. Baboun said the three major Bethlehem district cities for more than 10 years have been receiving letters from Israeli authorities ordering the confiscation of the land for the construction of the separation wall. The district has fought the orders in the past, however now the orders cite security threats as the reason for confiscation.
West Jerusalem municipality approves 900 West Bank settlement units
JERUSALEM (PNN) 17 Dec — The Israeli building and planning board in West Jerusalem on Wednesday approved a plan to construct 891 housing units in the West Bank settlement of Gilo, southwest Jerusalem. According to Haaretz, the construction plan, initiated in 2012, was pulled at the last minute three weeks ago, in fear of a sharp American reaction during Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s visit to the United States. A month ago, Netanyahu approved the construction of 500 more illegal settlement units in Ramat Shlomo settlement, Occupied East Jerusalem. A week before that, Netanyahu also approved the construction of 2,200 settlement units in Ma’ale Michmas settlement east of Ramallah.
Israeli authorities displace 6 Palestinians in Jerusalem demolition
[with photos] JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 16 Dec — Israeli authorities on Wednesday demolished a house in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood of occupied East Jerusalem, displacing six Palestinians, locals said. Local sources told Ma‘an that the residence belonged to Palestinian Ibrahim Diab and his daughter Dina. The home was 85 square meters and home to six family members, Dina told Ma‘an. She said that Israeli forces demolished the home on the grounds that it was constructed without permission from the municipality.
Palestinian residents of East Jerusalem have been under threat of displacement since the Israeli government enacted a policy of “Judaization” in the area since its occupation in 1967, according to Israeli rights group B’Tselem. Over 6,000 homes were demolished immediately after the occupation began and four neighborhoods were razed entirely, according to documentation by the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions. The group has documented nearly 50,000 demolitions in the occupied Palestinian territory since. Among those facing imminent displacement is the Sub Luban family, who Israeli forces have attempted to remove from their home twice this year.The family has lived in the home since 1956 — near the Al-Aqsa Mosque in East Jerusalem’s Old City — however a group of Jewish settlers is aiming to take over the property. Efforts to displace the family have been led by Israeli right-wing group Ateret Cohanim, whose stated goal is to create a Jewish majority in the overwhelmingly Palestinian Old City.
Jerusalemite houses sustain serious cracks and fissures
OCCUPIED JERUSALEM (PIC) 16 Dec — A number of Palestinian homes sustained serious cracks and fissures in Wadi al-Hilweh neighborhood in Silwan town in occupied Jerusalem as a result of the Israeli continued excavations underneath the area. Cracks and collapses occurred over the past few days in the walls and floors of a number of homes in Silwan town adjacent to the southern part of Al-Aqsa Mosque, Wadi al-Hilweh Information Center affirmed. Wide cracks and collapses mainly occurred in a three-story building which houses 20 persons mostly children, according to the center.
Photos: Tanweer cultural centre in Nablus raided at night, equipment stolen and damaged
NABLUS, Occupied Palestine 15 Dec by ISM, Nablus Team — On the night of the 10th of December, the Israeli forces raided the Palestinian cultural centre Tanweer, near the old city of Nablus, and stole hardware, wifi keys and a laptop after searching the whole centre. The organisation lost all of their data from the raid. When the volunteers arrived at 11 am the next day, they found the door broken and everything spread on the floor. Volunteers from the centre have been working on getting the place back into shape since then, but much of the furniture and computer equipment have been severely damaged. The Rachel Corrie computer room, established in 2011, was as well raided and the computers are at the moment unusable. The team is thinking of launching a fundraising campaign to help replace the lost equipment. The volunteers’ coordinator has been arrested around three weeks ago during a night raid, as well as about seven of the organisation’s volunteers. Tanweer is not involved in any political activism; it’s a cultural center working to educate the youth from the old city of Nablus and therefore the volunteers don’t understand the reason for this targeting of their work.
Encouraging story of the week:
The boy asked if I had a knife, I gave him a hug instead
Haaretz 18 Dec by Saja Abu Fanni — When hatred of the other becomes a religion, when evil becomes a faith and cruelty a reality, when racism is the supreme social value, children’s world is destroyed. It collapses all around them. This happened two weeks ago in Haifa, the ostensible city of coexistence, the town currently celebrating its Festival of Festivals. I got on a bus after a long day of studies. I sat by a window and a pretty woman in a hijab – a head covering for those who don’t know – sat beside me. Across sat a mother and her son. She was wearing a red dress and the boy had shiny blond hair. It was a routine day. The bus continued along its route and the woman next to me (whom I didn’t know) asked me in Arabic about certain stops in the area. I replied in Arabic that I didn’t live in Haifa so I didn’t know the area well. She smiled and thanked me and got off after a few minutes. The boy sitting across from me looked at me – a good-looking boy with a winning smile. I smiled back and he plucked up the courage to ask if I was an Arab. I answered with a smile that I was. Complete silence followed. He looked out the window and then gazed back at me, this time with an embarrassed, lost, bashful look. He asked: “Do you have a knife?” . . . While the boy’s mother was reprimanding him for his question, I thought about Mohammed. He also has blond hair and the face of an angel. Something made me reply without hesitation: “No, I don’t have a knife, but I have something else for you.” The boy’s eyes grew large. “What?” he asked. “A hug” I replied. I’ll never forget that little boy who slid off his seat and gave me a big hug. I’ll never forget his tiny hands at the back of my neck. I’ll never forget how that little boy, who a moment earlier thought I might have a knife, left behind his Jewish mother and rushed toward an Arab passenger with the innocence of a child, burying himself in her arms. I’ll never forget the tears streaming from his mother’s eyes as she said “I’m sorry,” while her son’s arms were clasped around my neck. “It’s not your fault,” I whispered back.
Loving to hate: Social media incitement on the rise
Ynet 16 Dec by Sagi Cohen — A sense that this year has been one of extreme rhetoric and violent, politically- and racially-motivated attacks on social media is now backed up by statistics. A new report published by the Berl Katznelson Foundation that studied the phenomenon of incitement and violence shows a 20 percent increase over the past year in the number of inciting and racist statements on social media in Israel. An even bigger increase of 40 percent has been recorded in the number of calls for physical violence on social media. The report also revealed that since the beginning of 2015, there have been nearly 3.8 million injurious, inciting and racist statements posted on social media in Israel – an average of about 300,000 per month. On top of that, 122,000 web surfers made calls for physical violence, such as “murder,” “kill,” or “burn.” . . . The majority of hateful dialogue, according to one of the editors of the study, appeared on Facebook . . . The report further breaks down by sector the targets of this verbal violence, and which elements of society receive the most hateful statements.In first place is Arabs, with 263,000 hateful comments directed to them in 2015, followed by LGBTs with 76,500. Leftists were in third place with 73,000, followed by ultra-Orthodox (73,000), refugees (68,700), right-wingers (28,000), Mizrahim (18,500), Ethiopians (8,000), Ashkenazim (7,900) and Russians (5,100). The recent wave of terror has provoked the biggest number of violent statements this year, leading to 500,000 expressions of racism and incitement.
Right-wing group: Leftists are ‘implants’
Ynet 15 Dec by Reut Rimerman, Itay Blumenthal, Tova Tzimuki — Zionist organization releases video portraying human rights activists as aiding terrorists; activist says he fears being targeted for violence — A new video released Tuesday by the right-wing Im Tirtzu organization portrayed four Israeli leftist human rights activists as aiding terrorists, leading one of them to submit a formal complaint to police. The video brands these individuals “implants,” claiming that while Israel fights against terrorism, these individuals fight against their own country. One of the “implants” in the video is Yishai Menuhin, director general of the Public Committee Against Torture in Israel (PCATI), who is presented as someone who will protect terrorists from being interrogated by the Shin Bet. Menuhin complained to police following release of the video, arguing that it “crossed the line of freedom of speech into incitement.”
Danish pension divests from West Bank settlements
IMEMC/Agencies 16 Dec — Denmark’s largest private pension fund, FPA Pension, with assets close to $50 billion, is withdrawing its investments from the German construction materials corporation Heidelberg Cement, due to its indirect involvement in exploiting the natural resources of the occupied West Bank, Haaretz said. FPA said that it doesn’t want to contribute in any way to illegal activity in the West Bank, adding that during 2015 it examined divestment from companies which exploit natural resources in contravention of international law. The decision is a relatively exceptional way of divesting from companies operating in the West Bank, Haaretz also said, according to WAFA News & Info Agency. It is a third party boycott – not a boycott against a settlement product or an Israeli company that produces it, but against international entities or companies which have economic ties with Israeli companies operating in the occupied West Bank.
Settlement wineries see red as Israeli guidebook skips West Bank
Times of Israel 16 Dec by Raoul Wootliff — Deputy FM Hotovely condemns new volume, accuses authors of being ‘agents of Palestinian propaganda’ — A new guide to Israeli wines is facing criticism over its exclusion of wineries in West Bank settlements, including anger from public officials and local vintners. Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely on Tuesday compared the absence of West Bank wineries from “The New Israeli Wine Guide” to a recent European Union decision to label products manufactured in Jewish settlements. “As the State of Israel fights against boycotts of European officials, home-grown boycotters of Israeli products delegitimize the State of Israel,” Channel 2 news quoted Hotovely as saying in response to a report on the book. “Those who take such actions act as agents of the Palestinian propaganda against Israel and we must condemn and remove these elements from our midst.” The Samaria Regional Council, which represents dozens of wineries based in the northern West Bank, said it was mulling legal action against the book’s publishers.
UN official rejects recent violence as ‘new normal’
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 17 Dec — A senior United Nations official on Wednesday rejected the potential for current violence in the occupied Palestinian territory to become the “new normal,” calling on Palestinian and Israeli leadership to let go of “immediate fears.” “The current circumstances should not be accepted as ‘the new normal’. Israelis and Palestinians should not be resigned to living under the threat of violence,” Miroslav Jenca, Assistant Secretary-General for Political Affairs, said to the UN Security Council. The UN official said that a comprehensive strategy necessary to reduce violence must not rely entirely on “enhanced security measures,” but “must also address the primary elements motivating Palestinian anger.” Violence increased at the start of October and has continued full-fledged into December. At least 123 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli forces and settlers since, and 19 Israelis have been killed in attacks carried out by Palestinian individuals. Jenca lamented the lack of voices among leadership on both sides urging for restraint. The official cautioned against the rise of “extremist” actors “that want to capitalize on the darkest of human emotions.”
Middle East Quartet meets with Palestinian, Israeli leaders
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 18 Dec — Middle East Quartet envoys this week arrived to Jerusalem and Ramallah to discuss concrete moves towards resolving a recent escalation in violence. A joint press statement from the envoys said that representatives from the European Union, Russia, US and United Nations met on Wednesday and Thursday with their Palestinian and Israeli counterparts. Meetings were held with officials from the Israeli Prime Minister’s office and Ministry of Foreign Affairs, as well as officials from the PLO and the Palestinian Authority. Participants reportedly discussed “current conditions on the ground and concrete actions to demonstrate their commitment to the two-state solution.” The Quartet Envoys in the statement stressed “the importance of opposing unequivocally incitement and violence and de-escalate the situation.”
PA cuts salaries of 60 former prisoners of Israel
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 17 Dec — The Palestinian Authority this week cut the monthly salaries of more than 60 former Palestinian prisoners in the occupied West Bank, the Palestinian Prisoners’ Society (PPS) told Ma‘an. A spokesperson with the society said the reasoning for the cuts are unclear, but confirmed that some of the former prisoners are no longer receiving payment due to their political affiliations. The spokesperson was unable to provide direct details as to what those affiliations might be, but said that they may not recognize the “legitimacy” of the Palestinian Authority. The head of the PA Committee for Prisoner’s Affairs Issa Qaraqe did not immediately respond for comment. Other former prisoners whose salaries were cut are those who were receiving benefits due to sicknesses which began to affect them while in Israeli prisons. A spokesperson with the PPS explained that prisoners who become sick in Israeli prisons qualify for monthly salaries from the PA, however the Ministry of Finance has blocked those salaries as well, requesting paperwork to prove that they actually became sick while in prison. According to the PPS, proving such a thing would be very difficult . . . By law, the PA is required to pay monthly stipends to Palestinians who served time in Israeli prisons. The salaries are based on a sliding scale mainly depending on the amount of time a former prisoner served in Israeli jails.
Israeli, Palestinian officials score a goal on FIFA agreement
Al-Monitor 17 Dec by Adam Rasgon — The Palestinian Football Association (PFA) and Israel Football Association (IFA) have agreed to create a new mechanism to facilitate Palestinian soccer teams’ movement, although a long road remains ahead. Without a peace process, Israeli and Palestinian officials seldom meet. However, the Palestinian Football Association (PFA) and Israel Football Association (IFA) met for the third time in five months on Dec. 16, at the Intercontinental Hotel in Jericho. FIFA, the global soccer powerhouse, convened the meeting to address Palestinian soccer concerns. While the meeting did not result in a partial or comprehensive agreement, both parties have expressed hope that a future agreement is possible. Palestinian soccer has suffered from the security situation in the West Bank and Gaza. Soccer players frequently struggle to travel abroad and to and from the West Bank. For example, in 2006, Israel blocked Gazan members from traveling to Uzbekistan to play a World Cup qualifying match after a deadly bombing in Beersheba. In 2007, Israel denied 18 members of the Palestinian national team exit visas to play a World Cup qualifying match in Singapore, forcing it to forfeit. Moreover, the PFA often cannot easily access donated equipment at Israeli ports. (Continued)
ICHR: Palestinian interrogators using torture for forced confession
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 16 Dec — Palestinian security forces are using methods of torture on detainees held in the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip in order to obtain confessions under force, the Independent Commission for Human Rights said. ICHR Director, Ammar Dwaik, told Ma‘an Tuesday that the organization received 1220 complaints of torture from detainees of Palestinian detention centers this year. According to the complaints filed, Palestinian interrogators used physical and psychological forms of torture, Dwaik said, including lashing, cursing, blasphemy, sleep deprivation, foot whipping, and tying detainees in one position for several hours. ICHR received 292 complaints of ill-treatment in detention centers in the Palestinian Authority-controlled West Bank and 928 similar complaints from Palestinians who were detained in the Hamas-led Gaza Strip. This year matched levels of torture in 2014, which saw 289 complaints from West Bank detainees and 989 from the Gaza Strip, Dwaik added. Dwaik told Ma‘an that Palestinian law and the Jordanian penal code applicable in Palestine consider torture during interrogation a punishable crime, adding that actions of torture and coercion are also prohibited by Article 13 in Palestinian Basic Law . . . The director did not specify what percentage of complaints filed were the result of forced confession under torture. Some branches of Palestinian security apparatuses — including police — utilize their own legal bodies for investigating complaints of torture, Dwaik said. Such bodies have confirmed complaints of torture, Dwaik added, while some complaints received by ICHR have been unverifiable . . . Commenting on the ICHR remarks in the West Bank, spokesman of the Palestinian Authority’s security services Adnan Dmeiri told Ma‘an that torture during interrogation is “prohibited under Palestinian law and those who practice it must be tried in court.” Dmeiri referred to any cases of torture in PA detention centers as “extrajudicial individual practices” that violate the instructions given by leaders of security services. Dmeiri added that there have been cases of punishment against PA security officers in the past, including termination of service.
Shin Bet responds to attempts at ‘slander’
Ynet 17 Dec by Elisha Ben Kimon — The Shin Bet issued a rare public statement on Thursday evening, in the wake of a press conference held by a team working to defend those arrested in connection with Jewish terrorism. The domestic security agency defines the suspects in the murder of the Dawabsheh family as “members of an organization” that pose a significant security threat and whose goal is a change in Israel’s government. “A Jewish terror organization has been under investigation recently, whose activity is suspected to include serious terror attacks that endangered life and harmed religious sanctity and property,” the Shin Bet statement said. “This organization adheres to an extreme, anti-Zionist ideology, that has set itself the goal of violently overthrowing the Israeli government,” the statement continued. “The terror attacks that are suspected to have been carried out by the organization led to, among other things, the murder of three innocent Palestinians. This contributed to instability in the region and worsened the security situation,” the agency added. The statement continued: “To our regret, since the arrests the Shin Bet has identified a proactive and ongoing effort to slander the organization and its work, and to disrupt its activities. “This attempt deserves full condemnation and will not deter the Shin Bet from continuing its work as envoys of citizens of the State of Israel, in line with national values,” the statement added. The Shin Bet explained the importance of detaining these suspects, despite their being held under administrative detention and being prevented from seeing a lawyer. “A meaningful security threat has been perceived from the organization members’ activities in the territories. There is a duty to thwart their intention to continue perpetrating serious terror attacks that are liable to lead to casualties,” the statement continued. “Several central activists from this terror organization were arrested for interrogation and they are being questioned intensively regarding the suspicions attributed to them.”
The suspects’ lawyers on Thursday evening held a press conference in which they addressed the claims of the arrestees – among them minors – that they were abused and tortured during the investigation. Some progress began on Thursday when one of the suspects was permitted to meet his attorney, Adi Keidar, who said that he was hardly able to identify the suspect when they met due to the “extreme violence” that he’d been subjected to. “They prevented him from sleeping and his hands and feet are cuffed. Senior interrogators come in and start beating sensitive parts of his body until he stops feeling anything, including kicks and slaps,” Keidar said.
At least four detained Jewish terror suspects have dual citizenship
Haaretz 18 Dec — Suspected members of extremist group ‘The Revolt’ being held without trial are American and Australian nationals — The plight of an Australian-Israeli dual citizen who is being held in detention without trial in Israel was featured in Friday’s issue of The Sydney Morning Herald, one of Australia’s leading newspapers. The detainee, Evyatar Slonim, 23, is being held “in a small cell in a high-security wing of Eshel Prison in the Israeli city of Beersheba,” according to the newspaper. Slonim, whose parents moved from Melbourne to Israel in 1989, is one of three Jews detained without trial – the first Jews to have been subjected to the measure known as “administrative detention” in the aftermath of the horrific firebombing of a Palestinian home last July. Three of the four members of the Dawabshe family died as a result of the fire-bombing in the West Bank village of Duma. Although they are apparently not suspected of direct involvement in the arson attack, the three administrative detainees – Slonim, Mordechai Meyer, 18, and Meir Ettinger, 24 – are believed to be founding members of a group called The Revolt, which seeks to overthrow the Israeli government by fomenting widespread unrest, according to the Shin Bet security service. Significantly, all three hold passports from English-speaking countries. Slonim has dual Australian-Israeli citizenship, Meyer has dual American-Israeli citizenship and Ettinger is the grandson of American-born Rabbi Meir Kahane. His mother, Tova, immigrated to Israel from the United States. Three other Israeli Jews – and perhaps more – are also in administrative detention, suspected of direct involvement in the Duma killings. Their names can’t be published in Israeli due to a court-issued gag order. At least one of the three has dual American-Israeli citizenship, according to foreign press reports, with Israeli media reporting that his parents had spoken with the U.S. State Department and urged them to get involved. The U.S. consulate in East Jerusalem reportedly promised to look into the ban on detainees meeting with their lawyers . . . Some 60,000 American Jews live in West Bank settlements, where they account for 15 percent of the settler population, according to figures revealed in August by an Oxford University scholar.”
Why Breaking the Silence became the most hated group in Israel
Haaretz 17 Dec by Anshel Pfeffer — The campaign to delegitimize a group of combat soldiers who are shining a light on the darker side of Israeli military operations is a sign of how big a threat it is to the comfortable consensus — . . . The tradition of Israeli soldiers telling an alternative narrative to the official, hagiographic accounts goes all the way back to 1949. Then, shortly after the end of the War of Independence, S. Yizhar’s novella “Khirbet Khizeh” – the semi-fictional retelling of the banishment of inhabitants of an Arab village – was published. It was the first of a handful of subversive books and articles told or written by soldiers, revealing the less glorious aspects of Israel’s wars. And while they were always in a minority, they were nevertheless accepted as part of mainstream culture . . .So why, if it is merely continuing an Israeli tradition, is Breaking the Silence causing such controversy now? Why is President Reuven Rivlin under so much fire for delivering a speech last Sunday at Haaretz’s New York conference, which also included Breaking the Silence members (but not on the same stage)? Why is the Israeli government mobilizing its diplomatic resources to try and prevent the NGO from appearing abroad and receiving funding from European governments? Why has Education Minister Naftali Bennett now forbidden schools from holding discussions with Breaking the Silence lecturers in front of their students? It starts with the scale and longevity of Breaking the Silence. “Shooting and crying” used to be a one-off act of catharsis in the wake of a round of warfare. But since the NGO was launched in 2004 by a group of ex-soldiers with a small exhibition on their service in Hebron, it has evolved into a full-fledged organization with teams of interviewers, fact checkers and periodic reports published in Hebrew and English. It has become a constant thorn in the establishment’s side, and a convenient target. It’s no longer a convenient interlude to air our collective, burdened conscience and then it’s back to business as normal. Breaking the Silence doesn’t offer us quick relief; it keeps coming back at us with more. And then there’s the enthusiastic reception the group receives abroad, in “hostile” international forums and the global media. If you have issues, why air them outside, unless your real motivation isn’t fixing problems at home but spreading anti-Semitic libel among the goyim? This is a ridiculous claim that willfully ignores the fact that this is 2015 (Continued)
Lieberman launches campaign to remove Zoabi from Knesset
Ynet 16 Dec by Attila Somfalvi — Yisrael Beytenu leader Avigdor Lieberman launched a campaign on Wednesday morning calling to remove Joint Arab List MK Haneen Zoabi from the Knesset. “Together, we will kick out terror supporters from the Knesset,” Lieberman said in a Facebook post. In a video posted on his official Facebook page, the Yisrael Beytenu leader calls on the Israeli public to pressure MKs to support his new bill proposal that seeks to remove both Zoabi and her party Balad, currently a part of the Joint Arab List, from the Knesset. Lieberman notes in the video that the Central Election Committee has, in the past, banned both Balad and Zoabi from running for Knesset, but the Supreme Court overturned the decision. Lieberman’s bill seeks to prevent the Supreme Court from interfering in decisions made by the Central Elections Committee to approve or ban a candidate or a list from participating in the elections for parliament.
Five years after Gaza flotilla raid, Israel and Turkey reach understandings on ending crisis
Haaretz 17 Dec by Barak Ravid — Israel and Turkey have reached understanding on the outlines of a reconciliation agreement that would put an end to the long crisis in relations between the two countries and normalize ties. Joseph Ciechanover, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s envoy in the contacts with Turkey, and National Security Adviser, Yossi Cohen, who will soon become head of the Mossad, concluded most of the principles of the agreement with Turkish under-foreign minister Feridun Sinirlioglu during a meeting in Zurich on Wednesday, a senior official in Jerusalem told Haaretz . . . The senior official stressed that the two countries have not yet reached agreement on the Turkish demand that Israel lift its blockade on the Gaza Strip entirely. “Erdogan is on record as predicating the normalization of relations with Israel on a total lifting of the blockade on Gaza,” the official said. “There are ideas but no solution to the issue as yet. It’s not simple.” . . . The senior Israeli official noted that the agreement between the two countries includes the following: 1. In the framework of the agreement, Israel will pay Turkey $20 million in compensation, which will be transferred to a special fund that will in turn provide grants to the families of the Turkish citizens who were killed or injured in the Israel Navy’s takeover of the Mavi Marmara. 2. Turkey and Israel will renew and normalize their relations and return their respective ambassadors to Tel Aviv and Ankara. 3. The Turkish parliament will pass a law that will annul all legal claims against Israeli Defense Force officers and soldiers in connection with the flotilla incident and will prevent future claims from being filed. 4. Turkey will expel Saleh al-Aruri, a senior member of Hamas’ military wing, who is based in Istanbul and is directing terrorist operatives in the West Bank from there. In addition, Hamas activities in Turkey in general will be limited. (Continued)
Chicago police adopt Israeli tactics
AntiWar 14 Dec by Todd E. Pierce — After more than a year of stonewalling and what some might call obstructing justice, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel issued an apology for the horrific execution of Laquan McDonald by Chicago police officer Jason van Dyke. Laquan McDonald was the black 17-year-old who was shot 16 times by the police officer on Oct. 20, 2014. The video showing the shooting was only released by Chicago officials when they were ordered to do so by a judge in late November 2015. But apology or not, the underlying substantive issue is that the summary execution of McDonald was the sort of atrocity that one would expect to see in what the U.S. once called “police states.” . . . But Chicago isn’t under martial law or military occupation, is it? Nor is it an apartheid state, with apartheid enforced by domestic martial law and military force, is it? Yet, under Mayor Emanuel, a former Israeli Defense Force (IDF) volunteer, and Garry McCarthy, the now former Chicago Police Superintendent (Emanuel fired him Dec. 1), it seems that parts of Chicago were treated as if they were occupied territory under police or paramilitary rule. That is, under arbitrary martial law, just like the repressive martial law regime of the IDF in the occupied territory of Palestine. Martial law or occupation law is arbitrary as it is not law, but is the manifestation of the occupying military commander’s “will.” How could this be in the civilian government of Chicago? In part, because Police Superintendent McCarthy and the City of Chicago sought out and received training by Israeli occupation forces in “counter-terrorism” policing, that is, “pacifying” a population through aggressive intelligence gathering and the application of military force. Counter-insurgency is the term used for when this doctrine is applied by military forces. This collaboration between Israel and U.S. police agencies, including Chicago, emerged after the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks on New York and Washington. Since then, by one count, at least 300 high-ranking sheriffs and police from cities both large and small have received counter-terrorism training in Israel. For instance, in January 2003, 33 senior U.S. law enforcement officials from Chicago and other major American cities flew to Israel for sessions on “Law Enforcement in the Era of Global Terror.” (Continued)