Killings—West Bank, Jerusalem (see also Gaza)
Israel disperses Jerusalem protest for return of withheld bodies
[with photo] JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 26 Dec — Israeli forces on Saturday dispersed a protest staged in the Old City of occupied East Jerusalem calling for the return of the bodies of Palestinian attackers held by Israel. Locals told Ma‘an that demonstrators formed a human chain surrounding the walls of the Old City from the al-Sahra Gate to the Damascus Gate. Protesters held photos of Palestinians whose bodies have been held in line with a decision made by Israel’s security cabinet in October to withhold the bodies of Palestinians killed while carrying out attacks on Israelis. The move was proposed by Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan, who reportedly said during the cabinet meeting that Palestinian families incite “terrorist attacks” at funerals, raising tensions. Two demonstrators were injured with rubber-coated steel bullets in the head and others were hit with stun grenade shrapnel during Saturday’s demonstration, witnesses said. Another Palestinian was severely beaten and arrested in the nearby Salah al-Din street. Palestinians in occupied East Jerusalem and the West Bank have upped protests demanding Israel to hand over withheld bodies, which are being returned on a case-by-case basis. While a number were returned over the past week, dozens are still being held.
2 Palestinians, 2 Israelis killed in Jerusalem Old City attack
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 23 Dec — Two Palestinians from Qalandiya were shot and killed Wednesday after carrying out a stabbing attack at the Jaffa Gate of East Jerusalem’s Old City, Israeli police said. The attack left one Israeli [Mordechai Birmacher] killed and another injured, while Israeli media reported that a third Israeli [Ofer Ben-Ari, 46] was accidentally shot at the scene and later succumbed to his wounds. Israeli police spokesperson Luba al-Samri said that the Israeli that was shot at the scene was likely hit by live fire when border guards opened fire on the attackers. Israeli police spokesperson Micky Rosenfeld told Ma‘an that Israeli forces present in the area at the time opened fire on the Palestinians during the attack. Following the attack, one Israeli reportedly died from stab wounds, while another is in moderate condition. The injured were taken to nearby hospitals Shaare Zedek and Hadassah, the spokesperson added. Israeli border guards deployed in the area at the time of the attack said they “noticed people running in panic and saw two ‘terrorists’ carrying knives and stabbing a man,” al-Samri said. One Palestinian was killed on scene, and the Ein Kerem branch of Hadassah hospital confirmed that the second died shortly after arriving at the hospital. The Palestinians were identified as Issa Assaf  and Anan Abu Habsa  from Qalandiya in the occupied West Bank. The area has recently been the site of heightened tensions, with two Palestinians killed in the Qalandiya refugee camp last week after attempting to run over Israeli soldiers present in the camp during a predawn arrest raid. The Jaffa Gate area — the site of Wednesday’s attack and the most commonly used entrance into the Old City by Jewish Israelis and tourists — was closed by Israeli Border Police following the attack, witnesses in the area said. The Damascus Gate located nearby was also closed.
3 Palestinians killed after West Bank attacks wound 3 Israelis
SALFIT (Ma‘an) — Three Palestinians were killed Thursday after separate reported attacks were carried out in the occupied West Bank that left two Israeli security guards and a soldier injured, locals and the Israeli army said. Nearby the Palestinian town of Al-Ram northwest of Jerusalem, a Palestinian rammed his vehicle into soldiers posted near the illegal Geva Benyamin settlement, an Israeli army spokesperson told Ma‘an. The forces then opened fire on and killed the driver, identified as Wisam Abu Ghwaila, 22, from Qalandiya. One Israeli soldier was “very lightly wounded” in the attack, the spokesperson said.
An hour earlier, a Palestinian armed with a screwdriver approached the Ari military checkpoint near Hebron and attempted to stab security forces, who “responded to the immediate threat” and opened fire, the spokesperson said.The Palestinian — identified by locals as Eyad Jamal Issa Ideis, 25, from the Hebron-district city of Yatta — was shot dead on scene. No Israelis were injured in the incident, the spokesperson added.
Shortly before, a Palestinian reportedly stabbed two Israeli security guards in the industrial district of the illegal Ariel settlement north of Salfit, the Israeli army said. The army spokesperson told Ma‘an that “a Palestinian armed with a knife stabbed security personnel in Ariel wounding two” before the forces “responded to the the immediate threat and shot the attacker,” killing him, the spokesperson said. The two wounded — a man and a woman in their mid-20’s — were evacuated to Bielinson hospital in Petah Tikva for medical treatment. Israeli police said that the man sustained a serious injury in the upper part of his body, while the woman sustained a moderate injury. Locals identified the Palestinian killed on scene as Muhammad Zahran Abdul-Halim Zahran, 22, from the Salfit-district village of Kafr Ad Dik.
Palestinian killed by Israeli forces in Qalandia refugee camp – 4th Palestinian killed on Thursday
IMEMC 24 Dec — Israeli troops invaded the Qalandia refugee camp on Thursday and opened fire on youth in the street, killing one. This is the fourth Palestinian to be killed by Israeli forces on Thursday. The Palestinian killed was identified as 23-year-old Bilal Zayed, a resident of the camp. Three Palestinians were shot dead earlier Thursday . . . An Israeli army spokesperson told Ma‘an News Agency that Israeli forces invaded the camp with the intent of looking for a ‘wanted’ Palestinian. The military opened fire on youth in the camp during the invasion, killing Bilal and wounding others. The military claimed that the youth were ‘throwing stones’ at the military forces, who were, at the time, invading the camp with armored vehicles and massive military force.
Army kills a Palestinian woman in Silwad
IMEMC 25 Dec — Israeli soldiers killed, on Friday evening, a Palestinian woman while driving her car near the main entrance of Silwad town, northeast of the central West Bank city of Ramallah. The slain Palestinian woman has been identified as Mahdiyya Mohammad Ibrahim Hammad, 38. She was a married mother of four children. Although the Israeli army claimed “she attempted to ram soldiers with her car,” eyewitness confirmed she was at least 30 meters away from the military roadblock, when the soldiers opened fire on her. They added that the woman was not even speeding when the soldiers opened fire on her car, and that the army fired many live rounds at her. Following the shooting, the soldiers left the woman to bleed to death, and held her body for more than two hours before handing her to the Palestinian side, near the Beit El military roadblock. The family said the funeral ceremony and procession will be held on Saturday, after the noon prayers in Silwad. The Palestinian Health Ministry said Hammad was shot with two live rounds in her face, five rounds in the chest and two in the pelvis.
Army kills a young Palestinian man in Jerusalem
IMEMC/Agencies 26 Dec — Israeli soldiers killed, Saturday, a young Palestinian man in Bab al-Jadid area, in occupied Jerusalem, after claiming he “carried a knife, and attempted to stab an officer.” Eyewitnesses refuted the military allegations. Israeli sources said the soldiers, and police officers, stopped the man and started searching him, and that he then allegedly “pulled a knife and attempted to stab them, before they shot him dead.” The Palestinian Health Ministry confirmed the death of the young Palestinian man, who was later identified as Mos‘ab Mahmoud al-Ghazali, 26, from Wad Qaddoum neighborhood in Silwan town, in occupied Jerusalem. An eyewitness said the Palestinian was sitting near the Bab al-Jadid when mounted officers ordered him to stand up, and after he did so, and raised his arms in the air, they fired several rounds at his legs, and shot him in the chest after he fell onto the ground, the Ma‘an News Agency said. After his death, undercover soldiers of the Israeli military stormed his family’s home, violently searched it and interrogated several members of his family.
List of Palestinians killed from October 1st – December 26th
IMEMC 26 Dec — 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 December 26th, as confirmed by the Palestinian Health Ministry. The list below includes the names of 136 Palestinians and 18 Israelis whose deaths have been confirmed by the Palestinian Ministry of Health. The Ministry has said that the total number of Palestinians killed since October 1st is 138.
Thousands attend funerals of 2 Nablus 16-year-olds killed last month
[with photos] NABLUS (Ma‘an) 25 Dec — Thousands of Palestinians on Thursday attended the funerals of two 16-year-olds in the Nablus area who were both killed by Israeli forces after reported attempts to stab soldiers at a military checkpoint in the occupied West Bank. Alaa Hashash and Abdullah Nasasra were shot dead on Nov. 23 and Nov. 30 respectively after the Israeli army said they attempted to attack Israeli forces stationed at the Huwwara checkpoint. No Israelis were injured in either incident. Their bodies were withheld by Israeli authorities in line with a decision made by the Israeli security cabinet in October that the bodies of Palestinians killed while carrying out attacks on Israelis would not be returned to their families. The release of bodies has since been made on a case-by-case basis, and dozens of bodies are still being held. Autopsies were conducted on both of the teens’ bodies at the Rafidiya hospital after they were handed over by Israeli authorities, before being taken to their family homes. Mourners brought Hashash’s body to his home the Balata refugee camp, where relatives bid a final goodbye before laying him to rest. The body of Nasasra was transferred to his home in the village of Beit Furik east of Nablus, where he was later buried. Munadil Hanini, member of the Central Committee of the Palestinian Popular Struggle Front told Ma‘an that participants in the funeral processions chanted slogans condemning the Israeli violations against Palestinians. Palestinian political factions attending the funerals gave speeches confirming the continuation of Palestinian resistance until the Israeli military occupation ends.
Qalandiya refugee camp residents bury Palestinian killed during clashes
QALANDIYA (Ma‘an) 24 Dec — Thousand of Palestinians on Thursday marched in a funeral procession for a Palestinian shot dead hours earlier during clashes with Israeli military forces in the Qalandiya refugee camp near Ramallah. Twenty three-year-old Bilal Zayed was one of four Palestinians to be killed Thursday. Three others were shot after carrying out separate attacks on Israeli military in the occupied West Bank that left three injured. Locals told Ma‘an that Zayed’s body was taken from the Palestine Medical Complex to the entrance of the refugee camp, where the body was carried by mourners to the Zayed family home. Qalandiya residents performed funeral prayers before burying his body in the refugee camp cemetery. The 23-year-old was shot with a live bullet in the chest when residents clashed with Israeli military forces attempting to raid the camp.
Funeral held for Palestinian mother killed after alleged attack
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 26 Dec — Thousands marched Saturday in the funeral of a Palestinian mother killed the day before by Israeli forces in the occupied West Bank town of Silwad. Israeli border guards opened fire on the vehicle of Mahdia Hammad, 38, after guards reportedly saw her quickly driving towards their group while clashes were taking place nearby. Locals in the area at the time of Hammad’s death told Ma‘an that the woman was driving at a normal pace some 30 meters away from the Israeli military post when forces opened heavy fire towards her. Medical sources said that Hammad was hit with more than 10 bullets in the head, eye, face, chest and pelvis. Her body was held by Israeli forces for more than two hours before being returned to the family. Hammad was a mother of four, the youngest of whom is five months old. Saturday’s funeral set off from the Palestine Medical Complex in Ramallah towards Silwad before heading to the town’s cemetery for burial, locals told Ma‘an. The town of Silwad — located around 12 kilometers outside of the West Bank hub of Ramallah — has been site to recurring confrontation between Palestinian residents and Israeli military forces since October.
Forces raid Silwan home, detain family of Palestinian killed by police
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 26 Dec — Israeli forces on Saturday raided the family home of of Mus‘ab al-Ghazali in the occupied East Jerusalem area of Silwan, hours after he was killed by Israeli police. The 26-year-old was shot dead after Israeli police said he attempted to stab a police officer who had stopped the man and asked for identification. No Israeli injuries were reported. Mus‘ab’s uncle, Abu Wajdi al-Ghazali, told Ma‘an that the family home was stormed in Wad Qaddum, a part of the Silwan neighborhood that abuts the southern side of the occupied area’s Old City. Israeli forces who raided the home summoned Mus‘ab’s parents and brothers for investigation, Abu Wajdi said. According to the uncle, Mus‘ab had mental disabilities, and he denied statements made by police that his nephew attempted to attack an Israeli officer earlier in the day. He said Mus‘ab had left the home that morning to collect empty bottles that the young man deposits for money, as he has not been able to find employment.
5-year-old victim of Duma attack regains ability to walk
[with photos] Times of Israel 22 Dec — The lone survivor of a firebombing of a Palestinian home in the West Bank village of Duma, five-year-old Ahmad Dawabsha, has begun to walk again after months of treatment for severe burns. The child, who lost his parents and 18-month-old brother in the July 31 attack by suspected Jewish terrorists, still requires assistance in taking steps, but has made progress and is expected to regain his ability to walk alone within days, Channel 2 television reported on Tuesday. Ahmed, who is being treated in the Tel Hashomer hospital near Tel Aviv, is reportedly still unaware of his family’s fate.
Israeli medic: ‘We don’t provide treatment to wounded Palestinians’
IMEMC 24 Dec by Saed Bannoura — An Israeli medic said on his Twitter page Thursday that field medical crews do not provide treatment to what he called “terrorists”, and stated that, in Hebron, he provided treatment to wounded Israelis “but I did not provide any treatment to the terrorist although he suffered more serious wounds.” The medic said he wanted to be clear in his message when he said, “To all who ask, when I got to the scene today in Jaffa Gate, I helped the wounded [Israelis], but not the hateful terrorist, although he suffered more critical wounds.” In another Tweet, the Israeli medics said, “When you go to the site of a stabbing attack, and you realize that the victim suffered a serious injury, and the terrorist was shot and also suffered a serious injury, who do you help? Now you answer me.” There have been many reports, some captured on video, showing Israeli medics ignoring wounded Palestinians, and leaving them to bleed to death, in direct violation of International Law. Many Israeli medics also carry automatic machine guns despite the fact that whenever they operate in the occupied territories many fully armed soldiers always accompany them. Palestinian medics said in response to the news that such a statement by a medic, a person who vows to help any person who needs help, regardless of his faith, race, tone of skin or any other aspect, validates various reports regarding wounded Palestinians who bled to death while Israeli medics refrained from providing them with the urgently needed medical treatment. Nearly a month ago, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and his office, accused the Palestinian Red Crescent of refusing to provide medical aid to wounded Israelis and soldiers, but after his claimed were refuted, he rescinded his accusations. Nearly two weeks ago, Palestinian news agencies published a video of Red Crescent medics rescuing a wounded Israeli soldier. In October, when questioned about what appeared to be a practice of treating wounded Israelis first while ignoring Palestinians, the head of Magen David Adom said that the medics are not given instructions from above to do that. But he said they would continue to use different-colored body bags for Israeli and Palestinians who are killed, saying, “We need to distinguish between terrorists and Jews, and so we decided to put terrorists in black bags to distinguish.”
If slain Palestinian teen had been a camel, Israelis would be outraged over her death / Gideon Levy
Haaretz 26 Dec — The body of the camel that soldiers killed for a laugh in November was examined by an Israeli veterinarian; no one took witness statements from Samah Abdallah’s family, and no one ordered an autopsy on her body — If Samah Abdallah had only been a camel, you would have heard of her by now. Had she been a camel, the soldiers who killed her would be in custody for the duration of the proceedings. Had she been an animal, and not an 18-year-old Palestinian, her killing would have shocked many Israelis. But Samah was not a camel. She was a cosmetology student from Amuriya, a tiny, remote West Bank village, who dreamed of becoming a teacher and was studying to be a beautician in the meantime. Her father, Abed, also had a dream: for his daughter to return home safely. And so, because of the tension on the roads that day, November 23, he decided to pick her up in his car after class. It is very dangerous there for the Palestinians, too, and among them are worried fathers like Abed Abdallah. I reported on Friday about Samah’s death: A 16-year-old Palestinian who tried to stab Israelis near the Hawara checkpoint brought the soldiers to kill not only him, as usual, but also to fire with no warning as her family car happened to drive by. For no reason, a soldier in a fortified concrete watchtower fired a bullet into Samah’s head as she sat in the backseat, between her brother and her sister. The soldiers initially claimed, preposterously, that the car’s passengers had a knife, but they soon admitted to her horrified father that they had fired “by mistake.” Three weeks later, Samah died in an Israeli hospital . . . The Israel Defense Force’s Spokesman’s Office, which rushed to express shock over the camel’s killing, calling it “a serious incident that is not in keeping with what is expected from IDF soldiers,” took a completely different, and rather contemptible, tack, in its response to Haaretz regarding Samah Abdallah’s death: “During the incident in which a terrorist brandishing a knife ran, an IDF force opened fire … As a result of the shooting, it seems that the passengers of a vehicle that drove behind the terrorist were injured. … The incident was investigated and the findings are being examined by the military prosecution.” . . . .
Other Violence / Detentions
Child injured in Kafr Qaddoum
IMEMC 26 Dec by Saed Bannoura — Israeli soldiers attacked, Friday, the weekly protest against the Wall and Settlements, in Kafr Qaddoum, east of the northern West Bank city of Qalqilia, wounding one child, while many others suffered the effects of tear gas inhalation. The Popular Committee in Kafr Qaddoum said dozens of soldiers surrounded the town before invading it, and attacked the Palestinian, Israeli and international protesters. The invasion led to clashes between the soldiers and many local youths; the army fired live rounds, rubber-coated metal bullets and gas bombs. One child, identified as Yazan Abdullah Eshteiwy, 15, was shot with a live round in his thigh, while many protesters suffered the effects of tear gas inhalation. The child was moved to Rafidia Hospital in Nablus, in the northern part of the West Bank. Coordinator of the Popular Committee against the Wall and Settlements in Kafr Qaddoum, Morad Eshteiwy, said the soldiers invaded the town even before the procession started, while sharpshooters and soldiers also invaded homes, and occupied rooftops.
13 shot by Israeli forces; Hebron school tear-gassed
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 23 Dec — Thirteen Palestinians were shot by Israeli forces on Wednesday in areas around Ramallah while a Hebron-area girls school was tear gassed, locals and medics said. Nine Palestinians were shot when Israeli forces raided the village of al-Mughayyir east of Ramallah. Clashes broke out between youths and the forces, who fired rubber-coated steel bullets and tear gas. The injured were transferred to a hospital in the nearby Turmus Ayya village for medical treatment. Locals told Ma‘an that the forces stormed the home of Ahmad Jaber Abu Alia and also smashed windows of a car belonging to Abdullah Asad abu Alia during the raid.
Meanwhile in Hizma, west of Ramallah, four teenage students were shot and injured with live fire and rubber-coated steel bullets. The mayor of Hizma, Mowafak al-Khatib, told Ma‘an that Israeli soldiers opened fire on students in the village at 9:30 a.m., injuring the four in their lower extremities, and detaining one. Al-Khatib added that Israeli forces have been stationed at all three village entrances for at least five consecutive weeks, often preventing residents from entering or exiting.
Separately, in the village of Beit Ummar north of Hebron, Israeli forces fired tear gas bombs onto the premises of the Zahrat al-Madaim School, causing schoolgirls to suffer from tear gas inhalation, locals said. Local activist Muhammad Ayyad Awad told Ma‘an that Israeli soldiers attacked the school after detaining two residents from the village. Hassan Abu Hashem, 42, and Thaer Abd al-Qader Khader Abu Hashem, 26, were detained after forces assaulted and pepper-sprayed them. A Palestinian Red Crescent ambulance rushed to the school giving first aid to students, Awad said, adding that the school day was suspended following the incident. Youths threw rocks at Israeli soldiers deployed at the northern entrance of Beit Ummar during the incursion, Awad said.
Israeli forces detain Palestinian woman for reportedly carrying knife
HEBRON (Ma‘an) 23 Dec — Israeli forces on Wednesday detained a Palestinian from the Abu al-Rish military checkpoint near the Ibrahimi mosque in Hebron’s Old city for reportedly carrying a knife. Locals told Ma’‘an that Israeli forces detained Dalal Muhammad Nafeth al-Qeimari, 23, while she was attempting to cross the checkpoint, before being taken to a nearby police station. An Israeli army spokesperson had no immediate information on the incident. A Palestinian woman in her 20’s was detained the day before in the same area, also for carrying a knife.
VIDEO: O little invasion of Bethlehem
Mondoweiss 24 Dec by Tom Suarez — Editor’s note: Tom Suarez’s video shows the occupation of Bethlehem as you may not have seen it before. We particularly recommend that you watch the scenes of skunk gas, a foul liquid, being sprayed unprovoked over Manger Street. The protest was then on Hebron Road. And, at 9:30, a deeply distressing scene of two young men asking permission of soldiers to walk unharmed down a street.
Friday clashes erupt across occupied West Bank
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 25 Dec — Weekly Friday demonstrations took place across the occupied West Bank on Friday, locals said. Locals told Ma‘an that clashes broke out between Palestinians and Israeli soldiers in the village of al-Khader south of Bethlehem, where dozens — including elderly residents — suffered from tear gas inhalation. Clashes also took place adjacent to the ‘Aida refugee camp in Bethlehem, as well as the Huwwara military checkpoint near Nablus. In the Hebron district, clashes erupted in Halhul, Ras al-Jora, and Beit Ummar, where four Palestinians were injured with rubber-coated steel bullets, local activist Muhammad Ayyad Awad told Ma‘an. In the Gaza Strip, a Palestinian was shot in the head and killed and ten others injured by Israeli forces in clashes.
West Bank – ‘Breaking the Silence’ bus hit in rock throwing near Hebron; 3 students hurt
WEST BANK (Vos Iz Neias) 25 Dec — Three people were lightly injured Friday after assailants hurled rocks near Hebron at a bus carrying students from Jerusalem’s Hebrew University on a tour in the West Bank hosted by the left-wing NGO Breaking the Silence. The bus sustained a broken window and continued on to nearby Kiryat Arba, where it then stopped after the assault. Breaking the Silence collects testimony from former IDF soldiers, many of whom claim that Israel committed war crimes. The group has long been controversial for its questionable methodology, frequently unsubstantiated and unverifiable allegations, and its practice of airing its claims abroad instead of bringing them to the Israeli legal system.
Israeli forces detain 17 in search and arrest raids
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 23 Dec — Israeli forces Wednesday detained 17 Palestinians across the occupied West Bank during predawn detention raids as Israeli prisons face overcrowding, security sources and locals told Ma‘an. Palestinian security sources told Ma‘an that Israeli forces raided the town of Beit Fajjar in southern Bethlehem and detained Shaker Muhammad Taqatqa, 21, Muhammad Shaher Deiriyeh, 23, and Muhammad Faisal Thawabteh, 28.Israeli forces also detained Ayyad Jamil al-Hreimi, 23, Shadi Muhammad al-Hreimi, 24, and his brother, Tareq, 20, from their homes in the city of Bethlehem. Also in the Bethlehem area, Israeli forces detained Muhannad Asakreh after raiding and searching his home in Janata, as well as Daniel Rashid Abu Sur, 16, from the ‘Aida refugee camp. Fifteen of those detained in the occupied West Bank were accused of taking part in demonstrations against Israeli military forces and two “Hamas operatives” were detained from the Hebron, according to the Israeli army. Thousands of Palestinians have been detained since the beginning of October in one of several moves taken by Israeli authorities to quell an increase of violence that has continued into December. Prisoners’ rights group in the occupied area have reported significant overcrowding in Israeli prisons since the increase in detentions, as well as higher rates of the transfer of prisoners between jails. A legal assistant at prisoners’ rights group Addameer told Ma‘an earlier this month that a significant number of Palestinian prisoners detained in the recent campaign had experienced torture and mistreatment during their detention.
Israeli forces detain 17 across West Bank
HEBRON (Ma‘an) 24 Dec — Seventeen Palestinians were detained early Thursday as Israeli forces carried out search and arrest raids across the occupied West Bank, locals and Israel’s army said. In the Hebron district, locals told Ma‘an that Israeli soldiers raided al-Fawwar refugee camp, ransacking several houses before detaining two brothers, Muhmoud and Ibrahim Majed al-Titi, 27 and 23; Zakaria Fahmi Abed-Rabbo Ghatarsha; and Yacoub Mahmoud Abu Hashhash, 30. Israeli forces also raided Yatta south of Hebron and detained a Palestinian judge, Musleh Muhammad Abu Arram, 52, Raed Ahmad Aqilan, confiscating livestock, locals said. Ashraf Muhammad Nabeel al-Rajabi and Hamed Hassan Qawasmi were detained from the city of Hebron. In Tubas, Israeli soldiers raided the home of former Palestinian prisoner Mustafa al-Maslamani and detained his son Jihad Maslamani, 26, after assaulting him. Mustafa had been serving a life sentence before he was freed and deported to the Gaza Strip as part of a prisoner swap deal between Israel and Hamas in 2011. Another of his sons was detained the week before. In the village of Beita south of Nablus, local sources said that Israeli soldiers detained Qassam Inad Jaghoub, 23, and Ahmad Abdul-Rahman al-Faqi, 22 after storming their homes. Aysar Nidal Fahmi Jaghoub, 23, and Mutaz Hilal al-Tayeh, 22, were also detained from the village. All detainees were transferred to a nearby Israeli base in Huwwara.
PA detains 16 in fear of terrorist attacks during Christmas season
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) — The Palestinian Authority detained over a dozen Salafists in the Bethlehem area over the past few days, reportedly in an effort to thwart potential terrorist attacks in the holy city during the Christmas season, Israeli media reported. Sixteen in total were detained by security forces after the PA suspected that the Islamic State planned to target Christian tourists visiting Bethlehem, according to reports by Ynet, the English publication of Israeli news site Yedioth Ahronot. No information was given regarding the actual involvement of those detained in terrorist activity. PA officials met in Bethlehem earlier this week to map out how to respond to the potential threat, where attendees decided to deploy large numbers of security forces into the city as well as to make arrests, Ynet reported. Four detainees were put into administrative detention and four IS supporters were also detained from other areas of the West Bank, according to the report . . . Despite the concern, support for the Islamic State group remains minuscule among Palestinians, according to recent polls by the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research. A poll conducted earlier this month reported that an overwhelming majority of 88 percent of Palestinians believe that IS is a radical group that does not represent true Islam. Seven percent, meanwhile, said the group did represent Islam. PLO Central Council member Muhammad Shtayyeh said earlier this month that while extremist groups have yet to take hold in the popular Palestinian public, such a reality could not be guaranteed if both the Israeli occupation and Palestinian political woes were not addressed.
2 Palestinians arrested in Christmas tree arson in West Bank
RAMALLAH 25 Dec by Mohammed Daraghmeh — Palestinian security forces say they arrested two suspected Islamic radicals in the burning of a Christmas tree in the northern West Bank. A Palestinian security officer said Friday the suspects set fire Wednesday to the tree in Zababdeh, a Christian majority village near Jenin. The officer spoke on condition of anonymity because he isn’t authorized to speak to reporters. He says both suspects are under investigation for possible ties to extremist Islamist groups. He also says Palestinian security forces arrested Wednesday about a dozen suspected radical Islamists in Bethlehem. Christians make up about 2 percent of the West Bank population.
Homes of 3 Palestinian attackers in Qalandiya camp to be demolished
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 25 Dec — Israeli forces early Friday prepared for the demolition of three homes in the Qalandiya refugee camp belonging to Palestinian residents killed while carrying out attacks over the last two days. Locals told Ma‘an that the military forces surrounded the camp before raiding the three homes. Violent clashes broke out between residents and the forces, leaving three Palestinians injured by live fire. Israeli forces forced Palestinian ambulances to leave the refugee camp entrance by gunpoint, preventing medics from providing medical treatment for the injured, locals said . . . Measurements were reportedly taken of the family home of Wisam Abu Ghwaila, in preparation for its demolition. The 22-year-old was shot dead by Israeli forces Thursday after running his vehicle into soldiers posted near the illegal Geva Benyamin settlement. The Israeli army said that one soldier was “very lightly injured” in the attack. The day before, Qalandiya refugee camp residents Issa Assaf and Anan Abu Habsa killed one Israeli and injured another in a stab attack at the Jaffa Gate of Jerusalem’s Old City. A third Israeli was killed when Israeli border guards opened fire on the attackers. Assaf and Hasba were both shot dead on scene. Locals told Ma‘an that Israeli forces took measurements of their family homes during Friday’s raid, in preparation for demolition.
IOA impedes implementation of 21 projects at al-Aqsa mosque
OCCUPIED JERUSALEM (PIC) 22 Dec — The Israeli occupation authority (IOA) has impeded the implementation of over 21 projects to reconstruct the holy al-Aqsa Mosque, Jerusalem Endowment Department reported. A member of the Islamic Endowment personnel in Occupied Jerusalem said the IOA has been blocking the entry of reconstruction materials and impeding underway projects to renovate the al-Aqsa Mosque. The Endowment department filed official complaints over such illegitimate intervention in the affairs of al-Aqsa, saying every single inch of the 144 dunums covered by such a sacred place of worship is for Muslims only. The official said the IOA has turned blind eyes and deaf ears to such protests and, instead, propped up settler break-ins at the al-Aqsa in an attempt to hold sway over it and divide it, both spatially and temporally.
Despite Israeli restrictions, over 50,000 Muslims pray at al-Aqsa
OCCUPIED JERUSALEM (PIC) 26 Dec — Over 50,000 Muslim worshipers flooded to the al-Aqsa Mosque on Friday to perform noon prayers in congregation, despite the tight restrictions imposed by the Israeli occupation forces. The occupation police reportedly cracked down on the peaceful Muslim worshipers, denying youths and women access into the holy place of worship to perform their prayers. The occupation forces further seized the IDs of a number of youths and women at the entrances to al-Aqsa, at the same time as Israeli choppers were hovering over the territory. 200 Gazan worshipers aged 50 or above also prayed at al-Aqsa after they left the blockaded Gaza Strip via the Beit Hanun (Erez) border-crossing. Preacher of al-Aqsa Sheikh Ismail Nawahda called, during the Friday Khutba (sermon), for protecting the Mosque and Occupied Jerusalem from Israeli sacrilegious schemes. “Despite the hazy fog standing in the horizon, the Muslim nation will survive and the al-Aqsa shall remain forever ours,” Sheikh Nawahda added.
Israel racism and extremism
Police open investigation after Israeli wedding incited murder
BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) 24 Dec– Israeli police have opened an investigation into the wedding of two right-wing Israelis after video footage from the event showed violent incitement by the attendees for the murder of Palestinians. Israeli police spokesperson Luba al-Samri said in a statement that the investigation was opened due to “numerous and serious offenses seen in the video” from the Jerusalem wedding held two weeks ago. The video [long version here, 2:44] shows Israelis present at the wedding dancing and singing songs about 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. After Israeli news Channel 10 aired clips from the wedding video, it was transferred to the attorney general who decided Wednesday that an investigation would be opened, al-Samri said. Channel 10 reported that guns issued by the Israeli army as well as licensed pistols were passed around at the reception from hand to hand, including children, according to Israeli media. Israeli daily Haaretz reported that the wedding was for a couple “very well known in the radical right,” and was condemned by Israeli politicians across the board. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the video showed “the real face of a group that poses danger to Israeli society and security,” the daily said. Controversy over the video erupted as the suspects in the Dawabsha murder case have yet to be convicted, and Israel’s domestic security agency Shin Bet has received push-back from right-wing groups over its conduct in the investigation. The Shin Bet last week warned that the case revealed the growing threat of Jewish terror organizations against the Israeli state as well as regional security.
Religious Jewish wedding songs are anthems of hatred and incitement / Michael Melchior
Haaretz 24 Dec — In the background of the horrific video where the Dawabsheh murders were celebrated are songs glorifying murder that are commonplace at Orthodox weddings, and not just at the extreme and negligible margins of Israeli society.– In addition to the horrific acts that took place at the radical settler wedding which is dominating the news, for which we all feel disgust, I would like to draw attention to the music we can hear in the background of the video. The song the band is playing is not only sung at weddings of Jewish extremists or at the bar mitzvah celebration of one rotten apple. The same song is played incessantly at almost every public wedding and bar mitzvah of the religious Zionist, Haredi or Chabad community that I have attended. I hear these words and am filled with dread: “Remember me, remember me, and strengthen me, only this once, Oh G-d, that I may take revenge on the Philistines for my two eyes”. These are the words that Samson said right before he felled the two middle pillars of the Temple of Dagon, killing himself together with the multitude of Philistines there with him. One need not be a great Torah commentator to understand that the words, originally said in despair, express a readiness to be killed, if, by our deaths, many Palestinians will die with us.Every time I hear that song played I leave the circle of dancing and I protest. For years now I have been crying out against the playing of this song, just as I cried out about how religious Zionists would place special emphasis on the words, “Baruch Hagever” (literal translation: “blessed is the man”), in another well-known song, in order to honor the memory of Baruch Goldstein, who committed the 1994 massacre at the Cave of the Patriarchs. Of all the beautiful words written in the Torah and in the Bible, these are the words deserving an honored place at our public events? I am waiting for the talented artists of the religious community to compose a tune using the Biblical phrase, “…when you see the naked, you will cover him…”, or to renew the popular song from my youth, “Love thy neighbor as thyself”.
Israeli forces kill Palestinian in Gaza demo for 3rd Friday in a row
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 25 Dec — Israeli forces shot dead a Palestinian and injured several others during demonstrations in the Gaza Strip for the third Friday in a row, the Ministry of Health said. Hani Rafiq Wahdan, 22, was shot in the head near the al-Shujayyia neighborhood east of Gaza City, a spokesperson for Gaza’s Ministry of Health, Ashraf al-Qidra, told Ma‘an. Nine others were hit by live fire. Clashes broke out between Palestinian demonstrators and Israeli forces across the Gaza Strip, with four injured east al-Bureij refugee camp, including one shot with live fire in the chest, al-Qidra said. Six others were shot in the al-Faraheen area east of Khan Younis, and one Palestinian was shot near the Erez crossing, al-Qidra added.
Hamas condemns Egyptian killing of mentally ill Palestinian at Gaza sea border
GAZA (Reuters) 26 Dec — The Palestinian interior ministry in Gaza accused Egyptian forces on Saturday of killing a mentally ill Palestinian [Ishak Khalil Hassan, 28 from Zeitun in Gaza City] who had waded through the sea into Egypt’s territory. The incident happened on Friday, Gaza’s interior ministry said. Video broadcast by Al-Jazeera network showed the man walking in the Mediterranean sea, naked, and then crossing through a wire fence into Egyptian territory before he is fired at several times while still in the water. Another person on the beach appears to signal to security forces at a watchtower to stop shooting and the man’s body is seen floating in the water and then washed up on shore.
The Egyptian Interior Ministry had no immediate comment. Gaza is ruled by the Islamist Hamas group. The Interior Ministry there said the man was mentally ill and demanded Egypt launch a probe into the incident. “It is clearly a cold-blooded execution, committed in broad day light,” spokesman Eyad al-Bozom said.
Gaza remembers PFLP activist slain by Israel during protest
EI 26 Dec by Isra Saleh el-Namey — Shawki Madi still cannot believe the embrace from his father that Friday would be their last. The 16-year-old boy was playing football with friends on 11 December when a relative came to tell him that his father had been killed and that he should go home. “I did not believe it, but I ran home and found everyone in tears,” Shawki told The Electronic Intifada. Shawki’s father, Sami Madi, 41, had led a demonstration that day to mark the 48th anniversary of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP). Demonstrators headed for the boundary with Israel by al-Bureij refugee camp in central Gaza. There, Israeli soldiers opened fire. It was not the first such demonstration since the “intifada of the knives” erupted in Jerusalem in October. At least 20 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli forces in Gaza since then, most of them during demonstrations. On this Friday, 17 unarmed people were wounded, including two children and a journalist. Only Sami was killed. The PFLP had called for a “day of rage” — a common phrase denoting a day of popular demonstration and anger — to commemorate the anniversary, and urged its supporters to prove that Gaza can still play a role even when the focus is elsewhere. Demonstrating at the boundary was meant to show solidarity with those in the West Bank who are engaged in daily confrontations with the Israeli occupation. That Gaza had played little role in these events disturbed Sami, said his father Shawki, for whom Sami’s son was named. “Demonstrating at the border gave him some relief; it proved that Gaza should not be out of the game,” he said.
Israel sprays crop-killing pesticides on Gaza farmland
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 23 Dec — Israeli planes reportedly sprayed agricultural crops along the Gaza border on Wednesday with pesticides that have been killing off crops for the third day in a row, the general manager of the plant protection department at the Gaza-based Ministry of Agriculture told Ma‘an. Wael Thabet said that “several farmers informed the ministry that Israeli planes sprayed their lands with pesticides around the al-Qarrara area in eastern Khan Younis and the Wadi al-Salqa area in east central Gaza which damaged a large number of crops.” Saleh al-Najjar, a farmer from al-Qarrara, said he lost some 30 dunums (7.4 acres) of spinach and pea crops due to the spraying, which has taken place from 6 a.m. to 9 a.m. during the past three days. Another farmer, Wael al-Shami, said he lost crops of parsley and beans which were planted near al-Qarrara in eastern Khan Younis. Thabet alleged that Israeli forces deliberately spray pesticides periodically on agricultural lands near the Gaza-Israeli border to destroy crops. Thabet added that the Red Cross made a trip to observe the damaged lands and reportedly estimated that 1500 dunams (371 acres) of land in central Gaza and 200 dunams (50 acres) of land in eastern Khan Younis were damaged according to initial reports. Thabet demanded that the Red Cross contact Israel and call for it to stop its violations against farmers in Gaza.
Israeli bulldozers level land, open fire in central Gaza Strip
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 23 Dec — Several Israeli bulldozers on Wednesday morning entered Palestinian land east of the al-Bureij refugee camp in the central Gaza Strip, opening fire. Witnesses told Ma‘an that four Israeli bulldozers entered 100 meters onto Palestinian territory and leveled land in the area. Israeli military accompanying the bulldozers opened fire during the operation, witnesses said, adding that no injuries were reported.
Gazan arrested after attempt to cross Israeli border fence
GAZA (PIC) 25 Dec — The Israeli occupation forces (IOF) on Thursday night arrested a Palestinian young man from the Gaza Strip after he tried to infiltrate into the 1948 occupied lands. Local sources said that the IOF arrested the young man near the security fence to the east of al-Maghazi refugee camp in central Gaza. Meanwhile, Israeli troops fired flares as they were combing the eastern areas of central Gaza. Local sources said that Israeli soldiers stationed at the Kissufim military post, south of Gaza, fired flares over the eastern parts of Deir al-Balah district and the refugee camps of al-Bureij and al-Maghazi, amid intensive drone overflights.
IOF opens fire at bird hunters east of Gaza City
GAZA (PIC) 26 Dec — The Israeli occupation forces (IOF) on Saturday morning opened fire at Palestinian bird hunters east of Gaza City, with no reported casualties. Local sources that Israeli soldiers at a military watchtower near the border fence east of Gaza City opened machinegun fire at Palestinians working on hunting birds. The Israeli occupation forces stationed behind the perimeter fence open fire at every Palestinian approaching or working in border areas, especially the farmers who own nearby plots of land.
Gaza’s children forced to work for a pittance amid war-torn ruins
BEIT HANOUN, Gaza (The Guardian) 23 Dec by Kate Shuttleworth — On a dirt road, concertinaed slabs of concrete and wire drape from flattened buildings, next to the only remaining housing that was not blown apart in the 2014 war between Israel and Hamas. A tall, neglected social housing block stands decrepit here in the northernmost point of the Gaza Strip. Two small boys shuffle between the ruined buildings with a plastic bucket, their tiny fingers working through the rubble. Aziz Rantasi, six, collects jagged pieces of cement shaped vaguely like stones. The fingernails on his tiny calloused hands are black. A pre-teen boy pulls up on an old bright red BMX bicycle. Aziz cranes his neck to look in awe. “I have never ridden a bike, I’d really like one,” he says. “The man buying stones will close soon so there’s no time for playing on a bike. But there are two things I wish for in life – a black bike and collecting stones.” Palestinians Aziz and his brother Abdul Fatah, eight, are paid five shekels, or 50 pence, for every 50kg they labour to gather. If they can find five cement bricks that are intact they earn 15 pence. Between them they make barely £5 a week, working on four or five afternoons after finishing school at 11am . . . after three wars in just six years, the economy is now on its knees. More children have been forced into work as a result of the last war as many lost one or both parents; or their parents became unemployed, injured, disabled or sick and were unable to work. Aziz and Abdul Fatah have a sick father. Diab Rantasi, 42, has untreated diabetes, so he is prone to seizures and losing consciousness, which makes it difficult for him to work. Their 10-year-old brother, Hamzah, has cerebral palsy. He lies buried in dirty, fluffy blankets inside the family’s three-room house and barely leaves it. Another brother, 18-month-old Fares, has had one of his eyes removed because of cancer – he is now in remission . . . .
AP Photos: Painters bring new life to hard-hit areas in Gaza
GAZA CITY 23 Dec — The Shati refugee camp in Gaza City has always been a symbol of poverty, a grey concrete jungle with 87,000 people packed into half a square kilometer, or about one fifth of a square mile. But now, overlooking the sewage-contaminated Mediterranean beachfront, the camp’s houses are covered in vibrant colors. About two dozen artists have painted the walls, doorsteps and facades of all the houses along a 1.5 kilometer-long (mile-long) edge, including in the area where Hamas chief Ismail Haniya lives . . . The painting campaign was funded by Palestinian investment company Padico. It is the latest and largest of four similar initiatives to color Gaza’s neighborhoods ravaged by last year’s war. Artists said the effort was inspired by similar projects in Mexico and Venezuela. “It’s a voluntary work to bring joy and happiness for our families and children in the Shati camp,” said Mohammed Dahman, a painter who worked for a month on the project. The artists drew flowers on the pastel yellow, pink and purple walls, used recycled wood to create slanted window frames, and converted old tires into flower pots. On one wall, they drew an elephant with its back as high as the wall. When children sit atop the wall, they appear as if they are riding the elephant.”They cleaned the camp. I came here and they were coloring, and I was like, ‘What’s this?’ I did not recognize the area,” said Karam Abdel-Bari, an unemployed camp resident. Here is a gallery of images by AP Photographer Hatem Moussa of Shati refugee camp.
Prisoners / Court actions
Israeli court to discuss the psych evaluation of Abu Khdeir’s murderer
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 24 Dec — An Israeli court on Thursday ruled to accept a psychiatric evaluation of an Israeli settler as evidence in a case regarding his role in the death of Palestinian Muhammad Abu Khdeir, 16, who was burned alive in July of 2014. The family’s lawyer, Muhannad Jbara, told Ma‘an that the court agreed to use the evaluation of the suspect, Yosef Ben-David, which will be discussed in court on Jan. 20, 2016. Jbara said the evaluation reportedly reveals that Ben-David has psychological and mental disorders that make him ineligible stand in court. “Approving the Israeli court to see the report does not mean they agree on what is in the report; it is only approval to discuss it,” Jbara told Ma‘an. The court approval to use the evaluation came despite a statement made by a doctor of the public prosecution who said that Ben-David was psychologically sound to stand in court, Jbara added. Abu Khdeir’s father, Hussein, condemned continued delays by the court in convicting Ben-David. “We were not surprised that they approved to discuss the report,” he told Ma‘an. “They have been delaying the case for a year-and-a-half…in each session and delay they burn Muhammad and us again and again,” the father said. Two Israelis were convicted in the murder of Abu Khdeir last month, however Ben-David — the ringleader of the deadly attack — escaped conviction after the court allowed him a last minute psychiatric evaluation. The two Israeli youths who were found guilty will be sentenced on Jan. 13, according to the AFP news agency. All three suspects confessed to the murder during questioning by Israeli police, admitting to beating the Palestinian teenager unconscious before pouring flammable liquid on him and burning him alive.
Ex-detainee minors held in Israeli prison sent letter to Pope
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 25 Dec — The Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem on Friday received a letter to pass on to Pope Francis on behalf of Palestinian minors being held in Israeli jails, a Palestinian official said. Akram Alayasa, Coordinator of International Relations in the PA Committee for Prisoners’ Affairs, told Ma‘an that a group of Palestinian children who were former prisoners of Israel, accompanied by officials, met with the Patriarch, Fuad Twal. Palestinian minors Issa Ahmed Al Muette, Julyana Zeyad Banourra, Tarek Reyad Ateya, Sofia Nasser Alayas, and Jameel Al Baabeesh greeted the Latin Patriarch on Christmas, alongside Issa Qaraqe, the head of the PA Committee for Prisoners’ Affairs. The letter handed off to the Patriarch calls on Pope Francis to “pray for the children of Palestine” who are “arrested and detained illegally and inhumanely.” The number of Palestinian child detainees held in Israeli prisons doubled in October, and the majority reported physical violence, strip searches, and poor conditions during their detention, according to Defense for Children International – Palestine.
More and more Israelis are being held without trial
+972 blog 24 Dec by Noam Rotem — Out of 402 people Israel was holding in administrative detention at the start of November, at least 31 were citizens or residents of Israel. Over the past decade, Israel has held 3,761 people without trial — Israel held at least 31 of its own residents and citizens in administrative detention during the month of November, according to a Knesset Research and Information Center report obtained by +972’s Hebrew-language sister site Local Call. That is a very large number when compared to the number of Israelis who have been held in administrative detention in recent years. According to the report, which was composed at the request of MK Basel Ghattas (Balad/Joint List), four of the administrative detainees are Jews, six are Palestinian citizens of Israel, and 21 are Palestinian permanent residents of Jerusalem. When you include Palestinians from the West Bank, Israel was holding a total of 402 administrative detainees as of the start of November. Other reports indicate that the number of administrative detainees has increased even more in December. Administrative detention is an extreme measure for revoking someone’s freedom without putting them on trial or even presenting any evidence or accusations he or she can contest. It is supposed to be used only in extraordinary circumstances. The legal authority for putting Israeli citizens administrative detention is drawn from the 1979 “Emergency Regulations” law, which is valid as long as the country remains in a “state of emergency.” Israel has been in a declared “state of emergency” since May 15, 1948, the same day it declared independence . . . .
Israel transfers hunger-striking Jordanian prisoner to hospital
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 23 Dec — The Israeli Prison Service transferred a Jordanian prisoner who has been on hunger strike for 45 days to a civilian hospital for treatment, the Palestinian Prisoners’ Society said in a statement. The PPS said a representative from the al-Ramla prison clinic in Israel told the society that Abdullah Abu Jaber had been transferred from the prison’s clinic to a civilian hospital after his health severely deteriorated. Abu Jaber, who is currently serving a 20 year sentence, has been on hunger strike in protest against his internment since July 18. The Jordanian national is demanding that he be deported or transferred to a Jordanian prison to serve out the remainder of his sentence. Issa Qaraqe, the head of the PA Committee for Prisoner’s Affairs, said Israeli authorities have threaten to force feed Abu Jaber if he does not willingly end his strike. On July 30, the Israeli parliament approved a law allowing prisoners on hunger strike to be force fed, sparking criticism from rights groups and medical experts.
Land, property, resources theft & destruction / Ethnic cleansing
Jerusalem expulsions target actvists and community leaders
EI 26 Dec by Budour Youssef Hassan — Whenever Palestinians stand up for their rights in Jerusalem, it is a safe bet that Samer Abu Eisheh will be there. It is hard to imagine a protest near the Damascus Gate — an entrance to the Old City — without his bellowing voice. It is the 28-year-old’s relentless activism that could sunder him from his home, however. After nearly three months under house arrest, the TV producer and community leader was handed a five-month expulsion order from Jerusalem this week. It was issued by an Israeli district commander. Abu Eisheh and another Palestinian are currently sitting in at the Red Cross offices in Jerusalem to protest and defy the orders. The order follows the recent sharpening of an Israeli policy to revoke Palestinian residency rights in Jerusalem. In September, Silvan Shalom, the Israeli interior minister, vowed to revoke residency rights of those judged to “breach allegiance to the State of Israel.” Since then, five expulsion orders have been issued. Israel has occupied East Jerusalem since June 1967 and formally annexed it in 1980. As a result, Palestinians living there have been categorized as “permanent residents,” a status that is vulnerable to revocation. Israel meanwhile prevents Palestinians with West Bank identity cards from freely accessing the city. Under international law, Israel’s annexation of East Jerusalem is null and void. Between 1967 and 2013, more than 14,300 Palestinians have had their residency status revoked, with the Israeli authorities mostly citing administrative reasons. Only a small number of Palestinians have been threatened with revocation for alleged acts of “terror.” . . . “After the inevitable rejection from the district court, I will appeal to the supreme court,” Abu Eisheh said. Israel’s high court is also known as its supreme court. “Afterwards, I will use every possible international channel so I can remain with my wife in Jerusalem,” he said. But this is not just about him. “I want to use my case to highlight the issue of deportation facing Jerusalemites. We need to send the occupation a message that we will not meekly succumb as they try to kick us out of our own city.” Abu Eisheh believes that the expulsion policy is part of a broader project in Jerusalem to rid the city of its indigenous population.
Bedouin couples seeking to build a home in their village face Kafkaesque nightmare, courtesy of Israel
Haaretz 27 Dec by Amira Hass — The state argues the couples should apply for a building permit – technically unfeasible – or relocate to the Palestinian Authority — Twenty-seven Bedouins living east of Jerusalem petitioned the High Court of Justice to let them live close to their parents, but not in the same tent. The state argued they should relocate to the Palestinian Authority. “If the petitioners need housing, let them go to the Palestinian Authority, whose subjects they are,” Yitzhak Bart from the State Prosecutor’s Office told the court when it heard the petition earlier this month. The attorney for the Bedouins, Shlomo Lecker, hoped the court would show young couples similar understanding as it did when suspending demolition orders for their parents’ huts and tents in previous years. But he realized the court was not going to act in their favor and withdrew the petition. Bart told the court that the petitioners, from nine different Bedouin encampments east of Jerusalem, could leave their tribe and move to Areas A and B, which are controlled by the Palestinian Authority. Khawla and Hassan, from the Khan Al Ahmar encampment, say that even if they were willing to abandon their families, culture, way of life and livelihood and live on their own, they don’t have the money to rent or buy an apartment in the Palestinian towns. Nor do most Bedouins their age. For them, the natural solution is to live beside their parents’ and siblings’ hut or tent, as their tribe has done for decades. The state refuses to consider this option. “If they want to build in Area C (under Israeli control), they must file an application for a building permit or go to the official in charge of the Bedouin in the Civil Administration in a bid to find a solution (with no assurance that such a solution will be found),” Bart says. However, this is not a realistic option, because, as Bart knows, Israel has never developed master plans for the Bedouin communities in their current locations, and issues building permits only to owners of the land. The Bedouin live on land they lease from Palestinian villages, or public land. . . .
Controversial bill on settlement funding signed into law
Times of Israel 24 Dec by Sue Surkes — Jewish Home party lauds regulation of WZO settlement division activities; opposition says law aims to fund illegal outposts — A contentious bill sponsored by right-wing Jewish Home party legislator Bezalel Smotrich was signed into law on Thursday, over the objection of opposition lawmakers, who claimed it aimed to deceive the US and channel funds to illegal settlement outposts in the West Bank. The legislation, approved by 53 to 48 votes with one abstention, anchors in law the status of the World Zionist Organization’s Settlement Division as a recognized arm of the government with the power — subject to government oversight — to fund and develop rural Jewish communities both within and over the Green Line. For nearly half a century, the Settlement Division has played a key role in managing land and infrastructure. The group’s stated aim is to create and support rural communities in the West Bank, Golan Heights and Israel. The new law allows the government to delegate authority to the Division to transfer funds to communities and settlements in an orderly fashion, to publish tenders and to budget, oversee and provide support for development projects. Yair Lapid, head of the opposition Yesh Atid party, linked the bill to the video released Wednesday in which far-right wedding revelers could be seen repeatedly stabbing a picture of the Palestinian baby Ali Dawabsha, who was burned to death along with his parents in an arson attack in the West Bank on July 31. “It’s time that we came out against the extremism of this blood wedding which was born in the same outposts that this bill is trying to fund,” Lapid said during a Knesset plenum deliberation ahead of the vote. “Earlier on, we saw the dance of blood. These people are not Jews and we have to fight them just like we fight Hamas and Hezbollah,” he continued
Israeli settlers flood Palestinians’ land with wastewater near Hebron
RAMALLAH (WAFA) 23 Dec – Israeli settlers from the illegal Metarim industrial zone located to the east of Dahriya, south of Hebron, flooded land which belongs to Palestinians. Bahjat Jabarin, Project and Proposal Manager of Environmental Quality Authority in Hebron, said the illegal settlement of Metarim includes four factories for soap, stone cutting, mineral oils and aluminum.
In the last two days, settlers intentionally discharged a huge amount of wastewater produced in these factories onto farmers’ lands, which Palestinians use for agricultural purposes, said Jabarin. He added that the settlement directorate took over dozens of acres of the land and planted solar cells in the area. Khirbet Zanuta, which was flooded with wastewater, is rich with archaeological sites and is inhabited by 30 families living in caves and tents. The families make their living through raising animals and agriculture. The inhabitants of this area suffer from the constant risk of displacement and prosecution by the Israeli army and settlers, in addition to restricting their access through shutting down the main road leading to the Khirba. It is located five kilometers east of Dahriya, adjacent to al-Samu‘ town on the bypass road linking to Kiryat Arba, Ariel, Shima, and Tene settlements and the Beersheba crossing.
Closures / Restrictions on movement
Israel reopens Ramallah-area street after months of closure
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 23 Dec — Israeli forces on Wednesday re-opened al-Jalazun Street leading to Ramallah after having closed it for months. Israeli forces reportedly announced that the street was re-opened and hoped that “calmness would continue in the area.”
Palestinian refugees – Syria
Group: 3 Palestinian refugees killed in Syria fighting
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 26 Dec — Three Palestinian refugees were killed in the outskirts of the Syrian capital of Damascus on Friday, said a Syria-based Palestinian monitoring group. The Workforce for Palestinians in Syria said in a statement that two Palestinians were killed by artillery shelling in Khan al-Sheikh refugee camp. The group did not identify the group responsible for the shelling. The day before, three others had been killed from the camp after fighter jets from the Syrian regime dropped four barrel bombs in the area. Syrian military checkpoints continued closed the main road between Khan al-Sheikh refugee camp and Damascus, preventing residents access to basic necessities, the Workplace for Palestinians in Syria group added. The group said that a third Palestinian, identified as Muhammad Hamid al-Kafri, was shot dead Friday during clashes taking place outside of the Yarmouk refugee camp and the Syrian town of Yalda between Syrian rebels and Islamic State militants. Al-Kafri, a father of two, was originally from the Palestinian village of Lubia but fled to Syria, among around 750,000 Palestinians to be displaced in 1948 following the establishment of Israel, the monitoring group said . . . The group said that 3084 Palestinian refugees have been killed since the Syrian conflict began in 2011, including 415 women, and 1022 Palestinians have been imprisoned including 75 women . . .
Around 100,000 Palestinians have been among the over four million people to flee Syria. Many of those who fled have attempted to cross to Europe by both land and sea, as well as to neighboring countries, despite the denial of rights granted to other refugees that decrease chances for Palestinian refugees to gain access into other countries. The 450,000 Palestinians who have remained in Syria, meanwhile, have come under repeated attacks and sieges making it nearly impossible for UNWRA to deliver the population basic necessities.
Abbas in Bethlehem for Christmas celebrations despite day of violence
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 25 Dec — Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas on Thursday arrived in Bethlehem as thousands flocked to the holy city for Christmas celebrations, despite a day of violence in the occupied West Bank. The president, as well as Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah, participated in holiday festivities in Bethlehem’s Old City before attending a midnight mass at the Church of the Nativity. Prior to his visit, Abbas in a statement prided [praised] the integral role of Palestinian Christians in creating a “rich and diverse society” for hundreds of years, and praised steps taken among the Christian community internationally in the fight to end Israeli military occupation. “This year, we witnessed more churches around the world supporting the call for recognition of the State of Palestine, and an increasing number of Christian groups campaigning to divest from companies that profit from the Israeli occupation of our land,” the president said. Despite sending a message of hope for the “city of peace,” Abbas lamented the violence and ongoing violations by the Israeli military that tarnished this year’s Christmas season . . . The president said that in Bethlehem especially — surrounding by eighteen illegal settlements and cut off by the separation wall — Israeli policies continue to “destroy” the possibility for a two-state solution. While Bethlehem — believed to be the birthplace of Jesus Christ — is usually massed by tourists during the holiday season, recent violence across the occupied Palestinian territory warded off visitors this year, devastating the livelihoods of local Palestinians who depend on the influx of religious pilgrims. Celebrations by the Palestinian Christian community itself were also tamped down, in light of the violence that has left over 130 Palestinians dead since the beginning of October.
Photos: Palestinian Christians have got as much Christmas spirit as anyone — see for yourself
World.Mic 24 Dec by Natasha Noman — Every year, the Palestinian Christian population celebrates Christmas with gusto, despite limited resources and mobility restrictions. The birthplace of Jesus Christ, Palestinian and Israeli territories hold special significance to adherents of the religion. “For us the King of Peace was born on this land and in this land there is no peace,” one Palestinian Christian in Bethlehem told a photographer for the Institute for Middle East Understanding. “We celebrate the holiday of Christ and we consider him the King of Peace. We seek him but we are unable to live in peace. How do we celebrate?” The institute sent photographers to Bethlehem, Nazareth and the Gaza Strip to see how this oft overlooked Christian population gets into the spirit. Like visiting the Sa’ed family who live in Bethlehem on the West Bank, where it’s restricted for them from being able to visit relatives in Palestinian territories like the West Bank or the Gaza.
US State Department rejects lawmakers’ calls to close PLO office
WASHINGTON (Reuters) 22 Dec — The US State Department on Tuesday rejected calls by 32 congressional lawmakers, including Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz, to close the Washington office of the Palestinian Liberation Organization.” In a letter dated December 18, the lawmakers called on Secretary of State John Kerry to revoke a waiver that allows the PLO office in Washington to remain open. They argued that Palestinian leaders encouraged violence against Israelis, including a wave of knife-wielding attacks in recent months. “The United States government has an obligation to publicly denounce the PLO’s actions and should immediately revoke its waiver,” according to a copy of the letter posted on Cruz’s website. “Allowing the PLO to maintain an office in Washington, DC provides no benefit to the United States or the peace process. State Department spokeswoman Elizabeth Trudeau confirmed that the department had received the letter and said Kerry would respond to it. “We believe that closing the PLO office would be detrimental to our ongoing efforts to calm tensions between Israelis and Palestinians, advance a two-state solution and strengthen the US-Palestinian partnership,” Trudeau told reporters. She said every US administration since 1994 had used the waiver to keep the PLO office open. “We believe the PLO has a valid place … and we’d oppose those efforts” to close the office, Trudeau said, adding that Kerry had condemned the attacks.
UN adopts resolution on Palestinian sovereignty over natural resources
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) — The United Nations General Assembly on Tuesday adopted a resolution demanding Palestinian sovereignty over natural resources under Israeli occupation. The draft solution, “Permanent sovereignty of the Palestinian people in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, and of the Arab population in the occupied Syrian Golan over their natural resources,” was adopted with 164 votes in favor and five against. Member states that voted against the measure included Canada, Federated States of Micronesia, Israel, Marshall Islands, and the United States. Ten other states abstained from the vote. The resolution is the latest to be adopted through ongoing efforts by Palestinian leadership to take measures against Israel in the international arena following decades of failed peace talks. The adopted resolution demands that Israel cease the exploitation, damage, cause of loss or depletion and endangerment of Palestinian natural resources, and recognize the right of Palestinians under military occupation to claim restitution. . . .
Video: Dr. Tibi’s response to racist anti-Christian statement by Gopstein
IMEMC 23 Dec — This video is from a speech made by Arab Member of Knesset, Dr. Ahmad Tibi, head of the Arab Movement for Change, who denounced recent racist statements of the leader of the right-wing group, Lehava, who called for the expulsion of non-Jews from Israel, and described the Christians as “bloodsucking vampires”. Translated to English from Arabic by Saed Bannoura: “Members of Knesset, approximately two hours ago, my comrades Ayman Odeh, Osama Sa‘adi and myself visited the village of Beitello, northeast of Ramallah, where at night, a terrorist of the Price Tag Israeli group broke a window of a Palestinian home, about one after midnight, and hurled gas bombs into the building, where Hussein Najjar, his wife and child were sleeping. The question is how come gangs of Price Tag groups feel free to attack, to write racist graffiti such as ‘greetings from the detainees of Zion’. Why do they feel they can freely move around, invade Palestinian towns, and carry out ugly crimes, to kill and to burn entire Palestinian families? I link all of this to what am reading and seeing today regarding Benzi Gopstein, the horrible things he said against the Christians, against the Muslims”, Tibi said. “He said the Christians are bloodsucking vampires that must be expelled. “Expelled from where? From their Homeland? From their land? From their homes?” Tibi went on to say, “Isn’t it enough you expelled the Christians from Eqreth and Birim village, as well as so many other towns? And, then, you attack Muslims too. What we are talking about, here, is the highlight of the Israeli racism. . . .
Bethlehem suffers as the world stays away from the birthplace of Christmas
BETHLEHEM 24 Dec by Peter Beaumont — Outside the Jacir Palace – Bethlehem’s most luxurious hotel – the pavement stinks of skunk water, the foul-smelling substance used by Israel’s security forces to quell disturbances. Elsewhere, spent teargas canisters and foam-tipped bullets are swept into a sooty drift in the gutter. Close to the looming Israeli separation wall and a watchtower, the street outside the Jacir sees regular clashes between Palestinians and Israeli troops. They are so regular that when the teargas billows, guests must enter through a side door. Inside the Jacir, the lobby is empty. The hotel should be full at this time of year but even in the middle of Bethlehem’s high season it has barely 50% occupancy. Johnny Kattan, one of the managers, leads the way down to the ballroom, usually at the centre of the Jacir’s festivities. In a normal year this room, complete with Christmas tree, would host a gala dinner for 350 people. But this year isn’t normal. The dinner has been cancelled and the hotel’s famous bar has been closed. Kattan blames a perfect storm of circumstances for the town’s woes. “After the Paris attacks, Europe stood up as one and decided it wasn’t coming [to the Middle East],” he says. “We also used to get a lot of people from eastern Europe who come via Turkey and visit here, but not after the Russian plane [downed over the Sinai desert in Egypt in October]. Then there is the situation here …” Kattan is referring to what Palestinians are calling now a haba shaabiya – or popular uprising – which in the past three months has seen 126 Palestinians and 19 Israelis killed. Five of the Palestinians were from the Bethlehem area.
Is religion an obstacle to Israeli-Palestinian peace?
+(72 Mag 25 Dec by Noam Sheizaf — Pew publishes surprising new data on religion in Israel, Palestine and the region — We often hear that Israelis and Palestinians are more religious than other national groups, or at the very least are becoming more religious. This, they claim, makes any solution to the conflict more difficult to reach. A new Pew Research Center report reveals some rather surprising results vis-a-vis religion in Israel and Palestine. Thirty-four percent of Israelis said that religion is “very important” in their lives, placing them at the top of the bottom one-third of countries listed, and — unsurprisingly — the lowest in the Middle East. Meanwhile, 74 percent of Palestinians said that religion is very important in their lives. On the face of it, this is a very high statistic, but the poll also finds that there is an inverse correlation between wealth and religiosity [with notable exceptions like the US and China]. Put simply, people in poorer nations tend to place more importance on religion than those in wealthier nations, and Palestinians are significantly poorer than Israelis. [See charts]
Siraj Center: Tourism for true rapprochement between peoples
Siraj Center 24 Dec — The Siraj Center makes up the Alternative Travel Department of The Palestinian Centre for Rapprochement between People (PCR). The Siraj Center is a nonprofit tour operator, and is licensed by the Palestinian Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities. The goal is to bridge the gaps between Palestinians and people from all around the world, having them experience the authenticity of Palestinian heritage, culture and hospitality. Being part of a non-profit organization, Siraj Center strives to serve the rural community through its alternative programs, such as walking, hiking, biking, homestay, interfaith, twinning of cities, youth programs and non-formal educational programs for educational institutions such as Harvard University, Boston College, Illinois University, Leeds University, Swarthmore College, Westtown High School, etc. In addition, trainings and workshops have been held for rural families to gain better skills and knowledge about hosting visitors in their homes. Siraj is one of the main partners of the Abraham Path in Palestine (www.masaribrahim.ps) – a long distance walking trail retracing the footsteps of Abraham. Siraj has been successfully empowering local communities socially and economically through the cultural walking route that traverses unspoiled rural Palestine, and that highlights the history, heritage, biodiversity, and landscape of this area . . . Siraj welcomes visitors from all around the world to come to Palestine. For more information, please visit www.sirajcenter.org or contact [email protected].
Two Israeli Arabs suspected of attempting to join ISIS, planning attack on soldiers
Haaretz 25 Dec by Noa Shpigel & Gili Cohen — Two cousins from northern Israel were indicted Thursday for seeking to join the Islamic State group in Syria and then planning an attack on IDF soldiers in Israel. The Shin Bet security service says both have confessed. Ahmed Talal Sa’ida, 20, of Umm al-Ghanam and Mohammed Omar Bader Hassan, 23, of Reineh followed the Islamic State on Facebook for about a year, according to the indictment filed in the Nazareth District Court. They watched videos produced by the group that demonstrated how to use weapons and how to behead someone with a sword. They also viewed clips on the Islamic State group’s battles in Syria. They then decided to go to Syria to join the group. To this end, they sought help from two people – a former resident of Nazareth who had already gone to Syria to fight for ISIS and a Syrian. In May, the cousins went to Turkey to attempt to cross the border. After landing, they met with an Islamic State smuggler who was supposed to get them over the border into Syria. But due to insistent pleading by their families, they eventually changed their minds and returned to Israel in June. But even after returning, Hassan remained in contact with an Islamic State operative in Iraq. In early November, the cousins met at Sa’ida’s workplace in Daburiyya and discussed an attack they planned against Israeli soldiers at Golani Junction. Sa’ida then contacted Saher Sa’ida of Umm al-Ghanam and asked for help in buying a gun, “saying he wanted to prepare for Judgment Day, when the Islamic State would arrive in Israel,” the indictment stated.
ISIS leader warns Israel: We’re coming
Ynet 26 Dec by Roi Kais — ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi threatened Israel in an audio recording released on Saturday. “The Jews thought we forgot Palestine and that they had distracted us from it,” says al-Baghdadi in the recording. “Not at all, Jews. We did not forget Palestine for a moment. With the help of Allah, we will not forget it… The pioneers of the jihadist fighters will surround you on a day that you think is distant and we know is close. We are getting closer every day.”
Religious ultranationalist Zionists have taken over Israel / Gideon Levy
Haaretz 23 Dec — First they built the settlements, then they killed off the two-state solution, now they are free to turn to their next target — We can already announce the winner. Religious ultranationalism, which hides behind the worn-out name “religious Zionism,” has won, big time. With the appointment of the new police commissioner, head of the Mossad and the expected appointment of the attorney general, each belonging to their camp, they have captured additional outposts of decisive power. Now the entire top leadership of the legal system (the state prosecutor and Tel Aviv district prosecutor are theirs too) and part of the defense establishment is in their hands. The inroads into the media have already been made. A religious IDF chief of staff, president of the Supreme Court and prime minister are only a matter of time. Everything seems coincidental, as the pieces of the puzzle are being filled in. It is packed with yeshiva graduates, wearing a kippa or not, and with a deep, resilient common denominator, despite their differences. With victory comes the taste for more: Arrogance and the intoxication of power grow stronger. Yoaz Hendel, one of theirs, even without a kippa, laid out the new boundaries of this sector: “The secular Tel Avivian has become irrelevant,” he said, as reported in Yedioth Ahronoth on Friday. “The entire struggle between liberals and conservatives in Israeli society is being conducted today within religious Zionism. This is the new elite, and it is no longer interested in compromises.” Hendel is right. His shocking, outrageous words are rooted in the ground of reality. We must recognize it . . . With negligible contributions to society, the economy, culture, science, literature and art; with a common denominator based mostly on messianic, religious, racist beliefs and a hatred of the other, especially the Arab; with a fictitious love of the land, isolation from the world and a folkloric religion, all wrapped in gooey kitsch; without practical vision; with a hollow spiritual leadership that bases its power on incitement to hatred and approval of bloodshed; at the focal points of violence and breeding grounds of corruption, and with insufferable arrogance this movement has exploited the vacuum, the horrible apathy that has spread in secular society, and climbed its way up to the high reaches of power . . . .