Eviction of Bedouin village approved by Israeli Supreme Court
IMEMC/Agencies 19 Jan — The Israeli Supreme Court refused to reconsider a decision to demolish the unrecognized Bedouin village of Umm al-Hiran, and ordered to evict all its residents, Adalah center reported on Sunday. Adalah, the legal center for Arab minority rights in Israel, reported that the Supreme Court rejected its extraordinary motion for a second hearing on the case. They requested that the court reconsider its decision to approve Israel’s plane to evict the village’s 1,000 Palestinian Bedouin residents, in order to build Jewish town of Hiran, and expand the Yatir Forest over its ruins. The Court’s refusal to reconsider its May 5 2015 ruling effectively means that the eviction and demolition procedures against the village can proceed. In response to the decision, Adalah emphasized, according to Al Ray, that “The Court, today, wrote yet another chapter – the fourth, to be precised – in the history of expulsion and displacement of the Bedouin families since 1948, despite the fact that they were moved to these villages by the Israeli military government in 1956.”
Violence / Detentions — West Bank / Jerusalem
Palestinian teen shot after knife attack in stable condition
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 19 Jan — A Palestinian teen who was shot and injured on Monday after stabbing and severely injuring a 30-year-old pregnant Israeli is in stable condition, a lawyer from the Palestinian Prisoners’ Society said Tuesday. The lawyer said Muhammad Kamel Shaalan, 15 and from Bethlehem, is being treated at Hadassa Hospital in occupied East Jerusalem for a gunshot wound to his left leg. Doctors performed surgery on Shaalan, who is still unconscious due to medications. Shalaan stabbed and moderately injured a 30-year-old pregnant Israeli woman identified as Michal Froman after breaking into a clothing warehouse in the illegal Israeli settlement of Tekoa. Following the stabbing, an Israeli security guard shot and injured Shalaan, who was at first reported in Palestinian and Israeli media as having been killed. [Froman is described as 18 weeks pregnant and ‘moderately wounded’]
Palestinian cyclist killed in West Bank car accident
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 18 Jan — A Palestinian cyclist was killed and another wounded on Monday afternoon when they were hit by a vehicle with Israeli license plates near the northern occupied West Bank town of Salfit, Israeli media reports said. Initial reports that the vehicle was driven by settlers were not confirmed, and locals in Salfit said the driver may have been a Palestinian from Kafr Qasim in northern Israel. The killed cyclist was later identified as Khalil Mousa Amer, 19 from the village of Mas’ha, while his brother, 17-year-old Udayy, was injured. Relatives told Ma‘an that they believed it was likely to have been a car accident and not a settler attack. They added that the accident took place near the Kafr Qasim checkpoint on the road leading to the village of Mas’ha.
Silwan: Raiding residential houses . . . self-demolition . . . erasing murals in the neighborhood of Ein Al-Lozeh
SILWAN, Jerusalem (SILWANIC) 18 Jan — The occupation forces raided on Sunday night the neighborhood of Ein Al-Lozeh in Silwan and breached into several residential houses and checked young men’s IDs under the pretext of looking for stone-throwers. Meanwhile, municipality crews erased murals drawn on the neighborhood’s walls and one resident was forced to execute the municipality’s order and self-demolish a livestock barrack . . . The locals explained that the forces along with the dogs unit raided the neighborhood and fired tear-gas canisters while withdrawing; a procedure taken to terrify the children as explained by one resident. Locals also explained that raiding Hosh Abu Tayeh is becoming repetitive on a daily basis in which the forces deliberately provoke the residents. During Sunday’s raid, women were pushed and children were terrified by the dogs that accompanied the forces; one officer threatened to demolish the neighborhood’s homes . . . Mahmoud Abbasi executed the municipality’s order and self-demolished a livestock barracks to avoid a 40-thousand NIS fine and two months prison sentence. Yousef Abbasi explained that his brother was forced to demolish the barracks in execution of the municipality’s order; he had until the end of the current month to execute the order. Abbasi explained that the barracks was 30 square meters that has been established 6 months ago.
Undercover Israeli forces detain Fatah official in Nablus
NABLUS (Ma‘an) 18 Jan — Undercover Israeli forces on Monday detained a Fatah official from his home in the Old City of Nablus, Palestinian security sources told Ma‘an. Palestinian security sources said Israeli forces dressed as construction workers detained Muhammad Mahmoud al-Tabouq, 34 and a Fatah official, from the al-Sheikh Musallam area of the Old City after raiding and ransacking the official’s home around 6 a.m. The sources added that no other homes in the area were raided. The reason for al-Tabouq’s detention is unknown, but sources said al-Tabouq had previously served 10 years in Israeli prison. Undercover Israeli forces — known as “must‘arabin” — are used by Israeli security and military forces to detain Palestinians in occupied East Jerusalem and the West Bank. Reports of undercover forces in Palestinian areas have increased since Oct. 1, coinciding with increased detentions that have taken place across the occupied area.
15 Palestinians detained, 1 suspected of attack on Israeli settler
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 19 Jan — Sixteen Palestinians were detained early Tuesday, while a teen suspected of stabbing and killing an Israeli settler was also detained, Palestinian sources and the Israeli army said. An Israeli army spokesperson told Ma‘an that a Palestinian had been detained following an “extensive search operation” carried out jointly by Israeli security agency Shin Bet and the Israeli army. The Palestinian was detained on suspicion of stabbing and killing 39-year-old Israeli woman Dafna Meir in her home in the illegal settlement of Otneil on Sunday, the spokesperson said . . . The suspect in the Otneil stabbing was identified by the Palestinian Prisoners’ Society as 15-year-old Mourad Adais [or Ed‘eis] from the Hebron-district city of Yatta, east of the Otniel settlement . . .
Separately, 16 Palestinians were detained from across the occupied West Bank, according to a statement released by the Palestinian Prisoners’ Society. In the Nablus area, Israeli forces detained Ayman Muhammad Ahmad Odeh, 38, Ahmad Ata Warrad, 26, Zakariyya Mahir Hamayil, 20, Muhammad Ali Hussein Yasin, 20 and Eyhab Jihad Shaltaf, 20. Further to the north, Israeli forces raided towns in the Jenin district, detaining Sayf Adnan Zeid al-Kilani, 22, Khalid Walid Atatra, 23, Jamil Salih Amarna, 31, and Abdullah Ahmad Hirzallah. Meanwhile in the Hebron-area town of Beit Ummar, local activist Muhammad Ayyad Awad told Ma‘an that Israeli forces stormed the home of Arwad Muhammad Badran,18, and Ameer Muhammad Ikhlayel,19, before detaining the two. Forces also raided the house of Muhammad Musleh Awad and summoned his son Omar, 25, to meet with Israeli intelligence, Awad added. Detention raids were also reported in East Jerusalem, according to the Palestinian Prisoners’ Society, identified as Muhammad Rishiq and Nidal Bazlamit, both 17 years of age. Omar Samir Shalash, 24 was detained in Bethlehem in the southern West Bank as well as Wisam Isam Odeh, 18 from Tulkarem in the north, the group added.
Soldiers assault Palestinians after abducting them, force many in the cold
IMEMC/Agencies 19 Jan — The Palestinian Prisoners Society (PPS) has reported, Tuesday, that Israeli soldiers assaulted three Palestinians after kidnapping them, and forced several others [out] in the cold for many hours after abducting them. PPS lawyer Jackeline Fararja said she visited the detainees in the Etzion Israeli military and security base, south of Bethlehem. She said that detainee Firas Nasser Moqbel, 22, who was taken prisoner from his home in Betunia town, west of Ramallah, and was assaulted by several soldiers, who struck and beat him on various parts of his body, causing many injuries. The lawyer also said that Israeli interrogators in Etzion cuffed Moqbel, and placed a slingshot on him, before taking several pictures. In addition, the soldiers kidnapped Rafat Hussein Shallash, 33, from Hebron, and No’man Saleh Hammad, 19, from Ramallah, before repeatedly beating and kicking them, in addition to striking them with their rifles while arresting them. The PPS also said that the soldiers kidnapped Majd Abdul-Rahman Saleh, No’man Abdul-Rahman Saleh, Abdul-Qader Yahya Hammad, Haitham Mohammad Ayyad, Majd Mohammad Ayyad, Anwar Minwer Shweika and Firas Shihda Daoud, all from Silwad town, in Ramallah district, and held them in the cold, in Ofer prison yards, from midnight until nine in the morning, while keeping them cuffed and blindfolded. In Hebron, the soldiers kidnapped Mohammad Mirshid Za’aqeeq, from Beit Ummar town, north of Hebron, in addition to Khaled Mohammad al-Jondi, from Yatta town, and also held them in the cold, in Keryat Arba’ settlement and Susiya military base, from midnight until morning.
Israeli soldiers kidnap 19 Palestinians in the West Bank
IMEMC/Agencies 20 Jan — Israeli soldiers have kidnapped, on Wednesday at dawn, nineteen Palestinians, after invading and searching their homes, in different communities in the occupied West Bank, including Jerusalem. Media sources in Hebron, in the southern part of the West Bank, has reported that the soldiers invaded Sa‘ir town, north of the city, and kidnapped Mahmoud Shehada al-Metwer, 16, and Majd Sultan Jabarin, 16. The soldiers also invaded the homes of Mahmoud Shalalda, his brothers Mohammad and Ahmad, and violently searched them. In addition, several military vehicles invaded the al-Fawwar refugee camp, south of Hebron, searched homes and kidnapped Ayman at-Teety, 17 . . .In the West Bank district of Bethlehem, the soldiers kidnapped a child, identified as Mohammad Thieb Shakarna, 15, from Nahhalin town west of Bethlehem, and Ahmad Radwan Hamamra, 23, from Beit Sahour, east of Bethlehem. Several Israeli military vehicles also invaded Thannaba area, in the northern West bank city of Tulkarem, searched many homes and kidnapped seven Palestinians . . . Israeli military sources said one soldier was shot and mildly injured, during the “arrest campaign in Tulkarem,” and that shooter managed to escape while the soldiers initiated extensive searches in the area . . . .
Bader: ‘My son did not kill the settler, he was playing in schoolyard’
IMEMC 20 Jan by Saed Bannoura — Bader Abdullah Ed‘eis, the father of Morad, aged 16, denied Israeli allegations that his son was behind the killing of a settler woman in Otneil Israeli colony, and said that his son was playing in a school playground, at least 3 kilometers away from the settlement, when the attack took place. “I do not buy the Israeli lies and fabrications; they are claiming that my son killed the woman after infiltrating into the settlement,” Bader said, “He was playing in the school playground, near our home, and returned home. On Sunday at night, he slept at his grandmother’s home, and on Monday, Morad came with me and slept at home, as the family is busy because my mother-in-law in preparing for surgery.” His brother, Qais, said that he and their friends were playing soccer in the school’s playground, and, when they heard the sirens in the settlement, they returned home. In addition, the father said that the Israeli soldiers detonated the main door of his home, around 3 at dawn, and invaded the property, searching for his son, Morad. “They handcuffed and blindfolded us; I was placed in one room and my son in another,” he added, “One of the officers told me that my home will be demolished, and I will be sent to Gaza.” . . . “Israel is lying; I would have personally handed him to the Palestinian Authority to protect him from himself, if I ever saw any indication that he intended to attack anybody,” the father said, “Nobody can send their sons and daughters to die; my son has nothing to do with that attack.” It is worth mentioning that Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, said Israel will demolish the family home of Ed‘eis, while Israeli Housing Minister Yuav Galant calling for exiling the family to Syria, and deputy defense minister Elie Ben Dahan, called for “removing the family from the country.”
Israel police arrest Jewish suspect in Jerusalem church vandalism
Nir Hasson of Haaretz/AP 20 Jan — Police arrested a 16-year-old Jewish teen on suspicion of scrawling anti-Christian graffiti earlier this week at a famous Jerusalem church. Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said on Wednesday the 16-year-old was arrested just two days after the vandalism was discovered on Sunday at the Dormition Abbey, where Christian tradition says the Virgin Mary died. The suspect was questioned on Wednesday morning, and was scheduled to be brought forward to the Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court to extend his remand. Anti-Christian slogans were scrawled on the church’s walls and doors using red and black markers. These included: “Christians to Hell,” “May his name be obliterated” (a supposed Hebrew acronym of Jesus’ name in Hebrew), “Death to the heathen Christians the enemies of Israel” and more.
Red Cross: Palestinian paramedics did not refuse to treat Israelis after attack
El Balad 19 Jan — An internal probe conducted by the International Committee of the Red Cross found that its Palestinian affiliate did not refuse to treat two Israeli victims who were shot in a November attack after allegations emerged that the pair had died after not receiving proper medical care from the organization, AFP reported Monday. Rabbi Ya’akov Litman, 40, and his son Netanel, 18, were shot to death by Palestinians outside Otniel south of Hebron on November 13 while driving to a Shabbat pre-celebration wedding party when a gunman opened fire on their vehicle. Five other family members – Litman’s wife, three daughters aged 5, 9, and 11, and a 16-year-old son – suffered minor wounds in the attack. Following the deadly incident, Litman’s wife claimed that the Palestinian Red Crescent Society refused to treat her husband and son when they arrived at the scene, leading to accusations that the organization had failed to remain neutral, AFP added . . . However, after concluding its investigation Monday, the ICRC said the Palestinian Red Crescent was not culpable of any wrongdoing, adding that the two men had died before the PRCS arrived at the scene. “A two-person emergency medical team of the PRCS, responding to an emergency call, was the first team to arrive on the scene,” the ICRC said in a statement. “None of the survivors required emergency medical assistance and tragically there was nothing more the PRCS team could do for those who had been shot and killed.” It added that the PRCS had left only after Israeli emergency medical services arrived at the scene of the incident.
Restrictions on movement
Palestinian workers barred from Israeli settlements
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 19 Jan — Palestinians have been banned from working in illegal Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank following recent attacks, Israel’s army said. “In light of the daily situation assessment following recent terror attacks, security measures have been taken,” an Israeli army spokesperson told Ma‘an. ”As of today, Palestinian workers cannot enter Israeli communities in Judea and Samaria,” the spokesperson said, referring to the occupied West Bank. The duration of the ban could not be confirmed, but the spokesperson told Ma‘an the “situation” would be “reviewed on a daily basis.” The measure will impact around 11,000 Palestinian laborers who work in settlements in the West Bank — around 2 percent of the working Palestinian population, according to Palestinian policy network Al-Shabaka. The Israeli army told Israeli daily Haaretz prior to the implementation of the ban that the decision was “not ‘collective punishment,’ but necessary to maintain order inside settlements.” An Israeli settler on Monday was stabbed and injured by a Palestinian man in the illegal settlement of Tekoa south of Bethlehem, one day after an Israeli settler was killed in her home in the illegal settlement of Otneil south of Hebron on Sunday.
Major West Bank checkpoint to be severely restricted
NABLUS (Ma‘an) 19 Jan — A major Israeli military checkpoint in the northern West Bank district of Nablus will be shut for designated hours every day starting Wednesday, Palestinian officials said. Osama Mansour, head of the Palestinian military liaison in Nablus, told Ma‘an that the Israeli authorities notified the Palestinian Authority on Tuesday that the Huwwara checkpoint would be closed to south-bound traffic leaving Nablus during the morning and evening rush hours. North-bound traffic traveling into the district via the checkpoint would still be permitted, Mansour said. He said the restrictions would apply to vehicles crossing through Huwwara between 7 a.m. and 9 a.m. as well as between 2:30 p.m. and 7 p.m. The Orta checkpoint will be opened during the designated times to provide an alternate route for those traveling out of Nablus, Mansour told Ma‘an, adding that the restrictions would remain in place until further notice . . . The Huwwara checkpoint is a major thoroughfare for both Palestinians as well as Israelis living in illegal settlements, and has been site to frequent confrontation between local Palestinians and Israeli military and settlers in recent months. Israeli settlers late Monday reportedly threw stones at Palestinian vehicles near the checkpoint while Israeli soldiers stood by and watched, locals told Ma‘an at the time. Medical sources said that several Palestinians were injured when a checkpoint gate was suddenly closed, shattering the glass of a Palestinian vehicle.
Army seals Bethlehem town with earth mounds
IMEMC/Agencies 20 Jan — Israeli forces, on Tuesday, sealed off the main entrance of the Bethlehem governorate town of Janata with earth mounds. Security sources told WAFA Palestinian News & Info Agency that soldiers blocked the town’s entrance with earth mounds, in the aftermath of a stabbing attack allegedly carried out by a Palestinian youth against an Israeli settler from the illegal settlement of Tekoa.
Do all roads lead to Jerusalem? Well, it depends on who you are.
AlJazeera Interactive by Mel Frykberg — Since 1967, Palestinians in the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip have been unable to move freely in their own land. Every day, it’s a challenge to get to work, see family, go to school or even get life-saving medical care. We wanted to see exactly what it takes to navigate through the Palestinian occupied territories today. Using GPS, we followed four people, each on a different journey to Jerusalem. Here’s what happened.
Prisoners / Court actions
Israeli court postpones trials of 3 Palestinian children
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 19 Jan — An Israeli court on Tuesday postponed the trials of three Palestinian children charged with attempted murder, Palestinian sources told Ma‘an. Sources said the court announced that the trial of Ahmad Manasra, 13, had been postponed until Feb. 16, while the joint trial of Shadi Farah, 12, and Ahmad Zaatari, 12, was postponed until March 1. The children, all from Jerusalem, are currently being held by Israeli authorities in a juvenile institution. Israel’s Jerusalem District Court indicted Manasra on charges of attempted murder on Oct. 30, following a stabbing attack near the illegal Israeli settlement of Pisgat Zeev in occupied East Jerusalem on Oct. 12, which left two Israelis, aged 13 and 21, seriously injured. During the attack, Manasra’s 15-year-old cousin was shot dead on the scene by Israeli forces, while Manasra was hit by a car and seriously wounded. On Nov. 26, Israel’s Central Court announced it would hear witness testimonies for Manasra’s case on Jan. 6. Following November’s announcement, the teen’s lawyer, Tareq Barghouth, accused the prosecution of attempting to continuously postpone the case. Some commentators have alleged that the Israeli courts are trying to delay the case until Ahmad turns 14 this month, at which time he would be old enough under Israeli law to be given a prison sentence. Under Israeli law, minors under 14 who are charged with attempted murder can only be sentenced to time in a juvenile facility.
The 12-year-olds, Farah and Zaatari, are both being charged with attempted murder and were detained on Dec. 12 after Israeli forces found knives on the boys during a stop-and-search in Jerusalem. The boys were indicted on murder charges and knife possession on Jan. 3, the boys’ lawyer, Muhammad Mahmoud, said at the time. If found guilty, because of the boys’ age, both would be transferred to a children’s facility to serve out their sentences, in accordance with Israeli law concerning the prosecution of minors.
Hunger-striking journalist receiving ‘forced treatment’
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 19 Jan — The Israeli authorities have been forcing treatment on Palestinian hunger striker Muhammad al-Qiq in violation of medical ethics, medical rights group Physicians for Human Rights Israel (PHRI) said Tuesday. In a statement, the group Israel called on doctors in HaEmek Hospital in Afula to “stop forcing treatment upon (al-Qiq) and pressuring him to end his hunger strike.” PHRI spokesperson Lital Grosman stressed that the forced treatment did not amount to force-feeding, a controversial practice approved by Israeli lawmakers in July last year that Israeli doctors have so far refused to implement. PHRI’s announcement came a day after one of the group’s lawyers visited al-Qiq. The 33-year-old journalist from the southern West Bank town of Dura has now been on hunger strike 55 days to protest his administrative detention — internment without trial or charge. The rights group said it was “clear” that al-Qiq had been “occasionally subject to medical treatment against his will and consent, in violation of medical ethics and the Patient’s Rights Law.” It said the hunger striker had been “hooked up against his will to an infusion of salts and vitamins, and blood was taken with the permission of the hospital’s ethics committee. “Al-Qiq was tied to the bed and forcefully held down by prison wardens while a member of the medical staff made the infusion. For four days al-Qiq remained tied to the bed, hooked up to the IV drip, while pleading for its removal, to no avail.” On Thursday, PHRI said that doctors removed the drip and did not re-administer it. However, doctors attempted on Friday to pressure him to take a can of liquid food in order to break his strike . . . .
Father of slain attacker released from Israeli custody
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 19 Jan — The Israeli Prison Service released Palestinian prisoner Abd al-Salam Abu Ghazaleh on Tuesday after holding the man under administrative detention for three months, Palestinian sources said. Abu Ghazaleh was detained shortly after his son, Thaer, was shot dead on Oct. 8 after carrying out a stabbing attack in Tel Aviv. He had since been held without charge or trial under Israel’s administrative detention policy. On Oct. 19, Israel’s magistrate court had initially ruled to release Abu Ghazaleh after interrogating him for several hours about “revenge statements” he had supposedly made after his son’s death; however the prosecution challenged the order and presented an appeal to the central court. Palestinian sources added that Israeli authorities have continued to withold the body of Abu Ghazaleh’s son. Detaining family members of alleged Palestinian attackers is common practice in Israel’s judicial system, as is issuing demolition orders for family homes of Palestinians detained or killed by Israeli forces. The practice has been utilized more often since the latest wave of upheaval sparked in October.
Land, property theft & destruction / Ethnic cleansing / Settlement
Video: The occupation demolished an under-construction house in Silwan
[photos also] SILWAN, Jerusalem (SILWANIC) 20 Jan — The occupation municipality’s bulldozers demolished on Wednesday early morning an under-construction house in the neighborhood of Wad Qaddoum in Silwan. Wadi Hilweh Information Center was informed that the occupation forces along with municipality’s bulldozers raided Silwan in the early morning hours and closed the areas of Wad Qaddoum and the “bridge” before proceeding with the demolition process. The information center was also informed that the demolished house is owned by Samer Nassar. Nassar explained that the occupation bulldozers executed the demolition without prior notice. The house was still under construction and has a surface area of 300 square meters. Nassar also added that he started the building process 3 months ago and cost him nearly 180 thousand NIS.
In pictures: Seizing a residential building in Silwan
SILWAN, Jerusalem (SILWANIC) 20 Jan — A residential building was seized this morning in the neighborhood of Baydoun in Wadi Hilweh –Silwan south of Al-Aqsa Mosque. The Information Center explained in a statement that nearly 35 settlers from Elad settlement organization supported by occupation Special Forces raided the neighborhood of Baydoun in Silwan and entered the residential building through its main gate easily without any resistance or objection by its owners who were not even in the area. The center pointed out that the settlers had the keys of the building. The center also explained that the building consists of two floors in which the first floor was established before the occupation of Jerusalem while the second floor was built and completed few weeks ago after the “protected tenant” left the apartment on the first floor. The center added that a big land surrounded the seized building which is adjacent to the settlement outpost seized in 2014. Wadi Hilweh Information Center also added that the “leaked” building was owned by Ahmad Abu Ter who sued the tenant few years ago in order to evacuate him. Few weeks ago, he was able to evacuate the tenant after paying him an amount of money. After Abu Ter succeeded in evacuating the tenant, he started building the second floor during which the municipality crews never came to stop him from building like what usually happens in the neighborhoods of Silwan. In the case of building without a permit, municipality crews usually raid the area and hand the owner a demolition order and confiscate the construction equipment; this did not happen in the case of Abu Ter which clearly shows that he is involved in the “leaking” process of the building which was handed-over to settlers after the completion of construction. Before the settlers entered the building, they demolished the wall that separates the building from another settlement outpost that was seized back in 2014 to facilitate movement between the settlement outposts. Seizing the building of Abu Ter formed a series of three settlement outposts in the area. As of now, the center explained the presence of 9 settlement outposts in the neighborhood of Baydoun including houses, residential buildings and wide areas of land; the first outpost was seized in the 1990’s. Tags: Wadi Hilweh Information center, settlers’ assaults, Wadi Hilweh, settlers’ takeover of Palestinians’ property
Four shelters and one water tank destroyed in Tubas
TUBAS, Occupied Palestine 16 Jan by Jordan Valley Solidarity — At 6 am on 14th January 2016 the Israeli occupation army entered Tubas area, with twelve jeeps and two bulldozers, destroying four shelters and a water tank. In December 2015 the army gave the order for demolition of the shelters, obliging the owners to restore the land to the condition it was in before the construction, within the following 45 days. While the court process was ongoing and the deadline had not expired yet, the army raided the area and destroyed the shelters. Two of the four shelters were owned by Ali ‘Amabusi and Mahmoud Alidib Mashamani, both of them living in Tubas. Military forces claimed the area as a closed military area, but by law they are not permitted to enter Tubas and give demolition orders as it is Area A under the Oslo accords, and therefore under full control of Palestinian Authority. In the morning a water tank was also destroyed. It was supplying water to the village of Yarza. The demolition left 100 people without water and with them farms and plantations, which are the main economy of the families. The water tank was built with the fund of the Italian Christian Solidarity and the volunteers of Jordan Valley Solidarity in 2013-2014. Its purpose was a development project for the area, allowing people to return and help the ones who don’t have access to the water to grow plants and animals. The water was provided from the city of Tubas and the village of Alibkea, but the pipe going from the tank to the village of Yarza was previously confiscated by the occupation army 8 months ago.
Israeli forces demolish structures in Ramallah-area villages
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 18 Jan — Israeli forces on Sunday demolished several structures in two occupied West Bank villages in Ramallah district saying they had been built without the necessary permits, locals told Ma‘an. In the village of Kharbatha, locals said Israeli forces demolished a garage belonging to a resident identified as Jamal Ahmad Darraj, as well as an extra room attached to a house belonging to Hamdi Abu Khalil. In the nearby village of Kharbatha al-Musbah, Israeli forces also damaged a quarry belonging to Ahmad al-Habiba. Under Israeli law, Palestinians are required to obtain building permits before they can build in land classified as Area C, which under the Oslo Accords falls under full Israeli control. However, the Israeli authorities refuse the vast majority of permit requests. Because of the difficulties gaining permission, Palestinians frequently build without permits at the risk of having the structures demolished . . . According to the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions, more than 48,480 Palestinian homes and structures have been demolished by Israel since 1967.
Israeli army redeployment near Bethlehem prelude to more settlements
BETHLEHEM (WAFA) 19 Jan — The Israeli army was redeployed in a Palestinian area east of Bethlehem, in a step believed to serve as a prelude to connect illegal settlements’ blocs in Hebron with others in Jerusalem, a researcher said on Tuesday. Suhail Khalilia, head of the settlement monitoring unit at The Applied Research Institute Jerusalem (ARIJ), said redeploying Israeli soldiers in Esh Gherab aims to connect the illegal settlement of Tekou with Har Homa settlement in Jerusalem. Khalilia warned that Israel could relocate parts of the Israeli Civil Administration from Gush Etzion settlement bloc to Esh Gherab military site. On Monday, the Israeli daily Haaretz said a permanent garrison has already returned to Esh Gerab, referred to as Shdema outpost, which served as a lookout post during the second Intifada. However, Israeli army forces decided it was no longer needed and abandoned it in 2006. Five months later, the Israeli authorities issued orders to build a military watchtower, a move to assert Israeli control over the area, said Khalilia.
Racism / Discrimination
Poll: More than a third of Jewish Israelis see Arab citizens as ‘enemies’
Haaretz 20 Jan by Danna Harman — Poll by Institute for National Security Studies says 80 percent of Jews view Arab Israelis with a degree of suspicion. But 70 percent of Arabs identify as ‘Israeli’ in some form — . . .Mistrust between Arab and Jewish citizens is at a high, and relations seem to be heading to an all-time low: earlier this month an Arab citizen carried out a terror attack in the heart of Tel Aviv, and, in turn, members of the Israeli establishment, led by Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu himself, responded by hinting the entire Arab population was potentially disloyal. Now, a full 36 percent of Jewish Israeli respondents to an INSS poll said they saw their fellow Arab citizens as “enemies.” A further 44 percent of respondents said they considered Arab Israelis “people who needed to be respected but also treated with suspicion.” Only 20 percent said they considered Israeli Arabs as their “equals.” Six hundred Israeli Jews and 200 Israeli Arabs took part in the poll, which was conducted through face-to-face interviews.
‘Don’t employ Arabs’: Carwash in central Israel set alight
Ynet 19 Jan by Raanan Ben Zur — A carwash in Petah Tikva was set on fire on Monday, with the police suspecting that it was an arson attack provoked by the fact that the company employs Arabs. The words “Jews don’t employ Arabs” were found spray-painted on one of the walls of the carwash, referring to the firm’s Jewish owner employing Arab staff. Shortly before 10.30pm on Monday, the fire station in Petah Tikva received a report of a fire near a gas station on Jabotinsky Street. Teams of firefighters arrived at the scene and saw that the fire had broken out at the carwash. The firefighters put out the blaze and managed to stop it spreading to other buildings nearby. The fire caused damage to the site and to the large brushes used to wash cars. An investigation was opened following the fire. The suspicion of an arson attack was raised this morning as a result of the investigators’ initial findings which showed that the graffiti had been spray-painted inside the car cleaning area prior to the fire
Eritrean family whose baby was stabbed by Israeli receives asylum in European country
Haaretz 19 Jan by Ilan Lior — An Eritrean family whose baby was stabbed in Tel Aviv two years ago left Israel last week for a European country. The baby, Kako Yamena, was seriously wounded when an Israeli stabbed her in the head with a pair of scissors near Tel Aviv’s central bus station. Though she survived and is now about three and a half years old, she suffered serious motor disabilities and still needs therapy. The assailant, Michael Zaretzky, said God had told him to stab a black baby. He was ruled insane and therefore unfit to stand trial. Despite the circumstances of the attack, the state refused to recognize Yamena, who was born in Israel, as the victim of a hate crime. Then-Interior Minister Gilad Erdan did grant her legal residency in Israel on humanitarian grounds, but refused to award the same status to her family, which made her own status useless: Since her parents had no legal status, the National Insurance Institute wouldn’t finance her medical treatment . . . For the last two years, the family has lived mainly off donations from individual Israelis and help from human rights activists. Donations also paid for Kako’s expensive medical treatment, which cost thousands of shekels a month. A relative who is also in Israel moved in with the family in their tiny Tel Aviv apartment to help them on an ongoing basis. Recently, responding to an appeal by human rights activists who had despaired of getting the family proper treatment in Israel, a European country agreed to accept the Yamenas as a humanitarian case and grant them housing, medical and psychological treatment and social benefits. However, the country conditioned its assent on its name not being publicized, to avoid conflict with Israel. The country also refused to take in any members of the extended family, including the relative who moved in with the Yamenas. Thus the parents’ siblings and their children will remain in Israel.
Gas for cooking and heating in short supply in Gaza
Haaretz 17 Jan by Jack Khoury — While the Gaza Strip has for years been dealing with a serious electricity shortage, for the past six weeks or so it has also been contending with severe shortages of the liquefied petroleum gas that Gazans rely on for cooking, heating and industrial use. According to Palestinian sources in the Gaza Strip, at every gas supply station there are long lines of people waiting to fill gas canisters; in most cases they will only be able to get a portion of their daily needs, sometimes less than 50 percent. Residents have told the human rights organization Gisha, the Legal Center for Freedom of Movement, that a family sometimes gets only five to six kilograms of LPG per day, which is meant to suffice for both cooking and heating. The supply of LPG to bakeries, hospitals and factories that use gas is also faltering, the residents say. Samir Hamada, the deputy director of the association of gas station owners and gas suppliers in the Gaza Strip, told Haaretz that the Strip needs an average of 350 tons of gas daily, though in the winter demand grows to 400 tons a day. But in recent months the supply has never exceeded 250 tons on a good day, and recently there has been even less, he says. “There are some days that they’ve sent us four or five trucks, each of which carried 20 tons. What are we supposed to do with that?” asked Hamada. The gas supply stations say that the lack of gas has nothing to do with delayed payment or inability to receive the daily gas supply. Mahmoud Al-Ghaban of the Gaza Strip crossings administration explained that payment for the gas is sent to Ramallah, in the West Bank, in advance, and that according to its agreement with the Palestinian Authority, Israel’s Paz Oil Company is supposed to supply gas to both the West Bank and the Gaza Strip on a daily basis. But any time there is a shortage or some disruption, it is Gaza that’s given short shrift, Ghaban said. Paz admitted that over the past few weeks there has been a shortage of LPG, because the docking of ships carrying gas was delayed by inclement weather. Once the ships dock, the shortage will be relieved, the company said. But according to Gisha, even yesterday only 10 to 12 trucks carrying LPG were sent into the Gaza Strip, so it is difficult to imagine when the gap will be closed.
Hamada said, however, that even when Paz has enough gas it will not be able to send more than 12 to 13 trucks’ worth of LPG a day. He explained that the gas is brought in only through the Kerem Shalom crossing with Israel. A single pipe is used to transfer it from Israeli to Palestinian trucks, and there is no place to store gas in large quantities. Hamada said that in the past, gas was also brought through the Nahal Oz crossing, which contains reservoirs where gas could be stored. Gas station owners have been begging for a new pipeline to the Gaza Strip for several months, but at this point no such project is in the offing. Israeli officials say there are no reasons having to do with security for restricting the amount of LPG allowed into the Gaza Strip . . . .
Israeli vehicles invade Palestinian farmlands in southern Gaza
IMEMC/Agencies 20 Jan — Several Israeli military vehicles invaded, on Wednesday morning, Palestinian farmlands east of Khan Younis, in the southern part of the Gaza Strip, bulldozed and uprooted lands close to the border fence, for the second consecutive day. Media sources in Khan Younis said several military bulldozers and armored vehicles carried out a limited invasion into farmlands, and bulldozed sections close to the border fence, while Israeli war jets and drones flew overhead. The sources added that the soldiers fired several live rounds to force the Palestinians out of their lands.
Gaza under siege: The conditions of slavery
MEE 19 Jan by Ghada Ageel — Egypt, by closing the Rafah crossing to Palestinians and denying them any way out, has joined Israel in imposing hell-like conditions in Gaza — Jameela couldn’t stop repeating it over and over. “I will never leave Gaza again, I will never leave you alone, no matter what. No matter what happens to my family in Morocco.” Wrapping both her children in her arms now that she was back in Jabalia refugee camp in northern Gaza, her promise turned into an uncontrollable chant. It was mid-October 2015. She had just endured 40 days in limbo in the Egyptian North Sinai town of el-Arish, waiting there with hundreds of stranded Palestinians for the sealed Rafah crossing to open so that they could return home. With no predictable end to the agonising wait, with insufficient resources to cover an indefinite stay in el-Arish, and with shooting, danger and nightly curfews imprisoning all of them in hotels, she had faced the possibility that she might not get back to her children in the foreseeable future. Her mother was gravely ill in Gaza. She phoned her sister the day after her arrival in el-Arish and told her in a broken voice: “If my mum dies, bury her and don’t think of me. May God and my mum forgive me.” Nine virtually uninterrupted years into the blockade on Gaza and almost two-and-a-half years since the coup d’etat in Egypt, the Rafah crossing – the primary point of exit and entry for the vast majority of Palestinians from Gaza – has gained notoriety as one of the gates of hell. This well-founded reputation is inextricably intertwined with its role, both real and symbolic, in deadly political calculations, corruption, complicity and slavery. Far more than a geographic barrier or a border crossing, Rafah gate has come to represent the cruelty of a dictatorship towards 1.8 million people, 70 percent of whom are women and children, 50 percent of whom under the age of 18, with 80 percent living below the poverty line. (Continued)
Israeli forces defuse explosives on Gaza borderline
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 19 Jan — Several explosive devices were reportedly located overnight Monday and Tuesday morning by Israeli military forces on the borderline between the Gaza Strip and Israel, Israel’s army said. Israeli forces “uncovered and defused several explosive devices pointed at Israeli territory” during “routine activity adjacent to the security fence,” an Israeli army spokesperson told Ma‘an. Witnesses in the area said that they had heard explosions near the Gaza border east of Khan Younis in the southern area of the besieged enclave. Local residents also told Ma‘an that Israeli military vehicles and four bulldozers had entered Palestinian agricultural lands east of the town of al-Qarara near Khan Younis, crossing the border fence through a gate near Kisufim military base. The army spokesperson said that initial inquiries indicated the explosive devices had been “planted prior to Operation Protective Edge,” referring to the deadly Israeli offensive on the Gaza Strip during the summer of 2014.
Gaza parkour team say Israeli siege limits access to tournaments
Reuters 18 Jan — Pavements, steps and beach side walkways are the training ground for Palestinian youth on Gaza’s parkour team. The ‘Three run Gaza’ team has ten members, aged between 16 and 20, who have been training and practicing free running since 2008. But despite their efforts, they say they haven’t received any kind of support or assistance to further their skills. “We are facing many obstacles that make it hard for us to practice this sport, like the Jews, the lack of capabilities, no one and no private organization taking care of us or supporting our talent. We have simple dreams of having a club where we can train, there is no place where we can train. As you see we train here at the beach, there is no special place dedicated for us,” said one member of the team, Mohamad Abu Eita. Team member Fahed Daoud said that, despite training intensively to meet international standards in parkour, his team is unable to leave Gaza due to travel restrictions imposed by Israel. “We have received invitations from Spain, Libya, Qatar and Algeria to travel and represent Palestine but we couldn’t get out of Gaza because of the closure of the crossings. There are a lot of chances but the closure is the obstacle that prevents us from traveling to represent Palestine,” he said. Parkour involves running, climbing, rolling and jumping through various terrains without the use of any equipment.
Feature: Horse races become popular in Gaza Strip amid hard times
GAZA (Xinhua) 17 Jan by Hamada Hattab, Emad Drimly, Saud Abu Ramadan — Horse racing in the Gaza Strip attracts the attention of young people and their families for entertainment amid a suffocating Israeli blockade and high rates of poverty. The sport creates a festive mood and is expected to flourish in the coming years, according to jockeys and experts. The numbers of fans and knights from all over the coastal enclave have been growing over the past few years. In an area that used to be a battle field for firing rockets into Israel and being struck by Israeli missiles during the Israeli wars waged on the Gaza Strip, the Equestrian Club hosted this week the championship of riding horses in cooperation with the Palestinian Equestrian Union. The championship included races for three categories on the show jumping — the first for advanced horse riders, the second for juniors and the third for beginners. The ability of the horse to jump and the talents of the knights are examined. The winner in the race is the knight who passes the stages of jumping the different barriers in a shorter time, with fewer errors, and earns the highest score of points. Mohamed al-Tawil, director of the Equestrians Club, told Xinhua that horse riding is becoming popular and attracts more young people and their families in the Gaza Strip. “Our club is planning to establish an academy for horse riding but not very soon due to lack of finance,” al-Tawil said. He went on saying that contacts are being made with government bodies and private companies to support this sport and form a national team to represent the state of Palestine in Arab and international championships . . . .
Couple names their newborn son ‘Mohammed Assaf’!
albawaba Entertainment 19 Jan — Many have claimed to be Palestinian superstar Mohammed Assaf’s biggest fans in the whole wide world, but a couple in Gaza wins the title hands down! While one man divorced his wife because she was in love with the singer, this couple named their newborn son after him. And no, they didn’t just call him Mohammed, they’ve taken their admiration (or infatuation) to the next level and named him “Mohammed Assaf”! Don’t believe us? Check out his birth certificate below: While they might have known that naming their baby after Assaf will get them some attention, little did they know that the “real” Assaf would turn up at their doorstep for a surprise visit to meet the little man in person. The couple live in Gaza, Palestine, which is Assaf‘s own hometown. In other news, the superstar will be heading to Taj Mall in Amman, Jordan, on Wednesday January 20 to attend the premiere of his film “The Idol,” which has been a huge success globally and in the Middle East.
Palestine’s Armenian community celebrates Christmas in Bethlehem
[many photos] BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 19 Jan — Palestine’s Armenian Christians celebrated Christmas and the Feast of the Epiphany on Monday in the occupied West Bank town of Bethlehem. The Armenian Patriarch of Jerusalem, Mourhan Manouagian, arrived in Bethlehem around noon and was welcomed by Palestinian Authority Minister of Tourism Rula Maaya, Bethlehem’s Governor Jibrin al-Bakri, Bethlehem Mayor Vera Baboun, Director of Bethlehem’s police Alaa Shalabi, and President Mahmoud Abbas’ advisor for Christian affairs Ziad al-Bandak, as well as dozens of Jerusalemite Armenians. Armenian Christians in Palestine who follow the Armenian Patriarchate of Jerusalem celebrate Christmas nearly two weeks after the majority of Armenian and Eastern Orthodox denominations, who mark the holiday on Jan. 6 or 7, and more than three weeks after Western Christians mark Christmas, who celebrate on Dec. 25 . . . Groups of Armenians began moving to Palestine in the fourth century and mainly settled in Jerusalem, where, in the seventh century, they established a Patriarchate Complex which has since attracted Armenian pilgrims. Thousands of Armenians also arrived fleeing the massacres in the Ottoman Empire in the early 20th century, after which many settled in Palestine. According to Armenian sources, some 7,500 Armenians today live across the Holy Land. About 200 live in Bethlehem, 2000 in the Armenian quarter in Jerusalem and the rest live in Acre, Ramle, Nazareth, and Beersheba.
Eastern churches in Palestine celebrate Feast of Epiphany
JERICHO (WAFA) 18 Jan — Palestinian Christians following the Julian calendar in Palestine Monday celebrated the feast of Epiphany in a ceremony presided by the Patriarch of Jerusalem Theophilos III, which took place on the Jordan River. The ceremony, which commemorates the Baptism of Jesus, was attended by the Greek Orthodox community across Palestine in the presence of consuls and ambassadors of a number of countries, with a noticeable but forced absence of Palestinian officials. Theophilos III prayed to witness peace and stability prevail in the land of peace and the entire region. Governor of Jericho and the Jordan Valley Majed Fityani praised the strength of the social fabric uniting Muslims and Christians in Palestine. He said the Palestinian people shall always remain united to enjoy freedom and end the occupation. Palestinian officials were banned from attending the ceremony with the people, which is a blatant violation of the agreements signed with the Israeli side to ensure Palestinian official participation in the ceremony held on the Jordan river and under the Palestine flag, said Fityani.
Ban on discrimination against West Bank residents gets ministerial approval
JPost 17 Jan by Lahav Harkov — Legislation that would penalize businesses who refuse to deliver their products to the West Bank received the Ministerial Committee for Legislation’s approval Sunday. The bill by MK Shuli Moalem-Refaeli (Bayit Yehudi) states that customers who face location-based discrimination, no matter where they are in Israel, could sue businesses for up to NIS 50,000, without proof of damages. The proposal would apply to businesses with at least 100 employees that say they provide services throughout the country, such that it would not apply to small businesses, but to large chains and companies. Such a company could face a lawsuit if they provide services in one location, but not another that is equidistant from it. An exception would be made in cases of serious security concerns. “The bizarre situation in which hundreds of thousands of Israelis do not receive services equal to the rest of the citizens of the state because of where they live must stop,” Moalem-Refaeli said. “It cannot be that a resident of Judea and Samaria will be told in an electronics store in the center of the country or in Jerusalem that they have to figure out delivery themselves. It is unreasonable that a furniture store that delivers to Eilat will demand a higher price to send to towns in the Arava.” [and what about the Arab towns in Israel where purchases are not delivered and repairmen will not go?]
US ambassador to Israeli slams government settlement policy
TEL AVIV, Israel (AP) 18 Jan by Aron Heller — The U.S. ambassador to Israel criticized Israel’s West Bank settlement policies at a high-profile security conference Monday, a rare public rebuke from Israel’s top ally that drew an angry response from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Daniel Shapiro said that Washington was “concerned and perplexed” over Israel’s strategy of building West Bank settlements. Speaking to the annual conference of the Institute for National Security Studies, a top Israeli think tank, he said Israel’s continued expansion of settlements raises questions about Israel’s intentions and its stated commitment to establishing an independent Palestinian state. Shapiro added that Israel had also legalized some West Bank outposts despite pledges to the United States not to do so. As Israel’s closest friend, the United States is steadfast in its support for Israel but it was also its role to call Israel out on its errors, Shapiro said. He noted that Israel restricts Palestinian economic development in the West Bank and, despite its recent indictment against the suspects in a deadly arson attack against a Palestinians family, bemoaned what he called an inadequate response to settler violence. “Too much vigilantism goes unchecked and at times there seem to be two standards of adherence to the rule of law: one for Israelis and another for Palestinians,” he said. In the West Bank, Israelis are subject to Israeli civil law, while Palestinians are governed by Israeli military law, which offers far fewer legal protections. Palestinians and rights groups say that Israelis suspected in violence against Palestinians are rarely brought to justice, while Palestinian attackers are quickly arrested or killed. The Israeli human rights group Yesh Din said Shapiro’s comments were grounded in data they have been collecting that showed an 85 percent failure rate in investigating ideologically-motivated crimes by Israelis against Palestinians [Continued]
Israel: Businesses should end settlement activity
JERUSALEM (Human Rights Watch) 19 Jan — Businesses should stop operating in, financing, servicing, or trading with Israeli settlements in order to comply with their human rights responsibilities, Human Rights Watch said in a report released today. Those activities contribute to and benefit from an inherently unlawful and abusive system that violates the rights of Palestinians. The 162-page report, “Occupation, Inc.: How Settlement Businesses Contribute to Israel’s Violations of Palestinian Rights,” documents how settlement businesses facilitate the growth and operations of settlements. These businesses depend on and contribute to the Israeli authorities’ unlawful confiscation of Palestinian land and other resources. They also benefit from these violations, as well as Israel’s discriminatory policies that provide privileges to settlements at the expense of Palestinians, such as access to land and water, government subsidies, and permits for developing land. “Settlement businesses unavoidably contribute to Israeli policies that dispossess and harshly discriminate against Palestinians, while profiting from Israel’s theft of Palestinian land and other resources,” said Arvind Ganesan, director of the business and human rights division. “The only way for businesses to comply with their own human rights responsibilities is to stop working with and in Israeli settlements.”
Erekat disappointed HRW failed to call for complete ban on trade with Israeli settlements
RAMALLAH (WAFA) 19 Jan — PLO Secretary General and chief negotiator Saeb Erekat Tuesday said he was disappointed by a Human Rights Watch report regarding Israeli settlement businesses, saying it falls short by failing to call for a complete ban on trade with Israeli settlements. “Our position on that matter is clear: There must be a full cessation of trade, both in goods and services, with illegal Israeli settlements.” However, “We welcome the report’s central message that all lawful measures should be taken to properly define products and services and ensure that they do not receive any benefits under bi-lateral trade agreements.” “The report exposes one of the most absurd media lines Israel’s propaganda machine has been “spewing” that settlement businesses ‘contribute’ to the Palestinian economy.” . . . The top-ranking PLO official urged countries to adopt a national legislation that “bans illegal settler products and services from entering any international market, and to sever ties with any establishments that contribute to the denial of Palestinian fundamental human rights.”
Israel: Report calling for firms to pull out of West Bank settlements endangers Palestinian jobs
Times of Israel/AFP 19 Jan — Israel’s Foreign Ministry on Tuesday slammed a Human Rights Watch report on companies operating in the West Bank, saying the publication “jeopardizes” the livelihoods of thousands of Palestinians and “discourages rare examples of coexistence” between Israelis and Palestinians.
EU defends labeling goods made in Israeli settlements
BRUSSELS (Reuters) 18 Jan by Robin Emmott — The European Union reinforced on Monday its position that products made in Israeli settlements must be clearly labeled in Europe, despite growing tensions with Israel over the issue, but stressed that the bloc opposes any boycott of the Jewish state. EU foreign ministers said the guidelines on labels for farm and other products, which were unveiled in November and branded discriminatory by Israel, were there to explain EU law and did not mark a change in the European Union’s long-held opposition to Israeli settlements. “The EU and its member States are committed to ensure continued, full and effective implementation of existing EU legislation and bilateral arrangements applicable to settlements products,” ministers said in a statement. Ministers reiterated the EU’s position that the lands Israel has occupied since the 1967 Middle East war – including the West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Golan Heights – are not part of the internationally recognized borders of Israel. As such, goods from there cannot be labeled “Made in Israel” and should be labeled as coming from settlements, which the EU considers illegal under international law.
Why did Israeli soldiers hand out cucumber seeds to Palestinians at a checkpoint?
Haaretz 20 Jan by Nir Gontarz — An unusual sight greeted Palestinians crossing through the Qalandiyah checkpoint near Jerusalem last Wednesday. An Israel Defense Forces officer and a number of soldiers were handing out small packets containing cucumber seeds. On one side of the bag was a picture of cucumbers and information about the producer, and on the other, in Arabic, a message with a pointed pun: “To residents of the West Bank. The cucumber [in Arabic, hiyar] and the choice [in Arabic, akhtiyar] are in your hands. Remove the knives and destruction from your land, and plant home and building instead.” “Do you think I’m going to plant this on my land?” asked one Palestinian who received the seeds, adding, “the officer gave it to us and explained what he meant but after we went through the checkpoint we talked among ourselves and figured it probably they are carrying viruses. How can you depend on the Israeli army, who shoots us, when it gives us this?” Another Palestinian, from Jerusalem, said: “The officer heard that I’m from Jerusalem and said they don’t hand them out to us, only to West Bank people. He told me that all the Palestinians from Jerusalem are terrorists with knives.” Some of the Palestinians noticed that the seeds came from the Jewish settlement of Avnei Hefetz. About that, one commented: “The Israelis have no shame. They give us seeds of poor cucumbers that Jews grow on our land. Better they should plant our fakus instead of this garbage from a settlement,” he said, referring to a cucumber-like vegetable that is also called a “Palestinian cucumber.” [Continued]
EU agrees Israel-Palestinians statement
BRUSSELS (AFP) 18 Jan — EU foreign ministers on Monday agreed [on] a statement on the stalled Middle East peace process and Israeli settlements after resolving differences over wording which some felt was too critical of Israel. “We unanimously approved (the statement), it is a good and common basis for our common position and our engagement in the region,” EU external affairs head Federica Mogherini said after a meeting of bloc foreign ministers in Brussels. Both Israel and the Palestinians gave a reserved welcome to the decision by EU foreign ministers. Their statement expressed the EU’s deep concern at continuing violence, holding both sides to account for their actions. “The EU firmly condemns the terror attacks and violence from all sides and in any circumstances, including the death of children,” it said. “The EU is convinced that only the reestablishment of a political horizon and the resumption of dialogue can stop the violence.” The 28-nation bloc restated its commitment to a two-state solution and said it would closely monitor developments on the ground which undermine that outcome. [Continued].