Violence / Detentions — West Bank, Jerusalem
4 Palestinians shot dead after alleged stabbing attempts in West Bank
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) -7 Jan — Israeli forces shot dead four Palestinians from the town of Sa‘ir on Thursday night after they allegedly carried out two separate stabbing attempts in the southern West Bank, Israeli and Palestinian sources said. In the night’s first deadly encounter, three Palestinian cousins were killed after they allegedly attempted to stab Israeli soldiers at the Gush Etzion junction in the southern occupied West Bank. An Israeli army spokesperson alleged that all three Palestinians were “armed with knives” and attempted to “attack Israeli soldiers guarding the Gush Etzion junction.” She said Israeli forces “thwarted” the attack and “responded to the imminent danger” by opening fire on the Palestinians. While two were immediately confirmed dead, she said that Israeli emergency services attempted to treat the third Palestinian before he succumbed to his wounds. A spokesperson for Israeli emergency services Magen David Adom confirmed that no Israelis were injured in the attack. Meanwhile, a spokesperson for the Palestinian Red Crescent said their ambulance crews “were not allowed to get close to the scene.” The three Palestinians were later identified as cousins Ahmad Salim Abd al-Majid Kawazba, Alaa Abed Muhammad Kawazba, and Muhannad Ziyad Kawazba, all from the town of Sa‘ir northeast of Hebron.
Shortly after the incident, another Palestinian from the same town, identified as 16-year-old Khalil Muhammad al-Shalaldah, was shot dead by Israeli forces after he allegedly attempted to carry out a stabbing attack at the Beit Einun junction northeast of Hebron. An Israeli army spokesperson said the teenager was “armed with a knife,” but that Israeli soldiers “thwarted the attack, and shot the assailant, resulting in his death.” There were no Israeli injuries reported. Shaladah’s brother, Mahmoud al-Shalaldah, succumbed to wounds he sustained during clashes with Israeli forces near Sair on Nov. 13.
Since October, around 145 Palestinians have been shot dead by Israelis, the majority in the occupied West Bank. While Israel alleges many of those were attempting to attack Israelis when they were shot, Palestinians and rights groups have disputed Israel’s version of events in a number of cases. The attacks that have taken place have claimed the lives of more than 20 Israelis. The Gush Etzion junction where the three Kawazba cousins were killed on Thursday has been the site of a number of deadly encounters since October. Another member of the Kawazba family — 18-year-old Ahmad Younis Kawazba, also from Sa‘ir — was shot dead there on Tuesday after he reportedly stabbed and lightly wounded an Israeli soldier at the junction.
East Jerusalem boy in critical condition after being hit with sponge-tip bullet
Haaretz 8 Jan by Nir Hasson — Twelve-year-old Ahmad Abu Hummus struck by riot police ammunition that has sparked controversy since its inception in 2014. — A 12-year-old boy from the East Jerusalem neighborhood of ‘Isawiyah was in critical condition on Thursday after being hit in the head by sponge-tipped rounds fired by Israeli Border Police forces on Wednesday. The boy, Ahmad Abu Hummus, was admitted to Hadassah University Hospital, Ein Karem in the city with possible brain damage. Since Israel’s introduction of black foam-tipped bullets for crowd control over two years ago, the Association for Civil Rights in Israel has documented 26 cases of serious injuries resulting from their use. According to local residents, dozens of Border Police officers entered Isawiyah on Wednesday afternoon. Children and teenagers threw rocks at them, and the officers responded with by firing tear gas and sponge-tipped rounds. Abu Hummus was hit in the head and lost consciousness. It isn’t yet known whether he was hit by more than one of the bullets. Residents of the neighborhood took him to a local clinic, from which he was taken in a Magen David Adom ambulance to the Israeli hospital, where he underwent a four-hour operation. Physicians said he suffered skull fractures and could have brain damage. In a statement, the hospital confirmed that a 12-year-old boy from ‘Isawiyah was being treated in Hadassah Ein Kerem’s pediatric intensive care unit for injuries to the head and eye. “He is in serious condition, he underwent surgery and is now sedated and on a respirator,” Hadassah Medical Center said. Police protocol specifies that sponge-tipped rounds must be aimed at the lower body and their use against children or pregnant women is prohibited. An investigation by Haaretz in September 2014 revealed that the Israel Police had gradually introduced the use of black sponge-tipped rounds for riot control, known as Model 4557. These bullets are heavier and thus cause greater injury than the blue sponge-tipped rounds the police had been using previously. According to ACRI, 15 people have lost an eye after being hit by a black sponge round fired by Israeli forces, six of them minors, the youngest of them a 6-year-old boy. In September 2014 Mohammed Sunuqrut, a 16-year-old Palestinian from Jerusalem, died after after he was wounded during a demonstration in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Wadi Joz.
Palestinian father of three shot and killed while walking home from friend’s wedding
Haaretz 8 Jan by Gideon Levy & Alex Levac — ‘Nashat was the father of children, an older person… Would someone who works in Israel with a permit, who was never in any kind of trouble, throw stones at soldiers?’ his father Jamal asks — Jamal, a cute little 6-year-old, wears a piece of metal with a photo of his dead father glued to it, on a cord around his neck. Last month, his father was killed by Israeli soldiers, for no apparent reason. Jamal wears his hair like Justin Bieber. His brother, Mohammed, who is 5, glues three kisses on the cheeks of the guests, without having the slightest idea who they are or where they’re from. He, too, sports a Justin Bieber haircut. The two brothers are dressed in identical sweatsuits, black with phosphorescent-green stripes: They, and their 2-year-old sister, Lyal, are the new orphans of the West Bank village of Sinjil. Their father, Nashat Asfour, worked in an Israeli poultry slaughterhouse in Jerusalem’s Atarot industrial zone, on the road to Ramallah. Equipped with a work permit for Israel, he left the house every day at 5 A.M., enduring the ordeal of passing through the Qalandiyah checkpoint, returning home at the end of a long day. Other than his wife and three children, and volleyball practice – Sinjil was once the West Bank volleyball champion – Asfour didn’t have much in life. He spent most of his time in the abattoir, or traveling to and from it. (Continued)
Palestinian families deeply concerned about the safety of their children
ISM 3 Jan — The three boys – Awne Abu Shamsiyye (16 years of age), Moataz Irfaiie (17 years of age) and Nizzar Salhab (16 years of age) — who were shot on their way home on the evening of the 1st of December have since then been harassed by Israeli forces and their families have been left in the dark about what kind of unlawful punishment will await their children. Nizzar was shot in the upper thigh, lower torso and hip and a piece of the metal from the bullet penetrated his testicle. He was hospitalized in the Ahli hospital in Al-Khalil (Hebron) for five days and had to undergo two surgeries. The other two boys were hospitalized in Al-Khalil Alia hospital. Sixteen-year old Awne was shot by live ammunition in the sole of his foot, where the bullet exploded. He had to undergo two surgeries and stayed in the hospital for eight days. Moataz was shot in his calf and had to undergo one surgery.
After being discharged from the hospitals, all three boys returned to their homes in Tel Rumeida, where they continue to undergo medical treatment. Shortly after all boys had been discharged, Israeli forces came to the homes of all three boys looking for them.
The families are deeply concerned about the safety of the boys and feel highly uncomfortable because the boys could be arrested, attacked or shot at any time. The boys are still under threat and need to be extremely careful when moving in their neighbourhood, which has been a ‘closed military zone’ since November 1st 2015. Earlier today, the 3rd of January 2015 the commander stopped the father of one of the boys, Imed Abu Shamsiyye, and told him that if he saw Awne again he would shoot him. Not only is this a direct threat to the life of Awne, it also confirms the concerns voiced by the families about the safety of their children and their concerns that the Israeli forces would attack the boys “when nobody is watching.
Palestinian wave of violence marked by increased female role
NABLUS (AP) 5 Jan by Aron Heller & Mohammed Daraghmeh — When Palestinian youths began a wave of grassroots and often suicidal stabbing attacks against Israeli soldiers and civilians several months ago, it wasn’t his three sons that Ramiz Hassoneh was worried about — it was his daughter. Ignoring her father’s warnings, 20-year-old Maram took a kitchen knife to an Israeli military checkpoint on Dec. 1 and was shot dead as she tried to attack the soldiers, according to the Israeli military. The deadly mission put her among some 20 young females who have been involved in attacks on Israelis in recent months — a new trend that has confounded both Palestinian families and Israeli security officials. While battling Israel was once a role restricted to Palestinian men and boys, the current wave of violence has seen an unprecedented spike in female involvement. And where the few women who did engage in attacks in the past were typically underprivileged females seeking redemption after being rejected by their families, the attackers are now largely ideological, educated women from supportive homes. Palestinians consider the trend to be a combination of rising Islamist zeal, the growing role of women in the conservative society and the brewing desperation of a younger generation with few prospects. In Maram’s case, her family said she had a burning drive to resist the Israeli occupation somehow. A top English student at An-Najah University and a devout Muslim, Maram was deeply troubled by TV images showing the death of young Palestinians killed in attacks and clashes with Israel. (Continued)
Family buries son after 88 days in Israeli morgue
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 6 Jan– Thousands of Palestinians attended the funeral of 19-year-old Muhammad Saed Ali east of Jerusalem on Tuesday after the Israeli authorities released his body 88 days after he was shot dead when he stabbed two Israeli soldiers. Muhammad’s mother told Ma‘an: “I hugged my son after he was held three months in the Israeli morgue. I hugged him, talked to him, warmed him, and forgave him.” Ali, who lived in Shu‘afat refugee camp in occupied East Jerusalem, was shot dead on Oct. 10 after he stabbed one Israeli soldier in the neck and another in the upper body outside Damascus Gate in Jerusalem’s Old City. Video footage was later released showing the moment Ali drew a knife on the Israeli soldiers when they asked to see his identification. The funeral procession set off from Abo Obaida mosque to the village of ‘Anata east of Jerusalem, where he was buried in the village cemetery. The Israeli authorities had laid down a number of conditions for the funeral, including that he be buried in ‘Anata, which lies on the other side of Israel’s separation wall from Shu‘afat refugee camp where Ali lived. Israel also demanded that he be buried on the night his body was released, a demand flouted by his family. “Thank God that we did not obey the Israelis’ rules,” Ali’s mother said. “I hugged Muhammad from 3 a.m. to 9 a.m., and thousands attended his funeral.” She added: “They handed him as if he was out of jail. My heart is full of joy and there is no place in it for pain.”
Israel returns body of Palestinian shot dead earlier in day
HEBRON (Ma‘an) 5 Jan — Israeli forces on Tuesday released the body of 18-year-old Ahmad Younis Kawazba to the Palestinian liaison department just hours after he was shot dead at the Gush Etzion junction where he allegedly stabbed and wounded an Israeli soldier. The quick return of his body is a change of policy by the Israeli authorities, who have since the beginning of October held the bodies of alleged Palestinian attackers for long periods of time. Alaa Tamimi, Hebron’s chief prosecutor, ordered that an autopsy be carried out on Kawazba’s body, which was taken to the al-Ahli hospital in Hebron. His family announced that they would bury him in his home village of Sa‘ir near Hebron on Wednesday.
Israel’s return of Palestinian bodies is fraught with emotion and politics
NPR 5 Jan (you can also listen to the story) — Last week, Israel transferred to Palestinian control the corpses of dozens of Palestinians killed by Israeli forces during recent stabbings, shootings or car attacks against Israelis. Most had been held for weeks. The handling of remains in this long-running conflict is an emotional, political and strategic issue for both sides. The current surge of violence reveals the gruesome complexity. When two bodies arrived last week at the Palestine Medical Complex in Ramallah, in the West Bank, scores of young men gathered outside. A dozen armed Palestinian police were there, too. They allowed a few people at a time to enter the small morgue for a first glimpse at the bodies of friends or family. As a third corpse arrived, wrapped in black plastic and draped with a red and green blanket, the officers cordoned off a path to allow Palestinian men, chanting “God is great,” to deliver it directly inside. This body, like the dozens now returned, had been transferred from an Israeli morgue to an Israeli ambulance, across a military checkpoint to a Palestinian ambulance in the West Bank. The remains are usually then taken to hospitals, often for autopsies before burial. They come cold. Inside the morgue, the cheeks of one young man were dotted with white frost. His black hair was damp and sticking to his forehead. A Palestinian visitor pulled down the black plastic body bag and a blue sheet wrapping another body to reveal three close bullet wounds in that young man’s chest. His mouth was open and he had blood on his chin. Getting bodies back is important to Palestinians, who honor their dead as martyrs in a long-running struggle. But early in the recent surge of violence, Israel said no bodies would be handed back, in part to deter attackers looking for glory. At that time, Cabinet member Yuval Steinitz said experience showed that Palestinian burials trigger more violence. . . Attacks continue almost daily, but Israel has now returned almost all the remains of Palestinians killed while carrying out attacks or alleged attacks against Israelis over the past three months. Israel’s security establishment has long been divided on a body strategy, says Ely Karmon, a senior research fellow at Israel’s International Institute for Counter-Terrorism in Herzliya. “Some said it’s true that burials provoke incitement,” he says. “But [to] not return the bodies is also a trigger. Many families are very angry and, you know, large families sometimes.” (Continued)
Removal of Jewish extremists from West Bank led to drop in hate crimes: report
i24newa 6 Jan — New police data is showing a drop over the last few months in the number of hate crimes carried out by right-wing Jewish extremists against Palestinians, the Israeli daily Haaretz reported Wednesday. According to the Haaretz report, Israeli police are linking the decline with increased efforts put into place by the Shin Bet and police following last summer’s deadly Duma firebombing, to keep known extremists out of the West Bank . . . Police data showed that the number of investigations into hate crimes decreased from 575 in 2013 and 616 in 2014 to 371 in 2015. The number of indictments was also smaller, 67 in 2015 compared to 116 in 2013 and 104 in 2014. The data was requested by Zionist Union MK Itzik Shmuli, said Haaretz, and provided by Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan. Shmuli chairs the Knesset committee against Jewish extremist violence. Referring to a recent video showing guests at a wedding celebration in Jerusalem waving knives, rifles, pistols and a Molotov cocktail on the dance floor, and some revelers stabbing a photo of the Dawabsheh baby who was killed, Shmuli said that “only after the murder in Duma and the ‘red wedding’ has Israeli society started to wake up and internalize how serious and dangerous Jewish terror is for it.” “For a long time now, this hasn’t just been a case of a few hoodlums who content themselves with spraying graffiti and uprooting trees, but also of terrorists who seek to harm innocents,” he added. “Price tag” attacks have been occurring in the region for years, with offenses varying from misdemeanors to felonies. The term “price tag” attacks refers to Jewish nationalist-motivated hate crimes that generally target Palestinian or Arab Israeli property, but have also hit Christian and Muslim places of worship. Over the last three years alone 1,562 investigations have been opened into such attacks, but charges have been filed in only 287 instances, said Haaretz. The police data said that nearly a third of these 1,562 cases, 566, were closed due to a lack of ability to identify the perpetrators. An additional 275 cases were closed because there was not enough evidence to indict and a further 105 cases closed because of a lack of “public interest” in an indictment, said Haaretz.
Israeli forces detain 6 Palestinians from ICRC headquarters sit-in
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 6 Jan — Israeli forces on Wednesday morning stormed the International Committee of the Red Cross’ headquarters in occupied East Jerusalem and detained six Palestinian activists staging a sit-in on site. Amjad Abu Asab, a spokesperson for a local prisoners’ committee, told Ma‘an that Israeli forces had stormed the ICRC’s grounds in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood and detained Samir Abu Eisha, 28, Hijazi Abu Sbeih, 28, and four others from a tent in the courtyard. He said that Abu Eisha and Abu Sbeih had started the sit-in several days earlier to protest a decision by the Israeli authorities to deport them from Jerusalem for a period of five to six months for alleged security reasons. The two Palestinians earlier described the deportation order as equivalent to the “death penalty,” banning them from their community, their work, and their city. The slogan of their sit-in was “not leaving,” which they printed on fliers and posters. Abu Asab said the deportation order had come down from the Israel’s Home Front Command, a branch of Israel’s military. ICRC spokesperson Nadia Dibsy told Ma’an that the detention raid was “regrettable,” adding that the ICRC “does not enjoy any diplomatic immunity to help prevent such a detention raid.”She said that ICRC, which regularly provides space in its headquarters for sit-in protests, would seek to follow up Abu Sbeih and Abu Eisha’s cases.
Israeli forces kidnap 16 Palestinians across West Bank
IMEMC/Agencies 5 Jan — Israeli forces abducted at least 16 Palestinians in predawn raids across the occupied West Bank on Tuesday, Palestinian and Israeli sources said. Hebron locals told Ma‘an that Israeli forces stormed the city’s Jabal al-Sharif neighborhood and detained Mahran Azzan Dandis after storming and ransacking his family home. In Beit Ummar, to Hebron’s north, Israeli forces were reported to have taken 16-year-old Amr Riyad Issa Arar into custody. Muhammad Ayyad Awad, a spokesperson for a popular committee in Beit Ummar, said: “More than 30 soldiers broke into the family home, pointing their guns at family members before they assaulted the father, mother and 11-year-old son Tariq, and then detained 16-year-old Amr.” Awad added that Israeli soldiers also stormed the home of Sadiq Mahmoud Ikhlayyil and delivered a summons to his son, Muhammad, 22, ordering him to go to the Gush Etzion military base for questioning. (Continued)
Soldiers kidnap three Palestinians in Jenin, two in Bethlehem and Tubas
IMEMC/Agencies 6 Jan — Several Israeli military vehicles invaded Jenin city, searched and ransacked many homes, and kidnapped three Palestinians, including a former political prisoner. The soldiers kidnapped Ishaq Abdul-Rahman Jaboa‘, in Kharrouba neighborhood, searched homes and interrogated many Palestinians. The army also invaded a residential building, belonging to members of Awartani family, violently searched all apartments, in addition to detonating water tanks on the rooftop, and kidnapped Mahmoud Hamad Awartani, 33. Awartani is a former political prisoner, who was held for eight years in Israeli prisons, and is still suffering from earlier gunshot wounds in his chest, right thigh, and other parts of his body. In addition, the soldiers kidnapped Nour Mahmoud Sa’adi, 22, from his brother’s home in a neighborhood in Jenin, and searched his father’s home. (Continued)
Soldiers kidnap 15 Palestinians in the West Bank
IMEMC/Agencies 7 Jan — Israeli soldiers have kidnapped, overnight and at dawn Thursday, at least fourteen Palestinians in different parts of the occupied West Bank, while the army also claimed locating combat materials in Hebron. Israeli sources said the army located guns, magazines and rocket launchers in Abu Sneina neighborhood in the southern West bank city of Hebron. The soldiers also invaded and searched many homes in Hebron city, and several nearby villages and towns, and interrogated dozens of residents. In addition, the soldiers invaded Silwad town, east of Ramallah, searched homes and kidnapped Ali Nassar, 55, Saleh Anwar Salim, Mohammad Adnan Hamed, Abdul-Karim Taiseer Hamed, in addition to Afeef and his brother Khaled Ayyad. Eyewitnesses said the soldiers searched more than 25 homes in the town, also used military dogs in the search, causing excessive damage, and confiscated several Palestinian flags, in addition to confiscating toy guns. Also in Ramallah, the soldiers kidnapped one Palestinian in al-Biereh, another in Rantis village, and a third resident in Beit Rima town. In addition, the army installed a roadblock at the ‘Arraba junction, in the northern West Bank district of Jenin, and kidnapped Majed Nizar Atatra. (Continued)
PCHR report on Israeli human rights violations in the oPt (31 Dec – 6 Jan)
PCHR-Gaza 6 Jan — Israeli violations of international law and international humanitarian law in the oPt continued during the reporting period (31 December 2015 – 06 January 2016) — Israeli attacks in the West Bank & Gaza: Shootings — Israeli forces have continued to commit crimes, inflicting civilian casualties. They have also continued to use excessive force against Palestinian civilians participating in peaceful protests in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, the majority of whom were youngsters. Occupied East Jerusalem witnessed similar attacks. During the reporting period, Israeli forces killed two Palestinian civilians in the West Bank. Moreover, they wounded eight others, including a child. Six of them, including the child, were wounded in the West Bank, while the two others were wounded in the Gaza Strip. Incursions — During the reporting period, Israeli forces conducted at least 79 military incursions into Palestinian communities in the West Bank and 5 ones in occupied East Jerusalem. During these incursions, Israeli forces arrested at least 64 Palestinian civilians, including nine children. Twelve of these civilians, including four children, were arrested in East Jerusalem. Full Report
Closures / Restriction of movement
Photo story: Newly expanded Shuhada checkpoint is even more difficult to traverse
AL-KHALIL, Occupied Palestine 6 Jan by ISM,al-Khalil Team — At the end of December Israeli forces re-opened the newly expanded Shuhada checkpoint in occupied al-Khalil (Hebron). The checkpoint had been closed since December 7th, when Israeli forces had declared they would be conducting “renovations” for a then-unknown period of time. Officially known as Checkpoint 56, Shuhada checkpoint separates Bab al-Zawiye, a Palestinian neighborhood in the H1 (nominally Palestinian-controlled and administered) part of al-Khalil and Tel Rumeida, part of Israeli military-controlled H2 and currently covered in part by a closed military zone order first issued on November 1st. The checkpoint was rebuilt with a high fence blocking the entire street and additional turnstiles and metal detectors. The turnstiles make it very difficult for anyone carrying heavy, bulky luggage or even several bags of groceries to pass. Israeli authorities also added a completely closed off room in the center of the checkpoint, where Palestinians are questioned and searched entirely out of site of any onlookers, media, or human rights monitors. As in previous versions of the checkpoint, there is no possibility for any car or truck – even an ambulance responding to an emergency – to pass; any vehicle larger than a baby carriage must take a time-consuming detour in order to enter or leave Tel Rumeida. The new checkpoint has already become a flashpoint for Israeli military aggressions against Palestinians, which include the arrest of 38-year-old Wafa’ Sharabati on Monday afternoon by Israeli forces who first claimed she had a discrepancy in her ID then accused her of being a troublemaker and threatened to plant a knife on her . . . Only Palestinians who are registered in the closed military zone can ever pass through the checkpoint; family members of residents, journalists, human rights defenders and internationals have all been barred.
WATCH: How a single checkpoint affects an entire neigborhood
Israeli Social TV 8 Jan — Ever since the eruption of the latest round of violence, the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Issawiya has been essentially blocked off from the rest of the city by a single checkpoint. Dozens of residents, along with students from Hebrew University and members of Knesset, held a demonstration calling to open the checkpoint and end the collective punishment of 16,000 people.
MK Haneen Zoabi indicted
Ynet 7 Jan by Hassan Shaalan — Joint List MK Haneen Zoabi was indicted on Thursday for insulting a public worker after a plea bargain was agreed last month to bring the charge down from incitement to violence. The indictment comes in the wake of Zoabi’s verbal attack on Arab police officers in the days following the murder of Mohammed Abu Khdeir in July 2014. According to the charge, on July 6, 2014, hearings took place in the Nazareth Magistrates’ Court requesting that the arrest of two suspects involved in riots that had spread throughout the Arab-Israeli population be extended. The incidents had included clashes with police forces. During the hearings two Arab police investigators, Ehab Haddad and Bushur Amer, were represented by the state. During a break in one of the hearings, the two were standing outside the courtroom with Zoabi. Zoabi, it is claimed, raised her voice and said that they were traitors who were sent to gather information and eavesdrop on people. Zoabi then called out in Arabic to those present that they should work against the police due to their being “Arabs in the service of the state.” The indictment also claims that Zoabi shouted that people should spit in the policemen’s faces, and said: “They are against our sons and daughters, they should not be among us. They should be afraid of us, of our youth that have been arrested because of the information they send.” The prosecutor noted that one of the people present at the hearing filmed part of the event, after which Zoabi’s words were published online.
Israeli West Bank youth sentenced to jail for posing ‘national security’ risk
JPost 7 Jan — The Lod District Court sentenced six youth, including four minors, to eight months in prison after accepting a plea bargain which accused the suspects of rock throwing, vandalism and the “the disruption of police work,” according to the Justice Ministry Thursday. The youths, all residents of the West Bank settlement of Yitzhar, located near Nablus, carried out a number of attacks against Israeli security forces in the summer of 2013, the Ministry added, burning tires and lobbing stones at police officers while patrolling the Samaria region of the West Bank. The Justice Ministry said that the crimes were “ideological” in nature and the youth posed a serious risk to “the rule of law” and “national security.” The court agreed with prosecutors in the case that the defendants warranted a prison term for their actions, “including the minors,” as a “necessary deterrent” in order to halt similar incidences in the future. These acts were not perpetrated “by mischievous boys,” the court stated in its decision. “Behind Act is an ideology … that the country [Israel] is ‘the enemy’ and see violence as a legitimate means” to combat the state, the court added.
Palestinian families decry punitive demolitions in Jerusalem
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 6 Jan — Two Palestinian families whose homes were demolished and sealed decried on Tuesday Israel’s policy of punitive home demolition for homes belonging to Palestinians who carry out attacks on Israelis. The homes, located in the Jabal al-Mukabbir neighborhood of occupied East Jerusalem, belonged to relatives of Alaa Abu Jamal and Baha Elayyan who were both shot dead on Oct. 13 after carrying out separate attacks that left four Israelis dead. Abu Jamal’s father told Ma‘an that the home demolished earlier this week belonged to his sister, Safaa, who lived in the apartment with her husband and two young daughters. Israeli forces reportedly stormed the family’s third-floor apartment and evacuated the family at gunpoint before shutting the windows and filling the home with concrete. The father of Bahaa Elayyan meanwhile told Ma‘an that he planned to set up a tent in front of his demolished home and live there despite the onset of winter. “It’s alright if we are left homeless. What is happening today is a new chapter of the Palestinian nakba (catastrophe) and displacement,” Elayyan said, referring to homes demolished since a wave of unrest spread across the occupied Palestinian territory in October. Elayyan told Ma‘an that the family had been targeted by punitive demolition before, when in the 1970s Israeli forces sealed off his father’s home on charges of “resisting the occupation.”
‘Catastrophe took place here’: Gaza farmers speak to RT after ‘IDF destroys’ 400 acres of crops
[with VIDEO] RT 5 Jan — More than 400 acres of crops have been destroyed by the IDF near the fence surrounding Gaza, in a lethal no-go zone maintained unilaterally by Israel on the Palestinian side of the border. They say they sprayed pesticides to enable a security operation. The no-go area is volatile and many explosives are found in it. The IDF told RT this was such a case, as it continues to patrol the area for improvised explosive devices (IEDs) and signs of border infiltrations. Israel’s ground forces have also been regularly entering the Gaza Strip to clear obstructions and for other purposes. The IDF added the spraying of the pesticides did not harm the environment, but Palestinian farmers say hundreds of acres have been laid to waste, and showed evidence of this. “A catastrophe took place here. A farmer works to make a living for his family. The IDF sprayed the crops. I wonder who will take responsibility for these actions. No one thinks of us. The proof is here. Come and take a look. All of our crops are damaged. They are no good for humans, or even animals,” Azam Said Abo Abed said. “We had prepared to take crops to the market. But we were told to destroy them.” Another, Salam Muhana, said he worries the IDF will spray the crops again, if they are replanted. The farmers told RT they had received just one visit from the former minister of agriculture after the war. “We don’t even know the name of the current minister…” The farmers are now picking what little crops have not been damaged. Asked whether they believe the IDF is employing some sort of tactic here, the farmers said they didn’t know, and some choose to blame the Ministry of Agriculture, which had not kept in touch or asked them about the damage. By contrast, they say, the Red Cross showed up to repair the area the last time.
Israelis continue to poison Palestinian crops
IMEMC/Agencies 5 Jan — Israeli drones, Tuesday evening, sprayed toxic pesticides on the Palestinian agricultural lands to east of Khan Younis, in the southern Gaza Strip. Media sources reported that Israeli drones sprayed hundreds of agricultural lands with pesticides, causing injury to the crops in that region. Al Ray Palestinian Media Agency notes that this material eliminated hundreds dunams planted with peas, spinach, al-Saleq and zucchini, inflicting farmers with considerable material loss. It is not the first time that farmers reported such incidents.
Navy fires on Gaza fishing boat
IMEMC/Agencies 6 Jan — Israeli naval forces, on Wednesday morning, targeted a fishing boat off Al-Sudaniyya shores in Gaza, causing it to burst into flames. Al-Sudaniyya shore is the fishing permitted area for Palestinians. However, Israeli naval forces target the fishermen boats on a regular basis. PNN reports that, according to the Palestinian information center, the fisherman was on the boat when it was targeted, and his fate is still unknown. Other Palestinian sources said that no injuries have been reported.
Egypt asks Israel to keep Turkey away from Gaza
Haaretz 7 Jan by Barak Ravid — Egypt has approached Israel asking for clarifications regarding recent progress in its reconciliatory talks with Turkey. Senior officials in Jerusalem told Haaretz that Egypt expressed its reservations regarding granting Turkey a role in the Gaza Strip, and asked whether Israel had committed to any easing of restrictions in the closure imposed on Gaza. These officials, who asked to remain anonymous due to the delicate diplomatic nature of the issue, stated that what caused the Egyptian government’s displeasure was Israeli media reports from a few weeks ago, according to which a breakthrough had been reached in reconciliation talks with Turkey, as well as reports in the Turkish media that Israel had agreed to take significant steps in easing the maritime siege on Gaza. Senior Egyptian Foreign Ministry officials met with Israel’s ambassador Haim Koren and asked if these reports were correct and whether Israel and Turkey are indeed close to reconciling. The temporary chargé d’affaires at the Egyptian embassy in Tel Aviv delivered similar messages in a recent meeting with senior Foreign Ministry officials in Jerusalem. Egypt expressed its opposition to any Israeli concessions to Turkey with regard to the Gaza Strip. The senior officials noted that over the last two years there has been a serious rift in relations between Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah al-Sissi and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. The background for this crisis is the support expressed by Turkey’s government and ruling AKP party for Egypt’s deposed president Mohammed Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood movement in Egypt . . . Turkey’s close relations with the Hamas regime in Gaza are another cause for the great tension between Egypt and Turkey. Egypt, which has imposed an almost complete closure on the Strip from the Sinai Peninsula, is interested in maintaining maximal pressure on Hamas and has reservations concerning any easing of restrictions by Israel, particularly if this entails greater Turkish involvement in Gaza. (Continued)
Ban on political group in Israel leaves Gaza orphans destitute
KHAN YOUNIS 7 Jan by Isra Saleh el-Namey — The last thing Sabah Breas needed was a greater financial burden. The 47-year-old widow and mother of six children, three born deaf, has relied for four years on a monthly stipend to assure the family’s survival in the southern Gaza Strip town of Khan Younis. But that assistance has dried up. Israel’s decision in November to ban the Northern Branch of the Islamic Movement and freeze all its bank accounts and assets has also hit the various charitable associations that relied on the political movement. This has left tens of thousands of clients in present-day Israel, as well as in Gaza and the West Bank, facing destitution. Breas is just one of about 23,000 orphans and members of impoverished families with no breadwinner supported by money raised by the Islamic Movement and disbursed through a network of charities. In Gaza, that task fell to the Palestinian Humanitarian Relief Foundation. “Our work is basically the sponsorship of orphaned children. We also regularly provide money to widows to help them raise their children,” Intisar Abu Musa, a representative of the foundation in Khan Younis, told The Electronic Intifada. “People are distressed by the closure of our foundation as they are no longer receiving their monthly relief.” Money is primarily raised from Palestinian citizens of Israel, Abu Musa explained. Hospital patients and students have also been able to benefit, she added, and the Islamic Movement has on average underwritten projects to the tune of $13-18 million annually . . . Right now, Abu Musa said, the charity has three trucks of medical supplies waiting to enter Gaza. But for over a month, no permission has been granted. . . The decision to outlaw the Northern Branch of the Islamic Movement has met with vociferous protest in Israel, where large demonstrations were held in Umm al Fahm, the northern city where the movement is based. Protest rallies were also held in Gaza and some West Bank cities including Nablus and Ramallah . . . – ‘Mendacious accusations’ – Israel outlawed the Northern Branch of the Islamic Movement for alleged links to Hamas, the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood and as a threat to national security. But Abu Musa rejects these claims. “We have nothing to do with politics. All we care about are our orphans. We are fed up with these mendacious accusations,” she said. The ban — imposed by the government at the urging of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu — came hard on the heels of the 13 November attacks in Paris. Haneen Zoabi, a Palestinian citizen of Israel and member of parliament for the Joint List, said that the timing of the move, just days after those attacks, was no coincidence. Zoabi accused Netanyahu of exploiting the massacre to paint Palestinians struggling for their legitimate rights as no different from the suspected Islamic State gunmen and bombers who killed 130 people. (Continued)
PCHR condemns internal security arrest of two activists in Gaza
PCHR 5 Jan — On Sunday, 03 January 2016, Palestinian Internal Security Services (ISS) arrested two social media activists identified as journalist Ayman Ghazi Mustafa al-‘Aloul (44), Editor in Chief of Arab Now Agency, and Ramzi Subhi Hasan Herzallah (27), who works in a currency exchange shop. The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR) is concerned that the arrest might be on grounds of practicing their right to the freedom of opinion and expression. PCHR also calls upon the Attorney General in Gaza to follow up and clarify the circumstances to the public opinion. PCHR is concerned over the two arrests and stresses that:- The right to the freedom of opinion and expression is guaranteed under Article 19 of the 2003 Palestinian Basic Law (PBL) and freedom of criticism is guaranteed by law and international standards; – The ISS should respect the 2001 Criminal Procedure Code, especially the articles relevant to the necessity of issuing a search or arrest warrant from the Attorney General for the purposes of arrest, searching property and confiscating personal belongings. The warrant should also include the charges and reasons for searching if the arrest is accompanied by search; and – Laptops are personal items, so confiscating and searching them is considered a violation of the right to privacy that is protected by Article 32 of the 2003 PBL. Thus, confiscating or searching private devices should be done upon a decision from a judicial body.
Women journalists raise their voices in Gaza
GAZA CITY 5 Jan by Rasha Abou Jalal — In male-dominated Palestinian society, female journalists in the Gaza Strip have been striving to get ahead. By improving the image of women in the various media outlets and increasing local coverage of women’s issues, they hope to make society recognize that women are essential partners to men, strengthen the role of women’s organizations and develop the role of female Palestinian journalists. In the large media sector of the Gaza Strip, which is a hotbed of events that constantly attract the world’s attention, there are only five women-focused media outlets trying to find their niche. Muna Khader, the coordinator of the Palestinian Female Journalists Club in Gaza, listed the five outlets: Gaza Women Radio; Al Ghaida Magazine issued by the Women’s Affairs Center; Al Saada Magazine published by the Thoraya Communication and Information Foundation; Nawa News Network; and the Khnsaa Palestine website by the Islamic Jihad’s women’s department. Khader told Al-Monitor, “The state of women in media in Gaza, in particular, and in Palestine, in general, is not up to the level of the sacrifices that women make. … The few media organizations for women in Gaza are affiliated with civil institutions, not the government. Therefore, the government should adopt women’s issues and promote women’s media organizations in Gaza.” Khader explained that women’s media organizations in Gaza are trying to promote issues that are neglected by other local media outlets. She said, “Looking at the front pages of popular Palestinian dailies (Al-Quds, Al-Ayyam, al-Hayat al-Jadida and [Hamas-affiliated] Felesteen), we rarely see woman-specific headlines. [Women’s] issues are discussed in the inside pages, not the front page.” (Continued)
Was gear bought by US charity used by Israeli army during Gaza attack?
EI 6 Jan by Ali Abunimah — Were common household items purchased with tax-exempt charitable funds used to help the Israeli army kill Palestinians in Gaza? On Tuesday, The Electronic Intifada reported on a lawsuit filed by several US citizens against the US Treasury. The complaint alleges that the government agency is allowing billions of dollars of tax-exempt charitable donations to flow to the Israeli army and support the expansion of illegal Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank including East Jerusalem.
One of the lawsuit’s specific claims is that “tens of thousands of Palestinians have had their homes either confiscated or demolished by settlers armed with sophisticated military hardware purchased with funds coming from these US tax-exempt entities.” The lawsuit says that the funds have been used to purchase night-vision goggles, sniper scopes and guard dogs for Israeli settlers as well as to set up “sniper schools.” “The settlers use the military hardware to threaten and intimidate their Palestinian neighbors, in some cases murdering them, hoping that they will abandon their homes and olive groves,” the lawsuit claims.
It says that tax-exempt funds have also benefited the Israeli military, but it does not say that such funds were used to buy military gear for the army. – Evidence – The video above, however, provides evidence that equipment likely purchased with tax-deductible US donations was used in Israel’s summer 2014 assault on Gaza that killed more than 2,200 Palestinians including 551 children. In the video, members of the Israeli army’s Golani Brigade preparing to deploy to Gaza during the assault thank donors to an organization called Connections Israel for donations they have made.
Gaza Strip gets first new hospital in a decade, two more due this year
GAZA (Reuters) 6 Jan by Nidal Almughrabi — The Gaza Strip’s struggling healthcare system will get some much needed help in 2016 after the first new hospital in a decade opened its doors in the territory last month and as two more foreign-funded clinics are set to launch this year. After nearly five years of construction, with delays caused by fighting and restrictions on imports imposed by Israel and Egypt, the Indonesia Hospital opened its doors on Dec. 27 and has since been treating more than 250 patients a day. Built on a hilltop outside Jabalya, Gaza’s largest refugee camp, it serves 300,000 people who live in the far north of the territory, an area hard hit in the conflict with Israel in 2014 . . . Funded by an Indonesian NGO, the $9 million facility has 110 beds, compared to the 62 beds of the old local hospital, and will make a big difference to the local population, said Muaeen al-Masri, its head of media and public relations. Gaza, home to nearly 2 million people, has around 30 hospitals and major clinics, providing an average of 1.3 beds for every 1,000 people, according to the World Bank. By comparison, Israel has an average of 3.3 beds per 1,000 and the European Union 5.4 per 1,000. . . .
QRCS to begin projects at Gaza public hospitals
DOHA (The Peninsula) 6 Jan — Qatar Red Crescent Society (QRCS) has signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Palestine’s Ministry of Health to implement new medical projects at several public hospitals in Gaza. The 12-month project at a cost of $800,000 (QR2,909,740) aims to provide quality health services to patients . . . The QRCS office in Gaza will establish a new joint replacement unit in the Al Shefaa medical Complex, at a cost of $600,000. It involves medical staff training and remuneration, delegation of an orthopaedic consultant, procurement of general and specialist surgical equipment and supply of joint replacement prostheses for one year. The project will help improve the advanced orthopaedic surgical services in the complex, minimise the need for patient referrals abroad, reduce the rate of permanent disabilities resulting from orthopaedic injuries, and receive hundreds of patients and elderly every year. The project also aims to enhance gastroscopy services by procuring a gastroscope, colonoscope and duodenoscope for Nasser Hospital and medical consumables for gastroscopy for Nasser Hospital and European Gaza Hospital.
Land, property theft & destruction / Ethnic cleansing
Israeli forces demolish mosque in Negev
NEGEV (Ma‘an) 6 Jan — Israeli forces on Wednesday demolished a mosque in the unrecognized Palestinian Bedouin village of Rakhama in the Negev in southern Israel, Talal Abu Arar, a Palestinian member of the Israeli Knesset, or parliament, told Ma‘an. Abu Arar said he attempted to prevent the demolition, but had been unable to convince the Israeli authorities. “(They) do not spare any effort in exerting pressure on the Arab population of the Negev in their attempt to empty the land of Arabs and to displace them,” he said. “The demolition of the mosque today, and mosque demolitions in the Negev in general, is a declaration of war on Islam, in line with the religious war Israel has been igniting in the region,” Abu Arar said. The Palestinian MK slammed Israel for not providing “any services to Palestinians in unrecognized villages.” Despite collecting taxes from Palestinians, he said that “Israeli authorities demolish their homes and close the doors of livelihoods in their faces.” Rakhama is one of around 40 Bedouin villages in the Negev that Israel refuses to recognize — together holding nearly 90,000 people. Israeli authorities last month demolished structures in the Bedouin village of al-‘Araqib, also in the Negev, for the 92nd time.
Israeli forces demolish 5 Bedouin dwellings in E1 corridor
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 6 Jan — Israeli forces on Wednesday morning demolished five dwellings housing Palestinian Bedouin families in the Abu Nuwwar community east of Jerusalem — part of the wider E1 corridor — leaving 25 people homeless. Dawood al-Jahalin, a spokesperson for the Abu Nuwwar Bedouin community, told Ma‘an that Israeli military and police vehicles surrounded the area at around 8:30 a.m., before bulldozers demolished five dwellings and an agricultural structure. The families were not given any time to remove their belongings before the dwellings — made of steel, wood, and canvas — were torn down, he said. “I showed them a court decision banning demolition, but the officer in charge refused to see it and instead told me he had a demolition order from the Civil Administration,” al-Jahalin said. He said that the Israeli authorities had repeatedly attempted to persuade the families to leave their land. “They offers us blank checks and alternative land, but we refused and will continue to refuse to leave our land, and we will rebuild the dwellings this evening.”
Israeli authorities demolish 3 structures in Jerusalem
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 7 Jan — Israeli bulldozers under army escort on Thursday demolished three Palestinian structures built without construction permits in the Jerusalem neighborhoods of Silwan and Beit Safafa, the owners told Ma‘an. Nadia Abu Diab said that Jerusalem municipality excavators tore down a two-story building and unfinished apartment belonging to her family in Silwan in occupied East Jerusalem. She said the 125-square meter apartment had been under construction since September last year, and that her family had been in the process of obtaining a license. She said the Jerusalem municipality demolished the apartment without prior notice. Separately, in Beit Safafa, a Palestinian neighborhood divided between East and West Jerusalem, Israeli bulldozers demolished part of a restaurant belonging to local resident Imad Burqan. Burqan told Ma‘an the Jerusalem municipality demolished an extension of the Mediterranean Restaurant made of tin sheets and steel bars that he had added to the building about three months ago. Construction licenses are very expensive and difficult to obtain for Palestinians, notably in the Jerusalem area, in a bid by Israeli authorities to force Palestinians out and change the demographic balance of the city. Silwan in particular has seen in recent years an influx of Israeli settlers at the cost of home demolitions and the eviction of Palestinian families. Last year, the PLO Negotiations Affairs Department slammed what it termed Israel’s “systematic ethnic cleansing of Palestinians” in Silwan.
Shufa village threatened as Israeli forces begin to excavate Palestinian land
SHUFA, Occupied Palestine 4 Jan by ISM, Tulkarm Team — On the 22nd of December, Israeli forces started excavating land belonging to the Palestinian village of Shufa. Residents fear the possibility of settlement expansion will threaten the future of their village. Shufa village is very close to Avne Hefez, an illegal Israeli settlement that was established in 1987, which originally comprised 44 dunums of land. The settlement has continued expanding ever since and currently covers 3.000 dunums of land, all belonging to Palestinian villagers from the area. Unlike most other villages in the West Bank, Shufa is located on top of a hill, while the Avne Hefez settlement is located at a lower point. Israeli bulldozers and excavators are now digging the side of the hill where Shufa is located, just a few hundred meters from the center of the village. The landowner hasn’t received any previous notice of the excavation, and what exactly the Israeli army intends to build is still not known. One assumption is that they are trying to connect both Avne Hefez and Enav settlements with a nearby illegal outpost. Villagers fear that Israel intends to create a big settlement block in the area, by connecting these three places. Since the construction site is located at the bottom of the hill, posing a strategic disadvantage for the Israelis, the residents of Shufa are afraid that the Israeli forces will use certain measures, typically on the pretext of ‘security’, to prevent Palestinians from accessing their farmland on that particular part of the hill in the future . . . the villagers in Shufa are in desperate need of an increased water supply, in order to irrigate their farmlands. But Israel doesn’t let them finish a newly constructed water pipeline that starts in the nearby village of Esba Shufa, and is planned to go all the way to Shufa.
Israeli military confiscates construction materials, serves demolition notices near Hebron
IMEMC/Agencies 5 Jan — The Israeli army, Tuesday, delivered a notification to demolish two agricultural structures and to stop the construction work on a house in Beit Ummar, a town located to the north of Hebron, according to local sources. Yousef Abu Maria, an anti-settlement activist in the town, told WAFA that an Israeli army force broke into Beit Zana and Feredes areas, just outside the town, and notified local Palestinians about a military order to demolish two private-owned animal barns. The army also handed Saber Abu Maria, a local Palestinian, a military order to stop the construction work on his house, under the pretext of construction without a permit. The force also seized a tractor in the area, according to WAFA.
Also on Tuesday, Israeli forces confiscated construction materials and equipment belonging to the municipality of Dahiriya, to the southwest of Hebron, according to local sources.
Israeli forces confiscate Palestinian bulldozer near Nablus
NABLUS (Ma‘an) 7 Jan — Israeli forces on Thursday morning confiscated a bulldozer being used by Palestinians to reclaim agricultural land near Nablus in the northern West Bank, local officials told Ma‘an. Bilal Abd al-Hadi, the deputy mayor of the town of ‘Aqraba, said the bulldozer was rehabilitating land for agricultural purposes in the al-Khirbeh area between ‘Aqraba and the neighboring town of Majdal Bani Fadil when Israeli forces arrived and confiscated it. Abd al-Hadi said Israeli officers presented an official warrant before confiscating the piece of equipment . . . Land reclamation is a significant issue for Palestinians, as Israeli law, based on Ottoman-era legislation, allows the Israeli state to seize land not cultivated by its owners for more than three years. Israeli-claimed “state lands” in the West Bank are then often used as construction sites for Jewish-only settlements, in contravention of international law.
Israeli minister adds West Bank church compound to settlement bloc
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 6 Jan — Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon has decided to incorporate a southern West Bank church compound into the Gush Etzion settlement bloc, Israeli daily Haaretz reported Wednesday. The 38-dunam (9.3 acre) compound, known as Beit al-Baraka, is located to the north of al-‘Arrub refugee camp in the southern West Bank district of Hebron. An investigative report by Haaretz in May last year alleged that American millionaire Irving Moskowitz purchased the site through a Swedish company in 2012 with the intention of turning it into a settlement outpost. Since then, Palestinians have staged regular protests outside the compound, often with Palestinian political and religious leaders in attendance. The church lies in a sensitive location between the Gush Etzion settlement bloc and the cluster of settlements around Hebron, and its incorporation into Gush Etzion would see a near continuous line of settlements between Jerusalem and Hebron. Haaretz, which has followed the case closely, reported Wednesday that the Gush Etzion regional council had sought Yaalon’s approval to add the compound to its municipality’s jurisdiction. “Yaalon has agreed to this request, and the military commander in the territories signed off on the order,” Haaretz reported. “This means the property is now officially part of the settlement bloc.” Haaretz’s investigation earlier this year alleged that a Swedish company established in 2007 had been used to cover up the sale and transfer of Beit al-Baraka in 2012 to a settler organization funded by Moskowitz.
Israel’s Druze reject Netanyahu’s divide-and-conquer policies
+972 mag 6 Jan by Natasha Roth — A newly-approved Druze town is slated to be built atop destroyed Palestinian villages. But the Druze community refuses to let the government sow discord among Israel’s ethnic minorities under the guise of development — With great fanfare, the Prime Minister’s Office released a press statement Tuesday announcing that the National Planning Council had approved the prime minister’s initiative to build a new Druze town in Israel. According to Netanyahu, the town would be the first since the foundation of the state. Netanyahu made much of the plan, claiming it would “advance the Druze sector.” (Sector is the term Israel uses to describe its non-Jewish ethnic and religious minorities. This monolithic characterization helps the government form broad policies that affect very diverse groups of people). MK Ayoob Kara, Deputy Minister for the Development of Druze and Circassian communities, also backed the plan. On the surface, this looks like a winning project: new housing for one of the country’s minority groups, which will be able to expand organically, backed by a Druze politician. Yet there is far more to the PMO’s announcement than meets the eye. Samer Swaid, the administrative manager at the Arab Center for Alternative Planning, told +972 that, save for Kara, there had been no proper consultation with Druze representatives regarding the plan, and that there is broad opposition to the project — primarily over its location. “The plan is to build it on the land of destroyed Palestinian villages,” Swaid explained, referring to the villages of Hittin and Nimrin, which were depopulated in 1948. “It’s a moral issue. We don’t want it to be a new settlement. There are also Druze religious rulings which forbid the taking of land that belong to destroyed villages . . . There is also concern in the Druze community that this government plan may sow discord with Palestinians. Khalil Halabi, the spokesperson for the Committee for the Protection of Carmel Land, told Haaretz: “As a community, we cannot accept something like this,” adding that in the past Druze spiritual leaders had objected to the expropriation of land from Daliyat al-Karmel and Isfiya — the two largest Druze towns in Israel — when it became clear that the territory in question had formerly belonged to the destroyed Palestinian village of Umm al-Zina. This brings up one of the most troubling aspects of the proposed new town. The nature in which it was planned and announced, without consulting the very people it concerns and riding roughshod over the legacy of the Nakba — one of the most painful and divisive aspects of Israel’s history — is symptomatic of the government’s paternalistic and self-serving approach toward its minorities.
France’s Orange dumps Israeli affiliate that backed Gaza war
EI 4 Jan by Ali Abunimah — Palestine solidarity activists can chalk up a significant win as the French multinational telecom company Orange is dumping its Israeli affiliate. The Orange Israel brand will cease to exist in February, the Tel Aviv newspaper Haaretz reports. This news comes just eight months after an international boycott campaign was launched against Orange over its support for Israel’s 2014 assault on Gaza and its complicity in Israel’s colonization of the occupied West Bank. Orange has operated in Israel through a franchise agreement with the independently owned company Partner Communications Ltd. Partner pays royalties to Orange and a share of its profits for using its brand name. Through this arrangement, Orange has participated in systematic violations of Palestinian rights, according to an investigation published last year by a coalition of French and Palestinian human rights and labor organizations.
In setback for BDS, Spain awards West Bank school €70,000
BERLIN (JPost) 6 Jan by Benjamin Weinthal — Spain’s Supreme Court, the Council of State, has issued a landmark ruling against the country’s Housing Ministry for illegally excluding Israel’s Ariel University from a scientific competition in 2009. The legal victory, which was announced last week but made public by Ariel University on Tuesday, is a significant setback for Spanish BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) activists targeting the Jewish state. The Council of State added €70,000 to a previous court penalty compensation of €30,000 awarded to the university. The award now totals €100,000. Ariel University’s chancellor, Yigal Cohen-Orgad, said the decision was “a partial, but necessary, response to the pressure being mounted by the BDS movement around the globe, and proves that efforts to isolate and demonize Israel can and will be thwarted.” The case dates back to 2009, when Spain blocked Ariel University from participating in a sustainable energy design competition, Solar Decathlon Europe . . . .
Abbas: PLO to decide next week on security coordination with Israel
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 6 Jan — Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas on Wednesday announced that the PLO would officially make a decision next week regarding the upholding of contractual relations with Israel. The president made the announcement during a speech delivered in the occupied West Bank town of Bethlehem during Orthodox Christmas celebrations. Abbas reiterated past statements made by Palestinian political bodies supporting the end to agreements signed with Israel, notably the end of security coordination with Israel established through the Oslo Accords. Despite threats made in September by the Palestinian president to renege from the agreements, moves have yet to be made to cut coordination with his Israeli counterparts. “The Executive Committee and the Central Committee of the PLO as well as commanders of Palestinian Authority security services will hold meetings next week to give the final decision and we will adhere with whatever they decide,” Abbas said Wednesday. The president also said that as the international community has convened to address conflicts in Syria and Libya, it should also convene to solve the problems of the Palestinians, adding that the status quo maintained since Israel’s military occupation began in 1967 must end.
Israeli officials say PA security coordination ‘exceptionally good’
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 7 Jan — Security coordination between the Palestinian Authority and Israel has been “exceptionally good” in recent days, unnamed Israeli security officials told Israeli daily Haaretz Thursday. Citing the armed presence of PA forces at “points of conflict” between Palestinian protesters and Israeli forces, the officials reportedly said that since early December, the PA had made a “significant change for the better” in addressing violence in the occupied West Bank. The comments referred to locations such as Rachel’s Tomb in Bethlehem and the northern exit of Ramallah, where PA security forces have at times prevented protesters from clashing with the Israeli army. The officials said that members of Fatah’s armed wing were no longer participating in demonstrations against Israeli forces, while there was also less “inflammatory rhetoric” by official PA media, Haaretz reported. The comments come a day after Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said the PLO would hold meetings next week to decide on whether to continue security coordination with Israel.
Hamas denies Abbas remarks that group refused elections
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 6 Jan — A Hamas spokesman on Wednesday denied remarks made by Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas that the group was refusing to take part in elections. Sami Abu Zuhri told Ma‘an that “Hamas is ready to partake in presidential, legislative and Palestinian National Council elections,” despite Abbas’ statements during a speech in Bethlehem that reportedly argued the contrary. Palestinian elections have been continually delayed due to the inability for rival factions Hamas and Fatah to overcome divisions.
Palestinians ponder succession after 11 years of Abbas
AP 7 Jan by Mohammed Daraghmeh & Karin Laub — Unpopular after 11 years in power, Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas is starting to face some open machinations from would-be successors, as his dream of negotiating Palestinian statehood lies in tatters. One likely contender is believed to be behind recent claims — swiftly denied by Abbas’s camp — that the 80-year-old’s health is failing, while another has complained of a “real leadership crisis” in rare open criticism of Abbas from within his Fatah movement. On Wednesday, Abbas made his first public appearance since the rumors of ill health circulated last week, in an apparent attempt to show he is fine. In a 40-minute televised speech, he hit familiar themes, berating Israel for settlement expansion and dismissing concerns that his self-rule government might collapse under mounting tensions with Israel’s hawkish government. Despite attempts to reassure the Palestinian public, claims of Abbas’s purported health problems have drawn attention to the lack of a designated successor or a process for picking one. Abbas holds key jobs as PLO chief and president of the Palestinian Authority, but the rift between Fatah in the West Bank and its main rival, the Islamic militant Hamas in Gaza, has prevented timely leadership elections. Behind the scenes, the battle for succession — likely to be chaotic when the time comes — is intensifying . . . Here is a look at a gallery of aspirants.
Israeli journalist, Palestinian pastor win Swedish rights prize
STOCKHOLM (AFP) 7 Jan — Israeli journalist Gideon Levy and Palestinian pastor Mitri Raheb on Thursday won the 2015 Olof Palme human rights prize for their “fight against occupation and violence”, the jury said. Levy, a journalist at the left-leaning Israeli daily Haaretz, and Raheb, a preacher and pastor in the Lutheran church in Bethlehem, were honoured for their “courageous and indefatigable fight against occupation and violence, and for a future Middle East characterised by peaceful coexistence and equality for all,” the Olof Palme Memorial Fund said in a statement. “They both give a ray of hope to a conflict that has plagued and continues to plague millions of people and to endanger world peace,” it said. A controversial figure for the Palestinian cause in his country, Levy has published articles opposing the Israeli army’s operations in Gaza in December 2008-January 2009 and in July-August 2014. For more than 25 years he has written a column, entitled “Twilight Zone”, on the hardships of life in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Levy, who won the Euro-Med journalism prize in 2008, is a “true patriot (who) has made reconciliation with the Palestinian people the mission of his life,” the jury said. Raheb is a renowned theologist and author, a pastor of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan who has worked to further inter-religious respect and understanding, particularly among youths.
UNRWA schools in the West Bank receive top international school award
UNRWA 6 Jan — United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) schools in the West Bank received top awards from the British Council’s prestigious International School Award (ISA) programme for 2015 in recognition of their efforts to bring the wider world into the classroom. All 25 UNRWA schools in the West Bank have received awards for their ‘Connecting Schools’ initiative and will receive certificates and plaques. The ISA aims to recognize, celebrate, develop, and encourage successful practices in curriculum-based international work in schools. Through ISA, participating UNRWA schools have established partnerships with 50 schools in other countries in the Arab region and other parts of the world through the use of information and communications technology (ICT) and multimedia. About 10,000 students and 600 teachers were involved in ISA activities in 2015, working with local community organizations and NGOs. The UNRWA schools’ international work includes projects with the partner schools, whereby students share ideas and learn from each other about common global issues, such as human rights, heritage, environment, traditions and other cultural topics. The experiences of UNRWA students with their peers from the partner schools have also furthered their appreciation and understanding of diverse cultures and languages.
IDF assignation of numbers to Palestinians sparks outcry
Ynet 5 Jan by Elior Levy — The IDF began over the last two weeks marking identity cards of Palestinians who live next to the Jewish part of Hebron with a sticker bearing an additional number, the idea being that the card’s owner can be quickly identified as a local resident when being checked by soldiers. The procedure has raised anger among Palestinian residents, who argue that Israel is the last place in the world that should give people numbers. [Don’t forget this story from 2002: Israeli army criticized for writing I.D. numbers on detainees: An Israeli lawmaker who survived the Nazi Holocaust expressed outrage Tuesday over Israeli troops writing identification numbers on the foreheads and forearms of Palestinian detainees awaiting interrogation during an army sweep of a West Bank refugee camp.]
IOA prevents the Athan over 600 times at the Ibrahimi Mosque in 2015
AL-KHALIL (PIC) 4 Jan — The Israeli Occupation Authority (IOA) prevented the Athan [Adhan] (call for prayer) 600 times in al-Haram al-Ibrahimi Mosque during 2015. The manager of the endowment department in al-Khalil Ismail Abu al-Halawah told Quds Press on Monday that the IOA prevents the Athan on Saturdays for four prayer times from the Fajr (dawn) prayer to Maghreb (sun set) prayer. The Athan for Maghreb prayers is prevented all over the year under the pretext of annoying settlers, he pointed out. The Awqaf manager Abu al-Halawah warned of the Israeli practices against al-Ibrahimi Mosque in the current year as the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has recently threatened to stop “the noise” in the Old City of al-Khalil, referring to the Athan sound.
Eastern denominations mark Christmas in Bethlehem
[with photos] BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 6 Jan — Eastern Christian denominations following the Orthodox calendar on Wednesday welcomed archbishops and patriarchs to celebrate Christmas Eve outside Jesus Christ’s traditional birthplace at the Nativity Church in Bethlehem. Hundreds of Palestinians affiliated to the Orthodox, Assyrian, Coptic and Ethiopian churches arrived on Manger Square to mark the occasion. Jiries Qumsiyeh, a spokesperson for the Palestinian Ministry of Antiquities and Tourism, told Ma‘an that the Assyrian patriarch was the first to arrive, followed by the Coptic patriarch, and the Orthodox Patriarch Theophilos III. A number of Palestinians chose to boycott the parade due to allegations that Theophilos III has been illegally selling off land belonging to the Orthodox patriarchate. Qumsiyeh said that Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas might attend the midnight mass, after meeting with representatives of the Orthodox denomination and other community leaders earlier on Wednesday. Jordanian Minister of Tourism Nayif al-Fayiz and Minister of Public Works Sami Halasah were also expected to attend the celebrations, he said. Qumsiyeh said that a number of tourists — mostly from Russia, the US, and Eastern Europe — had arrived in Bethlehem to take part in the celebrations.
Israeli Arabs removed from flight at demand of Jewish passengers
Haaretz 5 Jan by Rina Rozenberg — Israeli passengers on a recent Aegean Airlines flight from Greece to Israel forced the cabin crew to remove two Israeli Arabs from the flight before allowing it to take off, according to a report by Israel Radio. The incident occurred at Athens airport on Monday night, when Jewish Israeli passengers decided that the two Israeli Arab passengers on the flight constituted a security risk. After bringing their concern to the attention of the crew, they prevented the flight from taking off by standing in the aisles. The two Israeli Arabs finally acceded to crew requests that they disembark, in return for a hotel room and compensation. According to the airline, “an initially small group” of passengers “very vocally and persistently” demanded that two Israeli Arab citizens be “checked for security issues.” With the flight unable to take off, the captain called the airport police, who checked the “documents and identities” of the two passengers and found nothing amiss. But by then, “a much larger group of passengers” had begun protesting the presence of the two Israeli Arabs, “despite the assurances given by the crew, according to Aegean Airlines.” The flight was delayed by more than an hour-and-a-half until the two Israeli Arab passengers agreed to disembark. Even after that, the group of passengers insisted that the crew conduct an additional security check, causing the captain to warn them that they would be forcibly removed from the plane without compensation. At that point, the passengers took their seats and the plane took off for Tel Aviv. [Later: Aegean Airlines apologized to PLO]
And by contrast:
Israeli bus driver refuses demands to kick off Arab passenger
JPost 7 Jan — “Anyone who is afraid is welcome to get off,” Israeli bus driver Ruti Tehrani told passengers as she rejected their demands to kick an elderly Arab passenger off her bus this week. According to the Channel 2-affiliated portal NEXTER, a group of passengers riding Route 129 from Petah Tikva to Tel Aviv began to panic when a man on the bus began to mumble to himself in Arabic. They approached the bus driver and demanded she remove him immediately, citing fears that he may be a terrorist. Tehrani, a 54-year-old mother of three, pulled the bus over and checked on the passenger. “I approached him carefully and asked him if everything was okay, if he needed help or if he wanted to sit next to me,” Tehrani told NEXTER. “I saw that he was an older man who was not feeling well and didn’t seem to pose a threat to anyone, and he was certainly not a terrorist,” she said. Tehrani then told passengers they were welcome to disembark, but that she would not comply with their demands to remove the Arab passenger. “I understand the current security situation but everything has a limit,” Tehrani told NEXTER. “In our company everyone is equal, Jews and Arabs. I was taught at home to respect every person and not to discriminate against anyone,” she added. Tehrani continued on her regular route. “To remove a passenger just because he is an Arab and because the passengers requested it? That seems a bit extreme,” she said. “If I had to do it again, I would do exactly the same thing. The Arab passenger didn’t bother anyone and the demands of the passengers were out of proportion. There was no chance in the world that I would comply with their demands.”
Arab-Israeli offers money for information on Dizengoff shooter
Ynet 5 Jan by Yael Friedson — With the chase still ongoing for Nashat Melhem, the suspect in the Dizengoff shooting that killed two, the head of the merchants’ committee in the Old City of Jerusalem has offered NIS 40,000 for whoever can provide information that will help in locating the terrorist. ‘We need to forget this nonsense about Arabs and Jews, we want to live in peace,’ Mazen Qaq says . . . “This is someone who acted against Israeli citizens, and I won’t allow someone like him to destroy trust and security,” Qaq told Ynet. A resident of East Jerusalem, he emphasized that he sees himself as Arab-Israeli and not as Palestinian.
Wake up, Arab citizens of Israel / Gideon Levy
Haaretz 6 Jan — Imagine what it’s like to be an Arab citizen in Israel today – only dread and despair. No Jew in the world, not even in “anti-Semitic” France and probably not even in “satanic” Iran, lives in such a regime of fear, deprivation and ostracism. You walk around Tel Aviv streets accompanied by fear and humiliation. In Jerusalem you might also get shot. In Afula you’ll be banished. Better not speak in your tongue, it’s inadvisable to dress like an Arab. Be a Jew on the street and an Arab at home. Best of all, stay at home. But at home you might get raided by the police riot squad – perhaps you’re hiding the terrorist – working from the Shin Bet’s lists of names. You want to escape from all this abroad? On the way there you’re humiliated at Ben-Gurion Airport. On the way back they take you off the flight, at the demand of the raging crowd. Perhaps soon we’ll have flights for Jews only. You live in your country on probation. No authority will help you. No government will save you. The courts discriminate against you, the budgets discriminate against you. The Knesset is racist, the media is ultra-nationalist. Expressions of Israeli Jewish solidarity are getting fewer. Nobody stood up on the Aegean Airlines flight to save the Israelis’ honor. Almost nobody stands up at all anymore. Even in liberal Ramat Aviv it’s hard to be an Arab construction worker without fear. Building its houses, cleaning its streets and carrying its deliveries is OK, but don’t be an Arab. All this is happening just when a generation has arisen that is trying to integrate into a Jewish democratic state, which it was born into against its will. The Israeli answer to the integration effort is Benjamin Netanyahu. You wanted to be pharmacists in Superpharm, speak in a new Arab-Hebrew dialect, read Yediot Ahronoth and watch Channel 2? It won’t do you any good. (Continued)
Israeli soldier dismissed from army post after writing Haaretz op-ed
Haaretz 7 Jan by Gili Cohen — Niv Vrubel was a producer at the military radio station, and wrote last week against the religious Zionist movement. Army Radio: He violated military regulations —Niv Vrubel, a soldier serving at Army Radio as a producer, has been dismissed from the his post at the military radio station after publishing an op-ed piece last week in Haaretz (in Hebrew) entitled “I know the song from the wedding very well.” In the column, Vrubel said that the song, “Zochreini Na” (“Remember Me”) that featured in the video clip of the wedding attended by right-wing extremists is well known to many in the religious Zionist movement because it is often played at various events, including at weddings, bar mitzvas and in the Bnei Akiva youth movement. The words of the catchy tune are Samson’s dying plea to God for revenge against the Philistines: “Remember me, I pray Thee, and strengthen me, I pray Thee, only this once, Oh God, that I may be this once avenged of the Philistines for my two eyes.” (Judges 16, 28). The controversial video shows Orthodox youths at a Jerusalem wedding dancing and brandishing guns and knives, stabbing a photo of Ali Dawabsheh, the toddler who was killed in the Duma firebomb attack that killed three members of the Dawabsheh family this past summer. Vrubel wrote that the song is not the anthem of the right-wing “hilltop youth,” and not that of those who carry out “price tag” attacks against Arabs in the West Bank either. Those singing it are the bourgeoisie, overfed members of the religious Zionist movement from places such as Petah Tikva, Ra’anana and Givat Shmuel. Vrubel noted he was a graduate of a yeshiva. Vrubel also wrote that Samson should not be called a hero, but was the first suicide terrorist, and those singing the song replace the word “Philistines” with “Palestinians” – and this is the only time they even admit to the existence of Palestinians.
Clerics launch ‘Jerusalem Capital of the World’ campaign
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 6 Jan — Palestinian Muslim and Christian religious clerics and officials on Tuesday launched a campaign aimed at bolstering Muslim and Christian claims over occupied East Jerusalem. It is hoped the campaign, titled “Jerusalem Capital of the World 2016,” will raise international awareness of Palestinian Muslim and Christian heritage in the occupied city, and also “annul” Israeli claims that Jerusalem is the undivided capital of the state of Israel. The announcement was made by the clerics during a news conference at the Palestinian National Theatre (al-Hakawati) in Jerusalem. Among the speakers at the conference were President of the Supreme Islamic Council Sheikh Ikrima Sabri, Archbishop of Sebastia from the Orthodox Patriarchate in Jerusalem Atallah Hanna, and former Palestinian Authority Minister of Jerusalem Affairs Hatim Abd al-Qadir. Speakers at the conference said the campaign would also aim to strengthen values of tolerance between Muslim and Christians . . . The campaign will also attempt to draw attention to “the ongoing suffering the Israeli occupation is causing to the Arab population of Jerusalem,” the group said in the statement, including “murder, destruction and displacement against the indigenous residents of the city.”
Gunmen open fire on tourist bus carrying Palestinians near Cairo
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 7 Jan — Unidentified gunmen opened fire on a tourist bus carrying at least 45 Palestinian citizens of Israel near Cairo on Thursday afternoon, with no injuries reported, Egyptian police and local media said. Egyptian newspaper Al-Masri Al-Youm (Egypt Today) quoted the commander of police in the Giza governorate southwest of Cairo as saying that two gunmen on a motorcycle had opened fire on the tourists as they left their hotel to board a bus. Police officers subsequently chased the assailants, arresting one, Egyptian police told Ma‘an. Local media reported that a number of Israeli citizens were among the tourists who were attacked, including a number of Palestinian citizens of Israel. Ahmad Tibi, a Palestinian member of the Israeli Knesset, told Ma‘an that he had spoken with the Egyptian consulate following the attack, and had confirmed that 45 citizens from Umm al-Fahm, Jaffa, and Kafr Qasim were present during the attack.
Foreign ministry: Dayan likely will not be ambassador to Brazil
Ynet 5 Jan by Itamar Eichner — Foreign Ministry officials believe that there is no longer any chance that Brazil will approve the appointment of settler leader Dani Dayan as Israel’s ambassador, following the South American country’s strenuous objections. These officials advised the political leadership to renounce the former head of the Yesha Council’s appointment as envoy to Brazil, and appoint him to a diplomatic post in a different country . . . Nevertheless, the heads of the Foreign Ministry have not cried uncle and are giving it one last chance. Next week Brazil’s ambassador to Israel will reportedly be summoned to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs for a discussion, during which the gravity with which Israel views the non-approval of Dayan’s appointment will be made clear to him. A senior Foreign Ministry official said that only after all options have been exhausted, including initiating a phone call between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Brazil’s President Dilma Rousseff, will they “calculate a new move”.