Violence / Detentions — West Bank / Jerusalem
Settlers assault shepherd near Hebron
IMEMC/Agencies 9 Feb — Israeli settlers, on Tuesday, physically assaulted and injured a Palestinian shepherd in Masafer Yatta, a Bedouin area to the south of Hebron, while he was grazing sheep, according to local sources. Coordinator of the Anti-Settlement Commission in Hebron, Rateb Jabour, told WAFA that Israeli settlers from a nearby illegal settlement physically assaulted 65-year-old Khader Hamad, a local Palestinian shepherd, while he was grazing sheep in the area. Hamad sustained bruises across his body, due to the attack. Masafer Yatta, a collection of almost 19 hamlets, is located in Area C of the West Bank, and is under full Israeli administrative and military control. The area has been subject to repeated Israeli violations by settlers and soldiers targeting their main source of living, livestock. The area relies heavily on animal husbandry, and has been a frequent target for recurrent Israeli assaults, including demolitions of animal barns, homes and residential structures.
Seven Palestinians injured near Bethlehem
IMEMC/Agencies 10 Feb — Israeli soldiers invaded, on Tuesday evening, the town of Teqoua‘ [or Tuqu‘], southeast of the West Bank city of Bethlehem, and shot seven Palestinians, including two brothers, while at least twenty others suffered the effects of tear gas inhalation, during clashes that took place between the invading soldiers, and local youths. The soldiers shot Jihad Daoud al-‘Amour, 26, and his brother Ala’, 24, with live rounds in their thighs, as they were standing on the rooftop of their home, in the center of the town, medical sources said. Their wounds were described as moderate. The sources added that five Palestinians were shot with rubber-coated steel bullets, and at least twenty others suffered the effects of tear gas inhalation. Some of the wounded Palestinians were transferred to the Beit Jala governmental hospital, and the rest received treatment by field medics.
Man wounded in Gush Etzion stabbing; manhunt underway
Ynet 9 Feb by Elisha Ben Kimon — Tomer Ditur, 28, was stabbed in the head and shoulder and moderately wounded on Tuesday afternoon at the entrance to Neve Daniel in Gush Etzion, in what bore all the signs of yet another terror attack targeting local civilians. The victim said he was running by himself near Neve Daniel when he was stabbed and that he continued onwards until the settlement’s security guard noticed him and called for urgent help. The victim pointed towards the direction in which believed the terrorist fled, which was in the direction of the Palestinian town of Nahalin.
Israeli authorities delay deal to return 2 Palestinian bodies
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 9 Feb — Israeli authorities on Tuesday announced that the body of a Palestinian who was shot dead after allegedly attempting to stab an Israeli police officer would not be released at midnight, as promised, a lawyer with prisoners’ rights group Addameer said. Muhammad Mahmoud said on Sunday Israeli forces would release the body of Musab Ghazali. Mahmoud initially announced that the body of Ghazali would be released at midnight on Tuesday and that the remains of another Palestinian, Ahmad Abu Shaaban, would be released on Monday at midnight. Israeli forces reneged on both deals without providing future dates for the release of the two remains. “Israeli intelligence has made it a policy to delay the return of bodies, from time to time, despite the fact that the families agreed upon the conditions of release,” Mahmoud said. Israeli authorities initially agreed to release the two remains under strict conditions. Mahmoud said Israeli forces stipulated that only 50 people were to attend the two funerals. To guarantee Israel’s terms would be followed, each family was required to pay 20,000 shekels ($5,150) as collateral. Mahmoud said both families accepted the terms and were awaiting their sons’ remains. (Continued)
UPDATE: Israeli forces kidnap 18 Palestinians in West Bank and Jerusalem, including minors
IMEMC/Agencies 9 Feb — At least 18 Palestinians, including two minors, were on abducted by Israeli troops across the West Bank districts and Jerusalem, on Tuesday, most of them during predawn raids, according to the Palestinian Prisoners Society (PPS). In the Hebron district, Israeli forces kidnapped seven Palestinians, including a young girl, who was identified as Deema al-Wawi, 13. Israeli troops claimed that al-Wawi, who hails from the town of Halhoul near Hebron, had a knife on her possession at the time she was detained outside the settlement of Karmie Tzur, an illegal Israeli settlement north of Hebron. The six others who were detained in Hebron were, according to WAFA, identified as Anas Mujahed, Mahmoud al-Haddad, Hatem Taha, Rashid Sabarneh, 31, Yousef Sabarneh, 21, Rushdi Sabarneh, 20, Nasri Sabarneh.
Meanwhile, in the Ramallah district, central West Bank, Israeli forces kidnapped five local Palestinians during a predawn offensive in the villages of Bil‘in and ‘Arora. They were identified as Sharar Mansour, 32, Mohammad Adib Abu Rahmeh, 23, Hamada Arouri, 29, Saleh Arouri, 23, and Abdullah Arouri, 29.
In Jerusalem, Israeli police reportedly took a woman and a teenager into custody. The woman was identified as Marsil Salameh, 40. The teenager, 16 years old, was detained by Israeli police outside Damascus Gate in Jerusalem, allegedly after a knife was found on her possession.
In the Tulkarem district, Israeli forces kidnapped two Palestinians, identified as Mustafa Awadiya and Shadwan Ashqar.
Israeli army also abducted Ammar Ajouri, a Palestinian from ‘Aida refugee camp, near Bethlehem, after he was summoned by the Israeli intelligence for interrogation.
Israeli troops further broke into the town of Tammoun, in the Tubas district, taking with them a local Palestinian identified as Mohammad Hassna Basharat.
Israeli forces detain 12 Palestinians across West Bank
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 10 Feb — Israeli forces detained at least 12 Palestinians in multiple predawn raids across the occupied West Bank on Wednesday, Israeli and Palestinian sources said. Clashes broke out in Duheisha refugee camp south of Bethlehem when Israeli soldiers stormed the camp firing live and rubber-coated bullets. Locals said that Palestinians threw stones and improvised explosive devices at the troops. A number of homes were ransacked, and Israeli forces detained three Palestinians, identified as Muhammad Zawahra, Mahmoud Swetie and Ali al-Tous. Locals said that Israeli forces also tore down a poster near the camp’s main entrance bearing a message in Arabic and Hebrew for an Israeli intelligence officer referred to as “Nidal,” said to be responsible for Duheisha, that read: “To Nidal and his soldiers, Duheisha stones welcome you. Your burial ground will be here.” Palestinian sources identified at least another nine Palestinians detained overnight — Luqman Attoun, Musab Shehadah, Basel Turshan, Rajab Mutair, Muhammad Mutair, Atef Mutair, Naseem Mutair, Muhammad Hammad, and Abdul-Salam Abu al-Hayja. An Israeli army spokesperson said that Israeli forces detained 10 Palestinians across the occupied West Bank overnight Wednesday, including one in Jenin district, one in Ramallah, six in Bethlehem, and two in Hebron, all for “illegal activities.” Prisoners’ rights group Addameer estimates that around 40 percent of the Palestinian male population in the West Bank and East Jerusalem has been detained at some point.
Otherwise Occupied // With Gaza as their model, Palestinian youth only see the steadily shrinking horizon / Amira Hass
Haaretz 8 Feb — Israelis are being killed because their government keep believing in the sustainability of military rule — The prevailing assumption is failing on a daily basis. The assumption that our regime is normal, as is our life, and that our subjects are getting adjusted, or will become adjusted and will even say, “Thank you, Sir.” In each and every generation and day, we rise up to subjugate and trample them, and they’re almost there – trampled and submissive and normalized, and then they rock the boat. And only because they – those young people, from the privatized uprising – are upsetting the false Israeli normalcy, are they heroes in the eyes of their public, though it has reservations about their choices and isn’t joining them. They are its inarticulate spokespersons, understood and not understood, surprising everyone again and again, although they emulate each other and part of a new routine. They are deaf to the voice of logic and the Palestinian security services, which say that the nation and the homeland need them alive. They only hear the sound of doors bolted before them, and see the steadily shrinking horizon. They have never been there, but they know that Gaza is the model that was prepared for them (the planning, design and casting are Israeli, with a few brushstrokes and additions by Hamas and Fatah. The disgrace is that of Europe, the Quartet, the United States, the United Nations, Norway and Germany, who feed the encaged and hang around with the warden). “Terrorists,” we say, and receive, ready-made, their full names and their Facebook posts, and the hints that they had personal problems at home, slash in school, slash in the neighborhood. “Murderers,” we say of those whose ABCs that they learned from birth are lethal Israeli rifles and tanks and aircraft, and surveillance equipment that invades their bedrooms. (Continued)
‘Our fighters are the Iron Dome of the West Bank’
Ynet 7 Feb by Yossi Yehoshua — Over the past few months, the Kfir Brigade has been operating in one of the hottest fronts the IDF has, dealing with violent rioting, and a series of stabbing and shooting attacks. The Kfir Brigade commander and his five battalion chiefs talk about preparing for the new threats, securing Breaking the Silence tours, and why the problematic image of the Haredi Nahal is far from reality. [long and interesting article told from the IDF point of view]
Jewish man sings Hatikvah at Temple Mount, is questioned by police
Ynet 9 Feb by Roi Yanovsky — Abraham Fua, a 19-year-old Israeli Jew, has been taken in for questioning after singing the Israeli national anthem, Hatikvah (“The Hope”), out loud on the Temple Mount. Fua also spoke about the importance of visiting the Temple Mount, and the Jewish people’s war on the Amalekites (a biblical enemy of the people of Israel). The Israel Police stated that the young man’s behavior constitutes an attempt to disturb the peace at the Temple Mount. Officials emphasized that Fua knows the rules of visiting the sensitive site well, and that officers acted with caution and restraint. The Police further stated that officers “invest great effort and resources in order to preserve the requisite balance in the Temple Mount, as well as keeping visits on schedule.” The Temple Organization Staff, an association of organizations that advocate the rights of Jews in the Temple Mount, criticized the police’s actions. “We condemn the gagging of Jews in the Temple Mount. There’s no legal authority to expand the ban on prayers at the Temple Mount, which is absurd on its own, and is a scandalous surrender to terrorist threats,” they said.
Campaign to reconstruct Palestinian demolished homes kick-starts in West Bank
IMEMC/Agencies 9 Feb — Palestinians, on Monday, launched a campaign to raise funds for the reconstruction of several demolished family homes of Palestinians killed by Israeli police in Jerusalem, since the beginning of October, 2015. Donation boxes were placed on well-trodden streets in al-‘Izzariya, Bethlehem and Hebron to collect donations. Fundraising was expected to last until 5:00 p.m. In al-‘Izzariya, a town to the east of Jerusalem, the fundraising was kick-started by a press conference held at Yasser Araft Square. The event was attended by Christian and Muslim clerics, most notably Greek Orthodox Bishop of Sebastia Theodosios (‘Atallah) Hanna, Imam of Al-Aqsa Mosque Sheikh ‘Ikrima Sabri, and Hatim ‘Abdul-Qader, who holds Fateh movement’s Jerusalem portfolio. ‘Ali ‘Ubeidat, a local activist who helped organize the fundraising activity, said, according to WAFA correspondence, that other donation boxes were placed in Ramallah, Tulkarem, Nablus and Salfit and noted that this campaign marked the culmination of a month-long work to mobilize grass-root support for the reconstruction of demolished houses. Israeli bulldozers had demolished the houses of at least two families of Palestinians who killed Israelis, over the last four months, and handed over notifications to demolish others in Jerusalem . . . Munthir ‘Amireh, a local activist who helped kick-start the campaign, said that, although the campaign seeks to raise funds, it has also a moral significance. It signifies popular solidarity with the families of Palestinians killed by Israeli forces, and sends the message that they are entitled to live. (Continued)
Israeli forces blockade Bethlehem-area village after nearby stabbing
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 10 Feb — The Israeli army intensified its blockade on the village of Nahhalin west of Bethlehem on Wednesday morning, a day after an Israeli settler was wounded in a stabbing near the village. Locals told Ma‘an via telephone that Israeli forces had sealed all Nahhalin’s roads, preventing residents from entering and leaving, including humanitarian cases. The blockade began Tuesday evening after an Israeli settler was stabbed and moderately wounded while jogging outside the illegal settlement of Neve Daniel. He reportedly said that the attacker had fled in the direction of Nahhalin. A member of the village council, Mahmoud Fannoun, said that Israeli soldiers set up military checkpoints on all routes into the village denying all residents passage in and out. Food suppliers who distribute to the town’s stores every day had also been denied entry. Fannoun said that large numbers of Israeli troops had been deployed in and around the village and were using police dogs as part of their manhunt. He said soldiers had detained three local men after ransacking a number of homes across the village. They were identified as 50-year-old Muhammad Najajra, his son Nathin, 27, and Ahmad Jawdat Najajra, 22. Fannoun said that dozens of other young men had been interrogated in the open, despite severely cold weather. The roads were sealed with mounds of earth and buildings under construction were being used to barracks soldiers, he said. Workers were unable to leave the town to reach their working places, including 500 teachers who work in different public schools in the Bethlehem area.
Israel lifts blockade of main road in southeastern Hebron
HEBRON (Ma‘an) 9 Feb — Israeli authorities on Tuesday reopened a main road in the southern occupied West Bank district of Hebron, after having closed it three months ago, the head of the Palestinian Authority military liaison department said. Muhammad Eteiwi said the liaison office was able to secure the opening of Jabal Jales road after extensive “efforts and calls” with the Israeli liaison department. He added that the road serves some 300 families whose freedom of movement had been restricted by the road closure since November, and that getting the blockade lifted was only possible under the direction of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbad, and the head of the PA military liaison department, Jihad Jayyusi.
On Friday, Israeli forces extended the closed military zone status of the Tel Rumeida area of the Old City of Hebron. Tel Rumeida has been closed off since Nov. 1 by Israeli forces, who have prevented non-residents, both Palestinians and foreigners, from entering the closed military zone. Earlier this month, Israeli forces also blockaded the northern Jenin village of Qabatiya as well Ramallah city. The blockades of the two areas lasted for several days before Israeli forces opened the areas.
Hamas fighter killed in week’s second deadly tunnel collapse
GAZA (Ma‘an) 9 Feb — A Hamas fighter was killed Tuesday when a tunnel collapsed in the southern Gaza Strip, Hamas’ military wing, Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades, said in a statement. The military wing identified the fighter as 27-year-old Marwan Barham Marouf from Khan Younis in southern Gaza. During the past two weeks, the group has reported at least ten other deaths in three separate tunnel collapses. Gaza’s tunnel networks, which are largely used for smuggling in the coastal enclave’s south and military purposes in the north, are notoriously dangerous. The Institute for Palestine Studies reported in 2012 that Hamas authorities had counted 160 deaths inside the tunnels since the Israeli blockade began in 2007, and in August 2014, al-Jazeera reported that figure to be as high as 400.
Israeli military says top mission is countering Gaza tunnels
JERUSALEM (AP) 9 Feb by Aron Heller — Israel’s top general said Tuesday that the military’s number one mission for the coming year is to counter the renewed threat posed by militant attack tunnels from Gaza. Lt. Gen. Gadi Eisenkot said Gaza’s Hamas rulers have been rebuilding the sophisticated network of underground tunnels that Israel targeted during the 2014 war. He said destroying this network is the military’s top priority for 2016, adding that it’s not deceived by the current relative calm along the Israel-Gaza border. “Hamas is diverting great resources to restore what it considers a pattern that allows it to enter Israel discreetly and carry out attacks,” Eisenkot said at an event at the Interdisciplinary Center in Herzliya, a college north of Tel Aviv. “We have the most advanced abilities in the world and still this is a major challenge.” . . . Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said Israel would retaliate with “greater force” than in 2014 if cross-border tunnels were used to attack Israelis. But he angrily rejected a leaked report Monday from a closed Cabinet meeting in which Naftali Bennett, head of the nationalist Jewish Home party, was said to have suggested a pre-emptive attack against the tunnels. Netanyahu called the leak irresponsible and said he would not divulge any operational plans.
Gaza: Reconstruction of 12,000 displaced families’ homes yet to begin
MEMO 9 Feb — Around 90,000 Palestinians remain displaced in the Gaza Strip, almost 18 months after the ceasefire that ended Israel’s ‘Operation Protective Edge’ offensive in 2014. Furthermore, the reconstruction or repair of homes of 74 percent of displaced families is yet to even start. According to UN OCHA, living conditions for the more than 16,000 displaced families are characterised by “overcrowding, limited access to basic services, lack of privacy, tensions with host communities, risks due to unexploded ordnance and exposure to adverse weather.” By the end of January 2016, only 15 percent of displaced families had been able to return to repaired or reconstructed homes. The repair and reconstruction of an additional 2,000 homes is ongoing, with many of these homes nearing completion. Israel’s assault on the Gaza Strip in July-August 2014 destroyed 11,000 homes and severely damaged or rendered uninhabitable an additional 6,800 homes.
PFLP urges national unity in rallies across Gaza
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 8 Feb — The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) on Monday organized a number of rallies across the Gaza Strip calling for national reconciliation, with speakers saying that disunity had led to the coastal enclave’s “disastrous situation.” Muhammad Tuman, a member of the leftwing movement’s Central Committee, called on Palestinian political organizations to put aside “factional interests and give priority to national unity, which will provide protection to the ongoing intifada.” Tuman said that the “intifada,” or uprising — referring to a wave of unrest that swept the occupied Palestinian territory at the beginning of October — was “the most effective way to restore Palestinian rights.” He urged Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to take responsibility for ending factional disputes and deliver national unity. He called on Abbas to terminate the Oslo Accords and end security coordination with Israel. The PFLP official also urged Hamas to allow the Palestinian Authority to take up its responsibilities in the Gaza Strip. He said that the Palestinian leadership — both Hamas in the blockaded coastal enclave and Fatah in the occupied West Bank — should “stop all unjust practices against Palestinian citizens such as levying new taxes and carrying out politically-motivated arrests.” Protesters at the rallies waved posters urging rival Palestinian factions Hamas and Fatah to end their disunity, saying they had brought “suffering” and “dire conditions” to the people of Gaza.
PLO condemns Hamas military wing for execution in Gaza
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 9 Feb — A PLO official on Tuesday condemned an execution carried out by the military wing of Hamas on one of its members as “unlawful,” calling for an end to capital punishment under Palestinian law. PLO Executive Committee member Hanan Ashrawi said in a statement the committee “strongly denounced” the death sentence carried out by the Al-Qassam Brigades on Mahmoud Rushdi Shteiwi, who was executed on Sunday for what the militant group described as “behavioral and moral misconducts.” Ashrawi criticized the brigades for carrying out the execution on the grounds that the ratification of death sentences is the sole right of the Palestinian Authority president according to Palestinian law. Such approval is sidestepped by Hamas, who does not recognize the legitimacy of PA president President Mahmoud Abbas. The ultimate decision to issue Shteiwi the death penalty was made by the “Military and Sharia Judiciaries of al-Qassam Brigades.” The Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR) reported Monday that Shteiwi had initially been detained by Hamas security forces on Jan. 21 and interrogated on charges of “collaboration with the Israeli forces, misappropriation of funds and behavioral excesses.” Under Palestinian law, willful, premeditated murder and treason as well as collaboration with the enemy — usually Israel — are punishable by death. PCHR called for an investigation into Shteiwi’s death sentence by the PA Attorney-General . . . .
Family of executed Hamas leader demands investigation
JPost 8 Feb by Khaled Abu Toameh –The family of a Hamas man who was executed by the group’s armed wing on Sunday is demanding an investigation into the execution, saying their son was innocent. A number of Palestinian human rights groups have also called for an investigation into the execution of Mahmoud Eshtaiwi, a senior member of the military wing of Hamas, Izzadin Kassam. Izzadin Kassam announced that Eshtaiwi was executed for “moral and behavioral transgressions.” The group did not provide further details. Eshtaiwi, a top Izzadin Kassam commander, was arrested more than year ago. He was in charge of a number of Hamas tunnels in the eastern part of the Gaza Strip. Shortly after his execution on Sunday afternoon, his family issued a statement in which it expressed shock and called for an investigation into the case.
The statement said that he was innocent and had fallen victim as a result of a dispute between him and his commander, Ezaddin al-Haddad. “We affirm that our son is completely innocent and what happened was part of an internal settling of scores,” the family said. “Our son was executed after Izzadin Kassam failed to prove any of the charges against him.” The family said that the execution was carried out two hours after its representatives met with Hamas leaders, who promised to find a solution to the case.
Gaza interior ministry denies treating wounded from Sinai
MEMO 9 Feb — A spokesman for the Palestinian Interior Minister in Gaza has denied Israeli claims that casualties from the unrest in Sinai receive medical treatment in the besieged territory, Palsawa.com reported on Monday. “The Israeli occupation authorities’ claims regarding the wounded from Sinai receiving medical treatment in Gaza’s hospitals are false,” insisted Iyad Al-Bozom. “They have nothing to do with reality.” He suggested that such remarks are intended to “incite” people against the Gaza Strip, damage and even sever Palestinian relations with Egypt and act as a pretext to tighten the siege. Al-Bozom stressed that the Palestinian National Security Service does not allow “any attempt to undermine the safety and security of the border area with Egypt.”
Israel stops Martina Anderson entering Gaza
Derry Journal (N. Ireland) 9 Feb by Andrew Quinn — Sinn Fein MEP, Martina Anderson, has been denied entry to Gaza by the Israeli government. Ms. Anderson had been leading an EU cross-party delegation of the European Parliament’s Delegation for Relations with Palestine when it was denied entry. This is the fourth time in two years that the Israeli government has stopped the Delegation from crossing over into Gaza. “I condemn, in the strongest terms, the Israeli authorities’ decision to deny this delegation access to Gaza for the fourth time,” said Ms. Anderson. “As part of its mandate the European Parliament’s Delegation for Relations with Palestine, which I chair, travelled to the region yesterday on a four day fact-finding mission in the West Bank and Gaza. “EU support to the Palestinians amounts to 300 million euros per annum. “The purpose of the delegation’s visit is to assess the situation on the ground and the impact EU policies and assistance programmes are having on the lives of Palestinians. “Despite stating clearly that the remit of this delegation has a purely social, economic and humanitarian focus, we continue to be blocked,” she added. Ms. Anderson said the European Parliament must now take action against Israel for denying the democratically elected delegation passage into Gaza and described the government’s conduct as “unacceptable”.
Artists challenge the blockade by building a virtual bridge between Gaza and London
MEMO 8 Feb by Amelia Smith — EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW — “Art is a threat because it’s a non-violent form of resistance and even non-violent forms of resistance are a threat; sometimes actually they are a greater threat.” At Home in Gaza and London is a digital, cross-border art project that offers an intimate look into people’s personal lives. In one video viewers watch friends sit around a kitchen table, reading, working, bickering and laughing as they would anywhere in the world. But the difference is that the kitchen is in London and the people around the table are in Gaza City. The project’s creators, Station House Distributed, have used digital technology to transport artists in England into the homes and lives of artists in Gaza and vice versa. Artists on either side have set up live video streams which are then superimposed onto each other to create the effect they are in the same place. For artists in Gaza, the siege means their ability to collaborate with those from outside the Strip is limited. The blockade on Gaza has had a devastating impact on freedom of movement for Palestinians and in this context At Home in Gaza and London attempts to transcend physical restrictions and political borders by offering a virtual bridge between the two countries. As Taghrid Choucair-Vizoso, who came up with the idea and is co-directing the project, puts it: “We explore the power of the digital to transform artists’ mobility.” A collection of videos takes us inside a living room, onto a rooftop and outside a theatre. Sometimes it takes a few moments to realise whether we are looking at England or Gaza and which of the characters are really there and which are superimposed. (Continued)
Prisoners / Court actions
Ambulance to attempt to transfer hunger striker to hospital in Ramallah
HEBRON, Occupied Palestine 9 Feb by ISM — On Wednesday February 10th, 18:00 supporters will arrive at the hospital in Afula, accompanied by an ambulance and doctors, to transfer Mohammed Al-Qeeq for medical treatment in the Ramallah hospital. Journalist Mohammed Al-Qeeq is on the 77th day of hunger strike and fighting for his life. He has expressed his wish to move from hospital in Afula where he is currently being held without charge to the Ramallah hospital but the Israeli police refuse to allow it. Hanan Khatib, one of Al-Qeeq’s lawyers, delivered his message to the press: “Al-Qeeq says he is a journalist and his arrest is illegal. The court has frozen his administrative detention but decided he must stay in the hospital in Afula. Al-Qeeq refuses to stay in Israeli hospitals and will only accept medical treatment in the West Bank.” Al-Qeeq, a 33-year-old journalist from Ramallah, is accused by the Israeli Shin Bet of being a Hamas activist. He was arrested on November 21st of 2015. According to his friends, Al-Qeeq was interrogated about “media incitement”, tortured and refused to cooperate. After four days he was issued an administrative detention order and announced his hunger strike. On the 76th day of his hunger strike, Al-Qeeq has lost most of his sight and hearing abilities and can barely speak. He is on the verge of death and may suffer a heart attack or organ system failure at any moment. Last Thursday, the Israeli high court ruled to “freeze” his administrative detention and allowed him to receive visitors, but stopped short of ordering his release and refused to overrule the administrative order despite the fact that in his current medical condition he could not pose danger to anyone. Attorney Jihad Abo Raya explains: “In criminal law either a person is under arrest or he is free to move as he pleases, but for Palestinian detainees the court has created something new, they claim that Mohammed Al-Qeeq is no longer under administrative detention – but they also refuse to allow him to leave Afula hospital.”
Protesters shut down ICRC’s al-Bireh office in solidarity with al-Qiq
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 8 Feb — A group of protesters shut down the office of the International Committee of the Red Cross in the city of al-Bireh city near Ramallah in support of hunger-striking Palestinian prisoner Muhammad al-Qiq on Monday morning. The demonstration came a day after ICRC temporarily shut down its office in Gaza City after Palestinian activists supporting al-Qiq attempted to break in . . . In a statement received by Ma‘an, the protesters in al-Bireh said they forcibly closed the ICRC office to protest “the silence by international community organizations — namely the ICRC in Palestine — about al-Qiq, who has been on hunger strike in Israeli custody for 76 days.” This silence, the statement said, amounted to complicity of the international community with Israel in the “execution of al-Qiq.” The statement urged ICRC directors in Jerusalem, Gaza and Tel Aviv to visit al-Qiq in the hospital rather than “being fooled by misguiding decisions of Israeli courts.”
Lawyer: Palestinian female prisoners suffering in cold winter weather
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 8 Feb — The Israeli Prison Service has failed to provide adequate care for at least 29 female Palestinian prisoners being held in Israel’s Hasharon prison this winter, a lawyer for the PA’s Committee of Prisoners’ Affairs said Monday. Hanan al-Khatib said the Israeli authorities have not provided the 29 prisoners, 11 of whom are teenagers, with proper heating and blankets, as temperatures hit freezing point. While extra blankets are available for purchase at the prison, prisoners in past years have said the prices are not affordable. The lawyer said the recent bout of freezing weather has “increased the suffering of the women, who don’t have adequate bed covers or heating.” The prison cells, she added, are also inadequately insulated and poorly equipped for such weather conditions. The women and girls are “suffering from dire living and health conditions,” al-Khatib said, adding that several of those in internment are also wounded. . . .
Man who threw hot tea in Israeli Arab lawmaker’s face gets four months
Haaretz 9 Feb by Almog Ben Zikri — A man was sentenced to four months in prison Tuesday for throwing hot tea in the face of an Arab Knesset member two years ago. Zion Vaknin, 50, of Be’er Sheva was convicted in a plea bargain under which he confessed to assault in exchange for the prosecution dropping a charge of assaulting a public servant. The incident occurred in December 2013, when Ahmad Tibi (Joint Arab List) and other MKs were at a demonstration in Be’er Sheva against the Prawer plan for dealing with unrecognized Bedouin villages in the Negev. Vaknin approached Tibi and flung a cup of tea at his face. The next day, police indicted him. Vaknin’s attorney argued that his client had psychological problems. Vaknin himself said he suffered from post-traumatic stress due to his service in the 1982 Lebanon War and had seen a psychiatrist several times, but had never been hospitalized. The Be’er Sheva Magistrate’s Court said it viewed Vaknin’s psychological problems, along with his difficult life and his acceptance of responsibility, as reasons for leniency. On the other hand, it said, his long history of violent crimes, including a 13-month sentence for assaulting a doctor and a social worker, constituted grounds for stringency. Tibi is currently in the United States, but his office issued a statement about the ruling. “This physical assault and the constant threats against Arab MKs are a direct result of the ongoing incitement, primarily by the political system, and the delegitimization of elected officials just because they think and act differently from the consensus,” it said.
Land, property theft & destruction / Ethnic cleansing
Israel demolishes Palestinian homes in Nablus-area ‘firing zone’
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 9 Feb — Israeli forces on Tuesday demolished more than 10 Palestinian homes and structures in the village of Khirbet Tana east of Nablus, where residents have lived in an area declared as an Israeli military “firing zone” for decades. Ghassan Daghlas, a PA official who monitors settlement activity, told Ma‘an that Israeli bulldozers demolished the structures claiming they were built illegally, adding that the forces had notified several Palestinians in the nearby Beita village of the demolition orders over the past two days. A spokesperson for Israel’s Coordination of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) told Ma‘an that “enforcement steps were taken against five buildings and six tents which were built illegally without permits in firing zone 904A.” The spokesperson said that permits were not issued for the structures “since housing in firing zone is a life danger.” Khirbet Tana, located east of Nablus in the northern occupied West Bank, is home to some 300 Palestinians who belong to a herding community and have lived in the area for decades. Some of the community’s residents stay in the nearby town of Beita and reside in Khirbet Tana seasonally in order to make a living farming and herding sheep and cattle, according to Israeli rights group B’Tselem. Israel declared the village a “closed military and firing zone” in the 1970s, and the Civil Administration — Israel’s administrative body in the military-occupied West Bank — has carried out demolitions in the community since. Khirbet Tana is part of around 20 percent of the occupied West Bank that has been declared a “closed military zone” by Israeli authorities, according to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA). The use of “closed military zones” is frequently used by Israeli authorities to push Palestinians from their land and effectively provides “legal” ground to displace Palestinians.
’21st-century McCarthyism’: NY bills would make a blacklist of those boycotting Israel over human rights violations
Salon 9 Feb by Ben Norton — NY joins growing list of states that, under pressure from right-wing groups, are trying to punish supporters of BDS — McCarthyism has re-emerged in U.S. politics, legal organizations warn, and its new targets are advocates for Palestinian human rights. Two bills pending in the New York state legislature would create an effective blacklist of human rights activists who support a boycott of Israel, legal experts say. The first bill would prohibit making investments or state contracts with groups and individuals who boycott Israel and other U.S. allies; it was rushed through the legislative process and adopted by the New York State Senate in late January. The bill, S6378A, essentially asks the government to create a blacklist of people, organizations and companies that support Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions, or BDS, an international grassroots movement that promotes nonviolent economic means to pressure Israel into complying with international law and respecting Palestinian rights. Another similar bill, S6086, is being considered in committee. Both bills have bipartisan support. S6378A is sponsored by Republican Jack Martins, and S6086 is sponsored by Democrat Michael Gianaris. Each has co-sponsors from both parties. The National Lawyers Guild, the Center for Constitutional Rights and Palestine Legal issued a legal memorandum to New York state legislators in response to the state senate’s vote on S6378A. The legal organizations called the two bills “McCarthyist,” noting they “harken back to the McCarthy era when the state sought to deny the right to earn a livelihood to those who express controversial political views.” “The courts long ago found such McCarthy-era legislation to be at war with the First Amendment,” the legal organizations said, insisting the bills “unconstitutionally target core political speech activities and infringe on the freedom to express political beliefs” and requesting they be withdrawn . . . New York’s two bills come among a series of other pieces of legislation that have been introduced, and in some cases passed, in numerous other states, including Illinois, Tennessee, South Carolina, Florida, California, Virginia, Pennsylvania and Indiana. The legal groups see these bills as part of a larger pro-Israel campaign that stifles free speech in an attempt to beat back the gains of the growing BDS movement. [Continued]
Abbas to visit Japan
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 9 Feb — Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas is scheduled to visit Japan later this month, the representative office of Japan to the Palestinian Authority announced Monday. The representative office said in a statement that Abbas would be visiting Japan from February 14 to 17, during which he would meet with Emperor Akihito. “The Government of Japan sincerely welcomes the visit of the president, which will further strengthen the friendly relation between Japan and the Palestinians,” the statement read. This will be Abbas’ fourth diplomatic visit to Japan since 2005. In 2015, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe visited the occupied West Bank. According to the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the country has provided more than $1.6 billion in assistance to the Palestinians since 1993.
Knesset suspends 3 Palestinian MKs over visit to attackers’ families
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 8 Feb — Three Palestinian members of the Israeli Knesset were suspended from their duties on Monday evening after a visit to the families of Palestinian attackers last week sparked a political furor. The Knesset’s Ethics Committee suspended Palestinian MKs Hanin Zoabi and Basel Ghattas from plenary sessions and committee hearings for a period of four months and MK Jamal Zahalka for two months, according to a Knesset statement. It added that the three lawmakers — all members of the Joint Arab List — would still be able to vote in the plenum and in committees. Their suspension comes after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu personally led efforts to have them ousted. During the weekly Cabinet meeting on Sunday, Netanyahu said he had asked Israel’s attorney general to take legal actions against the MKs for “going to comfort the families of murderers.” He said: “I would like to examine new and reinforced legislative changes to ensure that anyone who acts in this direction will not serve in the Israeli Knesset.” Following his remarks, a draft bill was submitted Monday to the Knesset’s Law and Justice Committee that could see MKs suspended from their duties if voted for by 90 MKs — three quarters of Israel’s lawmakers . . . Israeli activist group Gush Shalom (The Peace Bloc) has condemned Netanyahu’s “demagogic campaign against the Arab Knesset Members.” The group said that MKs Zoabi, Zahalka, and Ghattas visited the families of Palestinian attackers in a bid to challenge Israel’s controversial policy of holding the bodies of Palestinians shot dead after carrying out attacks on Israelis. It said the visits were made with “a very specific and openly declared aim: to resolve a difficult humanitarian problem — namely, the government policy of holding onto the bodies of killed Palestinians and refusing to return them to their families for burial.”
New law allows Netanyahu to oust Arab parliamentarians
MEMO 9 Feb — The Israeli parliament, the Knesset, has given overwhelming support to a new law proposed by the Likud-led coalition government which will allow Arab Knesset members (MKs) to be ousted, Anadolu reported on Monday. The law was first suggested by the right-wing Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as a punishment for the Arab parliamentarians who visited families of the victims of Israeli security forces. The visits were made at the request of a civil society organisation to see if the MKs could help to have the bodies of those killed released by the authorities for burial. According to Netanyahu and Jewish Knesset members, Israeli media claimed, the visits were “incitement” by the Arab MKs. “We have to keep limits and basic rules of behaviour so that democracy will not turn into a suicide pact,” insisted the Israeli prime minister. “Democracy must protect itself and defend itself.” The Jerusalem Post reported that the Chairman of the High Follow-Up Committee for the Arab Citizens of Israel, Mohamed Barakeh, a former MK himself, described the proposal as a plot to bring “racial purity” to the Knesset. He hinted that Israeli Arabs may consider boycotting the political process: “If someone wants it, we may consider contributing to that racial purity.”
Arab MKs can’t give up and boycott elections, that’s what the right wants / Gideon Levy
Haaretz 8 Feb — The initial temptation is to suggest to the Arab Knesset members that they just quit the Knesset and call for a boycott of the next general election. Enough is enough. The most recent attack on them has gone too far. Go home, Arab MKs, save yourselves endless humiliation and turn the Knesset into something truly representative – a Jewish, racially pure, elected legislature of the chosen people, the parliament of the Jewish-Jewish state. Pull the mask off the face of this fabricated democracy that Israeli propaganda flashes at everyone, as if the fact that you sit in the Knesset is proof that Israel isn’t an apartheid state. Show Israelis and the world this country’s true face. Remind everyone that the third-largest Knesset faction, the Joint Arab List, is an illusionary faction. It’s not really in the Knesset. On second thought, that’s just what the right would want. Which is why you can’t. Israeli Jews want a Jewish Knesset. If necessary, they can always adorn it with Druze like Ayoub Kara (Likud) and Hamad Amar (Yisrael Beiteinu), MKs who will sing “Hatikva,” and stand silent when they’re told to, with preference to those who have served in the Border Police and abused Palestinians. They want Arabs who will celebrate Independence Day and forget Nakba Day; who will visit Auschwitz and eat matza; who will call a 12-year-old girl with scissors a “terrorist” and the security guard who killed her a “hero.” Arabs who will call the killing of a border policewoman in the occupied territories “murder,” who will justify every killing of a Palestinian, and who will condemn terror – by Palestinians of course. (Continued)
Israeli Arabs take their message to the White House
Al-Monitor 8 Feb by Ben Caspit — Arab Knesset member Ahmad Tibi (Joint List) tells Al-Monitor that Obama administration officials he met with in Washington are concerned about discrimination against Israeli Arabs — Quietly and under the radar of the Israeli media, Knesset member Ahmad Tibi entered the holiest of holies of America’s most important strategic assets Feb. 4: Washington’s White House, State Department and Capitol Hill. As far as anyone can remember, no such meetings have been held in the past with such high echelons and such levels of intimacy between American administration sources and an Israeli Arab Knesset member. Tibi’s international status, his popularity in the Israeli Arab community and the conspicuous estrangement between the White House and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office were probably among the factors that contributed to the setting up of the meetings. Tibi talked to his American interlocutors about the situation of Israeli Arabs, who constitute a minority of about 20% of the country’s population, and strongly condemned the policies of the Netanyahu government, which he called “Israel’s most extremist government of all times, to the extent that the most moderate person in it is Netanyahu himself.” . . . Al-Monitor: Did you get the impression that the Americans are concerned about the Arab minority in Israel? Tibi: Yes, very worried. One of the members of Congress couldn’t believe that they are demolishing a Bedouin locality and constructing a Jewish one instead by the same name. He wondered out loud, why they couldn’t construct one village in which Bedouins and Jews would live together. I told him that this possibility arose and was rejected by the government. To the Americans, who have turned equality into an important symbol, it is hard to understand this . . . Al-Monitor: Did you focus on these socio-economic issues? Tibi: Yes, including the employment of Arab women, the fact that there are no industrial zones in the Arab sector, the racist legislation in the Knesset. There is already a list of 40 laws that discriminate against Arabs, either directly or indirectly. The people I spoke to asked for this list of laws and received it. (Continued)
Israel revokes entry permits for dozens of Palestinian peace activists
+972 8 Feb by Haggai Matar — Dozens of Palestinians active in joint peace groups will no longer be able to cross into Israel to give workshops on reconciliation and dialogue — The Israeli army’s Civil Administration, formerly known as the military government, recently informed dozens of joint Israeli-Palestinian peace organizations that it would retroactively revoke entry permits for Palestinian peace activists from the West Bank into Israel. The change will affect veteran Palestinian activists, many of whom work or even manage peace organizations alongside their Israeli counterparts, and who have led workshops on peace, reconciliation, and dialogue in Israel for many years . . . Activists in the Parents Circle-Families Forum, a grassroots organization of Palestinian and Israeli families who have lost family members to the conflict, believe that there are those who are afraid of the organization’s unique voice. “Our goal is for people to hear Palestinians talk about their pain and bereavement, who explain how they do not wish to act out of revenge, but rather to promote nonviolence and reconciliation,” explains Doubi Schwartz, the Israeli general manager of the organization. “Today there are moles and different ways of hurting us through bureaucracy.” Over the past few weeks, the Parents Circle-Families Forum has been forced to cancel dozens of meetings with 20-30 Palestinian activists. Another group of Palestinians that did not receiver permits will not be able to attend a tour of Yad Vashem, Israel’s Holocaust museum, which was meant to provide the Palestinians with an understanding of the Jewish trauma from the Holocaust. (Continued)
Netanyahu: Israel needs fences on all borders to keep out ‘predators’ in region
JPost 9 Feb by Herb Keinon — Israel needs to erect a fence around the entire country to protect itself from “beasts” in the neighborhood, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Tuesday on a tour near Eilat of a segment of fence being erected along the Jordanian border. We are preparing a multiyear project to encircle Israel with a security fence, to defend ourselves in the Middle East as it is now, and as it is expected to be,” he said. “They will say to me, what do you want to do, protect the mansion? And the answer is, ‘Yes.’ What, we will encircle the whole country with a fence and obstacles? The answer is an unequivocal, ‘Yes,’” he said. “In the neighborhood in which we live we need to protect ourselves against beasts,” Netanyahu added. The prime minister said that a plan was also being drawn up to fill in the gaps in the security fence in Judea and Samaria. Government officials said details about completing the West Bank fence were still being worked out. Despite a master plan for a barrier around the large settlement blocs of Ma’aleh Adumim, Ariel and Gush Etzion, only a small section of these routes has been built. Netanyahu’s comments on Tuesday did not seem to signal that a final decision had been made . . . Netanyahu said that surrounding Israel with a security fence will cost billions of shekels, and the project would take a number of years. Asked what Israel would do if tunnels were burrowed beneath the fence, he replied, “We are doing other things, that I will not describe here.”
Palestinian doctor aims to boost West Bank medical services
NABLUS, West Bank (AP) 9 Feb by Mohammed Daraghmeh — After Dr. Saleem Haj-Yahia performed the first-ever successful artificial heart transplant in the West Bank last month he was greeted with flowers, balloons and cheering crowds and publicly praised by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. The British-educated cardiologist has become a media darling in his native land and now speaks of ambitious plans to raise the level of the entire Palestinian medical infrastructure. “I’ve done enough in the U.K. and now it’s time to do something in my country for my people,” said Haj-Yahia, 47. “In the U.K. you cannot have a bigger impact, because the system is working well while here any significant efforts can make a difference.” Haj-Yahia’s goal involves far more than mere national pride. He seeks to increase Palestinian medical self-sufficiency, and make the Palestinian medical system less dependent on its Israeli counterpart. For years, any complicated operations or sophisticated treatments have had to be carried out in Israeli hospitals, creating both a dependency and a major expenditure for the already cash-strapped Palestinian government. “Most of the Palestinian patient transfers to Israel were heart and cancer cases and we managed to reduce them largely,” said Haj-Yahia, seated in his office at An-Najah University in the West Bank city of Nablus. “Some Palestinian doctors from New York, experts in transplanting marrow, will join in the near future and we will be in the first line in the world in this field.” (Continued)
Knesset approves divisive ‘NGO transparency bill’ in first reading
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 9 Feb — The Israeli Knesset on Monday approved the first reading of the “NGO transparency bill,” denounced by critics as a move to delegitimize and weaken human rights organizations in Israel. The first reading of the bill, which passed 50 to 43, sparked uproar among some lawmakers, two of whom were removed from the plenum after interrupting far-right Israeli Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked, who wrote the bill, a Knesset press release said. Palestinian MK Hanin Zoabi of the Joint List was also eventually removed by ushers from the podium after she continued to speak after her time was up. The bill would require any nonprofit organization that receives the majority of its funding from a “foreign political entity” to label itself as such in publications. Accompanied by a preexisting law requiring that NGO’s report foreign governmental funding, the bill would also require nonprofits to list countries supporting it at “any forum at which they meet with elected officials and in their advertisements.” The bill is believed to target left-wing rights organizations, many of them pro-Palestinian, as they are the primary recipients of foreign political aid. Shaked, who initially proposed the bill in November, accused the Israeli left of historically “hijacking” the values of transparency solely to target the right, according to the Knesset release. Meretz MKs Tamar Zandberg and Esawi Frej were forced to leave after they interrupted Shaked, who also accused the left of claiming ownership over what constituted democracy and justice. Dov Khenin, an MK with the Joint Arab List party, addressed Shaked’s statements saying: “George Orwell has come back to life and has spoken here from the Knesset podium. It`s simply unbelievable — dark is light, silencing is democracy.” (Continued)
Foreign press voices dismay over Knesset hearing on alleged media bias
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 9 Feb — The Foreign Press Association (FPA) expressed dismay Tuesday after its members were summoned to a subcommittee hearing in the Israeli parliament to account for recent coverage of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The Knesset subcommittee hearing was called to discuss foreign press coverage that it said “in the long-term erodes the legitimacy of (Israel’s) fight against terrorism.” However, the FPA quickly lashed back, saying that it disagreed with the hearing’s basic premise, which it said “presupposes two things: that the foreign media are biased and that that supposed bias undermines Israel’s ability to quell terrorist attacks. We do not agree that the foreign media are biased, and the legitimacy of Israel’s campaign against terrorism is entirely determined by how Israel conducts that campaign. It has nothing to do with the foreign media.” The hearing was called after Israel’s Government Press Office (GPO) threatened to revoke foreign reporters’ press credentials last week when US news network CBS ran a headline reading: “Three Palestinians killed as daily violence grinds on.” The headline referred to three Palestinians who were shot dead outside Jerusalem’s Old City after carrying out an attack on Israeli border police that killed one female officer, although the officer only succumbed to her wounds later after hospital doctors were unable to save her. The headline was later changed, but GPO Director Nitzan Chen said in a Facebook post: “We cannot ignore this. We will consider revoking the press credentials of journalists and editors who write headlines that are contrary to reality.” . . . In its submission to the hearing, the FPA openly expressed its disdain. “A free and open media is the bedrock of a democratic society,” the journalists said in a statement. “Parliamentary sub-committee hearings that start from the premise that the foreign media is biased tend to look like poorly conceived witch-hunts.” (Continued)
Palestinian journalist, threatened with death, seeks asylum in Belgium
EI 7 Feb by David Cronin — A Palestinian journalist is seeking asylum in Belgium after receiving a series of death threats. Abdelsalam Abunada has been campaigning in recent months against a new law that would give the Palestinian Authority broad powers to censor the media. Last month, he decided to flee the occupied West Bank because of threatening emails that had been sent to him. One of the messages warned that his throat would be cut. Traveling through Jordan and Egypt, he arrived at Brussels international airport on 8 January, promptly applying for asylum. He is being detained in a center beside the airport while his application is being processed by the Belgian authorities. Abunada has been working for Internews, a group that trains journalists, since 2012. Julia Pitner, the group’s Middle East director, said she was concerned that Belgium may reject Abunada’s bid. “If he’s deported, where is he going to go?” she told The Electronic Intifada. “People in the [PA] government have been telling him not to come back . . . – Attack on free expression – Abunada had been asking fellow journalists to sign a petition opposing the “higher media council” bill. It would allow the PA to shut down media outlets, without requiring a court order, as is currently required. It would also establish a council for regulating the media. Eighty percent of that council’s members would be PA appointees.
Kashrut certification pulled from PA West Bank factories over ‘security concerns’
JPost 8 Feb by Jeremy Sharon — Several food factories based in Palestinian-administered areas of the West Bank whose products are certified as kosher and are imported into the Israeli market have lost their kashrut certification since the beginning of the year because the security situation in those areas has prevented kashrut inspectors from conducting regular inspections. Factory owners, however, argue that there has been no change in the ability of inspectors to gain access to the food plants. Several food factories in the Nablus industrial zone produce kosher food products that are subsequently brought into Israel, similar to kosher food items imported from other parts of the world. The Ayesh Tehina factory, owned by an Israeli company and based in the Nablus industrial zone has been operating for many years. It is supervised by the “Badatz Hatam Sofer” kashrut-certification authority with the approval of the Chief Rabbinate, but the Chief Rabbinate kashrut certificate was not renewed at the beginning of 2016, and the owners were not informed about the cessation of the rabbinate’s approval . . . Ayesh Tehina says the ingredients of the raw tehina are extremely basic, and that there have been no substantial changes in the ingredients or in the product’s preparation. Additionally, cameras installed in the factory provide an additional means of kashrut supervision without the necessity of an on-site inspection, the factory owners argue. Attorney Aviad Hacohen, who is representing the factory, says the decision not to renew the kashrut certification has caused monetary damage to the business, a loss of customers and damage to the product’s reputation.
Danish representative: Negotiations key to Palestinian state recognition
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 9 Feb — The head of the Danish mission to Ramallah reiterated on Tuesday Denmark’s support of human rights in the occupied Palestinian territories, twenty years after the Nordic country first began its diplomatic relationship with the Palestinian Authority. “Human rights are a core element for Denmark globally, and it also goes with Israel,” Anders Tang Friborg told Ma’an. “One point that is very important is that we feel that we are friends of both Israel and Palestine. One element that we know, and that Israelis also recognize, is that among friends you have these frank discussions on these issues,” he added . . . While Denmark has not officially recognized a state of Palestine, it voted in favor of Palestine obtaining a non-member observer status in the United Nations in 2012. According to Friborg, Denmark is pushing for an end to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict before it can recognize Palestine.“ (Recognition of a Palestinian state) has always been linked to finding a negotiated solution to the conflict,” he said. “But what I think everyone in the international community is grappling with right now is what can we do to bring the parties together for a real discussion on how to solve this conflict. I think everyone realizes now that it’s been 48 years of occupation, and you’ve tried many rounds of negotiations without being able to solve it yet. So … we need to see if we can create progress on this issue,” he added.
International prize for Arabic fiction shortlist reveals tragedy of present-day Middle East
The Guardian 9 Feb by Alison Flood — From a Syrian novel about Islamic State’s occupation of Raqqa to an Egyptian dystopian thriller, six books that “address the tragedy of the present-day Middle East” have been shortlisted for the International prize for Arabic fiction. Worth $60,000 (£41,000) to the winner, the annual award for prose fiction in Arabic is intended to “increase the international reach” of Arabic fiction, with previous winners including Bahaa Taher and Abdo Khal all going on to be translated into English . . . Two Palestinian writers are shortlisted for this year’s prize. Rabai al-Madhoun was picked for Destinies, a novel written in four parts looking at the Palestinian exodus from Israel in 1948, the holocaust, and the Palestinian right to return, and Mahmoud Shukair for Praise for the Women of the Family, a history of the Al-Abd al-Lat clan’s women, after they leave the desert and its Bedouin customs behind.