DCIP: Israeli forces misusing crowd control weapons against children
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 15 Mar — An international children’s rights group has accused Israeli forces of “improper use of crowd control weapons” against Palestinian children since a wave of unrest erupted last October. In a report published Saturday, Defense for Children International-Palestine (DCIP) said it had documented at least eight cases where children had received serious injuries in their upper bodies due to Israeli forces’ “misuse” of the weapons. The group cited the case of 16-year-old Mamdouh Mahyoub Sorour, who was shot with a rubber-coated metal bullet in the back of his head during a protest in the West Bank village of Ni‘lin on Feb. 12, resulting in a brain hemorrhage. “After a two-hour surgery and nearly a week in intensive care, Mamduh is in a stable condition,” the report said. “His father told Defense for Children International-Palestine that since returning home, Mamduh is fatigued, stressed, and prefers to be alone.” Another two of the eight children had lost sight in one of their eyes as a result of their injuries, DCIP said. “The improper use of crowd control weapons against children must end immediately,” said Ayed Abu Eqtaish, DCIP’s accountability program director.”Israeli soldiers who aim crowd control weapons at children’s heads and upper bodies at close range must be held accountable for their actions.” According to the report, Israeli military regulations say that Israeli forces may only fire rubber-coated steel bullets at the legs, and never at women or children. Israeli soldiers are also required to be 50 to 60 meters from their targets. DCIP documented one case where Israeli forces allegedly shot a 13-year-old Palestinian with a rubber-coated steel bullet at a distance “of approximately two meters,” during a raid on the village of Hizma, north of Jerusalem.
Violence / Detentions — West Bank, Jerusalem
2 Palestinians shot dead after alleged stabbing near Ariel settlement
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 17 Mar — Two Palestinians were shot dead on Thursday after an alleged stabbing attack left one Israeli woman injured near the illegal Israeli settlement of Ariel in the northern occupied West Bank district of Salfit, an Israeli army spokesperson told Ma‘an. Director of the Palestinian Ambulance and Emergencies Department Munther Nazzal told Ma‘an that Israeli forces prevented Palestinian Red Crescent crews at gunpoint from approaching the site and forced them to turn back. Witnesses told Ma‘an that the two Palestinians were shot “dozens” of times. A spokesperson with Israel’s emergency medical service said the Israeli woman was in her 20s and was evacuated to a nearby hospital in “moderate to severe condition.”
Palestinian dies of wounds suffered two weeks ago in Qalandia
IMEMC 15 Mar — Palestinian medical sources have reported that a young man died Tuesday of serious wounds he suffered two weeks ago after Israeli soldiers invaded the Qalandia refugee camp, north of occupied Jerusalem, killed one Palestinian and injured many others. The sources said Nahed Fawzi Mteir, 24, was shot with a live Israeli army bullet, in his neck, and remained in a very serious condition until his death. During the invasion, the soldiers also killed a young man, identified as Eyad Omar Sajdiyya, 22, and wounded at least seventeen others, including Mteir; he was moved to the Hadassah Israeli medical center, in occupied Jerusalem. The Israeli army claimed one of its vehicles, carrying two soldiers, accidentally drove into the refugee camp before dozens of Palestinians clashed with them. The vehicle was burnt and the two soldiers fled the scene, after dozens of soldiers invaded the camp, and secured their retreat.
Thousands attend funeral of man fatally shot in Qalandiya raid
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 15 Mar — Thousands of Palestinians on Tuesday attended the funeral of a Palestinian man who succumbed to wounds he sustained two weeks earlier during an intense Israeli raid into Qalandiya refugee camp that left another Palestinian dead and at least 11 others wounded. Nahid Fawzi Mutir, 24, was buried inside the refugee camp after the slain man’s body was brought to the camp’s local mosque for burial prayers. After saying his last goodbyes, Mutir’s father told Ma‘an that he had laid his son to rest 22 years after he buried his friend and his son’s namesake, who was also shot dead by Israeli forces. Mutir’s death brings the number of the Palestinians who have been shot dead by Israel forces in Qalandiya camp since the start of October to 13.
2 Palestinians killed after shooting attack buried in Hebron
HEBRON (Ma‘an) 15 Mar — Residents of Hebron on Tuesday buried two Palestinians shot dead after carrying out a shooting that wounded an Israeli soldier the day before. After performing funeral prayers, mourners marched from al-Hussein mosque to al-Shuhada (Martyrs) cemetery in the center of the occupied West Bank city, where the two were laid to rest. Qasem Farid Jaber, 31, and Ameer Fuad al-Junaidi, 22, were killed Monday after opening fire on an Israeli bus stop located outside of Kiryat Arba settlement, northwest of Hebron’s Old City. Hebron’s governor and mayor both participated in the funeral procession, as well as representatives of Palestinian political factions.
Palestinian shot dead in West Bank was Hamas fighter: party
Gaza City (Palestinian Territories) (AFP) 16 Mar — Hamas’s military wing said Wednesday one of its members was involved in an attack in the occupied West Bank, in what was thought to be the first such acknowledgement since a wave of violence began in October. The Ezzedine al-Qassam Brigades, in a statement, described Qassem Ouda Jaber, 31, from Hebron in the southern West Bank, as a member of one of the group’s cells in the southern West Bank. The Israeli army said three Palestinians had tried to kill Israelis in two separate attacks on Monday but all three were shot dead, while an army officer and three soldiers were wounded. The Palestinian health ministry named the perpetrators as Jaber, Amir Juneidi and Yousef Taraya. The Qassam statement said Jaber was a member of a brigade formed in 2004. It said he was arrested in 2006 and detained for 42 months for belonging to Hamas, before opening a fruit and vegetable shop . . . Army spokesman Peter Lerner, contacted by AFP, said the Hamas claim on Wednesday “doesn’t come as such a huge surprise”. “We do see an attempt by Hamas to take advantage of the violence in the region. We have seen this in several attempts to establish new infrastructure” in the West Bank.
Teen killed during alleged attempted car-ramming laid to rest in Hebron
HEBRON (Ma‘an) 14 Mar — A funeral procession was held on Monday afternoon in the town of Bani Naim east of Hebron in the southern occupied West Bank for an 18-year-old who was shot dead earlier on Monday during an alleged attempted vehicular attack. The teenager, identified as Yousif Walid Tarayra, was given a military funeral by the Palestinian Authority. PA military vehicles paraded from al-Ahli hospital to the Ras al-Jurah neighborhood. Tarayra’s body was then taken to Bani Naim, the teenager’s hometown, where family and friends awaited his remains. After prayers at the town’s main mosque, mourners marched to the town’s cemetery, where Tarayra was laid to rest. Participants in the funeral shouted slogans urging Palestinian resistance to retaliate against “Israeli crimes on the Palestinian people.”
Autopsy shows soldiers’ ‘overkill’ of 3 Palestinians; prosecutors say reveals systematic policy
IMEMC 15 Mar by Saed Bannoura — The Head of the General Prosecutors’ Office in Hebron Ashraf Mashal has reported that autopsies performed on the three Palestinians who were killed by the Israeli military on Monday in Hebron revealed that the soldiers fired an excessive number of bullets into the Palestinians, even after killing them. Several similar incidents, captured on video, reveal a systematic policy of executions that include the use of ‘overkill’, firing numerous additional bullets into Palestinians who were already dead. Mashal told a Ma‘an News Agency correspondent in Hebron that the Forensic Department head in the southern part of the West Bank, Ashraf al-Qadi, as well as General Prosecutor Majdi Reb’ey and Deputy prosecutor Fuad al-‘Awawda, attended the autopsy . . . Mashal testified that the Israeli soldiers fired many live rounds into the heads of the three Palestinians, and also fired many live rounds into various parts of their bodies. These deaths are similar to various previous incidents when the army, or paramilitary Israeli settlers, not only fired an excessive number of bullets, but actually executed the Palestinians after already shooting and completely incapacitating them. One of the most recent similar cases, is the fatal shooting of Mohammad Abu Khalaf, 20 years of age, who was killed in occupied Jerusalem, on February 19, 2016, and his death was caught on tape by Al-Jazeera. The video (below) shows how Abu Khalaf was first shot with two live rounds, followed by dozens more shots after he was already injured and bleeding on the ground. Another case was the fatal shooting of Hadeel Wajeeh ‘Awwad, 16, from the Qalandia refugee camp north of occupied Jerusalem, who was shot and killed on November 23, 2015, after she and her friend attempted a stabbing attack.
17-year-old Palestinian girl detained on suspicion of planning attack
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 15 Mar — A Palestinian was detained Tuesday on suspicion of planning to carry out a stab attack at Zaatara military checkpoint in the occupied West Bank district of Nablus, Israeli police said. Israeli police spokesperson Luba al-Samri said a 17-year-old girl from the Jenin area was detained at the checkpoint after the Israeli army received information she had left her home with the intention to carry out an attack. Israeli border police then identified the girl as she crossed the checkpoint in a taxi. Al-Samri said the girl claimed she was not carrying her ID, before forces performed a search and located a large kitchen knife in her possession. The girl was transferred for interrogation, al-Samri added. The Zaatara checkpoint — also known as Tapuah junction — has been the site of a number of incidents since violence increased in the occupied Palestinian territory in October.
Israeli forces detain boy allegedly planning stabbing in East Jerusalem
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 16 Mar — Israeli police forces on Wednesday morning detained a Palestinian boy in Shu‘fat refugee camp in occupied East Jerusalem, alleging that he was planning to carry out a stabbing attack. Israeli police spokeswoman Luba al-Samri said police officers stationed at the entrance to the camp noticed a “suspicious” boy trying to jump from a “low wall” in what they said was a bid to bypass the security checkpoint. “An infantry unit of border guard police approached the boy and arrested him,” she said. Al-Samri said the boy was from Shu‘fat camp and had been hiding a “long, sharp knife.” She alleged that the boy admitted during his initial interrogation that he intended to “carry out a stabbing attack.” Israeli police later distributed a photograph of the knife, which appeared to be a small flick knife. Israeli media sites reported that the boy was 14 years old.
2 teens arrested, weapons confiscated in raid on West Bank Jewish settlement
JERUSALEM (JTA) 16 Mar — Two teens were arrested in a raid on the West Bank Jewish settlement of Yitzhar on suspicion of throwing rocks at a Palestinian car. During the raid Tuesday, Judea and Samaria District Police also found ammunition, detonators and a slingshot in the Od Yosef Chai synagogue in Yitzhar, which is home to a yeshiva as well. The teens, ages 16 and 18, were questioned and later released, the police said in a statement. “We take very seriously every case of illegally stored weapons, and we will enforce the law everywhere,” police said. The yeshiva reportedly has accused the police of using excessive force during the raid, according to the Israeli news website Walla. In January, six youths from Yitzhar were sentenced to eight months in prison for attacking Israeli security forces, including throwing rocks and burning tires. Yitzhar is home to many of the so-called hilltop youth, known for “price tag” attacks and other violence against Palestinians and security forces.
Israeli forces raid ‘weapons manufacturing’ workshop, detain 3
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 16 Mar — Israeli police said Wednesday they had discovered and destroyed a “weapons manufacturing” workshop during an overnight raid into the West Bank village of al-Sawahira al-Sharqiyya. Israeli police spokesperson Luba al-Samri said the raid — which was carried out with Israeli military forces — was made after Israeli police and intelligence were alerted about the location of a possible workshop. During the raid, Israeli forces seized a rifle, handgun and ammunition, and destroyed a large machine, known as a lathe, reportedly being used to manufacture weapons. Three unidentified adult suspects were also detained and taken in for questioning, al-Samri said.
Israeli forces raid Tulkarem-area university twice in 18 hours
TULKAREM (Ma‘an) 15 Mar — Israeli forces on Tuesday raided al-Khadouri University in the northern occupied West Bank district of Tulkarem for the second consecutive day, the university’s administration said in a statement. The administration said Israeli forces raided the university on Monday, forcing staff to open the main doors of the university’s engineering department. During the raid forces reportedly ransacked the building and seized posters and brochures from the campus. Eighteen hours later, on Tuesday, the administration said Israeli forces returned, and ransacked more of the campus. The university administration condemned the “Israeli violations against the university.” The administration urged international organization to take action against Israel’s disregard for education facilities. Israeli forces have regularly stormed university campuses across the occupied Palestinian territory in recent months.
A Jerusalemite is injured with bruises after being assaulted by settlers
SILWAN, Jerusalem (SILWANIC) 12 Mar — The 40-year old Ahmad Mohammad Bader was injured with several bruises on Friday morning after he was assaulted by a group of settlers during his work at the “Bell Park” in West Jerusalem. Bader family explained that 5 settlers aged between 20-30 years were in the park and started insulting the Prophet Mohammad PBUH and Arabs and then attacked Ahmad and severely beat him. The family added that Bader suffered bruises in his shoulder, back and legs. The police came and took his testimony and transported him to the hospital in an ambulance. Bader family pointed out that Ahmad dropped his cell phone during the assault and the settlers stole it. The family also explained that he was working in the park along with a colleague who managed to leave the area when the settlers attacked Ahmad and inform the police and call an ambulance. Bader was severely beaten and the settlers managed to run away before the arrival of the police. Bader family added that Ahmad filed an official complaint to Talpiot police center in West Jerusalem. Bader is a resident of Silwan and has three children.
Palestinian teens detained for throwing rocks in Jerusalem
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 16 Mar — Five Palestinian teens suspected of throwing rocks and paint cans at the light rail train in occupied East Jerusalem were detained Wednesday, Israeli police said. The incident reportedly took place in the Palestinian Shu‘fat neighborhood in the northern area of the occupied city and caused material damage to the train, Israeli police spokesperson Luba al-Samri said. The five Palestinians were transferred for interrogation at Shu‘fat police station, the spokesperson added.
Army kidnaps 29 Palestinians in the West Bank
IMEMC 15 Mar — Israeli soldiers invaded, on Tuesday at dawn, various districts of the occupied West Bank, searched homes and kidnapped 29 Palestinians. The soldiers also invaded Kadoori college, in Tulkarem, and searched several buildings . . . Media sources in Jenin, in the northern part of the West Bank, have reported that the soldiers invaded Rommana village, west of the city, and kidnapped two Palestinians, identified as Ahmad Sa’id ‘Amro, 21, and Abdul-Rahman ‘Amour, after searching their homes. In the nearby district of Tulkarem, the soldiers also stormed and searched homes, and kidnapped five Palestinians. Resident Mohammad Abdul-Fattah Dameeri, 22, an engineering student at Kadoorie College, was kidnapped from his home in the Tulkarem refugee camp, while Waleed Mustafa Yahya, 50, was kidnapped in the Southern Neighborhood in Tulkarem. The soldiers also invaded Kafr Jamal village, south of Tulkarem, searched homes and kidnapped three Palestinians, identified as Ibrahim Jaber Toba, 22, Abdul-Razeq Hussein Toba, 23, and Ali Hussein Ali, 23. (Continued)
Israeli army kidnaps ten Palestinians in the West Bank
IMEMC 16 Mar — Israeli soldiers kidnapped, on Wednesday at dawn, at least nine Palestinians in different invasions targeting Palestinian communities in different parts of the occupied West Bank. The soldiers also kidnapped a Palestinian on Tuesday evening. The Popular Committee in Hebron, in the southern part of the West Bank, said the soldiers invaded Beit Ummar town, north of Hebron, searched many homes and kidnapped two Palestinians, identified as Ahmad Amer Abu Jouda, 19, and Khalil Sheeban Abu Ayyash, 21 . . . In the northern West Bank district of Nablus, the soldiers stormed and searched many homes, and kidnapped three Palestinians, including a lawyer and a former political prisoner. The Palestinian Prisoners Society (PPS) said the soldiers invaded the home of lawyer Ja’far Sami ath-Thaher, 25, in Beit Iba village, west of Nablus, and kidnapped him after searching his property, causing excessive property damage. (Continued)
Palestinians rethink routines to avoid Israeli suspicions
JERUSALEM (Reuters) 15 Mar by Ali Sawafta & Dan Williams — Drive cautiously and if pulled over do not argue with the police. Dress lightly, even in cold weather. Never whip your cellphone out of your pocket. And think twice before blurting out in Arabic the phrase “God is Greater”. For Palestinians trying to avoid being suspected of involvement in a months-long wave of deadly attacks against Israelis, small changes in behavior might mean the difference between life and death. Since October last year, 28 Israelis and two U.S. citizens have been stabbed, shot or run over and killed in a campaign of violence across the occupied West Bank, Jerusalem and Israel. Most of the attackers are not members of Palestinian militant groups but ordinary men and women, most aged under 25. As a result, Israeli security forces – whether the army, the police or the paramilitary border police, all of whom have been targeted – are on high alert for an attack from just about anyone, especially in tense areas around Jerusalem’s Old City. Since the violence began, 184 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli security forces or armed citizens, including 124 that Israel has identified as attackers or potential attackers. While Israelis are on edge, many Palestinians are too. They do not want to be mistaken for an attacker. “Police are everywhere. They write up tickets here and there and no one can argue,” said a Palestinian who gave his name only as Sami. “Whoever argues could end up getting shot.”Israeli forces say they only act when they have reason to. But either way, Palestinians are changing their habits. “If my phone rings when I’m walking past Israeli soldiers, I don’t pick it up,” said Sami. “I’m afraid they could say I was trying to pull a knife out of my pocket.” . . . “Even if it is very cold, you do not wear a lot of clothes because once they stop you they will make you strip off in front of people and before cameras,” Mohammed] said . . . Palestinian leaders accuse Israeli forces of excessive force – a charge denied by Israel – but violence by Jews against Arabs has on occasions followed attacks. An Eritrean bystander was shot and beaten to death by a crowd of Israelis after a deadly attack at a bus station. “We are afraid of being targeted by Jews in hate crimes, just because we are Arabs,” said Hamdi, a businessman from Gaza who occasionally travels to Jerusalem.
PA: Israeli forces end partial closure of major West Bank checkpoint
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 14 Mar — Israeli forces on Monday ended the daily four-hour closure imposed on Friday at a major Israeli military checkpoint between the central occupied West Bank district of Ramallah and the southern West Bank, the Palestinian Ministry of Civil Affairs said. The ministry said the Jabaa checkpoint, which had been closed between the hours of 5 a.m. and 9 a.m. for the past three days for maintenance work, was now operating normally and open to traffic at all hours. On Friday, Israeli forces also closed Zaatara military checkpoint in southern Nablus for maintenance, primarily during rush hour periods, from 7 a.m. to 9 a.m., 1 p.m. to 2 p.m., and from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. The Zaatara closure, which is still in effect, affects the movement of the over 200,000 Palestinians living in the Nablus governorate, which includes the city of Nablus, three refugee camps and fifteen villages. The movement of Palestinians in the occupied West Bank is heavily controlled, as entrance and exit into every Palestinian district is only possible through permanent Israeli military checkpoints.
Hundreds march on bloody West Bank route, demanding more deterrence
Ynet 15 Mar by Omri Efraim — Hundreds of Israelis, led by settler leaders, participated in a protest march along Route 60 in the West Bank on Tuesday, demanding to close the roads in the area for Palestinian movement during and after terror attacks in order to create deterrence and increase security. The protesters marched along a road that saw several terror attacks, walking from Karmei Tzur to the Gush Etzion Junction. They were carrying Israeli flags and calling out “Am Israel Chai” (The people of Israel live) and “The eternal nation is not afraid of a long path.” Marchers were joined by Bayit Yehudi MK Bezalel Smotrich, who endorsed their demand from the government in which he himself serves. Large numbers of police and IDF troops secured the march, while vehicle movement on the main road was blocked.
Attorney general to support relocating terrorists’ families within West Bank
Ynet 14 Mar by Tova Tzimuki & Itamar Eichner — After expressing his stance that the expulsion of the families of terrorists to Gaza or to Syria contravenes international law and would expose Israel to the International Court of Justice in The Hague, Attorney General Avcihai Mandelblit has decided to allow the government to expel families to the West Bank. Mandelblit is expected to inform Prime Minister Netanyahu that the expulsion of families from one city to another within the West Bank will be allowed, but only in cases where it can be shown that the family knew in advance of their relative’s intentions. Mandelblit’s decision was based in part on a decade-old High Court of Justice ruling, which determined that in an occupied territory where a military commander is sovereign , he may for security reasons transfer or deport individuals – but only inside the territory under his control . . . But now, after the disengagement Gaza is no longer under Israeli control, meaning families can only be sent to the West Bank (or other parts of it if the family is already in the West Bank). Transportation Minister Israel Katz, who initiated a bill that would expel families of terrorists into Gaza and Syria, said Sunday in response that he is continuing to advance the bill “with the utmost intensity and seriousness.”
The 13th anniversary of Rachel Corrie’s death
GAZA, Occupied Palestine 15 Mar by ISM, al-Khalil Team — Today marks the thirteenth anniversary since the passing of fellow ISM activist Rachel Corrie (April 10, 1979 – March 16, 2003). Rachel was tragically crushed to death under the front blade of an Israeli military, American-funded, Caterpillar D9R bulldozer near Rafah, in the southern part of the Gaza Strip. Rachel died whilst placing herself in the path of the military bulldozer to protect the family and their home that the bulldozer was on route for and due to be demolished. Rachel’s death created a global outcry towards the Israeli military’s actions and prompted an international investigation under the contested circumstances in which she died during the height of the Second Intifada . . . Following extended trials in an attempt to attain justice for their daughter, the Corrie family lost their latest appeal in the Israeli Supreme Court on the twelfth of February, 2015, exempting the Israeli defense ministry from liability for actions by its forces that it deemed to be “wartime activity,” but wrongly refused to assess whether those actions violated applicable laws of armed conflict, Human Rights Watch said. A statement from the Corrie family on the twelfth of February, 2015 read, “Today we received word from our attorneys that the Supreme Court of Israel dismissed our appeal in the wrongful death case of our daughter and sister Rachel Corrie. Our family is disappointed but not surprised. We had hoped for a different outcome, though we have come to see through this experience how deeply all of Israel’s institutions are implicated in the impunity enjoyed by the Israeli military.”
An email from Rachel Corrie to her parents
16th March 2016 | Rachel Corrie Foundation | Gaza, occupied Palestine — February 27 2003 (To her mother) Love you. Really miss you. I have bad nightmares about tanks and bulldozers outside our house and you and me inside. Sometimes the adrenaline acts as an anesthetic for weeks and then in the evening or at night it just hits me again – a little bit of the reality of the situation. I am really scared for the people here. Yesterday, I watched a father lead his two tiny children, holding his hands, out into the sight of tanks and a sniper tower and bulldozers and Jeeps because he thought his house was going to be exploded. Jenny and I stayed in the house with several women and two small babies. It was our mistake in translation that caused him to think it was his house that was being exploded. In fact, the Israeli army was in the process of detonating an explosive in the ground nearby – one that appears to have been planted by Palestinian resistance. This is in the area where Sunday about 150 men were rounded up and contained outside the settlement with gunfire over their heads and around them, while tanks and bulldozers destroyed 25 greenhouses – the livelihoods for 300 people. The explosive was right in front of the greenhouses – right in the point of entry for tanks that might come back again . . . I thought a lot about what you said on the phone about Palestinian violence not helping the situation. Sixty thousand workers from Rafah worked in Israel two years ago. Now only 600 can go to Israel for jobs. Of these 600, many have moved, because the three checkpoints between here and Ashkelon (the closest city in Israel) make what used to be a 40-minute drive, now a 12-hour or impassible journey. In addition, what Rafah identified in 1999 as sources of economic growth are all completely destroyed – the Gaza international airport (runways demolished, totally closed); the border for trade with Egypt (now with a giant Israeli sniper tower in the middle of the crossing); access to the ocean (completely cut off in the last two years by a checkpoint and the Gush Katif settlement). (Continued)
Hamas field officer dies in Gaza tunnel accident
GAZA (Ma‘an) 14 Mar — A Hamas field commander died on Monday in a tunnel accident in the Gaza Strip, the group said in a statement. The Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades, Hamas’ military wing, said in a statement that Abd al-Salah al-Butnaji died while he was working in a tunnel in Gaza. Al-Butnaji, 36, was from the al-Shuja‘iyya neighborhood of Gaza City, the statement added. The al-Qassam Brigades did not give further details on the circumstances behind his death.
Hamas: ‘Egypt’s security is Gaza’s security’
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 16 Mar — The deputy head of the Hamas movement said Wednesday that common security concerns between Palestine and Egypt were confirmed during a visit by a Hamas delegation to Cairo. “Egypt’s security is Palestine’s security,” Moussa Abu Marzouq said in a statement posted on his official Facebook page, adding that the Gaza Strip is most affected by security instability in Sinai Peninsula.”The Hamas delegation expressed the movement’s commitment to Egypt’s security and non-interference in its internal affairs,” the statement said, adding that Hamas would ensure that the Gaza Strip would not be a refuge for anyone posing a threat to Egypt’s security.Abu Marzouq also pointed to the central role Egypt plays in the Palestinian cause and resolving issues facing the Gaza Strip, particularly in regards to the Rafah crossing.“We believe that the visit turned a new page,” Abu Marzouq said, stressing that nothing would come from the Hamas side but “good and peace.”
Abu Marzouq’s statements came days after the Hamas delegation traveled to Cairo in a Saudi-sponsored visit aiming to resolve the tensions between the Palestinian group and Egypt. Earlier this month, the Egyptian Ministry of Interior accused Hamas of being involved in the assassination of former Egyptian public prosecutor Hisham Barakat. Egyptian security officials reportedly told Israeli media Wednesday that the recent meeting was unsuccessful.
Israel cancels weekly visit from Gaza to Al-Aqsa
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 16 Mar — The Israeli authorities on Wednesday canceled a weekly visit allowing elderly Palestinians from the Gaza Strip to travel to occupied East Jerusalem for Friday prayers at Al-Aqsa Mosque, according to Palestinian liaison officials. Sources at the Palestinian liaison office said that Israel had called off the agreement, which previously allowed 200 Gazans above the age of 60 to worship at the holy site as part of a ceasefire agreement that ended the 2014 Gaza war. Sources said Israel canceled the agreement on the grounds that Palestinian worshipers traveling for worship were not returning to the Gaza Strip on the same day of the visit as the agreement stipulated. The liaison could not specify if the agreement was conditionally called off just for this week, or canceled altogether. A spokesperson for Israel’s Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) said: “Any claims regarding the freezing of permits for prayers in the Temple Mount [Al-Aqsa] should be directed to those who choose to exploit illegally the permits at the expense of the rest of the public.” . . . The spokesperson told Ma’an the decision was temporary until the issue was addressed by the Palestinian Civil Committee in the Gaza Strip. The announcement comes after the Israeli authorities last week reportedly said they were considering increasing the number of Palestinians able to travel from Gaza to Al-Aqsa, as well as lowering the age limit to 50.
Israeli forces level lands in southeastern Gaza Strip
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 15 Mar — Israeli bulldozers on Tuesday entered the Palestinian side of the Gaza borderline under military protection near Khuzaa village in the southeastern Gaza Strip. Witnesses told Ma‘an that five bulldozers stormed an agricultural area east of Khuzaa and leveled lands. No gunfire or injuries were reported . . . Israeli military forces routinely enter the Gaza Strip near the “buffer zone” which lies on the borderline between the besieged enclave and Israel. Such activity often interferes with Palestinian farmers whose land lies in the area. Approximately 35 percent of Palestinian agricultural land in Gaza is inaccessible without high personal risk, according to the Palestinian Center for Human Rights.
PM: Israel acted ‘above the law’ in killing of Gaza children
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 15 Mar — The Palestinian Prime Minister’s office on Tuesday slammed Israel for “acting above the law” and called on the international community to hold Israel accountable for the deaths of two children killed in an airstrike on Gaza last week. Six-year-old Israa Abu Khussa and her 10-year-old brother Yasin were killed on March 12 after a missile fired by the Israeli air force hit near their home in Beit Lahiya. Addressing the incident, Jamal Dajani, Director of Strategic Communications and Media for Prime Minister Hamdallah said: “Israel continues to act above the law and murder children.” “Israeli leaders have blood on their hands, how do they justify the killing of innocent children?” Dajani said. The official said at least 1,000 Palestinian children had been killed during the six major military offenses carried out by Israel on the Gaza Strip since 2005. Sporadic rocket fire from the besieged coastal enclave over the past year have in a number of cases been answered by Israeli airstrikes reportedly targeting Hamas infrastructure .In October a two-year-old Palestinian and her pregnant mother were also killed in an Israeli airstrike, which caused their home to collapse.
It’s never Israel’s fault: Two Gazan children are dead and their story goes untold
Haaretz 17 Mar by Gideon Levy — It’s not hard to imagine what would have happened had Hamas killed two Israeli children, brother and sister, with a Qassam — She was 6, he was 10, blood siblings. Did they die in their sleep? Did they wake up right before the missile struck their home? Did they hear the plane and take fright before they died, perhaps attempt to flee? Was there any place to go? What did they do before going to bed on their last night alive? Did they dream of anything on their last night? Did they have any dreams? Israa and Yassin, girl and boy, sister and brother, between Friday and Saturday in the Gaza Strip. Between Friday and Saturday in the Gaza Strip, 2:30 A.M., long-suffering and bombardment-weary Beit Lahia woke up in terror to the ill-boding sounds of a plane. My friend M. told me his children jumped from their beds in fright. Israel was avenging the firing of four Qassam rockets into Israel hours earlier. The rockets landed in open areas and caused no damage. Between Friday and Saturday in the Gaza Strip, Israel Air Force planes struck four targets, “Hamas terror installations.” The plane flew over Beit Lahia, and the pilot released the bombs. The hits were good. The screen in the plane did not show Yassin, dead, nor Israa, dying. One of the terror installations was the house of Israa and Yassin Abu Khoussa. “House” is an exaggeration. A ragged asbestos roof, ragged clothes on the window sill, thin mattresses on the floor covered by cheap blankets, some of them now soaked in blood. Here Israa and Yassin were born, here they lived and here they died. On the floor of the room that was hit slept the family’s seven children, from 2 years old to 15, and their mother. They are all in shock. The Israel Defense Forces knows this hut in Beit Lahia well; it has wrecked it a few times already. But the family continued to live in it; where would they go? . . . The incident was barely reported in Israel. It’s hard to think of a baser dehumanization than the disgraceful coverage by the majority of Israeli media outlets of the killing of these two Palestinian children. Israel Hayom mentioned the killing in a tiny subheading that took a contemptible, dismissive tone: “Hamas claims: as a result of the attack, two children were killed.” It’s not hard to imagine what would have happened had Hamas killed two children, brother and sister, with a Qassam rocket. One can imagine not only a ruthless military retaliation but also the emotional reporting: beasts, the headlines would surely have shouted, Hamas child-killers. But our child-killers are pure, after all it wasn’t intentional. It never is. Israel was not asked to issue a condemnation, no one even thought to express regret, much less to offer compensation.
School shooting a near miss in Gaza
GAZA, Occupied Palestine 15 Mar by ISM, al-Khalil Team — On the 2nd of March at 2pm, Israeli occupation forces fired into Beit Dajan School, located in Shijaiya, near the annexation wall. Bilal Abu Asser was giving a lesson to his students when a bullet passed just next to his head. “Suddenly I heard a huge explosion, in that moment all the children started to scream, some started to run, others hid under the table, others were in shock… I tried to calm them down and went out from the class to see what had happened, as in the first moment I thought it had been a bomb outside the school. I met the head of the school who started to speak with me but I couldn’t hear anything because of the explosion. Then I returned to my class, where one of my students showed me the bullet on the ground. I tried to hide it from the other students and we moved into the laboratory, on the first floor”. Since the day of the shooting, many children have become scared and are afraid of coming back to the school. Children come some days but not others; the attendance level is never constant. “Those kids live without any kind of security, neither economic nor physical. They can’t feel safe at home, they can’t feel safe at the school… the occupation doesn’t respect anything.” Another teacher points out, “as you can see the bullet didn’t explode completely… if it had, at least 10 children would be dead”. The head of the school, Sami Khalil Radwan, says that they always hear the shooting against the farmers working near there, and that often they have to evacuate the school due to the tear gas that the occupation shoots directly against the school or next to it, but that it’s the first time that something like this has happened since the end of the war
Palestinian prisoners in Gaza provided agricultural training
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 15 Mar — The Hamas-run interior and agriculture ministries in the Gaza Strip are undertaking an initiative to provide practical training to scores of prisoners in Hamas’ custody to help them acquire agricultural skills. “The Ministry of Agriculture has already taken 70 inmates from different Gaza Strip districts to work in its plant nurseries and experimental farms,” said Shahir al-Reifi, the director of the ministry’s department for the development and protection of agricultural lands. Al-Reifi added that the ministry brings inmates from prisoner rehabilitation and reform centers to the plant nurseries and farms every day from 7 a.m to 2 p.m., except on Fridays. There, the inmates are learning to harvest, install irrigation networks, and spray pesticides, among other agricultural tasks. One prisoner in his 20s, currently serving a one-year sentence following financial issues, told Ma‘an that the initiative had helped him “to have some entertainment and acquire a new profession instead of sitting in prison.” He said that he had been picking crops, spraying pesticides, and installing irrigation networks. As part of the program, he has also been given two days a week to spend with his family.
When will the train return to Gaza?
EI 14 Mar by Hamza Abu Eltarabesh — Abdelmajeed al-Mubayed still remembers when the train used to pass by his house. The 80-year-old, whom everyone knows as Haj Abu Muhammad, likes to entertain his grandsons with tales of running after the Cairo-bound train as it billowed smoke. Picking up a head of steam for the long journey ahead, the train made its way through his neighborhood of Shujaiya in Gaza City. “I can still hear the sound of the train,” he told The Electronic Intifada. “I remember the room where they used to sell tickets and deliver parcels.” Those days are long gone. But there have been a number of suggestions in recent years that a Palestinian railroad should be brought back. In December 2015, the Palestinian Authority’s transport ministry announced plans to link the West Bank and Gaza by a rail network, which could then be extended to neighboring countries. Much of this would demand a political settlement with Israel as well as agreement with a country like Egypt. In the current climate, such breakthroughs appear to be a long way off. Nevertheless, the news set tongues wagging and memories stirring . . . Hamid Ahmad remembers frequent journeys on the train. A dentist, Ahmad, 75, studied and received his qualifications in Cairo between 1959 and 1965. In those days, Ahmad said, the journey was easy and pleasant. “Travel was a joy. Before we entered Egypt, we would have our papers checked, but the procedures were simple. Egypt used to welcome us at any time,” he said. It is a stark contrast to the situation today when Gaza is cut off from the rest of the world, and Palestinians face draconian measures to pass through — on the very few occasions they are allowed to even try — either the Erez checkpoint into present-day Israel or the Rafah crossing into Egypt. (Continued)
Despite stigma, adoptions are on the rise in Gaza
GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip (Al-Monitor) 16 Mar by Asmaa al-Ghoul — Gazan society seems to be breaking some taboos and prohibitions since families are starting to adopt children of unknown parentage despite all legal and social impediments — The stories of war are not the only tragic stories unfolding in the Gaza Strip; there are other kinds of tragedies taking place there and all around the world. These are the stories of children of unknown parentage. Yara (a pseudonym), 16, is one of 18 children with unknown parentage who grew up in the Mabarra al-Rahma Charitable Center in Gaza City. She was very excited to show her drawings to Al-Monitor, and we took care not to discuss sensitive subjects to avoid upsetting her. When Yara left, Khouloud Ghanem, the director of the dormitories, told Al-Monitor, “She was a brilliant student, until one day, one of her classmates whispered in her ear asking her if she was an illegitimate child. Usually nobody at school, except the principal, knows the truth, but some people who live in the area know that these children live in the center. That’s how news spreads like fire.” She explained that the older these children get, the more questions they start asking about their parents and the reason they live in the center. Hence, the truth has to be handed to them at some point. Ghanem said that Yara’s life turned upside down after her classmate had confronted her; her school performance started to decline and she began losing focus during classes . . . Hazem al-Enezi, vice-chairman of Mabarra al-Rahma, told Al-Monitor that these children are socially stigmatized and considered shameful. “This unjust image affects them even as grownups, and stands as a major obstacle to their integration in society and prevents them from having careers or finding a life partner,” he said. He added, “About 173 newborns of unknown parentage have been admitted to the center since its establishment in 1993. These children were conceived through illegitimate sexual relations and handed over [to the center] by official authorities such as the police. Of these children, 152 were adopted by families in Gaza and 18 stayed at the center . . . In June 2012, the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC) approved an amended civil status draft law on second reading. The law is related to allowing the foster family to add the word “Mawla” (meaning, under the guardianship) after the child’s name. For instance, Janet’s name would be Janet Mawla Attia Ibrahim. The reason for this is that Sharia forbids adoption. As a result, the adopted child remains in the foster family’s care without holding its name. Before this amendment, the adopted children held fabricated family names different from those of the foster families, which caused many problems. (Continued)
Gaza couple remind us: ‘In love there is no shame’
HuffPost 15 Mar by Chaker Khazaal — In the midst of the ongoing conflict in Gaza, which escalated over the weekend, an improbable and heartwarming story is unfolding. In a leap of faith, a couple living within the volatile region is putting their future into the hands of people they’ve never even met–all in the name of love. Abd El-Hakim Zughbor and his fiancée, Falastin Al-Tananiare, had been dating for seven years, but were unable to wed because of financial constraints. Having been together for such a long time, they felt immense pressure from relatives, and the society, who wished to see them in wedlock. “My name is Hakim and I am in love. I want to marry the woman of my dreams, Falastin, but in order to do so I need your help,” Hakim said via the online fundraising website GoFundMe. “We have wanted to get married for some time but are unable to do so because we simply cannot afford to.” Within the Gaza Strip, the journey to walk the aisle is particularly difficult. This is because the region’s culture expects grooms to not only cover the entirety of the wedding expenses, but also have a furnished home before they may be betrothed. A housing shortage caused by a combination of Israel’s strict cement import policies and the infrastructure loss in Gaza during Operation Protective Edge in 2014 has made it increasingly difficult for young couples to find an affordable home in the region. (Continued)
How this new divorce law further marginalizes Gaza women
GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip (Al-Monitor) 15 Mar by Rasha Abou Jalal — The Higher Sharia Court Council in the Gaza Strip issued a decision Feb. 7 granting a husband the right to file for divorce if his wife subjects him to verbal or physical abuse. The ruling has angered the feminist community, because it gives the husband the opportunity to divorce his wife while denying her rights to which she would otherwise be entitled in a divorce. Prior to the decision, applying for a divorce based on verbal or physical abuse had been limited to women. This was so simply because men can divorce without providing a reason or even filing suit in court. If a wife filed for divorce and proved abuse, she did so with certain rights guaranteed — such as retention of the “mahr” (money and possessions paid by the groom or his family to the bride at the time of marriage), the right to obtain “mu’akhar” (money and possessions the groom is legally responsible for providing the wife, but not necessarily at the time of marriage) and receipt of the value of their furniture — as agreed upon in the marriage contract. Omar Nofal, chairman of the Sharia Appeals Court, told Al-Monitor that the new decision was issued to bring about “equality between men and women” by ending the women’s monopoly to lodge divorce proceedings for abuse. Nofal said the court issued the decision after it became clear in several abuse cases lodged by wives that the husbands were in fact the victims, not the women. He said there are no statistics on the number of husbands abused at the hands of their wives in Gaza.
Prisoners / Court decisions
Damascus Gate stabber of border policeman sentenced to 17 years in deal
JPost 16 Mar by Yonah Jeremy Bob — Palestinian Yasser Tarua was sentenced on Wednesday by the Jerusalem District Court to 17 years in prison for stabbing Border Policeman Raz Bibi in the neck and the chest next to Jerusalem’s Damascus Gate on June 21. The sentence, part of a plea bargain, also included a fine of NIS 40,000 against Tarua. Bibi was badly injured and required serious medical attention for around two weeks, but survived. The indictment, filed by the Jerusalem District Attorney’s Office in August, charged Tarua with attempted murder with nationalist motives and entering Israel illegally . . . [Bibi] has several ongoing health problems as a result of the attack and is on a long-term rehabilitation program with no possibility of returning to his old position in the border police. Tarua was transferred to Hadassah University Medical Center in Ein Kerem in serious condition, but also survived.
7 Palestinian children sentenced to prison for stone-throwing
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 16 Mar — An Israeli court in Jerusalem on Wednesday sentenced seven Palestinian children to jail time ranging from 12 to 39 months for alleged stone-throwing, a lawyer with prisoners’ rights group Addameer said. Lawyer Muhammad Mahmoud said the Jerusalem court had convicted the children of throwing stones at Israeli cars in the Beit Hanina neighborhood of occupied East Jerusalem. Mahmoud said that the children included three boys aged 14 years old, two aged 16, one aged 17, and another whose age was not specified. Saleh Ashraf Ishtayya, 16, was sentenced to three years and three months in prison, while Muhammad Ahmad Jaber and Murad Raed Alqam, both 14, were sentenced to three years. Meanwhile, Muhammad Na’el Tayeh, 17, and Zaid Ayed al-Taweel, 16, were both sentenced to two years and four months in prison, Omar Rani Yaseen, 14, received a one-year sentence, and Yazan Hani Ayoub was sentenced to one year and two months in prison. All seven minors spent eight months under house arrest before their sentencing, Mahmoud said. They were originally detained in June, before they were released on bail under house arrest after spending two weeks at Israel’s Russian Compound detention center.
Land, property theft & destruction / Ethnic cleansing / Settlements
Israel seizes large tracts of land in occupied West Bank: Army radio
JERUSALEM (Reuters) 15 Mar — Israel has appropriated large tracts of land in the occupied West Bank near the Dead Sea and the Palestinian city of Jericho, Israeli Army Radio said on Tuesday. Israel’s Peace Now movement, which tracks and opposes Israeli settlement in territory captured in a 1967 war, said the reported seizure of 579 acres (234 hectares) represented the largest land confiscation in the West Bank in recent years. The group said plans for expanding nearby Jewish settlements and building tourism and other commercial facilities in the area were already on Israel’s drawing board . . . The U.S. State Department criticized the land seizure, saying ongoing expropriations and settlement expansions were “fundamentally undermining the prospects for a two-state solution.” “We strongly oppose any steps that accelerate settlement expansion, which raises serious questions about Israel’s long-term intentions,” State Department spokesman John Kirby told a news briefing. Asked about Army Radio’s report of the land confiscation, Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon’s office said in an email to Reuters: “We are not relating to the issue.” Photos of a de facto Israeli confiscation notice – a Hebrew map and accompanying documents titled “A declaration of government property” – were tweeted, however, by the Palestine Liberation Organization on Tuesday. Photos of a de facto Israeli confiscation notice – a Hebrew map and accompanying documents titled “A declaration of government property” – were tweeted, however, by the Palestine Liberation Organization on Tuesday. Dated March 10, it listed 2,342 dunams, or 579 acres, and carried the signature of an official identified on the map as Israel’s “supervisor of government property and abandoned property in Judea and Samaria”, Hebrew terms for the West Bank. (Continued)
UN chief urges Israel to reverse land seizure in West Bank
UNITED NATIONS, March 15 (Xinhua) — UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Tuesday urged the Israeli government to “halt and reverse” the land confiscation in the occupied West Bank, saying that such an Israeli move is “an impediment to the two-State solution.” “I can tell you that the secretary-general views the recent classification by Israeli authorities of some 2,340 dunums of land as ‘state land’ in the occupied West Bank as an impediment to the two-State solution,” UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said at a daily news briefing here.”Such actions appear to point towards an increase in settlement activities and demonstrate that Israel is continuing to push forward with the consolidation of its control of the West Bank,” Dujarric said.
Senior Israeli army officer served with home demolition order
i24news 11 Mar — The incident has created a storm of controversy among Bedouin soldiers and commanders serving in the IDF — An Israeli army major will have to demolish his home in two months’ time, after being served with a demolition order from the Israeli government due to the house having been built without a permit, Walla reports. Major Habas al-Atrash, who heads up the Bedouin Trackers Unit in the IDF’s Southern Command, found the order pasted on the door to his house, in the Negev, about a month ago. The demolition would leave his family without a roof over their heads. Al-Atrash’s lawyer appealed to the Beer Sheva District court for an order to temporarily delay the demolition order, according to Walla. At the same time, around two weeks ago, a compromise was reached with the Southern District Planning and Building Committee, wherein al-Atrash would have to demolish his own home so that he will not have to pay for the Israeli authorities to do so. Col. Nahmani (reserves), who is a lawyer, also submitted an urgent request to Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon to prevent the demolition . . . The incident has created a storm of controversy among Bedouin soldiers and commanders serving in the IDF, Walla says. “The roles and tasks performed by Bedouin soldiers are incredibly important… And now these brave soldiers who sacrifice their lives for the state and the security of its citizens are having their lives made intolerable by the same state, which is demolishing their homes,” Nahmani said. According to the lawyer, the judges’ hands are tied by the law and this case requires the intervention of the relevant authorities at the Ministry of Defense, Walla reports. Nahmani is representing another Bedouin soldier who has found himself in the same situation as al-Atrash.
Video: The neighborhood of Batn Al-Hawa in Silwan . . . ownership conflict
Silwanic 12 March – prepared by Fidaa Rwaidy [shows what it is like to live in a neighborhood where settlers take over houses, spray even small children with pepper spray, etc. The Israeli authorities will not even allow a woman to pave a courtyard so that her special needs daughter can walk there . . . ]
Pictures: New cracks threaten the houses of the neighborhood of Wadi Hilweh in Silwan
SILWAN, Jerusalem (SILWANIC) 15 Mar — New cracks appeared in the walls of several houses and streets in the neighborhood of Wadi Hilweh in Silwan due to the continuous Israeli excavations underneath the neighborhood. Wadi Hilweh Committee explained that new cracks appeared in new areas in the neighborhood in addition to an increase in the old cracks which pose a real threat to the locals and their houses as big amounts of dirt are being removed from underneath the neighborhood due to the Israeli excavations. The committee pointed out that large trucks closed Wadi Hilweh Street in the last few weeks to remove the dirt from the excavations sites; few days later, cracks started appearing in various areas around the neighborhood . . . The committee also pointed out that large cracks occurred in Wadi Hilweh Main Street which is one of the main streets in Silwan and the municipality quickly hides the cracks without revealing the reasons behind them. Mohammad Daoud Siam explained that six families live in “Hosh Sheikh Daoud” where cracks appeared in the houses’ walls and roofs due to the continuous excavations underneath. Siam added that sound of electric tools are always heard; the more they hear the sounds, the more cracks appear. He said: “Our houses became unsafe and we are constantly worried about our children because of those cracks.” He appealed to stop the excavation works which only serve Israeli purposes without paying any attention to the locals’ lives.
Israel demolishes structures across West Bank, East Jerusalem
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 16 Mar — Israeli forces on Wednesday morning demolished three structures and issued demolition orders for a further two in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem. In the village of al-Khader south of Bethlehem, Israeli forces tore down a two-story home under construction belonging to local resident Judah Masoud Mousa. The 200-square-meter home, which lay in the village’s western al-Sharaf neighborhood, was built on land classified as Area C, without permission from the Israeli authorities. Further to the south, in Wadi Rahhal, Israeli forces tore down an agricultural shack belonging to local resident Amir Hussein al-Kamil, according to the official Palestinian news agency Wafa. Meanwhile, in occupied East Jerusalem, Israeli forces tore down a clothing warehouse in the neighborhood of Dahiyat al-Barid. Fadi Imtour said Israeli forces demolished the 300-meter storehouse rented by his brother Shadi on the pretext that it had been built without a license. He said Israeli troops also detained his brother, before releasing him a few hours later. Officials from Jerusalem’s municipality also issued demolition orders to two homes in the al-Thuri area of Silwan in East Jerusalem.The buildings in question belong to locals Ismail Abu Saloum and Muhammad Abu Saloum, and relatives told Ma‘an that 11 people live in the homes, which were built 21 years ago. They added that the family had paid “thousands of shekels” in fines and had been unable to obtain a construction license. On Tuesday last week, Israeli rights group B’Tselem condemned an “unusually massive demolition campaign” across the West Bank that had left 435 Palestinians, including 234 minors, homeless since January.
‘PA will never allow IDF to conduct hot pursuits after terrorists into Area A of West Bank’
JPost 16 Mar by Khaled Abu Toameh — The Palestinian Authority has not agreed to allow the IDF to conduct hot pursuit after terrorists into Area A of the West Bank, and won’t in the future, the Palestinian daily Al-Quds reported Wednesday. Quoting an unnamed senior PA security official, the paper said that the PA has been seeking to regain full control over Area A according to a defined and short timetable. Area A consists mostly of the major Palestinian cities in the West Bank which, according to the Oslo Accords, are supposed to be under the exclusive control of the PA. Until 2002, the IDF refrained from entering Area A. The PA security official’s remarks came amid recent reports that Israel and the PA have been holding secret talks about the security situation in the West Bank, including the possibly of stopping IDF incursions into Area A in pursuits of Palestinian security suspects. “Area A is one inseparable unit and we insist on restoring our full sovereignty over it,” the official was quoted as saying. “We also insist that Israel respect this sovereignty and refrain from violating it no matter what the reason.” The official said that the PA had never accepted the Israeli demand to conduct hot pursuits into Area A. He added that the PA considers this issue as part of previous agreements that should be implemented by Israel.
16 Palestinian pilgrims killed in Jordan bus crash
MAAN, Jordan (AP) 17 Mar by Omar Akour — The number of Palestinian pilgrims killed when their bus overturned in a remote area of southern Jordan rose from 14 to 16 overnight, including nine who had been pinned under the vehicle, officials said Thursday. The bus veered off the road in the accident late Wednesday near Jordan’s border with Saudi Arabia, Farid Sharea, a spokesman for Jordan’s Civil Defence department, told the Voice of Palestine radio station. Injured passenger Azzah Ibrahim said he remembers the bus overturning. “Some of us were beneath the bus, and some of us were inside the bus, between the chairs,” Ibrahim said from his hospital bed in the southern city of Maan, about 70 kilometres (45 miles) from the scene of the accident. Sharea said heavy equipment was used to lift the bus and pull nine bodies from underneath the vehicle. The windows of the mud-smeared bus were shattered. Glass shards, passengers’ crumpled clothing and empty water bottles were strewn on the floor of the vehicle. The passengers, all from the West Bank, had been on their way to a Muslim pilgrimage in Saudi Arabia . . . Bassam Hijawi, an official at the Palestinian embassy in Jordan, said five critically injured passengers were flown by helicopter to the Jordanian capital of Amman. Three others, who were in serious condition, were evacuated to a hospital in the Red Sea port of Aqaba, he told the Voice of Palestine.
PLO appoints interim body for teachers’ union
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 15 Mar — A PLO body on Monday appointed new temporary members to the Palestinian teachers’ union, following ongoing efforts to meet the demands of teachers who ended an over month-long strike last week. The PLO Central Council appointed 14 new representatives to the union and named Saed Irziqat secretary-general of the union. The appointees are intended to act as a temporary body until teachers hold elections for new representatives. Monday’s decision came during an emergency session held to discuss the demands of Palestinian teachers who launched a strike mid-February but agreed to suspend the strike for a week after President Mahmoud Abbas addressed the teachers on Saturday. Abbas said he would carry out a previous agreement that was signed between the Palestinian Authority and the teachers’ union in 2013 but never implemented.
Israel squeezes lifeline of Jerusalem’s Afro-Palestinians
JERUSALEM (The National) 14 Mar by Kate Shuttleworth — Israeli security measures introduced since an upturn in violence late last year are choking the economy of the Muslim Quarter of Jerusalem’s Old City, and the hardest hit has been a little known community of Palestinians of African descent. The Afro-Palestinians, as they call themselves, live in a neighbourhood adjoining Al Aqsa mosque, trapped between two Israeli police checkpoints through which only residents can pass during the day. As a result, their shops are cut off from the crowds of worshippers who visit the mosque, leaving the community on the brink of poverty. Across the Muslim and Christian quarters of the Old City, 35 per cent of businesses have closed and those that have remained open have lost up to 80 per cent of their revenues since additional security measures were put in place, according to the local merchants’ association. The Israeli government does not make public economic data for the Old City . . . There are seven stalls in the small Afro-Palestinian neighbourhood that sell clothing, trinkets and snacks, mainly to people streaming in and out of Al Aqsa mosque for prayers. But the normally bustling entrance to Al Aqsa compound is also deserted now because the increased security has deterred many worshipers. Behind Ms Kafr’ani’s daily perch is the entry point to the African Quarter neighbourhood, called Bab Al Majles Al Islami or Bab Al Nazer, where the community of about 350 Afro-Palestinians live in small flats between Al Wad Street and one of the main eastern entry points to Al Aqsa and its compound. Nearly a century years ago, Muslim pilgrims from Chad, Nigeria, Senegal and Sudan came to Jerusalem and decided to settle here in two detached houses that today, three generations later, have grown into five apartment complexes built around courtyards that are nearly invisible from the main street to Al Aqsa mosque. The residents pay a largely symbolic rent to the Islamic Waqf, which owns the property, and some of the Afro-Palestinians act as guards at Al Aqsa as a community service. The Christian, Armenian, Muslim and Jewish Quarters of Jerusalem’s Old City are widely known, but the African Quarter is one of a few micro-communities that get less attention. Its original buildings are more than 900 years old . . . The Afro-Palestinians are fiercely committed to the Palestinian nationalist cause and say police have identified them as a target group. Many have served time in Israeli prisons. (Continued)
Afro-Palestinians inside the Old City in Jerusalem — In Pictures
The National 14 March Photos by Heidi Levine
Canada to resume funding agency for Palestinian refugees
UNITED NATIONS (AP) 16 Mar — The United Nations says Canada will resume contributing funds to the UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), which is responsible for aiding and protecting Palestinian refugees, in a statement released Wednesday. Canada discontinued the funding in 2010 during the administration of Conservative leader Stephen Harper amid criticism that the agency funded schools that had become hotbeds of anti-Israeli extremism. The statement announced that Secretary General Ban Ki-moon is pleased that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government decided to restart the funding.
Israel holding secret talks with Indonesia, Deputy FM reveals
Haaretz 16 Mar by Barak Ravid — Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely revealed at the Knesset on Wednesday that Israel barred Indonesian Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi from visiting the Palestinian Authority for violating secret understandings reached between Israel and Indonesia. As per the understandings, in addition to her trip to the PA, Marsudi was also expected to travel to Jerusalem and meet with senior Israeli officials. If the terms had been met, it would have been a first visit by an Indonesian foreign minister to Israel. Hotovely made the remarks at the Knesset plenum in response to a question submitted by MK Ahmad Tibi of the United Arab List. “Why was the visit prevented,” Tibi asked, “and what is the Israeli government’s policy with regard to the entry of foreign ministers to the Palestinian Authority?” The deputy foreign minister said that the director of the Foreign Ministry’s Asia Division, Mark Sofer, visited Jakarta secretly a few days prior to Marsudi’s planned trip in an effort to reach understandings with regard to the visit. “There had been a clear understanding that [Marsudi’s] visit to Ramallah would also include a visit to Israel and a meeting with senior officials in Jerusalem,” Hotovely said. “It was a general understanding regarding any visit to Israel. Visits to the Palestinian Authority are made under terms of reciprocity – a visit to Jerusalem, and a visit to Ramallah.” . . . Tibi replied to Hotovely that the policy she presented proves that Israel is an occupier in the territories and has control over who enters or leaves the Palestinian Authority. “Why should you interfere? This is a state which has been recognized as such by the UN,” Tibi said.
Israeli minister: Security cabinet kept in dark about talks with Palestinians
Haaretz 14 Mar by Barak Ravid — In response to Haaretz exclusive, Zeev Elkin and Naftali Bennett – both members of Netanyahu’s security cabinet – vow to fight against any handover of security responsibilities to Palestinian forces — Security cabinet member and Immigrant Absorption Minister Zeev Elkin said Monday that he “totally objects” to a proposed reduction of Israel Defense Forces security operations in West Bank cities, first reported in Haaretz, saying that negotiations with the Palestinian Authority were held behind the security cabinet’s back. Elkin said he objected in particular to talks occurring “at a time when Palestinian terrorism has reared its head and gone wild.” “I demand that the defense minister update the cabinet immediately about the negotiations being held behind our backs, and stop any progress in this dangerous direction without an in depth discussion and approval by the security cabinet,” Elkin, Israel’s immigration minister and a senior member of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud party, said. (Continued)
High security mobilized for Friday’s Jerusalem Marathon
JPost 17 Mar by Daniel K. Eisenbud — Over 1,800 Border Police officers and private security personnel will be on hand during Friday morning’s sixth annual International Jerusalem Marathon, which will draw approximately 25,000 registered runners from across the globe, police said on Wednesday. “Heightened security is taking place in the capital, with a number of roads being closed during the early hours of the morning until the conclusion of the race, which will follow the same route as last year,” said police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld. The road closures, delineated on the municipality’s website, will go into effect at 5:30 a.m. and be lifted after the final race concludes shortly before noon, he said.
American NGO raises over $24 mn for Israeli soldiers in annual gala
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 16 Mar — New York-based NGO “Friends of the IDF” on Tuesday raised over $24 million in one night to aid those that serve in Israel’s military. The group reported on its website that over 1,200 “businesses and philanthropic leaders” attended the annual gala “to demonstrate their love and support for Israel’s soldiers and FIDF.” Speakers at the fundraiser praised members of the Israeli military forces for their performance during Operation Protective Edge, the name attributed by Israel to the 2014 military offensive on the Gaza Strip that left over 2,200 Palestinians killed. Attendees of the event faced dozens of picketers outside the venue protesting US support of the ongoing Israeli military occupation, according to Israeli media sources. FIDF’s annual galas have attracted a number of controversial figures over the years, including Sheldon Adelson, American billionaire and financial backer of right-wing Israeli politicians. While the group self-professes to support Israeli soldiers and bereaved families of soldiers killed, the group has in the past been caught up in lawsuits alleging its funding of illegal settlement expansion in the occupied Palestinian territory. Several NGO’s based out of the US have long raised money to be transferred to Israel. The funds make their way overseas in addition to billions pledged by the US government in military aid to Israel. Such funds are often funneled towards pro-settlement groups, enabling US citizens to freely donate to the illegal enclaves despite the fact that the U.S. government has condemned ongoing settlement expansion.
Israel intensifies crackdown on media
EI 15 Mar by Charlotte Silver — Israel’s military and domestic intelligence agency wasted no time implementing a decision by the cabinet last Thursday to sharply intensify the crackdown on Palestinian media. Before dawn on Friday, agents from the Shin Bet, accompanied by Israeli soldiers, raided the Ramallah offices of Palestine Today, confiscating the TV station’s equipment before ordering it closed until further notice. During the raid, the soldiers briefly detained two of the station’s journalists, Muhammad Amro and Shbeib Shbeib. A few miles away, soldiers arrested the director of the news station, Farouq Alayat, from his home in Birzeit. Elayyat is still in Israeli custody. Correspondent Ibrahim Jaradat was arrested on Sunday at an Israeli military checkpoint. Israeli occupation forces declared the channel to be an illegal organization that the army was closing on the basis of emergency laws introduced by Palestine’s British colonial rulers in 1945. The army said it had heard the station airing “inciting broadcasts” and the Shin Bet said that “incitement to terrorism serves the interests of terrorist organizations.” The army furthermore claimed the outlet was part of Islamic Jihad, a Palestinian political party that Israel has outlawed. On Friday, the army also shut down the TransMedia Production Company, which provides technical services for the channel. The move came after Israel’s cabinet convened on Thursday to approve a series of measures against Palestinians, including shutting down media outlets. The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) sharply condemned the closures. “We cannot tolerate these continuous attacks from Israeli authorities to muzzle Palestinian press,” the group’s president Jim Boumelha said. He added that accusations of incitement and the closure of media offices must not occur without due process . . . In early February, Foreign Press Association secretary Gila Sugarman said that there has been an increase in physical violence against journalists and their equipment by Israeli forces in the last two years. Reporters Without Borders listed Israel as the second most lethal country in the world for journalists after Syria at the end of 2014. (Continued)
Someone special in the last article for oday:
Rani Burnat from Bil‘in
BIL‘IN, Occupied Palestine 15 Mar by ISM, al-Khalil Team — Rani Burnat is an extraordinary human being in more ways than one. He was left paralysed from an injury sustained during the second intifada, learned to live the remainder of his life in a wheelchair, fathered three children (triplets) and now continues to resist the occupation through peaceful means to this day. His story is inspiring and a prime example of the will of the Palestinian people and their ongoing resistance to an illegal occupation.
On the 30th September 2000, Rani Burnat was going to Ramallah from his home town of Bil‘in for a driving lesson. When he got there he noticed a protest gathering to protest Ariel Sharon’s entry into the sacred Al-Aqsa mosque (this of course was the beginning of the second intifada). Rani spotted friends of his from Bil‘in and with time to spare decided to join in . . . Rani and fellow friends were at the front of the protest when a sniper opened fire using a unique bullet, known as a butterfly bullet, designed to continue spinning upon impact while opening out and inflicting massive damage upon entry and exit. The bullet entered through the left-hand side of Rani’s neck, puncturing his main artery. It continued through to the right hand side of his body, severing his spinal cord between the third and fourth vertebrae on exit . . . On admission to hospital in Jordan, his loss of blood was so great that he required massive blood donations from a number of donors. Rani would spend the next seven months in that hospital undergoing operations and combating repeated infections. He says ‘The most important thing for me at that time was that I was alive. The doctors in Jordan made this possible”. After seven months in Jordan, Rani was able to come back to Palestine for rehabilitation . . .
As time passed, Rani learned to deal with the injuries he had sustained, but one thing that he was not ready for was what happened in his home village next as the Israeli government began to illegally confiscate villagers’ land to construct the apartheid wall and enclose illegal settlements. At this point Rani decided to become a photographic journalist so he could report on and show the world the ugly truths of the Israeli occupation and what it does to the Palestinian people. He says he will only stop when he is dead or the occupation has ended. Every week he is able, Rani makes the trip up the rocky road in his wheelchair, gas mask and camera at the ready. His wife worries for him every time he leaves but understands that this is what he must do. Rani himself admits that every Friday he leaves he fears he will not come home to his loving wife and children but he continues to go to show the world what is happening. Fellow activists from Israel who come frequently to the Bil‘in demonstrations have translated for Rani what the Israeli army is saying about him, things like “shoot the guy in the wheelchair” whilst laughing amongst themselves. Rani has been shot with rubber bullets, countless amounts of tear gas, had many cameras broken, two wheelchairs wrecked and has even been pulled out of his wheelchair and thrown onto the ground. “The occupying forces have no morals,” he adds. Two months ago Rani was shot in the stomach with a foam bullet, which releases a liquid that burns the skin on impact. A month later he was shot in the knee cap and also singled out by soldiers and shot in both shoulders with tear gas canisters. Despite all this he continues moving forward. (Continued)