Violence / Detentions — West Bank / Jerusalem
Netanyahu halts return of Palestinian terrorists’ bodies to their families
JPost 28 Mar by Tovah Lazaroff — The bodies of Palestinian terrorists will no longer be returned to their families. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday ordered Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon to stop such transfers. Israel believes these funerals fuel additional violence. Palestinians hold that these assailants are martyrs and have in the past held mass funerals for them in which their bodies are paraded on gurneys through their home villages or cities. Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan has already held onto the bodies of Israelis Arabs residents of Jerusalem who have carried out such attacks. Netanyahu’s order extends that policy to the West Bank.
Pictures: Signs of assault and beating clear on detained Palestinian children
SILWAN (Silwanic) 26 Mar — The Magistrate judge extended on Saturday the arrest of five Jerusalemite children until Monday. Lawyer Mohammad Mahmoud explained that the Magistrate judge extended the arrest of five children from the village of Al-Tur to interrogate them on charges of “throwing Molotov cocktails towards Beit Orot settlement”; they were arrested on Friday night. The children are: 17-year old Abdullah Samer Abu Sbitan, 17-year old Basem Maher Sbitani, 16-year old Siraj Mahmoud Abu Sbitan, 17-year old Mahmoud Ahmad Abulhawa and 16-year old Omar Abulhawa. Signs of assault were clear on Basem and Siraj who was bruised in his eye, face, hands and back while Basem suffered bruises in the head and face. Witnesses explained to Wadi Hilweh Information Center that Must‘aribeen individuals (undercover police) attacked a group of children near Al-Tur intersection leading to the neighborhood of Al-Sowaneh and arrested four of the them after assaulting and severely beating them; they were taken to Beit Orot settlement.
Israeli forces ‘assault’ Palestinians detained for Facebook posts
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 30 Mar — Four Palestinians arrested this week for Facebook posts have spoken of physical assault during their detention and interrogation, in the latest evidence to emerge of abuse that rights groups say is systemic in Israel’s prisons. The testimonies were collected by the Palestinian Committee for Prisoners’ Affairs and relate to four Palestinian youths, including at least two teenagers detained overnight Tuesday. Hussein al-Sheikh, a lawyer with the committee, said 19-year-old Sameh Abu Sel was “seriously assaulted” when Israeli forces stormed his home in al-‘Arrub refugee camp north of Hebron on Tuesday. The youth was tied up and left outdoors in cold weather for more than 10 hours, al-Sheikh said, noting that the mistreatment left him sick. Meanwhile, al-Sheikh said that 18-year-old Ahmad Raed Jadallah, from Beit Ur at-Tahta in the Ramallah district, was physically assaulted by Israeli forces during the four-hour drive to the Etzion detention center after he too was detained on Tuesday. The lawyer also cited two other recently detained Palestinians — Muhammad Mahmoud Othman and Muhammad Samer Othman — who also spoke of being physically assaulted in the Etzion detention center, although no further details were provided. All four detainees were charged with “inciting violence” against Israel in posts made Facebook, al-Sheikh said.
Palestinian boy hit by settler’s vehicle near Hebron
HEBRON (Ma‘an) 28 Mar — A Palestinian boy sustained moderate wounds on Monday when he was hit by a vehicle allegedly driven by an Israeli settler near the village of Zif in the southern occupied West Bank district of Hebron. Palestinian medical sources told Ma‘an that a Palestinian Red Crescent ambulance evacuated Ibrahim Hasan Mahmoud al-Hireini, 6, to a hospital in Hebron for treatment. Locals said the boy was trying to cross the Israeli bypass road to his home when he was hit. The driver reportedly did not flee the scene, although Israeli police were not immediately available for comment.
Hebron: Military jeep runs over Palestinian boy on motorbike
IMEMC/Agencies 31 Mar — A Palestinian minor, on Wednesday, sustained fractures and injuries after an Israeli military jeep ran him over near an area of Yatta town, in the southern West Bank district of Hebron, according to a local activist. Coordinator of the popular committees against the wall and settlements in southern Hebron, Rateb al-Jabour, informed WAFA that 14-year-old No’man Basal, who was riding a motorbike at the time of the incident, was run over by a military jeep as he attempted to cross a public road in the area. The minor sustained injuries and a fracture in his leg, which necessitated his transfer to hospital for medical treatment.
How DNA tests proved Palestinian’s innocence of false knife claim
HEBRON, Occupied Territories (MEE) 29 Mar by Claire Thomas — On 27 November 2015, Ahmad Azza, a 16-year-old Palestinian human rights activist, was arrested by Israeli police on charges of possessing a knife in public and fleeing from soldiers when asked to stop. But according to Azza, he was not in the area where soldiers claimed they had seen him when the knife was allegedly found. After seven days in prison, he was released on 3 December 2015, after a DNA test exonerated Azza and proved that the charges were false. He had to remain in prison until the official results were made available, but the only DNA found on the knife belonged to an Israeli soldier. Azza is a young activist from the Tel Rumeida neighbourhood, currently a closed military zone in Hebron. He is a member of the local organisation Youth Against Settlements (YAS). The organisation’s website states they are a non-violent direct action group seeking to end the building and expanding of illegal Israeli settlements through non-violent popular struggle and civil resistance. Ahmad’s recent arrest highlights the way many young Palestinian human rights activists have been targeted and arrested on false charges since the recent wave of violence that began in October 2015. Ahmad spoke to Middle East Eye about his arrest, his treatment in jail and the work of his lawyer Gaby Lasky, together with YAS coordinator Issa Amro, in securing his release: (Continued – long and very informative article)
Israeli police detain minor for raising Palestinian flag at Aqsa
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 30 Mar — Israeli police detained a Palestinian minor for raising the Palestinian flag over the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound on Wednesday, while right-wing Israelis under police escort toured the holy site. Witnesses told Ma‘an that Israeli police responded after the youth raised the flag over the mosque compound in occupied East Jerusalem’s Old City, in what may have been intended as an act to mark the 40th Land Day. Witnesses said the boy was assaulted before he was taken away.Israeli police spokesperson Micky Rosenfeld confirmed the arrest had taken place, saying the minor had been “removed from the scene and was being questioned.” Meanwhile, witnesses told Ma‘an that police escorted around 30 right-wing Israelis through the mosque compound, entering via the Moroccan Gate.
Israeli forces detain 19 Palestinians in overnight raids
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 30 Mar — Israeli forces detained at least 19 Palestinians in predawn raids across the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem on Wednesday, Palestinian and Israeli sources said. In the Nablus district, Palestinian security sources said Israeli troops raided the town of Huwwara and detained five teenagers, identified as Yazan Tariq, Mahmoud Faris, Yahya Ismail, Yousif Saod, and Mahmoud Saod. In the Jenin district, Israeli forces stormed Jenin refugee camp and ransacked several homes before detaining three young men, identified by locals as Mustafa al-Tubasi, Issam Abu Jabal, and Tawfiq al-Shalabi. Meanwhile, in the Bethlehem district in the southern West Bank, Israeli forces detained Muhannad Hajahja and Ahmad Khalid al-Umour, 17, in the village of Tuqu‘, and Hussein Abu Aker in ‘Aida refugee camp. Israeli army raids were also reported in the Hebron district, with Abd al-Rahman Hmeidat detained from his home in Bani Naim and Ayman Yousif al-Tal from al-Dhahiriyya. Locals also reported night raids in al-Bireh and Silwad in Ramallah district, although no detentions were initially reported there. An Israeli army spokesperson confirmed at least 11 arrests in the occupied West Bank, of whom she said six were alleged “Hamas operatives,” detained in Nablus, ‘Aida refugee camp, Beit Jala, Bethlehem, Bani Naim, and al-Dhaihiriyya. She said the another Palestinian was detained in the village of Husan, two in Tuqu, one in Bani Naim, and one in Fuwwar refugee camp Separately, two Palestinians were detained by Israeli police from al-Tur neighborhood in occupied East Jerusalem, identified by locals as Yousif Abu al-Hawa and Amir Abu Jumaa.
According to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, Israeli forces carried out an average of 88 search and arrest raids every week last year. srael is now holding 7,000 Palestinians in its jails, including around 450 children, according to prisoners’ rights organization Addameer.
Israeli forces detain 22 Palestinians across the West Bank
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 31 Mar — Israeli forces detained at least 22 Palestinians in overnight raids Wednesday in the occupied West Bank, Israeli and Palestinian sources said. The Palestinian Prisoner’s Society said in a statement that Israeli troops detained three brothers, identified as Iyad, Jihad, and Muhammad Fakhri Barhoum from the city of Ramallah, as well as brothers Hisham and Sami Khamis Abu Lafah from the al-Amaari refugee camp near Ramallah. The statement added that six Palestinians were detained in the Jenin district, identified as Taher Jawad Badarneh, 22, Muhammad Jamal Umour, 22, Hussein Ali Rabayaah, 25, Noor Muhammad Hamarsheh, and brothers Firas, 20, and Hussein Hamzeh Hirzallah, 23. Local sources told Ma‘an that all six were detained in the village of Ya‘bad. The Palestinian Prisoner’s Society also identified two Palestinians detained in the Nablus district as Saleem Muhammad Hirzallah, from the al-Ain refugee camp, and Abdullah Muhammad Hajj Muhammad from the town of Talfit. (Continued)
The killing of Abed al Fatah a-Sharif
Israeli court: Killing of Palestinian ‘inconclusive’
Al Jazeera 30 Mar — An Israeli military court says evidence is “inconclusive” against one of its soldiers who was caught on camera shooting dead a wounded Palestinian. Lieutenant Colonel Ronen Shor, the judge, said on Tuesday there was “reasonable doubt” about the circumstances of the shooting “given the complexity of the events” surrounding a stabbing incident and the killing that followed. Shor also ruled that the soldier would be held in custody for two more days. Prosecutors earlier said the shooting was “intentional” and asked the court to extend the soldier’s detention until April 7 while the investigation was ongoing. But the judge said he can be held only until Thursday.
UN outrage over Israeli army execution of Palestinian
Al Jazeera 30 Mar — The United Nations expressed outrage on Wednesday over the killing of a Palestinian by an Israeli soldier who was caught on camera, saying the evidence signaled a clear case of an extrajudicial execution. Anger grew in the occupied West Bank on Tuesday after Israel’s military court called the video evidence against the soldier “inconclusive”, with activists demanding that Israel holds its army accountable for the killing of Abed al-Fattah Yusri al-Sharif, 21, earlier this month. A video of the incident showed the soldier step forward and shoot the Palestinian in the head at close range as he lay motionless on the ground. Fattah and another man, who was earlier shot and killed, were accused of stabbing an Israeli soldier in Hebron. “There does not appear to be any provocation on the side of the gravely wounded man,” said Christof Heyns, the UN’s special rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions. “The images shown carry all the signs of a clear case of an extrajudicial execution,” Heyns said in a statement. “Whatever legal regime one applies to the case, shooting someone who is no longer a threat is murder. It is furthermore troublesome that this was done to no apparent alarm to the other soldiers who were nearby.” Also on Wednesday, Rupert Colville, spokesman for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, expressed his concerns “about the apparent extrajudicial execution” of Fattah. Colville added there were worries the “killing may not be a lone incident”. “We urge the Israeli authorities to ensure all members of their security forces fully comply with their obligation to use force with restraint, only when strictly necessary, and in accordance with the principle of proportionality, and are constantly reminded that killing people who are no longer presenting an immediate threat is a crime, and will be treated as such,” Colville said.
IDF reviews protocol with combat soldiers
Ynet 29 Mar by Yoav Zitun, Amir Alon — West Bank commanders have emphasized IDF protocol obligating soldiers to maintain a 25 meter radius from “potential threats”, such as a terrorist lying on the ground and is suspected of carrying an explosive device. This comes in the wake of the shooting incident in which a Kfir Brigade soldier opened fire on a neutralized terrorist in Hebron. During the past week, West Bank commanders have had conversations with soldiers following the disputed incident at a checkpoint in the Tel Rumeida neighborhood of Hebron. The commanders explained to soldiers that what the arrested solider did constitutes a legal and moral failure and a violation of protocol, which could have put his fellow soldiers at risk. According to military protocol, when there is a fear of a terrorist wearing an explosive belt, forces nearby are obligated to maintain a 25 meter distance and warn others nearby because firing at the terrorist could detonate the explosive and severely injure nearby soldiers. In combat medic courses, which the arrested soldier took, instructors teach that a bullet entering one’s body can exit elsewhere, potentially detonating an explosive. Moreover, such a concern is still relevant even the soldier shoots the terrorist in the head.
Chief of Staff: We will prosecute those who defy IDF’s values
Ynet 30 Mar by Yoav Zeitun — In the wake of last Thursday’s shooting incident in the Tel Rumeida neighborhood of Hebron, IDF Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkot sent a letter to soldiers Wednesday morning stating, “We will not waver in prosecuting soldiers and commanders, who defy the IDF’s operational and moral standards.” At the beginning of the letter, Eisenkot said, “In recent months, we have dealt with terror attacks against Israeli citizens, which seek to undermine the strength of the state. The IDF aims to maintain the safety of Israeli citizens and residents on the battlefield and the home front. The IDF indeed works with vigor and dedication and operates in all arenas freely, employing all means necessary. In my field tours, I am proud to see you making progress and preparing to sacrifice yourselves to protect the homeland.” T he Chief of Staff cited the words of David Ben Gurion, according to which ” The fate of Israel depends on two factors: her strength and her rectitude.” He wrote that the IDF has always sanctified the values of human dignity and the purity of arms, values based on Jewish heritage. Every action must be performed professionally, using measured force so that the mission is accomplished in accordance with the IDF’s values. Eisenkot stressed that he and the officers will continue to back every soldier who errs in the heat of battle. However, they will must not deviate from the IDF’s ethical code.
Opinion: Terror, lies and videotape in Hebron / Alison Kaplan Sommer
Haaretz 28 Mar — Netanyahu and military leaders quickly condemned the shooting of a subdued Palestinian terrorist by an Israeli soldier. They shouldn’t have been surprised that the frightened public came to his defense — At first, the video of an IDF soldier in Hebron shooting an already-subdued Palestinian terrorist seemed to tell a simple story of a soldier gone rogue. Whether he did so out of ideology, confusion or exhaustion, we don’t know . . .If a picture is worth a thousand words, presumably a video should be worth millions more. But in the case of this video, released by the Israeli human rights organization B’Tselem last week, pictures didn’t replace words as much as generate them in endless debates and discussions over the weekend . . . Instead of stoking outrage, the more the video is shown, the stronger the defense of the soldier seems to grow, with thousands signing online petitions and forming Facebook groups in support. On Monday, demonstrations demanding his release and calling him a “hero” were organized. While the authorities and the media are withholding his identity, his supporters are trumpeting his name across social media and on signs at their rallies. In their eyes, he has nothing to be ashamed of. Those appalled by this response should remember that this boomerang effect isn’t unprecedented, even in the most politically correct of democracies. In 1969, during the Vietnam War, the American public was rocked when shown bloody photographs of the My Lai massacre, displaying hundreds of slaughtered civilians – men, women and children – strewn across a Vietnamese village, killed under orders of the U.S. military. Yet, when all was said and done, after 14 officers were charged in relation to the slaughter, just one was convicted – William Calley. Calley became a cause célèbre in middle America, garnering political and public support. Five state legislatures passed bills demanding clemency, and thousands of telegrams were sent to the White House asking that he be pardoned. Even those who didn’t approve of the actions in My Lai saw him as a scapegoat for the incompetence of the military – a parallel to what is happening in reaction to the Hebron video . . . Now, recent events in Israel prove again that even clear photographic evidence won’t sway a significant portion of a frightened public who insist on believing that their soldiers can be nothing other than heroes standing between them and the dangerous forces that threaten them. They will deeply identify with – and fiercely defend – the man in the uniform, no matter what his behavior may be, and no matter how ugly it looks on film.
Opinion: Never have so many cheered such a vile murderer / Gideon Levy
Haaretz 31 Mar — It’s doubtful there’s another Western society whose racism is accompanied by such bloodlust — The rabble demonstrating and writing in support of the soldier-executioner in Hebron sees him as a hero. Not just a victim, like the convicted murderer Roman Zadorov, for example, but a hero. E.A. — his full name remains under a gag order — is a folk hero because he murdered a dying Palestinian. Because, not despite. This must be stated clearly. Perhaps for the first time in the history of the state, an abhorrent murder whose only obvious justification seems to be a hatred of Arabs and contempt for their lives, has become a heroic act. A murder that required no courage, a cowardly act of the highest order, has become heroic in the eyes of the masses, simply because it ended with a dead Palestinian bleeding on the road to the sound of their rejoicing. Never have so many cheered such a vile murderer. In the history of the Israel Defense Forces there have been quite a few obscene acts disguised as heroism . . . but never was an obscure murderer lauded as a hero. Israeli racism has reached a new peak. The murder in Tel Rumeida and the ensuing response are no less than seminal events. Israeli racism had previously been based on the arrogance of the Chosen People, to which everything is permitted, which is the very best and knows better than anyone else; on manipulating the perception of endless victimhood and persecution; on demonizing the Arabs, who only want to destroy us; on dehumanizing them, as if their lives are worth nothing; on incitement, denial, repression and lies and on Israel’s formidable military might. On these foundations we built a racist society, probably the most racist in the world today. Now all this has been taken up a notch, or perhaps down. To all the above we can now openly add bloodlust — unadulterated, uninhibited and undisguised. (Continued)
Opinion: Policy of contempt for Palestinian lives / Amira Hass
Haaretz 31 Mar — The cumulative results of the establishment’s actions against the Palestinians are more destructive and lethal than all the acts of the individuals — As opposed to the IDF, the Beit Shemesh municipality refuses to cast E., the soldier from Hebron, out from society. It published his full name and picture under the title of “Hero of Israel” in a statement of support. Whenever the IDF is caught with its pants down, it turns its soldier into a loner, whether he will be put on trial or forgiven. This is a process of separating the individual from the collective and disconnecting from the facts, in which the soldier is the reflection of his army, and the army is the reflection of its government. E. and the rest of the soldiers, police officers and security guards who executed young women and men when it was possible to take them alive, were sent to carry out missions and they only followed orders: To guarantee the heart of Hebron remains empty of Palestinians. Let the settlements expand. Make the Palestinians behave well. And if something goes wrong (and is filmed), the brain forgets about the finger on the trigger. Low-ranking E. was exposed to a field court-martial, while the high-ranking Binyamin Brigade commander Yisrael Shomer, who shot a young Palestinian suspected of throwing rocks in the back, and in doing so executed him without trial, is exempt .A soldier who shot and killed a woman and her daughter in Gaza during Operation Cast Lead was put on trial, but the brigade commander who ordered to bombard a house, and in doing so, killed and injured dozens of members of the Samuni family, is absolved of any blame . . . In comparison, the Palestinian is automatically considered to be dangerous as an individual, because he is part of a threatening collective. That is why it is justified to kill, murder, eliminate and neutralize him. (Continued)
Palestinians ask UN to investigate Israel killings
JERUSALEM (AP) 28 Mar — The Palestinian government asked the United Nations on Monday to launch an investigation into alleged extrajudicial killings by Israel following the deadly shooting last week by an Israeli soldier of a wounded Palestinian assailant as he lay on the ground. The Israeli military has detained the soldier while it investigates the shooting, captured on video by a Palestinian activist. Palestinian official Saeb Erekat said that past Israeli investigations have failed to “serve justice,” claiming instead that Israel has been “rewarded with impunity.” The shooting came amid a six-month wave of Palestinian attacks that have killed 28 Israelis and two Americans. Over the same time, at least 188 Palestinians have died by Israeli fire. Israel says most of those were attackers while the rest died in clashes with Israeli forces. The Palestinians say the killings amount to extrajudicial slayings.
Hebron settlers file complaint against Palestinian who filmed execution
Mondoweiss 27 Mar by Dan Cohen — Itamar Ben-Gvir and Bentzi Gopstein, far-right settlers and followers of the late Rabbi Meir Kahane, have filed a complaint with Israeli police against Emad Abu Shamsiya, the Palestinian videographer who captured the execution of an incapacitated Palestinian suspect in Hebron. Ben-Gvir is a lawyer who defends Jews suspected of vigilante attacks including the killers of the Dawabshe family. Gopstein is founder of the state-funded anti-miscegenation movement Lehava, and has called for churches to be burned. In their letter to the police, they claim that Abu Shamsiya’s presence during the killing is no coincidence, but was coordinated with the alleged attack in order to capture damning video. They write: “In our opinion the accumulation of cases and their number raises questions and it would be quite naive to think that we might be talking about a coincidence. It deserves to be checked and examined, is there coordination, between certain elements of those who carry out offenses and those who are present on the spot exactly at the same time? Under these circumstances, we ask you to order an opening of an investigation against Abu Shamsiya, and make a clarification also about the actions of B’Tselem.” Ben Gvir and Gopstein allege the attackers and Abu Shamsiya somehow foresaw the execution and plotted accordingly. This would be laughable if it didn’t have serious implications. Abu Shamsiya has already received death threats from settlers. (Continued)
Army raids home of man who filmed Hebron execution
IMEMC/Agencies 31 Mar — Israeli forces, on Tuesday night, broke into the home of the videographer who filmed an Israeli soldier executing a wounded Palestinian in cold blood, in Tel Rumeida, central Hebron, last week. The videographer, activist Imad Abu Shamsiyya, said that soldiers broke into his home in Tel Rumeida, and inspected the cards of the local and international activists who were staying in the house, as well. The activists gathered there after Israeli settlers directed death threats against Imad, as they published his photos with “Most Wanted” written on them, in addition to killing threats.
And they need it
An oasis of peace for Palestinian children in Hebron
[with photos] Al Jazeera 25 Mar by Claire Thomas — In the heart of the old city of Hebron – amid checkpoints, razor-wire fences, military watchtowers and Israeli soldiers – al-Ibrahimiya kindergarten, run by 53-year-old Zleikha Muhtaseb, provides a safe haven for Palestinian children. “I decided to create this space for them just to be kids, because outside the kindergarten, they are not treated very well,” Muhtaseb, who grew up in Hebron, told Al Jazeera. Hebron is the largest city in the occupied West Bank and is divided into two sectors, H1 and H2, controlled respectively by the Palestinian Authority and the Israeli military. The kindergarten is located in H2, an area with a heavy military presence. The private kindergarten, created and maintained by Muhtaseb in a building adjoining her home, is supervised by local education officials, and Muhtaseb ultimately hopes to expand it to serve more Palestinian children. “When they see the soldiers patrolling the streets, this affects them … When they see the checkpoints, the fence, everything, of course this makes them think that we are surrounded from everywhere,” Muhtaseb said, noting the kindergarten offers the children a safe space to talk about their frustrations and their experiences with soldiers. She says her goal is to encourage children to resist the occupation in a peaceful way. “My main goal is to use education to change the society,” she said. “I always believe that education is the main tool to secure lasting change. If you educate the children and educate the mothers, then you educate the whole society.”
Israeli forces demolish walls in home of Palestinian killed after stab attack
HEBRON (Ma‘an) 31 Mar — Israeli forces demolished late on Wednesday night part of the home of a Palestinian who was killed after stabbing an Israeli settler in December. Locals said that Israeli forces closed all the entrances of the Jabal al-Sharif area in the southern occupied West Bank city of Hebron, and deployed heavily around the home of Ihab Fathi Maswada, as well as the house of Abd al-Rahman Yusri Maswada. Ihab Maswada was killed on Dec. 7 after carrying out a stabbing attack against a settler near the Abu al-Rish checkpoint in southern Hebron. The Israeli settler succumbed to his wounds weeks later. Maswada’s cousin, Abd al-Rahman, was killed on site on Dec. 9 after stabbing two Israelis on al-Shuhada Street. Ihab Maswada’s brother said Israeli soldiers only gave the family ten minutes to evacuate the house, forcing them to go on the house’s second floor while they demolished the internal walls of the home. Maswada’s mother said that Israeli soldiers then “fired a stun grenade inside the house and left the house laughing.” Israeli authorities first issued a demolition order for Maswada’s home in early February, but had already threatened to destroy the house days after his death. His father said the demolition order was issued three days ago and that soldiers told them the demolition would be carried out in a week. “We were surprised when they showed up after midnight,” he said.
Israeli military shuts investigation into fatal 2014 shooting of Palestinian teen
Haaretz 30 Mar by Gili Cohen — A border policeman has been indicted for shooting live ammunition that killed another protester at the same site, but the IDF has found no evidence of any of its troops firing live bullets — Israeli military prosecutors have shut an investigation into the death of a Palestinian teenager killed during Nakba Day protests at the West Bank town of Beituniya two years ago. Mohammed Abu Taher, 16, was one of two teenagers killed at the May 2014 protest. The Israel Defense Forces has notified human rights groups that a few days ago that Chief Army Prosecutor Brig. Gen. Sharon Afek has decided to shut the investigation into Abu Taher’s death. The prosecutors said no evidence has been found that the 16-year-old died as a result of IDF gunfire.
Months after the protest, a border policeman was charged for the fatal shooting of the other teen, Nadim Nawara, 17. The indictment says the policeman had an M-16 with a special attachment to fire rubber bullets, but that he swapped those bullets for regular ammunition. After Nawara thew a stone at the forces he shot him in the chest, causing his death, the charge sheet says. Dozens of Palestinian protesters threw stones at police and IDF forces on the scene. The IDF said afterwards that soldiers did not fire any live ammunition, but Palestinian witnesses said the troops did use regular bullets. Investigations were launched after security camera footage showed that both Abu Taher and Nawara were at a great distance from the forces so it made no sense for a rubber bullet to have had such lethal results. An autopsy showed that Nawara was shot by live ammunition. Abu Taher’s family refused an autopsy.
Father denies ‘rumors’ that Israel closed investigation into son’s death
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 30 Mar — The father of a 17-year-old Palestinian believed to have been shot dead by an Israeli soldier during a demonstration in 2014 denied on Saturday Israeli media reports that a military investigation into his son’s death had been shut. Siyam Nuwwara told Ma‘an that he met with an Israeli public prosecutor last week who said a court session was scheduled to take place on April 11. Nuwara said the media reports were “false rumors.”
Multiple Israeli media outlets reported Saturday evening that the case regarding Nadim Nuwara’s death had been closed due to a decision by the prosecution that there was not enough evidence from the incident to open an investigation. Israeli daily Haaretz reported that the Israeli army notified human rights groups that Chief Army Prosecutor Brig. Gen. Sharon Afek “decided to shut the investigation” a few days prior on the basis that “no evidence” was found that the teen was killed by gunfire. [But Haaretz was speaking of the investigation into the death of Mohammed Abu Taher, not Nadim Numara; there seems to be confusion here]
Case closed against policeman suspected of killing Bedouin youth in 2015
Haaretz 31 Mar by Almog Ben Zikri — The Justice Ministry has shut an investigation into a police officer who shot and killed Sami al-Ja‘ar, a 20-year-old from the Bedouin city of Rahat, during a raid against drug dealers in January 2015. The decision was taken despite the victim’s father having been told in December that a decision would wait until the family submitted an explanation as to why the case ought not to be closed. Al-Ja‘ar’s father, Khaled, said he had found out late about the probe being shut before they could respond, and is concerned it may now be difficult to persuade the authorities to prosecute the officer who shot his son. Al-Ja‘ar’s killing led to violent protests. A mourner was shot to death at the young man’s funeral. Arab towns held a daylong solidarity strike. Al-Ja‘ar had been fatally shot during a roundup of suspected drug dealers in Rahat. Police have named Ja‘ar as one of the suspects they were after for alleged trafficking in weapons and narcotics. Rahat residents threw stones at the police in demand that they release the suspects they had arrested, and officers opened fire in response to dispel the crowd. Three police officers were also injured in that incident. A month later, five officers were questioned and following a covert investigation an officer was arrested on suspicion of opening fire against the rules of engagement. The officer was said to have admitted to shooting at Al-Ja‘ar. A statement released by an investigations unit said the officer changed his account of the incident several times and gave false testimony. The officer was taken off active duty and given an administrative job pending a conclusion of the case.
Gaza infant dies, reportedly as result of cold weather
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 29 Mar — An infant died in the southern Gaza Strip city of Khan Yunis, reportedly as a result of cold weather that swept the area over the past few days, Gaza’s Ministry of Health said. Ministry spokesman Ashraf al-Qidra identified the infant as two-and-a-half-year-old Hamada Khalid Dardisi from al-Zanna neighborhood. Al-Qidra confirmed that the infant died as a result of extreme cold, adding that his twin sister was in critical condition due to the lack of “adequate heating” in the mobile home their family was forced to live in after their house was destroyed in the last Israeli military offensive
Islamic Jihad fighter dies of wounds sustained in 2006
GAZA (Ma‘an) 28 Mar jss– A field commander in the al-Quds Brigades, the military wing of the Islamic Jihad movement, died on Monday of wounds he sustained in an Israeli attack on the Gaza Strip in 2006. In a statement, Islamic Jihad identified the man as Muhammad Abed, 47, from Jabaliya refugee camp.No further details were provided on the nature of his injury or how they were sustained. The beleaguered Gaza Strip saw heavy fighting with Israel in 2006, particularly after Hamas won national Palestinian elections. Hamas later fought its way to power in the coastal enclave, resulting in an Israeli military blockade that has been in place since.
B’Tselem: Israel killed 2 children in bed due to refusal to change policy
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 30 Mar — Israeli rights group B’Tselem on Wednesday placed blame for the deaths of two Palestinian children killed in the Gaza Strip earlier this month wholly on the shoulders of Israeli decision makers who failed to make policy changes after countless similar cases. “Despite repeated civilian fatalities and casualties, Israel refuses to change its policy and continues to adopt a distorted and far-reaching interpretation of the provisions of international humanitarian law in order to justify its position,” B’Tselem said in a statement .“This policy is unlawful and immoral,” the group added. B’Tselem released the report after meeting with Salman Abu Khussa, the father of six-year-old Israa and her 9-year-old brother Yasin, who were both killed in an Israeli airstrike on March 12. Salman told B’Tselem: “At about 2:30 a.m.. I woke up and felt as if an earthquake was shaking the house. As soon as I opened my eyes I felt the dust, and then came debris and sand and I couldn’t see anything.“ I heard the children shouting in the next room. I ran over immediately and saw them lying in their beds, covered in blood,” Salman said. His six children sleeping in the room at the time were rushed to the hospital. “Yasin was in very bad shape, “ Salman continued. “After a few minutes he was pronounced dead of a serious head injury.” Israa died hours later from excessive bleeding in her brain. Israeli forces had launched retaliatory air strikes targeting a training camp belonging to Hamas’ military wing after a rocket was fired from the besieged enclave. No members of the military wing were injured in the attack. B’Tselem said the Israeli army spokesperson failed to mention that the attack also hit the Abu Khussa home — located around 50 meters from the military base — which was struck by a block of stone or concrete that went through their roof after flying from the force of the blast.
Gaza hit by blackouts in latest energy crisis
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 29 Mar — The Gaza Strip was left almost entirely without power Tuesday due to maintenance work on power lines from both Israel and Egypt and ongoing tax disputes on fuel for the enclave’s near-defunct power station. Muhammad Thabit, a spokesman for Gaza’s electricity company, said that starting at 6 a.m., all lines supplying power from Egypt as well as two lines from Israel were disconnected, cutting off residents of southern Gaza and Gaza City from electricity. Thabit said he was unaware how long the cuts were expected to last. Gaza’s sole power station meanwhile was operating at just half its capacity for the third consecutive day due to the shutdown of one of two turbines in the station, Thabit added. Thabit told Ma‘an the shutdown came after a dispute between Gaza’s electricity company and the West Bank-based Palestinian Authority Ministry of Finance over taxes on fuel used by the station. Thabit said that starting this year, the PA ministry had cut its subsidies for Gaza’s fuel costs by nearly 50 percent. While Gaza’s governing body Hamas is obligated to collect electricity bills from residents of the besieged enclave and send the funds to the PA, financial disputes have been ongoing since Hamas took over the Gaza Strip in 2007. While the PA criticizes Hamas for failing to foot the bill, Hamas says Gaza’s residents are unable to pay bills due to high rates of unemployment and the crippling siege imposed by Israel and upheld by Egypt, Thabit said.
Israeli forces detain Gaza patient at Erez crossing
GAZA (Ma‘an) 29 Mar — Israeli forces on Tuesday detained a Palestinian man at the Erez crossing as he was attempting to leave the blockaded Gaza Strip to receive medical treatment in the occupied West Bank, his family said. Relatives of Muhammad Kamel Rajab Abu Odeh, 34, said he had permission to travel to Ramallah to undergo surgery for his spinal stenosis. However, they said the Israeli authorities did not allow him through and took him into custody instead . . . Palestinians detained at Erez are often interrogated for several hours, sometimes for days, before they are either allowed into Israel en route to the West Bank or sent back to Gaza.
Union: Israel to expand fishing zone off parts of Gaza coast
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 30 Mar — Israeli authorities have reportedly decided to extend the allowed fishing zone by three additional nautical miles off some parts of the Gaza Strip coast starting in April. The head of the fishermen’s union in Gaza, Nizar Ayyash, told Ma‘an that Israel decided to expand the fishing zone to nine nautical miles off the coast, from Wadi Gaza in the central Gaza Strip to the Egyptian border in the south. The fishing zone would remain at six nautical miles off the coast north of Wadi Gaza, Ayyash said. An Israeli army spokesperson said they didn’t have any immediate information on the reported expansion.
Palestinian farmers, fishermen come under fire from Israeli forces
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 29 Mar — Israeli forces on Tuesday opened fire on Palestinian farmers and fishermen working in the beleaguered Gaza Strip, locals said. Witnesses told Ma‘an that Israeli soldiers stationed in watchtowers along the borderline in the southern Gaza Strip fired heavily towards Palestinian agricultural land, forcing farmers to leave the area. Israeli naval forces meanwhile opened fire at Palestinian fishing boats off the coast of the northern Gaza Strip. No casualties were reported in either incident. Locals added that a number of Israeli military vehicles crossed the border fence between Israel and the central Gaza Strip near al-Bureij refugee camp. Witnesses said Israeli helicopters hovered over the area during the incursion, adding that a large drilling excavator was seen in the area.
Israeli navy fires ‘shells’ at Gaza fishermen
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 30 Mar — Israeli naval forces fired shells at Palestinian fishermen off the coast of the northern Gaza Strip on Wednesday morning, locals said, with no injuries reported.Witnesses told Ma’an the shells landed near the shore, without providing any further details.
Israeli forces target Gaza farmers
IMEMC/Agencies 28 Mar — The Israeli army targeted with live fire, on Monday morning, Palestinian farmers east of Khan Younis city, in the southern Gaza Strip. Al Ray reports that, according to witnesses, Israeli occupation soldiers opened fire from the military towers east of Khan Younis, near the military site of Kissufim, and targeted Palestinian farmers and their lands. No injuries were reported.
Israeli white phosphorus bomb found in Gaza
[with photo] GAZA (PIC) 28 Mar — Palestinian police in Gaza were able on Sunday to deal safely with a white phosphorus bomb of the remnants of Israeli aggression on Gaza in 2008 – 2009. The general administration of explosives engineering of the police department in Gaza revealed that a Palestinian man found the bomb in his land in al-Nusairat refugee camp. Israeli forces used white phosphorus, which is internationally prohibited, in its aggression on Gaza in years 2008 and 2009. Over 1,440 Palestinians were killed and many thousands of others were injured as a result.
Child labour rises in Gaza amid soaring unemployment
GAZA (Reuters) 30 Mar by Nidal Al-Mughrabi — Child labour has risen sharply in Gaza, where youngsters toiling in garages and on construction sites have become breadwinners for families feeling the brunt of the Palestinian enclave’s 43 percent unemployment rate. In the past five years, the number of working children between the ages of 10 and 17 has doubled to 9,700 in the territory, according to the Palestinian Bureau of Statistics. The bureau said 2,900 of those children are below the legal employment age of 15. Economists in the narrow coastal strip, home to 1.9 million Palestinians, estimate the real number of underage workers could be twice as high. The increase in Gaza goes against trends. The International Labour Organization says the worldwide number of children in labour has fallen by a third since 2000, from 246 million to 168 million, with more than a fifth in sub-Saharan Africa. At one garage in downtown Gaza, 16-year-old Mahmoud Yazji and another boy, aged 12, work nine hours a day. Mahmoud said he earns the equivalent of $13 a week; the younger boy takes home half of that. (Continued)
International mediators said working on Hamas, Israel prisoner swap
Times of Israel 28 Mar by Dov Lieber — International mediators are interested in brokering a prisoner swap between Israel and Hamas, a source in the Gaza-based Islamist group reportedly said on Monday. A source in Hamas told the London-based daily Asharq al-Awsat that though there are currently no direct negotiations between Hamas and Israel, foreign parties are examining the possibility of completing a prisoner exchange. Hamas is thought to be holding two Israeli citizens, as well as the bodies of two Israeli soldiers killed in 2014. Israel and Hamas do not officially maintain direct contacts, and any deal would have to be mediated by international parties. In 2011, kidnapped Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit was released in exchange for 1,027 Palestinian detainees, in a deal brokered with the help of a German diplomat. Hamas has reportedly refused to even entertain the possibility of negotiating a swap until Israel releases all Palestinians rearrested after being freed in the 2011 deal for Shalit. The Islamist group is also demanding the talks be held separately from all other issues, according to the report. Hamas is believed to be holding 29-year-old Avraham Mengistu, as well as a Bedouin-Israeli citizen whose name was not released for publication. The two Israelis reportedly crossed into the Gaza Strip on their own accord. The remains of two soldiers killed in the 2014 Gaza war, Oron Shaul and Hadar Goldin, are also believed to be held by Hamas, which has not clarified their fate. (Continued)
Another home destroyed in Gaza
[with photos] GAZA STRIP 29 Mar by ISM, al-Khalil Team — During the latest wave of aggression by Israeli forces against the Gaza Strip, Gaza resident Mohamed Shorrab, 70 years old, lost his family home. It was shot at and destroyed by Israeli tank fire and artillery shells from the gun turrets located on the annexation wall that separate Gaza from the lands occupied by Israel in 1948. During this wave of aggression, Israeli bulldozers also destroyed his five hundred beehives along with most of his fruit plantations and olive trees. Previously Mohamed’s twenty-one sheep were killed, alongside all of Gaza’s livestock, during the 2014 massacre of Gaza by Israeli forces. In 2012, two of Mohamed’s sons were killed by the occupying army. They were killed whilst heading home during a cease-fire, when a soldier told them they couldn’t continue and had to go back to where they were coming from. Immediately upon turning back a tank fired at them. Ambulance services were not allowed to reach the two men until six hours later.
PA: Israel prohibits Gaza Strip gold imports, exports
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 29 Mar — The Israeli authorities on Tuesday decided to prohibit imports and exports of gold to and from the Gaza Strip, a Palestinian official said. Nathmi Muhanna, director of the Palestinian Authority’s borders and crossings department, told Ma‘an that Israeli authorities notified his department that the importation and exportation of gold was suspended in the besieged Gaza Strip. A spokesperson for the union of gold merchants in Gaza, Abu Bilal Atwah, told Ma‘an the ban would have a very negative impact on merchants and jewelry manufacturers in the beleaguered Palestinian coastal enclave. Both Atwah and Muhanna said that up until last month, the gold trade had been prohibited in Gaza by Hamas ever since the movement came to power in 2006, but about a month ago, that decision was reversed. Gold merchants and jewelry manufacturers had “pinned their hopes on the decision to allow gold imports and exports,” Atwah said, as they expected Hamas’ decision would open up job opportunities in the Gaza Strip after nearly nine years of a crippling Israeli siege. Atwah said Israel agreed a month ago to allow exports of gold bars from the Gaza Strip to the West Bank, and imports of manufactured gold jewelry from the West Bank. Neither Atwah nor Muhanna mentioned how the gold bars entered Gaza in the first place, but Palestinians in Gaza have relied on underground smuggling tunnels across the Egyptian border since 2007, when Israel imposed its military blockade, to bring in goods into the enclave.
Secondhand boom for Gaza traders with no alternative
AL-MAGHAZI REFUGEE CAMP (EI) 28 Mar by Isra Saleh el-Namey –Samer Abu Ziada’s secondhand clothes shop in al-Maghazi refugee camp in the central Gaza Strip attracts a lot of customers. And the shop’s stock of reasonable quality used clothes at affordable prices is proving ever more popular. People in the impoverished strip are increasingly turning to shops like Abu Ziada’s. It is a response, said the merchant, whose store has been open six years, to need. Most Palestinians in Gaza, he told The Electronic Intifada, can no longer afford luxuries — and new clothes are now a luxury. “A jacket might cost 25 Israeli shekels [$6.5] here, where it is 60 shekels in other shops,” said Abu Ziada, who receives fresh merchandise — everything from clothes to toys and electronics — weekly from his supplier, Raed al-Jid, who in turn imports from Israel via the commercial crossing at Kerem Shalom. “A secondhand shirt will not cost more than 5 shekels,” he said. Mother-of-nine Um Sameh (who did not give her full name) is a frequent visitor to Abu Ziada’s shop. The 42-year-old cannot afford new clothes for her children. (Continued)
Protesters gather at UNRWA offices in southern Gaza
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 28 Mar — Dozens of Palestinians gathered in front of the UNRWA offices in the southern Gazan city of Rafah on Monday to protest a perceived lack of support for refugees affected by Israel’s devastating 2014 offensive. The protesters demanded that the UN agency for Palestinian refugees speed up its support for the victims, many of whom were left homeless by the 50-day war. “We are here today to protest against UNRWA’s policy of delaying the promised compensation for the victims of Israel’s aggression in 2014,” said Muhammad al-Hasanat, a senior official in the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (DFLP). He condemned the UN agency’s “ongoing evasion of their responsibilities towards Palestinian refugees, who face dire conditions under the crippling Israeli siege, which has caused poverty and unemployment.” The official urged UNRWA to exert pressure on donor countries to deliver more financial support to the UN body.
Palestinians restore Maqam Al-Kader in Gaza Strip (19 images)
UPI 27 Mar — With financial backing from UNESCO and the Nawa Foundation, the Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities in the Gaza Strip has begun restoring the historic Maqam Al-Kader (“mosque” of al-Khidr) in the city of Deir al-Balah in the central Gaza Strip. The restoration project has been divided into two phases: maintenance of the walls, domes and ceilings of the mosque; and converting it to a cultural library for local children. Such domed structures were built for early Palestinians to pay tribute to patron saints (such as St. George, known by the Arabic name el Khader, who was a Roman soldier who became a Christian martyr) before more orthodox Islam took hold in the region.
New band brings live music to the Gaza Strip with updated traditional music
FSRN 28 Mar by RP — … The isolation has infused every aspect of life in the Gaza Strip, including its music scene. But a new band has started performing across the region, aiming to keep traditional Palestinian music alive. FSRN’s Rami Almeghari reports from Gaza. Inside Gaza City’s landmark Al-Mes-hal theater, 24-year-old Rewan Okasha rehearses a traditional rural Palestinian love song titled “I Wish You Were My Soulmate.” The folk song is one of many the band called Dawaween has updated with modern elements since it began performing about four months ago. Okasha says she’s been singing since she was three, but never in public until her performances with Dawaween. Preserving Palestinian musical traditions runs in her family. Her father is a famous Gaza musician and two of her brothers are well-known local singers. “Palestine can be happy and Palestine’s cultural heritage is filled with joy that could be shared with the outside world,” Okasha says. Ten musicians and two other singers, both male, make up the 13-member band, including 23-year-old Abdelraouf Albelbeisy. (Continued)
Palestinians commemorate 40th anniversary of Land Day
Mondoweiss 30 Mar by Sheren Khalel and Abed Al Qaisi — Palestinians across the occupied West Bank on Wednesday gathered to commemorate the 40th anniversary of “Land Day.” The first Land Day, on March 30, 1976, saw thousands of Palestinians take to the streets in protest of the confiscation of thousands of acres of Palestinian land in the northern Galilee region of Israel. During the protest, six demonstrators were shot dead and over 100 were wounded. Forty years later, Palestinians are still taking to the streets in protest of massive Israeli land grabs. Yousef Sharqawy, a well-known Palestinian activist, told Mondoweiss during a march in the West Bank city of Bethlehem that this year’s Land Day was very important due to Israel’s “bold” confiscation of land in the Jordan Valley.
Thousands of Israeli Arabs protest, strike on Land Day
Ynet 30 Mar by Hassan Shaalan, Liad Osmo — Arabs in Galilee and Negev as well as Palestinians in Gaza and West Bank demonstrate against home demolitions and land expropriation; many businesses, public institutions and medical center in Arab sector stay closed in protest — Israel’s Arab citizens went on a general strike on Wednesday to mark the 40th anniversary of Land Day. Businesses, public institutions, and medical centers in the Arab sector were closed Wednesday, while protests organized by the High Follow-Up Committee for Arab Citizens of Israel were held in the Galilee and the Negev in the afternoon. Thousands of people protested at the villages of Arraba and Sakhnin in the Western Galilee and the village of Umm al-Hiran in the Negev. Protesters called to continue the fight against home demolitions and land expropriation. They waved Palestinian flags and banners that said: “Give me land or give me death.” “We will keep fighting for our lands. The Israeli government and the police won’t deter us,” one of the protesters said. Protesters were also joined by Arab MKs and by the leader of the outlawed northern branch of the Islamic Movement, Raed Salah.
PCBS: ‘As Palestinians mark Land Day, Israeli illegally controls more than 85% of Palestine’
The following is a press release by the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistic (PCBS), marking the fortieth anniversary of the Palestinian Land Day – March 30, 2016 — Israeli Occupation Authorities laid hand over more than 85% of the total area of historical land of Palestine which totals about 27,000 km2. Arabs comprise 48% of the total population but utilize only 15% of the land. Israeli Occupation also set up a buffer zone along the border of the Gaza Strip extending over 1,500 m along the eastern border. Consequently, the zone usurps about 24% of the total area of the Gaza Strip (365 km²), which is one of the most densely populated area in the world with about 5,000 capita/km². Furthermore, Israeli Occupation maintains tight control over more than 90% of the area of the Jordan Valley, which constitutes 29% of the total area of the West Bank. Every year, the Palestinian people remember the confiscation of 21 thousand dunams of land in Al-Jalil (Galilee), Al-Mothallath and Al-Naqab (Negev) on 30 March 1976. On this day, the Israeli authorities expropriated the land and responded violently to the protestations, killing six young demonstrators.
Land, property theft & destruction / Ethnic cleansing / Settlements
Israeli Arabs warn gov’t: Razing Bedouin settlement is ‘declaration of war’
JPost 30 Mar by Ariel Ben Solomon — Zahalka emphasized that a stand had to be made in Umm al-Hiran since if it falls quietly, the government would move on to destroy other villages — Thousands of Arabs protested across the country on Wednesday to mark the 40th annual Land Day with a major event held in the Negev where community leaders threatened resistance to government plans to destroy an unrecognized Bedouin village. The two main events were held in the unrecognized illegal Beduin settlement of Umm al-Hiran in the Negev and in the northern town of Arrabe. Smaller demonstrations took place in the northern localities of Sakhnin, Deir Hanna, and Kafr Kana. The first test could come if the government moves to implement the Supreme Court approval of the demolition of Umm al-Hiran and the eviction of its residents in order to build a Jewish town called Hiran. “Destroying Umm al-Hiran would be a declaration of war against Arabs of the Negev,” Joint List MK Ahmad Tibi told The Jerusalem Post at the event in the Bedouin village.
The tragic resilience of Israel’s unrecognized Arab villages
[with photos] +972 Mag 30 Mar by Amjad Iraqi — Palestinian citizens of Israel led the first ‘Land Day’ protests on March 30th, 1976. 40 years later, they’re facing even worse threats than before. +972 visits three unrecognized villages across Israel where Israeli courts have approved evictions in order to build luxury apartments, roads, and new Jewish towns on the ruins of their homes — Abu Saleh, a 73-year-old farmer, speaks with a raspy but strong voice as he points to his crops. “Everything you see around you is food grown from my own land. These carrots, this zucchini, these olives…they are all part of my survival.” He lifts his head, his voice starting to shake with anger. “Now they want to tear down my home and remove me from my livelihood. They want to rip my heart from my land – just to put the heart of someone else.” Abu Saleh is a resident of Ramiya, an Arab community of 50 families nestled within the Jewish city of Karmiel in northern Israel. The vast majority of visitors to Karmiel will never know that Ramiya exists at all: it is hidden behind a wall of clustered bushes, making it easily mistakable for forestation that was waiting to be cleared. From the main road, the only sign of the village’s existence is a wooden shack with a banner reading “Remaining in Ramiya” in Arabic and Hebrew next to an image of the Palestinian cartoon Handala stopping a bulldozer in its tracks.
Pictures: The occupation forces demolish a playground and a room and sweep agricultural land in Silwan
SILWAN (Silwanic) 29 Mar — The occupation municipality’s bulldozers demolished on Tuesday morning a private playground, a room and several walls in the neighborhood of Abbasyeh in Silwan. Wadi Hilweh Information Center was informed that joint crews of occupation municipality, Nature and Parks authority and Special Forces raided the neighborhood of Abbasyeh in Silwan and surrounded a land owned by Khaled Al-Zeer which was turned into a playground few months ago by placing toys for children such as a swing, a slide and other toys. Khaled Al-Zeer explained that the forces raided the playground without prior notice and damaged the toys and swept the land. They also demolished the walls of a 12-square-meter room used for livestock and as storage area for the family. Al-Zeer added that the bulldozers deliberately damaged and swept the land, removed and cut the trees.
Soldiers demolish a home, farm, electricity and water networks and uproot trees, in Bethlehem
IMEMC/Agencies 28 Mar — Israeli soldiers invaded, on Monday at dawn, an area north of the West Bank city of Bethlehem, demolished a home, a playground, electricity and water networks, in addition to uprooting farmlands, belonging to a Palestinian family. The demolished properties belong to a Palestinian identified as Khader Nimir al-Jarashi, after the Israeli army claimed they were built without permits. Khader said more than 50 Israeli military vehicles and four armored bulldozers invaded the area and demolished his home, in addition to its surrounding walls, located close to military roadblock #300. He added that the soldiers also demolished his bird farm, and a playground used for tennis and basketball, in addition to bulldozing his farmland, and uprooted many trees. The soldiers also destroyed electricity and water networks providing his properties and nearby areas with the needed power and water. The invaded area and demolished properties are close to a main road used by Israeli colonizers in the occupied West Bank, and the army.
Knesset panel discusses Bedouin villages without power
JPost 29 Mar by Ariel Ben Solomon — Bedouin Development Authority head blames lack of electricity on delays in regulating settlements — Yesh Atid MK Karin Elharar said at a State Control Committee meeting on Monday that 10 of 11 Beduin villages recognized by the state in the Negev do not have electricity. “The government is aware of the problem, but decides not to act. It is necessary to secure… proper infrastructure for all residents of the area,” she said. The State Control Committee discussed the situation of the Beduin in the Negev, and in two months State Comptroller Joseph Shapira is due to issue a report on the issue.
Fellow Yesh Atid MK Meir Cohen said “Today the Negev is a no man’s land” with 250,000 people living in poor conditions, adding, “There has developed a state within a state.” “If you want to bring law and order to the Negev, it must be realized that the Bedouin are not going to disappear and are loyal citizens,” he said. While not opposed to evacuating illegal settlements, the Yesh Atid MK argued in favor of affirmative action to help those Bedouin villages the government deems legal.
Bills granting tax breaks to Israeli settlers pass first Knesset readings
Haaretz 29 Mar by Jonathan Lis — Two bills that would grant economic benefits to settlement residents passed their first readings in the Knesset Tuesday morning. The first would introduce a new tax payment mechanism for purchasers of homes in settlements, enabling them to avoid dual payment to the Civil Administration and the Income Tax Authority. The second bill enables settlers to obtain the same tax breaks given within the Green Line for profits earned in the territories. The first bill is meant to ease the bureaucracy currently involved in home purchases in settlements and prevent settlers from paying a double tax to the state and to the Civil Administration. Currently, Israeli citizens who wish to purchase assets over the Green Line must pay a mandatory fee to the Civil Administration as well as a purchase tax to the state . . . During the Knesset session, Meretz MK Esawi Freige criticized the decision. “The purpose of the bill is to make it easier for purchasers of land in the West Bank and Gaza. To put it bluntly, this is creeping annexation and they’re all collaborating with this annexation, each in his own way.”
US states, academies crack down on BDS
AIC 29 Mar — On March 18th the Illinois Investment Policy Board blacklisted 11 companies from doing business with the state for allegedly boycotting Israel. The Illinois legislation behind this move, SB 1761, was passed in 2015. It made Illinois the first state in the country to punish companies for boycotting Israeli trade. Now, Illinois is the first state to actually form a list of companies barred from working with the state’s government due to their alleged boycott of Israel. As the list of the blacklisted companies illustrate, the law even applies to companies who have ceased to conduct business with Israeli companies in the West Bank, but continue to work with Israeli companies within Israel’s 1948 borders. Companies blacklisted by Illinois include G4S, a security giant that recently announced it would sell its Israeli subsidiaries for financial concerns; Karsten Farms, a South African company that stopped working with an Israeli settlement company in 2013, and British retail chain, the Cooperative Group, that stopped trading with companies in Israeli settlements. Colorado and Florida joined in on passing anti-BDS legislation this month. The states both approved legislation similar to Illinois to block companies thought to be boycotting Israeli trade from doing business with their governments. On Wednesday, the Virginia House of Delegates decisively passed a resolution condemning the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement. The resolution passed with 85 in favor, 5 against, and nine abstentions. The Virginia resolution states that the BDS movement “is inherently antithetical and deeply damaging to the causes of peace, justice, equality, democracy, and human rights for all peoples in the Middle East.” It affirms the commitment of members of Virginia to support Israel and oppose “all attempts to economically and politically isolate Israel within the international arena, including promotion of economic, cultural, and academic boycotts, and all efforts to assault the legitimacy of the State of Israel as the sovereign homeland of the Jewish people.” Palestine Legal has identified 21 states in the United States with legislation to punish or suppress the BDS movement. (Continued)
‘We don’t want to find ourselves in a position like apartheid South Africa’: A report from Israel’s first national conference against BDS
Mondoweiss 29 Mar by Antony Loewenstein — One of Israel’s biggest newspapers staged the country’s first national conference against the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement this week in Jerusalem. Yedioth Ahronoth and its website Ynet organized a day-long event that featured the majority of leading Israeli politicians and many cultural figures. Fear, paranoia, anger and determination was ubiquitous amongst the panelists and audience. BDS could never have imagined a more high-profile advertisement for its agenda. Co-sponsored by Sodastream, World Jewish Congress, Bank Hapoalim and StandWithUs, who are organizing their own anti-BDS event in Los Angeles in April, the aim of the day was to counter the worldwide growth of BDS. The organizers stated that, “without knives or missiles but with an explosive payload consisting of outrageous lies – genocide, apartheid and crimes against humanity – the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement is conquering a growing number of strongholds in Europe, the United States and elsewhere. From the campuses of California to the supermarkets of Paris, the academic, economic and cultural boycott is becoming a palpable threat to the international status of the State of Israel.” Held in the Jerusalem Convention Center, hundreds of young and old participants from across the globe were treated to a collection of images in the foyer mocking the intentions of BDS supporters. (Continued)
Palestinian refugees – Lebanon, Syria
2 Palestinians killed amid rising tensions in Lebanon camp
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 28 Mar — Tensions rose sharply in Lebanon’s largest Palestinian refugee camp on Monday after deadly shootings by rival factions left two dead. In Ain al-Helweh refugee camp’s first shooting, a local Fatah official, identified as Abdullah Qablawi, was shot dead near the camp’s market. Another two Palestinians, named Jamil A., and Ibrahim A.S., were wounded in the attack and taken to the nearby al-Nidaa al-Insani hospital for treatment. An hour later, unidentified assailants killed a relative of the Palestinian believed to have been behind the first shooting. The man was identified as Mahmud al-Natur, brother of Omar al-Natur, allegedly responsible for the first attack and a member of rival faction Fatah al-Islam. Streets inside the impoverished and overcrowded camp were left empty following the killings, with all shops closed and some families fleeing. Ain al-Helweh, which lies near the Lebanese city of Sidon, has become increasingly unstable over the past year, with violent clashes last summer displacing as many as 3,000 Palestinian refugees. More than 54,000 registered Palestinian refugees live in the camp, who have been joined in recent years by thousands of Palestinians fleeing the fighting in Syria.
VIDEOS: What’s it like to be a young Palestinian refugee in Lebanon today?
BEIRUT 18 Mar by Venetia Rainey — Of all the countries Palestinians settled in when they fled or were forced from what is now Israel nearly 70 years ago, Lebanon remains the most hostile to providing basic rights to the decades-old community and its thousands of descendants. As a result, they are systematically marginalised and disenfranchised. We invite you to spend a week in the country’s refugee camps with three young Palestinians and discover their daily reality – through their own eyes. Lebanon’s Palestinians are unique. In Jordan, the majority of some two million Palestinian refugees were allowed the rare pleasure of full citizenship, while in Syria – before the war – a population of just over 400,000 enjoyed the same rights as their Syrian counterparts, bar citizenship. In Lebanon, however, an estimated nearly 300,000 people are forced to live on the periphery of society, deprived of citizenship, prohibited from dozens of high-level professions, barred from owning property, forbidden from taking advantage of state schools and hospitals, and excluded from social security benefits – even if they pay taxes. Lebanon fears that assimilating the refugees – nearly all are Sunni Muslims – could upset its delicate sectarian balance, and they remain stigmatised for the role Palestinians played in sparking Lebanon’s 15-year civil war back in the 1970s (Continued)
PLO: Syria’s Palestinian refugee camps see ‘relative calm’
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 30 Mar — Palestinian refugees in Syria are experiencing a period of “relative calm” after a ceasefire went into effect at the end of last month, a PLO official told Ma‘an on Tuesday. Anwar Abed al-Hadi, director of the PLO’s political bureau in Damascus, said that despite some violations of the ceasefire, which was signed by the Syrian government, Russian air force, and almost 100 fighting groups, Palestinian refugee camps had at last seen some peace. However, Chris Gunness, spokesperson for the UN agency for Palestinian refugees (UNWRA) told Ma‘an that as far as the UN was concerned the situation had not changed. He pointed in particular to the Yarmouk refugee camp — formerly the largest Palestinian refugee camp in Syria — where he said the situation was “beyond inhumane.” Gunness said it was “impossible to confirm” whether the camp had seen relative calm in recent days, as the UN has not had access to it since the Islamic State group (IS) took control of the area last April. UNRWA estimates that of the 560,000 Palestinian refugees registered with the agency in Syria before the war, 450,000 remain in the country, two-thirds of them internally displaced and 95 percent in need of sustained humanitarian assistance. Gunness said it was crucial that in the context of the Syrian war Palestinian refugees “not be forgotten or their stories be left untold.”
Hamas delegation returns to Gaza after Cairo, Doha meetings
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 30 Mar – A delegation from the Hamas movement returned to the Gaza Strip Wednesday after two and a half weeks in Egypt and Qatar for reconciliation talks with both the Egyptian authorities and officials from political rival Fatah. The delegation, including Hamas co-founder Mahmoud al-Zahar and senior party officials Khalil al-Hayya and Nazzal Awadallah, arrived in the Palestinian hall of the Rafah crossing between Egypt and the southern Gaza Strip in the afternoon. The delegation began the trip with confidential meetings in Cairo with Egyptian intelligence officials. Deputy head of Hamas Moussa Abu Marzouq at the time said the Saudi-sponsored visit aimed to resolve long-standing tensions between the Palestinian group and Egypt. The delegation then traveled to Doha to meet with Hamas leadership residing in Qatar. On Saturday and Sunday, Hamas and Fatah officials met in Doha to discuss the implementation of a reconciliation process between the two major Palestinian factions. The meetings were the latest in a series of attempts to reconcile the two movements since a violent falling out in 2007 led Hamas and Fatah to separate and dominate the Gaza Strip and West Bank respectively.
Middle East Quartet in Jerusalem to advance two-state solution
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 30 Mar — Middle East Quartet envoys arrived this week in Jerusalem to discuss a forthcoming report intended to advance the two-state solution, the Quartet said Wednesday. The Quartet in a statement said the envoys reached Jerusalem on Monday to hold discussions with Palestinian and Israeli officials in anticipation of preparation of the report Envoys met with officials from the PLO, Palestinian Authority, Israeli Prime Minister’s’ office, and Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The Quartet decided last month that a report covering the situation in the occupied Palestinian territories and Israel was necessary in efforts to halt a “cycle of escalation” of violence in the area.
The Palestinian Museum — a safe place for unsafe ideas
WEST BANK, Palestine (MEE) 26 Mar by Mary Pelletier — Atop the hills of Birzeit, a university town about 20 miles north of Jerusalem, a new, modern structure presides over the green, terraced landscape. Men in hard hats mill around the sandstone and glass facade in the early March sun, but soon they will be replaced by the building’s new keepers: the staff of the Palestinian Museum. When it opens to the public in mid-May, the Palestinian Museum will be the first public museum of its kind in Palestine, and one of the most unique museums in the world. Conceived, funded, and realised with the Israeli occupation constantly looming in the background, the museum aims, as its motto states, to provide ”a safe place for unsafe ideas.” Compiling the fragmented history of Palestine and its people, both at home and in the wider diaspora, is no short order. The museum had to take an innovative approach in its research and exhibition programmes, which are specifically tailored to represent an Arab history so long marginalised and disappeared by the ongoing Israeli occupation of Palestine (Continued)
PA delegation visits family of deceased Israeli Civil Administration head
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 30 Mar — An official Palestinian Authority delegation on Wednesday visited the family of Munir Ammar, the head of the Israeli forces’ Civil Administration, who died in a plane crash in the Lower Galilee in northern Israel last week. According to Israeli radio station Voice of Israel, the PA delegation visited the family to offer their condolences in Ammar’s hometown, the Druze village of Julis in northern Israel. “Members of the delegation eulogized Ammar and enumerated his merits and his positive attitude towards his Palestinian counterparts in the West Bank,” the radio station reported. PLO Executive Committee member Muhammad al-Madani, who led the delegation, was reported to have said during the visit: “I hope the Palestinians and the Israelis will take practical steps towards the peacemaking process.” Official sources speaking on the condition of anonymity told Ma‘an that the Palestinian delegation consisted of 15 high-profile officials. The Israeli forces’ Civil Administration is responsible for the management of the Palestinian population in Area C in the occupied West Bank in coordination with the PA.
Human chain of university students in protest at political arrests in Nablus
NABLUS (PIC) 28 Mar — Dozens of university students at noon Sunday formed a human chain in Nablus in protest against the policy of political arrest against activists among university students. The participants waved banners calling for releasing their colleagues who were arrested by the security apparatuses of the Palestinian Authority (PA) as well as for halting the policy of political arrest. The human chain event was organized by students of engineering and science faculties as the PA forces were arresting three students of engineering faculty and a fourth from the faculty of science. All of the arrested were detained after attending student and academic activities at university.
Armed clashes erupt as PA forces raid Nablus, 13 wounded
NABLUS (Ma‘an) 29 Mar — Armed clashes broke out Tuesday between Palestinian youths and Palestinian Authority security forces when they raided the Old City of Nablus, leaving 13 wounded. Nablus governor Akram Rujoub told Ma‘an that PA security forces were attempting to detain a suspect in a recent murder case when clashes erupted with armed men in and around the Old City. Seven Palestinian youths and five members of the PA security forces were reportedly injured during the clashes, most in moderate condition. Rajoub identified the fugitive suspect as Hani Halaweh, who PA security forces believe may have been involved in the murder of Ashraf al-Beia two months ago. Hani Halaweh, a leader in Fatah’s military wing, Al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades, slammed the PA for the carrying out the raid. “What happened today was a raid on houses of martyrs, prisoners, and resistance fighters in the Old City, which we will not allow,” Halaweh said . . . Tuesday’s gunfight comes following heightened frustrations with the PA among the Palestinian public over its relative inaction since a wave of unrest swept the occupied Palestinian territory last October. Most recently, Palestinians expressed outrage against the PA last month after it attempted to use its security forces to quash a teachers’ strike across the West Bank.
Israeli chief rabbi retracts comments on non-Jews, killing terrorists
TEL AVIV (JTA) 29 Mar — Israeli Sephardic Chief Rabbi Yitzhak Yosef walked back his statement that non-Jews should not live in Israel, calling the comment “theoretical.” The letter also walked back Yosef’s statement made earlier this month that it is obligatory to kill terrorists. Yosef made the statement about non-Jews on March 26 during his weekly Saturday night lecture. He said non-Jews could live in Israel only if they observe the seven Noahide Laws, which include prohibitions against idolatry, blaspheming God, murder, forbidden sexual relations, stealing and eating the limb off a live animal, and which proscribe the establishment of a legal system. Non-Jews, Yosef said, are in Israel only to serve Jews. “According to Jewish law, gentiles should not live in the Land of Israel,” Yosef said. “If a gentile does not agree to take on the seven Noahide Laws, we should send him to Saudi Arabia. When the true and complete redemption arrives, that is what we will do.” Following a public backlash, Yosef on Tuesday clarified his comments in a statement, where he wrote that his lecture referred to a future messianic era, not the present day. He wrote that he has “always adopted a peaceful and embracing path.”
Suspension bill passes initial vote
Ynet 28 Mar by Moran Azulay — The Knesset gave its initial approval for the controversial MK suspension bill, which would allow the Knesset to suspend a member by way of a 90-MK majority (75 percent of the Knesset, whose total membership is 120). The bill was pushed by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and came about following the meetings held by members of the Knesset Balad faction (which is part of the Joint List party) with family members of Palestinian terrorists. The Knesset voted to approve the bill in a first round of votes by a 59:52 majority. This means it was approved by fewer than half of the total number of MKs, which could cause challenges for those wishing to defend it in the high courts. For severe enough offenses, an MK could be suspended until the end of their term, essentially meaning they would be ‘fired’ from the Knesset until the next elections. A bill in the Knesset must pass three rounds of votes in order to officially become law. Monday evening’s vote was the first.
Israeli bill on prison sentences for minors ‘targets Palestinian children’
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 29 Mar by Chloe Benoist — The Israeli Knesset on Tuesday approved the first reading of a bill which would allow Israeli courts to hand down prison sentences to minors under the age of 14 — legislation critics say is targeted at Palestinian children. A recent amendment to the bill, which would apply to children convicted of murder, attempted murder, and homicide, reportedly declared that the prison terms would be postponed until the accused minors turn 18. If passed into law after two more successful readings in the Knesset, the legislation would apply to residents of Israel and occupied East Jerusalem, whereas Palestinians in the occupied West Bank are tried in military courts. According to prisoners’ rights group Addameer, at least 108 Palestinian minors under the age of 16 were being held by Israel as of February . . . Knesset member Yousef Jabareen of the Joint Arab List has criticized the bill as an affront to international law.“Israel is a party to the International Convention on the Rights of the Child, and this change contradicts Israel’s obligation to this convention,” the politician, a Palestinian citizen of Israel, told Ma’an.The convention states that “the arrest, detention or imprisonment of a child shall be in conformity with the law and shall be used only as a measure of last resort and for the shortest appropriate period of time.”
US congressmen seek investigation of Israel’s ‘extrajudicial killings’
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 30 Mar — US Senator Patrick Leahy along with 10 other Democratic congressmen [out of 535] have called on the US to investigate the possibility of “gross violations of human rights” by Israel’s and Egypt’s security forces, including “extrajudicial killings.” Leahy, who has in the past sought a greater role for human rights in US foreign policy, made the request in a joint letter sent to US Secretary of State John Kerry on Feb. 17, suggesting that if the reports of rights violations should be proven, US military assistance should be cut off. “There have been a disturbing number of reports of possible gross violations of human rights by security forces in Israel and Egypt — incidents that may have involved recipients, or potential recipients, of US military assistance,” the congressmen said in the letter published on Tuesday by Politico. The letter cited findings by Amnesty International and other human rights organizations of “extrajudicial killings by the Israeli military and police of Fadi Alloun, Saad al-Atrash, Hadeel Hashlamoun, and Mutaz Ewisa,” as well as several cases of torture. “We urge you to determine if these reports are credible and to inform us of your findings,” the congressmen said. The letter went on to say they had received information that the usual mechanisms in determining the provision of US military assistance and monitoring its use had been “hindered” by a “unique situation” created since the Camp David Accords. It suggested the US State Department and Department of Defense may be in breach of the Leahy Law — a law named after the Vermont senator that prohibits the provision of military assistance to foreign military units that violate human rights with impunity. If the reports were proven true, the congressmen said, the US should “take appropriate action called for under the law.”
The US wants to deport this Palestinian — but first it’d have to recognize Palestine
The Nation 28 Mar by John Washington — Officially “stateless” in the eyes of the US government, Hisham Shaban Ghalia has ground the mechanisms of deportation to a halt — Beginning in besieged Gaza, through Turkey, Greece, Venezuela, Central America, and Mexico, Hisham Shaban Ghalia traveled 10,000 miles—flying, riding buses, walking, and even swimming—to get to the United States. But despite coming to this country to seek asylum from violence and hardship in the Gaza Strip, Shaban has been languishing for the past 16 months in an immigration detention center in Florence, Arizona. According to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), Shaban can’t stay in the country. But because of the peculiar legal and diplomatic tangle that Shaban finds himself in, he can’t be sent back home, either. That’s because, according to US law, Shaban has no home to be deported to . . . Shaban told me, “I have a serious fear that I’ll spend my life here [in detention].” As of publication, he has spent 499 days behind bars. “Everyone,” according to Article 15 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, “has the right to a nationality.” Palestine, in the early decades of the last century, was seen as a home for stateless Jews. Now, it is the Palestinians who are rendered stateless, who are searching for a recognition of their nationality, their home. Neve Gordon, author of Israel’s Occupation, explained the peculiar predicament of statelessness: “When a person is stripped of any connection to a state and all that remains is his or her being a human being, that is the moment when they need the most human rights, and they have no rights.” (Continued)
Chile and Palestine – A long-lasting friendship
TWIP April by Francisco J. Bernales, [outgoing Chilean ambassador to Palestine] — The long-standing links between Chile and Palestine go back to the early twentieth century, when the first immigrants started to arrive in our country. Since they traveled with a passport issued by the Ottoman Empire, they became known as Turks. Today it is believed that their descendants number close to 400,000. Although it was not always easy at the beginning, today Palestinians are well integrated into the Chilean social fabric as successful businesspeople, members of parliament, ministers, ambassadors, priests, to mention only some activities and professions. One remarkable fact is that most of these Palestinians were originally from Bethlehem, Beit Jala, and Beit Sahour. It is said that there are more Beit Jalans in Chile than in Palestine! Official bilateral relations are close and constructive. Chile was the first Latin American nation to open a representative office in Ramallah as far back as 1998. (Continued)
EU ambassador: West Bank product labeling not a boycott
Ynet 23 Mar by Itamar Eichner, Yael Friedson — EU Ambassador to Israel Lars Faaborg-Andersen stressed on Monday that the European Union was opposed to the BDS movement and that the labeling of West Bank products did not constitute a boycott. Faaborg-Andersen participated in Ynet and Yedioth Ahronoth’s anti-BDS conference, despite calls from BDS activists to boycott the conference. “Sometimes extremist settlers criticize me, and now, the BDS movement does,” he said. The ambassador reiterated the EU’s stance on the Israeli settlements in the West Bank: “They are illegal under international law, they are a hindrance to the peace process, and they aren’t part of Israel. Our agreements concern products made within Israel’s internationally recognized borders, border that don’t include the settlements.” He also noted that “Our policy is engagement with Israel. We are Israel’s largest trade partner, and we are Israel’s most important international partner in science, technology, and the list goes on.”
US condemns UN call for list of firms operating in West Bank
WASHINGTON (Reuters) 30 Mar — The United States on Wednesday condemned a United Nations Human Rights Council resolution that calls for setting up a database of businesses operating in the occupied West Bank, a move that Israel has called a “blacklist.”
Israel backs down in Brazil diplomat stand-off
BBC 18 Mar — Israel has reassigned its nominee for ambassador to Brazil, whose appointment Brasilia refused to accept, apparently because he is a former settler leader. Dani Dayan will now become Israel’s consul general in New York, ending a seven-month diplomatic stand-off. Israel had previously said it would not replace Mr Dayan as its nominee. Mr Dayan’s appointment caused outrage among left-wing groups in Brazil, which lobbied President Dilma Rousseff to reject it. The Argentina-born official was chairman of the Yesha Council, an umbrella group representing Jewish settlers in the occupied territories, from 2007 to 2013. . . Mr Dayan said his deployment to New York was “a victory over the BDS” – the pro-Palestinian Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement which targets Israel politically, economically and culturally. “I think those elements who did not want a settler leader in Brasilia, got a settler leader in the world’s capital,” he told an anti-BDS conference in Jerusalem.