Violence / Detentions — West Bank / Israel
Thousands attend funeral of man beaten to death by Palestinian police
NABLUS (Ma‘an) 28 Aug — Thousands of Palestinians in the northern occupied West Bank city of Nablus on Sunday afternoon took part in a funeral for Ahmad Izz Halaweh, who was beaten to death in detention earlier this week by Palestinian security officers. The funeral set off from the Rafidiya governmental hospital and headed to the eastern cemetery of Nablus amid maximum security procedures by Palestinian security forces. Mourners in the funeral called for Nablus district Governor Akram Rujoub to resign from office and for those responsible for Halaweh’s brutal killing to be held accountable. Mourners waves flags for the Fatah and Hamas movements and raised photos of Halaweh — who was a senior member of the Fatah’s armed wing, the Al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades. A Palestinian security official told Ma‘an that the Palestinian Authority (PA) did not obstruct the funeral, but imposed three conditions: not to hold the march in the Old City of Nablus, to allow security forces to maintain their presence in the Old City, and to refrain from gunfire during the funeral. Halaweh’s death sparked widespread outrage among Palestinians, with the UN coming forward to denounce the killing as an “apparent extrajudicial execution.” He was the main suspect in a shooting by several gunmen last week which left two Palestinian policemen dead. Two other suspects were shot dead during raids in the ensuing manhunt, while several others were detained. Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah announced that a special committee would be formed to look into Halaweh’s death and publicly share the results of the investigation. Hamdallah has meanwhile asserted the widespread security crackdown by security forces that had targeted Halaweh would continue, for which 30 other fugitives remained at large, and vowed to resign from office if the PA failed to arrest all wanted and armed Palestinians.
PA security officers open fire at funeral of Fatah leader beaten to death in prison
MEMO 29 Aug — Palestinian Authority security officers opened fire and shot tear gas canisters at the funeral of the leader of Fatah’s military wing, Al-Resalah reported on Sunday. Colonel Ahmed Halawah of the Al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades was buried in the occupied West Bank city of Nablus. A lawyer for the colonel’s family, Mohamed Halawah, told the newspaper that the participation of tens of thousands of Palestinian citizens in the funeral “provoked” the PA security services into opening fire. “The funeral was going according to plan,” he explained, “but the PA attacked it. This is not an attack on the Halawah family, but an attack on all the Palestinians who rejected the PA aggression on the Palestinian citizens in Nablus.” The lawyer accused the PA security services and the PA-appointed governor of Nablus of being “illegitimate” if this is the way that they deal with people in the city. According to Al-Resalah, some of the participants in the funeral procession were wounded by the gunfire. It added that thousands of those who took part called for Governor Akram Al-Rajoub, as well as the PA Prime Minister Rami Hamadallah, to be ousted. They accuse the two PA officials of executing Colonel Halawah.
The PA’s extension of Israeli colonial violence / Ramona Wadi
MEMO 25 Aug — The echelons of the power structure derived from the coloniser manifested itself in the brutal extrajudicial killing of Ahmed Halawa, who was beaten to death by PA security forces. A photo which circulating on social media showing Halawa’s bruised and swollen body has ignited much furore, however it was not enough to instigate a proper process against the perpetrators. Halawa, who was a leader affiliated to the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, was arrested by PA security officers on Tuesday before dawn and taken to the Juneid security compound for questioning in relation to the clashes between Palestinians and security forces during house raids. Instead of questioning, the PA security forces embarked on an exhibition of macabre sensationalism, emulating Israel’s colonial violence to perfection. Since last October, the PA fluctuated between deploring extrajudicial killings and affirming continuation of security coordination with Israel. The latter’s extent was revealed in relation to Halawa’s murder. In the past month, testimonies relating to the PA security forces’ torture of Palestinian prisoners reverberated in the media. Halawa’s case should provoke a complete rethinking of the PA’s collaboration with Israel….
19-year-old Palestinian laid to rest after Israeli authorities withheld body for 10 months
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 30 Aug — After holding his body in a morgue for more than ten months, Israeli forces returned slain Thaer Abu Ghazaleh, 19, to his family in occupied East Jerusalem after midnight Monday. Abu Ghazaleh was shot and killed by Israeli forces in early October after he carried out a stabbing attack in Tel Aviv which left four Israelis injured. The teenager’s mother expressed her grief to Ma‘an, saying that the family would have celebrated her son’s 20th birthday last Saturday, but that his body remained in a morgue under Israeli custody instead. Abu Ghazaleh was buried in occupied East Jerusalem’s al-Mujahidin cemetery outside the walls of the Old City. His mother insisted on laying flowers at his grave after he was buried, saying that she placed 19 flowers at his grave and kept the 20th flower “to be with me all my life for remembrance.” She added that the family received Abu Ghazaleh’s body at the cemetery’s gate, as large numbers of Israeli troops and police officers deployed around the cemetery.
“We shrouded him, performed the funeral prayer, then I carried him in my very hands and bid him a final farewell before we laid him to rest,” his mother said …
Israeli forces closed all roads surrounding the cemetery — which is located almost directly across the street from the Old City’s Herod’s Gate — for more than two hours in order to clear pedestrians and passersby from forming a crowd in anticipation of Abu Ghazaleh’s body being delivered. Forces also held the family for two hours at the entrance to Herod’s Gate, and prevented them from exiting the walls of the Old City until the body was delivered to the cemetery, at which time they were allowed to cross the empty and heavily guarded streets to attend the funeral, according to the director of the Jerusalem office of the Palestinian Prisoner’s Society (PPS) Nasser Qaws. Lawyer Muhammad Mahmoud of prisoners’ rights group Addameer said Israeli intelligence forces returned the body after midnight on the condition that only 25 family members attend the funeral. He added that the family was also forced to pay a fee of of 20,000 shekels (approximately $5,290) as an “insurance fee” to make sure the family abided by the rules imposed on them … In addition to journalists not being allowed to go to the family’s house in the Old City after the burial, Israeli forces did not allow the family to set up a tent outside the house, as is customary practice in order to receive people who come to offer condolences for three days following the burial.
PHOTOS: Palestinian protesters offer soldiers popsicles, receive tear gas in return
Activestills 28 Aug — The villagers of Kufr Qaddum look for a creative way to protest the occupation. Photos and text by Oren Ziv. — About a hundred and fifty Palestinians, and a few Israelis, took part in a weekend demonstration against the settlements and occupation of Kafr Qaddum. The soldiers were waiting for them in the village, as they do every week. After the demonstrators marched a few hundred meters, the soldiers began shooting rubber bullets and firing tear gas. Some demonstrators threw stones in response, thus the cat and mouse game between soldiers and protesters began throughout the village. Once a bulldozer arrived to clear the rocks blocking the road, the soldiers sat on the chairs strewn about, ostentatiously facing the demonstrators. The last standing demonstrators also sat on chairs facing the soldiers, whereupon one protester started handing out popsicles to the seated group to cool off. The protesters tried to offer popsicles to the soldiers, though they responded by firing tear gas again. The demonstration ended, unusually, without anyone wounded or detained. Kafr Qaddum is situated on the road between Qalqilya and Nablus. Although the village itself is located in Area B, which is under Palestinian civilian control as it were, a large portion of the villagers’ agricultural land is in Area C, which is under direct Israeli control, For years, villagers have demonstrated every weekend to protest the closure of the road that connects the village to the adjacent Highway 55. The road was closed at the beginning of the Second Intifada because of its proximity to the settlement Kedumim, and has not been reopened.
A settler assaults a young man from Silwan and injures him with fractures and bruises
Silwanic 24 Aug — A settler assaulted last Tuesday 20-year old Murad Ghassan Rajabi and severely beat him in the neighborhood of Al-Sharaf in the Old City of Jerusalem. The young man was injured with fractures in his nose and wounds in his face in addition to bruises in his neck. Murad Rajabi explained that he was heading to his previous work location (restaurant) to collect the rest of his financial dues. Upon arrival, the owner asked him to bring the keys he had. He said: “I brought the keys and when I arrived to the restaurant on my motorbike, I was surprised by one Jewish worker attacking me. He pulled me off the bike and hit me on my face and neck. I fell on the ground and he continued attacking me. I was not able to stand up or walk and was really exhausted.” Rajabi added that a young man arrived to the area as well as a policeman. An ambulance was called and he was transferred to Hadassah Ein Kerem hospital for treatment. Fractures in his nose, wounds in his face and bruises in his neck were revealed. After receiving treatment at the hospital, Rajabi surprisingly received a phone call from Al-Qishleh police center to interrogate him on charges of assaulting a Jewish man and threatening to run him over with his motorbike. Rajabi explained that he went to Al-Qishleh police station and found out that the settler had filed a claim against him. He declined all charges and showed them the medical reports he had. He also explained that a policeman arrived at the area where he was assaulted and told him to file a claim against the settler after receiving treatment. Rajabi added that the police released him late Tuesday night on conditions of isolation from Al-Sharaf neighborhood for two weeks and not to talk to the assailant settler for one month.
Mondoweiss 27 Aug by Yakov Hirsch — If I were in charge of the Palestinian hasbara budget I would spend it all on video cameras. The recent outbreak of the video intifada has done more to show the relationship between the occupier and the occupied than anything before. Each of these videos tells the same story, with no ambiguity, that no hasbara can contend with, that no obfuscation can camouflage. These videos are the best answer to Benjamin Netanyahu and Jeffrey Goldberg. They show evil and cruelty by Israeli Defense Forces soldiers towards Palestinians.
While the world is clearly deaf it might turn out to be more difficult for the world to be blind, to this video of Mustafa Adel Al-Khatib, 17, being shot in the back and killed in the Old City last year.
Or this video of a Palestinian girl being shot at a bus shelter inside the occupation as she holds up a knife in obvious desperation …
Or this video obtained by the human rights group B’Tselem a year ago of Muhammad al-Kasba, 17, throwing a rock that broke the windshield of a jeep a brigade commander was riding in. So the commander jumped out of the vehicle and pursued al-Kasba, shooting him 3 times in his upper body and killing him. The beginning of the execution was captured on the video:
Israel investigating claim unarmed slain Palestinian was shot in the back
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 28 Aug — The Israeli army’s military police have reportedly opened an investigation into the killing of an unarmed Palestinian man who was shot dead by Israeli forces on Friday, an Israeli army spokesperson told Ma‘an. Thirty-eight-year-old Iyad Zakariya Hamed, a resident of the Ramallah-area village of Silwad, was shot dead by Israeli forces near a military post at the village’s entrance not far from the illegal Israeli settlement Ofra, when soldiers alleged that they saw Hamed “charging” towards them. Israeli media initially reported that Hamed, a husband and father of three, fired shots at the Israeli soldiers, though it was later confirmed that he was unarmed. According to Israeli newspaper Haaretz, any death of a Palestinian in the occupied West Bank who was “not involved in actual fighting” warrants an Israeli military police investigation, and that the investigation into Hamed’s killing would look into the activity of the soldiers responsible — who were members of the ultra-Orthodox Jewish Kifr Brigade — before they opened fire, and why they fired deadly shots at Hamed when “danger was not immediately clear.”
In addition, the investigation will look into the claim from Palestinian medical officials that Hamed was shot in the back. The officials also reportedly said that Hamed had mental disabilities and had been receiving psychiatric treatment. The Israeli army has maintained however, that Hamed was running toward the military post when the soldiers opened fire. According to Israel’s Army Radio, he did not heed the soldiers’ repeated orders to halt and was shot, thus the investigation is said to confirm that Hamed did not respond to warning shots and kept running toward the military post. Hebrew media had initially reported that Hamed was shooting at soldiers from inside a vehicle when he was killed. According to Ma‘an documentation, Hamed was the 220th Palestinian to be killed by Israelis since a wave of unrest spread across the occupied Palestinian territory and Israel began in October, many of whom were killed while allegedly carrying out attacks or attempting to carry out attacks on Israeli targets, or during clashes with Israeli forces during raids in Palestinian communities.
IDF investigating soldier who shot Palestinian running toward checkpoint
JPost 29 Aug by Yaakov Lappin — The Military Police is investigating a soldier from the Netzah Yehuda battalion – a part of the Kfir infantry brigade – on suspicion of wrongfully shooting dead a Palestinian man near Silwad, 12 km. northeast of Ramallah on Friday. Army sources said the soldier is under suspicion of “causing death,” a legal charge less severe than manslaughter. The sources denied other reports that claimed the soldier was suspected of manslaughter or had already been indicted. “The investigation is at the beginning stages,” they said. On Monday, Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman referred to the incident together with the high profile military trial of Kfir Brigade soldier, Elor Azaria, who is charged with illegally shooting dead an immobilized Palestinian attacker in Hebron. In his comments, Liberman said that soldiers battling terrorists cannot head out on their mission “with an accompanying lawyer.” The IDF confirmed on Saturday that the man shot on the previous day – 38-year-old father of two, Iyad Hamed, from Silwad – was unarmed and was not a terrorist. Details of the incident remain limited. After Friday’s shooting, the IDF initially said that a unit on patrol spotted the man running toward a nearby guard point in a suspicious manner. The army added that the unit first used non-lethal means in an attempt to stop the man … Israel transferred Hamed’s body to Palestinian custody on Friday. According to a report by Wafa, the Palestinian news agency, Hamed was “mentally disabled.” The report said he was on his way to prayers at the time of the shooting.
Israeli forces detain 16 Palestinians in West Bank overnight
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 28 Aug — At least 16 Palestinians were detained by Israeli forces in overnight raids on Saturday across the occupied West Bank. According to Israeli media, the Israeli army detained five Palestinians in the northern Jenin district, when forces allegedly found a hunting rifle and ammunition. Reports said that a car carrying five Palestinian youths was stopped at a checkpoint late Saturday near the village of ‘Arraba, when Israeli soldiers searched the car and found the rifle and ammunition. All five youths were reportedly detained, while the car, rifle and ammunition were seized. An Israeli army spokesperson confirmed a total of 11 overnight detentions, mentioning nine in the al-Ram village north of Jerusalem, one in Beit Jala, and another in Khirbet Aliya, both located in the southern Bethlehem district.
Israeli forces detain 14 Palestinians in overnight raids
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 29 Aug — Israeli forces detained at least 14 Palestinians during overnight and predawn raids between Sunday and Monday in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem, Palestinian and Israeli sources said. The Palestinian Prisoner’s Society reported that the Israeli army raided the Jenin refugee camp in the northern West Bank, detaining two, whom it identified as Ramzi al-Qunira and Muhammad Othman. An Israeli army spokesperson told Ma‘an that only two Palestinians were detained overnight, confirming the detentions in Jenin refugee camp. In the Nablus district, locals said that Israeli soldiers stormed the village of Burin, detaining Ahmad Tamim, Ahmad Muhammad Omran, and Ali Hindi. However, PPS added that four Palestinians from the city of Jenin — identified as Muhammad Tayseer Nazzal, Ahmad Walid al-Saadi, Walid Muhammad al-Saadi, and Ghassan Dablah — were detained by Israeli forces at a checkpoint near Ramallah. In the neighborhood of Silwan in the Jerusalem district, PPS reported the detention of three minors, identified as Numan Zyad Faraj, 16, Ahmad Mazin al-Razam, 17, and Omar Ismail Shweiki, 16. In the southern West Bank district of Hebron, PPS also reported that Mustafa Salibi was detained in Beit Ummar, while Majdi Masalma, a former prisoner, was detained in Beit Awwa. Israeli forces raid the occupied Palestinian territory on a near-nightly basis, with an average of 71 raids each week in 2016, according to UN documentation. According to prisoners rights group Addameer, 7,000 Palestinians were held in Israeli prisons as of July. The group estimates that 40 percent of Palestinian men have been detained by Israel at some point in their lives
Israel’s primer on how to make the Palestinians feel fear
Haaretz 30 Aug by Amira Hass — A list of the people’s daily fears under democratic Jewish military rule in the West Bank: * That soldiers will descend from a pillbox armed to the teeth and fire at me. Or at my daughter, or my husband. This happened in Silwad late last week … * That a soldier will fire at children coming home at night from a swimming pool and kill one and wound four. This happened at Beit Ur al-Tahta … * That my nephew will go outside to exercise his right to protest when soldiers raid our refugee camp or our village, and a soldier armed to the teeth will fire at him and kill or cripple him (as happened in places including al-Fawwar and Kafr Qaddum). * That they’ll confiscate more of our land for another security road to a settlement. * That my son will drive my SUV to bring a friend back home, and on the way he’ll encounter a soldier who’ll fire at him and wound him. After all, they can report a lie to their commanders. (Daheisheh) … * That we’ll take the sheep to graze, and settlers will descend from the mountain and beat us, and the soldiers will stand aside. (the Maon Farm) * That we’ll renovate the approach road to our fields and orchards, and the Civil Administration will stop the work in the middle. (Tekoa, Turmus Ayya, Duma) ….
In Israel, a dead Arab evokes just one big yawn / Gideon Levy
Haaretz 28 Aug — No one bats an eye over Friday’s killing of an innocent man by an Israeli soldier. It’s not terror, or apartheid, or racism or dehumanization. It’s only killing a subhuman — It was late in the morning. In Israel people were completing their preparations for Shabbat. The military reporters bought challahs, the soldiers left their bases for the weekend. At the Yabrud checkpoint in the West Bank their colleagues saw a man. Actually, they didn’t see a man. They saw a subhuman. They shot him as they were taught. The military reporters reported also as taught: “A terrorist fired a weapon at a pillbox post in Ofra. Nobody was hurt. The force fired back and the terrorist was killed.” Routine. There is no contradiction between “nobody was hurt” and “the terrorist was killed.” Only Jews can be hurt. An update followed: “The Kfir squad commander, who saw the terrorist throw a firebomb at an IDF pillbox in Silwad, shot and killed him. Nobody was hurt.” Now the shooting had turned into “a firebomb.” A short time later, it was reported: “Apparently, he was mentally unstable. A search on his body resulted with no findings.” In other words, murder.
This is what Channel 10 reporter Or Heller tweeted on Friday, as did some of his colleagues, including Alon Ben-David. Heller is far from the worst of the military reporters, who recite automatically whatever the army spokesman dictates to them without attributing the quote to the spokesman, and consider themselves journalists. There is no other coverage area in which journalists can act like that. They buy blindly, fervidly, what the ruling authorities dictate to them. The lies about what happened on Friday at the Yabrud checkpoint were spread by the IDF, of course. Afterward the IDF corrected itself, and only after that did the reporters follow suit and report: “the Palestinian didn’t try to attack the soldiers.” Good evening and Shabbat Shalom….
Prisoners / Court actions
Palestinian minor tortured in Israeli jail after being shot and detained for rock throwing
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 29 Aug — Two Palestinian minors have been tortured, abused, and medically neglected in Israeli custody, one of which after being shot at point-blank range when Israeli forces detained them for rock throwing earlier this month, a lawyer from the Palestinian Committee of Prisoners’ Affairs said Monday. The lawyer, Luay Akka, said that 17-year-old Mumin Tawfiq Hamayel and 16-year-old Abd al-Fatah Mubarek were both being held inside Israel’s Ofer prison. On the night of August 7th, Israeli soldiers detained the two near the village of Silwad in the central occupied West Bank district of Ramallah. Ma‘an reported at the time that Israeli forces opened fire on them, injuring Mubarek — initially identified as Abd al-Fattah Buayrat — as the two were walking along Route 60 near Silwad and the illegal Israeli settlement of Ofra. “Mubarek was throwing rocks in the air when Israeli soldiers shot at him and injured him in his left thigh,” Akka said. “The bullet penetrated his thigh, passing straight out from the other side, leaving behind shrapnel from the bullet and damaging his bones.” Akka added that Mubarek has repeatedly expressed confusion and disbelief as to why Israeli forces shot him with live fire, as he said he was standing more than half a meter away from the soldiers, and it was clear that the small rocks in his possession did not endanger the soldiers’ lives. After he was injured, Mubarek was taken to Israel’s Hadassah hospital, where he was held for three days and handcuffed at all times, even when he went to the toilet. After visiting Mubarek in Ofer prison, Akka said the teenager still suffered from pain, as he was given no proper medication to ease the pain, and periodically had his injury checked at the prison’s medical clinic. Meanwhile, Akka said, “a group of at least seven Israeli soldiers chased, blindfolded, and beat Hamayel” before detaining him alongside Mubarek. “Some soldiers hit (Hamayel) with rifles on his back and other soldiers kicked him with their military boots, causing Hamayel’s waist flesh to tear.” Despite suffering blood loss, Hamayel has been denied medical care during his detention, where soldiers have “kept him on the ground and even stepped on him,” Akka added….
Israeli court postpones UN worker’s hearing
MEMO 29 Aug — Waheed Al-Borsh is accused of diverting 300 tons of rubble from a UNDP project in the Gaza Strip to build a jetty which would be used by the naval assault forces of the military wing of Hamas … An Israeli court postponed a hearing on Sunday for a UN worker accused of aiding Hamas after a dispute arose over whether he should be immune from prosecution, AFP has reported. The hearing was rescheduled for 29 September. Waheed Al-Borsh wore a brown prisoner’s uniform when he appeared briefly in court in the southern city of Beersheba. His lawyer, Lea Tsemel, said that the 38-year-old is innocent and that the defence team has requested more time to be able to prove it. Al-Borsh declined to comment when approached by AFP. The engineer from Jabaliya in northern Gaza was working for the UN Development Programme (UNDP) when he was arrested on 16 July. He is accused by Israel of being recruited by a Hamas member to “redirect his work for UNDP to serve Hamas’s military interests.”
The Supreme Court reduces the sentences of 7 Jerusalemite children and imposes fines on them
Silwanic 29 Aug — The Israeli Supreme Court approved on Monday morning the appeal submitted by lawyer Mohammad Mahmoud to reduce the sentences of 7 children from the neighborhood of Beit Hanina north of Jerusalem. Lawyer Mahmoud explained that the Supreme Court decided to reduce the sentence of 7 children aged between 13-17 years and imposed fines on them. The new sentences became as follows: Saleh Ishtay: 33 months instead of 39 months and an 8500-NIS fine Mohammad Tayeh: 24 months instead of 28 and a 6000-NIS fine … The District Court had sentenced the children last March after they had been under house-arrest for 8 months; they turned themselves in recently. Lawyer Mahmoud explained that the children were arrested in June 2015 from the neighborhood of Beit Hanina. Two weeks later, they were released on conditions of a bail and open house-arrest until completing the legal procedures against them. They were convicted of throwing stones towards settlers’ vehicles passing through the neighborhood.
4 Palestinian hunger strikers in critical condition, handcuffed to hospital beds
IMEMC/Agencies 27 Aug — Four hunger-striking Palestinian detainees are reportedly in critical condition at Israel’s Assaf Harofeh Hospital, according to a statement released on Saturday by the Palestinian Committee of Prisoners’ Affairs, as 120 other Palestinian prisoners continued hunger strikes, in a mass solidarity movement. The four hunger strikers were identified by the committee as Muhammad and Mahmoud Balboul, who have been on strike for 51 and 53 days respectively, and Ayyad al-Hreimi and Malek al-Qadi who have both been on strike for more than 40 days. All of the hunger strikers remained handcuffed to their hospital beds, according to the statement. According to Ma‘an, each of the prisoners declared a hunger strike in protest of being placed in administrative detention — an Israeli policy of detention without charge or trial almost exclusively used against Palestinians. The committee said, in the statement, that the hunger strikers were in “dire health conditions,” as they have lost a significant amount of weight and have been suffering from pains and numbing in their bodies…..
Report: 750 Palestinians held without charge or trial in Israeli prisons
IMEMC/Agencies 27 Aug — The Palestinian Detainees and Ex-Detainees Affairs Commission said that at least 750 Palestinians are currently being held without charge or trial in Israeli detention facilities. The commission said, in a press statement, that the Israeli government continues to violate the Fourth Geneva Conventions related to administrative detention, an archaic Israeli policy, dating back to the time of British Mandate, in which detainees are held, for renewable periods of up to 6 months, without charge or trial. The commission noted that the month of October, 2015, witnessed an unprecedented and significant increase in this procedure; by almost 50%, in the number of Palestinians who were placed under administrative detention by the Israeli authorities. The center recorded a 100 percent increase in the number of Palestinians placed by Israel under administrative detention, when compared to the year 2014. It further noted, according to WAFA correspondents, that, since the year 2000, the total number of administrative detention orders has reached 25,000…
Gazan families visit relatives in Israeli prison
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 29 Aug — A group of Palestinian families from the blockaded Gaza Strip visited their relatives in Ramon Prison in southern Israel on Monday morning. A spokesperson for the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) in Gaza told Ma‘an that the organization coordinated visits for 59 Palestinians — including 31 children – to enter Israel through the Erez crossing in the early morning, to visit 28 first-degree relatives held in Ramon. Of the 7,000 Palestinian prisoners held in Israeli custody as of July, 340 were from the Gaza Strip, according to prisoners’ rights group Addameer. Since families of Palestinian prisoners often experience rejection or long-term delays of their permit applications to visit prisons in Israel, including incidents at checkpoints preventing them from crossing even after they have been issued permits, Palestinians are heavily reliant on ICRC-arranged visitations, as ICRC buses transport Palestinians to and from the prisons and act as an institutional medium between the families and Israeli authorities.
Israeli forces demolish home of Palestinian prisoner accused in drive-by shooting
HEBRON (Ma‘an) 30 Aug — Israeli forces on Tuesday morning demolished the home of Palestinian prisoner Muhammad Abd al-Majid Amayreh, accused of being an accomplice in a deadly drive-by shooting attack last month, after an Israeli court rejected an appeal by his family, who argued they had not been aware of or involved in the attack. The family was left homeless by the demolition, located in the town of Dura south of Hebron in the southern occupied West Bank. Locals told Ma‘an that large numbers of Israeli troops stormed the Wadi Sood neighborhood in northern Dura early Tuesday morning and surrounded Amayreh’s home before they blew up the one-story building. The sources added that a bulldozer then tore down walls of the home which had not fallen as a result of the detonation. Small clashes broke out between Israeli forces and local youth, locals said, highlighting that Israeli soldiers prevented reporters from accessing the area around the home during the demolition … Tuesday’s demolition came after a nearly two-month long battle between Amayreh’s family and Israeli courts. An Israeli court rejected the family’s final appeal last week, which was submitted on their behalf by Israeli human rights group Hamoked shortly after the July 1 attack, when the family was issued the demolition order. According to the family, the appeal explained to the court that Amayreh’s family who live in the house did not know he was planning to aid in the attack, and should therefore not be subjected to having their home destroyed.
Israeli forces detain 2 Gaza fishermen, confiscate boat
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 29 Aug — Israeli naval forces reportedly detained two Palestinian fishermen off the coast of the northern Gaza Strip on Monday. Fishermen told Ma‘an that Israeli gunboats fired warning shots at fishing boats off the coast of Sudaniya before detaining two fishermen — identified as Muhannad and Nafith Abu Riyala — and confiscating their boat. An Israeli army spokesperson confirmed the detentions to Ma‘an, claiming that the fishing “vessel had deviated from the designated fishing zone” unilaterally determined and enforced by Israel. They added that the navy fired warning shots before firing at the fishermen when they failed to return back into the fishing zone, before detaining them and taking their fishing boat to Ashdod port. Israeli naval forces also reportedly detained two fishermen off the coast of Beit Lahiya on Sunday morning.
Egypt opens Gaza border crossing for Palestinian pilgrims to perform Hajj
GAZA (Ma‘an) 30 Aug — Egyptian authorities temporarily opened the Rafah border crossing between Egypt and the besieged Gaza Strip on Tuesday to allow a number of Palestinian worshipers through on their way to Saudi Arabia to perform the annual Muslim pilgrimage of Hajj. Egypt decided to open the crossing for three days in order for some 2,008 Gazan pilgrims who were able to obtain visas to use the Cairo airport to travel to Mecca. However, procedures for Palestinians to return to Gaza following their pilgrimage were still undetermined on Tuesday.
PA ‘neglects education in Gaza’ for 3rd year in a row
MEMO 29 Aug — Around 1.2 million Palestinian students started the new academic year on Sunday in both the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip — The Ministry of Education run by the Palestinian Authority in Ramallah has “neglected” Gaza’s young people for the third year in a row. The claim was made by the Deputy Education Minister in Gaza, Ziad Thabet, who told a press conference that 499,643 students in the besieged enclave are “suffering” from the lack of basic needs because the PA in Ramallah “does not fulfil its duty towards them.” Around 1.2 million Palestinian students started the new academic year on Sunday in both the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip. Thabet said that his ministry in Gaza has a shortage of teachers. Vacancies cannot be filled, he pointed out, because the ministry in Ramallah does not recognise any new employee recruited in Gaza. In an effort to overcome this problem, Thabet said that officials in Gaza have been obliged to recruit temporary teachers to satisfy the requirements of the students. He added that the ministry in Gaza has been suffering from cuts to the administrative and operational budget made by the Palestinian national government in Ramallah.
Israel delaying delivery of 300,000 textbooks to Gaza schools, Palestinians claim
Haaretz 28 Aug by Jack Khoury — The Palestinian school year began on Sunday, but Israel has yet to deliver thousands of textbooks for over half a million students to Gaza Strip schools, the Palestinian Education Ministry said on Saturday. An Israeli official in the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) said the books must first be examined and approved by Israel, before being allowed into the Gaza Strip. Some 1.2 million Palestinian students started their studies on Sunday. About 650,000 of them are in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, the Education Ministry said. According to the ministry’s figures, 65 percent of the Gaza Strip’s students are enrolled in 245 UNRWA schools. In the West Bank, by comparison, some 55,000 students go to 95 UN schools, while the rest attend state schools. A senior ministry official said over the weekend that the request for textbooks was submitted by both the Gaza Strip authorities and UNRWA about 10 days ago. While most of the books were printed locally in Gaza, math books for grades 2-4 and science books for grades 3-4 were printed in the West Bank and must be delivered to the Gaza Strip … A COGAT official denied causing the delay and said they had only received the request last Tuesday. Examining and approving the books takes several days and COGAT doesn’t work weekends, he added.
Scars and laughter along Gaza’s beaches
MEMO 29 Aug — For Palestinians living in the occupied West Bank the rolling waves of the Mediterranean sea are but a distant dream, or a memory for those old enough to remember the days when Palestinian cities like Jaffa or Haifa were accessible. Distances from the Apartheid Wall to the coast are as small as 20-30 kilometres in some areas, yet many young Palestinian children growing up in the West Bank have never seen the sea. By contrast, for Palestinians trapped within the besieged Gaza Strip the sea is central to many aspects of life. Only 40 kilometres long and up to 10 kilometres wide, the Gaza Strip is home to nearly 2 million Palestinians. Leaving Gaza, either via the crossings in to Egypt or today’s Israel is virtually impossible in all but the most exceptional cases amidst the current stage of enforced closure. Within this open air prison, the sea offers one of the few places of respite for children and families. Gaza’s beaches are filled with families on Fridays and daily from late afternoon well in to the night. With electricity supplies in Gaza restricted to between 2-8 hours a day in most areas, the coast’s cool breeze offers a place to escape the stifling summer heat in cramped apartments that can offer no cooling systems when the power is cut, except for those families who are in a financial position to buy generators and fuel … Physically, the coast shows the signs of war as does most of the Gaza Strip. In many areas harbour walls have been reinforced with rubble from buildings blown up by Israel during recent bombardments. In other areas the rubble has been used to build jetties stretching out in to the sea. In such a tiny area the sea offered one of the few places to which war rubble could be moved in order to begin the painstakingly slow rebuilding process which is still many years away from completion. Despite the obvious scars, and the multitude of challenges and threats faced by Palestinians in Gaza the area’s coast still provides a place of respite, at least between Israel’s bombing campaigns….
Bravest entrepreneur: How the courageous fisherwoman of Gaza is building a business in the blockaded seaport
Forbes 29 Aug by Elizabeth MacBride — What’s the hardest part of being the only fisherwoman in Gaza? I ask Madeleine Kulab. “Starting the engine is hard and it takes a lot of strength,” she says. Then she shows me how to yank the cord and grab the tiller to steer, and we go spinning over the water, her wooden boat tilting into the small waves. A decade ago Kulab took over her father’s fishing boat as a 13-year-old, after he became disabled. She was the only girl working the waterfront, defying cultural norms to feed her family. Now, she has taken the same courage she used to start the boat’s engine when she was 13, and turned it into a business. She gives work to five men, fishing and offering tours in a purple canopied boat that caters to women and families. During the three months of the tourism seasons she makes 800-1,000 shekels a month. About a third of what comes in goes to labor costs. Kulab’s story is remarkable on so many levels: Her story shows how much power could be unleashed if women could rise to their full economic potential in places like Palestine and other emerging markets. And, she is growing a business in Gaza, one of the hardest places in the world to live, much less start a business. When optimism is hard to come by, courage has to stand in. Nobody knows this better than Kulab. I ask her how she would describe herself….
Israeli NGO: 27 cases of suspected war crimes in Gaza, zero indictments
MEMO 29 Aug — 27 cases of suspected war crimes committed by Israeli armed forces in the 2014 Gaza offensive have produced not a single indictment to date, according to an Israeli NGO. In a briefing paper published two years after the ceasefire that concluded ‘Operation Protective Edge’, Haifa-based Adalah: The Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel noted that “Israeli authorities are still investigating or have yet to even respond to 48 percent of our complaints.” In 2014, Adalah – along with Gaza-based organisation Al Mezan Centre for Human Rights – filed complaints to the Attorney General and Military Advocate General concerning 27 incidents of suspected international humanitarian law violations. The NGOs demanded that Israeli authorities “open independent criminal investigations into each of the cases and to prosecute and hold to account those found to be responsible.” According to Adalah, “the cases concerned severe events that resulted in the killing and serious injury of Palestinian civilians, including women and children, and the massive destruction of civilian objects”, attacks that could “could amount to grave breaches of international humanitarian law.” … Adalah’s conclusion, which has implications for the International Criminal Court’s preliminary investigation into alleged war crimes, is that Israel’s “flawed investigative mechanisms…appear primarily geared towards protecting its armed forces, thus allowing impunity to prevail.”
Internet star sings of Gaza cat and ‘My Trousers’
AFP 29 Aug — Mobbed by fans wherever he goes, Adel Meshoukhi is the kind of singer that perhaps only Gaza could produce: an internet sensation who depends on a modest stipend from Hamas. Very few people in Gaza, the small Palestinian territory ruled by the Islamist movement Hamas, haven’t heard of the young and disenchanted Meshoukhi. He has performed for 10 years as a singer and also acts in television and radio dramas. But despite his fame among Palestinians, he earns barely anything from his art and used to work for the Hamas security services until he was accidentally shot in the leg during training three years ago. Still convalescing, he gets a partial — and sporadic — income from them. The musical comedian’s most popular song is actually an ode to a cat. “Do not be afraid of me pussycat, do not run away,” sings the 32-year-old in Arabic, while wandering the dark empty streets of Rafah in southern Gaza. “I’m only a human being.” The video was made with just his own cellphone and a computer, but it has been shared hundreds of thousands of times on Facebook. Young people listen to the song, called “Fear Not”, and other hits repeatedly on their phones or at wedding parties. The secret of his success? His light style, which mixes jokes and irony for Gazans keen to forget politics for a few minutes. “I no longer speak of politics and war because we are all fed up, we want to have some fun,” said Meshoukhi, round-faced with cropped black hair. The singer causes a stir every time he arrives, sunglasses on his nose as ever, at crowded cafes on the Mediterranean seafront. On the night AFP spent with him, Meshoukhi was invited to a wedding party in a refugee camp in Rafah, where he was guest of honour…. [VIDEO]
Knesset may punish MKs who call to boycott Israel, following JPost report
JPost 29 Aug by Lahav Harkov — “It’s absurd that we are still giving licenses to encourage boycotting Israel to our MKs,” says Knesset panel chairman Yoav Kisch — The Knesset House Committee plans to add a punishment for calling for a boycott of Israel to the legislature’s rulebooks when it returns from its summer recess at the end of October, following an exclusive report in The Jerusalem Post on MK Basel Ghattas (Joint List) calling for a boycott and sanctions against Israel in Montreal earlier this month. House Committee chairman Yoav Kisch (Likud) said he plans to amend Knesset regulations so that there will be consequences for such behavior. The proposed change, the details of which Kisch has yet to reveal, was inspired by Ghattas’s call for a boycott of Israel at the World Social Forum, a radical left-wing conference in Montreal two weeks ago. The lawmaker from Balad, one of the four parties that make up the Joint List, called Israel an oppressive, racist and apartheid state. He said he is pessimistic that there will be peace soon, and international sanctions were the most effective way to combat Israel. After the conference, he made similar remarks at several other events in Canada.
Report finds Norwegian government funds organization supporting BDS campaigns
JPost 29 Aug by Lahav Harkov — Oslo responds that they don’t back NGOs whose “main goal is to promote the BDS campaign” and they oppose delegitimization of Israel — The Norwegian government has been contributing to an organization that funds NGOs active in promoting anti-Israel boycotts, the watchdog organization NGO Monitor reported Monday. According to the Norwegian Foreign Ministry website, NOK 5 million (over $600,000) was allocated to the Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law Secretariat in the second half of 2016, half of which has already been paid. The organization gave $5.78 million to NGOs supporting the anti-Israel boycott, divestment and sanctions movement (BDS) in the past four years, amounting to over half of its operating budget of $10.38 million. According to its own reporting, 80 percent of the Secretariat’s distributions are allocated to 24 core NGOs. NGO Monitor found that 13 of them support BDS … Among the NGOs funded by the Secretariat is BADIL, which received $260,000 in 2015, and whose website states that the organization “has been fully committed to BDS campaigns from its very inception” and “rejects current proposed settlements such as the Roadmap for Peace and the Arab Peace Initiative.” … Al-Haq received $710,000 from the Secretariat in 2015, and leads lawfare campaigns against Israel at the International Criminal Court, as well as BDS activities. Al Haq’s director, Shawan Jabarin, is a senior activist in the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) terrorist organization….
Land, property, resources theft & destruction / Ethnic cleansing / Settlements / Judaization
Pictures: Cracks in the houses of the neighborhood of Wadi Hilweh in Silwan due to excavations underneath
Silwanic 28 Aug — The extent of cracks appearing in establishments in the neighborhood of Wadi Hilweh in Silwan recently increased due to the continuous Israeli excavations underneath the neighborhood. Wadi Hilweh Information Center explained that wide cracks and landslides appeared in new places in the neighborhood and the old cracks also widened as the amounts of soil removed from underneath the neighborhood are remarkably increasing. The center explained in a statement: “The cracks and landslides used to only appear in the winter season. Recently, the old cracks have widened and new cracks are appearing all year round which shows the increasing of excavation works taking place underneath the neighborhood putting the establishments of Wadi Hilweh at risk of collapsing at any time.” The residents of the neighborhood explained to the center that these cracks occurred recently in “Hosh Siam” and several other others; Hosh Siam includes seven apartments for the family of Daoud Atallah Siam. Cracks started appearing three months ago and remarkably widened in the last few days; nearly 30 individuals live in Hosh Siam including children. Landslides also occurred and damaged occurred to the infrastructure of the building of Sarfandi family and the house of the widow of the late Adnan Siam who left the first floor of her house due to the cracks several months ago and moved to the second floor where new cracks surprisingly appeared recently. The locals added that cracks appear in the neighborhood’s streets every now and then despite the municipality’s attempts to hide them. The streets are clearly inclined and cracks are expanding and increasing in the walls. The locals expressed their extreme worry regarding this issue. The locals also added that sounds of digging using hand and electric tools are continuously heard underneath their homes and the more they hear digging sounds, the more cracks they notice. Ahmad Qaraeen, member of Wadi Hilweh committee, explained that the occupation authorities began the excavation works underneath the neighborhood in 2007 and the residents were able to obtain an order from the Israeli courts to stop the excavations underneath their houses for 14 months….
The stark difference between Israeli and Palestinian schools on the same side of the separation barrier
+972 blog 28 Aug by Eitan Kalinski — Just five minutes from Kfar Saba, under full Israeli control, children from the village Arab a-Ramadin will attend a school made of clay, without electricity, and most certainly without computers. All my years as a teacher and administrator couldn’t have prepared me for this place — As I stood in front of a structure called “School for the Children of the Village of ‘Arab a-Ramadin,” located five minutes from Kfar Saba, I felt myself shamefully shed over 40 years of teaching. A stone’s throw from Kfar Saba’s cultural centers and educational palaces to the west, and the settlement of Alfei Menashe to the east, stands a cramped condemnable clay structure with a gaping roof. We’ll call it a school. In Kfar Saba, which as I mentioned is five minutes away from this school, the staff of teachers at every school is diligently undergoing final preparations to receive the students who will arrive to smart classrooms, laboratories for chemistry and physics, computer and robotics rooms, a gymnasium, spacious well-lit classes, air conditioning that will give you chills during heat waves, heating that will warm students when it’s cold, an expansive yard for recess, bathrooms and water fountains in the yard, and lockers and cold water in the corridors. I have been a teacher for over 40 years. I assumed managerial positions for several years and led a teacher’s seminar in Safed. All my organs associated with the education system suffered from shock on Saturday, when I left a tour with dozens of young members of Combatants for Peace and stood before this structure. I felt the intensity of a painful gap between what I experienced throughout all my years in the school system, and the trampling of respect for student and the teacher, which will take place on September 1 at the ‘gate’ of the ‘Arab a-Ramadin school. On the other hand, for the children of Arab a-Ramadin — located in Area C, under Israel full Israeli jurisdiction — a dedicated staff of teachers imbued with a mission to do the impossible, wait within the clay walls of the classroom. Under a gaping frayed ramshackle roof, three students will sit around one desk because of the shortage, and over 40 students will cram into one classroom. Rays of sunlight will shine through one tiny window to light the room that isn’t connected to electricity … I admire the seventh grade science teacher who taught the second lesson on Thursday in conditions in which they could only tell stories about science, unable to introduce students to contemporary 21st century studies….
Palestinian water wars boiling over in Sa‘ir
JPost 28 Aug by Adam Rasgon — Palestinian Water Authority accuses employees of Sa‘ir Municipality of stealing water; municipality says claims are false — The Palestinian Water Authority and the Sa’ir Municipality are at odds over the disappearance of large amounts of water from Sa‘ir, a town of 25,000 northeast of Hebron, as the region experiences water shortages. The PWA, which coordinates and regulates the distribution of water in the Palestinian territories, said in an August 12 statement that it had uncovered an ongoing water-theft operation in the village. A number of Sa’ir residents have long made illegal openings in the village’s pipes, diverting water without the knowledge of the water authority. However, in this case, the authority accused the Sa‘ir Municipality of being behind the theft and, in coordination with the Palestinian Customs Authority, arrested 13 municipal employees, including Mayor Kayed Jaradat. “The Palestinian Water Authority seized an illegal attachment to the main water pipes in the Hebron governorate… which has affected the amount of water provided to other areas in the Hebron region,” the August 12 statement read. In response to the arrests, on August 18, hundreds of Sa‘ir residents demonstrated outside the municipality and blocked the Nabi Yunis road, the main passageway from Sa‘ir and other villages into Hebron. Following the demonstrations, PA Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah intervened and ordered Hebron’s prosecutor-general to release the mayor and other municipal employees….
Palestine’s latest evictions are a human rights crisis – world leader must act / Leila Farha
The Guardian 29 Aug — The villagers of Susiya and the Bedouin are some of the West Bank’s most vulnerable communities. Their fate is in the hands of the UN security council — Abu Jihad, a Susiya village elder, waits anxiously. His home in the south Hebron hills of the occupied West Bank faces demolition for the third time. Legal options are running out as Israeli authorities proceed with their plans to forcibly evict half the village. Global opinion and pressure have helped keep the bulldozers at bay this time around. So far. The Palestinian herder community of Susiya was forced out of its century-old village in 1986. Israel declared the area an archaeological site and then handed it over to Israeli settlers. The villagers moved into tents and caves on their own farmland, but were evicted from there as well by the Israeli army in 1991. No reasons were given. They now live on another part of their farmland, sandwiched between a hostile Israeli settlement and one of its outposts. For several decades now, the villagers of Susiya have lived under the constant threat of becoming homeless once again. Mass demolition of their homes and forced evictions took place in 2001 and 2011. Israel claims it has no planning permits to build on the farmland, but at the same time makes it impossible for Palestinians to obtain permits. Residents of Susiya have applied for permits over the years but each application is met with rejection. Susiya’s plight is not an exception. In addition, more than 46 Bedouin communities in the central West Bank – around 7,000 Palestinians – face Israeli pressure to leave their homes. These are among the most vulnerable people in Palestine. Most of them are Palestinian refugees, forced out of southern Israel following the 1948 Arab-Israeli war … Every week somewhere in the West Bank a family watches while their home is demolished by bulldozers. In 2016 there has been a dramatic rise in forced evictions across the West Bank … When help is offered, the donations of tents, water tanks and children’s play equipment are seized or destroyed. Access to grazing land and markets, essential for these herding communities to earn a living, is restricted, irreparably damaging their way of life. The aim and effect of this coercive environment is clear – to make life for Palestinians on the land unliveable….
Fatah official insists that presidential and parliamentary elections must follow local poll
MEMO 29 Aug — A senior Fatah official has insisted that presidential and parliamentary elections must follow October’s local government poll. The aim, said Revolutionary Council member Nabeel Amro, must be to have an elected Palestinian leadership which is “able to face the Israeli occupation,” Quds Press reported on Sunday. Amro, who is a former Palestinian Authority ambassador to Cairo, said that the upcoming local elections are an “important stage” in the Palestinian political process. He called on all of the Palestinian factions not to “waste any opportunity to get an elected leadership” all the way from charities and NGOs, through trade unions, to parliament and the presidency. The official downplayed fears of internal divisions inside Fatah, noting that these are “aggravated”. He also ruled out concerns that elections would deepen the division between the Palestinian factions.
Social media becomes electoral war zone for Hamas, Fatah
Al-Monitor 29 Aug by Asmaa al-Ghoul — While the official campaign period for Palestinian local council elections doesn’t begin until Sept. 24, Hamas supporters have already launched several social media initiatives aimed at drumming up support — … These elections are different from the last elections in 2006, as social media is now used for early campaigning and is mirroring the state of polarization between Hamas and Fatah. This appears clearly through the posts of social media users close to Hamas via media campaigns under hashtags allocated to support the movement — #Ready and #Before&After, as well as #GazaMoreBeautiful. These hashtags were also used by Fatah supporters and anti-Hamas activists to express their own opinions. While Hamas supporters post beautiful photos of Gaza and statistics on the number of schools and road projects that were completed during the reign of Hamas, their opponents use the same hashtags to talk about the deteriorating situation in the Gaza Strip, such as the spread of unemployment and poverty and the destruction that took place under Hamas. Perhaps this social media campaign is just a test of the most efficient means of campaigning and its impact on people — a prelude for adopting the social media campaign as the official electoral campaign scheduled to begin Sept. 24….
Hamas candidates in election will not carry group’s name
MEMO 26 Aug — Hamas will not submit candidates in its own name for upcoming Palestinian municipal elections scheduled for October, the movement said. “Instead the movement will present academic lists, professionals, experts, people recognised for their role in the administration or for international relations,” Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum told AFP. The movement will determine which candidates to support after the Central Election Commission announces the lists of candidates. Meanwhile, Fatah’s Gaza spokesman Fayez Abu Eita told reporters that the party had “submitted lists of candidates for all municipalities in the Gaza Strip to the electoral commission” on the last day of registration. The commission will announce the names of official candidates on 29 August.
Give arrested aid worker fair trial, Amnesty tells Israel
AFP 29 Aug — Amnesty International on Monday called on Israel to give an aid worker charged with aiding the Islamist movement Hamas a “fair and open trial”, citing allegations of abuse in custody. “He was initially denied access to a lawyer and when she was eventually allowed to meet him, he alleged he had been seriously mistreated in custody,” the rights group said in a statement. “The Israeli authorities must immediately investigate the allegations that Mohammed Halabi was mistreated in custody and may have been forced into ‘confessing’ under duress,” it added. “Any evidence obtained through torture, or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment must be excluded from proceedings. Without independent and impartial investigations into these allegations the trial risks being fundamentally flawed.” On August 4 an Israeli court charged Halabi, the Gaza director of the World Vision NGO, with having channeled millions of dollars in foreign aid to the Palestinian Islamist movement Hamas and its armed wing … World Vision, a Christian humanitarian organisation, has reacted by saying it had “no reason to believe” the allegations against Halabi were true….
Palestinian PM vows to resign if PA fails to arrest all West Bank fugitives
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 28 Aug — Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah vowed to resign from office if the Palestinian Authority failed to arrest all wanted men responsible for encouraging “security chaos” in the occupied West Bank. In an interview Saturday evening with Ma’an TV, Hamdallah, who is also the Minister of Interior, said that operations would continue throughout the West Bank to “impose security” and “arrest all fugitives.”“No one has immunity,” the prime minister insisted. Hamdallah described an armed crime network of around 30 fugitives who were responsible for creating “a state of lawlessness” by carrying out occasional shootings, kidnappings, and “imposing their will on the (Palestinian) people.” The interview came after the Palestinian Authority’s (PA) massive security crackdown turned deadly in recent weeks in the northern West Bank city of Nablus, after two policemen were killed during a raid into the Old City to uncover weapons and make arrests.
Human Rights Watch: Palestinians abuse media, activists
JERUSALEM (AP) 29 Aug — Palestinian authorities are silencing dissent by cracking down on free speech and abusing local journalists and activists critical of their policies, a leading international human rights group said Tuesday. Human Rights Watch said both the Western-backed Palestinian Authority led by President Mahmoud Abbas in the West Bank and its rival, the ruling Islamic militant group Hamas in the Gaza Strip, are “arresting, abusing, and criminally charging journalists and activists who express peaceful criticism of the authorities.” “The Palestinian governments in both Gaza and the West Bank are arresting and even physically abusing activists and journalists who express criticism on important public issues,” said Sari Bashi, the Israel and Palestine country director at Human Rights Watch. HRW said that in the West Bank, Palestinian forces arrested activists and musicians who “ridiculed Palestinian security forces” and “accused the government of corruption” in statements posted on Facebook or stated in graffiti and rap songs. In Gaza, the rights group said an activist who criticized Hamas for “failing to protect a man with a mental disability” was detained and intimidated by the group, as was a journalist who “posted a photograph of a woman looking for food in a garbage bin.” The New York-based rights group said that in the incidents of abuse, “activists and journalists said that security officers beat or kicked them, deprived them of sleep and proper food, hosed them with cold and then hot water, and made them maintain uncomfortable positions for long hours.” Tarik Abu Zaid, a journalist with the Hamas-allied al-Aqsa TV station, said he has been arrested by the Palestinian Authority three times, most recently in March, and held for a month each time….
Israeli violations against journalists in occupied territory increase by 17% in first half of 2016
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 28 Aug — A Palestinian press freedoms watchdog said on Saturday that Israeli violations against media freedoms in the occupied Palestinian territory had continued to rise at a rapid pace over the first half of 2016. The increase came even after the group reported an “unprecedented” increase in violations throughout 2015 — “the highest ever to be monitored in Palestine” since the group started monitoring violations against media freedoms more than a decade ago. The Palestinian Center for Development and Media Freedoms, known as MADA, recorded a 17 percent escalation of violations by Israeli authorities during the first half of 2016. MADA General Director Moussa Rimawi said in the semi-annual report that while the total number of violations by both Israeli and Palestinian authorities declined from 224 in the first half of 2015 to 198 in the first half of this year — a rate of 12 percent — Israeli violations continued to climb, while Palestinian authorities committed 41 percent less violations during the same period. A total of 133 violations committed by Israel were recorded, compared to 43 in the occupied West Bank and 22 in the blockaded Gaza Strip committed by Palestinian authorities … The most severe violation recorded during the first half of 2016 was the “execution” of the 22-year-old Palestinian journalism student Iyad Omar Sajadiyya, who was shot dead by Israeli forces in March during fierce clashes that broke out when the military raided Qalandiya refugee camp in the occupied West Bank to extricate two soldiers. Palestinian journalists were also exposed to 33 physical injuries from bullets, stun grenades, tear gas canisters, or beatings. The report added that Israeli authorities closed two media institutions after ransacking and confiscated equipment from their offices, while 23 journalists and media workers have been detained between January and June of 2016….
UN sees surge in Israeli settlements after Quartet report
AFP 29 Aug — Israeli settlement expansion has surged in the two months since the diplomatic Quartet called for a halt to the construction of Jewish outposts on Palestinian land, the UN envoy said Monday. In a much-awaited report, the Quartet — the United States, Russia, the European Union and the United Nations — urged Israel to stop building settlements and called on the Palestinians to cease incitement to violence. But Nickolay Mladenov, the UN coordinator for the Middle East peace process, acknowledged that this appeal had fallen on deaf ears. “Its recommendations continue to be ignored, including by a surge in Israeli settlement-related announcements and continuing demolitions,” Mladenov told the Security Council. The Quartet report was to serve as the basis for reviving the Israeli-Palestinian peace process that has been comatose since a US initiative collapsed in April 2014. There has been growing alarm that the construction of Jewish settlements on land earmarked to be part of a future Palestinian state is killing off prospects for a peace deal based on the two-state solution …Israel has undertaken a land survey on the outskirts of Bethlehem for the establishment of a new settlement in a move that would contribute to the “dismemberment of the southern West Bank,” said Mladenov….
Government minister appoints first Arab legal adviser
Ynet 28 Aug by Itamar Eichner — In an unprecedented move, a Christian Arab has been nominated as legal advisor to a government office; data reveals stark increase in Arab participation in public sector; ‘I have never felt any discrimination. We are all one big family — A Christian Arab has been nominated to become the legal advisor to the Ministry of Development in the Periphery, the Negev and the Galilee, making him the first Arab ever to occupy the position of a legal advisor in a government office. Maron Halifah, a 34-year-old resident of Haifa, began his career in 2005 under then Deputy Prime Minister Shimon Peres. He then moved to the President’s Residence where he served as deputy legal advisor and in 2009 returned to his former position which later evolved into the aforementioned office under the leadership of Silvan Shalom. Three years ago Halifah switched positions once again and became the legal advisor in the northern district to the Israel Fire and Rescue Services before taking on his new post. “This is a pride which has broken a kind of glass ceiling for the first time,” Halifah commented. “I hope that this will open the way for others to reach the top and shatter the conventions. I feel at home in the office and everyone is like one big family. It is fun to be here and to work for residents of the periphery.” … According to recently published data, a marked increase by 14% began since January 2015 of Arabs joining the public sector. The data serves to refute claims made by Arab MKs to the contrary.
Walk a path of history in Palestine (video)
IMEMC 27 Aug by George Rishmawi — Walk a path of history; experience nature and hospitality in Palestine. Join us for a journey on the Masar Ibrahim Al-Khalil, a new Palestinian hiking trail where kindness is a language spoken by all, and the storied wilderness is a constant companion. Discover a land full of life, and color your understanding.
The Tunisian pop star who filled Palestinians with hope – for one night
+972 23 Aug by Samah Salaime — For one night, Tunisian megastar Saber Rebaï brought Palestinians in the West Bank just a modicum of normalcy — …I went to Rawabi on Friday with my partner and son to attend a concert by Tunisian superstar Saber Rebaï, who has occupied the top of the Arab pops for more than two decades. He is a judge on the Arab version of the talent show “The Voice,” and his music has been the soundtrack for lovebirds across the Arab world. And now that he’s in Palestine, is skipping his concert even an option? Very few Arab artists set foot in the West Bank or do the impossible and perform for a Palestinian audience inside Israel. Every year, there are a couple of exceptionally brave signers, bands or poets who come here, and every year they are welcomed by a heated debate in the press: is going through Israeli immigration tantamount to normalization and putting up with the occupation? Will the singer’s entourage make it through the checkpoints in the first place? This ubiquitous moral dilemma is not inconsequential when so many artists prefer to avoid it and vote with their feet. On the other hand, there are some eminent artists who dare challenge the preconceptions of the most vehement proponents of boycotting Israel in the name of solidarity with the Palestinian people and Arab brotherhood. This, at least, is what they say – there could be a financial reason behind it as well … As I entered the amphitheater I couldn’t believe my eyes. Thousands of people filled it to capacity, waiting for their favorite singer to come on the stage. Security guards, ushers, and policemen were everywhere, next to ambulances and paramedics and food stalls, colorful laser beams, a drone filming the scene and projecting it on two massive screens, and huge stone columns surrounding the round stage. My heart was beating fast and I couldn’t stop smiling. A huge Palestinian flag flew underneath a beautiful full moon. My son Adam remarked, with an air of surprise, that the place was full of Palestinians. We could barely find a place to sit until a Nabulsi family crowded together and the father graciously made space for us….