Israeli blockade on Gaza tightened in July, new figures show
MEMO 16 Aug — New data released by a United Nations agency and an Israeli NGO has confirmed that Israel’s blockade on the Gaza Strip actually tightened during July. UN OCHA’s monthly update for July reports that the number of crossings at Erez was 15 per cent below the 2016 monthly average, and just 30 per cent of the monthly average in 2004. The organisation noted that “the largest decline, 27% compared to average during the first half of 2016, was recorded among traders.” Meanwhile, at the Israeli-controlled Kerem Shalom crossing, a total of just 157 truckloads of goods exited for sale outside of the Gaza Strip, down on the average for the first half of 2016 – and just 20 per cent of the equivalent figure in 2005. With regards to entry of goods, Kerem Shalom operated for 19 out of 26 scheduled days, with the volume of imports also down compared to the monthly average during the first half of 2016. Construction materials made up 60 per cent of all truckloads of goods entering Gaza during July. Rafah, meanwhile, was opened for just three days during the month. The Egyptian authorities have kept the Rafah crossing shut for all but 53 days since October 2014. Israeli NGO Gisha recently updated its ‘Gaza Cheat Sheet’, which begins by noting that in the 2nd quarter of 2016, the unemployment rate in the Gaza Strip was 41.7 per cent, and 57.6 per cent among young people. More than 70 per cent of the population relies on humanitarian aid. According to Gisha, “Israel allows civilian goods to enter Gaza, other than an extensive list of items that it defines as “dual-use”, which it claims may be used for military purposes.” This list includes “dozens of items needed for industry and maintenance of civilian infrastructure.” Gisha notes that the 2016 monthly average of exits of Palestinians via Erez represents about 2.8 per cent of the monthly average of exits of Palestinian labourers alone in September 2000….
Israeli navy kidnaps five fishers in northern Gaza
IMEMC 15 Aug — Israeli navy ships attacked, on Monday evening, a number of Palestinian fishing boats, in Palestinian territorial water in Beit Lahia, in the northern part of the Gaza Strip, and kidnapped five fishers. Eyewitnesses said the navy fired many live rounds at the boats and kidnapped Fadi Mahmoud Bakr, Ehab Jawad Bakr, Mamdouh No’man Bakr, Wael Nabil Bakr and Khamis Ziad Meenawi. The five were all fishing in the same boat; the navy also confiscated their boat and took it to Ashdod Port. On Friday, August 12th, the navy attacked fishing boats and kidnapped five fishers identified as Saed Jom’a Bakr, Mahmoud Saed Bakr, Ibrahim Saed Bakr, Yasser Nasser Bakr and Ahmad Mahmoud al-Louh. The attacks are part of frequent Israeli violations against the besieged and improvised coastal region.
Limited Israeli incursion east of Khan Younis
KHAN YOUNIS (PIC) 17 Aug — Four Israeli military bulldozers escorted by four tanks carried out a limited incursion Wednesday morning into the eastern areas of Khan Younis to the south of Gaza Strip. The PIC reporter revealed that Israeli military bulldozers advanced into Abu Rida district to the east of Khuzaa town east of Khan Younis while the tanks were stationed at sand hills within the border line during the incursion amid flying of drones at low altitudes. He also reported that Israeli soldiers unleashed their gunfire towards Palestinian farmers in al-Farahein area in Abasan town east of Khan Younis.
Gaza merchants protest Israeli travel bans
AFP 16 Aug — Palestinian businessmen staged a protest Monday at a crossing between Gaza and Israel over what they said was Israel’s mass cancellation of travel permits that they claimed was suffocating trade. Palestinians accuse Israel of having scrapped hundreds of travel documents allowing them to enter Israel and the West Bank as well as other countries for trade. The Palestinians say that the permits are crucial to the economy of the Gaza Strip, particularly in light of Israel’s security blockade imposed to prevent the supply of weapons to Hamas then used against Israel. COGAT, the defence ministry body responsible for implementing government policies in the Palestinian territories, refused to comment on Monday. But an Israeli official confirmed to AFP: “There are currently 1,600 trading permits, compared to 2,800 in the same period in 2015.” Walid al-Hosary, chairman of the Gaza chamber of commerce, said that “more than 1,500 permits and more than 160 authorization cards for merchants and businessmen have been withdrawn.” Israel had cited “security reasons”, he told the demonstrators at the Erez crossing. Also, “the entry into the Gaza Strip of many of the necessary raw materials and goods for the industrial sector have also been prevented,” he claimed. “We also call for more neutrality in the private sector and for it not to be mixed in any political decisions, because traders, businessmen and industrialists do not have anything to do with political matters,” Hosary added. Israel controls all but one of the crossing points with Gaza — the Rafah crossing into Egypt.
Israel continues to blackmail Gaza patients
GAZA (PIC) 16 Aug — Israeli arbitrary procedures against the Palestinians at Erez Crossing resulted in the death of a Palestinian patient, Yousef Younis, as he was not allowed to reach hospital, according to al-Mezan Center For Human Rights. Al-Mezan said Israeli forces arrested and tortured the Palestinian blood cancer patient Yousef Younis, 19, from northern Gaza Strip at an Israeli checkpoint on his way to hospital. Yousef’s story Al-Mezan stated that Israeli forces arrested Yousef on April 14, 2016 at an Israeli checkpoint near Arraba southwest of Jenin, after he had passed through Erez Crossing to get to An-Najah National University Hospital for treatment. Yousef told al-Mezan’s lawyer after he was released that he had been kept in Israeli Asqalan (Ashkelon) prison for 13 days. There, he was physically and psychologically tortured. He was cuffed and forced to sit on a small iron stool, and he was verbally insulted, extorted and blackmailed. On June 28, he got an appointment for treatment at Hadassah Ein Kerem Hospital in occupied Jerusalem. He stayed in hospital until July 5, and then he returned to Gaza waiting for a new appointment to undergo bone marrow transplant surgery. When he got an appointment for the surgery at Hadassah Ein Kerem hospital on July 11, he applied for an Israeli permit to leave Gaza, but he was denied. Four days later, Yousef received a call from the Israeli Intelligence trying to blackmail him to work as a collaborator for the Israeli military in return for a permission to leave Gaza. When he refused, he was denied leaving Gaza until he died on August 8. –Violations– According to al-Mezan, the Israeli authorities continue to break international humanitarian law by depriving the Palestinian civilians of the Gaza Strip of their rights to movement and receiving treatment. Since the start of the year 2016, the Israeli forces have arrested 20 Palestinians at Erez Crossing, of whom 5 were patients and 4 attendants. Israel is still ignoring 67 patients’ applications from Gaza to leave through Erez Crossing for treatment.
Gaza students build new solar power car
albawaba 17 Aug — The Gaza strip has been under siege for ten years but this has done little to hamper the innovation and creativity of two Gazan university students, who have built a small solar powered car, Gaza Online reports. The tools required to create the car were not easily accessible due to Israel and Egypt’s clamp down on supplies entering the territory. But mechanical engineering students Jamal al-Miqati and Khaled al-Bardawel remained determined, and managed to track down all the necessary parts, eventually presenting the car at the Al-Azhar University campus in Gaza. The car is powered by two glass panels on the roof, which absorb the sun and transfer its energy to the rest of the car. The battery of the car can be used for five hours without absorbing the sun’s rays. According to al-Miqati, the idea came about as a way to address Gaza’s fuel crisis. Israel supplies the majority of fuel to the Palestinian population, and Gaza constantly experiences severe fuel and electricity shortages. However, the car is not Gaza’s first stint in solar powered energy. Schools, medical centers and hospitals on the strip are increasingly relying on solar power as a means to tackle the ongoing power crisis. Unfortunately, it’s an expensive alternative. But it’s one that a growing number of Gazans are leaning towards; providing a more reliable source of power than the supply controlled by Israel.
Video: Gaza man uses self-built solar desalinization machine to purify water
IE 16 Aug by Trevor English — The Gaza strip has been battered by war in recent history which has left the local population low on essential supplies, clean drinking water being one of the main shortages. One man has taken his knowledge of solar distillation and created a small rooftop mounted device that can produce about 2.6 gallons of clean water per day. Solar distillation is a slow process that essentially works by slowly evaporating and condensing the water inside, but it is very effective at cleaning water. The distillation takes all of the pollutants and salt from the water that is collected by residents. The system produces enough water for about 2 grown adults each day, and when implemented across Gaza, it could save many lives, according to InHabitat. Many were skeptical of the cleanliness of the water that as being produced from the small system, but the local water utility found the drinking water up to par. If you have some spare time and solar panels, it is actually quite easy to find plans for a similar system online. The local man behind this project is now working with others in the community to help implement more of these life-saving systems.
Violence / Detentions — West Bank / Jerusalem
Israeli forces withdraw from devastated al-Fawwar, leaving Palestinian teen killed, 45 injured
HEBRON (Ma‘an) 17 Aug — Israeli forces withdrew from al-Fawwar refugee camp overnight Tuesday after being deployed in the camp for nearly 24 hours, in a massive military onslaught which left a Palestinian teenager killed and 45 others injured by Israeli fire. An Israeli army spokesperson confirmed to Ma‘an that Israeli soldiers left the camp sometime overnight Tuesday after first raiding it around dawn, in an “operational activity to uncover weaponry” and search for wanted Palestinians. She added that no Israeli injuries were reported, with the exception of one Israeli soldier who was lightly injured by a thrown rock. Large numbers of Israeli troops from three army units surrounded the camp around dawn on Tuesday, when they began ransacking homes, interrogating residents in the streets, and positioned snipers on the rooftops of Palestinian homes. Local youth reacted to the forces’ presence by throwing stones and Molotov cocktails, sparking clashes with the soldiers who fired live gunshots, tear gas, and rubber-coated steel bullets at the youth. UN medical sources said that they opened a makeshift medical clinic in the camp to compensate for the shortage of medical supplies of the clinic in the camp, adding that “many injured Palestinians were seen lying in the streets.”
Muhammad Abu Hashhash, 17, died on Tuesday afternoon after being shot by Israeli forces with live ammunition in the heart earlier that day. Witnesses told Ma‘an that medics were prevented from accessing the site, and that Israeli soldiers stopped an ambulance belonging to the Palestinian Red Crescent which was trying to evacuate a seriously injured young man, preventing the ambulance from leaving the camp for an hour. It could not be confirmed whether the ambulance was carrying Abu Hashhash.
General Director of the Hebron Governmental Hospital, Walid Zalloum, said that 38 other live fire injuries were treated at the hospital, mainly in the thighs and legs, and some in the arms. General Director of the al-Ahli Hospital in Hebron, Youssef al-Takruri, said that five Palestinians were treated there — four for gunshot injuries in the legs and one for a chest wound. Medical sources also said that a wounded Palestinian was taken to the Rafidiya Governmental Hospital in Nablus for treatment for a leg wound, and another was taken to a Ramallah-area hospital after being injured with an explosive bullet in his left shoulder. According to Israeli newspaper Haaretz, the Israeli army only confirmed 23 injuries.
Several residents of the refugee camp said that Israeli soldiers stole money and gold while searching their houses, destroying their belongings, and taking pictures of some of the residents. Head of the Palestinian Prisoner’s Society (PPS) in Hebron and a resident of al-Fawwar, Amjad al-Najjar, said that he and his 40-member family were locked inside a room in his house during the raid. “Israeli soldiers searched and ransacked the house and left after four hours, which is when we realized they stole gold and money.” At least three Palestinians were detained during the raid, including a father and son after Israeli forces claimed to have found a broken gun in the house. The Israeli army said Tuesday that two pistols, a commando knife, stun grenades, and bullets were found during the raid.
While Tuesday’s raid on al-Fawwar was particularly violent, Israeli raids in Palestinian towns, villages, and refugee camps are a daily occurrence in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, with a weekly average of 78 search and detention raids carried out since the start of 2016, according to UN documentation. Due to the typically aggressive nature of the raids, clashes often erupt between local Palestinian youth who throw stones and are met in response with live fire and tear gas, often resulting in serious, sometimes fatal injuries….
Day of mourning declared in Hebron after teen killed by Israeli forces, former prisoner dies
HEBRON (Ma‘an) 17 Aug — The Fatah movement in southern Hebron declared a day of mourning Wednesday after a 17-year-old Palestinian was killed by Israeli forces in the al-Fawwar refugee camp and a former prisoner died in the hospital on Tuesday. Muhammad Abu Hashhash, 17, died Tuesday afternoon after succumbing to a live bullet wound to the heart. He was shot by Israeli forces during clashes earlier that day in al-Fawwar in the southern occupied West Bank district of Hebron, when dozens of other Palestinian youth were injured, private homes were ransacked, and many residents were interrogated. Also on Tuesday, 46-year-old Naim Shawamrah died in Hebron’s al-Ahli Hospital after a painful struggle with muscular dystrophy. He was a former Palestinian prisoner who served 19 years in Israeli custody. Secretary of the Fatah movement in southern Hebron, Yasser Dudin, told Ma‘an Tuesday evening that the movement declared a day of mourning and a comprehensive closure for all governmental and private institutions and stores in southern Hebron. Meanwhile, the Hamas movement in Hebron joined Fatah to call upon Palestinians to take part in Shawamrah’s funeral in the city of Dura set to take place at noon prayers, while Abu Hashhash’s funeral is set to take place after noon prayers in al-Fawwar refugee camp.
Hundreds protest in Ramla over police killing of Palestinian with Israeli citizenship
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 17 Aug — Scores of protesters reportedly demonstrated in front of a police station in the central Israeli town of Ramla on Wednesday to denounce the killing of a Palestinian-Israeli resident by Israeli forces three weeks prior. According to Israeli news website Walla, more than 300 people came out to denounce the death of Jibril Jawarish, an 18-year-old Palestinian citizen of Israel who was shot and killed by police officers during a reported drug-busting operation in Tel Aviv on July 28. “I stand by the Jawarish family in making a furious statement against Jibril’s execution,” Ahmad Tibi, a Knesset member from the Arab Joint List, told Walla at the protest. Tibi added that if Jawarish had not been Palestinian, the Israeli justice system would have sued the police officer who shot him and held a civil trial. Palestinians with Israeli citizenship have long complained of discriminatory treatment at the hands of police forces amounting to racial profiling. Knesset Join List members had previously called out the disproportionate lack of policing in Palestinian-majority neighborhoods compared to Jewish-majority neighborhoods in Israel. MK Yousef Jabareen of the Joint List warned in April against a rise in policing of Palestinian communities in the form of punitive action such as housing demolitions, rather than protecting Palestinian citizens of Israel from criminal violence….
Israel approves release of slain Palestinian bodies to their families
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 16 Aug — Israeli authorities approved on Tuesday the release of slain Palestinians’ bodies which have been withheld since October following attacks or alleged attacks on Israelis, according to the head of the Palestinian Committee of Prisoners’ Affairs. Issa Qaraqe said in a statement that Israeli authorities would gradually begin to release the bodies to their families starting Wednesday. Israeli authorities also added preconditions for the release of the bodies, including conditions that the funerals be held at 1 a.m. and that only the families of the slain Palestinians would be permitted to attend, Qaraqe said, adding that he hoped Israeli authorities would commit to the agreement and not backtrack as happened in the past….
After five months, Israel returns body of slain Palestinian for burial
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 18 Aug — Israeli forces returned the body of a Palestinian for burial on Wednesday night after withholding it from the slain man’s family for five months. Israeli authorities returned the body of Muhammad Jamal al-Kalouti, 21, after midnight at the al-Mujahidin cemetery near Herod’s Gate in occupied East Jerusalem’s Old City. Al-Kalouti was shot dead by Israeli police in March alongside Abd al-Malak Saleh Abu Kharoub, 19, outside of the Old City after the two opened fire in the area. Israeli forces were deployed at Herod’s Gate on Wednesday night, as well as in the neighboring Salah al-Din Street and around the cemetery, as they prevented people from approaching to conform to Israeli limitations on the number of mourners allowed to attend the funeral. Lawyer Muhammad Mahmoud said that Israeli intelligence imposed a number of preconditions on al-Kalouti’s family before returning his body, limiting the number of funeral attendees to no more than 30 family members, and imposing a bail of 20,000 shekels ($5,218). The funeral came after Israeli authorities backtracked Monday evening on a decision made earlier in the day to return the body of Bahaa Elayyan, whose body has been held by Israel for nearly 10 months … The bodies of at least six Palestinians from East Jerusalem are still being held by Israel, while Mahmoud estimated that the bodies of some 14 Palestinians who have been killed since October are being withheld in total.
Israeli forces detain Palestinian youth suspected in Jerusalem stabbing attack
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 17 Aug — A Palestinian youth was detained over suspicions of alleged involvement in a stabbing attack in occupied East Jerusalem last week, Israeli media reported on Wednesday. According to news site Ynet, Israeli intelligence reported that it had detained Ahmad Naim, a 19-year-old resident of the East Jerusalem neighborhood of al-Tur, for allegedly being involved in a stabbing attack on Thursday in which an Israeli youth was lightly injured. Stabbing attacks have become more frequent since the beginning of a wave of unrest in October which has spread across the occupied Palestinian territory and Israel. During this time period, some 32 Israelis have been killed by Palestinians and 218 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli forces and settlers. Naim was also accused of having thrown rocks at Israeli forces, Ynet added.
Palestinian attacker apprehended nearly three years later
Ynet 15 Aug by Yoav Zitun — In a joint operation with the Shin Bet, the IDF and the Judea and Samaria District Police recently arrested the terrorist responsible for the stabbing attack of December 23, 2013, in Adam Square that moderately wounded a policeman. The attacker was 21-year-old Mohammed Younis Ali Abu-Hanak from Al-Abidiya near Bethlehem. The Shin Bet investigation revealed that on the day of the attack, Abu-Hanak’s motive for was to put an end to his difficult life. The investigation also revealed that Abu-Hanak purchased a kitchen knife on the morning of the attack and hid it inside his jacket. He boarded a taxi from Ramallah to Bethlehem to select a random target for his attack. He decided on a policeman who was standing at a traffic circle near the Jewish community of Geva Binyamin and the Palestinian village of Jaba. Abu-Hanak exited the taxi, approached the policeman, and stabbed him once in the back, wounding him moderately. He then fled the scene and managed to evade the authorities for two and a half years before finally being apprehended.
Israeli buys Palestinian girl a new bike after border guards broke hers
Times of Israel 18 Aug by Judah Ari Gross — A Palestinian girl whose bicycle was taken and broken by Border Police officers earlier this month received a new bicycle on Wednesday that had been donated by an Israeli man, peace activist Lonny Baskin told The Times of Israel. On August 2, two border guards were caught on film taking 8-year-old Anwar Burqan’s bicycle and putting it into nearby bushes. During the incident, the bicycle was badly damaged and could no longer be used, according to the family. When Sami Jolles, a diamond merchant who splits his time between Israel and the United States, read about the incident he decided he wanted to help. Burqan’s experience reminded Jolles of something that had happened to his father in Europe during the 1920s, when a group of anti-Semites attacked him and threw his bicycle into a river, he said. Giving a little girl a new bicycle after hers had unfairly been destroyed was a way to “close that circle,” Jolles said….
King of Jordan denounces ‘violations’ of Al-Aqsa Mosque
Al Jazeera 17 Aug by Jinan Aldameary — Jordan’s King Abdullah II said on Monday that he stands firmly against any Israeli attacks on al-Aqsa Mosque in occupied Jerusalem. In an interview with the Jordanian broadcaster Ad-Dustour, the monarch promised to fight “repeated violations and attacks carried out by Israel and extremist groups” at the holy site. “We are continuously dealing with … the blatant attempts to change the status quo in Jerusalem, at its landmarks, its heritage sites and historical identity,” the king said. Jordan is the custodian of the al-Aqsa Mosque compound in Israeli-occupied east Jerusalem and has repeatedly denounced what it says are violations of rules at the site, Islam’s third holiest. Jews, who consider the compound their holiest site and call it the Temple Mount, are allowed to visit but not to pray on the esplanade in order to avoid tensions with Muslims who worship there. On Sunday, about 400 Jews entered the compound to commemorate the destruction of two ancient temples, but several who tried to pray there were expelled by Israeli police, while seven were arrested. Israeli police spokesman Mickey Rosenfeld told Al Jazeera that the Jewish visitors who had not abided by visitation guidelines were removed from the premises. “There are rules for visitation. For instance, there are certain areas in the Temple Mount that Jews aren’t allowed to enter, and certain areas they are not permitted to visit,” Rosenfeld said. “Seven Jews were removed from the premises and released afterwards for deviating from visitation guidelines.” Police units were stationed at several locations throughout the area, he said, in order to prevent clashes from occurring between the Jewish visitors and employees of the Waqf. “This was the first time that such a large number of Jews had visited in one day,” Sheikh Azzam al-Khatib, head of the Islamic Waqf in Jerusalem, said, adding that the majority of Palestinians who sought to pray in the mosque on Sunday were denied entry. “The Israeli police only allowed the elders to pray, and prevented the youth and women from entering.” Palestinian fears of Israeli intentions to undermine Muslim control of the Al-Aqsa mosque compound were a key factor in a wave of violence that erupted 10 months ago.
Prisoners / Court actions
Lawyer appealing decision to keep hunger-striker Bilal Kayid handcuffed to hospital bed
NABLUS (Ma‘an) 17 Aug — A lawyer for Bilal Kayid presented an appeal to the Israeli Supreme Court on Wednesday regarding the conditions in which the hunger-striking Palestinian prisoner has been held while hospitalized. Lawyer Tamir Blank appealed an earlier Israeli court decision which rejected a request that Kayid, who has been on hunger strike for some 65 days, no longer be handcuffed to a hospital bed and be allowed to have an outside doctor check on his health. Blank, along with NGO Physicians for Human Rights, condemned the Beersheba court’s “inhumane” decision. The Israel Prison Service (IPS) had previously justified the decision to keep Kayid handcuffed to his bed in order to “prevent an attempt to free him.” Blank called the excuse “invalid,” noting that four Israeli guards were in Kayid’s room at all times. The lawyer said that such procedures affected Kayid both physically and psychologically on the long term, adding that if the Israeli Supreme Court rejected this appeal, it would have broader consequences on other Palestinian prisoners in similar situations….
Case closed in police attack against Arab reporter: ‘Perp unknown’
Haaretz 18 Aug by Sharon Pulwer — The Justice Ministry has closed the case of a policeman who threw a stun grenade at a journalist because it wasn’t able to identify the policeman responsible. The incident occurred in East Jerusalem’s ‘Isawiyah neighborhood in October 2015. Hana Mahameed, a journalist who works for the Lebanese television station Al Mayadeen, was covering the riots outside the home of Fadi Alloun, who was shot to death after stabbing and moderately wounding a 15-year-old Israeli boy. As she was working, she was suddenly hit by a stun grenade. The incident was captured on camera by a Palestinian television station, and the live broadcast caused an uproar in the Arab world. Afterward, MK Yousef Jabareen (Joint List) filed a complaint on Mahameed’s behalf to the Justice Ministry department that investigates police malfeasance. “Mahameed was wearing a helmet and a fluorescent vest that clearly indicated her identity as a journalist during this incident,” he wrote. “Therefore, it wasn’t possible to have been mistaken about her identity … But in late May, the Justice Ministry informed Jabareen that it was closing the case. “Unfortunately, and despite our efforts, we were unable to identify the perpetrator of the crime against the complainant,” it wrote. “Under these circumstances, there is no choice but to close the case on the grounds of ‘perpetrator unknown.’” ….
3 IDF soldiers disciplined for tossing smoke grenade at Palestinians
[with video] Times of Israel 17 Aug by Judah Ari Gross — Three IDF soldiers were court-martialed Wednesday after they threw a smoke grenade without apparent provocation at a group of young Palestinian men in the northern West Bank earlier this week, an army spokesperson said. The sergeant responsible for the Givati Brigade unit to which he and the other two soldiers belong was found by his battalion commander to have acted “contrary to what is expected of him,” the army said. He has been sentenced to prison, although it is not yet clear for how long, while the other two were confined to their base by the battalion commander. In a video released on Palestinian social media on Tuesday, the soldiers can be seen driving up to the group of men and throwing a small object at them. The Palestinian men, seeing the device, panic and run away, knocking over chairs, before the device explodes in a flash of light and smoke. Initially, the incident was incorrectly said to have taken place in Ramallah. Though in fact, it happened in Kafr Laqif, a village southwest of Nablus, the army said. The incident came a day after the Justice Ministry’s Police Investigations Department decided not to press charges against two Border Police officers who were caught on film taking an 8-year-old Palestinian girl’s bicycle and putting it in nearby bushes.
Creating developmental spaces for children in Deir al-Balah
MEMO 15 Aug — Although a coastal city, Deir al-Balah in the central Gaza Strip is known as an agricultural area. Today, with all export opportunities shut down and borders closed, the agricultural industry has suffered hugely. Deir al-Balah now has some of the highest unemployment levels and poverty rates in all of Gaza. For children, the town’s strip of beach in front of Deir al-Balah refugee camp represents one of the very few places of recreation in the area. To address this lack of opportunity, a local grassroots cultural centre – Nawa Association for Culture and Arts – has been working to establish a park for the town’s children and families. In late July following many months of hard work by the centre’s staff and volunteers the park was finally opened with a small ceremony and its daily activity programme began. For Nawa’s Director, Reem Abu Jaber, who herself was born and raised in the area, the opening of the park was a landmark day in the area but its realisation was only possible after many hurdles had been overcome. Even sourcing the basic construction materials such as wood and cement were seemingly simple tasks that took months amidst Israel’s ongoing blockade of Gaza….
Land, property theft & destruction / Ethnic cleansing / Settlements
Some 70 Palestinians left homeless after Israeli demolitions near Hebron, Bethlehem
[with photos] HEBRON (Ma‘an) 16 Aug — More than 50 Palestinians of the same extended family, including several children, were left homeless Tuesday morning after Israeli forces demolished eight homes in the outskirts of Sa‘ir village in the eastern Hebron district of the southern occupied West Bank, while another 20 lost their home in a house demolition near Bethlehem.
One of the homeowners, Ziad Shalalda, told Ma‘an that Israeli troops stormed the area of Jurat al-Kheil just east of the town of Sa‘ir, and forcibly removed eight Palestinian families from the extended Shalalda family from their homes at gunpoint. An excavator then demolished the buildings under heavy military protection. Shalalda said that he and the other homeowners had been given “stop-work warrants” two years ago on the grounds that they did not have the necessary construction licenses from Israeli authorities. Under the jurisdiction of Area C, the 60 percent of the West Bank where Israel retains full military control over security and civil administration, residents suffer under arbitrary policies of land classification, where they may not utilize any of their lands for building or farming in the areas without having proper authorization from the Israeli Civil Administration, which are nearly impossible to obtain. According to Shalalda, ever since he and his fellow homeowners were issued the warrants to stop construction, they have been consistently trying to obtain licenses, but Israeli authorities have rejected every application.
Shalalda added that Tuesday’s demolitions came without any previous warnings, other than the stop-work warrants the owners received two years ago …. The refusal to grant permits, like in the case of the Shalaldas, by Israeli authorities has forced many Palestinians to build without permission, at the risk of seeing their homes or structures demolished. According to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), Israel only granted 33 building permits out of 2,020 applications submitted by Palestinians between 2010 and 2014.
Meanwhile, Israeli forces on Tuesday left another estimated 20 Palestinians homeless in Beit Jala’s Beir Ouna neighborhood in the Bethlehem district of the southern occupied West Bank. Israeli authorities demolished two homes and a room that were part of a family complex. Moussa Zreina, one of the residents of the homes, told Ma‘an that he, along with his five brothers and a total of 20 family members, were left homeless after their houses were destroyed with no prior notice.
IOF razes Palestinians’ homes in Nablus
NABLUS (PIC) 17 Aug — Israeli Occupation forces (IOF) razed several Palestinian homes and stockyards in Doma and Qusra towns in southern Nablus in the early morning hours of Wednesday and occupied a house in Huwara town. Eyewitnesses told the PIC reporter that Israeli forces escorted by military vehicles raided Doma and Qusra towns after midnight Tuesday and started knocking down Palestinians’ homes under the claim of lacking construction permits. The PIC reporter revealed that the IOF soldiers handed a notice to Jamal al-Tawil about the intention to confiscate his four-dunum land in al-Marajem hamlet in southern Nablus. The Israeli troops had razed his home four months ago, the PIC reporter pointed out.
Israel demolishes multiple Palestinian structures in Jerusalem area
[with photos] JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 16 Aug — Israeli forces demolished multiple Palestinian structures in the Jerusalem area on Tuesday, the same morning that Israeli-enforced demolitions left more than 70 Palestinians homeless in the Hebron and Bethlehem districts of the occupied West Bank. In the Jabal al-Mukabbir neighborhood of occupied East Jerusalem, bulldozers escorted by Israeli police officers and Jerusalem municipality inspectors demolished a single-room house and several outdoor walls, because the structures were built without licenses issued by the Jerusalem municipality. The homeowner, Muhammad Ali Ubeidat, told Ma‘an in Jerusalem that he had recently built the 40-square-meter room in the al-Salaa area of Jabal al-Mukabbir with plans to live there, but later decided to use the structure as a horse barn in the hopes that the municipality would not demolish it if no families were living inside. Ubeidat added that outdoor walls and a gate made of steel bars belonging to his neighbor Riyad Shweiki were also demolished. In a response to a request for comment, a spokesperson for the Jerusalem municipality told Ma’an that “the Jerusalem Zoning Authority dismantled an illegally constructed structure and fence in the Jabal Mukabbir neighborhood. No building permit applications were filed for the structures. Cease and desist orders were issued as early as March, since which time the owners have not exercised their right to appeal or apply for permits retroactively.”
Meanwhile, in the Palestinian village of ‘Anata north of Jerusalem, which is almost completely surrounded by Israel’s separation wall inside the occupied West Bank, Israeli bulldozers demolished a car dealership exhibition owned by Zakarya Moussa without giving prior notice. Moussa told Ma‘an that bulldozers of the Beit El settlement municipality were escorted by Israeli forces to demolish the dealership, in addition to two cars and a room measuring 40 square meters built of tin sheets he used as an office. He added that the dealership had been in business for a year and employed 15 Palestinians. Beit El municipal officers had been delivering demolition orders to many other structures in the area, Moussa noted, but confirmed to Ma‘an that Israeli forces had not delivered one to him, and that the demolition came without prior notice. Moussa added that he was not given the opportunity to evacuate his belongings from the structure, and Israeli forces demolished it with everything still inside.
Israeli forces uproot 50 olive trees as Palestinian farmer awaits court date to appeal
TULKAREM (Ma’an) 16 Aug — Israeli bulldozers uprooted more than 50 olive trees on Tuesday morning in the Palestinian village of Shufa in the northern occupied West Bank district of Tulkarem, Palestinian farmers told Ma‘an, two weeks before a court hearing was scheduled to be held to appeal the Israeli-ordered confiscation of the land. One of the farmers, Abed Hamid, said he received a phone call from a neighbor notifying him that Israeli forces had brought bulldozers to his olive tree orchard and started to uproot the trees, which were planted between 15 and 20 years ago. After Hamid rushed to his land, he said he witnessed Israeli forces “stealing” the majority of his trees, which were left intact. The bulldozers also tore down dry-stone walls in the field. Two months ago, Hamid said, Israeli authorities notified him that 40 dunams (10 acres) of his land were slated for confiscation. His lawyer, a Palestinian living in Israel, told Hamid a court hearing had been arranged, which was expected to be held in the coming two weeks. However, Israeli forces apparently enforced the land confiscation as Hamid was waiting to make his appeal … Vast areas of private Palestinian land between the villages of Jubara and Shufa south of the city Tulkarem are slated for confiscation by Israel for the expansion of the nearby illegal Israeli settlement Avne Hefetz. Last week, some 500 olive trees were bulldozed by Israeli settlers under armed military escort in the northern West Bank district of Salfit, without prior notice, under the pretext that they were located on state lands confiscated by Israel.
Israel to demolish Bedouin school near Jerusalem
AL Jazeera 17 Aug by Jinan Aldameary — The Jahalin school opened its doors a week earlier than scheduled, in protest at Israeli orders for its closure — A protest is due to take place outside a school in Khan al-Ahmar, a Bedouin village on the outskirts of Jerusalem, after Israeli authorities ordered it be shut down and demolished. The solidarity protest, organised by the Palestinian Ministry of Education, was staged after village residents and the Italian ambassador were informed in writing on Monday of Israel’s decision to shut the school, which accommodates 170 students from five Bedouin communities in the region, community spokesman Eid Abo Khamis told Al Jazeera. Italian aid organisation Vento Di Terra helped the Jahalin Bedouin community residing in al-Khan al-Ahmar to build the school in 2009 to serve as an alternative to distant schools, the routes to which are both risky and expensive. Shlomo Lecker, the attorney representing the Jerusalem-based Bedouin community, told Al Jazeera that the Italian ambassador had been summoned by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to discuss the matter. “In response to these orders, the Palestinian Ministry of Education decided to open the school a week earlier than originally planned. This might make any plans of closure more difficult to carry out.”… The Jahalin Tribe currently lives on the periphery of Jerusalem, on the West Bank side of the Apartheid Wall. In the early 1950s, the Bedouins were displaced from their land near Tel Arad, in the southern Negev desert. The tribe is the largest refugee tribe in the West Bank today….
EU logo no shield from Israel’s bulldozers
EI 15 Aug by Silvia Boarini — Bilal Hammadin looks beyond the tin shacks in the occupied West Bank village of Abu Nuwwar, home to approximately 600 Palestinians, to the red-roofed homes in Maaleh Adumim, an Israeli settlement where nearly 40,000 people live. “As I was growing up, I could see the settlement getting bigger. I guess you can say that we grew up together,” he says, laughing at the irony. Hammadin knows all too well that the expansion of the settlement – built in violation of international law, which forbids an occupying power like Israel from transferring its population into the territory it occupies – has meant the steady de-development of his community. In February, the Israeli army demolished two trailers which were to serve as a new school for first- and second-graders. The cabins, donated by a French nongovernmental organization and funded by the European Union, bore visible EU logos. This month France condemned Israel’s demolition of buildings in Nabi Samuel village funded by French humanitarian aid. Israel has destroyed or confiscated French-funded structures, including a school, three times in the village so far this year. In the past, these large stickers bearing the EU logo offered a modicum of protection from demolitions. But this year, at least 150 European-funded structures in the West Bank were demolished by Israeli bulldozers in the first three months of 2016. Some observers – including a far-right Israeli politician who has advocated for the demolitions – suggest the spike in destruction of EU-funded structures is retaliation for the EU’s new regulations requiring labeling of Israeli settlement goods issued late last year.
How Israel is drying out Palestinians in the Jordan Valley
+972 blog 16 Aug by Eitan Kalinski — Next door to the plush Israeli settlements of the Jordan Valley live small Bedouin communities who must struggle for even the smallest bit of water — More than 90 percent of the West Bank’s Jordan Valley region are Palestinians. Less than 10 percent are Israeli settlers. Yet when it comes to water distribution, it turns out, we see a different distribution: settlers are entitled to between eight and nine times more water, while Palestinian communities are subject to a policy of water deprivation. In fact, this is a policy of ethnic cleansing, whose goal is a Jordan Valley bereft of Palestinians. The Jordan Valley is made up of nearly 400,000 acres, constituting 29 percent of the area of the West Bank. The valley is the richest, most fertile land reserve for the demographic and economic development of the future Palestinian state. Yet today, it is undergoing a process of ethnic cleansing, which is ridding it of its Palestinian residents. In 1948 Israeli forces expelled the Bedouin community of Ein Gedi, near the Dead Sea, and re-established it in the Jordan Valley. Through water deprivation and home demolitions, Israel wants to expel them once again. A week and a half ago, my wife and I joined a group of activists who brought over water to the Fasayil encampment, adjacent to the Israeli settlement of Petza’el. The Bedouin encampment gets boiling water for one hour once every four days from a rusty, perforated water pipe, to which members of the community connect rubber hoses in the blazing sun….
Israel laying ground for new settlement near Bethlehem which would ‘cut West Bank in two’
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 15 Aug — Israeli authorities have been conducting a land survey in the southern occupied West Bank near Bethlehem in order to declare state lands to build a new settlement, a move which Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah called “another step towards cutting the West Bank in two” on Monday. In a statement released on Monday, Israeli NGO Peace Now said the Israeli government had notified the Israeli Supreme Court on Aug. 10 that it had begun a land survey in the area of the Palestinian village of Nahla in the West Bank district of Bethlehem, with the aim of declaring “state lands” in the area.“ A declaration as such, combined with the allocation of a small portion of the state lands in the area for the purpose of a road, will enable to connect the planned settlement of Givat Eitam to the settlement of Efrat,” Peace Now said, adding that the move would facilitate the establishment of the illegal settlement of Givat Eitam. Israeli authorities have discussed plans for the creation of the Givat Eitam settlement for years, to be located past the Israeli separation wall inside the West Bank, and meant to host some 2,500 housing units, according to blueprints from the Israeli Ministry of Construction and Housing. “The installation of this infrastructure will be possible if and when the land survey now underway is completed in the area between Efrat and Givat Eitam in a manner that creates contiguity of state lands,” the state document to the Supreme Court read, as quoted by Israeli newspaper Haaretz. … Hamdallah slammed the move as further separating the city of Bethlehem — which is already surrounded by settlements and Israeli-only roads on three sides — from the rest of the southern West Bank and preventing any future Palestinian expansion in the area. “Israel’s move to build a new illegal settlement and bypass road next to Bethlehem is another step into cutting the West Bank in two, and annexing Area C,” said Hamdallah, referring to the more than 60 percent of the occupied West Bank under full Israeli control.
BDS / Solidarity
Celtic vs Hapoel Be’er Sheva: Sport and politics collide
Glasgow, Scotland (Al Jazeera) 16 Aug — Scottish champions Celtic play host to their Israeli counterparts Hapoel Be’er Sheva on Wednesday night in a crucial UEFA Champions League play-off match. This is football’s most illustrious club competition, and the stakes are high. Qualification for the group stages means riches of up to 30 million pounds ($38m), as well as the prestige and glamour of mingling with Europe’s elite. However, all eyes won’t just be on the 22 players on the pitch on Wednesday evening. Instead, much of the build-up to the game has been dominated by what is expected to take place in the stands. Many Celtic fans have long identified with left-wing causes, among them the Palestinian struggle. The flag of Palestine is seen flying at games the club plays, and the match with Hapoel Be’er Sheva will be no exception. The hype around the fixture has already led to the Israeli embassy in London warning Celtic fans against any displays of solidarity … According to Scottish historian Tom Devine, this sense of solidarity with a people thousands of miles away has its roots in the Irish identity of much of the Celtic support. “It’s [got] to do with the sense that the Irish Catholics in Scotland have of being underdogs over several generations,” Devine told Al Jazeera. “There is a strong sense of history among that community, even though it’s now third-, fourth- and fifth-generation Irish.” “Part of their sense of communal identity is that sense of grievance about what was done in the past. People who are Irish nationalists will always tend to support independence movements that they believe to be based on historical justice,” Devine says. “The situation in Palestine is a classic example of land that is being taken from people who lived there for generations. It chimes in with the course of Irish history.”
PA: Czech Education Ministry to stop using textbook defining Jerusalem as Israeli capital
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 17 Aug – The Czech Ministry of Education, Youth, and Sports notified the Palestinian Authority embassy in Prague of their decision to stop using educational textbooks that refer to Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, according to a statement released Tuesday by the Palestinian Foreign Ministry. The Palestinian Ambassador to the Czech Republic Khalid al-Atrash was quoted in the statement, confirming that the textbook used since 2011 would not be used in schools in the country anymore, adding that the textbook would not be circulated again in 2017 unless the publishers correct the statement that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel. The decision was made after the Palestinian embassy contacted Czech ministers and requested that they amend the textbooks. The move also marked a significant challenge to Israel’s attempts to unilaterally declare the whole of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel….
Israeli university, arms company hold hasbara hackathon in Haifa
MEMO 16 Aug — An Israeli university has hosted a hasbara hackathon, which saw students gather to create ways to improve Israel’s image and undermine the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) campaign. The ‘iHack’ event, held at the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology, is the latest example of Israeli students and institutions of higher education enlisting themselves in Israel’s global PR offensive. According to organisers, the event sought to “bring together a community of creative, technical and passionate individuals to work together in teams to create media, content, campaigns, and apps for Israel advocacy.” The goal was “developing products to promote” three objectives: “making Israel advocacy more accessible to the public”; “countering the BDS movement”; and “positively branding Israel.” The Technion students behind the project are all part of the ‘Israel Fellowship’ scheme run by Israel advocacy organisation StandWithUs. The hackathon was run with the help of think-tank the Reut Institute. According to Reut, “the aim is to enhance and develop tools which can be used by activists and organizations fighting against the BDS Campaign and Israel’s delegitimization across the world.”….
In massive shift, Lutherans vote to halt aid to Israel
EI 17 Aug by Ryan Rodrick Beiler — The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America has become the latest US denomination to take economic action against the Israeli occupation. At its triennial assembly last week in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, the four million-member church, one of the largest in the US, voted on two separate resolutions targeting Israel’s occupation and human rights abuses, passing each by a landslide. The first resolution calls for the end of US aid to Israel until it ceases violations of international human rights norms, specifically the ongoing construction of settlements on occupied Palestinian land. It passed by a 751-162 vote, or 82 percent, on 12 August. The US gives Israel more than $3 billion every year, despite laws that prohibit aid to countries with persistent records of human rights violations. The Obama administration has vowed to increase that sum over the coming decade in what would be the largest military aid package the US has ever given any country. The second resolution, adopted by a 90 percent margin on Saturday, calls for the creation of a “human rights social criteria investment screen,” specifically citing concerns raised in the church’s Middle East policy….
Christie signs bill requiring anti-Israel firms divestment
TRENTON, N.J. (AP) 16 Aug — Gov. Chris Christie has signed legislation that would bar the state’s public pension fund from investing with companies that boycott Israel or Israeli businesses. The Republican governor, pointing a finger at Democratic President Barack Obama for criticizing Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, signed the legislation on Tuesday during a statehouse ceremony. “Israel is the beacon of democracy in a region that is constantly in turmoil,” Christie said.
The legislation passed with overwhelming support in the Democrat-led state Legislature in June. The measure is part of a broader effort to oppose a boycott, divestment and sanctions movement that targets Israel and Israeli businesses. The BDS movement, made up of unions, academic associations, churches and other grassroots efforts, describes itself as a Palestinian-led push “for freedom, justice and equality.” Christie said New Jersey does $1.3 billion in trade with Israel every year and called the Middle Eastern country the United States’ “one, true and best friend.”
Palestinians take tentative step towards local elections
GAZA/RAMALLAH (Reuters) 17 Aug — Palestinian political parties began registering candidates for municipal elections on Wednesday, the first step in years towards a democratic vote but one that threatens to re-inflame tensions between the rival Fatah and Hamas movements. The Palestinian Authority based in Ramallah, in the Israeli- occupied West Bank, has called the elections for Oct. 8, with an estimated two million Palestinians eligible to cast ballots. Hamas, the Islamist group that controls Gaza, has given its backing to the process and is ramping up its electoral machine, hoping to mount as strong a challenge as possible to the Western-backed Fatah led by President Mahmoud Abbas. In that respect, the municipal ballot is seen as a proxy for legislative elections, which were last held 10 years ago. No new date has been set for either legislative or presidential elections, despite the mandates having long since expired. The electoral process has repeatedly been scuppered by tensions between Fatah and Hamas, which have frequently spilled over into violence, and it remains to be seen whether the municipal vote will in fact go ahead as planned. “If this election succeeds, it will be the first breakthrough towards reconciliation,” said Hanna Nasser, the chairman of the Palestinian Central Election Committee. “Better to begin late rather than never.” The last municipal ballot was held in 2012, although voting only took place in a fraction of the West Bank’s 350 municipalities, and Hamas in Gaza did not recognise it. The last legislative election was held in 2006 and Hamas scored a surprise victory. That laid the ground for a political rupture – Hamas and Fatah fought a short civil war in Gaza in 2007, since when Hamas has governed the small coastal enclave.
Hamas accuses Israel of intervening in elections after top official detained in raid
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 17 Aug — At least two Palestinian youths were injured with live fire by Israeli forces during clashes and 25 Palestinians were detained during widespread raids overnight Tuesday across the occupied West Bank. At least ten members of the Hamas movement were among the detained, including the movement’s main elections campaigner in the West Bank, sparking accusations from Hamas that Israel was trying to intervene in upcoming municipal elections … Clashes erupted across Ramallah on Wednesday around dawn when Israeli forces raided the al-Amari and Qaddura refugee camps, as well as the Um al-Sharayit, al-Masyoun, and Beituniya areas of the city. Two Palestinians were injured with live fire during the Ramallah raids, locals said, and six Palestinians were detained, including Hamas movement leader Sheikh Hussein Abu Kweik, 50, a representative of the movement’s Central Elections Commission. Clashes were particularly heavy in the al-Amari and Qaddura refugee camps, according to reports. After Israeli forces raided and searched Palestinian homes in the camps, youths threw rocks, Molotov cocktails, and fireworks at Israeli soldiers, who responded with live fire and other crowd control ammunition. Times of Israel quoted a statement from Israel’s security service the Shin Bet as saying Abu Kweik was detained “for his involvement in security-related activities that presented a threat to security in the area,” and that he was suspected of “incitement.” Additional allegations may be brought against the senior Hamas official following his interrogation, the Shin Bet statement reportedly added …
–Hamas reacts to Abu Kweik’s detention– Spokesperson of the Hamas movement Sami Abu Zuhri slammed the detention of Abu Kweik, saying it was indicative that Israel aimed to intervene and affect the results of the upcoming local elections in the occupied Palestinian territory. According to Israeli newspaper Times of Israel, Abu Kweik was appointed last week as Hamas’ only representative to the Palestinian Authority’s (PA) Central Elections Committee, which is overseeing the elections. Municipal elections are set to take place on Oct. 8. The Hamas movement announced its participation in July, paving the way for elections to be held in the Gaza Strip for the first time in a decade. Since the announcement, Hamas has slammed the Fatah-dominated PA “for launching an immoral slander campaign against Hamas” along with Israel in order to sabotage the elections…
Secretary-general of the Palestinian National Initiative Mustafa Barghouthi, who also chairs a Freedom Committee which emerged during Palestinian efforts to bridge the gaps between Hamas and Fatah, denounced Abu Kweik’s detention in a statement Wednesday, accusing Israel of attempting to foil the upcoming local elections in Palestine. “Once again, the (Israeli) occupation is trying to suppress the Palestinian people’s freedom to elect their representatives and to harm Palestinian democracy.”
Lieberman unveils ‘carrot and stick’ plan against terror
Ynet 17 Aug by Yoav Zitun & Tova Tsimuki — Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman presented what has been dubbed his “carrot and stick” plan vis-à-vis the Palestinian population before a group of journalists at the IDF headquarters in Tel Aviv Wednesday. The plan was formulated as a response to Palestinian terror in the West Bank and includes, inter alia, the opening of direct dialogue channels between Israeli officials and Palestinians. Moreover, the minister said that other initiatives will be taken such as the creation of a news website in Arabic as well as the easing of conditions for villages which do not breed terrorists. This is intended for the Palestinian population in the West Bank and Gaza and will cost 10 million shekels. It is forecast to begin transmission this January … Lieberman described the situation of returning the bodies of terrorists from East Jerusalem as both “funny and grotesque” and has stated that he intends to put a stop to such practice and will also work to stop the return of terrorists’ bodies from the West Bank … Lieberman said that 15 Palestinian villages and cities from which no terrorists sprung, to be labeled as ‘green villages,’ will see the immediate easing of any current restrictions. For example and economic conditions will be boosted while industrial areas will be built west of Nablus as well as a hospital and kindergartens. Football fields will also be built in Samaria as part of Lieberman’s “carrot” mechanism. By the same token, he also said that 15 villages would be labeled ‘red villages,’ those which have bred many terrorists during the last year. These villages are expected to face, he said, “heavy security.” By and large however, the “stick” mechanism outlined does not represent a departure from efforts already undertaken to mete out punishment against terrorists. The steps will still include home demolitions, IDF operations in Area A, confiscation of funds used for terror, arrests, the cancellation of work permits of terrorists’ families etc. … Moreover, Lieberman announced his intention to convene direct talks with dozens of influential Palestinian officials hailing from academic and economic backgrounds who, until now, have only been able to conduct talks with Israel with the explicit authorization of the Palestinian Authority. Lieberman elaborated on security activities since the beginning of the year, listing the number of homes demolished, arrests made, weapons located, terror attacks thwarted and attacks by Palestinians.
Facebook closes another Hamas leader’s account in campaign against incitement
JPost 15 Aug by Adam Rasgon — Facebook closed the account of Hamas leader Ismail Radwan on Monday, continuing its campaign against Hamas leaders who use the social-media channel to promote violence. Just last week Facebook closed the accounts of Hamas leader Salah Bardawail and Islamic Jihad leader Khaled al-Batsh. Facebook also closed in July the accounts of the deputy chairman of the Hamas politburo Musa Abu Marzouk, Hamas leader Ezzat al-Rishq (who is Hamas chief Khaled Mashaal’s confidante), as well as a number of Hamas student leaders. Hamas spokesman Hazem Qassim responded to the account closures, telling Ma’an, a Palestinian news agency, that they amount to an Israeli terror operation against social media platforms. Qassim added that Hamas believes Israel wants to blind the public from its “crimes.” “The occupation fears the revelation of its scandalous crimes at the expense of the Palestinian people through posts on social media,” he said….
Killing them slowly: Diabetes in Palestine
Yatta, occupied West Bank (Al Jazeera) 16 Aug by Paul Velo — A mobile clinic with specialised doctors, nurses, nutritionists and podiatrists recently made a stop in Yatta, the main market town of the South Hebron Hills in the occupied West Bank. The clinic – a large truck stocked with free treatment options – is at the forefront of the battle against diabetes, which has now become the leading indirect cause of death in Palestine as the main risk factor for developing cardiovascular disease, according to the World Health Organization. “The mobile clinic is our only alternative for diabetes treatment. We live a life of poverty,” Abu Abdullah, a man in his late fifties, told Al Jazeera … Palestinian arable land occupied by Israel for military and settler use amounts to two-thirds of the West Bank, leaving Palestinian unemployment rates among the highest in the world. “Poverty and unemployment is directly linked to inactivity and a poor diet. That is a recipe for diabetes,” said Ahmad Abu al-Halaweh, who manages the mobile clinic and serves as director of the Diabetes Care Center at the Augusta Victoria Hospital in occupied East Jerusalem. An estimated 15 percent of Palestinians have been officially recorded as suffering from diabetes, compared with a global average of nine percent. But Abu al-Halaweh believes the real number in Palestine is higher – more than 20 percent. “In the surrounding areas of Yatta, we believe half of the adult population has Type 2 diabetes. But many of them don’t know they have it,” he told Al Jazeera, blaming the region’s high unemployment rates and lack of education for the increased rates. The Israeli occupation has exacerbated the diabetes crisis in a number of ways, “especially the psychological stress that comes from it”, Abu al-Halaweh added….
50,000th person immigrates to Israel with Nefesh B’Nefesh
Ynet 17 Aug by Itamar Eichner — Over 230 new Olim to Israel arrived from North America early Wednesday morning on a flight organized by Nefesh B’Nefesh. An Oleh is someone who moves to Israel, an act called making “aliyah.” One of them, Aaron Kress, was quoted as saying “I gave up on the easy life to join the IDF. I want to be part of Israeli society and defend my homeland.”Kress decided to move to Israel in order to join an IDF combat unit. He has a degree in biology and worked in Chicago. According to him “my dream now is to find an Israeli girl and start a family.” Rebecca Glanzer, 22, recently graduated from Columbia University with a degree in economics and is hoping to serve in the IDF’s Artillery Brigade. “I have been looking forward to making Aliyah and serving as a Lone Soldier in the IDF for so many years, and it is so crazy to me that this dream I had in high school is finally being realized,” said Glanzer. “What drew me to Israel was the community and sense of belonging that you cannot find anywhere else in the world. Being the 50,000th person to make Aliyah with Nefesh B’Nefesh only affirms for me that I am part of something bigger, joining the thousands of people who took the opportunity to live a more meaningful and more Jewish life in Israel. I can’t believe it’s finally happening!” Of the 75 soon-to-be soldiers, over half are young women. The flight’s additional passengers include a diverse mix of people from 22 US states and one Canadian province, including 24 families, 78 children and 10 medical professionals. The ages of the immigrants range from 3.5 weeks to 85 years old … A ceremony was held at JFK International Airport right before takeoff, where Israeli Consul General in New York Dani Dayan (Bayit Yehudi), himself an oleh from Argentina, spoke. “You are the largest defeat to BDS… you are taking part in the miracle of the return to Zion.”