Violence / Detentions — West Bank / Jerusalem
Israeli guard kills Palestinian at Qalandiya checkpoint after alleged stabbing attempt
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 22 Nov — Israeli security guards shot and killed a Palestinian at the Qalandiya checkpoint between the central occupied West Bank and occupied East Jerusalem on Monday around 10:30 a.m. Israeli police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld told Ma‘an that a Palestinian attempted to stab Israeli security forces at the checkpoint, and that forces shot the suspect. Israeli police spokeswoman Luba al-Samri confirmed shortly afterwards that the suspect was killed, saying “a Palestinian pedestrian approached a security guard in a path for vehicles wielding a knife and was neutralized.” According to Al-Samri, the Palestinian approached the area where security guards were located at the checkpoint, prompting the guards to ask for identification. A guard then noticed that one of the Palestinian’s hands was in his pocket, and the Palestinian then reportedly took out a knife and tried to stab him. Al-Samri added that the guard and the Palestinian engaged in a fistfight before the Palestinian was shot and killed. No other injuries were reported, and the checkpoint was closed off, Rosenfeld added. The Palestinian Ministry of Health identified the slain Palestinian as Jihad Muhammad Said Khalil, 48, from the village of Beit Wazan in the West Bank district of Nablus. According to Ma’an documentation, Khalil is the latest of 240 Palestinians to have been killed by Israelis since the beginning of a wave of unrest across the occupied Palestinian territory in October 2015, the majority of whom were shot dead by Israeli forces….
265 Palestinians slain since October 2015
IMEMC/Agencies 22 Nov — A statistic prepared by the Jerusalem Institute for Israeli and Palestinian affairs has shown that the number of Palestinians who have been killed since the start of the Al-Quds Intifada (Jerusalem Uprising), which broke out in October of 2015, has now reached 265. PNN reports that, according to the statistic, the Hebron district topped the list of provinces with 78 deaths, followed by Jerusalem with 57 deaths. Then, Ramallah with 24 deaths, and Jenin with 21, Nablus with 19, Bethlehem with 15, Tulkarem with 5, Salfit with 4, and Qalqilya with 3 deaths, two Palestinians living in “Israel”, and 34 from the Gaza strip. 119 of these people were killed since the beginning of the year 2016. In addition, 75 of those killed were children under the age of 18, making up 29% of the overall number. This includes three-month-old Ramadan Thawabteh, who died of teargas inhalation in his hometown of Beit Fajjar, near Bethlehem. 24 of the slain were women, 12 of them minors as young as eight years old, including a two-year-old, Rahaf Hassan, who was killed alongside her mother in Gaza. The study confirmed that 80% of the families had found about about their relatives being killed through the media, while over 86% expressed dissatisfaction with the institutions that follow-up with the cases, accusing the media of failing to cover news about the incidents. 60% of the dead have been politically independent (not affiliated to any political parties) 24 bodies are still retained by Israeli authorities.
US questions Israeli probe into Palestinian teen’s death
WASHINGTON (AP) 22 Nov by Matthew Lee — The Obama administration is questioning Israel’s decision not to open a criminal investigation into the shooting death by Israeli security forces of a Palestinian-American teenager earlier this year. In a letter sent this week to religious groups that had raised concerns about the case and obtained by The Associated Press on Tuesday, the top U.S. diplomat for the Middle East said the United States continues to have concerns about the death of 16-year-old Mahmoud Shalan. Shalan, who was born in Florida, was killed in the West Bank on Feb. 26 by Israeli troops who said he had tried to stab them. Several groups took issue with that account and complained that the soldiers had used excessive force and denied Shalan medical treatment after he was shot. The U.S. Embassy in Tel Aviv asked Israeli authorities to conduct an investigation into the matter. In the letter, the assistant secretary of state for Near East affairs, Anne Patterson, said the U.S. was later informed that the Israeli Military Advocate General “did not find that the soldiers’ actions gave rise to reasonable grounds for suspicion of criminal conduct.” The advocate general then ordered the case closed “without opening a criminal investigation or ordering further action against those involved in the incident,” she wrote. Subsequently, Patterson said U.S. officials were allowed to review the evidence compiled by the Israelis, including photographs of the scene. Based on that review, she said: “We continue to have concerns about the death of this American citizen and will remain engaged with the government of Israel on this issue.”….
Israeli forces shoot, injure Palestinian worker in Bethlehem area
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 21 Nov — Israeli forces shot and injured a Palestinian worker reportedly trying to cross from the occupied West Bank into Jerusalem on Monday. Medical sources said that Israeli forces shot at the Palestinian, identified as Mahmoud Salah, injuring him in the foot in the Wadi Abu al-Hummus area of the western Bethlehem district. Salah was taken to a Palestinian hospital, where his condition was described as stable … The Wadi Abu al-Hummus area is located near occupied East Jerusalem, which Palestinian residents of the West Bank are not allowed to access without an Israel-issued permit. A number of Palestinians have been shot in the area, allegedly while trying to cross into Jerusalem to work. Tens of thousands of Palestinian workers are forced to seek a living by working in Israel due to crippling unemployment in the West Bank, as the growth of an independent Palestinian economy has been stifled under the ongoing Israeli military occupation, according to rights groups….
Extreme settler violence at Huwarra checkpoint while soldiers stood by
22 Nov by Att. Eitay Mack `Don`t Say We Didn`t Know 527` — This is the severest incident in a series of assaults, damage to property and violence on the part of extreme settlers while the army stands watching. Ayed and his son came to Huwarra Checkpoint in their car, in early October 2016, on their way home. This checkpoint is replete with cameras, lighting and soldier posts, and is also very close to the HQ base of the regional brigade (Shomron), the largest army base in the area. The soldiers closed off the checkpoint and consequently all the Palestinian cars present were jammed, and Ayed could not turn around and leave. A group of dozens of settlers reached the roundabout and began to hurl stones at the Palestinian cars stuck there. After a stone hit the son`s head, Ayed passed him over to a car ahead of him in the line, literally inside the closed off checkpoint and asked the driver to take him to their home as soon as the checkpoint opens. When Ayed returned to his own car, at the roundabout, a settler threw a large rock into it which luckily only hit the seat next to the driver. Then a settler came with a large knifeand tried to damage the gas tank in order to cause the car to go up in flames with Ayed inside. Ayed was scared and fled from the car, crossed the checkpoint on foot and waited for things to calm down in order to go back and get his car. When the checkpoint was opened and Ayed returned to the roundabout, his car was gone. Apparently the settlers took advantage of this opportunity, took the car and lit it up alongside the checkpoint, where the road goes up to Har Bracha settlement (a road solely for the use of settlers in order to get to the settlement and outpost on the mountain). From the moment the settlers went on their violent spree, the soldiers were standing both inside the checkpoint and at the roundabout itself. Still they did nothing to stop the settlers or prevent their violence. Not only did the soldiers stand by and do nothing, they literally created the trap for the Palestinians – their cars were stuck in front of the checkpoint. As much as the soldiers themselves might fear the settlers, they should have opened the checkpoint and let the Palestinians enter Nablus in order to prevent injuries and damage. In spite of the soldiers` standing by and doing nothing, and in spite of the fact that by some mysterious wonder the checkpoint security camera`s tapes were erased two weeks after the event, the State of Israel accuses Ayed of responsibility for the damage: He forgot to remove the key when fleeing his car, while the settlers were trying to have him burnt alive inside, and so they could move the car to the side of the checkpoint and burn it. Ayed and his son have sued the state for compensations for their damages, because of the soldiers` responsibility for what happened without interfering.
Settlers pelt Hebron area home with Molotov cocktails
IMEMC/Agencies 22 Nov — Israeli settlers, on Tuesday, set fire to a Palestinian-owned home in Masafer Yatta, to the south of Hebron, according to a local activist. Rateb al-Jabour, coordinator of the popular committee against the separation wall and settlements, told WAFA correspondents that settlers from the illegal settlement of Beit Yatir, built on Palestinian-owned land, attacked the home of Mohammed Abu Qbaita with Molotov cocktails, setting fire to the house and causing financial damages to the house. No one was physically injured in the attack.
Israeli army injures several Palestinians near Jerusalem
IMEMC 23 Nov — Israeli soldiers invaded, on Wednesday evening, the area surrounding the Al-Quds University, in Abu Dis town, east of occupied East Jerusalem, and clashed with many Palestinians, causing several residents to suffer the effects of teargas inhalation. The soldiers surrounded the university area after invading it, and several neighborhoods in Abud Dis, and conducted provocative searches and interrogations of many students, leading to clashes. The army fired many gas bombs and concussion at residents who hurled stones at them; medical sources said many Palestinians suffered the severe effects of teargas inhalation, especially after the army fired gas bombs into the university campus.
Israeli forces raid Qalqiliya, seize jewelry, television
QALQILIYA (Ma‘an) 23 Nov — Israeli forces raided a house and a printing shop in the occupied West Bank city of Qalqiliya on Wednesday and seized valuable possessions, locals told Ma‘an. Israeli forces raided a print shop owned by Sabr al-Saou and seized hard disks, three passports and $1,500 worth of jewelry. Al-Saou said that Israeli forces prevented him from entering his shop during the raid, and didn’t tell him the reason for seizure of his belongings. Israeli forces also raided Amjad Hantash’s house in Qalqiliya and seized jewelry and a television for unknown reasons, locals said.
West Bank printing shops ransacked by Israeli forces, computers seized
IMEMC/Agencies 23 Nov — Israeli forces, on Wednesday, ransacked two printing shops and seized computers during raids into the northern occupied West Bank districts of Salfit and Qalqilia, said municipal and security sources … Israeli forces stormed the ‘Alam al-Ibad printing shop during a raid of Al-Zawiya village, west of Salfit. Head of Zawiya local council, Naim Shqair, told WAFA correspondence that soldiers raided the printing shop and seized a computer, after tampering with its contents.
Israeli forces detain 15 Palestinians in overnight raids across West Bank
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 21 Nov — At least 15 Palestinians were detained by Israeli forces during raids across the occupied West Bank overnight Sunday and before dawn, according to official Palestinian and Israeli army sources. The Palestinian Prisoner’s Society (PPS) said in a statement Monday that 10 Palestinians were detained during the raids. According to PPS, three Palestinians were detained from the Tulkarem-area towns of Deir al-Ghusun and Seida. The three were identified as Fouad al-Qab, Fadi Radad and Luay al-Ashqar. An Israeli army spokesperson confirmed one detention from Deir al-Ghusun and two from Seida. In the central district of Ramallah, PPS reported that Muhammad Abd al-Rahim Ghanam and Abd al-Latif Issa were detained. From the Jerusalem district, Israeli forces detained 19-year-old Mustafa Hashlamoun and 21-year-old Eid Shabana. In the northern West Bank, Muhammad Mahmoud Samar was detained from the Jenin-area town of al-Yamun, while 22-year-old Ibrahim Muhammad Hassan Noufil was detained from the town of Deir Sharaf in Nablus. Israeli forces also detained Hussein Fahmi Najoum from the town of al-‘Auja in the Jericho district, PPS added … Israeli forces conduct night raids across the occupied Palestinian territory on a near-daily basis. According to UN documentation, the Israeli army carried out 185 military detention raids over the past two weeks. According to prisoners rights group Addameer, 7,000 Palestinians were held in Israeli prisons as of October. The organization estimates that 40 percent of Palestinian men have been detained by Israel at some point in their lives.
Israeli forces detain 7 Palestinians in predawn raids across occupied West Bank
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 22 Nov — Israeli forces detained at least seven Palestinians during predawn raids in the occupied West Bank, according to the Palestinian Prisoner’s Society (PPS) and the Israeli army. In the northern West Bank district of Nablus, Israeli forces detained Jabir Uwais and Anas Hamdan, according to a PPS statement. Also in the north, Israeli forces detained 25-year-old Rashid Ali Radwan from Qalqiliya. In the central Jerusalem district, Israeli forces detained Muhammad Mahmoud Dabash and Raed al-Mughrabi. An Israeli army spokesperson confirmed a total of four detentions to Ma‘an, citing three from Nablus — two of whom she referred to as “Hamas operatives” — and one from Bethlehem.
Israeli forces detain 20 Palestinians, including 3 minors, during overnight raids
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 23 Nov — Israeli forces detained at least 20 Palestinians, including three minors, during overnight raids on Tuesday night and Wednesday morning throughout the occupied West Bank … In the West Bank’s Jerusalem district, Israeli forces detained six Palestinians in the neighborhood of Hizma, including two minors, whom the Palestinian Prisoner’s Society (PPS) identified as Iyad Khader al-Khatib, 15, Abdullah Abd al-Rabbu al-Khatib, 20, Muhammad Fathi al-Khatib, 22, Muhammad Fadel al-Khatib, 24, Muhammad Rashid Salah al-Din, 17, and Muhammad Khalil Hamdallah, 20. Israeli media reported that the detainees were transferred to the Shin Bet, Israel’s internal security agency, in order to undergo interrogations with Israeli intelligence. Locals told Ma‘an that Israeli soldiers reportedly raided and searched the homes of the six and distributed notices demanding that locals stop throwing rocks at the vehicles of Israeli settlers and army personnel. Meanwhile, in the village of Biddu in the Jerusalem district, Israeli forces detained three Palestinians, one of whom was detained for being an alleged Hamas operative, according to an Israeli army spokesperson. PPS also reported in their statement that Israeli forces detained Mustafa Baydun,15, and Muhammad Baydun, 19, from Jerusalem on Tuesday evening. However, the statement did not provide additional details on the detentions or where the Palestinians were specifically detained….
IDF to release new ‘moral guidelines’ for soldiers in West Bank
JPost 21 Nov by Anna Ahronheim — The IDF is in the final stages of developing a document that will instruct soldiers serving in the West Bank how to better prepare themselves for ethical dilemmas. Set to be released in the coming weeks, the document is said to be a result of studying the interrogations of Palestinians who had carried out attacks and had claimed they had been motivated by revenge against IDF troops who they accused of treating them, their friends or family in an unfair manner at checkpoints. According to a senior IDF official, the new guidelines have nothing to do with the trial of Sgt. Elor Azaria, who is facing manslaughter charges for shooting Palestinian Abdel Fattah al-Sharif in the head. Written by Efraim Brigade Commander Col. Roi Sheetrit under the order of West Bank Division Commander Brig.-Gen. Lior Carmeli, it outlines to soldiers how to properly conduct arrests, including how to best enter and search the homes of Palestinian suspects and their families, as well as how to properly treat Palestinian detainees. According to a senior IDF officer, “These are the things that soldiers don’t learn during their training. Even outstanding soldiers can sometimes get out of line during events that are morally problematic. It’s not always bullying, it’s simply that sometimes they are unable to properly assess a situation. “When a battalion arrives in a village, I want the soldiers to be able to connect with the Palestinian residents and know how to properly behave with them.” … The IDF said soldiers, especially those who have not yet been stationed in areas where there is daily friction with Palestinians, must have additional ethical training.
Prisoners / Court actions
Israeli court sentences Palestinian teen girl to 13 and a half years in prison
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 23 Nov – An Israeli magistrate court in Jerusalem Wednesday sentenced a teenage Palestinian girl to 13-and-a-half years in prison for a stabbing attack carried out exactly one year ago in Jerusalem. According to a statement released by the Palestinian Prisoner’s Society (PPS), lawyer Mufid al-Hajj reported that the prison sentence handed down to 17-year-old Nurhan Awwad also came with a fine of 30,000 shekels ($7,757). Exactly one year ago, when Awwad was 16 years old, she carried out a stabbing attack with her 14-year-old cousin Hadil Wajih Awwad, who was shot dead by an Israeli security guard during the incident. Meanwhile, Nurhan was severely wounded with two bullet wounds in her stomach. Video footage showed both girls running at the security officer waving scissors, before the security guard and another Israeli managed to knock the girls to the ground.Once on the ground, the security guard ran forward and shot each of them several times. Hadil Awwad, a resident of the Qalandiya refugee camp, died almost immediately. Her brother, Mahmoud Awwad, reportedly died in 2013, several months after he was shot and injured during clashes with Israeli troops inside the refugee camp. Nurhan Awwad’s prison sentence is the latest in an Israeli crackdown on Palestinian teenagers who have committed attacks against Israelis, while Israeli authorities have ordered lengthy prison sentences for Palestinians as young as 14 years old….
Committee: 8 Palestinian children under 14 currently held by Israeli in juvenile centers
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 21 Nov — Palestinian Committee of Prisoners’ Affairs head Issa Qaraqe said on Sunday that eight Palestinian children were being held in closed Israeli facilities upon orders by Israeli military courts until they reached the age of 14. Under Israeli law, Palestinian children can be handed down prison sentences upon turning 14, leading many to claim that some trials of minors were deliberately postponed to allow for such sentencing. Qaraqe identified the children as Shadi Farah, Ahmad Al- ZItri, Adam Subh Laban, Muhammad Abd al-Razaq, Muhammad Hushieh, Ahmad Abu Khalifeh and Burhan Abu al-Shukr. Qaraqe said that the time these children spent in these juvenile detentions centers was not officially counted as imprisonment by Israel, meaning that it could not be deducted from later sentences handed down by Israeli courts. Qaraqe said that Palestinian children from occupied East Jerusalem had been increasingly targeted by Israeli forces in 2015 and 2016 compared to previous years, highlighting that 20 children from East Jerusalem were currently subjected to house arrest until their trials, turning “the parents into jailers of their own children.” According to prisoners rights group Addameer, 400 Palestinian minors were held in Israeli custody as of October….
Israel releases injured Palestinian prisoner after six months in detention
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 21 Nov — The Israel Prison Service (IPS) released injured Palestinian prisoner Hassan al-Qadhi, 26, on Sunday evening, after completing a six-month prison sentence during which his gunshot wounds were allegedly improperly treated. The Palestinian Committee of Prisoners’ Affairs said in a statement on Sunday that al-Qadhi, a resident of the ‘Awarta village in the northern occupied West Bank district of Nablus, was evacuated from the prison by ambulance to the Palestine Medical Complex in Ramallah. Al-Qadhi was detained on June 10 near the entrance of his village after Israeli troops shot him several times for allegedly attempting to commit a stabbing attack the ‘Awarta checkpoint. No Israelis were injured during the alleged attack, while locals at the time claimed that al-Qadhi was riding a bike when Israeli forces shot him. The sources added that al-Qadhi had been detained by Israeli forces on several occasions in the past, before being released after they determined that he was mentally disabled. The committee highlighted in its statement on Sunday that al-Qadhi suffered from gunshot wounds in his back and foot, which he underwent surgery for at the time in an Israeli hospital. Director of the committee Issa Qaraqe, who visited al-Qadhi upon arrival to Ramallah, accused Israeli forces of “implementing a systematic policy of killing the Palestinians or shooting at sensitive parts of their body.” Additionally, Qaraqe said that IPS does not properly treat injured Palestinians when they are in Israeli custody, and that “there is a deliberate policy of medical negligence against injured and sick Palestinian prisoners.”….
PPS: Health of 2 hunger-striking Palestinian prisoners continues to deteriorate
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 23 Nov — The health conditions of two hunger-striking Palestinian prisoners held without charge or trial in Israeli prison have severely deteriorated, as the two have gone without food for more than 60 days, according to a statement released by the Palestinian Prisoner’s Society (PPS) on Wednesday. Anas Shadid, 20, and Ahmad Abu Farah, 29, have been on hunger strike since Sept. 24 and 23, respectively, in protest of being placed under administrative detention — an Israeli policy of internment without charge or trial based on undisclosed evidence. However, an Israeli court suspended the prisoners’ detention orders on Nov. 18 due to the deteriorating health of the hunger strikers, according to Palestinian prisoner solidarity network Samidoun. The two are currently being held in a solitary room in Israel’s Assaf Harofeh Medical Center, where they have been suffering from constant headaches, partial loss of eyesight, chest pains, stomach pains, weight loss, vomiting, and irregular heartbeats, according to a PPS lawyer who visited the hunger strikers. The hunger strikers told the lawyer that they were not able to leave their beds due to their health conditions, and have been unable to take showers for the past 20 days. The lawyer added that both Shadid and Abu Farah have only consumed water since the start of their strikes, adding that Israeli forces have continued to use unfair procedures against the hunger strikes by restricting visits, despite an Israeli court suspending their administrative detention order….
Amnesty slams charges against Palestinian campaigner
JERUSALEM (AFP) 23 Nov – Amnesty International on Tuesday condemned “baseless charges” against a prominent Palestinian human rights campaigner, a day ahead of his trial. Issa Amro, founder of Youth Against Settlements, a campaign group in the West Bank city of Hebron, is due to appear in an Israeli military court Wednesday facing 18 charges. Among them are previously closed cases and a charge over an assault that took place when Amro was absent as he had already been arrested, Amnesty said. “The deluge of charges against Issa Amro does not stand up to any scrutiny,” Amnesty’s Magdalena Mughrabi said in a statement. “If he is convicted, we will consider Issa Amro a prisoner of conscience.” A military spokesman, in a later statement, said evidence would be presented at the hearing that the accused had “taken part in riots, attacks on soldiers, calls to violence, and prevented security forces from doing their work”. Hebron, where hundreds of Israelis live in heavily guarded settlements in the heart of a city of 200,000 Palestinians, is a key site of tension in the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. Israeli settlements in the West Bank are illegal under international law. Amro denies ever using violence to oppose the occupation of the West Bank. “On the contrary, I am a person who advocates non-violence,” he told AFP Tuesday. The trial “is a political decision from the Israeli right-wing government to target my human rights work,” he said.
Azaria prosecutor: Video sums up entire case
JPost 24 Nov by Anna Ahronheim — The final stage of the trial of Sgt. Elor Azaria, on trial for manslaughter for shooting terrorist Abdel Fatah al-Sharif in the head, took place on Wednesday as both the prosecution and defense presented their oral submissions. The night before, hundreds marched in central Jerusalem in support of Azaria. His trial has led to major controversy in Israel and sparked political tensions, with far-right supporters calling for the soldier’s release, and human rights groups labeling the killing a summary execution. The oral summation stage was opened by prosecutor Nadav Weisman, who told the Jaffa Military Court that he had “found no legal precedent that found fit shooting someone in the head without any warning. “If the court would have asked me to summarize this whole case in a minute, I would have shown the video that depicts the behavior of the accused immediately after the shooting,” he said. “In the video he is seen walking down the street with his friends after the shooting, not saying a word about an explosive vest that he claims that he saw and which was the reason behind him shooting the terrorist. The accused isn’t seen warning his friends or anyone else about a bomb that he suspected that the terrorist was carrying. It doesn’t make any sense and it contradicts his claim.”….
Restriction of movement
Israel slammed over its ‘war on NGOs’
JERUSALEM (Al Jazeera) 23 Nov by Ylenia Gostoli — Instances of permit confiscation and lengthy interrogation by Israeli security are on the rise, says UN official — Last August, Pam Bailey, an American citizen and secretary of the Gaza-based Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Monitor, was denied entry to Israel upon arrival at Tel Aviv’s Ben Gurion airport. Israeli authorities detained her for 11 hours, while the airline retained her passport until she landed back on US soil. She was banned from returning for 10 years. “I had a permit to enter Gaza,” said Bailey who had visited Gaza a number of times before. “Israel says it’s not occupying Gaza, but it won’t let visitors in. Isn’t that the definition of a prison? We don’t want to go into Israel; we want to go to Palestine,” Bailey told Al Jazeera. “Do you know of any other situation in the world where one country can decide who gets in and out of another?” Bailey is among a number of activists, researchers and journalists who have recently been denied access by the Israeli authorities, as Israel tightens its grip on Palestinians and their international supporters. Last September, the United Nations Human Rights Council called for international action to curb an “Israeli campaign to evict international workers.” Based on the UN report, and other data collected by Euro-Med, the organisation estimates that deportations rose to around 10 percent in 2016, from just one or two percent in the three years prior. The UN only logs cases reported to its Access unit by UN and international NGO staff, excluding deportations or denials of entry to independent workers and consultants. International organisations have also reported a progressive deterioration in freedom of movement for Gaza-based staff since the beginning of the year. Permit denials for UN workers increased from three percent in January 2016, to 65 percent in August, and 45 percent in September. “In absolute numbers, at least 280 applications for exit permits from Gaza have been denied for both UN and INGO [international NGO] national staff this year so far,” Robert Piper, the United Nations humanitarian coordinator in the occupied Palestinian territories , told Al Jazeera. “Additionally, some of our UN staff have recently been banned from applying for permits for a whole year, with little explanation provided,” he noted. “Instances of permit confiscation and lengthy interrogation by Israeli security authorities at Erez crossing are also on the rise.”….
Electricity shortage causes children’s hospital in Gaza to suspend medical care
GAZA (Ma‘an) 23 Nov — Health services in a children’s hospital in Gaza will be suspended for more than a day due to a lack of fuel to power its generators, the Ministry of Health of the besieged Palestinian enclave said in a statement on Wednesday. The ministry said that the al-Durrah children’s hospital would be out of commission for 27 hours due to the power shortage, adding that other hospitals across Gaza faced similar risks. It further warned of the terrible consequences of a lack of fuel on the lives of patients dependent on electric and electronic equipment. Even at full capacity, Egyptian and Israeli electricity grids, together with Gaza’s sole power plant, fail to cover the Gaza Strip’s energy needs and only provide energy to Gaza’s inhabitants for eight hours each day.
2 power lines from Egypt and Israel feeding southern Gaza Strip damaged
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 23 Nov — Two power lines supplying the southern Gaza Strip were damaged on Wednesday morning, according to the head of the public relations department of Gaza’s power company. Muhammad Thabet told Ma‘an that the power lines, one Egyptian and the other Israeli, were damaged. The Egyptian power line feeding parts of Rafah city was damaged in addition to the Israeli line supplying Rafah and Khan Yunis. Last week, several Egyptian power lines and a power generator in the southern Gaza Strip were also damaged, causing further strain on the besieged Palestinian enclave’s tenuous electricity supply. Gaza’s power authority said at the time that increasing the power supply to Gaza was vital to ensure the proper functioning of basic services, particularly for foreign-funded projects which have been delayed due to insufficient electricity access. It added that Gaza’s electricity needs had only become greater in the past ten years due to heavy Israeli taxation on fuel needed for the power plant and Israeli limitations on the amount of fuel allowed into the Gaza Strip.
Israeli navy destroys Gaza-bound ship smuggling weapons
[with video] Ynet 22 Nov by Yoav Zitun — The boat, which was disguised as a Palestinian fishing vessel, was intercepted by IDF forces off the coast of the Gaza Strip and fired upon after the two occupants jumped in the water and swam for shore; secondary explosions from weapons on board completely destroyed boat — A Palestinian boat disguised as a fishing vessel was caught on camera by the IDF while attempting to smuggle weapons into the Gaza Strip before eventually being destroyed. The boat was observed departing from the southern Gaza Strip and heading towards the Sinai. Several days later, the ship suspiciously reappeared with the rear of the vessel weighed down by cargo. Intelligence information that found its way to the 916th squadron based in Ashdod allowed IDF forces to intercept the vessel off the coast of the Gaza Strip and attempt to detain those on board. During the course of the interception, naval forces fired warning shots at the boat in an attempt to force it to a stop. However, the two Palestinians on board jumped into the water and managed to make it ashore, which prompted forces to fire on this ship’s motor. The motor subsequently caught fire, which spread to the cargo causing the weapons on board to explode. “We observed the boat approaching from afar and using special sensors which we use to mark and catalogue Palestinian ships entering the southern Gaza Strip, identified it as a suspicious vessel,” Maj. Maor told Ynet. “Secondary explosions completely destroyed the ship.”
The destruction of the ship is the third of its kind conducted by the Navy and the Shin Bet in the last year and a half, which also includes the arrest of several Palestinians who were attempting to smuggle in weapons on Palestinian fishing boats. The Shin Bet has also identified a pattern in which Hamas attempts to smuggle goods from the Sinai into the Gaza Strip to sell and finance the organization. “The Egyptians have destroyed most of the smuggling tunnels between Rafah and Egypt and as a result, Hamas is being forced to use maritime smuggling routes more,” said Maj. Maor, who added, “It is more complicated to operate in the southern Gaza Strip than it is in the north, but the relationship with Egyptian forces is very good and cordial. We maintain dialogue and coordination with them through battalion-level meetings on the beach.”
Staff of UN body in Gaza protests against management
GAZA CITY (AA) 22 Nov by Noor Abu Aisha — Hundreds of employees of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) protested against their organization’s failure to meet their demands in the northern Gaza Strip on Tuesday. Protesters held banners that read “we have just demands,” “where is job security?”, and “cutting services worsens Gazans’ conditions.” Amal al-Batsh, deputy of the agency’s Chief of Staff Union in the Gaza Strip, told Anadolu Agency: “We came here to deliver a message to Pierre Krähenbühl , the commissioner-general of UNRWA , and the management of the UN’s body in Gaza that we will not give up the rights of Palestinian refugees and UNRWA employees. “The UNRWA has reduced its services in the Gaza Strip and stopped hiring new employees, and we see that UNRWA is abdicating its responsibilities in supporting and hiring refugees in Gaza.” Al-Batsh also demanded from the UNRWA’s administration and the donor countries to abide by their financial pledges for supporting Palestinians….
World Bank: Only 10 percent of Gazans have access to safe drinking water
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 23 Nov — The World Bank denounced the worsening water crisis in the Gaza Strip, calling the situation in the besieged Palestinian enclave “alarming” on Wednesday. In a statement released by the World Bank, senior water and sanitation specialist Adnan Ghosheh stated that only 10 percent of the population in Gaza had access to safe drinking water. “So much water has been pumped out of the natural aquifer underneath Gaza since the late 1990s that seawater has seeped in, making it too salty to drink,” Ghosheh said. “There are some 150 operators who provide some kind of desalinated water that has been filtered to make it acceptable for drinking and for cooking. It’s more expensive and not an improved source of water, according to our definitions of water clean enough to drink.” Ghosheh went on to add that the quantities of freshwater brought into the blockaded Palestinian territory from Israel as per the 1993 Oslo Accords “falls far short” of the needs of the Gazan population.The World Bank has been supporting plans by the Palestinian Water Authority to build a water desalination plant to address the scarcity of drinkable water. However, many internationally funded infrastructure projects, including desalination and wastewater treatment initiatives, have been halted or significantly delayed due to the vastly insufficient electricity supplies in Gaza….
Gaza doctors face challenge after birth of conjoined twins
GAZA (Reuters) 23 Nov — Palestinian surgeons in the Gaza Strip were discussing medical options on Wednesday after the unexpected birth of conjoined twins – baby girls who share one heart and one body. “We thought they were twins and we would have no problem, but we discovered that it is a Siamese baby,” said Hanan Al-Wade, a paediatrician at Al Shifa, Gaza City’s main hospital. “The body is one but with two heads.” The babies were born by Caesarean section on Tuesday and are being kept under close monitoring in an intensive care unit. They have not been named. Doctors said they had not decided whether to attempt to separate them. If they try, they also need to consider whether they can perform the operations in Gaza or should try to move the children to a hospital in Israel or abroad. “Separating them is very hard because they are sharing many organs and they have a defective heart,” said Wade. Reuters television pictures showed the two, joined to the body just below the neck, struggling to breath inside an incubator. The baby’s chest was heaving up and down rapidly as the heart worked to pump blood. Conjoined twins occur around once in every 200,000 live births. The survival rate is usually between five and 25 percent, doctors say. Around 70 percent of all conjoined twins are girls.
Gaza sisters become YouTube stars
MEMO 23 Nov — In a room, in a small house, sisters Haya and Maram Barghouth convinced their parents to start a YouTube channel and decided to present a show to entertain and educate children. They are now a successful duo presenting Two Sisters Tube. The two sisters started by practicing in the mirror until they felt they were capable of presenting on camera. They were welcomed by tens of thousands of people not only from Palestine but across the Arab world. Thirteen-year-old Maram and 15-year-old Haya told MEMO that the Arab audience does not interact much with serious content, and therefore they provide a show with entertaining content. Ismail Barghouth, the girls’ father, who is a media lecturer, said that his daughters are very proud of the success of their project, but in the early days, when they presented the project to him, he was hesitant about the possibility of success. “The girls insisted on the project, so we turned one of the rooms in the house into a studio, adding sound insulation to the windows, bringing in lighting, a camera and backgrounds suitable, giving us somewhat of a studio.” The girls added that they suffer from power outages just like all the inhabitants of Gaza. “Sometimes we are cut off during a video we are almost done with due to the electricity cuts,” they said. Barghouth said he hopes that there is support for his daughters and they continue with their talents.
Loss and life of the still displaced in Gaza: ‘Without UNRWA, the streets would be filled with homeless people’
[with photos] UNRWA 23 Nov — ….Mohammad Saleh’s family home was totally destroyed during the 2014 conflict, which has left him and his nine family members displaced to this day. Only one month ago he received the first payment from UNRWA to start reconstruction works. “I have received rental subsidy payments from UNRWA since the day our home was destroyed. Yet due to the high and increasing rents, our family had to move four times to find an acceptable place. Really, we miss our home,” said the 63-year-old. “Every day people tell me about the pain of losing a home; for them, it is like losing a life. When I see families rebuilding their houses, I feel proud, I feel relieved, I feel my work makes sense,” explained 28-year-old Abdallah Ghazal, the engineer from the UNRWA infrastructure and camp improvement programme who is working on Mohammad Saleh’s case….
Opinion: I miss the Gaza Strip / Gideon Levy
Haaretz 23 Nov — The kindergarten teacher lies on a stretcher, her body covered with blood. The minibus is parked beside her. The cannon fires shells, the children lie on the road. This is a child’s drawing on the wall in the town of Beit Lahiya in the Gaza Strip. It was drawn 10 years ago, a day after an Israel Defense Forces shell hit the kindergarten minibus, killing the teacher and two children who were standing in the street. This description was published 10 years ago today, in my last story from Gaza. For 10 years, the only Israeli journalists who have visited Gaza are Haaretz’s Amira Hass, who was there twice, once via the sea and the other time via Egypt, and the military reporters accompanying the IDF, who see nothing but the soldiers’ heroism. Israeli journalists have been in Syria and Iraq, Libya and Afghanistan, but not in Gaza, an hour’s drive from Tel Aviv. Israel forbids such visits and nobody protests. During my last visit, I saw an elderly man lying wounded on a donkey-drawn cart in the courtyard of the shabby Kamal Radwan clinic. He had been hit by an IDF shell. Afterwards, we went with the children to the funeral of their kindergarten teacher, who had been killed in front of their eyes. It didn’t occur to me that this would be my last visit. The toddlers have since become teenage boys and girls, some of them may have been killed. The IDF killed 344 children in the 2008-09 Gaza war, known as Operation Cast Lead; 180 toddlers and 366 children were killed in the 2014 Israel-Gaza conflict, known as Operation Protective Edge. No Israeli journalist can write their stories any more. The Israeli reader knows nothing about them, nor does he want to know. For him, all the dead children are terrorists, or children that terrorists hid behind, as Israeli propaganda tells it. All of Gaza is Hamas, Israelis are told, and everyone in it wants only to destroy Israel. I look at my last reports from Gaza. A visit to the remnants of the Abu Udah family – Mohammed, whose son Ismail and daughter Hanan were shot dead by soldiers; Dam al-Ez Hamad, 14, the only daughter of a paralyzed mother, was killed by a missile fired by Israeli Air Force pilots at the house next door. Dam was killed in her sleep, curled up in her mother’s arms. The IDF said it was an attack on a tunnel. Abdallah a-Zak was able to identify half of his son’s body in the morgue because he recognized the belt he was wearing … These are my last memories of Gaza. Go explain to an Israeli that this work has to be done; that I miss Gaza, despite it’s awful fate – the beaches, the landscapes; the wondrous spirit of the residents I knew until 10 years ago.
Land, property theft & destruction / Ethnic cleansing / Settlements / Judaization
Historic names of Palestinian landmarks in Jerusalem to be changed by Israeli authorities
IMEMC/Agencies 22 Nov — The Israeli government reportedly intends to change the historic names of Jerusalem landmarks into Israeli ones, Hebrew channel 7 reported. According to the site, the government will change the name of Damascus Gate, one of the most ancient gates of Jerusalem, to “Heroes Square”, in honor of Israeli settlers and soldiers. Al Ray further reports that the Israeli committee for commemorating the victims of terrorist attacks, in cooperation with Israeli municipality of Jerusalem, are agreed upon changing the names of some streets in Jerusalem, as well. It will change the names of two streets for settlers who were killed in al-Wad street. It will also change the names of some streets in the Old City.
Israel to build 500 settler homes in East Jerusalem
Al Jazeera 24 Nov — Palestinian leaders say Israel’s settlement movement is emboldened by the election of Donald Trump in the US — Israel has announced plans to move forward with the construction of 500 new homes for Jewish settlers in occupied East Jerusalem, the first such move since the US presidential election. “This morning, the local planning and building committee made the decision to advance [plans]… for 500 units in Ramat Shlomo,” the Ir Amim anti-settlement NGO said, referring to an ultra-Orthodox Jewish settlement near the Palestinian neighbourhood of Shu‘fat. The plans had been on hold since 2014, Ir Amin said. The Jerusalem municipality said the “plans in question are not new and were approved years ago.” More than 200,000 Israeli settlers now live in communities in East Jerusalem, which Israel has occupied along with the rest of the West Bank, the Gaza Strip, and parts of Egypt and Syria since the 1967 war … Speaking to Israel’s Channel Two last week, Jerusalem Vice Mayor Meir Turgeman said: “There are a lot more plans, and I intend to use the US transition period to get them approved.” Mustafa Barghouti, a member of the Palestinian Legislative Council, described the announcement as “a very serious strategic and dangerous” decision. “This wouldn’t have happened if it wasn’t for the failure and silence of the international community,” Barghouti told Al Jazeera….
Israeli watchdog raps housing discrimination against Palestinians
Haaretz 23 Nov by Nir Hasson & Ilan Lior — An annual comptroller’s report on Israeli local authorities issued on Tuesday accuses the Jerusalem Municipality of faulty planning and construction, and discriminating against the largely Palestinian populated side of the city in the the issuing of building permits. The report finds the entire city of Jerusalem lacks any valid zoning plan, and that the most recent one, approved in 2009, was later frozen, due to right-wing complaints it would permit too much Palestinian construction. Comptroller Joseph Shapira writes that although the plan was shelved, it was not replaced and is still cited as a “political document.” East Jerusalem, where most Palestinian residents of the city live, receives only about 15 percent of building permits issued, the report says. The main reason for this problem is the absence of an orderly registration of land ownership in this part of the city, it adds….
Local committee: Fine against al-Ludd mosque for adhan broadcast ‘blind racism’
AL-LUDD (Ma‘an) 23 Nov — A local committee in the Israeli town of al-Ludd (Lod) met on Tuesday to discuss the Israeli municipality’s imposition of a fine on the town mosque for using loudspeakers to broadcast the call to prayer earlier this week, calling the decision “blind racism.” A mosque in al-Ludd, located just south of Tel Aviv, was fined $200 on Monday in what the mosque’s imam said was the first time Israeli authorities had imposed such a penalty on the adhan — the Muslim call to prayer that is broadcast five times a day — in al-Ludd, calling it “a very dangerous step.” Sheikh Muhammad al-Far went on to accuse the municipality of acting just as a recent bill backed by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was making its way through Israel’s parliament to ban the use of loudspeakers for the Muslim call to prayer in Israel. In a statement sent to Ma‘an on Wednesday, the local committee said that Knesset members Jamal Zahalka and Hanin Zoabi, both Palestinians with Israeli citizenship, Palestinian members of the al-Ludd municipality, activists, and sheikhs attended the meeting. The attendees called the municipality’s decision a violation of human rights, ethics, international law, and every religion’s values, the statement read, adding that the fine showed “blind racism” and hatred against Muslim presence in the town. The statement went on to say that the mayor of al-Ludd did not represent all of the town’s residents — roughly a quarter of whom were Palestinian citizens of Israel in 2011 according to the Israeli Central Bureau of Statistics — and that the official was capitulating to the wishes of those opposed to Palestinian and Muslim presence in the area and attempting to suppress Palestinian identity in the town. Following the meeting, the local committee decided to organize a protest, to resist any official orders regarding the broadcast of the adhan, to boycott the mayor of al-Ludd and only deal with members of the municipality who were Palestinian citizens of Israel, and to continue holding meetings on the issue….
Palestinian company accused of stealing Palestinian lands for sale to Israeli settlers
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 22 Nov — An Israeli prosecution filed a list of charges against the Palestinian company Watan on Monday, charging the company with selling Palestinian lands in the occupied West Bank to Israeli settlers with forged ownership documents. According to a list of charges obtained by Ma‘an on Tuesday, Watan, headed by Palestinian land brokers from occupied East Jerusalem, had made eight deals with Israeli settlers through which Palestinian lands were sold through forged documents, receiving 10,775,000 shekels ($2,789,933) as a result of the deals. The charges brought against the company indicated that two employees at the company had local Palestinians pretend to be owners of lands belonging to other Palestinians who had refused to sell to Israeli settlers. The company allegedly forged documents which indicated that the land was sold by the original Palestinian owners to the company, which in turn sold it to Israeli settlers. The scam was allegedly carried out between 2012 and 2014.
Son of ‘righteous gentile’ wants name off West Bank memorial
AMSTERDAM (JTA) 22 Nov — Former Dutch ambassador to Norway says JNF monument built on site of former Palestinian village is ‘abuse’ of father’s memory — The son of a Dutch couple that hid Jews from the Nazis is seeking the removal of his father’s name from a monument built on what used to be a Palestinian village. Erik Ader, whose father and mother, Bastiaan Jan and Johanna Ader, are believed by the Yad Vashem Holocaust museum to have helped at least 200 Jews during the Holocaust, made the plea in an interview published last week by the Dutch NOS public broadcaster. The article defined the monument as “abuse of Ader’s memory” because of Israel’s “ethnic cleansing.” Erik Ader, a former ambassador of the Netherlands to Norway, said he “cannot ask his father,” who was executed by the Nazis in 1944, “what he thinks of how his name is connected to this injustice but it’s not difficult to guess, knowing what he stood for.” Ader was referring to a Jewish National Fund monument honoring his father in a forest planted on the ruins of Beit Nattif, a Palestinian village about 13 miles southwest of Jerusalem that was destroyed after it was captured by the Israel Defense Forces during Israel’s War of Independence. According to the NOS article, which erroneously states that the village was taken over by “Jewish militias,” Ader intends to donate trees for a forest that will be named after his father near a Palestinian village in the West Bank. He has traveled to the village to participate in the unveiling ceremony of a plaque honoring his father. In a statement to NOS, the Jewish National Fund expressed its respect for the actions of Ader’s parents, adding that the monument was legally constructed on state-owned lands….
Danish and EU funded humanitarian aid again destroyed by the Israeli military
DanChurchAid 23 Nov by Ane Sommer Knudsen — Just before the rainy season, the Israeli army has destroyed three water cisterns that ensure water for people and animals in the small farming community of Al Ganoub in the Occupied West Bank — At six in the morning the Israeli army moved in to the small village of Al Ganoub between Bethlehem and Hebron in the Palestinian West Bank. Two bulldozers demolished three water cisterns while soldiers kept community members away and confiscated their phones so no one could take pictures or film. A community member however managed to keep his mobile phone and filmed the events. Just a few weeks before, seven houses were demolished in the same village – among others the homes of the families whose cisterns was now destroyed. The three destroyed cisterns were installed in 2014. Since 2010 DanChurchAid has installed and renovated 363 water cisterns in vulnerable farming and Bedouin communities in Area C of the West Bank. The cisterns are funded by the EU and Denmark. Every year, when the rain comes in autumn, the cisterns are filled – securing water for people and animals for the year to come. Like all other local communities in Area C Al Ganoub is under pressure. The demolition of homes and other community structures, the lack of water and the fear of new demolitions make life increasingly difficult and increase the risk of the community being forced to leave their homes and land. Al Ganoub is located very close to an illegal Israeli settlement making the community particularly vulnerable. So far during 2016, OCHA, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, has registered nearly twice as many demolitions and confiscations of homes, residential tents, animal shelter, latrines and water cisterns as in 2015 (the vast majority in Area C of the West Bank under full Israeli military control, where the majority of the illegal Israeli settlements are located). A significant part of the destroyed and confiscated structures are humanitarian aid – donated by the EU, EU member states and other donors to meet basic humanitarian needs. The amount of confiscated and destroyed aid structures has increased by 165% between 2015 and 2016….
Hebron-area residents face multiple demolitions within a week
HEBRON (Ma‘an) 21 Nov — Israeli forces delivered 20 demolition notices in the Um al-Kher village in the southern occupied West Bank district of Hebron on Sunday, according to locals. Ratib al-Jabour, coordinator of a local committee that resists settlement activity, said that Israeli Civil Administration workers escorted by armed Israeli forces delivered the demolition notices to Suleiman al-Hathalin and Shuab al-Hathalin. The notices ordered demolitions on both Suleiman and Shuab’s homes, barns, barracks and residential caves. Al-Jabour added that Israeli forces “took Suleiman to a depopulated area and assaulted him,” resulting in injuries and bruises all over his body. He called upon international human rights organizations to “immediately intervene to stop savage Israeli policies and violations.”
Israeli forces a no-show, Umm al-Hiran’s demolitions delayed
AIC 22 Nov — On Tuesday, November 22, Israeli forces decided to delay demolishing several homes in Atir-Umm al-Hiran, a Bedouin village in the Negev that Israel has earmarked for complete destruction. Rabbis for Human Rights, who had representatives at the site, described on Twitter the delay as likely “a tactic by the authorities to exhaust residents and activists.” Coexistence in the Negev, a group of Jewish and Bedouin residents of Israel’s southern desert region, stressed that despite the delay, there is a chance that demolition forces could still show up today. Consequently, the group urged all supporters to be with Umm al-Hiran’s residents in their village every day, at least until November 30. “We hope that someone is responsible for deciding to not destroy [the village],” Coexistence in the Negev said in a statement. Members of Knesset from the Joint List, village leaders, residents, activists and journalists congregated at Umm al-Hiran last night and into Tuesday morning to face what Israeli authorities pledged was on the way: that is, hordes of heavily armed Israeli forces and bulldozers that would displace at least 30 people. Residents of Umm al-Hiran had unpacked their homes to save their belongings from destruction. The day prior, on Monday, the Israel Land Authority (ILA) responded to a request filed by Adalah – the Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel to freeze the demolition process. “The evacuation is set for 22 November 2016,” ILA maintained. The ILA paired its affirmation of the impending demolition with an insistence that “the costs of enlisting police officers, the as-of-yet-undetermined cost of bolstering forces, security, sealing of the perimeter, and coordination of vehicles for the purposes of arrests and curbing opposition must also be taken into account.” It added that it hired an unnamed private contractor to carry out the demolition for NIS 119,000 (about $30,000)….
Israeli forces demolish Palestinian home, seal off restaurant in Jerusalem area
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 22 Nov — Israeli authorities on Tuesday morning completed the demolition of a Palestinian house under construction in the al-Tur village of the occupied West Bank district of Jerusalem, according to the family. Ata al-Hadra told Ma‘an that Israeli bulldozers had begun to demolish the house, which belongs to his brother Mahmoud, on Nov. 10, but the bulldozer broke down in the middle of the demolition. According to al-Hadra, a bulldozer, escorted by inspectors from Israel’s Jerusalem municipality and a large number of Israeli forces, arrived on Tuesday morning and completed the demolition. Al-Hadra pointed out that a Jerusalem municipality inspector has been“going after” his brother since he began construction on the 150-square-meter house in March, under the pretext that he had not obtained a proper Israeli-issued construction license. The family, he added, stopped working on the house and started procedures to obtain a license. Despite stopping construction and beginning the process of obtaining a license, the family said the Jerusalem municipality still fined them 20,000 shekels ($5,176), and ultimately demolished the home.
Separately, Israeli authorities sealed off a restaurant owned by Moussa Naim Fatafta in the Jerusalem-area village of Silwan. According to the Wadi Hilweh Information Center, Jerusalem municipality crews sealed off the restaurant over claims that Fatafta had not obtained a construction license, nor a license to run a restaurant. As a result, four families were left without a source of income.
Israeli authorities demolish Palestinian home in northern Israel
GALILEE (Ma‘an) 21 Nov — Israeli police and Yasam riot police units demolished a two-story home belonging to a Palestinian citizen of Israel in the village of Hurfish in northern Israel on Sunday evening, over claims that it had been built without adhering to Israeli construction regulations. Fellow Palestinian with Israeli citizenship Abdullah Abu Maarouf, a Knesset member from the Arab Joint List, visited the Sarhan family, whose house was demolished. In front of the crowds who were present in the area, Abu Maarouf said that he considered the demolition a “savage crime” for which the Israeli government needed to be held accountable. “Our main national aim is to prevent the demolition of any Arab home in the country, especially Arabs who built their houses on lands they inherited from their ancestors,” he said, employing the term often used in Israel to refer to Palestinian with Israeli citizenship. The MK also stressed the necessity of finding solutions for unauthorized construction in the village, stating that the reason why many buildings were constructed illegally in Palestinian-majority municipalities in Israel was that Israeli authorities often rejected their requests for permits … While Israeli law guarantees Palestinian citizens of Israel the same equality as Jewish Israelis, in practice there are claims of discrimination in government funding and a raft of other issues.In 2015, Israeli rights group Adalah said that only 4.6 percent of new homes built in Israel were in Palestinian towns and villages, despite the fact that Palestinians make up over 20 percent of the population.
Israeli forces demolish 3 Palestinian-owned buildings in al-Ludd, deliver orders in Haifa
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 23 Nov — Israeli forces demolished three buildings belonging to a Palestinian family in the city of al-Ludd in northern Israel early on Wednesday, while demolition orders were delivered to Palestinian homes in the Haifa district. Sources told Ma‘an that Israeli forces and border guards facilitated the demolition of the three buildings which belonged to the Shaaban family in the northern al-Ludd neighborhood of Karm al-Tuffah without any prior notice. Witnesses said that the Israeli police evacuated the women and children, and demolished the buildings while they were on the streets. The buildings were constructed in 1998.
Meanwhile, Israeli forces delivered demolition orders to Palestinians in the town of Isfiya in the Haifa district, according to locals. One of the residents who received a demolition order, Sheikh Saadeh Zaher, told Ma‘an that the police demanded that he demolish his own home in order to avoid additional fines for security which would be hired to escort the demolition team if Israeli forces were to carry out the demolition. Locals from the town gathered at Zaher’s home, and pledged to prevent the demolitions from being carried out by organizing a sit-in on Thursday to protest the order.
Hebron municipality calls on Israel to remove settler structures in schoolyard
HEBRON (Ma‘an) 22 Nov — Under the protection of Israeli military forces, Israeli settlers have recently set up tents and steel structures on the land used as a Palestinian schoolyard in the southern occupied West Bank city of Hebron, according to a lawyer from the Palestinian Authority’s (PA) Hebron municipality. The Hebron municipality demanded in a statement on Monday that Israeli authorities immediately remove the illegal steel structures and tents which have been set up in the yard of the Ibrahim School in Hebron City, saying it was “a violation against the rights and properties of locals.” According to the statement, the land is privately owned by Palestinians, but is rented by the municipality. The municipality filed a complaint to Israeli officials against the settlers and the forces protecting them, demanding that authorities “ban the continuous attacks against the land and immediately remove the structures.” The statement added that a suit would be filed to the Israeli Supreme Court in order to obtain an injunction to stop settlers from building on the land. Hebron City’s mayor, Daoud al-Zaatari, said that he “rejected Israeli policies aiming to Judaize the city and assault local properties,” and confirmed that the municipality would legally follow up on the issue to stop it. Al-Zaatari called upon international and human rights organizations to stop such violations.
A spokesperson for the Coordination of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT), the Israeli agency responsible for implementing Israeli policies in the occupied Palestinian territory, told Ma’an on Wednesday that the tents were established “temporarily in the bus parking lot at the entrance of the Patriarch’s Cave,” using the Jewish term for the Ibrahimi Mosque, adding that the tents were part of a Jewish event that would take place on Friday and Saturday. “We want to emphasize that the tents are not interrupting the school routine and the ground that the tents are being built on is useful only for the bus parking lot at the site,” the spokesperson said, adding that the tents were expected to be dismantled on Sunday.
Israeli West Bank Authority challenges settlement body over ‘illegal’ construction
Haaretz 24 Nov by Yotam Berger — Fifty units built in Beit Horon settlement were erected on land that wasn’t under Settlement Division’s jurisdiction, Civil Administration claims — The Israeli administrative authority in the West Bank has in recent weeks been warning the body in charge of settlements that the land it had designated for construction in Beit Horon is not under its control. Three buildings comprising 50 housing units have already been built on the tract. The situation came to the attention of the Civil Administration after most of the apartments had already been sold and prepared for residents to move in, when a request to connect the structures to the electrical grid was submitted. The Civil Administration official in charge of government and abandoned property saw that the land allotment was not proper and requested clarifications from the Settlement Division. The division presented documents from the 1980s showing that the land was designated for their use. They claim that the new housing was built according to procedure. However, the administration determined that the documents were not relevant to the land in question … The buildings have not yet been connected to the grid. The Civil Administration is now examining the issue, including the possibility of retroactively authorizing the construction.
Militarized BDS backlash targets college campuses
IMEMC/Agencies 24 Nov — Israeli anti-BDS organization Reservists on Duty (RoD) is partnering with the Lone Soldier Center to launch a recruitment campaign titled “Project Gideon,” the Jerusalem Post reports. RoD was established in January in apparent exasperation over the success of the BDS movement. The group travels to college campuses in North America and Europe. The Lone Soldier Center is an organization based in Jerusalem that supports Jewish people around the world enrolled in the occupation forces and integrated into settler colonial Israeli society. The campaign targets recently released American Israeli soldiers and encourages them “to implement the principles and tactics employed by Reservists on Duty in their fight against [the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement (BDS)] on university and college campuses across North America.” The BDS movement is a global, non-violent, social justice movement that advocates boycotting, divesting from, and sanctioning Israel and the companies that do business with it until Israel complies with international law and respects Palestinian human rights. RoD dismisses the tactic of hasbara – i.e. touting Israeli propaganda – as ineffective against the BDS movement. Instead, the group advances characterizations of Palestinian society as uniquely implicated in human rights violations. Israel, on the other hand, is propped up as a colonial savior. RoD also claims that BDS – a movement started by 170 Palestinian civil society organizations – is actually counter to Palestinians’ well being. RoD hopes to inspire Israel’s highly secretive anti-BDS bodies to devote more time to berating Palestinian society too. Israeli consul general Dani Dayan has met with the group.
Because of BDS, Israeli archaeologists want West Bank work kept secret
+972 mag 22 Nov by Haggai Matar — An Israeli court rejects a freedom of information request for the names of archeologists digging, under IDF license, in the occupied territories, and where Israel is storing the antiquities they uncover. The reason: so they don’t face academic boycott — …The decision was issued in response to a petition filed by human rights organization Yesh Din and archeology NGO Emek Shaveh, against the Israeli military government in the West Bank (the Civil Administration) and the staff officer of its Archeology Department, who are responsible for issuing licenses for archeological excavations in the occupied territory. The petitioners sought information that the military refused to provide as part of a freedom of information request, mainly the names of the archeologists, and where Israeli authorities store antiquities they uncover in the West Bank. The main thrust of District Court Judge Yigal Marzel’s decision dealt with releasing the names of the archeologists. Judge Marzel recognized the importance of publishing their names, as is customary inside Israel, partly for reasons of transparency, but also because the findings of the excavations are often published academically — which requires publishing one’s name. However, the State managed to convince Judge Marzel that the archeologists, who testified in an ex parte hearing (without the presence of the petitioners), that publishing their names would pose a real threat of academic boycott due to their work in the occupied territories under a license issued by the military regime. The State claimed there is also a risk that the archeologists would be unable to publish in international academic journals, and that foreign academics would refuse to work with them in future research or refuse to invite them to conferences, thereby harming their professional careers….
Palestinian refugees – Lebanon
Lebanon freezes plan for Ain al-Hilweh’s ‘racist wall’
[includes film ‘Life in the Shadows’: Palestinians in Lebanon – Al Jazeera World”] Al Jazeera 23 Nov by Zena Tahhan — The Lebanese army has “paused” construction of a controversial “security” wall being built around the country’s largest Palestinian refugee camp, Ain al-Hilweh, near the southern port city of Sidon. While it is unclear whether construction will continue, a military spokesman told Al Jazeera that the army would release a statement in the coming days to “clarify” the reasons behind the decision to build the wall. The wall, which would be lined with watch towers, began to take shape on Sunday. The decision to execute was taken by Lebanese authorities, who initially cited security measures, in coordination with Palestinian factions that run the camps. “All the factions met up with the Lebanese brigadier general and decided that this is the best decision for the sake of protecting the camp. We all agreed,” Subhi Abu Arab, a top Fatah security chief in Lebanon, told Al Jazeera on Tuesday. While the camp is already blocked off with metal fences and Lebanese army checkpoints, officials said the wall was necessary to control entry of radical armed groups who are fueling violence within the camps. Regular clashes between various factions have continuously put civilian refugee lives at risk. Last year, factional fighting displaced thousands and injured tens of residents. But more than 70,000 Palestinians live inside the camp, many of whom have criticised the wall as Lebanon’s latest act of discrimination against them. Residents inside the camp are comparing it with Israel’s Separation Wall in and around the occupied Palestinian West Bank … Although construction was said to have been undertaken with the consent of the local Palestinian factions, the Hamas movement in Lebanon strongly condemned it in a statement released on Tuesday. “The construction of this isolation wall is an unacceptable step that threatens the future of Palestinian refugees and compounds their suffering.”….
UN sees danger in Israeli settlements, Palestinian split
UNITED NATIONS (AFP) 24 Nov — A UN envoy warned Wednesday that the situation in the Middle East was changing “dangerously” as Israel builds new Jewish settlements and Palestinians remain divided. Nickolay Mladenov told the Security Council that Israel’s planned new settlements in east Jerusalem were part of “increasingly worrying” developments and urged Israel to halt the construction. “The situation on the ground is changing steadily, dangerously, as proponents of Israeli settlement expansion feel emboldened, internal divisions among Palestinians flare up, and the prospect of a future Palestinian state comes under threat like never before,” Mladenov said. He spoke after Israel revived plans to build 500 new homes for Jewish settlers in east Jerusalem, which the Palestinians hope to make the capital of their future independent state. The announcement was seen by some as sign that Israel planned to forge ahead with settlements in the wake of the US presidential election victory of Donald Trump, who is expected to be less critical of Israel than Barack Obama. The United Nations maintains that settlements are illegal and has repeatedly called on Israel to halt them, but UN officials have reported a surge in construction over the past months. Mladenov told the council that “inaction has a cost — a cost measured in human lies and suffering” and took a veiled swipe at Israel by arguing that those who oppose a Palestinian state “offer no viable alternative.”
UN’s ‘Third Committee’ votes in favor of Palestinian right to self-determination
IMEMC/Agencies 22 Nov — The Social, Humanitarian and Cultural Committee (Third Committee) of the United Nations, on Monday, voted overwhelmingly in favor of the right of Palestinian self-determination. According to Al Ray Palestinian Media Agency, the vote saw 170 countries voting in favor, while seven countries voted against, including Canada, the United, States, Israel, Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Nauru, and Palau. Five other countries abstained from voting. The UN vote re-institutes the right of the Palestinian people for self-determination, including their right for having an independent State of Palestine. The vote also urges all countries, United Nations organizations and other competent authorities to continue in supporting the Palestinian people in their struggle for independence. Following the vote, the Senior Advisor to the Permanent Observer Mission of Palestine to the United Nations, Nadya Rasheed, said that the international support for this resolution sends a clear message to the Israeli state with the need to end its discriminatory policies and violations against the Palestinian people, and its refusal to resolve the two state solution.
Seething Erdogan accuses Israel of ‘barbarism’ in TV interview timed to mark warming of ties
Times of Israel 21 Nov — In his first interview with the Israeli press in over a decade, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Monday slightly walked back a 2014 assertion that Israel’s military offensive in Gaza was more barbaric than Hitler, but made no apology for invoking the Nazi leader’s name in the context, said he was “well aware” of the sensitivities, and again condemned Israel’s “barbarism” against the Palestinians. Erdogan spoke to Channel 2’s Ilana Dayan in Turkish, in a sweeping, and frequently tense interview that covered Israel-Turkey relations, the Gaza Strip and the failed coup attempt in Turkey over the summer. The interview, apparently intended to mark a new, warming era in bilateral ties, began politely, but later featured passages where Erdogan, seething, leveled bitter criticism at Israel, especially regarding its policies on the Palestinians. At one point in the interview, Erdogan snapped at Dayan, and told her she couldn’t pressure him and wouldn’t be able to maneuver him “into a corner.” “I don’t agree with what Hitler did and I also don’t agree with what Israel did in Gaza. Therefore there’s no place for comparison in order to say what’s more barbaric,” said Erdogan in the interview … Asked if he was conscious of the shock his reference to Hitler caused among Jews, Erdogan said “I’m very well aware… But is the Jewish community aware of what is done (in Gaza)? Thousands of people bombed in Gaza and Palestine” in the 2014 war with Hamas….
Egypt-Israel relations ‘at highest level’ in history
Al Jazeera 20 Nov by Zena Tahhan — Almost four decades since former Egyptian President Anwar al-Sadat extended a hand of peace to Israel, the two governments have reached “full partnership and unbreakable alliance”, analysts say. Although many Egyptians continue to regard Israel as a threat and sympathise with the Palestinian cause, the relationship between the two countries has become markedly explicit under President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi. “Egyptian-Israeli relations are today at their highest level in history,” Nathan Thrall, a Jerusalem-based senior analyst for the International Crisis Group (ICG), a research NGO, told Al Jazeera. And it certainly appears so. In 2016, Egyptian foreign minister, Sameh Shoukry, visited Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in a much-publicised meeting at the latter’s home in Jerusalem. It was the first visit by any Egyptian FM in close to a decade. Netanyahu said the two “made time to watch the Euro 2016 final” football game together. Egypt also reinstated an ambassador to Tel Aviv this year, following Morsi’s decision to pull out the envoy in protest against the 2012 Israeli assault on Gaza….
FIFA envoy seeks deal on Israeli settlement clubs
AFP 22 Nov — FIFA envoy Tokyo Sexwale on Tuesday called for movement on the “headache” issue of Israeli clubs in settlements in the occupied West Bank, after meeting Israeli and Palestinian leaders. FIFA president Gianni Infantino last month told AFP the issue was a “priority” for him, and Sexwale, chairman of the FIFA Monitoring Committee on Israel-Palestine, addressed the subject in the West. Bank city of Ramallah. “The biggest headache is a question of the clubs which are playing in the settlements. That is where we need people to make a move,” Sexwale said after a meeting with Palestinian Football Association head Jibril Rajoub. He said a report he was preparing would be “be very clear and loud” about the matter. Sexwale met with Israeli Culture and Sport Minister Miri Regev on Monday. FIFA postponed a decision on the settlement clubs last month ahead of Sexwale’s report. Rajoub said they were “looking forward to see(ing) a clear cut resolution” to enable Palestinian football to develop “freely like any other nation”. The Israel Football Association has accused the Palestinians of dragging sport “from the football field into a political one”. Six clubs in the Israeli football league play in West Bank Jewish settlements, which are considered illegal under international law. The Palestinians have long opposed the participation in the Israeli championships of the settlement clubs, which play in Israel’s third, fourth and fifth divisions.
Israeli, Palestinian leaders meet FIFA on soccer issues
ZURICH (AP) 23 Nov — FIFA says Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas have met with its envoy trying to broker better relations between the two sides’ soccer federations. FIFA says its monitoring committee chairman, Tokyo Sexwale of South Africa, held separate talks in Jerusalem and Ramallah on Monday and Tuesday. FIFA says President Gianni Infantino and secretary general Fatma Samoura “have both committed to visiting the region at the appropriate time in the near future.” Palestinian soccer leaders want Israel expelled from FIFA over security restrictions on players and opposing teams moving in and out of its territories, plus Israel allowing clubs from settlements to play in its competitions. Sexwale, a former FIFA presidential candidate, says he will brief the Infantino-chaired council at a Jan. 9-10 meeting in Zurich.
1 Palestinian killed, 2 injured in Balata refugee camp shooting
NABLUS (Ma‘an) 23 Nov — A Palestinian youth was killed and two others injured after unknown assailants opened fire at a vehicle in the Balata refugee camp in the occupied West Bank district of Nablus on Tuesday night, killing one and injuring two others with moderate to critical wounds. Spokesperson of the Palestinian police Luay Irzeiqat told Ma‘an that the police had received information that a fight had broken out in the refugee camp, while a house was also set on fire during the fight before the shots were fired at the vehicle. Irzeiqat added that the police are investigating the shooting in connection with the fight that had erupted in the refugee camp.
How Israel is bypassing the PA
Al-Monitor 21 Nov by Adnan Abu Amer — Israeli Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories Gen. Yoav Mordechai launched a Facebook page that seems to assist the Palestinians with their daily struggles, but some Palestinians have accused it of having other goals — After Israel withdrew from most of the Palestinian territories in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank following the Oslo Accord in 1993, engagement between the Palestinians and the Israelis became confined to border crossings between the Palestinian territories and Israel, such as the Erez crossing in northern Gaza and the Qalandia checkpoint located between the West Bank towns of Ramallah and al-Ram. Israel communicates with the Palestinians at the checkpoints and online. Examples of the latter are the Facebook page of Gen. Yoav Mordechai, the Israeli Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT), his Twitter account and his official website, which are visited by thousands of Palestinians daily. On Nov. 11, the COGAT Facebook page posted about 10,000 job opportunities in Israel for Palestinian workers and listed the conditions required; it seems that this page has turned into an official Israeli platform to directly address the Palestinians. The Facebook page was set up in March 2015, along with a phone number and an email address for Palestinians to communicate their requests. Over 72,000 people have liked the page and have interacted with its posts by commenting on the shared pictures and news. In this context, Palestinian merchant Imad Ali from Jenin told Al-Monitor, “I had been trying to get a permit to enter Israel for business purposes for the past year, but the Palestinian Authority [PA] was stalling my request and asking for large sums of money to cover my permit fees. However a few weeks ago, I sent in my request in a message to the Coordinator page and I received my permit in less than 10 days.” Mordechai became popular among Palestinians following his appointment in November 2013…. [See also Why an Israeli general is Facebook chatting with Palestinians – by Shlomi Eldar]
Old land mine detonates in Hebron during roadwork
HEBRON (Ma‘an) 22 Nov — An explosive device detonated in the southern occupied West Bank city of Hebron while a bulldozer belonging to the Hebron municipality was working on a road in the city, witnesses told Ma‘an. Witnesses said that they saw engineers of the Palestinian police searching the area near the Ein Sara road. Police sources told Ma‘an that the explosive device was an old landmine. According to Palestinian Authority (PA) officials, the West Bank used to be littered with landmines, used during Israel’s illegal takeover of the area from Jordan in 1967. The PA’s Palestinian Mine Action Center launched a project in 2014 to clear all landmines in the occupied West Bank, which, as of February, had removed at least 210 mines from the Bethlehem-area town of Husan and Nabi Elias in Qalqiliya.
Leader of £7m people smuggling gang to be deported: Asylum seeker facing 20 years in Greek prison after judge orders he is extradited to stand trial
DailyMail 22 Nov — An asylum seeker said to have run one of Europe’s biggest people trafficking gangs faces 20 years in jail after a judge ordered his extradition to stand trial in Greece. Palestinian Jamal Owda is accused of being the mastermind behind the gang which allegedly smuggled more than 50,000 Syrians into Europe in a £7million operation. The gang, which Owda is said to have run from his room in an asylum hostel in Liverpool, is estimated to have smuggled 100 Syrians across the European border every day for 16 months. The 27-year-old, whose application for asylum was rejected after he entered Britain in the back of a lorry in 2014, was accused of malingering after a judge said he did not believe his claim to have attempted suicide. Owda was arrested in a dawn raid in December 2015 when police found £17,500 in cash hidden in a speaker in his hostel room. He is charged with being involved in a 22-man group which smuggled people into Europe between July 2014 and November 2015, running a similar operation between March and May 2015. Owda fought his deportation on the grounds that Greek prison conditions would breach his human rights and that he is suffering post-traumatic stress after growing up in the war-torn city of Gaza. But at Westminster Magistrates’ Court yesterday District Judge John Zani denied his challenge to his extradition and ordered he be returned to Greece. Owda, wearing a black hoodie, was in an agitated state, shouting in his native Arabic as well as broken English … Owda had psychiatric treatment between 2006 and 2008 in Gaza where he was diagnosed with paranoia, hallucinations and was said to be suicidal….