Jerusalem mayor warns against settlement demolition
AFP 7 Nov — Jerusalem’s Israeli mayor Nir Barkat has warned that Palestinian homes built without an Israeli permit in the city’s annexed east could be demolished if authorities dismantle a wildcat Jewish settlement. Barkat was reacting to a ruling by Israel’s Supreme Court ordering the evacuation and demolition by December 25 of the Amona outpost, where around 40 families are living on private Palestinian-owned land near the West Bank city of Ramallah. His comments came in a letter addressed to the government’s legal council — seen Monday by AFP — in which he says the demolition of Amona “could have implications for similar cases in Jerusalem, where Arabs have illegally built on private or municipal land”. “There should not be one law for Jews and another for Arabs,” wrote Barkat, a member of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s ruling right-wing Likud party. Ir Amim, an Israeli NGO opposed to Israeli settlements in east Jerusalem, where more than 200,000 Israelis now live, denounced the mayor’s comments. “These are outrageous remarks by someone trying to promote his political career on the backs of the people of Jerusalem,” Ir Amim head Yehudit Oppenheimer told AFP … “Since the start of the year, 166 illegally built Palestinian structures in east Jerusalem have been demolished by the authorities, twice the figure in the same period last year,” she added. NGOs say many Palestinians are forced to build illegally because Israeli authorities refuse to give them building permits. The international community considers all Israeli settlements in east Jerusalem and the West Bank illegal whether they are authorised by the Israeli government or not.
Why Israel is pouring cash into this settlement university
Al-Monitor 4 Nov by Shlomi Eldar — Israel’s academics are outraged that Ariel College-turned-University is receiving more funding than any other university in Israel, most of which are far more reputable institutions — …Ariel University, formerly Ariel College, was accorded university status only four years ago under political pressure from the right … “Ariel has been getting lots of money over many years for political reasons,” the head of one of the universities told Al-Monitor on condition of anonymity. “We are boiling mad at the things going on there. We struggle daily with immense difficulties to keep some of the world’s most reputable and best-known academic institutions afloat. And then the state goes and establishes a special council for higher education, especially for a university that has never received any recognition in the field of research. The data about the funds being funneled to Ariel was never complete and was always hidden between other line items. They get budgeted teaching positions, bus services, scholarships, buildings and dorms. They have established an empire. We feel that any criticism we make is turned against us. There’s nothing that can be done. They control the state.”
Violence / Detentions — West Bank / Jerusalem
Video: Israeli soldiers invade Ramallah, kidnap one Palestinian
IMEMC 7 Nov — Several Israeli military vehicles invaded, on Monday at dawn, Ramallah city in central West Bank and many nearby villages, leading to clashes between the invading forces and local youngsters. The soldiers surrounded a hotel, invaded a coffee shop, and illegally confiscated cash. In a televised report, Ali Dar Ali of Palestine TV said that the soldiers invaded Sorda town, to kidnap a young man but could not locate him. The invasion led to clashes with dozens of local youths who hurled stones and Molotov cocktails at the military vehicles, while the soldiers fired live rounds, rubber-coated steel bullets and gas bombs. The soldiers also invaded the al-Mazra‘a al-Gharbiyya village, northwest of Ramallah, and kidnapped a young man, before moving him to Beit El colony, north of al-Biereh city. In addition, the soldiers invaded Um ash-Sharayet neighborhood in al-Biereh, and kidnapped a young man before moving to Ofer prison and military base, illegally built on Palestinian lands belonging to Betunia town. Furthermore, more than 14 military vehicles invaded at-Tiebeh neighborhood in Ramallah, and surrounded a hotel for three hours, starting at two after midnight. In the same area, the soldiers invaded a coffee shop, and illegally confiscated surveillance tapes, equipment, and cash. One of the workers of the coffee shop said the soldiers violently invaded the place and searched it, causing excessive damage, examined the ID cards of everybody there and questioned them, before illegal confiscating the money.
Palestinians file police complaint over alleged assault by settlers
Haaretz 7 Nov by Yotam Berger — Police took statements Sunday from two Palestinians who reported having been assaulted by Israeli settlers in the West Bank on Saturday. Security officials said four people were injured in the incident, which took place near the settlement of Talmon. The four, who had apparently been beaten, were treated at a hospital in Ramallah. The Palestinians said about 20 masked Israelis attacked them with sticks, iron bars and stones as they harvest their olives. No suspects have been arrested. But according to a source involved in the investigation, police suspect the assailants came from a tiny illegal outpost near the scene of the attack. A video [below] obtained by Haaretz shows four masked men in jeans and sweatshirts, climbing out of the wadi where the attack took place and entering the outpost’s buildings. The clip was filmed by a man from Al-Janiya (also spelled Al-Janieh), where the victims live, a few minutes after the attack. It doesn’t show the attack itself, but one of the masked men carries what appears to be a stick. Police said they hadn’t yet come across the video in their investigation. Haaretz visited the outpost, which consists of a few tin or wooden shacks, and found that it was empty during the day. But it contained a few signs with Hebrew writing and a bench that was apparently taken from a nearby settlement, since it was labeled as property of the Binyamin Regional Council….
Israeli forces raid home of slain Palestinian, clash with youth in Beit Ummar
HEBRON (Ma‘an) 5 Nov — Israeli forces clashed with Palestinian youths during a predawn raid in the village of Beit Ummar in the southern occupied West Bank district of Hebron. Local activist Muhammad Awad told Ma‘an that Israeli forces raided the family home of Khalid Ahmad Elayyan Ikhlayyil, 23, who was killed by Israeli forces on Sunday after he allegedly attempted to commit a car-ramming attack near the village. Soldiers searched Ikhlayyil’s home and questioned his father before leaving. Awad highlighted that Ikhlayyil’s body remained in Israeli custody in accordance with the Israeli government’s practice of holding the bodies of slain Palestinians accused of committing attacks against Israelis.
Israeli forces also raided the home of Muhammad Kamil Zaaqiq in the Khalit al-Ain area of Beit Ummar, and summoned his 26-year-old son Yousif, a former prisoner, for interrogation at the Etzion detention center. According to Awad, clashes broke out between local youth and Israeli soldiers after the soldiers removed and stepped on a memorial poster of Ikhlayyil. Israeli forces fired tear gas at local youths, several of whom were treated on the scene.
Israeli forces raid house of slain Palestinian in Ramallah-area village
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 5 Nov — Israeli forces raided the home of slain Palestinian Maen Abu Qaraa in the al-Mazraa al-Qibliyaa village in the central occupied West Bank district of Ramallah early Saturday morning, according to locals. Locals told Ma‘an that during a raid on the village, Israeli forces raided Abu Qaraa’s family home and held his family in a single room for interrogation. Soldiers searched the house, destroyed furniture, searched the family’s ID cards and took down their personal mobile phones’ numbers. Abu Qaraa, 23, was killed by Israeli forces on Thursday after allegedly attempting to carry out a stabbing attack near the illegal Israeli Ofra settlement , between the Ramallah-area villages of Silwad and Deir Jarir.
Israeli forces shut down wedding hall in al-Eizariya
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 7 Nov — Israeli forces shut down a wedding hall in the village of al-Eizariya in the occupied West Bank district of Jerusalem, claiming that Palestinians celebrating a wedding in the hall shot a firearm in the air in celebration. Israeli security sources said in a statement received that Israeli forces closed the al-‘Awda wedding hall in order to prevent the “very dangerous phenomenon and bad tradition” of shooting in the air during weddings and special occasions. The statement added that the closure of the wedding hall came as part of the Israeli fight against unlicensed weapon ownership among Palestinians. Israeli forces delivered the closure notice to the wedding hall’s owner, giving him 30 days to take steps to prevent such incidents in the future before the hall could be reopened….
Israeli soldiers invade advertisement company, confiscate computers, in Hebron
IMEMC 7 Nov — Israeli soldiers invaded, on Monday at dawn, an advertisement company in the southern West Bank city of Hebron, violently searched it, causing excessive damage, before confiscating its computers, and other equipment. Company workers said the soldiers invaded the Al-Manara Market, in the center of Hebron city, before storming the company, and violently searching it. The company is owned by Rabrea’ Tarda, who said that the soldiers confiscated computers and other equipment, and caused excessive damage during the violent searches. The soldiers also installed several roadblocks in the area surrounding the company, and prevented the Palestinians from entering or leaving it.
Israeli police detain Palestinian woman suspected of planning stab attack
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 6 Nov — Israeli police detained a Palestinian woman in the Old City of Jerusalem on Sunday morning over suspicions that she was planning a stabbing attack against Israelis. Israeli police spokeswoman Luba al-Samri said in a statement on Sunday that a 36-year-old Palestinian woman was detained after reportedly making “remarks” about plans to carry out a stabbing attack. The Palestinian woman was taken in for questioning after Israeli forces found two knives in her home next to a copy of the Quran, al-Samri added. Israeli forces have detained a number of Palestinians for allegedly being in possession of knives in the past year following a wave of unrest which has left some 238 Palestinians killed by Israelis and 34 Israelis killed by Palestinians since October 2015.
PPS: ‘Israeli soldiers kidnap 14 Palestinians in the West Bank’
IMEMC 6 Nov –The Palestinian Prisoners Society (PPS) has reported that Israeli soldiers have kidnapped, overnight and earlier Sunday, at least 14 Palestinians in different parts of the occupied West Bank, including Jerusalem. The PPS said the soldiers invaded Qabatia and Burqin towns, in the northern West Bank city of Jenin, kidnapped four Palestinians, and illegally confiscated a car. The PPS said the soldiers searched homes in Qabatia town, south of Jenin, and kidnapped Suleiman Ahmad Khozeimiyya, 37, and Nasser Sobhi Tazaz’a, 25, and broke into a car that was parked in Janzour street, before illegally confiscating it. In Burqin, the soldiers searched homes and kidnapped two Palestinians, identified as Osama Yasser Sobeh, 22, and Tareq Atallah Sabah, 23. In Jerusalem, the soldiers invaded and searched many homes in the Old City, and kidnapped Jihad Nasser Qous, Mahmoud Abdul-Latif, and his mother, in addition to Mo’tasem Hajjaj….
Israeli forces detain 20 Palestinians in night raids
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 7 Nov — Israeli forces detained at least 20 Palestinians during overnight raids in the occupied Palestinian territory between Sunday and Monday, Israeli and Palestinian sources said. The Palestinian Prisoner’s Society (PPS) said in a statement that eight Palestinians were detained in the occupied West Bank district of Ramallah, identifying one of them as Yazan Issam Imara ,18, from the village of Nabi Saleh. PPS did not specify the locations of the seven other detentions, but identified the Palestinians from Ramallah as Ali Mahmoud Shawabka, Adil Qasim al-Khasib, 21, Ibrahim Salah al-Khasib, Ahmad Taysir al-Khasib, Muhammad Yasin Subhi Hamid, 17, Muhammad Abdullah Salih, 22, and Rafat Husain Asfur. An Israeli army spokesperson told Ma‘an that eight Palestinians were detained in the Ramallah district, listing three detentions in the village of ‘Arura, two in Silwad, one in Umm al-Sharayit, one in Sinjil, and another in al-Mazra‘a al-Qibliya. Meanwhile, PPS said that five Palestinians were detained in Jerusalem….
Opinion: Good morning from the Israeli army’s Twitter account / Gideon Levy
Haaretz 7 Nov — What do you call a regime that every night drags people from their beds? How would you label mass detentions without a warrant? How would you define brutal home searches in the dead of night, some of which have no purpose except as training exercises? What should we call such acts, which the army, the Border Police and the Shin Bet security service carry out nightly? What should we call the state in whose name they act — a democracy, the only one in the Middle East? Do you recall dark regimes, think of Latin American juntas, are shocked by Turkey? Welcome to Israel’s occupation of the West Bank, night after night, just a short drive from your home. Each morning, in its Twitter account, the IDF describes its misdeeds of the previous night, with a touch of pride: “During the night our forces arrested wanted men who are suspected of popular terror activities and violent disturbances. They were handed over to the security forces for interrogation.” Wanted men, popular terror, disturbances — the language is polished yet stilted, with childish Hebrew acronyms that seem to conceal a secret. The wording is formulaic, without naming or otherwise disclosing the humanity of the detainees. The army is like a nighttime hunter who each morning displays his nightly catch … To anyone familiar with the nature of these operations, there is nothing funny about them. They are stomach-turning. Hundreds of thousands of people live in constant terror: children who wet their beds, parents who are afraid to even close an eye. The soldiers blow up the doors of the homes and invade. Before you can even understand what is happening there are dozens of armed men, their faces sometimes covered, in your home, in your bedroom, in your children’s bedrooms, in the bathroom. This is how the nightmare begins, the search and the arrests, with neither an explanation nor a court order. Sometimes the occupants are pulled out of their home and into the street, without being allowed to get dressed. Occasionally a father is beaten in front of his children. Frequently belongings are broken. All accompanied by bullying and humiliation. Tear gas is often sprayed at the neighbors, outside. These are traumatic experiences for any human being. There is no Palestinian who has not experienced it. There is no Israeli who can imagine it. I once spent a night in the Jenin refugee camp. When soldiers approached the home I was staying in, I almost died of fright. In the end they did not come in, but I will never forget those moments of terror. That’s only the beginning of the nightmare. Then the “wanted person” is taken, handcuffed and blindfolded, for an interrogation whose end is difficult to predict. It will go on for weeks and it will involve humiliation and torture, sometimes without any foundation. Nearly one million Palestinians have been arrested in this manner in the course of the occupation. Nearly one million….
Prisoners / Court actions
Israeli court sentences 14-year-old Palestinian to 12 years in prison for attempted murder
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 7 Nov — Israel’s Jerusalem district court sentenced a 14-year-old Palestinian, Ahmad Manasra, to 12 years in prison on Monday. Manasra was convicted of attempted murder for carrying out a stabbing attack on Oct. 12, 2015 that left two Israelis seriously injured. In addition, the court imposed a fine on his family of 180,000 shekels ($47,187). During Monday’s sentencing, the judge said that “the fact that he is a minor does not confer [on] him immunity from punishment, particularly when a serious crime is committed.” The teenager’s lawyers presented an appeal to the court in May, saying that Manasra was not planning to murder the two Israelis, but to injure them. The judge rejected the appeal, and on Monday, convicted Manasra of two counts of attempted murder and one count of arms possession. Following the sentencing, Tariq Barghouth, Manasra’s lawyer, said that the court was “unjust in its sentence against a child who has been treated like a criminal in a country that claims democracy.”
Manasra and his 15-year-old cousin Hassan Khalid Manasra stabbed and critically wounded two Israelis, aged 13 and 21, near the illegal Israeli settlement of Pisgat Zeev in the Beit Hanina neighborhood of occupied East Jerusalem. During the attack, Hassan was shot dead at the scene by Israeli forces, while Ahmad was knocked over by a car and seriously wounded. A video of Ahmad lying injured and bloody on the ground after being hit by the car was uploaded to social media and went viral. In the footage, an Israeli onlooker can clearly be heard saying: “Die, son of a wh***! Die!” while another tells the police officer to shoot him. In video footage obtained by Ma‘an a month after the attack, Israeli officials were captured on film hurling abuse at Manasra, then 13, during his interrogation. The footage showed segments of the interrogation, as Israeli detectives yelled curses and verbally abused the child, while questioning him about the incident and his motives. In the video, one interrogator repeatedly shouts at Manasra in Arabic to “shut up”, while Manasra continuously pleads for the officer to believe that he cannot remember anything about the incident. The interrogator is recorded showing Manasra a video of the attack, shouting questions at him about details of the incident. Manasra starts to cry as he says that he “doesn’t know” and “cannot remember,” pleading with the officer to “take me to the doctor to check me,” all while hitting himself on the head. Manasra’s trial was postponed a number of times, which some commentators alleged was a conscious move to delay the case until he turned 14 in January, at which time he became old enough under Israeli law to be given a prison sentence….
Severely injured Palestinian mother Israa Jaabis sentenced to 11 years in Israeli prison
Samidoun 8 Nov — Palestinian prisoner Israa Jaabis, 32, was sentenced to 11 years in prison on Monday, 7 November by an Israeli court in Jerusalem. Jaabis is a resident of Jabal Mukabber in occupied east Jerusalem; she was severely injured on 10 October 2015 after a fire broke out in her car. She was 500 meters away from an Israeli occupation military checkpoint when a gas canister for use in cooking burst into flames in the back seat of her car. Jaabis’ airbag went off in the front seat of the car. Israeli occupation forces accused her of attempting to detonate a car bomb; an Israeli police officer was injured when the car fire broke out. However, Jaabis was severely burned, especially on her face and hands. Eight of her fingers were amputated when she was hospitalized. She and her family repeatedly stated that she was carrying the gas canister as part of her move; in order to preserve her Jerusalem residency, she had recently rented a new apartment and had been moving furniture in her car for days. Palestinian Jerusalemites, especially those with family members in the West Bank, are systematically targeted for the revocation of their Jerusalem IDs by the Israeli occupation. Jaabis was moved to HaSharon prison before the completion of her treatment. Due to her severe injuries and lack of support inside the prison, she must rely on her fellow women prisoners to assist her with basic tasks. She is not receiving supplemental treatment despite her massive burns and severe injuries.
In order to convict Jaabis of ‘attempted murder’ for a fire contained to the inside of her own car, Israeli prosecutors referenced her Facebook and social media posts expressing support for the Palestinian resistance and liberation for Palestine. In addition to the 11 year prison sentence, Jaabis was ordered to pay a fine of 20,000 NIS (approximately $5,000 USD).
Jaabis’ sentence comes alongside multiple other lengthy sentences meted out by Israeli courts to severely injured Palestinians, particularly children. Ahmad Manasrah, 14, was sentenced yesterday to 12 years imprisonment, while Munther Abu Mayala, 15, and Mohamed Taha, 16, were sentenced to 11 years each. These excessive prison sentences come alongside the extrajudicial execution of 238 Palestinians by occupation forces, including 57 children. Jaabis is married and the mother of an eight-year-old daughter. She is among 64 Palestinian women held in Israeli prisons, including 13 minor girls.
Palestinian from Gaza charged in Israeli court for attempting to smuggle weapons to Hamas
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 6 Nov — A 23-year-old Palestinian man from the Gaza Strip was charged in an Israeli court on Sunday for attempting to smuggle weapons to members of the Hamas movement in the besieged coastal enclave, according to Hebrew news sites. Prosecutors from the Israeli Central Court of Beersheba reportedly charged the young man with attempting to smuggle 200 kilos of weapons from Egypt to Gaza in 2015 — a job he would have been paid $1,200 for. His attempt was said to have been “foiled” by the Egyptian army, who also detained him at the time of the incident. The man, whose identity remained unknown, was also charged with smuggling “diving equipment” from Egypt to Gaza in 2013, using a fishing boat allegedly given to him by the Hamas movement.
Two Palestinian prisoners end hunger strike, reach agreement with Israeli officials
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 6 Nov — Two Palestinian prisoners ended their hunger strikes on Sunday after spending 11 days without food, according to the Palestinian Committee of Prisoners’ Affairs. Committee director Issa Qaraqe reported that prisoners Samer al-Issawi, a resident of occupied East Jerusalem, and Munther Snawbar, a Nablus native, who are being held in Israel’s Nafha prison, ended their hunger strikes on Sunday. Qaraqe said that al-Issawi and Snawbar ended their hunger strikes after reaching an agreement with Israeli Prisons Service (IPS) officials, who agreed to transfer all female Palestinian prisoners from Damon prison to Hasharon prison, which is located closer to the Israeli courts in which the detainees are tried. The agreement will save the female Palestinian prisoners from “the hours of suffering they used to go through while being taken to Israeli courts for trial from the faraway Damon prison,” Qaraqe said. The agreement also stipulated that when female Palestinian prisoners are taken to Israeli courts for trial, they must be taken directly to the courts, without stopping at Ramla prison on the way, something that IPS officials had subjected female prisoners to previously. Qaraqe added that IPS also “promised” to reconsider the security ban on families visiting their sons in Israeli jails. Al-Issawi and Snawbar began their solidarity hunger strikes last month in protest of the treatment of the female Palestinian prisoners being held in the Damon detention center….
Israeli forces close several checkpoints, village entrances across Ramallah district
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 7 Nov — Israeli forces closed several checkpoints across the central occupied West Bank district of Ramallah on Monday morning, resulting in serious traffic jams and mobility impediments on morning commuters attempting to enter the city of Ramallah. Local sources and taxi drivers told Ma‘an that Israeli forces closed the northern Attara checkpoint — a major entryway to Ramallah — preventing rush hour traffic coming from the northern West Bank from entering the administrative center of the occupied territory. Vehicles attempting to enter Ramallah from the area were turned around, while vehicles attempting to exit Ramallah through the checkpoint were subject to “strict inspection” before being allowed to exit. Locals highlighted that the Israeli military post in Attara, which used to serve as a permanent checkpoint during the second Intifada, has remained unmanned for the past several years except in such instances like Monday’s closure. Meanwhile, the Beit El checkpoint — which connects the eastern Ramallah district with the cities of Ramallah and al-Bireh — remained closed in both directions for a week, since Israeli forces killed a Palestinian police officer who injured three Israeli soldiers in a shooting attack at the checkpoint. The southern entrance to Ramallah also witnessed serious traffic jams, as Israeli soldiers stopped vehicles at the Jaba checkpoint, less than two kilometers from the major Qalandiya checkpoint. The Qalandiya checkpoint is an Israeli border crossing separating Ramallah from occupied East Jerusalem, and can be accessed only by Palestinian holders of Israeli IDs and those who have special entry permits. The main road leading to the checkpoint also connects with the main road which Palestinian vehicles use to reach Ramallah, making traffic jams a daily occurrence. Local sources also told Ma’an that Israeli forces closed the main entrances to the villages of Silwad and Deir Jarir, northeast of Ramallah, which had previously been closed on Friday … The Ramallah district has been the site of widespread closures and clashes in recent days, in the wake of two attempted attacks on Israeli soldiers in the area in the span of a week … Israel’s response to alleged attacks — both large and small — such as punitive home demolitions, the sealing of entire villages, mass detention campaigns, and withholding the bodies of Palestinians slain while committing attacks, has been condemned by rights groups, who have said the measures amount to “collective punishment” and represent a clear violation of international law….
Palestinian farmers accuse Israeli settlers of stealing harvest from 400 olive trees
NABLUS (Ma‘an) 7 Nov — Palestinian farmers in the northern occupied West Bank district of Nablus reported on Monday that Israeli settlers stole the harvest of 400 olive trees planted on their private lands. Ghassan Daghlas, a Palestinian official who monitors settlement activities in the northern West Bank told Ma‘an that more than 30 Palestinian families from the Nablus-area village of Deir Sharaf entered their agricultural lands on Monday after being banned entrance since Friday by Israeli authorities. According to Daghlas, the families “were shocked to find out that Israeli settlers had picked the olives of 400 olive trees planted in their lands,” near the illegal Israeli settlement of Shavi Shamron. “Israeli settlers stealing olive harvests is a crime against Palestinian farmers and their properties,” Daghlas said, denouncing “the Israeli government’s knowledge (of settlers’ actions) and the complete silence of international society and human rights organizations.” Daghlas also demanded compensation for the Palestinian families who lost their olive harvest. The olive harvest is an important economic and cultural event for Palestinians, with nearly half of all cultivated land in the occupied Palestinian territory planted with olive trees, according to the United Nations … This year’s olive harvest season, which began early last month, has seen several incidents of attacks by Israeli settlers and Israeli government restrictions on Palestinian farmers and their lands in the occupied territory….
Israeli settlers throw rocks, assault 3 Palestinian farmers picking olives
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 5 Nov — Three Palestinians were wounded, one critically, after being attacked by Israeli settlers on Saturday in the village of al-Janiya in the central occupied West Bank district of Ramallah. According to locals, Israeli settlers assaulted and threw rocks at members of the Abu Fekheideh family while they were picking olives on their land in the al-Batha area of the village, near the illegal Israeli settlement of Talmon. Jaber Barakat Abu Fekheideh was critically injured in the head, while his brother Hassan and cousin Muhammad were reported as mildly wounded, though it remained unclear exactly what type of wounds they sustained. All three were taken to the Ramallah Hospital for treatment … Saturday’s events were the latest in a series of attacks on Palestinian farmers during this year’s olive harvest season, which began early last month, and has seen several incidents of attacks by Israeli settlers on Palestinian farmers and their lands in the occupied territory: ….
Harvesting olives on the front line of occupation
Palestine Monitor 5 Nov by Matt Bromfield –Olive farmers in Hebron and across the West Bank have been harvesting their crop, facing up once more to annual harassment by Israeli soldiers and illegal settlers. Wajlan Omtamr is a widow and a mother of four. “I’m not afraid of them,” she said with a cool, level stare as she stood in the shade of a spreading olive tree. “I was raised here in this area.” But “this area” is Tel Rumeida, the hill at the heart of Hebron’s heavily-occupied H2 district. Since illegal settlers began to muscle into the area in the 1980s, the life has been choked from once-bustling souqs and streets by curfews, road closures and the obliteration of thousands of local businesses. Admot Yishai settlement was granted Israeli (though not international) approval in the late 90s, since when the use of napalm to blight Palestinian fields, lethal shootings and the stoning of Palestinian school-children have all occurred around the hill. A spate of violence late last year, which saw 18 residents of the city killed by Israeli soldiers in the space of a month following stabbing and ramming attacks, had Tel Rumeida as its core. The modest grove of nine trees which Wajlan tends is hemmed in by these notoriously aggressive settlers, who are backed by the presence in H2 of an entire company of Israeli Forces soldiers. Theoretically present to provide protection, these soldiers allow settler violence against locals to proceed unchecked while indulging in extrajudicial killings of Palestinians. In return for a fifty-fifty split of the crop, Wajlan has spent the last couple of years looking after the orchard on behalf of an absentee owner unable to secure a H2 permit. But her attempts to harvest early-flourishing fruit were frustrated by the occupying forces.“Two weeks ago, a settler came and tried to steal my bag of olives from below the tree I was working on,” she told the Palestine Monitor on October 22. “Then he called three soldiers. They were shouting at me to shut up, trying to make me leave the area, but I insisted that I would not go.” Eventually, she was forced from the tree, by a soldier she identifies as the child of prominent local settlers….
Witnesses: Israeli forces attempt to drown Gaza fishing boat with wastewater
GAZA (Ma‘an) 7 Nov — Israeli naval forces attempted to drown a Palestinian fishing boat off the coast of the central Gaza Strip on Monday, according to witnesses. Local fishermen told Ma‘an that Israeli naval boats pumped wastewater towards Muhammad Adel Abu Rayala’s fishing boat “in an attempt to drown him.” The large amounts of sewage water being pumped towards his boat caused Abu Rayala to faint. He was transferred to al-Shifa hospital for medical treatment. Witnesses added that Abu Rayala’s boat was partially damaged in the incident.
Israeli forces open fire at Gaza fishermen off Gaza coast
GAZA (Ma‘an) 6 Nov — Israeli naval forces opened fire at Palestinian fishermen off the coast of the northern Gaza Strip on Sunday evening, according to witnesses. Local fishermen told Ma‘an that Israeli forces opened fire on them while they were out at sea, off the coast of the northern town of Beit Lahiya, forcing them to sail back to shore. No injuries were reported.
Israel says PA stymying Gaza fishing zone extension
Times of Israel 6 Nov by Judah Ari Gross — Palestinian official rejects COGAT’s ‘unrealistic’ demand for a monitoring ship off the coast of the Hamas-ruled territory — Israel accused the Palestinian Authority of holding up the planned temporary expansion of the permitted fishing area surrounding the Gaza Strip, as the plan got postponed for the third time on Sunday. The Defense Ministry’s Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) had announced that beginning November 1 it would increase the distance Palestinian fisherman were allowed to travel from the shore, from 11 kilometers (six miles) to 17 kilometers (nine miles), for up to two months. Sunday’s announcement marks the third time Israel has postponed the expansion. The first delay, on October 30, was chalked up to inclement weather, while the postponements on November 3 and on Sunday were due to the Palestinians’ “lack of compliance,” COGAT said. Though initially reticent to comment on which requirements the Palestinian Authority had failed to uphold, COGAT said an agreement had been reached whereby the Palestinians “would have a boat on the side of Gaza to ensure that there are no infractions in the enlarged fishing zone, and to maintain order between the fishermen.” But the Palestinians have yet to provide this monitoring ship, and thus, “the enlargement is currently postponed,” COGAT said. Such a demand did not exist in the previous agreement on extending the fishing zone, from April to June of this year, during the other high point of the fishing season. Though the monitoring ship, which is meant to act as a go-between for the Israeli Navy and Palestinian fishermen, wasn’t required during the previous extension, Israel says the need for one arose during that period….
Egypt reopens Gaza crossing in possible sign of policy shift
i24NEWS 7 Nov — Egypt’s president is reportedly pushing for the Palestinian Authority to bring Abbas rival back into fold — Egyptian authorities on Sunday allowed approximately 120 Palestinians from the Gaza Strip to pass through the Rafah crossing, the Haaretz daily reports. The group is attending a socioeconomic conference in the Egyptian port city of Suez and plans to return to Gaza on Thursday, according to the report. Rafah, the principal connection between the Strip’s two million residents and the outside world, has been mostly shut since 2013. The crossing has been opened for only a handful of days during 2016. Haaretz cited sources inside Gaza who said that some of the Palestinians allowed to cross into Egypt are allied with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’s rival Mohammad Dahlan. This was the second time in a month that such a delegation had been allowed into Egypt. Fatah’s former strongman in the Gaza Strip, Dahlan was expelled from the party in 2011 and now lives in exile in the United Arab Emirates. A leading political activist in Gaza told Haaretz that the economic crisis in Egypt is pushing the government to reassess its relationship with Gaza after years of crackdowns on smuggling tunnels.
UN envoy urges focus on ‘real’ Gaza issues
JERUSALEM (AFP) 5 Nov — UN Middle East envoy Nickolay Mladenov said Saturday that residents of the Gaza strip need jobs and hope more than a harbour and airport, a reference to recent comments by Israel’s defence minister. In an October interview with Palestinian newspaper Al-Quds, Israel’s hardline defence minister Avigdor Lieberman said that another war with Palestinian militants in Gaza would lead to their complete destruction. He suggested however that if Gaza’s Hamas rulers ceased hostilities “we will be the first to invest in a port, an airport and industrial areas.” In remarks broadcast Saturday by Israeli public radio, Mladenov said Gaza, where thousands of homes were destroyed or damaged in a 2014 war with Israel, said residents in the enclave had more pressing concerns. “Let’s resolve the real problems that we have today. People live in desperate conditions in Gaza,” he said. “Yes, it’s important to have an airport and a seaport in Gaza but I don’t want us to be distracted by that from resolving the real issues that we face today.” The World Bank said in a September report that just 10.7 percent of the 11,000 houses that were totally destroyed in 2014 had so far been rebuilt and about 50 percent of partially and severely damaged houses are still awaiting repair….
British cardinal pays rare visit to Gaza’s Christians
GAZA CITY (AP) 6 Nov by Fares Akram — The leader of the Roman Catholic Church in England and Wales visited the Gaza Strip on Sunday, hoping to give a spiritual lift to the territory’s tiny Christian minority. Cardinal Vincent Nichols praised Gaza’s Christians, whose numbers have dwindled during a decade of Hamas rule and an Israeli-Egyptian blockade. “There’ve always been Christians here. Their numbers are small, but I believe their faith is strong,” he said. Before Hamas took over Gaza in 2007, the Christian population in the coastal enclave was over 3,000. Today, just 1,200 Christians remain, most of them Orthodox. Christian leaders blame the shattered economy, conflict with Israel and the blockade for encouraging Christians to move out. But community members have also complained that they do not feel comfortable under Hamas rule….
Gaza ministry incurs anger by ending import monopoly on commodities
GAZA CITY (Al-Monitor) 4 Nov by Hana Salah — Gaza’s Ministry of National Economy announced the cancellation of import monopolies on some commodities, but it is unclear whether the decision will decrease the price of goods — The Ministry of National Economy in the Gaza Strip announced Oct. 31 the cancellation of exclusive commercial agencies granted to a number of traders. These traders had monopolized the importation of some basic commodities, such as baby formula, gluten-free wheat and cleaning products, as well as some nonbasic commodities, under exclusive agency agreements between them and foreign companies. The ministry said the decision, which will become effective at a maximum of six months, would curb rising prices in favor of consumers….
Palestinians in Gaza protest aid cuts
GAZA CITY (Al Jazeera) 6 Nov by Isra Namey — Drastic UN cuts to food rations, healthcare and education programmes have added to Gaza’s financial woes — Umm Baha has become a regular participant in protests against reduced UNRWA services in the besieged Gaza Strip. The 43-year-old Palestinian widow says she has no choice but to demonstrate against recent cuts to services offered by the United Nations refugee agency. “The diminished assistance that I receive is disproportionate, considering my mounting responsibilities of taking care of six orphans,” Umm Baha told Al Jazeera. Two years ago, she used to receive food parcels containing ingredients such as oil, sugar and flour at least four times a year; now, it is twice a year at most.
Drastic UN cuts to food rations, healthcare and education programmes have added to the financial woes of Palestinian refugees in Gaza over the past few years. As Gaza’s population rises, no new clinics have been built to address the population’s needs, while 25 nursing positions were recently eliminated. The healthcare cuts have hit particularly hard – with a lack of specialists, most patients are now treated by general practitioners, while the lack of sufficient childbirth and emergency units has pushed citizens to seek costlier medical care in private health facilities. For the past three years, a chronic funding shortfall – this year’s deficit has reached $70m – has resulted in reductions to UNRWA’s core services. Protests against the cuts by Palestinian refugees have become frequent around the UN agency’s headquarters in Gaza City. Popular committees representing refugees have expressed grave concerns over the reduced services, warning of potentially tragic repercussions amid rapidly deteriorating living standards for Palestinians in Gaza.
Why Gazan women are turning to cactus picking
GAZA CITY (Al-Monitor) 6 Nov by Rasha Abou Jalal — Women in the Gaza Strip are harvesting cactus fruit as seasonal jobs to either save for college or help their families in light of the difficult economic conditions — With a long stick that has a curved metal tip, Sanaa Omar, 14, who lives in Johr al-Deek village in the central Gaza Strip, tries to pick cactuses to put them in a basket she holds in her other hand. Nearby, her sister Hind Omar, 13, competes with her to harvest the biggest number of fruits to sell them and make some money to support their families in their basic daily needs. Cactus, aka Barbary fig [or prickly pear in the Western Hemisphere to which it is native], is common in the eastern parts of the Gaza Strip and does not need care and irrigation from farmers, because its deep roots extract underground water. Its stems retain water inside. Sanaa and Hind head out early every morning to the nearby farms to pick the rough thorny cactuses. Sanaa told Al-Monitor, “My sister and I try to leave at 5 in the morning to harvest cactuses from the nearby farms. Farmers allow us to pick whatever we want, since cactuses are cheap relative to other fruits that they plant.” Sanaa and Hind, who have memorized the road leading to the areas where the cactuses are planted in Johr al-Deek, no longer know the way to school. Their father took them out of school a year ago because he needs their help, as there is no son in the family….
A first in Gaza: A female treats injured male soccer players
NPR 7 Nov by Lauren Frayer — Thousands of soccer fans chant and beat drums in the stands. An announcer narrates, on live radio, the start of the match. Players from Gaza’s top soccer league sprint and dive for the ball. Going for a header, two players collide — and one lands on the leg of the other. What happens next has never happened in Gaza before: A woman in a pink Muslim headscarf dashes out from the sidelines. She’s there to treat the player whose leg was injured. In the West Bank and Gaza, female doctors, nurses and emergency medical technicians have worked pretty much everywhere their male counterparts do — except at soccer games. These are all-male events, often rowdy, which until now have used all-male medical teams — just as in much of the world. It’s rare to see a female sports trainer at La Liga matches in Spain, for example, or even in England’s Premier League. But after another Arab country, Jordan, began employing female EMTs at its soccer games this year, Gaza followed suit. Not everyone is happy about it. “They have a problem that a female can touch the male [body] and do first aid,” says Hanan Abu Qassem, 28, who in October became the first female EMT to staff professional soccer games in Gaza. She was the one in the pink veil who sprinted onto the field to treat the player with the injured leg. “But it’s something ordinary for me.” She’s an experienced EMT, having treated victims of Israeli bombs during the 2014 Gaza war. Compared to that, soccer sprains and scrapes were supposed to be straightforward — more pleasant work, she says….
Gaza’s surfer girl hangs up her board — and not by choice
NPR 6 Nov by Lauren Frayer — Photo: Sabah Abu Ghanim (right), began surfing at age 5 in the Mediterranean off the coast of the Gaza Strip. She was taught by her father, Rajab Abu Ghanim (left). But now that she’s 17 and has graduated from high school, Sabah’s parents have arranged a marriage and told her it’s time to quit surfing. Here, father and daughter pose at home with a secondhand surfboard Rajab bought for the the family — It looks like Surf City, USA: White sand beaches that stretch for miles, sunshine, a soft breeze and some pretty gnarly waves. But this is not California. It’s the Gaza Strip. This coastal Palestinian territory is more famous for conflict with Israel. Visitors have to pass through military checkpoints to enter the strip, and Israeli drones often buzz overhead. There are piles of rubble from years of war. But Gaza also has a 25-mile Mediterranean coast and a small local surf scene. “Once I paddle out past the breakers — I forget my troubles,” says Ali Erheem, 25, a member of an informal group that calls themselves the Gaza Surf Club. “It’s pure happiness.” Out of about a half-dozen surfers on the beach when NPR visited, all were young men. But probably Gaza’s most famous surfer is a young woman: Sabah Abu Ghanim. Abu Ghanim is featured in a German documentary called Gaza Surf Club that’s making the rounds at film festivals this year. She started surfing at age 5. But now she’s 17, and this past summer may have been her last out on the water. She’s quitting the sport, under pressure from her parents….
Land, property theft & destruction / Ethnic cleansing / Settlements
Israel issues building permits for two primary schools in Area C
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 7 Nov — Israel’s Civil Administration issued building permits on Sunday for two Palestinian schools in the southern occupied West Bank districts of Bethlehem and Hebron, according to Israel’s Coordinator of Government Affairs in the Territories (COGAT). COGAT, which is responsible for enforcing the Israeli government’s policies in the occupied Palestinian territory, issued a statement saying that building permissions were granted to the schools, which are both located in Area C, the 60 percent of the West Bank under full Israeli security and civilian control. The building permits retroactively legalized previously constructed parts of the al-Tawani school in the south of Hebron, and the al-Jab‘a school in southwest Bethlehem. According to the agreement, al-Tawani school will be allowed to consist of 14 classrooms hosting 330 students, while al-Jab‘a school will be allowed to consist of 11 classrooms hosting 300 students. Israeli Civil Administration Colonel Achvat Ben Hur announced that the administration would follow up with the construction process of the additional parts of the schools “to ensure that the construction processes are being completed in accordance with law and determined specifications” …
Meanwhile, Israel postponed last month its decision regarding the fate of a primary school in the Bedouin village of Khan al-Ahmar in the occupied West Bank, which has been threatened with demolition by the Israeli government for years. Located in the contentious “E1 corridor,” set up by the Israeli government to link annexed East Jerusalem with the mega-settlement of Maale Adumim, the school in Khan al-Ahmar — which was partially funded by an Italian organization and the Italian government — has long been slated for demolition by the Israeli government. In response to the demolition order against the school, Jamal Dajani, director of strategic communications at the Palestinian prime minister’s office said that Israeli authorities used “every excuse in the book to prevent the advancement of Palestinian communities in Area C,” adding that Israel “should not be allowed to deprive our children of educational opportunities.”….
EU committee recommends states ask Israel to pay for ruined West Bank projects
Haaretz 7 Nov by Barak Ravid — The European Union committee that deals with Middle East affairs is recommending that the EU’s 28 member states ask Israel to reimburse them for the demolition of buildings and infrastructure projects in Area C of the West Bank that they helped finance, European and Israeli diplomats told Haaretz. The Foreign Ministry was outraged by the resolution and has lodged protests with the EU and several member states. Two Israeli diplomats and two European diplomats said the resolution was approved at a meeting two weeks ago of the EU’s Mashreq/Maghreb Working Party, also known as the MaMa committee. The committee comprises Middle East experts from all 28 member states. The committee’s resolution are not binding but can be used as the basis for binding resolutions that may be adopted later by the EU’s Political and Security Committee or by its Foreign Affairs Council. The European diplomats attributed the resolution to the lack of progress in negotiations between Israel and the EU over the situation in Area C, in which Israel has both military and civilian control. The negotiations involved, among other issues, the European demand to stop the demolition of Palestinian structures Israel claims were built illegally, including many built with European funding. A few rounds of talks held a few months ago ended without results … The European diplomats said that Germany categorically objected to the move and managed to soften the resolution so that it only recommends requesting compensation, saying member states could do so if they chose … The European diplomats noted that during some of the discussions held over the past two weeks, European ambassadors stressed to Jerusalem officials that they’d warned Israel and asked it to change its policy of demolitions in Area C, but that Israel had refused. “You can only blame yourselves,” one European ambassador said to senior Foreign Ministry officials.
Israeli forces knock down tents in northern Jordan Valley
TUBAS (WAFA) 7 Nov – Israeli forces Monday knocked down Palestinian tents in al-Humma area, in the northern Jordan Valley, according to a local official. Aref Daraghmeh, who monitors settlement activities in the Jordan Valley, told WAFA Israeli forces demolished tents belonging to a local Palestinian resident and his sons in al-Humma area. The local was identified as Mahmoud Awad. They further seized some material that was found in the area. The official noted that forces demolished residential structures and tents belonging to Awad almost a month ago.
Settlement at night
TUBAS (WAFA) 7 Nov – Palestinians from the northern Jordan Valley spend their day as if nothing is happening around them. They return home in the afternoon after their sheep finish herding. At night they hear sounds beyond the hilltops. The story began two months ago when Israeli settlers set up a shed outside the settlements of Rohi and Khimdat and left it there. A few days later, the settlers returned to the shed, leveled the land and started to build on it. Palestinian Bedouins from Khallat Hamad area heard strange sounds from a distance of 500 meters. In the morning, they found that a settler from nearby Sal’it settlement had set up a caravan with a fence in its vicinity under the pretext that he was intending to graze sheep. Hassan Abu Zahou, a resident of al-Hamma area in the Jordan Valley, said, “At night they work silently, but we can notice the lights of their cars and their voice. But in the morning, we are shocked to find a shed or a caravan built on the land.” Although the Israeli military coordination office considered this kind of construction as illegal, this has not put an end to overnight construction by Israeli settlers. The voice that is heard at night near Khallat Hamad area is almost the same that is heard in al-Beqeia area in the Jordan Valley. Families living there said that two months ago settlers erected a shed in the middle of the night before they came there again and started to level the area ahead of an impending construction of residential structures. Aref Daraghmeh, who monitors settlement activities in the Jordan Valley, said that during a period of two months Israeli settlers have confiscated more than 200 dunums of land, on which they set up caravans and sheds. Daraghmeh warned about the potential consequences of illegal Israeli construction in the area, saying it could put thousands of Palestinian-owned dunums of land at risk since such construction would divide the area … The policy of building sheds at night is part of efforts to create new facts on the ground, which he said was to quiet down protests by human rights groups against illegal construction in the area.
Opinion: Yes, Israeli mother, your son is abetting a crime in the West Bank / Amira Hass
Haaretz 6 Nov — In response to my piece two months ago about Israeli soldiers’ routine in the occupied West Bank, a mother living on Kibbutz Lohamei Hageta’ot wrote me a letter. “Yes, Amira, wonder of wonders, my child is the darling of his mother. You wouldn’t believe what a wonderful, moral boy he is. And I’m proud of him and worried about him, not least because of the service he has to provide in the West Bank,” she wrote … And here’s a report from Machsom Watch activist Daphne Banai: “Ali Odeh was like a bomb of rage. He stood next to his house in Ras al-Ahmar (in the northern Jordan Valley) and cried out bitterly, his hands waving in all directions, his face red, his eyes popping out of their sockets. We cringed. The feeling was that if he had had explosives with him he would have blown us all up. The whole valley could hear him screaming. “We never saw such rage before. We gradually began to understand from his shouts what the story was. Three weeks ago, toward dawn, bulldozers arrived (with soldiers) and ran over all his property – the house, the pen, the granary, even the toilet, destroying everything. For days he and his nine children slept under the stars. During the day they would collect the remains of their belongings from the rubble. “Humanitarian organizations donated a tent after a week, and Ali invested what was left of his savings in tarpaulins to shelter the flock, especially the newborn lamb. Many of the sheep remained unsheltered from the terrible sun and the cold at night. “Then at 5 A.M. on Monday, while he and his children slept, the army came again with its jeeps and armed soldiers. This time they confiscated the tractor. “‘Entry into a firing zone,’ it said on the wrinkled piece of paper he held in his hands shaking uncontrollably. ‘Entry? What entry?’ he shouted. ‘We were asleep! The tractor was asleep too! I live here, I was born here, my father was born here, my grandfather was born here! This is my home. I’m a nail driven deep into the earth!’ he shouted. “‘Why the tractor now? It’s my hands and feet! I have no water. Israel doesn’t let me draw water from the ground. How will I get water for my children now? For my sheep? Should they just die? ‘How will I bring them feed? A farmer without a tractor can’t live!’ … So, briefly, on October 9, the Civil Administration, backed by soldiers, destroyed 10 residential buildings and 17 animal sheds and coops belonging to nine families. On November 1, the residents of Ras al-Ahmar were expelled from the place so the army could train. Earlier this year, in January and May, they were moved for a few days each time, again for the same reason. Last year the army kicked them out eight times so it could drill. Yes, mother of a soldier: It’s natural to be ashamed that your son aids in the seizure of a tractor from a farming family and the imposing of fees for its return that cost as much as a year’s food. And all this in order to expel them….
Palestinian landowners file appeal against postponing evacuation of illegal Amona outpost
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 7 Nov — Palestinian landowners filed an appeal to the Israeli Supreme Court on Sunday rejecting demands to postpone the evacuation of the illegal Israeli outpost of Amona, according to a statement by Israeli human rights group Yesh Din. The appeal was filed by Israeli lawyers Michael Sfard and Shlomi Zacharaa, and called on the court not to respond to the demands of the Israeli State Attorney’s office, which requested the postponement on the basis that it could not arrange alternative housing for the residents of Amona before the target date of December this year. The Amona outpost was slated for demolition following a 2008 Israeli Supreme Court decision after eight Palestinians from neighboring villages — with the support of Yesh Din — successfully petitioned the court to remove the outpost on grounds that the construction was carried out on privately owned Palestinian land. After years of appeals from right-wing Israeli government officials, and attempts by Amona settlers to prove they had legally purchased the land, an Israeli police investigation in May 2014 found the entirety of the outpost to have been built on private Palestinian lands, and that the documents used by Amona residents to try claim their “purchases” were in fact forged. In December 2014, the Israeli Supreme Court ordered again that the outpost be demolished by December 2016….
Solidarity / Activism / BDS
Photography as solidarity
EI 7 Nov — Activestills: Photography as Protest in Palestine/Israel, edited by Vered Maimon and Shiraz Grinbaum, Pluto Press (2016) “Photography is an act. It’s not just [about] producing images … it’s an act of protest,” said Vered Maimon, the co-editor, with Shiraz Grinbaum, of the new book Activestills: Photography as Protest in Palestine/Israel. The book showcases 800 images taken by the Activestills photography collective over the last decade in Palestine. Oren Ziv, a longtime photographer with the collective, told The Electronic Intifada that Activestills aims to provide “long-term documentation of a situation” where daily violence affects communities and shapes physical and political landscapes. Activestills has carved out a “new form of practice in which documentary photography becomes a collaborative project,” Maimon told The Electronic Intifada. The photographers don’t just arrive at an event, take a few photographs and then leave, she said: “They’re both photographers and activists, so they take part in the struggle.” “Behind the frame” Ziv told The Electronic Intifada that part of Activestills’ aim is to support communities and “make struggles more visible, but also so that the community itself can use the images.” He has documented the struggle in al-Araqib, a village in the Naqab desert in present-day Israel which has been destroyed more than 100 times since 2010 as the Jewish National Fund aims to plant a forest on village land. Ziv said that photos he and his colleagues took during the first demolition of the village were used by the community “to show how the village looked before.” After the first destruction, he said, “it was hard to imagine that beforehand, there was actually a village [there].” Residents of al-Araqib also use the photos in their campaigning to stop the forced transfer of their community….
Activists denounce participation in ‘apartheid’ culinary tour in Tel Aviv
IMEMC/Agencies 7 Nov — Human rights activists picketed the Musket Room in New York, L´Ami Jean in Paris and the Maruja Limón in Vigo, as well as restaurants in other cities, in protest of their participation in a culinary event in Tel Aviv which intends to whitewash Israel’s violent repression of Palestinian human rights. Dubbed by its Israeli organizers as an offensive of “gastro-diplomacy”, the Round Tables tour, taking place from November 6 to 26, brings chefs from 13 international restaurants for an Israeli-government sponsored cook-in, in Tel Aviv. The Spanish government, which, on paper, opposes illegal Israeli settlements, is putting its name to the event alongside Golan Heights Winery, a business profiting from Israel’s occupation and annexation of the Syrian Golan Heights. PNN further reports that, in a letter sent to the chefs, 140 international civil society organizations denounced the event for its close association with Israeli government ministries involved in serious breaches of international law:
Students aim to set long-term vision for Palestine activism
EI Podcast 2 Nov by Nora Barrows-Friedman — Student activists will converge this weekend in Fairfax, Virginia, for the annual National Students for Justice in Palestine conference. Students say they will meet to “strategize for the long term.” National SJP, which coordinates with more than 160 chapters, stated that the student Palestine solidarity movement “is at a pivotal point” as activists are being “confronted with forms of repression both old and new.” Students and faculty involved in campus solidarity organizing face smear campaigns and efforts to conflate criticism of Israel with anti-Semitism, while state and federal lawmakers aim to stamp out the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement. –Campus repression– At some universities, administrators are joining these attempts to suppress speech on Palestine. Across the US, however, students have pushed back and succeeded in having their rights to free speech and political organizing affirmed….
Pro-Israel activists smear solidarity with Palestine
MEMO 2 Nov by Ben White — Israel advocacy groups and individuals are seeking to undermine Palestine solidarity activism on British campuses, using Islamophobic abuse and false accusations of antisemitism. Last Thursday, former Israeli army officer Hen Mazzig, who served in the occupied West Bank as part of the Israeli occupation authorities’ forces, was invited to speak at University College London (UCL) by the Friends of Israel student society. His presence prompted a protest – described by UCL as “non-violent” – by Palestinian students and their allies, angered by the presence of an individual who proudly participated in a decades-long military regime characterised by human rights and international law violations. Meanwhile, some 20 or so “veteran” pro-Israel activists arrived, many of whom are known for their harassment of Palestinian students and extremist beliefs about the conflict – more of which below. The event itself was backed by CAMERA, a notoriously hard-line Israel advocacy group. Even as the event and protest were ongoing, pro-Israel activists began reporting that they were being subjected to “violence” and “aggression” by student protesters. These claims were picked up and repeated unquestioningly in a number of media outlets. Over the weekend, however, video footage emerged showing those pro-Israel activists from outside campus hurling Islamophobic and racist abuse at protesters – “Get out of our country!”, said one. Others referred to the students as “vermin” and Nazis….
Palestine flag on London university rugby kit sparks anger
MEE 2 Nov by Areeb Ullah — A university rugby club have taken the unprecedented decision to place the Palestinian flag on their rugby jerseys, as a show of solidarity with Palestinians living “under occupation”. Goldsmiths Rugby Football Club said its decision was done to “demonstrate the students’ unions commitment to the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement” against Israel. A picture on the club’s Facebook page shows members wearing the new kit, which includes a Palestinian flag placed on the shirt sleeves. The club added: “We’re hoping through our collaboration with Goldsmiths Palestine Society this year, we can encourage more societies and clubs to endorse and raise awareness about BDS.” Goldsmiths did not condemn the rugby club’s decision to place the Palestinian flag on its sleeve. But a college spokesperson told Middle East Eye that despite the club being independent, it was “disappointing that the rugby club has taken this decision. Sport should be unifying and should be played without borders and by all. No one should feel alienated or excluded.” Some users on social media described the move by Goldsmiths rugby club as “divisive” and supporting a campaign that is an “obstacle to peace”. Jonathan Fenster on Facebook wrote: “Supporting BDS and Palestinian rights of Jews is anti-semitism, period. Goldsmith’s, by conflating politics with sport, has shown itself to be racist and a place where Jewish students are unwelcome.”….
Anti-BDS stance now law in Pennsylvania
JTA 6 Nov by Marcy Oster — Pennsylvania’s governor signed into law a bill that requires companies doing business with the state to certify that they do not boycott or discriminate against any sovereign state, including Israel. Gov. Tom Wolf signed the legislation on Friday. This bipartisan bill passed in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives by a vote of 181-9. In the Senate, the bill passed 47-1. “We must make clear that we are in favor of a peaceful, negotiated solution to this conflict,” Governor Tom Wolf said of the Israel-Palestinian conflict. We will “not encourage economic punishment in place of peaceful solutions to challenging conflicts.” Some 14 states have passed anti-BDS legislation. The other states are Alabama, Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, New Jersey, Rhode Island, and South Carolina. One state, New York, is under an executive order from the governor to not do business with companies that boycott Israel.
Palestinian refugees – Lebanon
Palestinians craft first aerial map of refugee camp
BURJ AL-SHAMALI REFUGEE CAMP, Lebanon (Al Jazeera) 5 Nov by Jillian Kestler-D’Amours — Using balloons and a camera, Palestinian refugees have been working on a detailed map of Lebanon’s Burj al-Shamali camp — Amal Said and Mustapha Dakhloul expertly wind their way through the maze-like streets of Burj al-Shamali, squeezing through the refugee camp’s narrow alleyways past local children playing on the cracked pavement. “This was one of the spots,” says Dakhloul, 18, looking out over the refugee camp after ascending a metal ladder to the rooftop of a residential building, past racks of drying clothes. Despite their young age, Dakhloul and Said, 20, are making history in Burj al-Shamali: They have completed several weeks of aerial mapping using a low-cost digital camera and helium-filled balloon flying high above the camp. With the photos, they hope to craft the first ever detailed map of Burj al-Shamali. The project’s organisers – including another young participant from the camp, 19-year-old Firas Ismail – say it will also be the first locally made map of a Palestinian refugee camp in Lebanon. “I was very excited,” Said told Al Jazeera, noting that the group started out with around 10 participants, but shrunk to only three in the end. “It was very hard work.” A bright red balloon was affixed to a light but sturdy string, and slowly raised to more than 200 metres above the camp. A camera was tied to the balloon, and it took between 3,000 and 5,000 images from each spot, Dakhloul said … According to Said, the map aims to help residents to see where free space exists to build parks or play areas for children, or to plant vegetables or plants with medicinal purposes on rooftops. “When people look at the map, they will see where the important areas are,” she said. “Every person who sees the map can also draw their own idea from it … about how we can benefit.”
Palestinian president can revoke parliamentary immunity of opponents – court
GAZA/RAMALLAH (Reuters) 6 Nov by Nidal al-Mughrabi and Ali Sawafta — The Palestinian Constitutional Court, a body set up months ago by President Mahmoud Abbas, ruled on Sunday that he can revoke the parliamentary immunity of lawmakers, a move that effectively allows him to sideline rivals. A verdict issued on Sunday which was swiftly condemned by critics within Abbas’s Fatah faction and Islamist rivals, upheld his decree from 2012 when he lifted the immunity of a major rival, Mohammad Dahlan, and expelled him from Fatah. Gaza-born Dahlan is seen as a potential successor to Western-backed Abbas, 81. He now lives in self-imposed exile in Abu Dhabi as he would face corruption charges if he returned to the Palestinian territories. “The Constitutional Court … stated that President Abbas has full authority to cancel the immunity of any parliament member, when the legislative council is not convened,” a statement published by official Palestinian news agency, WAFA, said. Abbas opponents and analysts said the court’s decision confirmed fears they raised when he formed the nine-judge panel in April, saying it would give him too much power and would effectively allow him to cancel the role of the Palestinian legislative council – the territory’s parliament….
Palestinian Authority security forces detaining students, former prisoners for political activity
Samidoun 5 Nov — Several former political prisoners in Israeli jails have been arrested recently by Palestinian Authority security forces, including brothers Imad and Abdullah Amlah of al-Khalil, who were detained on 2 November, following the arrest of former prisoner Issam Ramadan of Nablus. Khader Adnan, the prominent former prisoner and long-term hunger striker who twice won his freedom from Israeli administrative detention with his strikes, demanded the PA release all political detainees. The three former prisoners were accused of involvement with the Palestinian Islamic Jihad movement, which issued a statement noting that these arrests come as part of PA security cooperation with the Israeli occupation under the Oslo agreements, and reflect the PA’s role in policing and repressing Palestinian resistance rather than defending Palestinian security and rights. The Amla brothers’ laptop was confiscated from their home by PA security forces. Alongside the targeting of former prisoners for arrest, PA security forces have recently arrested 13 university students, many of whom are active in student union activities on their campuses. Four of the imprisoned students – Obeida Ahmad Mohammed Marei, Yousef Shawwar, Faris Bader Jaber and Mumin Qawasmeh – have launched a hunger strike for their release….
Israeli media: PA security forces helped thwart attack on Israeli army post in Hebron
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 6 Nov — Palestinian Authority (PA) security forces helped thwart an attack on the Israeli army in the southern occupied West Bank city of Hebron, Israeli media reported on Sunday. Hebrew-language news site Walla quoted PA officials in Hebron as saying that Palestinian security services “passed precise information” to Israel about an explosive device placed near an Israeli army military post in Hebron. The Jerusalem Post added that the Palestinian source identified the alleged attacker as a resident of the northern West Bank city of Qalqiliya, leading to his detention before he could carry out the attack. An Israeli army spokesperson confirmed to Ma‘an that an improvised explosive device was found next to an army post in Hebron on Friday evening and was neutralized by Israeli police forces. However, they were not aware of how the information regarding the IED was obtained. Meanwhile, spokespersons for neither the Israeli police nor Palestinian security forces could be reached for comment on the matter on Sunday.
The Palestinian Authority has regularly come under fire by Palestinian political factions for its security coordination with Israeli authorities, which has allegedly included passing along intelligence regarding attacks against Israeli targets, and adopting a “revolving door policy” funneling Palestinians from PA jails into Israeli prisons. The Palestinian Authority and the Palestine Liberation Organization have repeatedly threatened to put an end to security coordination with Israel over the years, without putting such threats into effect. In April, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas pledged in an interview with Israel’s Channel 2 to arrest Palestinians planning attacks targeting Israel, stating in an interview with German newspaper Der Spiegel that same month that “our security cooperation with Israel is functioning well.” The Israeli army’s central command said that the Palestinian security forces were responsible for approximately 40 percent of all arrests of “suspected terrorists,” Israeli newspaper Haaretz reported in May. Numerous Palestinian groups have repeatedly accused the PA of aligning with Israel’s goals in the occupied West Bank, and of preventing a sustained uprising against Israel.
Palestinian cement plant raises Bedouin ire
Ynet 5 Nov by Elisha Ben Kimon — Conflict between Palestinian Police and Bedouin residents broke out this week in the Rashaida area of the Judaean Desert after the Palestinian Authority announced its intention to build a large cement plant near the Khatsatson Stream. On Wednesday, planners from the Palestinian Authority arrived in the area and were met with protests from Bedouin families from the Rashaida tribe, who live in the area. Residents fear the construction of the plant and related infrastructure will lead to health hazards, pollution and noise that will harm the desert environment and push their herds from traditional pastures. NGO Regavim told Ynet that the plant should be built in within Area B, which is jointly controlled by the Palestinian Authority and Israel, because it can cause serious environmental damage. The NGO further claims that the planned site is in an area specified by the Oslo Accords as forbidden for building by both parties. “It is clear that the construction of a plant of this type, to a very high degree of certainty, will cause severe environmental damage, specifically to the Khatsatson Stream area,” said Oved Arad, Manager of Land Division at Regavim. Boaz Arazi, an attorney representing Regavim, appealed to the Minister of Defense, the Minister of Environmental Protection and the Civil Administration to take the necessary steps to halt construction of the plant in order to protect Israeli, environmental and public interests. In a letter, Arazi claims, “The family of Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas is involved in the construction of this plant and there are serious concerns that this involvement is impacting the planning and approval process of this project.”
3-day strike at UNRWA facilities
IMEMC/Agencies 7 Nov — Head of the workers union at the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), Suhil Al-Hindi, says that the union has decided to close all UNRWA facilities in the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip for three days starting on Tuesday, in a protest against a lack of response to personnel and refugees demands. “This escalation step comes as a response to UNRWA inflexibility, and its refusal to achieve employees’ demands,” said Al-Hindi, according to Al Ray Palestinian Media Agency. He added that the union will also close all UNRWA headquarters and facilities, including health and education, in Gaza, Nablus and Jenin, on November 14. Al-Hindi explained, previously, that protest procedures will not stop until the UNRWA responds to their demands, including the hiring of 450 teachers who passed examinations and interviews, this year. “The UNRWA administration dealt with us in arrogance and insolence. The general commissioner did not communicate with us till this moment, refused to respond to our letters, and did not even appoint a representative to talk with us,” he added. He threatened that, if the UNRWA continues to ignore them without responding, they will take other steps, in escalation, such as an open strike or closing the main headquarters.
Shashat to launch its 10th women film festival
RAMALLAH (WAFA) 7 Nov – The Women Film Festival, Shashat [‘screen’], launches November 12 its 10th edition within the cinematic initiative under the theme “What’s Tomorrow,” a press release said Monday. The festival is scheduled to take place from November 12 until December 11 in 17 cities, two refugee camps and one school, it said. It is held in collaboration with eight universities and 14 organizations in the West Bank and Gaza Strip in its 90 screenings of four films by young women filmmakers. The festival is planned to open on Saturday with the screening of two films to be shown in the Gaza Strip at Rashad Shawwa auditorium and at Ramallah Cultural Palace. “What’s Tomorrow is a cinematic initiative which builds on Shashat’s mission of supporting the creativity of young Palestinian women filmmakers, especially from peripheral areas, by providing opportunities for them to produce Palestinian culture and express the diverse worlds of Palestinian reality,” said the press release … Four films made by Palestinian film makers from Gaza, Hebron, the Bedouin Wadi Abu Hindi, and Nablus will be presented during the festival….
New Arabic music degree program attracts Palestinian students
GAZA CITY 7 Nov by Rasha Abou Jalal — Palestinian university students can now enroll in classes specializing in Arabic music — a first in Palestine. Birzeit University, located just outside Ramallah in the West Bank, launched a bachelor’s degree program in music to provide Palestinians with advanced music learning and place Palestine on the map of regional and international music study. Classes in the newly created program started Sept. 26, and the degree includes 132 course hours accredited by the Palestinian Ministry of Education and Higher Education. The program was launched in cooperation with the Edward Said National Conservatory of Music (NCM) in Ramallah, which is one of the main music institutes in Palestine aimed at spreading creative and vibrant musical culture among Palestinian youths. This bachelor’s degree program is part of Birzeit University’s faculty of literature, as the university has no fine arts department. Bashir Abdel Razzaq, the administrative assistant of the dean of the faculty of literature, told Al-Monitor, “There are many universities and institutes that teach music in Palestine, but what is new in this program is that it emphasizes musical performance rather than music education alone. Palestine is the third Arab country teaching the science of musical performance, after Tunisia and Egypt.”….
Israel says no to Middle East peace talks in Paris
Source: News Agencies 7 Nov — Israel formally rejected France’s invitation to take part in a Middle East peace conference in Paris later this year, saying it was a distraction from the goal of direct negotiations with the Palestinians. At a meeting in Jerusalem with Israel’s acting national security adviser and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s diplomatic adviser, French envoy Pierre Vimont was informed that Israel wanted nothing to do with the effort to revive talks that last broke down in 2014. “[They] told the French envoy in a clear and unequivocal manner that Israel’s position to promote the peace process and reach an agreement will only come through direct negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority,” Netanyahu’s office said in a statement. There was no immediate comment from Vimont, but the French foreign ministry said it still planned to hold the conference before the end of the year. France has repeatedly tried to breathe new life into the peace process this year, holding a preliminary conference in June where the United Nations, European Union, United States, and major Arab countries gathered to discuss proposals without the Israelis or Palestinians present. The plan was to hold a follow-up conference before year-end with the Israelis and Palestinians involved, and see whether the two sides could be brought back to negotiations. The last US-backed talks ended in failure in April 2014. The Palestinians have said they will attend the Paris conference if it goes ahead….
Creating a legal precedent: Palestine considers suing Israel in international sports court
HuffPost 6 Nov by James M. Dorsey — The Palestine Football Association (PFA), in a first testing of Palestine’s ability to fight its battle with Israel in international courts, plans to go to the world’s top court for sports in a bid to force its Israeli counterpart to view Israeli settlements on the West Bank as occupied territory rather than an extension of the Jewish state. The potential Palestinian move follows the Palestinian Authority’s campaign to isolate Israel in international organizations and challenge Israel’s occupation of the West Bank in the International Criminal Court (ICC). Using soccer as a testing ground, Palestine’s efforts to confront Israel in international organizations has produced mixed results. While Palestine succeeded in joining various international organizations, the PFA last year failed to muster sufficient votes to persuade world soccer body FIFA to suspend Israel. The PFA argued that the policies of the Israeli government and the Israel Football Association (IFA) violated FIFA rules as well as international law governing the status of occupied territory. The PFA has since been unable to push FIFA towards any punitive steps against Israel. Instead, FIFA opted to monitor developments and attempt with little success to negotiate a way out of the impasse. Palestine is expected to take legal recourse if FIFA fails to take more decisive action at its next council meeting in January….
Palestinians open Arafat’s bedroom to public
RAMALLAH, West Bank (AP) 7 Nov by Mohammed Daraghmeh — Palestinians will soon get a chance to glimpse the small bedroom where their longtime leader Yasser Arafat spent his final years. The 5-square-meter (54-square-foot) room is the centerpiece of the new Arafat Museum, which opens to the public on Thursday to coincide with the 12th anniversary of Arafat’s death. The room has only a single bed and small closet that barely holds four suits, a few checkered headscarves and shirts. There is also a nightstand and lamp, a prayer carpet and a painting by his then-young daughter Zahwa. Arafat spent most of the last three years of his life in this bedroom on the ground floor of his Ramallah headquarters, known as the Muqata‘a. Israel confined him to the building on Dec. 8, 2001, accusing him of masterminding a violent uprising at the time. He remained holed up there until Oct. 29, 2004, when Israel allowed him to travel to France for emergency medical care. He died from a mysterious illness at the age of 75 two weeks later. The bedroom, left largely untouched since Arafat’s death, is housed in a vacant wing of the Muqata‘a that is connected to the new $7 million, 2,600 square meter (28,000 square foot) museum by a bridge. “Arafat’s story is the story of the Palestinian people in their struggle for freedom and independence,” said Nasser Kidwa, Arafat’s nephew and head of the Arafat Foundation. The museum tracks Arafat’s life, saying he was born on Aug. 4, 1929, in the Old City of Jerusalem, though other accounts have said he was born in either Gaza or Cairo. It displays many of his famous belongings: the old radio he used when he was working underground in the West Bank after Israel captured the territory in 1967, his last pair of eyeglasses, pens, handwritten papers and a gun he kept on his office desk. It also traces the history of the Palestinians….
The gruesome murder of five Arab boys refuses to disappear — 55 years on
+972 blog 5 Nov by Makbula Nassar — Beaten, tortured, and shot to death: this is the story of five Arab boys who met a gruesome fate at the hands of Israel’s security forces in September 1961. Ben Gurion’s government refused to tell the truth of what really happened — …September marked 55 years since the mysterious deaths of George Shama, 17, Jeries Badeen, 16, Rimoun Maroun — the three of them hailed from Haifa’s Wadi Nisnas neighborhood — Faiz Said Ahmad from Sakhnin, and Mahmoud Abdullah Jabarin from Umm al-Fahm, 18. Their bodies were found at around the same time. On September 17, 1961 the boys’ bodies were tossed from an ambulance belonging to the Abu Kabir Forensic Institute onto the front doors of their families. One after another, a day after they disappeared. The bodies were beaten, riddled with bullets, and showed signs of torture and abuse. According to the state, the boys were “shot while fleeing” as they tried to cross the border into Egypt. Ben Gurion’s government released a statement, claiming that the boys “…did not heed the warning, refused to stop, and continued to run toward the border. Thus they were shot.” (the quotes are brought forth by articles published in the Arabic-language Al-Ittihad newspaper). Photographs of the bodies, and the testimonies that contradicted this version of the events and revealed the truth, did not embarrass the Israeli regime. Instead of dealing with the question of how these teenagers were killed and who tortured them, Israeli newspapers focused on the massive protests that took place in Arab towns following the events. The demonstrations, which erupted in dozens of localities, were forcefully suppressed and ended in arrests, specifically of activists belonging to the Israeli Communist Party….
Dearborn: Arab Americans gear up to vote, defying Trump
DEARBORN, Michigan, U.S. (Al Jazeera) 7 Nov by Kurt Nagi — As Election Day draws closer, Arab Americans are heading to the polls with the rhetoric of this year’s presidential campaign ringing in their ears. Imam Ibrahim Kazerooni hopes that after many months of listening, his community will take its turn to speak out on November 8. “There’s a realisation in this election that we have to be serious,” Kazerooni says. “We cannot afford to be apathetic.” Kazerooni is an imam at the Islamic Center of America. He leads a congregation of Shia Muslims at the largest mosque in the United States, which is located in Dearborn, a suburb of Detroit, Michigan. Home to the largest concentration of Arabs in the country and comprising more than 30 percent of Dearborn’s population (PDF), the community here has been especially rattled by this year’s presidential campaign. Many residents are originally from Lebanon, Syria, Palestine, Yemen and Iraq. Arab community leaders and activists have noted a startling increase in threats and hate speech as the election nears. Last-minute efforts by Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton and her Republican rival Donald Trump in Michigan have signalled its importance as a swing state. With an estimated 500,000 Arabs living in the state, according to data compiled by the Arab American Institute, their vote could play a vital role (PDF).