Two-thirds of Palestinians no longer believe in 2-state deal
RAMALLAH, West Bank (AP) 13 Dec — Two-thirds of Palestinians believe a two-state solution to their conflict with Israel is no longer possible, a poll said Tuesday. The share of those who lost faith in such a deal rose from 56 percent in September to 65 percent now, probably due to an acceleration of settlement activity, said the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey research. Most in the international community still back the establishment of a Palestinian state alongside Israel, even though a deal appears to be increasingly complicated, in part because of the continued growth of settlements. Gaps between Israeli and Palestinian leaders remain wide, preventing any meaningful talks since 2009. The poll was conducted last week among 1,270 Palestinians and had an error margin of three percentage points. The survey also found that 54 percent have no faith in the newly elected leadership of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’ Fatah movement. The vote at a recent Fatah convention affirmed aging party stalwarts in top jobs and was seen as a move to sideline exiled Abbas rival Mohammed Dahlan….
Violence / Detention — West Bank / Jerusalem
Israeli police shoot, kill Palestinian after stab attack leaves 2 lightly injured
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 14 Dec — Israeli forces shot and killed a Palestinian after he carried out a stabbing attack that left one Israeli officer and one Israeli civilian minor lightly injured in the Old City of occupied East Jerusalem early on Wednesday afternoon. According to Israeli police spokeswoman Luba al-Samri, a suspect approached a group of Israeli police forces deployed near the Austrian Hospice hospital in the Old City, took out a screwdriver and stabbed one of the officers in the head, lightly injuring him. Israeli forces shot the alleged attacker, “neutralizing” him, al-Samri said, later adding that the youth, whom she identified as a 21-year-old resident of the occupied West Bank village of Beit Surik in the Jerusalem district, had been taken to the Hadassah hospital in “critical condition.”Israeli forces regularly use the term “neutralize” to indicate that a Palestinian has either been killed or wounded by Israeli forces. A spokesperson for Hadassah hospital told Ma‘an that the Palestinian succumbed to gunshot wounds at around 2:30 p.m. in the hospital. She added that a 14-year-old had also been admitted with light wounds in connection with the incident. However, it was not clear from Israeli reports if the youth’s injuries were sustained directly from the suspect. Witnesses said that the Palestinian was left on the ground bleeding for 20 minutes, adding that a Palestinian doctor arrived on the scene but was pushed away by Israeli forces before they finally let him administer first aid to the wounded Palestinian until Israeli ambulances arrived at the scene .A video [below] shared by al-Quds news agency showed the doctor being initially pushed away by Israeli forces. Israeli forces also closed roads leading to al-Wadi Street, where the deadly altercation took place, and heavily deployed near Damascus Gate and Lions Gate, preventing people from coming in or out …
According to Ma’an documentation, the youth is the latest of 243 Palestinians to have been killed by Israelis in a wave of unrest across the occupied Palestinian territory which began in October 2015, 20 of whom were killed in the Old City of Jerusalem. Meanwhile, 34 Israelis were killed by Palestinians during the same time period …
Al-Samri shared a photograph [below] of the screwdriver reportedly used by the Palestinian to carry out the stabbing attack. The picture did not show visible traces of blood on the alleged weapon.
another account of the same event:
Israeli army kills a young man in Jerusalem, injures a child
IMEMC 15 Dec — Israeli soldiers shot and killed a young Palestinian man on Wednesday on al-Wad Street, in occupied Jerusalem, after alleging that the young man stabbed a soldier. Bullet fragments from the Israeli soldiers’ gunfire also injured a Palestinian child in the skull. Israeli sources said two officers were wounded. Israeli military sources claimed that the young man, later identified as Hammad Khader Sheikh, 21, stabbed two officers with a screw driver, at the Lion’s Gate, before the soldiers shot him dead. Sheikh is from Beit Surik town, northwest of Jerusalem. The sources added that Hammad, from the southern West Bank city of Hebron, was first moved to Hadassah Israeli Medical Center, in Jerusalem, and later succumbed to his serious wounds. Eyewitnesses said the soldiers fired many live rounds at Sheikh, and left him bleeding onto the ground for nearly twenty minutes. A Palestinian doctor, who was in the area, tried to help Sheikh, but the soldiers forced him away, and later allowed the doctor to approach him just before an Israeli ambulance arrived at the scene and moved him to the hospital. Several hours before his death, Hammad wrote a post on his Facebook page stating “My wish for you all, is that if I don’t return, I will see you in heaven.”…
In Sultan Suleiman Street, the army fired live rounds into the air to force the Palestinians away, and detained three children. Random army fire also mildly wounded a Palestinian child, identified as Fahmi Eyad Jweiles, 13, with bullet fragments in the head, as he and his brother Nour were leaving their school in the Old City. Nour suffered an anxiety attack and was also brought to the hospital when he saw his brother shot before his eyes. The child’s father said his son will be undergoing surgery Thursday at the Hadassah Israeli medical center, as he suffered skull and nose fractures, and is currently in a moderate-but-stable condition.”
Israeli officials: Soldiers are disturbing evidence after shooting alleged assailants
MEMO 14 Dec — Israeli officials have warned that soldiers are contaminating the crime scene after shooting alleged Palestinian assailants, often making it impossible to conduct an investigation. According to a report in Haaretz, in light of efforts by Palestinians and others to hold Israel to account in legal proceedings abroad – including the International Criminal Court – the state began “examining various West Bank incidents that ended with a Palestinian being shot.” This review, led by Shlomo Abramson of the prosecution’s special tasks department, concluded “that in many cases, discovering what really happened was impossible, because the evidence at the scene had been disturbed.” In a memo sent by Abramson to the Israeli military, police and other agencies, he warned that soldiers were repeatedly interfering with evidence, a conclusion later supported by the police. “In many cases”, the paper notes, “large numbers of soldiers, civilians, medical and security personnel flock to the scene and handle the evidence, so crime lab tests become impossible. They also trample over bloodstains and leave footprints all over.” There have also been cases “where evidence disappeared, or where commanders on the scene sent witnesses away before police or Military Police investigators arrived.”
Army invades Birzeit University, illegally confiscates computers
IMEMC 14 Dec — Dozens of Israeli soldiers invaded, on Wednesday at dawn, the Birzeit University Campus, in Birzeit city in central West bank, violently searched several buildings, causing excessive damage, and confiscated computers. The head of the Student Senate in Birzeit University Ahmad al-‘Ayesh, said the soldiers invaded many buildings in the university, starting approximately at 3:30 at dawn, and smashed many doors, especially the main administration office, a computer lab, the science college, and Kamal Nasser Hall. Al-‘Ayesh added that the violent search caused excessive damage, and that the soldiers also illegally confiscated computers, flags, various files and students’ belongings, especially members of the Islamic Bloc and the leftist Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP). Al-‘Ayesh stated that this was the third invasion by the soldiers into the university campus in the last three years, and called for immediate intervention by legal and human rights groups around the world, to stop the escalating Israeli violations against students,staff and their educational facilities. The University strongly denounced the illegal invasion, searches and confiscation of property by the soldiers, and added that it is currently trying to estimate the total damage and losses.
Palestinian woman arrested over alleged car ramming attack
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 13 Dec — Israeli border police forces arrested a Palestinian woman at the Qalandiya checkpoint in the central occupied West Bank district of Ramallah at around 2 p.m. Tuesday afternoon for allegedly attempting to run over Israeli forces stationed there, according to Israeli police, with no injuries reported. Initial reports from Israeli media said that the woman was shot; however, Israeli police spokeswoman Luba al-Samri released a statement shortly after the incident saying that Israeli forces arrested the woman “without harming her.” According to Israeli news site Ynet, Israeli border police initially stopped the woman by firing shots into the air. According to al-Samri, a woman driving a private car approached a vehicle lane at the checkpoint “very quickly, endangering the security forces operating there.” As Israeli forces attempted to arrest the woman, she pulled over and stepped out of the car. The suspect “seemingly” had a knife in her hand, al-Samri said, and she shouted “Allah Akbar,” before Israeli forces managed to arrest her. However, al-Samri later released a statement claiming that the knife had been seized, including a picture of the knife still inside the car beside the driver’s seat. Al-Samri identified the woman as a 33-year-old from the village of Beit Hanina in northern occupied East Jerusalem.
Israeli forces detain 12 Palestinians across the West Bank
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 13 Dec — Israeli forces detained at least 12 Palestinians between Monday evening and Tuesday morning in the occupied West Bank, according to Palestinian and Israeli sources. On Monday evening, Israeli police spokeswoman Luba al-Samri said, Israeli forces stopped a Palestinian vehicle near the northern occupied West Bank village of Yutma [Yatma] south of Nablus and arrested two Palestinians after finding a rifle in the vehicle. The two were taken into custody for questioning. A statement from the Palestinian Prisoner’s Society (PPS) documented six Palestinians who were detained in overnight raids before dawn on Tuesday. According to a statement, in the southern Bethlehem district, Israeli forces detained two 14-year-old boys, identified as Issa Yousif Taqatqa and Abed Sultan Taqatqa from the village of Beit Fajjar. An Israeli army spokesperson confirmed two detentions were made in Beit Fajjar. The spokesperson also noted a number of detentions were made in the northern occupied West Bank. In the Jenin district, one Palestinian was detained in the village of Meithalun, one was detained in the village of Qabatiya, and one in the city of Jenin. In the Tulkarem district, one Palestinian was detained in the village of Dhinnaba. The PPS statement identified two detainees in the Jenin district — Muamin Said Kamil and Yousif Salah — and said that 18-year-old Muhammad Kamil Tawfiq Hakim was detained in Tulkarem, while 19-year-old Ali Masimi was detained in Nablus. In the southern occupied West Bank district of Hebron, the army also said that one Palestinian was detained in the village of Tarqumiya in overnight raids.
Separately, al-Samri said in a statement that two Palestinians were arrested Tuesday morning in Tulkarem for traveling in a stolen vehicle with forged license plates. According to al-Samri, the vehicle was carrying 14 sheep she said were “suspected to be stolen.” She identified the two Palestinian detainees as residents of the Jenin area, aged 24 and 32. Al-Samri added that they did not have permits to enter Israel, though it was not clear from the statement whether the two were trying to go to Israel.
Israeli forces detain 13 Palestinians in West Bank raids
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 14 Dec — Israeli forces detained 13 Palestinians between Tuesday night and Wednesday morning in the occupied West Bank, including two 14-year-old boys, with the Israeli army saying they also uncovered weapons during the raids, according to Palestinian and Israeli sources. The Palestinian Prisoner’s Society (PPS) said in a statement that four Palestinians were detained from several towns in the northern Nablus district, who it identified as Hummam Rihan, 20, Nihad Abd al-Hafith Shihada, Islam al-Rifai, 22, and Nufal Abu Kushk, 50. An Israeli army spokesperson confirmed that four Palestinians were detained in Nablus, saying they were detained in the villages of Tell, Ahiya [?], ‘Urif, and the ‘Askar refugee camp — where she said the detainee was arrested for being a Hamas operative. PPS added that Israeli forces also held and interrogated some 20 Palestinians in the Nablus-area village of Madama, before releasing them several hours later. Israeli forces also detained two teens from the Bethlehem district in the southern West Bank overnight that PPS identified as Rabiaa Alaa Taqatqa, 14, and Wissam Taqatqa, 14, in addition to Muhammad Maher al-Amarneh, 27. The Israeli army spokesperson confirmed the three Bethlehem-area detentions, saying two were carried out in the village of Beit Fajjar, and that the third detainee was a Hamas operative. According to reports from Israeli media, homemade weapons, ammunition, and tools used for manufacturing weapons were also allegedly uncovered in the Beit Fajjar raid. Israeli news site Arutz Sheva reported that Israeli police and army forces also arrested two additional Palestinian youth near Beit Fajjar later Wednesday morning, who were allegedly throwing Molotov cocktails at the illegal Israeli settlement Migdal Oz adjacent to Beit Fajjar. Also in the south, two Palestinians were detained from the Hebron district, identified by PPS as Abd al-Rahman Sabbah and Ghaleb Ghazi Hmeidat. According to the army, the two were Hamas operatives and detained from the village of Surif. The spokesperson told Ma‘an another Palestinian was detained near Hebron. In the eastern Jericho district, Israeli forces also raided the village of al-Jiftlik to detain Ahmad Omar Jahhalin, 60, according to PPS.
Israeli soldiers abduct 24 Palestinians, including nine children and a woman, in Jerusalem
IMEMC 15 Dec by Saed Bannoura — Israeli soldiers invaded, overnight and during early dawn hours Thursday, dozens of homes in different parts of occupied East Jerusalem, and violently searched them, before abducting 24 Palestinians, including one woman and nine children. The Wadi Hilweh Information Center in Silwan (Silwanic), in Jerusalem, said most of the abductions and home invasions were forced in Silwan, al-‘Eesawiyya, at-Tour and the Old City, and added that the searches caused excessive damage. It identified seventeen of the abducted Palestinians as: Silwan: 1. Hanadi Sarhan. (wife of Samer Sarhan who was killed in 2010) 2. Majdi al-‘Abbassi. 3. Luay Sami Rajabi, 21….
Prisoners / Court actions
Israel sentences Palestinian lawmaker to 17 months in prison
MEMO 14 Dec — An Israeli military court in the central occupied West Bank sentenced Hamas-affiliated Palestinian lawmaker Muhammad Abu Tair to 17 months in prison yesterday. In addition to the 17-month sentence, the court ordered Abu Tair to pay 8,000 shekels ($2,100) and also sentenced him to 30 months on probation. Abu Tair, who is from occupied East Jerusalem, was detained on January 27 from his home in the neighbourhood of Kafr Aqab, along with at least one other Palestinian from Kafr Aqab. At the time, an Israeli army spokesperson described the two detainees as “Hamas terror operatives”. At the time of his arrest, Abu Tair joined six other Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC) members incarcerated by Israel, including Fatah leader Marwan Barghouti and Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) Secretary-General Ahmad Saadat. Six Palestinians lawmakers remain in Israeli custody. PLC member of the leftist PFLP party Khalida Jarrar was notably released in June. Abu Tair was elected as a member of the PLC in 2006, representing Hamas. The 65-year-old MP has spent at least 32 years in Israeli prison serving multiple separate sentences since he was first detained in 1974. On 8 October 2010 his permanent residency status in Jerusalem was revoked by Israeli authorities after five months of detention. According to Addameer, “Palestinian political leaders are routinely arrested and detained as part of an ongoing Israeli effort to suppress Palestinian political processes – and, as a result, Palestinian political sovereignty and self-determination.”
2 Palestinian hunger strikers face death, as 3 continue their strikes in Israeli prison
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 14 Dec — The Palestinian Committee of Prisoners’ Affairs released a statement Wednesday warning of the imminent death of hunger-striking Palestinian prisoners Anas Shadid and Ahmad Abu Farah, who have been on strike for 81 and 82 days respectively, while three other Palestinian prisoners have also continued their hunger strikes for various reasons. A report released by the committee noted that Palestinian doctor Rafiq Masalha said following medical tests that Shadid suffers from weakness throughout his muscles and extremities, cannot sit or stand, and has lost most of his fat. Masalha emphasized that losing more than 15 kilograms of weight was dangerous. Masalha added that Shadid could also have sustained damage to his brain cells, vision nerves, kidney and liver functions, causing difficulty in speech, focusing, and heart and muscle damage.
Meanwhile, Abu Farah has experienced difficulty speaking and suffers from severe eye weakness, affecting his vision. He has also experienced pain in the muscles of his arms and legs, has lost a large amount of fat, and has been suffering from an allergy that has caused pains in his stomach and chest. Shadid, 20, and Abu Farah, 29, both residents of the southern occupied West Bank village of Dura, are currently being held at the Assaf HaRofeh Hospital.
On Monday, the hunger strikers began refusing water in response to an Israeli Supreme Court rejection of their release appeal. The drastic move came following a series of events Monday morning, in which the Israeli Supreme Court rejected the prisoners’ lawyer Ahlam Hadad’s appeal to release the two, while Israeli prosecutors instead called for the extension of their administrative detention orders….
Amnesty International condemns ‘arbitrary detention’ of Palestinian circus performer
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 14 Dec — The human rights group Amnesty International condemned Israel on Wednesday for renewing the administrative detention order of Palestinian circus performer Mohammad Faisal Abu Sakha for an additional six months on Sunday for the third time, saying the decision could amount to “arbitrary detention.” Abu Sakha, 24, was working as a circus performer and teacher at the Palestinian Circus School in Birzeit — where he specialized in working with children with learning difficulties — when he was detained on Dec. 14, 2015. He has been held in Israeli prison without charge or trial under administrative detention for a year based on undisclosed evidence that even his lawyer is barred from viewing. His case has sparked international outcry against Israel’s use of administrative detention, almost exclusively used by the Israeli state against Palestinians. On Sunday, Dec. 11, the detention order against the Palestinian circus performer was renewed for the third time, guaranteeing Abu Sakha’s imprisonment for an additional six months….
Land, property theft & destruction / Ethnic cleansing / Judaization / Settlements
Court petition: Western Wall tunnels a holy site for Christians, Muslims too
Haaretz 14 Dec by Nir Hasson — Group of Israeli archaeologists say the tunnels run through, under, over and alongside religious sites holy to Judaism, Islam and Christianity — The High Court of Justice has agreed to hear a petition asking why the Western Wall Tunnels have been declared a holy site for Jews and not for Muslims and Christians as well. The petition was filed by Emek Shaveh, a group of archaeologists seeking to prevent the politicization of archaeology. It came after the Religious Services Ministry’s legal adviser, Hagay Avrahami, said in a letter the tunnels were governed by the regulations preserving Jewish holy sites because the entrance to them leads from the Western Wall Plaza. This means that all the rules governing the Western Wall apply in the tunnels, as well as in the large spaces that have been discovered in recent years under homes in the Muslim Quarter of Jerusalem’s Old City. The decision was made after a consultation with Israel’s chief rabbis, Avrahami said. The petition states that these underground spaces, which have been excavated continuously since the early 1980s, also include structures holy to Christianity and Islam. For example, a Christian prayer chapel has been excavated there, as has a Muslim school and chambers from the Mamluk period, as well as a pool whose area falls mostly inside the Convent of the Sisters of Zion. The tunnels’ northern opening is found on the route of the Via Dolorosa, which is holy to Christians. “Aside from the fact that the Western Wall Tunnels include the Western Wall of the Temple Mount, which is also holy to Muslims, the tunnels run through, under, over and alongside religious sites holy to Judaism, Islam and Christianity,” says the petition, filed by attorney Eitay Mack. According to Mack, the legal adviser’s decision violates the Basic Law on Jerusalem, which states that the holy sites of all faiths must be respected….
EU officials slam surge in Israeli demolitions of Palestinian homes
MEMO 14 Dec — European Union (EU) officials have slammed a surge in Israeli demolitions of Palestinian homes and other structures in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem. The statement released Tuesday says that the EU Heads of Mission in Jerusalem and Ramallah “deplore the demolitions of Palestinian structures undertaken by Israel in the occupied West Bank.” According to EU officials, Israel has now demolished 866 structures in Area C of the West Bank during 2016 to date. This surge has affected 5,704 Palestinians, “of whom 1,221 have been rendered homeless (including 586 children).” In addition, “humanitarian structures provided by the EU and EU Member States worth approximately €536,000 have been either destroyed or confiscated” by Israeli occupation forces. The figures in the statement include recent incidents on 6 and 7 December, when Israeli forces demolished homes and confiscated solar panels and other equipment – including structures provided as humanitarian aid by the EU and EU member states. The statement notes that “EU humanitarian activities are carried out in full accordance with International Humanitarian Law, with the sole aim of providing humanitarian support to the most vulnerable population.” The EU officials conclude by urging “the Israeli authorities to halt demolitions of Palestinian houses and property, in accordance with its obligations as an occupying power under international humanitarian law, and to cease the policy of settlement construction and expansion, of designating land for exclusive Israeli use and of denying Palestinian development.”
Israeli bulldozers demolish under-construction building in Beit Hanina
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 14 Dec– Israeli bulldozers demolished an under-construction building in the Beit Hanina neighborhood in northern occupied East Jerusalem on Wednesday, witnesses told Ma‘an. Witnesses said that Israeli armed forces and bulldozers raided Beit Hanina and demolished a two-level residential building which was still under construction. Just a day prior, Israeli Civil Administration bulldozers demolished Palestinian structures in the southeastern Jerusalem village of Sur Bahir, which also came after a spate of Israeli enforced demolition last week in the occupied West Bank.
Peaceful Palestinian village resists occupation by planting bananas
NUWAIME, Jordan Valley (PIC) 12 Dec — The Israeli occupation authority (IOA) does not allow the village of Nuwaime, which is a small in size but great in its resistance to the occupation and settlers, to live in peace and harmony. Despite the village’s miserable poverty, which made most of its inhabitants live in tin houses, the Israeli occupation and settlers harass those inhabitants in their daily life. Nuwaime is located to the northwest of Jericho, on the road from Jericho to al-Oja water-wells; largely dependent on agriculture and is famous for planting bananas. The village is located on a hill in the Jordan valley area and its population reached 1,144, according to the 2004 statistics. When reaching to the village’s surrounding areas, the scenes of the beautiful banana farms attract the visitors. Farmer Suliman Alrashaiydeh Abu Faisal, said, “Planting bananas is suitable for the village’s farmers as the temperature is always hot here, and despite the low price of bananas at the market (2 NIS per kilo), farmers continue to plant their crop, as the price has reached much more in the past (7 NIS per kilo), and planting bananas support the steadfastness of farmers in the village at a time they complain of the lack of support.” Abu Faisal, like the rest of farmers here, complains of the repeated assaults of Israeli settlers against the inhabitants of the village, saying, “I used to have 300 sheep and cows, but now, I only have 100,” noting that “Land suitable for my sheep and cows to eat grass are located near Israeli military camps and they steal some of my sheep. And where grass is available, the IOA always prevent us from feeding our sheep and cows.” Abu Faisal believes that the Israeli occupation practices aim at displacing native inhabitants of the land, by claiming that the land is theirs. The Jewish agricultural settlements are scattered all over the Jordan valley, he added. The anti-wall and settlements committees in the Jordan valley say that the Israeli occupation believes that Palestinian existence in the area forms an obstacle in the face of expansion of settlements towards the Dead Sea area, which is considered a strategic depth for the Israeli occupation….
Living on borrowed time: Palestinian village fights for its existence
+972 blog 14 Dec by Max Schindler — Threatened with their village’s destruction, Palestinians in Susiya live in a political and psychological limbo. While working, studying and trying to lead a normal life, the residents are also fighting to stop their home from disappearing — When asked what her family will do if the army demolishes her village, Soraya, 16, hesitates: “We’ll go to Yatta,” she says, gesturing towards the nearby West Bank market town. “No,” her mother interrupted. “We’ll stay here. Don’t say that.” It’s a question on the mind of every resident of Susiya, a Palestinian village made up of tarpaulin huts and sheep pens that faces pending demolition, after being razed four times by the Israeli army in the past 30 years. The embattled, 400-person village has recently attained iconic status in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, as both doves and hawks draw lines in the sand over its fate. Supporters of a two-state solution are making a hard-pressed, last-ditch effort to save the village, after years of relentless settlement construction by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government. Right-leaning Israelis want the Palestinians evicted so they can expand the nearby Jewish settlement, also called Susiya, while Western diplomats drive by weekly in 4-wheelers to the isolated hamlet in the south Hebron Hills, taking case interviews and reporting back to Washington and Berlin about the need for a two-state solution. Other envoys include leftist Israelis and international tour groups who stop by in a show of solidarity….
Israelis protest in support of West Bank outpost
JERUSALEM (AFP) 13 Dec — Several hundred residents and supporters of an illegal outpost in the occupied West Bank on Tuesday rallied outside Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s residence in Jerusalem. Around 500 mostly young protesters danced, played music and listened to speeches outside Netanyahu’s official residence, calling for the Amona outpost not to be demolished. The fate of the outpost, where around 400 Israelis live near the Ofra settlement, has become a major issue in Israeli politics. It was originally meant to be included in a bill which seeks to legalise around 4,000 homes across the West Bank but was later excluded after parliamentary discussion. Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit has said attempts to legalise it would violate both Israeli and international law. At Tuesday’s protest, 16-year-old protester Haim Goldberg said Amona symbolised the “slowing down” of the settlement process. “If you take away one (outpost), it shows you can take away more and more,” said the Israeli-American. “If we give in to this now, that shows there will be no stopping them later,” said Goldberg, who is from a settlement like Amona in the northern West Bank. Education Minister Naftali Bennett, head of the far-right Jewish Home party, has opposed any attempt to make around 40 families move from Amona. Israeli media reported on Tuesday he was close to agreeing on a deal with Netanyahu that would relocate the outpost to a nearby site on the same hill….
Relatives of Palestinian slain in Gaza war demand owed compensation
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 13 Dec — Hundreds of family members of Palestinians killed during the 2014 Gaza war forced their way into the headquarters of an institute responsible for dispensing financial assistance to the families on Tuesday, demanding to be issued their payments. Alaa al-Barawi, spokesman for the Committee of the Families of the Martyred and Injured, which was set up to secure the allowances, said that some 700 people entered the Gaza City office responsible for the welfare of the families of the dead and wounded and protested for several hours, demanding that the manager cash paychecks owed to an estimated 1,942 families. The families left the institute after receiving promises of being paid in May 2017. Al-Barawi said that the manager of the welfare office, Intisar al-Wazir, delayed resolving the issue, and claimed that the delays in payments were entirely her responsibility. The incident came after an hours-long meeting between the Palestinian Committee of the Families of the Martyred and Injured and several Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) factions, attended by al-Wazir, which reached no solution to the issue. The PLO is responsible for providing financial assistance to families of those slain or injured by Israeli forces. However, due to the political rivalry between the Fatah-dominated Palestinian Authority in the occupied West Bank and the Hamas-dominated government in the Gaza Strip, Gazan families face difficulty claiming their allowances.
Soldiers raid agricultural lands in Gaza
IMEMC/Agencies 14 Dec — Israeli forces, on Tuesday morning, leveled lands in the northern Gaza Strip, while opening fire on agricultural lands in the southern region of the coastal enclave, according to witnesses. Witnesses told Ma‘an News agency that four Israeli bulldozers entered the northeastern Gaza Strip from the Zekim military base and leveled lands. The bulldozers were escorted by several armored military vehicles, while Israeli warplanes hovered overhead, during the incursion. Meanwhile, Israeli troops opened fire at Palestinian agricultural lands in the al-Sanati neighborhood of Gaza’s southern Khan Younis district. No injuries were reported.
Israeli forces detain Palestinian merchant in Gaza, prevent truck from entering
GAZA (Ma‘an) 14 Dec — Israeli authorities Wednesday detained a Palestinian merchant at the Erez crossing between the besieged Gaza Strip and Israel, while preventing a truck carrying diving equipment from entering the small coastal enclave. Israeli forces detained Palestinian merchant Nofil Abu Siriya from the Erez crossing, according to a source from the Palestinian liaison. However, it remained unknown what reasons were behind Siriya’s detention.
Meanwhile, Israeli authorities also prevented a truck loaded with diving equipment from entering the Gaza Strip, claiming that the material could be used by Hamas to carry out a “terrorist attack” against the state of Israel, according to Israeli media.
Tens of Palestinian children in Gaza protest in solidarity with Aleppo
GAZA (Ma‘an) 14 Dec — Tens of Palestinian children in the besieged Gaza Strip Wednesday protested in front of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) in solidarity with the people of eastern Aleppo who have faced government bombardment and massacres since forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad launched a devastating military offensive to retake the rebel-held area in Syria. “From Palestinian children to Aleppo, stop the bleeding,” one sign read at the protest, while another read “Aleppo is in our hearts.” A 10-year-old Palestinian child spoke on behalf of the other demonstrators during the event, and called upon Arab countries to intervene to “stop the slaughter of innocent people in Aleppo.” The Syrian government offensive in eastern Aleppo has sparked international outcry, with residents live streaming and posting developments on social media, most of whom expressing their fears of a widespread slaughter of residents carried out by Assad’s forces and saying their final goodbyes. The UN said Tuesday that the organization had received reports that scores of civilians were being executed by pro-government forces, calling the situation a “complete meltdown of humanity,” and adding that at least 82 residents have been killed during the onslaught, including 11 women and 13 children….
Thousands rally in Gaza for anniversary of Hamas founding
[with many photos] GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip (AP) 14 Dec — Tens of thousands of Palestinians, including hundreds of gunmen and children waving mock weapons, rallied in Gaza on Wednesday in support of the militant Islamic group Hamas that rules the territory on the 29th anniversary of its founding. In a show of force for Hamas, loudspeakers blasted the group’s slogans through the streets as rockets mounted on pickup trucks rolled by. Hundreds of masked militants marched and dozens of children wielding imitation assault rifles attended with their families. Hamas official Khalil al-Hayya, delivered a fiery speech at the rally full of rhetoric against Israel. He also called for reconciliation with the Fatah party, led by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas — but only under Hamas’ terms….
Concern about secret sentencing to death of Gaza woman
GAZA CITY (The National/AFP) 14 Dec — The case of the first Palestinian woman to be sentenced to death in more than 20 years has raised concerns among human right activists in Gaza. The 26-year-old woman, identified only as Nahia A, was convicted of killing her husband but her trial was held in secret and even her family has distanced themselves publicly from the case. “They were afraid of revenge from the husband’s family,” said Zeinab Al Ghounimi of the Centre for Women’s Legal Research and Consulting, which stepped in to help after Nahia A’s family declined even to provide her with legal representation. Her lawyer, Bakr Torkmani, said the woman is the mother of a young boy and had been married against her will. She lived in complete destitution in Khan Yunis, at the southern end of the Gaza Strip, and was repeatedly beaten by her husband. Her husband’s family has refused to let her see her son since she has been in jail. “I hope public opinion and media reports will have an impact on the judges after the haste they showed in handing out this death sentence,.” said Mr Torkmani. According to the Gaza’s attorney general Ismail Jaber, the woman stabbed her husband in the back several times when he stopped to answer a call of nature while they were out in their donkey cart. She had allegedly purchased the knife some days earlier. The authorities say she confessed after her arrest on January 31 and other testimony showed the killing was premeditated. She was convicted and sentenced on October 5 after a trial held behind closed doors … Mr Jaber said the death penalty was necessary to deter revenge attacks and also because the families of victims demanded it. “The aim is not to increase criminality,” he said. “What we want is to reduce it and eliminate it.” The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights intends to appeal against Nahia A’s sentence. In the meantime, she remains behind bars in Gaza City. “Palestinian law does not make a distinction between criminals according to their sex,” said Mr Jaber.
Meet Gaza’s first teacher with Down’s Syndrome
MEMO 14 Dec by Mohammad Asad — Heba Al-Shurafa, 27 years old, was diagnosed with Down’s Syndrome as a child but this has not prevented her from finding success and helping others grow and develop in the besieged Gaza Strip. She attended the Right to Live Society’s school – a Gaza-based charity for the disabled – as a child in Gaza City and then moved to another school. She is now back to resume her education and become the first student to return as a teacher teaching other students with Down’s Syndrome. Heba teaches computing and physical fitness, and told MEMO that she is trying to teach the children how to hold a pen correctly and write in order to train their muscles to write well. Nabil Juneid, director of The Right to Live’s rehabilitation programmes, said that the Society serves 1,500 people with Down’s Syndrome, including 650 who attend the school on a regular basis. With regards to Heba, she attended the school at a young age and received her qualifications to become a teacher. Her case is the first of its kind and unique, and she teaches under the supervision of the main teacher. She was able to receive qualifications in curricular and extracurricular skills, such as computer skills and other practical activities. The society is now working on qualifying 6 teacher assistants like Heba Al-Shurafa, who is seen, rightly so, as a success story.
Gaza seeks self-sufficiency in citrus fruits
[with photos] MEMO 13 Dec — The Palestinian ministry of agriculture in Gaza is seeking self-sufficiency in citrus fruits after years of devastating Israeli attacks on farms and farmers, an official has told MEMO. According to Director of Farming Mohamed Abu-Odeh, the ministry expects Gaza to produce 28,000 tons of citrus fruits by the end of the season, despite the severe shortage of water for irrigation. At the beginning of the second Intifada in 2000, the Israeli occupation forces started to raze citrus and olive farms across the Gaza Strip, claiming that they were used to hide weapons and fighters. Farmers and theirs farms still fall victim to Israeli attacks and incursions on a regular basis. The ministry, said Abu-Odeh, is planning to dig new wells and set up desalination plants in order to have access to much-needed water to irrigate new citrus farms. He noted that this is very expensive, but essential if the self-sufficiency target is to be achieved. Given stability and water, added Abu-Odeh, this should be in about two years.
Exiled Abbas rival sentenced to 3 years for corruption: lawyer
AFP 14 Dec — An exiled rival to Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas was sentenced in absentia to three years in prison Wednesday on corruption charges, his lawyer said. A lawyer for Mohammed Dahlan condemned the sentencing as part of Abbas’s attempts to sideline political rivals. Dahlan 55, “was sentenced to three years in prison and ordered to pay back $16 million (15 million euros)”, lawyer Salameh Halaseh told AFP by phone. Halaseh said the defence had only been informed of the hearing, held in an anti-corruption court in Ramallah in the occupied West Bank, on Tuesday. Dahlan was expelled from Abbas’s Fatah party in 2011 and now lives in exile in the United Arab Emirates. Sevag Torossian, another lawyer for Dahlan, called the conviction a “cleansing exercise” for Abbas, who has sought to sideline perceived rivals in Fatah. Dahlan, who has urged 81-year-old Abbas to step down, is believed to have the support of a number of Arab countries. The conviction came two days after Abbas lifted the immunity of five members of the Palestinian parliament, including Dahlan, opening them up to prosecution….
Abbas rival dismisses Palestinian court’s ruling for alleged corruption charges
MEMO 15 Dec — The Palestinian lawmaker Mohammed Dahlan has dismissed the anti-corruption court’s verdict, which was issued in absentia on Wednesday, sentencing him to three years in prison along with a $16 million fine over graft charges, Haaretz reported. Dahlan has posted a response on his Facebook page, calling for a national commission to investigate the charges, and promised to accept its findings. He has slammed the Palestinian government over leaking news about lifting his immunity. The former head of the PA security forces in Gaza has responded to the charges against him saying that during his service, the Palestinian security forces were granted a $20 million from one of the Arab states with the purpose of purchasing security equipment, vehicles, ships and clothes. He added that the purchase and delivery processes had taken place under the Ministry of Finance full supervision. The former high-ranking Fatah official also denied receiving any money from the Palestinian treasury while he was in charge of security. He also charged that Abbas has been exploiting the Palestinian legal system to get his political rivals out of the picture….
Abbas receives delegation of Israeli ‘left-wing’ politicians in Ramallah
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 14 Dec — A delegation of former Israeli ministers and Knesset members from “left-wing” Zionist parties met with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on Tuesday evening in the occupied West Bank city of Ramallah. The Israeli delegation, which included Labor Party members Ophir Pines-Paz, Shimon Shetreet, and Amram Mitzna, as well as Meretz party member Haim Oron, congratulated Abbas on his reappointment as the head of the Fatah party in November — despite a poll revealing on Tuesday that 57 percent of Palestinians were dissatisfied with the decision and 64 percent wanted Abbas to resign as president. Abbas updated the delegation on the latest developments and international efforts related to the French initiative seeking to hold an international conference to address the Israeli-Palestinian conflict … Both Abbas and the Israeli delegation said that it was necessary to maintain a connection between Palestinians and Israelis who support peace based on the two-state solution.
Meanwhile, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) called on Abbas to stop meeting with Israeli delegations in a statement released on Wednesday. PFLP went on to say that no reasons could justify holding such meetings, which it claimed were used by Israel to promote its policies via the Palestinian Authority, adding that they could only bring “disaster” to the Palestinian people. PFLP called for a popular movement against such meetings, and for the cessation of communication with the Israeli occupation.
French Middle East peace conference to be postponed: Palestinian official
Reuters 14 Dec — France will postpone a proposed Middle East peace conference in Paris to January next year, Voice of Palestine radio reported on Wednesday, with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu refusing to participate and U.S. attendance in doubt. France has been trying to persuade Netanyahu, who has repeatedly rejected the conference proposal, to meet with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in the French capital to try to revive moribund peace talks between the two sides. Voice of Palestine radio quoted Palestinian Ambassador to France Salman El Herfi as saying that Paris had informed the Palestinians of its delay to the peace conference until January “to make better preparations.” It said Herfi would meet French officials on Wednesday to discuss the issue and that he had said that if Israel refused to come in January, the international conference would still go ahead, but without the main protagonists. Asked to comment on the situation, a spokesman for the French foreign ministry replied: “As of now, France has never officially confirmed any date for this conference. We will do so once we have had the results of our talks with all the parties concerned.”….
Palestine prepares for 2017 general census
RAMALLAH (Al-Monitor) 13 Dec by Ahmad Melhem — The Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics (PCBS) will conduct an electronic population, housing and establishment census in 2017, across the 1967 Palestinian occupied territories, East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip. The census will be held in 2017 in accordance with the recommendation of the United Nations to conduct a general census every 10 years, and as per the decision on Dec. 23, 2014, of the Council of Ministers to organize the next census in 2017. Ola Awad, the president of the PCBS, told Al-Monitor, “The census aims to determine the number of Palestinians and their geographic distribution, with the goal of planning economic and social development projects and updating the population, demographic, social and economic databases in the State of Palestine.” Awad said that the PCBS has been working for a year and a half to develop strategic plans for the census and to complete the necessary pre-census preparations, such as forming a national team to determine the built-up areas in the provinces and updating their digital field maps. She noted that the PCBS staff will receive information and training to conduct a pilot census before the official census, for which a date has not been set yet. The 2017 general census will use e-forms rather than paper forms. A PCBS representative will help the head of household to answer the questions on a tablet; the official is there to assist especially the elderly and citizens who are illiterate. Subsequently, the PCBS staff will receive the citizens’ answers and store them in databases….
Palestinian teacher shortlisted for $1 million Global Teacher Prize
HEBRON (Ma‘an) 14 Dec — Palestinian teacher Abeer Qunaibi from Hebron in the southern occupied West Bank was named on the top 50 shortlist for the 2017 Global Teacher Prize organized by the Varkey Foundation, it was announced Wednesday. A Palestinian teacher, Hanan al-Hroub, won the prize in 2016. Qunaibi, a teacher at Hebron’s Wedad Naser al-Deen Secondary School, stands to win a $1 million prize that, according to the Varkey Foundation is the largest of its kind. The 2017 Global Teacher Prize is in its third year. According to its website, the prize was ”set up to recognize one exceptional teacher who has made an outstanding contribution to the profession as well as to shine a spotlight on the important role teachers play in society.” The final ten candidates will be announced in Feb. 2017 and the winner will be announced at the Global Education and Skills Forum in the emirate of Dubai on March 19, 2017. A press release from the foundation noted that despite the fact that Qunaibi “married young” she “nevertheless continued in education,” going on to obtain a Bachelor’s degree, and pursued her goal to become a school teacher with a focus on devising new pedagogies to cope with technological advancements….
41% of disabled Palestinian children suffer more than one disability, reveals UNICEF
MEMO 14 Dec — UNICEF announced on Tuesday that 41 per cent of disabled Palestinian children suffer from more than one disability, Safa news agency has reported. The statistic was revealed at a workshop in the Gaza Strip, where the UN organisation pointed out that this figure is distributed between the West Bank and the Gaza Strip at 31.7 per cent and 53.3 per cent respectively. Representatives from different ministries, including the ministry of education, took part in the programme. A study announced by UNICEF recommended that the Palestinian government and the NGOs working in Palestine should adopt plans to bring about greater inclusion of disabled children within society. Israel’s military offensive against the Palestinians in Gaza two years ago led to more than 2,260 people being killed; a further 11,000 were wounded. According to the General Union for Disability in Gaza, 40 per cent of the Palestinians wounded in the 2014 war have long-term disabilities.