Violence / Detentions — West Bank / Jerusalem
Thousands attend funeral of slain Palestinian teen pronounced dead after 2 month long coma
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 23 Dec – Thousands of Palestinians Friday attended the funeral of 16-year-old Fares Ziad al-Bayed in the occupied West Bank district of Ramallah after he died earlier in the day of wounds inflicted during clashes with Israeli soldiers in October. Fares was critically injured after being shot in the head with a live bullet during clashes on Oct. 15 at al-Jalazun refugee camp in Ramallah, following a march commemorating the first anniversary of the killing of 13-year-old Ahmad Sharaka, who was shot and killed by Israeli forces last year during clashes. The funeral for the slain 16-year-old set off from the Palestine Medical Center in Ramallah where he had fallen into a two-month long coma, and headed to al-Bayed’s home for a final farewell. His body was then transported to al-Jalazun’s mosque for funeral prayers, before being buried in the camp’s cemetery. In addition to Fares, some 20 other Palestinians suffered injuries during the clashes in October, with youth throwing rocks, Molotov cocktails, and empty bottles at Israeli soldiers who responded with live ammunition, rubber-coated steel bullets, and tear gas. The march where Fares was shot was staged to commemorate the anniversary of the death of 13-year-old Ahmad, who was a resident of al-Jalazun refugee camp. He was shot in the neck with live fire during clashes in al-Bireh on Oct. 11, 2015, and succumbed to his wounds shortly after. Ahmad was the 233rd Palestinian to be killed by Israeli forces and settlers since a wave of unrest spread across the occupied Palestinian territory in October last year, and Fares has become the 246th.
Thousands attend funeral for Palestinian killed by Israeli soldiers
AL-BIREH (Ma‘an) 22 Dec — Thousands of Palestinians in the city of al-Bireh in the central occupied West Bank took part in the funeral of 19-year-old Ahmad Nashat Othman al-Kharroubi, who was shot and killed by Israeli forces earlier on Thursday during clashes in Kafr ‘Aqab north of Jerusalem. Al-Kharroubi, who was from al-Bireh, was critically injured when Israeli forces shot him with live ammunition in the neck. He was pronounced dead upon arrival to the hospital. The funeral set off from the Ramallah governmental hospital towards central Ramallah, before heading to al-Kharroubi’s house in the Sateh Marhaba neighborhood in al-Bireh. His body was carried on the shoulders of mourners to Jamal Abed al-Nasser mosque in al-Bireh where prayers were held prior to the burial in al-Bireh’s cemetery. Al-Kharroubi was killed before dawn on Thursday, during clashes that erupted in Kafr ‘Aqab in the wake of an Israeli army raid into the neighborhood to partially demolish the house of Misbah Abu Sbeih, who was shot dead by Israeli forces in October after carrying out a shooting attack in occupied East Jerusalem, killing one Israeli civilian and one Israeli police officer. The Israeli army said of al-Kharroubi’s killing that after Israeli forces entered the neighborhood to carry out the punitive demolition, suspects threw improvised explosive devices at Israeli soldiers, and Israeli soldiers opened fire on one of the suspects, which “resulted in his death.” According to Ma’an documentation, al-Kharroubi was the 245th Palestinian to be killed by Israelis since the beginning of a wave of unrest in October 2015, while 34 Israelis have been killed by Palestinians in the more than year-long time period.
Israel releases 9 slain Palestinian bodies withheld by Israeli state for up to 6 months
NABLUS (Ma‘an) 23 Dec – Israeli authorities Friday released nine slain Palestinian bodies that have been held by Israel for between 15 days and six months to the occupied West Bank, the second delivery of Palestinian bodies in a week following a decision by Israeli authorities to release the bodies of Palestinians who were killed committing or allegedly committing attacks.
Five of the bodies were returned to the southern occupied West Bank district of Hebron, identified as Mustafa Baradiya from the al-Arroub refugee camp whose body has been held since July 18; Ameer Jamal al-Rajabi and Muhannad Jameel al-Rajabi from Hebron City — killed alongside one another on Sep. 19; Issa Salim Mahmoud Tarayra from Bani Naim, held since Sep. 20; and Khalid Ahmad Elayyan Ikhlayyil from Beit Ummar, held since Oct. 30. Other bodies were returned to their families for burial throughout the rest of the West Bank, including Muhammad Turkman, 25, from Qabatiya in Jenin whose body has been held since Oct. 31; Muhammad Jihad Harb Miskawi (also reported asMuhammad Jihad Hussein Harb), 17, from Qalqiliya, held since Dec. 8; Jihad Muhammad Said Khalil, 26, from Beit Wazan in Nablus, held since Nov. 22; and Wael Abu Saleh from Tulkarem, held since June 20.
The body of Turkman, a Palestinian policeman who was killed by Israeli forces in October after committing a shooting attack near the Ramallah-area illegal Israeli settlement of Beit El, was released by Israeli authorities at the Israeli Dutan checkpoint to the west of Jenin in the northern West Bank. Meanwhile, Israeli forces released the body of Abu Saleh at the Israeli Jabara checkpoint south of Tulkarem. Abu Saleh was shot dead by Israeli forces on June 30 after carrying out a stab attack in the Israeli coastal city of Netanya that left two Israelis wounded. Medical sources confirmed to Ma’an that Abu Saleh’s body arrived at the governmental hospital in Tulkarem in a Palestinian Red Crescent ambulance, noting that medical personnel conducted checkups on the body. [following are details about the return of the other bodies]
7 year old boy targeted in Kafr Qaddum
[with photos] 23 Dec by Popular Resistance Committee of Kafr Qaddum — Today, Friday December 23rd, 2016, the village started its march as usual toward the blocked road. Suddenly 12 soldiers from a special unit of the Israeli occupation force surprised them in an ambush, and attacked and arrested a 7 year old Palestinian child. Twelve heavily armed soldiers surrounded the boy, attacking him. One of them forcefully grabbed the boy from his neck, questioning him about his father. Three Palestinians were also injured with rubber bullets. Kafr Qaddum’s weekly protests have been occurring since July 2011 to take back the road that connects their village to the city of Nablus, elongating Palestinians commute by 14 kilometers. These demonstrations are always met by the Israeli occupation forces and/or border police, who throw sound grenades, tear gas, rubber-coated steel bullets, and at times live ammunition to prevent the nonviolent protesters from executing their democratic rights. The young boy was released after one hour, and he told his father, “I was very afraid. I didn’t know what to do. I just began shouting between 12 huge soldiers, and one of them hanged me from my neck and asked me about my father”. The boy continues to experience post-traumatic stress, shaking continuously, and sharing more and more of the experience to his family.
Israeli settlers attempts to run over 2 Palestinian children in Hebron
HEBRON (Ma‘an) 22 Dec — An Israeli settler attempted to run over two Palestinian children in his vehicle on Thursday while they were on their way to school in the Beita Zaata area of Beit Ummar in the southern occupied West Bank district of Hebron, according to local reports. Local activist Muhammad Awad told Ma‘an that the Israeli settler, identified as Eliahu, was on his way home from his work as a security guard in the illegal Karmei Tzur settlement in the southern part of Beit Ummar, when he saw Ahmad Saber Zamel Abu Maria, 11, and his sister Ritaj, 17. He then proceeded to drift his car towards the two children, attempting to run them over while pointing a gun at them, according to Awad. The children quickly fled to a nearby house. Awad added that the children’s father was informed and immediately arrived in the area, while an Israeli army vehicle also arrived at the scene of the incident. The settler then attempted to assault the father and threaten him. The Israeli soldiers did not attempt to protect him, Awad said.
Israeli forces suppress Bethlehem’s ‘Santa Claus march’; protesters suffer tear gas inhalation
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 23 Dec — Israeli forces Friday suppressed Bethlehem’s “Santa Claus March,” shooting tear gas and rubber-coated steel bullets at participants, with many suffering from tear gas inhalation. A number of demonstrators, including five journalists and foreigners, participated in a march near the Israeli checkpoint 300 in the north of Bethlehem, which separates residents from Jerusalem. The march, which includes participants dressing up as Santa Claus close to the Christian holiday of Christmas, was launched under the banner “Terrorism and occupation are two sides of the same coin,” and demanded the opening of Israeli checkpoints for Christian tourists to celebrate the holiday in the birthplace of Jesus Christ. A Ma’an reporter witnessed Israeli forces fire rubber-coated steel bullets and tear gas into the crowd, which caused a number of participants to suffer tear gas inhalation. Five journalists were also injured, including the cameraman for the Jordanian al-Roya TV Muhammad Shoudha. Israeli forces reportedly fired tear gas canisters directly at his foot. An Israeli border police spokesperson told Ma‘an that “15 men in the afternoon threw rocks at Israeli soldiers,” he said, adding that “some of them were dressed as Santa Claus and tried to cross the checkpoint between Bethlehem and Jerusalem.” The spokesperson also said that two Israeli soldiers were injured by rocks being thrown at them. The injuries were reported as light. This was the second such march to be organized this year in Bethlehem for the Christian holidays … Christmas is typically a time of year where Bethlehem receives droves of Christian tourists visiting the Nativity Church in the Old City, however activists have pointed out that the tourism industry has severely declined, with Israeli authorities continuing to tighten control over Palestinian movement as the Israeli occupation now enters its 50th year.
Video: Israeli soldiers tear gas Santa
BETHLEHEM (EI) 23 Dec — Israeli soldiers fired tear gas, pepper spray and stun grenades at Palestinians calling for free movement between Bethlehem and Jerusalem on Friday. The Christmas-themed protest was held in front of Checkpoint 300, where Israeli soldiers control Palestinian movement between the occupied West Bank cities. Approximately 100 protesters, some of them dressed in Santa Claus suits, chanted against Israel’s military occupation and for Palestinian freedom. “Jesus came with a message of peace, his city suffers oppression,” one demonstrator’s sign read. “Santa Claus stands with the Palestinian people,” stated another. Half a dozen people were injured, including journalists, during the protest. Palestinians and their supporters highlight around Christmastime that if Joseph and Mary were to make their journey from Nazareth today, Israel’s military checkpoints and massive concrete wall would prevent them from accessing the Bethlehem manger where tradition holds Jesus Christ was born. Israel’s wall completely encircles Bethlehem, as do its settlement colonies, turning a once vibrant Palestinian cultural center and international tourist destination into a shuttered ghetto….
3 Palestinian teenagers assaulted by Israeli soldiers at time of their detentions
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 22 Dec — Three Palestinian teenagers currently held at Israel’s Etzion detention center were allegedly beaten during their initial detentions from their homes, according to a statement released on Thursday by the Palestinian Prisoner’s Society (PPS). PPS said that Israeli soldiers had assaulted Yazan Nabih Deiriyeh, 16, Muhammad Ayman Taqatqa, 16, and Ibrahim Jibril Taqatqa, 16. The soldiers allegedly beat the teenagers all over their bodies and heads while detaining them from their homes.
Israeli forces assault Palestinian youth at Allenby Bridge
NABLUS (Ma‘an) 23 Dec — Israeli soldiers assaulted a Palestinian youth at the Allenby Bridge crossing, on his way back into the occupied West Bank from Jordan on Thursday evening, local sources said. Locals in the northern occupied West Bank city of Nablus told Ma‘an that Israeli forces assaulted Nablus resident Hamzeh Abu Zuhra while he was passing through the border crossing, saying that the 24-year-old obtained bruises and other injuries. A spokesperson for Israel’s Coordination of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT), which is responsible for implementing the Israeli government’s policy in the occupied Palestinian territory, could not immediately be reached for comment. Ma‘an also sent an email to an Israeli army spokesperson for comment on the matter. Israeli forces routinely detain Palestinians at the crossing, as Palestinians must cross the border to access the Amman International Airport in order to travel abroad.
Palestinian stabs Israeli settler, escapes south of Bethlehem
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 23 Dec — A Palestinian Friday stabbed an Israeli settler inside his home in the illegal Efrat settlement in the south of the occupied West Bank district of Bethlehem, according to Israeli sources. An Israeli army spokesperson told Ma‘an that the settler was “lightly injured” and was evacuated to Israel’s Shaare Zedek Medical Center. According to Israeli media outlet Ynet, the Israeli man is 50-years-old and sustained injuries in his back and neck. Israeli media also reported that the Palestinian had fled from the scene, while Israeli forces were continuing to conduct searches in the area. Locals told Ma‘an that there was a heavy presence of Israeli soldiers in Bethlehem, and have reported clashes erupting between Palestinians and Israeli forces. As of 11 pm, locals also reported several raids being conducted on Palestinian homes and areas in the village of Wad Rahhal near to the Efrat settlement. Israeli helicopters were also present at the scene.
Israeli forces shut down print shop, detain 12 Palestinians in predawn raids
QALQILIYA (Ma‘an) 22 Dec — Israeli forces carried out multiple raids across the occupied West Bank before dawn on Thursday, detaining at least 12 Palestinians including a formerly incarcerated hunger striker, and shut down a print shop in the city of Qalqiliya that the Israeli army accused of distributing “incitement” materials. Local sources told Ma‘an that Israeli soldiers confiscated prints and printmaking equipment from the Asayel Yafa print shop, before sealing the gates of the building and detaining its owner Saber Daoud. Meanwhile, several Israeli military vehicles raided several houses in Qalqiliya late Wednesday, including Daoud’s home as well as the house of Bassam Abu Shareb, local sources said. According to the Palestinian Prisoner’s Society (PPS), Daoud, 42, is a former prisoner who has spent four-and-a-half years in Israeli prisons. Meanwhile, clashes erupted between Palestinian youths and Israeli forces in several neighborhoods across Qalqiliya following the military raids, with no injuries reported. An Israeli army spokesperson confirmed Daoud’s detention and the closure of the print shop, saying it came as part of an “ongoing effort against incitement.”
In raids in the northern district of Tulkarem, Israeli forces detained five Palestinians, identified by PPS as Sanad Riyad Zuhdi Abu Shanab, 18, brothers Ahmad and Adham Dares al-Jayyusi, Fawwaz Rashid al-Jayyusi, and Tareq Muhammad Abu Laimun.
An Israeli army spokesperson confirmed two detentions in the Tulkarem district — one in Dhinnaba and one in Kur. From the Hebron district in the southern occupied West Bank, Israeli forces detained Zaid Majed Muhammad al-Jubeh, 23, in Hebron City and Ahmad Abu Judeh in nearby Yatta, according to PPS.
Israeli forces also raided and searched houses in the village of Beit Kahel north of Hebron City. An Israeli army spokesperson confirmed a detention was made in the city of Hebron and said another was carried out in the nearby village of Beit Ummar.
Israeli authorities also briefly detained former prisoner and famed hunger striker Muhammad Allan in the village of Einabus in the northern Nablus district. Locals told Ma‘an that Israeli forces raided Allan’s house at 3 a.m. on Thursday. He was taken to the Huwwara military camp in southern Nablus and was released hours later after being interrogated. Allan had rejected a notice to meet with Israeli intelligence several days prior, according to the sources. Allan was released from Israeli custody several months ago after a 66-day hunger strike in protest of being imprisoned by Israel without trial or charge. In cases of high-profile hunger strikes against administrative detention, Israeli authorities will agree to release prisoners, often waiting until the 11th hour when detainees are expected to die at any moment. However, as in the case with Allan, many former hunger strikers are re-detained after their release.
According to the Israeli army spokesperson, another detention was made in the Nablus district in Balata refugee camp. She also informed Ma‘an another Palestinian was detained in the Jerusalem district village of Qatanna.
Overnight Israeli military raid sparks clashes, leaving Israeli soldier injured
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 23 Dec — Israeli forces detained at least eight Palestinians in overnight raids across the occupied West Bank before dawn on Friday, with a raid into the Balata refugee camp sparking clashes that, according to the Israeli army, left one Israeli soldier moderately injured. An Israeli army spokesperson told Ma‘an that after Israeli troops entered the Balata refugee camp in the northern occupied West Bank city of Nablus, “assailants opened fire at security forces. As a result, a soldier was wounded and evacuated to a hospital for further treatment.”Israeli media sites reported that the soldier’s injury, a live gunshot wound to the leg, was between medium and stable, adding that during the clashes Israeli forces also opened live fire at Palestinian youths. The Israeli army spokesperson said that two Palestinian suspects were detained in the raid, and that weapons were also seized.
Meanwhile, west of Nablus in the village of al-Nabi Elyas in the Qalqiliya district, Israeli forces detained four Palestinian youths late Thursday night. Locals identified the detainees as Hussam Hassan Hannoun, brothers Asaad and Usama Riyad Khleif, and Hakam Muhammad Khleif. The detainees were taken to the Ariel interrogation center for allegedly throwing rocks, the sources said. In the southern occupied West Bank town of Dura in the Hebron district, locals said Israeli forces detained Amjad Youssef al-Nammura after raiding and searching his house in the middle of the night. Al-Nammura has reportedly been wanted by Israel for four years and is accused of opening fire at an Israeli army vehicle.
Israeli troops also raided the Dura suburb of al-Tabaqa west of the town, surrounded the al-Fasfous family house and demanded that Hassan al-Fasfous turn himself in, while shooting stun grenades and tear-gas bombs at the house. Israeli soldiers raided and searched the home and interrogated the al-Fasfous family, who eventually were able to convince the Israeli army, after considerable effort, that Hassan was not in the house. Hassan’s brother said that Israeli intelligence called him and demanded that he and all of his male family members turn themselves into the Etzion detention center for interrogation regarding his brother’s location. Members of the al-Fasfous family told Ma‘an that they have no information regarding Hassan’s whereabouts. An Israeli army spokesperson later told Ma’an a Palestinian had been detained overnight in al-Tabaqa, though their identity remained unknown.
Israeli forces also reportedly raided the town of Sair east of Hebron city overnight and confiscated thousands of shekels claiming that the funds were to be used in attacks against Israel, according to Israeli media reports in Hebrew. The Israeli army had reportedly received information that the money would be used for “terrorist activities.” An Israeli army spokesperson told Ma‘an they were looking into the matter for more details.
Palestinian arrested over alleged contact with Hamas chief
MEMO 23 Dec — Israeli police have arrested an East Jerusalem resident on charge of alleged contact with Hamas’ political chief Khaled Mashaal, Israel’s Channel 2 reported yesterday. According to the police spokesperson Luba Al-Samri, a man in his 30s was detained on Wednesday on suspicion of contact with Hamas officials abroad. She added that the defendant had appeared in court yesterday for his detention to be extended. Israeli police have not provided information about the suspect’s identity; however, Channel 2 revealed that the defendant is Tayseer Abu Sabih, the brother of Mesbah Abu Sabih who killed two Israelis in an October attack in the capital. Channel 2 noted in a report yesterday that the brother received a call last night from Qatar-based Hamas political leader Khaled Mashaal who congratulated him on the attack. The call came shortly after the family’s home was demolished by Israel….
Weekly report on Israeli human rights violations in the occupied Palestinian territory (15-21 December)
PCHR-Gaza 22 Dec — Israeli forces continue systematic crimes in the occupied Palestinian territory — A Palestinian child was killed and another was wounded in Beit Rima village, northwest of Ramallah. A Palestinian civilian was wounded in Silwan village, south of occupied Jerusalem. Israeli forces continued to target the Gaza Strip border areas, but no casualties were reported. Israeli forces conducted 54 incursions into Palestinian communities in the West Bank and 9 ones in occupied Jerusalem. 78 civilians, including 28 children and 2 women, were arrested. Forty of them, including 18 children and the 2 women, were arrested in occupied Jerusalem. Israeli forces continued to target Palestinian fishermen in the Gaza Strip Sea. Israeli forces continued their efforts to create Jewish majority in occupied East Jerusalem. A car shop was demolished in al-Sheikh Jarrah neighbourhood as well as a residential room in al-Thawri neighbourhood. The Israeli “Nature Authority” fixed banners in al-Rahmah cemetery, preventing burying dead people in parts of it. [details of these and other events follow]
Prisoners / Court actions
Prisoners Abu Farah, Shadid end hunger strikes after 90 days
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 22 Dec — Palestinian prisoners Ahmad Abu Farah and Anas Shadid announced the suspension of their hunger strikes on Thursday, following an agreement with the Israeli military prosecution that the two would be released after one final renewal of their administrative detentions for four months. Shadid and Abu Farah had been in critical conditions after going 90 and 91 days without food, respectively, in protest of being imprisoned by Israel without charge or trial under the widely-condemned policy of administrative detention. Lawyer Ahlam Haddad said that Abu Fara and Shadid agreed to the Israeli prosecution’s offer after the Israeli Supreme Court rejected the appeal to release them immediately. According to Haddad, the court refused to cancel their sentences outright, saying that they would only make such a decision if the hunger strikers’ conditions deteriorated to the point that they fell into comas, causing permanent damage that would prevent them from being a future threat to the state of Israel. Haddad pointed out that the families of the prisoners were consulted before the offer was accepted and Abu Farah and Shadid ended their strikes. The two rejected a similar deal offered by the Israeli prosecution on Dec. 3 that also guaranteed their release after a renewed four months on their administrative detention….
‘Palestinian survival is an action against the occupation’
Haaretz 23 Dec by Gideon Levy & Alex Levac — A Palestinian triumphantly returns home after 14 years in Israeli prison and a 71-day hunger strike — Bilal Kayed hasn’t slept for more than a week. He’s afraid to sleep, for fear he’ll wake up and discover that it was all a dream. “I’m afraid that if I sleep all this will turn out to be like a wet dream,” he says. And anyway, he doesn’t want to miss a minute of his renewed life. “I get excited about every little thing,” he tells us. “About sitting with people in the living room. About talking to my mother, about her calling me to dinner. I really haven’t digested the situation yet. I sense that something in my life has changed, but I don’t yet get what.” That’s what it feels like when you’re released after spending 14-and-a-half years in prison. But Kayed’s story isn’t just his lengthy jail term, without furloughs or phone calls or a reduced sentence for good behavior, or all the other benefits that accrue to criminal prisoners. His story is also one of abusive treatment inflicted upon him and upon his family. Five months ago, when we visited his home, it was a place of mourning. On the day of Kayed’s scheduled release at the end of his 14-year term, with his family and his town primed to celebrate the event, the Israeli authorities informed him that he was being relegated to “administrative detention” – arrest without trial. No explanation was offered. Kayed responded by launching a hunger strike that went on for 71 days and almost finished him off. The authorities offered him a four-year exile in Jordan. He refused. Finally, in August, he agreed to an arrangement under which he would be released in four months’ time if he called off his hunger strike. The four months finished last week. The late-summer house of mourning had been transformed into a site of celebration at the onset of winter. Kayed’s hometown of Asira al-Shamaliya, north of Nablus, looks like it was painted red: Flags of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine – the movement on whose behalf he was active, which led to his incarceration – hang from every electric pole. It’s been a long time since that Palestinian organization, which has shrunk considerably, in terms of both membership and influence, in recent years, has enjoyed this much attention….
Israeli military court issues administrative sentences against Palestinians
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 22 Dec — The Israeli military court of Ofer prison issued administrative detention orders against several Palestinian prisoners on Thursday. The Palestinian Prisoner’s Society said in a statement that the court sentenced Sanad Ammad Abdullah to six months of administrative detention, while Muhammad Khalid Madani, Muhammad Youssef Awad, and Muhammad Fouad Uweis were each sentenced to four months. Prisoners Awad Munir Haddush and Wael Rafat Allan were sentenced to three months of administrative detention and Alaa Salem Rajabi was sentenced to two months. The court lessened the sentence of prisoner Muhammad Ahmad al-Najjar from six months to four-and-a-half months, and also reduced the sentence of Samer Hilmi from four months to three.
Army injures a Palestinian in Gaza
IMEMC 24 Dec by Saed Bannoura — Israeli soldiers shot, on Friday evening, a young Palestinian man in the Sheja‘eyya neighborhood, east of Gaza city, medical sources said. The sources stated that the soldiers, stationed at the “Nahal Oz” military base across the border fence east of Gaza, fired many live rounds at protesters, in Palestinian lands. They added that a young man was shot with a live round in his leg, and described his injury as moderate.
Egyptian forces open fire on Palestinian fishermen near Rafah, injuring 1
GAZA CITY (Ma’an) — A Palestinian fisherman was shot and injured by Egyptian forces deployed at the border area between Egypt and the southern besieged Gaza Strip near Rafah city on Wednesday night, according to the fishermen’s union in Gaza. The union told Ma’an that 26-year-old Ahmad Abu Muhsen was injured as Egyptian forces “randomly” opened fire at a group of fishermen. Medical sources in the Gaza Strip said that Abu Muhsen suffered medium injuries and was being treated at the Abu Youssef al-Najjar Hospital in Rafah.
Gaza women cancer patients start hunger strike to protest Israel treatment ban
MEMO 22 Dec — Dozens of female cancer patients in Gaza began a hunger strike today to protest Israeli authorities’ banning them from obtaining travel permits to travel to receive treatment. During a protest attended by dozens of cancer patients in front of the Ministry of Civil Affairs in Gaza this morning, the Aid and Hope Programme for Cancer Patient Care in Gaza condemned senior health official Bassam Al-Badri for humiliating and offending cancer patients. Al-Badri had previously directed offensive and false accusations against the female cancer patients barred from traveling, claiming they purely sought media attention. Seham Al-Tatri, one of the cancer patients, stressed the need to follow-up on the patients’ affairs and to make it a priority, as well as hold those guilty of negligence accountable. She also called on the Civil Affairs Ministry to resolve the issue of sick individuals not receiving travel permits, especially cancer patients. In a statement she read on behalf of the Aid and Hope Programme, Al-Tatri condemned Al-Badri for also accusing the cancer patients of spying and working for the occupation, as well as exploiting the issue of cancer patients. The protesting cancer patients called for the resignation of Al-Badri and an official apology from the Ministry of Health for the abuse and insult suffered by the seriously ill women….
Israel continues to prevent Gazans from traveling to al-Aqsa to pray
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 23 Dec — Israeli authorities have continued to uphold a recent decision to cancel weekly visitation by elderly Palestinians from the besieged Gaza Strip to attend Friday prayers at Al-Aqsa Mosque in occupied Eat Jerusalem. Sources at the Palestinian liaison’s office confirmed to Ma‘an on Friday that Israel continued to prevent Muslim worshipers from Gaza to travel to Jerusalem, after repeated accusations from Israeli authorities that Palestinians were not returning to the Gaza Strip immediately following the visits. A spokesperson for COGAT, the Israeli agency responsible for implementing Israeli policies in the occupied Palestinian territory, told Ma‘an earlier this month regarding permit cancellations, that the permits were cancelled as a result of “many [Palestinians] exploiting the permits and staying illegally in Israel.” “In spite of the agreements with the Palestinian side, Gaza residents have continued to exploit the permits and so it was decided to reduce the amount of permits given for travel to Jerusalem Fridays,” the statement continued, adding that “we will not allow for this abuse of Israel’s civil policy to continue.”
As of last Friday, UNRWA employees in Gaza were still being allowed to visit, and it remained unclear on Friday if they had made the journey this week….
How Gaza’s female first responders are saving lives and breaking stereotypes
GAZA CITY 22 Dec by Entsar Abu Jalal — In an attempt to fight a patriarchal society that keeps hindering their progress in most of the fields they aspire to, Palestinian women are breaking with customs and traditions in a bid to prove that just like men, they have scientific capabilities and technical skills. This was the main incentive that led the Palestinian association of Emergency Medical Services (EMS) to allow female first-aid workers to cover the ongoing football Premier League for the first time, in a move to challenge society’s perception of women’s work in general and female first-aid workers in particular. In this context, the chairman of the board of the Palestinian Association of EMS in Gaza, Abbas al-Harazin, told Al-Monitor, “We got the idea from the female first-aid workers’ coverage of the Women’s World Cup under the age of 17, which was held Sept. 30 at the Jordan university of science and technology, and we executed it out of our belief in the ability of female first-aid workers to deal with all kinds of cases.” Asked how the idea was executed, Harazin said that the Palestinian Football Association asked the EMS association to provide medical assistance in the Premier League matches in the event players get injured. But the association did not specify the gender of the workers it wanted, thinking that these would be males as per usual. The football association initially refused the idea, and Harazin said that “the rejection was based on the Palestinian conservative traditions whereby such work would be inappropriate for women and male rescuers should be given priority. However, we managed to convince the association of the idea, and we asked it to give the girls a chance to assess their skills accordingly. The experience started at the end of October.”….
How serious is Israel about allowing return of Gaza workers?
GAZA CITY (Al-Monitor) 22 Dec by Moath al-Amoudi — Israel announced Dec. 3 its willingness to grant hundreds of work permits to Palestinian laborers from the Gaza Strip to work in the fields of construction, agriculture and services. This would lead to the recovery of the economic situation in the Gaza Strip after permits stopped being issued with the outbreak of the second, Al-Aqsa intifada Sept. 27, 2000. Gazan workers who were previously employed in Israel are greatly suffering from a high unemployment rate and few job opportunities, and most of its laborers have large families to provide for and just rely on the aid provided by the Ministry of Social Affairs, which ranges from 800 to 1,600 shekels ($208 to $416) every three months — depending on the number of family members. Shokran Mohammad, 49, was very happy to hear the work permit issuance news, which gave him hope that he will overcome the poverty and unemployment he is suffering from. He said he worked in Israel in the field of construction and contracting from 1993 to 2000, before Israel closed the crossings and stopped issuing work permits for Palestinian workers due to the intifada. He pointed out that ever since, he has been working intermittently in Gaza for a maximum period of two years, and he gets paid very little compared with what he used to earn per month during his work in Israel … Mohammed Makadmeh, media general manager at the General Authority for Civil Affairs in Gaza, told Al-Monitor, “We have not been informed of any official decision whereby Palestinian workers from Gaza would be allowed to enter the adjacent towns and work there. This is a unilateral Israeli step, and we will take all the necessary measures in the event we are informed.”….
Christmas in Gaza: ‘Mortars and missiles fly overhead; from Gaza into Israel, from Israel into Gaza
The Journal (Ireland) 23 Dec by Eoghan Rice — Holiday cheer is tough to come by when you live in an open-air prison — THE HORSE LEAPS into the air, obediently following the young woman’s command to jump the fence. Every so often the dull thud of hooves hitting the ground coincides with an air strike. Nobody aside from me seems to notice when it does, but, then again, nobody else seems to be paying any attention to the air strikes at all, least of all the horse. Gaza feels normal, and that’s the strangest thing about it. People are going about their days, buying clothes, playing football on the beach, eating ice-cream with friends. At the Faisal Equestrian Centre young girls ride horses while their parents sip coffee. In the distance is the war. Mortars, rockets and missiles fly overhead; from Gaza into Israel, from Israel into Gaza. Below, the people get on with their lives. The peppering of the afternoon sky with artillery fire is so unremarkable that nobody appears to notice it. The young girl on horseback doesn’t miss a single step. When I ask our driver about it, he appears not to have registered that it is happening. This is just a regular Thursday. Over the next few days, the names of Palestine will be heard in homes across Ireland. Bethlehem, Jerusalem, and Jericho are places indelibly linked to Christmas stories. But while we hear stories of life in these places 2,000 years ago, we rarely stop to think about life there today. The cities that grew from Biblical towns are today places of occupation and division, where people live a daily reality of military law and restrictions on movement. The Separation Wall cuts through Bethlehem, slicing through land and dividing neighbours. The capital city of Christmas is today a place where people queue for hours each morning to pass military checkpoints. Life across this region has been shaped by conflict Nowhere is this more evident than in Gaza. There is a serene madness to Gaza. People smile but you sense that inside they are crying or screaming, or probably both. That is Gaza’s great trick: masking its madness behind a veneer of normality….
Land, property theft & destruction / Ethnic cleansing / Settlements / Discrimination against religions other than Judaism
Top Israeli court approves delay in Amona outpost evacuation
MEMO 23 Dec — Israel’s Supreme Court, meeting as the High Court of Justice, yesterday agreed to the state’s request to extend the deadline for the evacuation of unauthorised settlement outpost Amona. The 45-day extension is intended to facilitate, in the words of the court, a “peaceful evacuation”, following “efforts that have recently been made to come to an agreed upon solution.” The previous deadline had been 25 December, but Amona’s residents now have until 8 February to leave the outpost, which was established on privately owned Palestinian land. The court clarified that it was not passing judgement on the legality of a move to other land in the area; the Israeli government seeks to move some of the settlers to land in the same area, a move that remains blocked for the time being due to Palestinian legal challenges. Israeli NGO Yesh Din commented: “The state is not concealing the fact that there is currently no plan for transferring the Amona settlers and therefore the only aim of a delay is to try to find how the law can be circumvented.”
Israel demolishes Bedouin village for 107th time
MEMO 22 Dec — Israeli forces today demolished the unrecognised Bedouin village of Al-Araqeeb in the Negev for the 107th time. According to locals, Israeli bulldozers demolished the village. A yard and a tree belonging to the Bin Hmeid family in the Wadi Al-Niam village and an outdoor toilet were also demolished, locals told Ma’an. Israeli forces last demolished the village less than a month ago … Israeli forces began targeting the village with demolitions in 2010, along with filing multiple lawsuits against the residents and imposing more than 2 million shekels ($527,920) worth of fines. The first demolition of Al-Araqeeb took place more than six years ago on 27 June 2010. Al-Araqeeb is one of 35 Bedouin villages considered “unrecognised” by the Israeli state. According to ACRI, more than half of the approximately 160,000 Negev Bedouins reside in unrecognised villages.
Israeli authorities consider fine on Muslim prayer
IMEMC/Agencies 22 Dec — The Israeli Ministerial Committee for Legislation Affairs is scheduled to discuss, next Sunday, a new proposal to lift the ban on the Azan (prayer call) in Palestinian mosques, made by a member of the Knesset, Moti Yogev and David Bitan. The new proposal that has been developed in the wake of remarks presented at the Knesset on the previous draft emphasizes punishment and imposes a fine of not less than 5,000 NIS (New Israeli Shekels) on places of worship, especially mosques, in the event of “the use of loudspeakers in the prohibited hours, according to the law.” As stated, the financial fine of up to 10 thousand shekels on every use of loudspeakers between the hours of 23:00 until 07:00 thus prevents the use of loudspeakers in mosques before dawn prayers. Sources in Israeli Knesset revealed on Wednesday, Al Ray further reports, that a newly revised version of the discriminatory draft law prohibits al-Fajr (morning) prayer, confirming that the Knesset will consider the formula within a few days, pointing out that the new version “won the satisfaction of Israeli government coalition parties.”
UNICEF in Lebanon ends its contracts with G4S
IMEMC/Agencies 22 Dec — “Breaking a shackle of Palestinian prisoners”. The United Nations Children’s Fund in Lebanon ends its contracts with occupation profiteer G4S The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) in Lebanon has ended its contract with the world’s largest security company, G4S, following a boycott campaign by activists in the country and across the world over the company’s role in Israel’s violations of Palestinian human rights. Earlier this month, G4S announced that it is selling $110m worth of its investment in its Israel subsidiary. That would consist of selling most of its Israeli business, after an effective campaign against the company waged by the Palestinian-led, global Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement for Palestinian rights. Nonetheless, G4S will remain directly complicit in Israel’s violations of human rights through co-running the Israeli Police Academy and its investment in the Shikun & Binui group which builds illegal settlements. G4S will continue to be a BDS target due to its persisting complicity. The Lebanese Campaign to Boycott the Supporters of Israel and the Palestinian Camps Boycott campaign in Lebanon had organised several actions that called upon UNICEF to end their contracts with G4S over the past year from meetings and social media action to a creative demonstration outside the UNICEF offices in Beirut. This is an important victory to the #UNDropG4S campaign, which was launched in 2015 by BDS activists globally, urging the UN to end its relationship with occupation profiteer G4S. Since then, four UN agencies in Jordan have heeded this call and, now, the domino effect is starting in Lebanon….
Palestine campaigners take British government to court
MEMO 23 Dec — The Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC) has taken the British government to court over attempts to restrict Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) campaigning. In a press release dated 16 December, PSC said it had submitted evidence to ask for a judicial review of regulations published in November “aimed at preventing Local Government Pension Schemes from divesting from companies involved in human rights abuses in Israel came into force.” “We are attempting to get these government regulations overturned in court,” confirmed PSC. According to PSC, the legal action is a response to the government’s attempt “to take our right to this [BDS] form of peaceful protest away”, and to force them to “answer their case in court”. PSC anticipates “a long and hard battle”, and that “it is going to take time and resources.” The group added: “But we also know that we have to be prepared to stand up for our right to campaign so that we can keep raising the call for Palestinian rights, freedom and justice for as long as we need to.”
Arctic freeze on Israeli settlement products
EI 22 Dec by Ryan Rodrick Beiler — A second major city in Norway has voted to boycott Israeli goods and services produced in Palestinian territory occupied in 1967. The 25-18 vote by Tromsø city council followed a similar action in Trondheim in November. Tromsø’s resolution was sponsored by council members Jens Ingvald Olsen and Mads Gilbert, known worldwide for his medical work in the Gaza Strip. With a population of 75,000 and one of only a handful of world cities north of the Arctic Circle, Tromsø has a long tradition of solidarity with Palestine, Gilbert told The Electronic Intifada. Tromsø has been twinned with Gaza City for 15 years, which has led to cultural and youth exchanges and a visit to by the mayor of Gaza City. Given that history of solidarity, said Gilbert, “it should come as absolutely no surprise that Tromsø city council should be the second in Norway to vote in favor of a boycott of Israeli goods produced on occupied territory.” According to Gilbert, there was little formal coordination with the vote in Trondheim except that officials shared the text of their resolution. The primary inspiration for Tromsø’s boycott came from the Icelandic capital Reykjavik, which voted in 2015 to boycott all Israeli products until Israel complies with international law and human rights conventions. After an extreme backlash from Israel and its supporters, however, the Reykjavik initiative was rescinded….
Palestinian refugees – Lebanon
Islamist extremism spills over into Palestinian Ein Al-Helweh refugee camp in Lebanon
IMEMC/Agencies 24 Dec — After Palestinian refugee camps in Syria were drawn into the war by Islamist radicals, the problem has recently spilled over into the Palestinian refugee camp of Ein El-Helweh, in Lebanon, leading to clashes between the Islamist Jund al-Sham and the secular Al-Fateh — (Photo: Non-combatant civilians are the ones most severely affected by importing Islamist violence into the Palestinian refugee camps as the war in Syria spills over into the Palestinian refugee camps.) A volatile ceasefire was reached on Thursday evening, after renewed clashes between Jund al-Sham and Al-Fateh resulted in the death of one while several others were injured. Fighting and assassinations have plagued Ein El-Hilweh since April 2016. The fatality in the latest round of violence has been identified as Abdullah Mohammed al-Ghar. Several other people, including a woman, were wounded in fresh fighting. The clashes between the mainstream Fateh Movement and the hardline Islamist group, Jund al-Sham, erupted after the funeral of Samer Hmeid (aka Samer Nejmeh) and Mahmoud Abdul Karim Saleh, who both were killed during violent clashes on Wednesday. Dozens of families who were trapped in their homes in the Arab Zbeid area urged officials to exert efforts to halt the fighting. Residents were reportedly fleeing en masse from the camp’s eastern neighborhoods. Wednesday’s unrest resulted in the death of three people and the injury of at least six others….
UNRWA suspends operations at Ein El-Hilweh refugee camp due to violent outbreaks
IMEMC/Agencies 22 Dec — The United Nations Relief Works Agency for Palestinian refugees in the near east (UNRWA) has strongly condemned an outbreak of armed violence which took place at the Ein El Hilweh Palestinian Refugee camp in Lebanon, today and yesterday, and calls for restraint. Due to armed violence and increased risks to civilian lives, UNRWA has suspended all its operations in the camp and will continue to do so until further notice. Violent incidents in Ein el-Hilweh continue to shock and frighten camp residents. They prevent children going to school and patients going to clinics; and they threaten the safety and security of civilians and their ability to access a range of services. The education and well being of more than 6,000 children attending nine UNRWA schools in the camp have been impacted. Two health centres, serving the health needs of the Palestine refugee population in the camp, have been forced to close temporarily. This is the fourth time in the past month that UNRWA has been forced to close its services due to security incidents. Closures have occurred on 5, 7, 21 and 22 December. UNRWA again calls on all involved to respect the rule of law, the sanctity of human life, and to ensure the protection of Palestinian refugees, particularly of children….
UN demands end to Israeli settlements after US abstains
AFP 23 Dec — The UN Security Council on Friday demanded that Israel halt settlements in Palestinian territory, after the United States refrained from vetoing a resolution condemning its closest Middle East ally. In a rare and momentous step, the United States instead abstained, enabling the adoption of the first UN resolution since 1979 to condemn Israel over its settlement policy. Applause broke out in the chamber after the text was passed with support from all remaining members of the 15-member council. The landmark move by the Security Council came despite an effort led by Israel and backed by US President-elect Donald Trump to block the text. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu immediately rejected the UN resolution and slammed the outgoing administration of President Barack Obama for refusing to veto it. “Israel rejects this shameful anti-Israel resolution at the UN and will not abide by its terms,” a statement from Netanyahu’s office said. “The Obama administration not only failed to protect Israel against this gang-up at the UN, it colluded with it behind the scenes,” it said. “Israel looks forward to working with President-elect Trump and with all our friends in Congress, Republicans and Democrats alike, to negate the harmful effects of this absurd resolution.” Trump reacted after the vote by promising change at the world body after he takes office next month … Ambassador Samantha Power said the US abstention stemmed from concerns that the expansion of the Jewish outposts was threatening the two-state solution aimed at achieving peace by creating a Palestinian state alongside Israel … The United States vetoed a similar resolution in 2011, which was the sole veto cast by the Obama administration at the Security Council. Washington has used its veto a total of 30 times to block council resolutions concerning Israel and the Palestinians, according to Security Council Report, a research organization. It last abstained in 2009 on a resolution calling for a ceasefire in Gaza.
France sets date for peace conference in Paris
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 23 Dec — France’s Foreign Minister announced on Thursday that a date has been set for a much anticipated, multilateral Palestinian-Israeli peace conference, scheduled to be held in Paris on Jan. 15, according to reports from Israeli media. Some 70 countries will reportedly participate in the conference, with a goal to hold a direct meeting between Israeli and Palestinian leaders on the sidelines after conclusion of the conference. French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault made the announcement during a visit to the Lebanese capital Beirut, saying that he hoped the meeting would “relaunch” the peace process and “re-affirm the necessity of having two states,” according to Time of Israel. Ayrault said that despite repeated rejections by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of the French initiative, that Netanyahu would be invited to Paris anyway. Netanyahu has staunchly objected to the concept of a multilateral peace conference that excludes Israeli and Palestinian leadership, and has expressed his preference for direct, bilateral talks instead. The Palestinian Authority, however, has expressed support for the French initiative, and in April shelved the submission of a new anti-settlement resolution to the UN out of fear that doing so could thwart progress of new French proposals….
Police arrest Israeli Arab lawmaker after parliamentary immunity lifted
Haaretz 22 Dec by Jack Khoury & Jonathan Lis — MK Basel Ghattas (Joint List) was arrested Thursday, after his parliamentary immunity was lifted by the Knesset earlier in the day, amid allegations that he smuggled smartphones to Palestinian security prisoners. Ghattas will spend the night in a detention center and he will be brought before a judge Friday morning. Earlier, Ghattas asked the Knesset to lift his parliamentary immunity, saying he would not contest legislators’ plan to revoke his immunity amid allegations that he smuggled smartphones to Palestinian security prisoners. Ghattas’ decision came after consultations with lawyers and senior officials of his Balad party, one of the four factions of the Joint List of Arab parties. Speaker Yuli Edelstein said the Knesset would proceed accordingly. The revocation would only apply to the allegations concerning the smartphones. The party blasted his arrests as “unprecedented” political persecution, saying his arrest was a watershed moment in Israel’s ties to its Arab citizens….
Photos: Fatah MPs protest in Gaza
MEMO 23 Dec — A number of Fatah lawmakers held a protest yesterday in the Palestinian Legislative Council Square in Gaza City to condemn a recent decision by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to strip five parliament members of their immunity. The participants carried the movement’s flags and banners that condemned the decision. “Those who fear for the future of the political system in Palestine do not revoke MP immunity,” a banner read. The protesters said in a statement that they are committed to respecting the MPs’ immunity which is guaranteed by law, adding that the lawmakers represent the Palestinian people’s conscience and that their immunity is confirmation of the popular will. The protesters have also affirmed their rejection of the formation of the Constitutional Court and to revoking the immunity of dismissed Fatah member Mohamed Dahlan. On Wednesday, Hamas and Fatah lawmakers said that a recent decision by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to strip five parliament members of their immunity was “unlawful and inconsistent with the constitution”….
Why is Israel allowing armored jeeps into the West Bank?
Al-Monitor 23 Dec by Adnan Abu Amer — The West Bank is lacking security and stability following armed clashes between Palestinian security forces and gunmen deployed in refugee camps — most recently on Nov. 18 in Fara refugee camp in Tubas city, in the northeastern West Bank. In light of this security tension, Israel agreed Dec. 6 to allow the entry of armored vehicles from Jordan to the West Bank to be handed over to the Palestinian security services, after having prohibited the entry of such vehicles for four years, during which Israel only approved the acquisition by the Palestinian Authority (PA) of anti-riot light weapons. The armored vehicles were received in the presence of Jordanian, Israeli and Palestinian officers. Haaretz newspaper reported on the same day that “Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman have approved the delivery of five armored jeeps for the [PA] security forces.”… “Palestinian security forces need armored vehicles, especially in the northern West Bank,” noted Haaretz. Abdullah Abdullah, a member of the Fatah Revolutionary Council, told Al-Monitor, “The PA controls security in the West Bank, despite recent security events, which must be stopped and prevented from stretching to other parts of the West Bank. Despite the political rift between the PA and Israel, the latter fears future possible security unrest in the West Bank, and this is why it allowed the entry of armored vehicles to the Palestinian security services.”….
3 officials sacked following engineer’s murder in Tunisia
MEMO 23 Dec — Three Tunisian government officials were removed from their positions yesterday in response to the assassination last week of a Tunisian aviation engineer in the southeastern city of Sfax. According to a statement issued by the prime minister’s office, those dismissed included Sfax Governor Al-Habib Chaouat; Al-Habib Haydar, the city’s security director; and Mohamed Al-Sagheer, national security chairman for the southern Sfax area. The move comes one week after Mohamed Al-Zawari, a Tunisian aviation engineer, was shot dead outside his home in Sfax. The Ezzedine Al-Qassam Brigades, the Palestinian resistance movement, later said that Al-Zawari had played a leading role in the group’s drone development programme. In a statement, the Brigades said Al-Zawari had worked with the Palestinian resistance for at least a decade and blamed Israel for his murder. Israel is widely believed to have killed numerous Palestinian resistance activists in past decades, many of them overseas. On Wednesday, the Tunisian authorities ordered three suspects who had been detained earlier – including one woman – to remain in custody on suspicion of involvement in Al-Zawari’s death.
Noted activist gets SS checks stopped following drone protests
Accuracy 22 Dec — Ann Wright served 29 years in the U.S. Army/Army Reserves and retired as a Colonel. She also served 16 years as a U.S. diplomat in U.S. around the world, including Afghanistan. She resigned from the U.S. government in March 2003 in opposition to the war on Iraq. She just wrote the piece “Attempting to Curtail Dissent of Seniors by Stopping Social Security Checks,” which states: “First, in 2005 and 2006 it was the Bush administration putting some of us protesting Bush’s war on Iraq on the National Crime Information Database. Yes, we had been arrested for failure to comply with orders to move from the fence in front of the White House during protests against the war on Iraq, torture at Guantanamo and other U.S. prisons in Iraq and Afghanistan or refusing to end protests by sitting in ditches at Bush’s Crawford, Texas ranch. But these were misdemeanors, not felonies, yet we were put on the FBI’s international crime list, a list for felony violations … “Now under the Obama administration, the latest effort to silence dissent, for those of you 62 or older, is someone in the government falsifying jail records to show that you were in jail/confinement for more than 30 days and sending the records to the Social Security Administration. SSA will then stop your monthly Social Security check and will send you a letter stating that you must repay back months of payments for the time you were allegedly in jail — in my case $4,273.60….
Take action: Call the US Congress to request commutations for the Holy Land Five
Samidoun 20 Dec — The Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network is circulating the following appeal from Khalil Meek, executive director of the Muslim Legal Fund of America, and urges all supporters of Palestinian political prisoners to take immediate action to free the Holy Land Five. The Five – Ghassan Elashi, Shukri Abu-Baker, Mohammad El-Mezain, Mufid Abdulqader and Abdulrahman Odeh – were officers, employees and volunteers at the Richardson, Texas-based Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development, the largest Muslim charity in the United States until its closure and the seizure of its assets by the Bush administration in 2001. Each is imprisoned on terms from 15 to 65 years after their 2008 convictions on charges stemming from the HLF’s charitable aid to Palestinians under Israeli occupation. We need your help — and it’s urgent. I need you to call each of the legislators in the list below — both their Washington and local office numbers — and ask them to take the lead in asking President Obama to commute the sentences of the Holy Land Foundation defendants before the end of his term in office. Each call should only take a minute. This is urgent — we need you to call today! Here is the suggested language you can use when calling: