Ayyash: The fishing sector going through worst times ever
GAZA (PIC) 22 Jan — Chief of Gaza fishermen Nizar Ayyash has affirmed that the fishermen are living their worst days ever and the fishing industry suffers a severe recession as a result of Israel’s naval blockade and daily aggressive practices against them in Gaza waters. “The fishing season is now very weak, and the Israeli navy opens fire [at fishermen] and continuously bans sailing in a distance beyond three to five miles, so the fishing sector is going through its worst times ever nowadays and we cannot repair the boats because of the blockade,” Ayyash told the Palestinian Information Center (PIC) on Saturday. One fisherman was killed and his boat was destroyed by the Israeli navy in early January, while three fishermen suffered different injuries in gunfire attacks by gunboats during the last few days, the fishermen chief noted.
Israeli forces fire on Gaza fishermen, 1 injured with rubber bullet
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 20 Jan — Israeli forces shot and injured a Palestinian fisherman off the coast of the northern Gaza Strip on Friday morning. Head of the Gaza fishermen’s union Zakariya Badr told Ma‘an that Abed Hisham al-Sultan was injured with a rubber-coated steel bullet as Israeli forces “continuously opened fire” at fishing boats early Friday morning.
Funeral of Hamas fighter killed in tunnel collapse held in Gaza
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 21 Jan — A funeral was held in Khan Yunis of the southern Gaza Strip on Saturday for a fighter from Hamas’ military wing Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades, after he was killed in a tunnel collapse on Friday. The funeral for 22-year-old Youssef Issam al-Agha set off from the Nasser Hospital to his home, with mourners repeating slogans supporting the Palestinian resistance. Final goodbyes were said before the march continued to the al-Sunnah mosque for prayers, and ended at the town’s cemetery for final burial.
Palestinian child injured by Israeli army fire in northern Gaza
IMEMC 21 Jan — Palestinian medical sources have reported, Friday, that a child, only five years of age, was shot in her abdomen, after Israeli soldiers fired live rounds at homes and lands in Beit Lahia, in northern Gaza. The sources said the child, identified as Rimas Hamdouna, 5, received the urgently needed medical treatment from field medics before being moved to the Indonesian Hospital, in northern Gaza, and was later transferred to the Shifa Hospital, in Gaza City. Medical sources at the Shifa Hospital described the condition of the wounded child as moderate to severe. It is worth mentioning that the army used automatic weapons to fire at homes and lands in Beit Lahia, wounding the child and causing property damage.
Israeli soldiers open automatic fire at homes, lands in southern Gaza
IMEMC 20 Jan — On Friday afternoon, Israeli soldiers stationed across the border fence east of the Gaza Strip fired dozens of rounds targeting homes and lands in Rafah and Khan Younis, in the southern part of the Gaza Strip. Eyewitnesses said the soldiers fired dozens of rounds for no apparent reason, hitting many homes, causing damage. There have been no reports of physical injuries among the Palestinians. The attacks were carried out by soldiers on various towers in military bases across the border fence, in the eastern and southern parts of the besieged coastal region.
Israeli forces open fire on Palestinian lands in eastern Khan Yunis
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 21 Jan — Israeli forces opened live fire on Palestinian land in eastern Khan Yunis of the southern Gaza Strip on Saturday. No injuries were reported.
Israel approves reconstruction for 1.500 homes destroyed in 2014 Gaza war
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 21 Jan — Israeli authorities have given final approval to allow 1,500 families in the Gaza Strip to rebuild their houses that were destroyed during the last Israeli military offensive on the besieged coastal enclave in the summer of 2014, in accordance with the Robert Serry Plan, according to Gaza’s Ministry of Public Works. Undersecretary of the ministry Naji Sarhan told Ma‘an Saturday that the Israeli approval came after intervention of the Palestinian Authority’s Civil Affairs Committee. He highlighted that Israel had not given approvals to rebuild demolished houses in Gaza for the last six months. As of last August, some 50 percent of the buildings that were completely destroyed during the devastating 2014 war were still awaiting reconstruction, according to some estimates. Sarhan added that Israel increased cement deliveries via Kerem Shalom crossing recently to 4,000 tons a day instead of 3,000 tons. Certain quantities of cement have been allowed to enter the small Palestinian territory since September 2014, when UN’s Middle East envoy announced a UN mechanism, referred to as the “Serry Plan,” to assist with reconstruction efforts after Israel’s 2014 offensive on Gaza that left tens of thousands of Palestinians homeless.
Happy article of the month:
Love in Gaza: Photos that will steal your heart
Stepfeed 10 Jan by Nour Sheety — Ibrahim Faraj is a photographer from Gaza. But, his latest photos are not of war and despondency, but of life, love and hope. The photographs have sparked the hashtag #GazaLoves and the results are breathtaking. People are responding to these heartwarming images, and we’re not crying, you are.
From south to north Gaza and back
GAZA (PIC) 21 Jan — Three blind Palestinian youths started on Saturday a trip to walk the distance between the south and the north of the Gaza Strip on foot back and forth to send a message that Gazans do not know the impossible. Khaled al-Najar, Bahjat al-Najar and Rasmi al-Najar started their trip from the eastern Khan Younis village of Khuza‘a, their hometown, and reached the central region of the Gaza Strip by noon. It is estimated that their trip would take several days. “The trip aims at sending a message that the people of Gaza are invincible and ready to do whatever it takes,” Khaled al-Najar, 18, told Quds Press. “We realize that there are at least 100 kilometers to walk in our trip, but we are determined to do it and we have stops and rests in each governorate,” he added while stressing that anything could be achieved if you have the resoluteness and determination to do it. Khaled pointed out that they started from Khuza‘a and are heading towards Erez crossing in northernmost Gaza and will then head backwards to Rafah crossing in southernmost Gaza before returning to Khuza‘a.
Gaza Sky Geeks crowdfunds to launch coding academy
Crowdfundinsider.com 21 Jan by Jessica Pham — Gaza Sky Geeks is running another crowdfunding campaign called “Power Up Gaza’s Geeks”. There is just over a week left in the campaign, and the group is currently at $277,869 — or 292 percent of its original goal. Initially, Gaza Sky Geeks had a goal of $95,000 to modestly obtain a generator, fuel, and additional staff to keep its facilities open during evenings and on weekends. It sought to ensure that entrepreneurs and startups have access to a space that has steady internet and electricity … Gaza Sky Geeks intends to launch Gaza’s first coding academy with the $80,000 extra in funds. With an additional $25,000, the organization also intends to fund scholarships for teaching 30 girls aged 10 to 17 years old from refugee communities in Gaza how to code and entrepreneurship skills. The team’s launch date is slated for sometime in February 2017, almost immediately after the campaign closes … Of Gazan women’s participation in the program, Co-Founder of Crowdpac Gisel Kordestani said: “It’s incredible that we’ve been able to get 50% women to participate in Gaza Sky Geeks. I can’t even get close to 20% here in Silicon Valley.” … Gaza Sky Geeks is a part of Mercy Corps. The organization raised seed funding from Google.org in 2011.
Gaza youths use cellphones to make films about unemployment, disabilities
KHAN YUNIS, Gaza Strip 19 Jan by Huda Baroud — Palestinians in the Gaza Strip are submitting short videos filmed on their cellphones to the Mobile Short Film Festival, which has organized the first such contest in Gaza … Karim Tartouri, 22, is getting ready to produce his short film about the rights of people with disabilities in Gaza. He will shoot and carry out the video editing using his cellphone. Tartouri, who graduated from Palestine Technical College with a certificate in Television Arts, told Al-Monitor that producing a short film using a cellphone is a genius idea, since anyone with a modern mobile device can do this and join the festival’s competition. He said that this competition gives him the opportunity to show his passion for video production and apply what he learned in college about filmmaking. In his short film, Tartouri will focus on the loss of job opportunities by people with special needs because of their disability. Ibrahim al-Batta, 26, recorded a short film about the complex social issues of nepotism, unemployment and brain drain. He aspires to win Gaza’s Mobile Short Film Festival in the category of youth affairs, to make up for his lost chance to participate in the “Qomrah” TV show due to internet problems that prevented him from uploading his film and sending it to the jury on time, although he had passed stages one and two of the competition….
Violence / Detentions — West Bank, E. Jerusalem, Israel
WATCH: Visual analysis undermines police version of events in Umm al-Hiran
Activestills 19 Jan – Video by Forensic Architecture/Activestills, text by Natasha Roth — A visual and aural investigation of two pieces of footage recorded in Umm el-Hiran on Wednesday, during an incident which left a Bedouin man and an Israeli police officer dead, appears to contradict the official police narrative of a car-ramming attack. The Israeli authorities say that the driver of the car, Yaqub Musa Abu al-Qi‘an, intentionally accelerated toward a group of police officers and plowed into them, killing Erez Levi. But eyewitnesses counter that the police opened fire on Qi‘an’s vehicle before it sped up and that the car struck the police as a result of Abu al-Qi‘an losing control. The visual analysis, conducted by Forensic Architecture and Activestills, assessed the sequence of events by comparing footage shot by Activestills photographers and police aerial footage of the incident. By synchronizing the clips and photos taken on the ground, while at the same time layering the sound from the Activestills video over the silent police tape, the investigators were able to determine that police opened fire on Abu al-Qi‘an’s car before he sped up. The footage begins with Abu al-Qi‘an driving slowly in the general direction of the police, at which point three shots are fired. A further four gunshots are fired immediately afterwards. According to the video, the car changes direction four seconds after the first shot, speeding up and heading toward the group of police officers. Six seconds after the first shot, Abu al-Qi‘an’s car hits the officers. A longer series of gunshots is then heard, along with shouting and the car’s horn sounding continuously, which the investigators suggest may be due to Abu al-Qi‘an being incapacitated. His car is finally brought to a halt by a police car, 13 seconds after the first shot was fired. After the car has stopped completely, a final gunshot is heard. According to Forensic Architecture and Activestills, this is what Israeli security forces term a “verification killing” — shooting to kill an already incapacitated individual….
Video emerges on killing in Umm al-Hiran, as family awaits return of slain Bedouin’s body
NEGEV (Ma‘an) — A new video has emerged capturing the killing of Umm al-Hiran resident and local teacher Yaqoub Abu al-Qi‘an who was shot to death by Israeli police on Wednesday, while his family continues to await the return of his body. Ma‘an obtained a video [below] on Saturday that was filmed by a resident of Bedouin village of Umm al-Hiran of the moment that al-Qi‘an was shot, as dozens of gunshots are heard, with Israeli police yelling “gunshots” while heading to the source … Abu al-Qi‘an’s autopsy report was also released on Friday, detailing that the teacher had been killed by two bullets that were fired at his vehicle, the first of which struck him on his right knee, and the second in a main artery in the chest area, before he was left to bleed to death. Israeli Channel 10 meanwhile reported that Abu al-Qi‘an’s knee injury led to the acceleration of his vehicle after his leg pressed against the gas pedal, and added that he had lost large amounts of blood which would have made it impossible to save him. Nevertheless, they reported that he had been left to bleed for a half an hour as ambulances were prevented from providing him first aid. Witnesses told Ma‘an that Israeli police pulled an injured Abu al-Qi‘an from his vehicle at the time and shot him another time to confirm his death, seeming to contradict the autopsy report that stated he had bled to death. Meanwhile, the family of Abu al-Qi‘an have continued to refuse conditions set by Israeli police in order to receive the slain body of Abu al-Qian. The Israeli police have refused to release his body unless the family agrees to limiting the attendants at the funeral to 50, holding it at night, and launching it from his mother’s home in Hura village, and not the ruins of his home in Umm al-Hiran, which was demolished following an Israeli demolition campaign in the village in the wake of violent clashes that erupted the day he was killed. The family has refused the preconditions for the funeral, with relative Najeh Abu al-Qi‘an telling Ma‘an on Friday that the Israeli police has attempted to exert pressure on the family to accept the conditions, but the family has continued to refuse.
Relative claims shot terrorist was mentally ill, not dangerous
Ynet 20 Jan by Hassan Shaalan — The shooter, a naturalized 45-year-old Israeli [Nidal Daoud Mahdawi], was born in Tulkarm; a relative says that he would never hurt anyone and wants to know why the IDF shot him, despite the video of the incident — The terrorist who attempted to stab security forces at a checkpoint near Tulkarm on Tuesday was a 45-year-old naturalized Israeli citizen who was mentally ill and without intentions of hurting anyone, claimed a relative. The man, who lived in Jatt, southwest of Umm al-Fahm, was shot dead by IDF soldiers as he ran at them at the 104 Crossing checkpoint with a knife drawn and refused their orders to stop. He was born a Palestinian in Tulkarm and married an Arab Israeli woman 17 years ago who lived nearby in Israel. He thus acquired Israeli citizenship. The two had lived in the region, inside of Israel, ever since. A relative of the man said that they had three daughters and a son. He said that the man suffered from mental health issues. “We were very surprised to hear that he had been shot by soldiers. How do they shoot a man who suffers from a disease? He wasn’t a danger to others. The soldiers should have stopped him without hurting him.” He described his dead relative as “a simple man who didn’t think of hurting others. Even now, we don’t understand what caused the soldiers to shoot him. It’s a very worrying act. You don’t need to treat every man who goes through a checkpoint like a dangerous man.” According to him, the relatives are waiting for the results of the investigation to understand just what took place….
Army injures a child, abducts a man in Kafr Qaddoum
IMEMC 22 Jan — Israeli soldiers attacked, Saturday, the weekly protest against the Annexation Wall and colonies in Kafr Qaddoum town, east of the northern West Bank city of Qalqilia, wounding a child in his arm, and also abducted a man. Medical sources said the child, identified as Awad Mansour, 12, was shot with a rubber-coated steel bullet in his arm, and received the needed medical treatment. The soldiers also abducted Ma‘moun Eshteiwy, 40, after chasing him and many young men in the town, especially between the homes. The Palestinians were protesting the ongoing Israeli violations and colonialist activities, in addition to demanding the army to reopen the town’s main road, which was closed more than 14 years ago to enable easy access to colonists driving to and from Kedumim illegal colony, built on privately owned Palestinian lands. Clashes took place between many youngsters, who hurled stones and empty bottles at the invading army vehicles, and the soldiers who fired live rounds, rubber-coated steel bullets and gas bombs.
Israeli soldiers assault the weekly nonviolent protest in Bil‘in
IMEMC 20 Jan — Israeli soldiers attacked, Friday, the weekly nonviolent protest the Annexation Wall and Colonies, in Bil‘in village, west of the central West Bank city of Ramallah. This week’s protest, attended by Palestinian, Israeli and international peace activists, was held in condemnation of statement by US president-elect Donald Trump regarding moving the embassy from Tel Aviv to occupied Jerusalem. The protesters marched from the center of the village, carrying Palestinian flags and posters denouncing Trump and his dangerous statements, and marched chanting for escalating the struggle against moving the US consulate, and chanting for national unity, steadfastness and ongoing resistance until liberation, independence and the release of all political prisoners. The Popular Committee against the Wall and Colonies in Bil‘in said the soldiers assaulted the nonviolent protesters, just as they reached the western area of the village, and started chasing them after declaring Palestinian lands as a “closed military zone.” .The Committee added that the soldiers fired rubber-coated steel bullets, gas bombs, concussion grenades and sponge-tipped bullets, and detained a local activist, identified as Ahmad Abu Rahma, but released him later.
Israeli forces raid Beit Ummar, deliver summonses to appear for questioning
HEBRON (Ma‘an) 21 Jan — Israeli forces early Saturday raided the Assideh and al-Turbeiqa areas of the town of Beit Ummar in the southern occupied West Bank district of Hebron. Local activist Muhammad Ayyad Awad told Ma‘an that Israeli forces raided and searched several homes in the village before delivering interrogation notices to former Palestinian prisoners Imad Rozy Abdullah, 32, and Ashraf Ali Ikhlawi Sabarneh, 30, to meet with Israeli intelligence. In a separate incident, Israeli forces detained four Palestinians on Friday near the village of Bani Na‘im in Hebron, after allegedly finding a weapon in their possession, Hebrew-language media reported. Israeli forces reportedly pulled over a car near Bani Na‘im and allegedly found a Kalashnikov rifle inside of the vehicle. All four Palestinians were detained by Israeli forces and turned into Israeli intelligence for interrogation. Israeli raids in Palestinian towns, villages, and refugee camps are a daily occurrence in the occupied West Bank, including East Jerusalem.
Dozens of Palestinians confront armed Israeli settlers in Nablus-area village
NABLUS (Ma‘an) 20 Jan — Dozens of Palestinians confronted four armed Israeli settlers in a village in the southern part of Nablus city in the northern occupied West Bank early Friday, allegedly preventing them from assaulting local Palestinian residents. Abed al-Athim al-Wadi, the mayor of the village of Qusra where the incident took place, told Ma‘an that four armed Israeli settlers had “raided” the village, prompting dozens of Palestinians to surround them and prevent them from hurting residents or damaging property. The settlers allegedly threatened to use their weapons on the Palestinians if they came closer or were attacked. Al-Wadi added that Palestinian officials were informed of the incident and said they were making calls to have the settlers removed from the village, as they had received news that Israeli forces were preparing to raid the community. Security sources told Ma‘an that the settlers were later delivered to Israeli authorities, adding that the settlers were from the nearby Yesh Kodesh illegal settlement outpost. Conflicts between the residents of Qusra village and settlers residing illegally in the Yesh Kodesh outpost are frequently reported, with settlers uprooting the village’s olive trees and clashes erupting between the settlers and local Palestinians. Back in 2014, residents of Qusra held at least 18 Israeli settlers “captive” for several hours after clashes broke out following Israeli attempts at uprooting olive trees in the area.
different version of same story:
Palestinians rescue 3 armed IDF soldiers and civilian from Palestinian village
Ynet 29 Jan by Elior Levy & Elisha Ben Kimon — Two Palestinians managed to rescue a group of three IDF soldiers and one Israeli civilian on Friday from possible physical harm. The soldiers were on leave when the group arrived at the Palestinian West Bank village of Qusra. The reason for their being there in the first place is yet unknown. After villagers identified the four men as non-locals, an altercation began between them and the four visitors, during which the soldiers used their rifles to shoot in the air. … The Qusra Regional Council head and a Palestinian who works for a rabbinical human rights organization eventually rescued the four Israelis by driving them out of the area. In the accompanying video, the Israeli men are heard spurring them to go faster and stressing that if it comes to it, “We’ve got our weapons.” The Palestinian rescuers contacted the IDF and Israel Police and transferred the Israelis to their custody. Three years ago, a group of young settlers also entered Qusra, with the suspected intent of committing a hate crime. They were discovered by local Palestinians, who began to surround them until the young settlers ran into a nearby house. They were saved when the village’s council head stood between them and the villagers.
Israeli force detain 5 Palestinians in West Bank, clash with youth in Salfit
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 20 Jan — At least five Palestinians were detained by Israeli forces in the occupied West Bank late Thursday evening and before dawn on Friday, according to Israeli media and army sources. According to Israeli media, a Palestinian “youth” was detained from the town of Tuqu‘ in the Bethlehem district of the southern occupied West Bank, and another Palestinian was detained from a village in the Hebron district. An Israeli army spokesperson confirmed to Ma‘an one detention from Tuqu‘ and one from the Hebron-area village of Wadi Semaan. Israeli media also reported that Israeli forces captured two guns during overnight raids in the Hebron-area town of Surif. An Israeli army spokesperson told Ma‘an they would look into the reports. Separately, Israeli news sites added that three Palestinian youths were detained late Thursday near Deir Qaddis town in western Ramallah after attempting to open a hole in the separation wall in the area. The detainees were transferred to the Israeli intelligence for interrogation. Meanwhile in the northern occupied West Bank, clashes erupted between Palestinian youth and Israeli forces in Salfit after Israeli forces raided the city late Thursday night. Witnesses told Ma‘an that Israeli forces fired stun grenades at Palestinian youths. Locals added that Israeli forces also raided the Salfit-area towns of Bruqin and Kafr al-Dik, though no detentions were reported.
Land, property theft & destruction / Ethnic cleansing / Settlements
After Umm al-Hiran violence, Arab lawmakers push 10-year demolition freeze
Times of Israel 19 Jan — Illegal construction ‘isn’t genetic,’ but caused by a lack of development planning in Arab communities, insists MK Ahmad Tibi — In the wake of Wednesday’s deadly violence in the Bedouin village of Umm al-Hiran, two Arab lawmakers proposed a 10-year freeze on demolition of illegal construction in Arab communities. “It’s not an accident that there are tens of thousands of homes with demolition orders against them” in Arab communities, MK Ahmad Tibi of the Joint List told Israel Radio Thursday morning. “It’s not in their genes. There are no development plans, no zoning plans, no expansion,” he charged … The new bill, introduced by Joint List MKs Tibi and Osama Saadi, would freeze for 10 years all demolition of illegal structures built by a landowner on his own land, “during which time we develop a comprehensive national solution” to zoning and development, Tibi said. The freeze would not apply to the illegal construction in Umm al-Hiran and other unrecognized Bedouin villages, where the land belongs to the state. Arab Israelis are forced to build illegally, Tibi insisted, because Israeli zoning bodies have failed to allocate what Arab communities require to sustain natural growth. “You can’t throw the Arabs into the sea and complain when they get wet,” he quipped. The bill will be considered by the Ministerial Committee for Legislation on Sunday, when ministers will decide whether to grant government support to the bill.
Palestinians in Israel protest against home demolitions in Umm al-Hiran, Qalansawe
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 20 Jan — Dozens of Palestinians protested on Thursday at the entrance of Taybeh City in central Israel against the recent spate of demolitions in the Palestinian villages of Umm al-Hiran and Qalansawe. Locals told Ma‘an that shortly after the protest began Israeli police intervened, and held activist Ayman Hajj Yahiya for interrogation. Protesters waved Palestinian flags and signs condemning the Israeli demolition policies, which resulted in the demolition of 11 homes in Qalansawe for lacking Israel-issued construction permits, and a violent raid in the unrecognized Bedouin village of Umm al-Hiran that left one Palestinian dead, a Palestinian member of the Israeli Knesset injured, and several residents’ homes demolished. The demolitions came after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reportedly instructed officials to work towards issuing demolition orders against Palestinian homes in Israel and occupied East Jerusalem, reacting to an Israel Supreme Court ruling to demolish the illegal Israeli Amona outpost constructed in the occupied West Bank in violation of both Israeli and international law.
Thousands rally in northern Israel in the wake of demolitions in Umm al-Hiran
ARARA (Ma‘an) 21 Jan — Thousands of demonstrators took to the streets Saturday in the town of Arara in northern Israel, in the wake of a demolition campaign in the Bedouin village of Umm al-Hiran on Wednesday, when Israeli police shot local math teacher Yacoub Abu al-Qi‘an to death under widely contested circumstances. Protesters caused traffic jams and briefly blocked Highway 65 in the Wadi Ara region, with Israeli police suppressing the crowds with stun grenades and other protest dispersal means, according to reports. Ayman Odeh, the head of the Joint List coalition that represents parties led by Palestinian citizens of Israel in the Israeli Knesset, told reporters in Arara that the rally was held “to show loyalty to the martyr Abu al-Qi‘an,” and to voice condemnation of racism and the killing of Palestinian citizens … Palestinian Knesset member Ahmad Tibi told reporters during the rally that the thousands of demonstrators were sending a clear message to the Israeli government that Palestinian citizens of Israel “would not yield to the systematic policy of home demolitions and incitement imposed by the Netanyahu government” against them. Ayman Odeh’s spokeswoman Reut Mor confirmed to Ma‘an via telephone that Israeli police were firing stun grenades at crowds in Arara, and said that some unconfirmed reports emerged of sponge-tipped bullets being fired at protesters. While the official demonstration had ended, she said that thousands of demonstrators remained in the area, and that “many people” were on their way to join the crowds as of early Saturday evening….
Photos: Palestinians build village to protest West Bank annexation bill
Activestills 20 Jan Photos by Activestills, text by Yael Marom — Police arrest six Palestinians for building a protest village to demonstrate against a bill that would annex the Ma’ale Adumim settlement bloc to Israel — Fifty Palestinian activists established a protest village Friday morning adjacent to the West Bank settlement bloc, Ma’ale Adumim, to protest a bill that would annex the area to Israel. The activists re-erected the Bab al-Shams protest village, four years after it was first built to protest the planned expansion of settlements that would cut the West Bank into two and deny territorial contiguity to any hypothetical Palestinian state. The protest village was timed to coincide with Sunday’s cabinet meeting, where Israeli leaders are set to discuss a bill that calls to apply Israeli civilian law over Ma’ale Adumim, including the ‘E1’ area, which Palestinians say is crucial for any two-state solution. Shortly after the village was built, Israeli police and Border Police officers were called to the scene to take down the tents. The demonstrators then marched alongside the main road nearby. Six were arrested. “We are standing on Palestinian land, which Israel claims is part of a park that belongs to Ma’ale Adumim,” one activist told +972….
‘New tactics, same policy of forcible displacement’ underway in Umm al-Hiran
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 21 Jan — In the wake of the demolition of dozens of homes belonging to Palestinian citizens of Israel in Umm al-Hiran and Qalansawe over the past two weeks, a Palestinian rights group has argued that the “oppressive measures” were part of the same Israeli policy of forcible displacement also carried out against Palestinians in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem. The Bethlehem-based NGO BADIL said in a report Thursday titled “Umm al-Hiran: new tactics, same policy of forcible displacement,” that the “oppressive measures by the Israeli authorities on both sides of the Green Line represent different manifestations of the same policy.” BADIL explained that Wednesday’s evacuation of a Bedouin community in Umm al-Hiran — which sparked clashes and resulted in the killing of two people — came as the result of a 2015 Israeli Supreme Court decision allowing for Israel to forcibly displace residents who had lived there for decades, in order to establish a new Jewish-Israeli town called “Hiran” on the village’s ruins. The community had already been forcibly transferred by an Israeli military order in 1956 after they were expelled from their original lands during the creation of the state of Israel. The 2015 ruling was based on the fact that since the residents were placed in Umm al-Hiran by Israel, Israeli authorities could then relocate the residents again if they wanted to, according to BADIL. As a result, Israeli authorities demolished eight homes and seven agricultural buildings in Umm al-Hiran on Wednesday….
2700 colonialist units awaiting Trump’s inauguration
IMEMC 20 Jan — Dozens of American flags have been raised, Thursday, at the junctions and roads leading to the Gush Etzion Israeli colony, built on Palestinian land south of the West Bank city of Bethlehem, as the “Settlements Council” is preparing to celebrate Trump’s inauguration and the pending approval of 2700 new colonialist units. The colonist settlers started raising the American flags on electric poles and junctions in preparation for their celebration of U.S. President-elect Donald Trump, which they say is the first step for the approval of thousands of units, in the occupied West Bank. Israeli TV Channel 2 quoted sources at the Etzion Bloc Settlements Council stating that “the eight years of Barak Obama’s presidency were restricting Israel’s plans for settlements’ construction and expansion. “For the past eight years, every time Benjamin Netanyahu said we plan to build; the White House prevented him from doing so,” an official told Channel 2, “Now we have additional 2700 units that we can get approved, and we hope that the new U.S. President will be a great motivator.”….
Bethlehem: Palestinians burn Trump pictures over renewed US support to Israel (Video)
IMEMC/Agencies 21 Jan — A group of Palestinian activists in the occupied West Bank city of Bethlehem burned, on Friday, 20/1/2017, pictures of new US President Donald Trump in his first day of taking office because of his support to Israel, and especially his promises to move the US embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, which has never been attempted by any previous US administration. The activists gathered at the northern entrance of Bethlehem city, near the apartheid wall which surrounds the Christian holy site to show the newly elected president how much the Palestinian people are suffering under Israeli occupation, they said. They hung pictures of Trump and wrote slogans rejecting his promise to move the embassy , saying: ”Move the embassy to own your country, not ours!” Mohammed al-Lahham, member of the Revolutionary Council of Fateh and one of the people who participated in the march, told PNN that this action is to remind Trump that Jerusalem is an occupied city, according to international law, and is a Palestinian/Arabic city — not American — and, without it, there will be no solutions, and his promises will destroy the peace process in the Middle East. Al-Lahham added that this protest carries a letter to Trump that the Palestinian, Arab, and all free peoples of the world will not accept the moving of the US embassy to Jerusalem because it constitutes a clear bias by US administration in its brutal support for Israeli occupation of Palestinian land.
Citing pressure from Trump, Netanyahu tries to torpedo legislation to annex West Bank settlement
Haaretz 22 Jan by Barak Ravid & Jonathan Lis — Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is trying to torpedo a bill to annex the West Bank settlement of Ma’aleh Adumim, slated to come up for a vote Sunday in a ministerial panel. Haaretz has learned that Netanyahu spoke by phone Friday with Education Minister Naftali Bennett (Habayit Hayehudi) and asked him to postpone discussion of the bill in light of messages conveyed by advisers of U.S. President Donald Trump. Netanyahu told Bennett that Trump’s advisers said no unilateral steps should be taken by Israel before the Netanyahu-Trump meeting, scheduled to take place in the first week of February, but rather to coordinate and cooperate. “I’m getting messages from Trump not to jump in head first,” Netanyahu told Bennett. Bennett told Netanyahu that he has been asking for a long time to convene a meeting about the policy Israel intends to take vis-à-vis the Trump administration on the Palestinian issue, but such a meeting has not taken place. In response, Netanyahu told Bennett the matter would be discussed Sunday afternoon in a security cabinet meeting … Senior Likud officials said they believed the bill would not move ahead at this time. However, senior Habayit Hayehudi officials said that if serious reasons are not given to postpone the bill, a vote would take place Sunday evening, as soon as the cabinet meeting ended, or Monday morning….
Russia: Moving US embassy to Jerusalem significant challenge to regional security
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 20 Jan — Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov said on Thursday that US plans to relocate its embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem would “create a significant challenge for security in the region,” according to Russian news agency Sputnik. Sputnik reported that Bogdanov’s statement came following an incident earlier Thursday in which Israeli Ambassador to Russia Gary Koren told Sputnik that Israel would welcome the potential US decision, adding that “Moscow had also grounds for such a move.” Commenting on Koren’s statements, Bogdanov said that “probably he has joked in such a manner.” Meanwhile on Wednesday, during a press conference with his Polish counterpart President Andrzej Duda in the southern occupied West Bank city of Bethlehem, Palestinian Authority (PA) president Mahmoud Abbas called upon US president-elect Donald Trump to “work on achieving peace in the region and expressed willingness to work with him to achieve this goal.”
Israeli far-right’s new target: Arab bus drivers
Al-Monitor 20 Jan by Shlomi Eldar — The extremist right-wing organization Lehava has launched yet another racist hate campaign, this time against drivers from the Egged bus company, which operates in the West Bank settlements of Ma’ale Adumim and Kiryat Arba, among other places. “Putting the Steering Wheel in Mohammad’s Hands Is Not Good,” a flyer distributed by Lehava activists, claims that more than 90% of employees of the Egged Transport Co-Operative are residents of Jabal Mukaber, the East Jerusalem neighborhood of the Palestinian who drove a truck into a group of Israel Defense Forces soldiers in Jerusalem on Jan. 8, killing four of them. The flyer directly addresses Malachi Levinger, head of the Kiryat Arba local council, charging that he is not doing anything to stop the employment of Arab drivers. “Are you willing to take responsibility for a terror attack by the driver? Will our girls be able to make it home safely without being harassed? We don’t want Mohammad putting the moves on the girls of Kiryat Arba.” Lehava was founded by Bentzi Gopstein, a student of the late anti-Arab radical Rabbi Meir Kahane, in 2014 during Israel’s Operation Protective Edge in Gaza. Its declared aim is to fight against what it calls the “assimilation of Jewish women with Arab men.” The group has stepped up its incitement over time. For example, it has called for a boycott of Arab stores and its members have sprayed hateful graffiti on the walls of churches and crashed an art festival in Jerusalem because a Catholic choir was performing….
Bishops visiting Holy Land: Christians must oppose Israeli settlements
CNS 19 Jan — Christians have a responsibility to oppose the construction of Israeli settlements in Palestinian territories, bishops from the US, Canada and Europe have said. “This de facto annexation of land not only undermines the rights of Palestinians in areas such as Hebron and East Jerusalem but, as the UN recently recognised, also imperils the chance of peace,” said bishops who participated in the Holy Land Coordination this week. “So many people in the Holy Land have spent their entire lives under occupation, with its polarising social segregation, yet still profess hope and strive for reconciliation. Now, more than ever, they deserve our solidarity,” said the statement, issued on Thursday at the end of the visit. Bishop Oscar Cantu of Las Cruces, New Mexico, chairman of the US bishops’ Committee on International Justice and Peace, was among the 12 bishops who signed the statement. Bishop Lionel Gendron of Saint-Jean-Longueuil, Quebec, represented Canadian bishops. The statement was signed by representatives of the Council of European Bishops’ Conferences, the Commission of the Bishops’ Conferences of the European Community and the Southern African Catholic Bishops’ Conference, as well as bishops from the United Kingdom and other European countries….
Is Palestinian autonomy plan back on Likud table? / Mazal Mualem
Al-Monitor 20 Jan — The political discourse in Israel’s ruling Likud Party is undergoing a refreshing change. After proposing all kinds of populist laws and issuing all sorts of populist declarations, one Knesset member is trying to get his party to discuss a diplomatic plan designed to serve as an alternative to the vision of the Oslo Accord and the two-state solution. On Jan. 14, Yoav Kisch, a former air force pilot and now a Knesset member for the Likud, presented an “autonomy plan” that he formulated over the past few weeks. Now he is trying to bring it up for discussion in the Likud Party’s governing institutions. Kisch claims that it makes no sense for the largest party on the right to reject the two-state solution without having a comprehensive diplomatic vision for resolving the conflict with the Palestinians along those lines. This, he continues, is especially necessary for “the day after the Obama administration.” According to his plan, those territories in the West Bank in which Palestinians live — some 40% of the total territory — will be declared an autonomous Palestinian entity, to be run by an elected Palestinian council. This council will deal with civil issues such as transportation, law, the economy and water, while security will remain in Israeli hands. Kisch said that this will ensure that no one, whether Palestinian or Jewish, will be uprooted from their homes in the West Bank …
Kisch’s autonomy plan may come complete with detailed maps and sketches, but all in all, it would be a unilateral move that fails to take Palestinian opposition into account….