Violence / Detentions — West Bank / Jerusalem / Israel
Joint funeral held in Hebron for 2 Palestinians after bodies released by Israel
HEBRON (Ma‘an) 7 Jan — Hundreds of Palestinian mourners on Saturday attended a joint funeral for two slain Palestinians from Hebron city, after their bodies were returned by Israeli authorities the previous night. The bodies of 15-year-old Muhammad al-Rajabi and 25-year-old Hatim Shaludi were held for almost four months by the Israeli state. Participants in the funeral procession carried the two from Hebron’s al-Ahli hospital to their family homes for final goodbyes, and proceeded to march in the streets of Hebron’s Old City. Dozens chanted slogans condemning the almost 50-year Israeli military occupation and its ongoing violation of human rights and international law, before they arrived at the Abu Eisha Mosque for funeral prayers. Following funeral prayers, the procession made its way to the “Martyrs cemetery” — cemeteries where Palestinians killed by Israeli forces are buried — in the neighborhood of Wadi al-Hariya, where the two were finally laid to rest.
Muhammad al-Rajabi,15, was shot to death by Israeli soldiers on Sept. 16 after he stabbed and lightly injured an Israeli soldier near the Tel Rumeida area of Hebron’s Old City. Hatim Shaludi, 25, was also shot dead in the Tel Rumeida area on Sept. 17 after an alleged attempted stabbing attack, less than 24 hours after the killing of al-Rajabi.
A member of the Palestinian national campaign to restore the bodies of martyrs, Amin al-Bayid, said during the funeral that Israel has continued to hold the bodies of at least seven Palestinians who had been shot dead by Israeli forces since a wave of violence first erupted across the occupied Palestinian territory and Israel in October 2015. He identified the seven slain Palestinians still being held by the Israeli state as the following: Majd al-Khadour, 18, from the village of Bani Naim in Hebron, was shot to death by Israeli forces on June 24 after allegedly carrying out a car-ramming attack that lightly injured two Israelis. Muhammad Salam (whose identity has also been reported as Muhammad Nabil Zeidan), 15, from the Shu‘fat refugee camp in the Jerusalem district of the West Bank, was killed by an Israeli security guard on Nov. 25 near the camp after allegedly attempting to carry out a stabbing attack on a group of Israeli security officers (Continued)
Israeli settler runs over, seriously injures Palestinian man south of Nablus
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 6 Jan — A 40 year-old Palestinian man was seriously injured after he was run over by an Israeli settler car south of Nablus city in the northern occupied West Bank on Friday, according to Israeli police and Hebrew-language media. Hebrew news websites reported that an Israeli settler ran over the Palestinian while he was walking on the side of the road, causing serious injuries to him. An Israeli ambulance reportedly transferred the Palestinian to Rabin Medical Center in the Israeli city of Petah Tikva. The identity of the Palestinian man and of the settler who attacked him remained unknown. Israeli Police Spokeswoman Luba al-Samri confirmed the incident in a statement, saying a “Palestinian was run over Friday by an Israeli vehicle near Ariel settlement, causing the Palestinians to be seriously injured.” Al-Samari added that Israeli police opened investigation to uncover the circumstances of the incident, which she referred to as an “accident.”
Israeli police shoot Palestinian teen, then arrest him after his father files complaint
Haaretz 5 Jan by Gideon Levy — A teenager and his mother are walking, happy and carefree, along the street, together with the boy’s aunt, on the way to buy him a present – a pair of new shoes – as a reward for his excellent report card. As they proceed up an alley, a group of children running for their lives hurtle toward them. Before they can figure out what’s going on, they hear a shot and the boy falls to the ground in the horrified presence of his mother. He screams in agony, as blood streams from one eye. Ahmed Mahmoud, a 15-year-old in the 10th grade, a top student well groomed with stylishly cut hair, is on the verge of losing consciousness. He thought he’d lost his sight and was coughing up blood, he recalls now, weeks later. His mother, Esrar, was panic-stricken. The incident happened on December 5, at about 3:30 P.M., on a street close to their home in the village of ‘Isawiyah, within the municipal boundaries of Jerusalem. Ahmed’s aunt rushed into a nearby house to summon a relative, who took the teen to Makassed Hospital, also in the eastern part of the city … But after finding that Makassed wasn’t able to treat him, his parents brought him to Hadassah University Hospital, in Jerusalem’s Ein Karem neighborhood. The Mahmouds are a modern, affable family. The two parents are 42. Their firstborn child, a daughter, is studying education at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem … The physicians at Hadassah found that the retina of Ahmed’s right eye had apparently suffered irreparable damage; the left one was not injured. … In addition to the bleeding retina, the medical staff found a fracture in the eye socket. Ahmed’s mother estimates that her son was shot from a range of about 20 meters. People in the village told them that the Border Policeman who shot Ahmed was hidden behind a wall and was probably a sniper. There have been many recent cases of stone-throwing at policemen, who for some reason often come to ‘Isawiyah at the end of the school day. In the past few months, some eight local children and teens have been hit in the eye with rubber-coated bullets, arousing suspicions in the village that this is the work of snipers aiming at the eyes. The full extent of the permanent damage to Ahmed’s vision is not yet known; at present, he can barely see with his right eye.
On December 18, a week after his release, Ahmed’s father filed a complaint with the Justice Ministry’s unit for the investigation of police officers …. And then on December 26, at 4:30 A.M., police officers knocked on the door of the family’s house. When Ahmed’s father opened the door, he was confronted by four policemen in civilian attire, backed by six or seven Border Policemen, masked and with weapons at the ready … Ahmed relates that he was beaten during his interrogation: He was made to lie on the floor and was kicked for about 10 minutes, to force him to admit to throwing stones. He also says that the interrogators cursed his mother and threatened to arrest her if he didn’t confess. They also threatened to bring in his school principal unless he confessed. He was given a Hebrew-language form to sign but he refused to so, he says. The interrogators told him they had a photograph of him throwing stones; he asked to see it, but it was not shown to him. Mohammed is convinced the arrest happened only because he had lodged a complaint with the unit that investigates police officers…. [long article (this is only a sampling), well worth reading if the reader can access it]
Soldiers use force on nonviolent protest against illegal West Bank outposts
+972 mag 5 Jan by Haggai Matar — Palestinian and Israeli activists protesting against settler outposts in the Jordan Valley are met with a forceful response from IDF soldiers — Dozens of Palestinian and Israeli activists gathered in the Jordan Valley, West Bank, on Thursday morning in order to protest the establishment of new illegal outposts in the area. The demonstrators, from joint Arab Jewish activist group Ta‘ayush, were forcefully dispersed by Israeli soldiers, who fired tear gas at them. The outposts remained where they were. The activists began by demonstrating next to an outpost that had been set up several weeks ago, near Mehola Junction in the northern Jordan Valley. The residents were hosting Israeli soldiers, serving them tea. The army and the Civil Administration — Israel’s military government in the West Bank — have taken no action to demolish the outpost, despite the structures being illegal. The activists continued their demonstration at another new outpost, which settlers had established in the last few days next to an army base. The protesters, who were waving flags and chanting slogans against the waves of demolitions in the Jordan Valley over the last year, were met by soldiers, who shot tear gas and arrested one demonstrator. The soldiers made no attempt to dismantle the illegal outpost. Palestinian activists tried, two months ago, to set up a protest camp in the same area. Their aim was to demonstrate against the so-called “formalization law” — which would retroactively legalize all illegal outposts in the West Bank — and against settler outposts in the Jordan Valley, as well as against home demolitions. This non-violent protest was also quickly dispersed by the army, and the Palestinian illegal outpost demolished….
different version of same event
Israeli forces suppress protest against settlement expansion in Jordan Valley
TUBAS (Ma‘an) 5 Jan — Israeli forces violently suppressed a protest against Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank district of Tubas on Thursday, as three demonstrators suffered from tear gas inhalation. Ahmad Said, the deputy governor of Tubas, told Ma‘an that tens of protesters had installed a tent in an area of the northern Jordan Valley to protest against Israel’s expanding illegal settlements. However, Israeli forces suppressed the protest on Thursday, firing tear gas canisters at the demonstrators and causing three to suffer tear gas inhalation. Said added that Israeli forces had also assaulted a crew of Palestinian journalists, causing injuries among them. He did not specify what kind of injuries were sustained during the incident.
Israeli forces crack down on protesters against new settlement road in West Bank
QALQILYA (WAFA) 7 Jan – Israeli forces Saturday cracked down on Palestinians protesting the opening of a road for settlements that will take away a large chunk of their land, according to witnesses. Israel is planning to open a bypass road for Jewish settlers that will take away dozens of dunums of their land in Azzoun, Nabi Elias and Izbat al-Tabib, east of Qalqilya. The Israeli army closed the main access road to Qalqilya on Saturday morning to prevent participants in the protest from reaching the villages. However, the protest did take place and Israeli forces used tear gas and rubber-coated metal bullets to disperse the participants, arresting one person, said witnesses. The Israeli High Court had rejected on November 16 an appeal by the Palestinian residents of the three villages against military expropriation of their agricultural land for the settlements’ road. The Israeli military commander in the area had issued an order on December 15, 2015 allowing the army to seize 104 dunums (25 acres) of land for the bypass road.
Peaceful protest met with violence from Israeli army in Kafr Qaddoum
IMEMC 7 Jan — A protest in Kafr Qaddoum village in the northern part of the West Bank on Friday was met with Israeli military violence, including tear gas, rubber-coated steel bullets and sound bombs. The protesters, which included local Palestinians as well as Israeli and international supporters, held a march and rally to oppose the Israeli military takeover of large parts of their town over the past 14 years for the construction of illegal colonial Jewish-only settlements. As the march began, Israeli soldiers stormed the village in armored jeeps and vehicles, assaulting the protesters with tear gas and other semi-lethal weapons. The Palestinian news agency Ma‘an reported that Murad Shteiwi, one of the protest organizers, told their reporter that the soldiers also raided the home of Helmi Shteiwi during their invasion of the village. The soldiers ransacked the home, destroying property, but they did not find anything and did not abduct anyone. A day before the weekly protest was scheduled to take place, Israeli soldiers invaded the village before dawn and raided Hikmat Shteiwi’s home. According to Muraq Shteiwi, the soldiers locked the man’s wife in one room and then interrogated the two children, aged 12 and 13, in another room without the presence of their parents. The attacks on Kafr Qaddoum, and particularly the crackdown on the Shteiwi family, has come in the wake of a video that was released publicly last month showing Israeli soldiers using a seven-year old village child as a human shield..
Israeli forces detain 14-year-old Palestinian following clashes in Beit Ummar
HEBRON (Ma‘an) 5 Jan — Several Palestinians suffered from tear gas inhalation as Israeli forces raided the village of Beit Ummar in the southern occupied West Bank district of Hebron on Thursday around noon. Local activist Muhammad Ayyad Awwad told Ma‘an that Israeli forces raided the al-Dhuhr area in southern Beit Ummar, opposite to the illegal Israeli settlement of Karmei Tzur, and fired tear gas at civilians, causing clashes to erupt with local Palestinian youths. Awwad added that Israeli forces retreated to Karmei Tzur, while other Israeli forces stationed at the northern entrance of Beit Ummar stopped and searched Palestinian vehicles passing through. According to Awwad, Israeli forces stopped 14-year-old Amin Imad Muhammad al-Sleibi at the entrance of Beit Ummar and detained him, taking him in a military vehicle to an unknown location.
Israeli settlers raid Palestinian village to pray at holy site, spark clashes
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 5 Jan– Israeli settlers Wednesday night entered into the Palestinian village of Kifl Haris in the northern occupied West Bank district of Salfit, sparking clashes with locals youth, according to Hebrew media. Reports said that the settlers entered the village in their private cars, and went to pray at a Jewish holy site in the area. The settler presence in the village sparked clashes with local youths, prompting Israeli army forces to raid the village. Hebrew media reported that Israeli forces detained the settlers and took them for interrogation over “violating Israeli military orders that bans Israelis from entering Palestinian districts.” An Israeli army spokesperson confirmed the incident to Ma’an, saying that overnight “several Israeli worshipers illegally entered Kifl Haris southwest of Nablus in order to visit the tomb of Joshua.” “During the visit, suspects threw rocks at the worshipers. Israeli army forces arrived at the tomb and escorted the worshipers safely out of the village and then took them to Israeli police for questioning,” the spokesperson concluded.
Three nights after the Wednesday visit:
Israeli forces escort Israeli settlers to visit shrine in Palestinian village
SALFIT (Ma‘an) 8 Jan — Israeli forces raided the town of Kifl Haris in the Salfit district of the central occupied West Bank overnight Saturday to provide protection for Israeli settlers visiting a site believed to be a Jewish shrine. Eyewitness Yousif Yaqoub told Ma‘an that he counted about 30 Israeli military vehicles storming the center of the town to escort the settlers, with Israeli soldiers firing stun grenades. Israeli forces then set up military checkpoints at the entrances to Kifl Haris and imposed curfew, according to Yaqoub. An Israeli army spokesperson told Ma‘an that overnight, “Israeli forces escorted Jewish pilgrims to the tomb of Joshua,” saying that the visit took place “without incident.” … A number of tombs exist in Kifl Haris, which Palestinians in the area believe to be the graves of Muslim prophet Dhul-Kifl, the Sufi saint Dhul-Nun, and another shrine built by 12-century Sultan Saladin. However, some Jews believe the tombs belong to the biblical figures Joshua, Caleb, and Nun … Settlers who visit the tombs to pray often actively disrupt Palestinian residents and damage property.
Israeli stabs, injures Bedouin Palestinian in Ashdod
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 5 Jan — An ultra-Orthodox Jewish Israeli stabbed and injured a Bedouin Palestinian [in his 40s] in the Israeli city of Ashdod on Thursday morning, Israeli police reported. According to Israeli police spokeswoman Luba al-Samri, the Bedouin Palestinian was lightly to moderately injured and taken to a hospital for treatment. The suspect fled the scene, al-Samri added. Israeli news outlet Ynet reported that the Bedouin man said he was assaulted after the ultra-Orthodox Israeli heard him speaking in Arabic. However, al-Samri said that Israeli police believed for the time being that the incident was likely criminal and not “nationalistically” motivated.
Bedouin man arrested after snatching weapon from security guard in Be’er Sheva
Ymet 5 Jan by Ilana Curiel — A Bedouin man in his 20s [Ma‘an: from Hura (in the Negev)] was arrested on Thursday after snatching a weapon from a security guard at a tour company in Be’er Sheva in what is suspected to be a nationalistically motivated incident. The guard went outside to check the mailbox when the suspect jumped him from behind, snatched his weapon and wounded him. He then fled the scene. The guard was taken to the Soroka Medical Center in Be’er Sheva where he received medical treatment and is expected to be discharged later in the day. Police closed off the city from all directions in search of the suspect. He was caught half an hour later when detectives in civilian clothes noticed a young man walking fast at the ONE shopping center in the city. When they asked him to stop, he tried to escape them, but they caught him after a short chase. The gun, smeared with blood, was found hidden on his person. The suspect was taken in questioning….
Harassment and attacks against activist who filmed Hebron shooting continues
HEBRON (Ma‘an) 7 Jan — Israeli settlers attempted to break into the Hebron home of activist Imad Abu Shamsiyya and threw stones at the house Saturday evening, as he has continued to be the target of death threats and harassment after he filmed an Israeli soldier shoot a Palestinian to death last year. In a rare move, the soldier was convicted of manslaughter earlier this week, in large part due to the damning footage captured by Abu Shamsiyya, amid a backdrop of what critics have called a culture of impunity for Israeli soldiers who are not held accountable for similar cases of apparent “extrajudicial executions” of Palestinians.
On Wednesday, the day of conviction, Abu Shamsiyya said he “feared for his life.” Since his footage went viral the day of the shooting back in March 2015, Abu Shamsiyya has been the target of violent settler incursions on his home and has received hundreds of death threats online. Leading up to the announcement of the verdict, Abu Shamsiyya said that members of Elor Azarya’s family — the soldier who was ultimately convicted for the shooting — broke into his home and “asked me to go to court and change my testimony.” He said he had video footage proving the incursion took place.
Israel settlers returned to his home Saturday evening, he told Ma‘an, and attempted to break into his home. Abu Shamsiya told Ma‘an that settlers gathered around his house, and when they failed to break in, they hurled stones, causing minor damages. He highlighted that large numbers of Israeli forces were present when the settlers attacked the house and soldiers intervened and drove away the attackers. Abu Shamsiyya added that in March he had asked the Israeli army to provide him protection from settlers, as death threats began pouring in on Facebook while others attempted to bribe him to change his witness testimony. An Israeli army spokesperson told Ma‘an they were looking into the reports of Saturday night’s attack.
Israeli forces detain 9 Palestinians, interrogate children in West Bank raids
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 5 Jan — Israeli forces detained at least nine Palestinians across the occupied West Bank during overnight raids carried out between Wednesday and Thursday, and interrogated several Palestinian children, according to Palestinian and Israeli sources. In the West Bank district of Bethlehem, 22-year-old Muhammad Saleh was detained, according to the Palestinian Prisoner’s Society (PPS). The exact location of the detention was not reported by PPS. However, locals told Ma‘an that Israeli forces raided the village of Wadi Rahhal south of Bethlehem for the second consecutive night, stating that tens of Israeli soldiers raided the small village and searched several homes in the area. Locals added that during the house raids, Israeli forces demanded that a father bring together all of his children and proceeded to take pictures of them. His adult children were forced to put their ID cards on their chest as Israeli soldiers took pictures of each of them. Locals also noted that Israeli soldiers conducted similar procedures while raiding homes in the village on Tuesday night. The village has been raided by Israeli forces routinely for the past two weeks as Israeli authorities have continued a manhunt in search for a Palestinian suspected of carrying out a stabbing attack in the nearby illegal settlement of Efrat. …
In the northern West Bank, Israeli forces detained Usama Abd al-Rizq Amr from the village of Kafr Qaddum in the Qalqiliya district, according to PPS, during a violent raid on the community. The village’s popular resistance coordinator Murad Shteiwi told Ma‘an that Israeli forces raided the village and searched several homes. When Israeli forces raided the home of Hikmat Shteiwi, Israeli forces locked his wife in one of the rooms and proceeded to interrogate their sons Tariq, 13, and Malik, 12, for allegedly participating in one of the village’s weekly marches last Friday, Murad Shteiwi said. Israeli forces also threatened to detain and shoot the two children if they were to be seen at the marches again, Murad Shteiwi told Ma‘an. Israeli forces also raided the home of Imad Shteiwi and interrogated his 15-year-old son Qusay, and carried out additional home raids on the houses of Yousif Shteiwi, 25, and Aws Amr, 27, and reportedly assaulted them. Murad Shteiwi added that Israeli forces fired sound bombs at the houses’ front yards, causing panic among the children in the homes.
Army abducts six Palestinians in the West Bank, 100 in five days
IMEMC 5 Jan — The Palestinian Prisoners’ Society (PPS) has reported that Israeli soldiers abducted, on Thursday at dawn, six Palestinians, including two former political prisoners, in different parts of the occupied West Bank. The PPS said the soldiers have abducted at least 100 Palestinians in the first five days of this year. The PPS said many army vehicles invaded Tubas district, before storming and searching many homes, and abducted three Palestinians, including two former political prisoners. It identified the abducted Palestinians as former political prisoner Mos’ab Siyaj and Bilal Sawafta, in addition to Rami Sharayda. In the Hebron district, in the southern part of the West Bank, the soldiers also invaded and searched homes, and abducted two Palestinians; one of them identified as Nahed Anati, while the second, who remained unidentified until the time of this report, was taken prisoner from his home in Doura city. The PPS office in Qalqilia, in the northern part of the West Bank, said the soldiers also searched homes and abducted Osama Abdul-Razeq Amer, from Kufur Qaddoum town. In Bethlehem, the soldiers searched several homes and abducted a young man, identified as Aref Mohammad Saleh, 22.
The PPS stated that the soldiers have abducted at least 100 Palestinians, including three women and eighteen children, in different parts of the West Bank, in the first five days of this year.
2016 ‘deadliest year’ for West Bank children in decade
Al Jazeera 5 Jan by Zena Tahhan — Israeli forces have killed more Palestinian children in the occupied West Bank, including East Jerusalem, in 2016 than any other year in the last decade, rights group Defence for Children International (DCI) has said. The organisation’s chapter in the occupied Palestinian territories recorded the killings of 32 Palestinian children (under 18), making 2016 “the deadliest year of the past decade” for them, the group said in a recent report.
Many of those killings happened during Israeli military raids on Palestinian towns in the occupied West Bank, confrontations with the Israeli army or during unarmed protests. “Israeli soldiers employ a shoot-to-kill policy. They have the green light to kill Palestinians, and the fact that they can do so with impunity and no consequences builds the foundation for such shootings to take place,” Ayed Abu Eqtaish, Accountability Programme Director at DCI-Palestine, told Al Jazeera … Out of the 32, 19 were between the ages of 16 and 17, while 13 were in the age group of 13 to 15 years old, according to DCI-Palestine. In 2015, the total number of civilians under the age of 18 killed in the occupied West Bank, including East Jerusalem, stood at 28. In 2014, 13 Palestinian children were killed, while four were killed in 2013.
Prisoners / Court actions
Following 8 months house arrest, Palestinian woman sentenced to prison for ‘incitement’
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 6 Jan — After eight months under house arrest, 48 year-old Sahar al-Natsheh is getting ready to spend three months in Israeli prison. Al-Natsheh was detained on March 21, 2016 near the Bab al-Hutta Gate (Gate of Remission) of the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound in occupied East Jerusalem’s Old City. Al-Natsheh told Ma‘an that Israeli authorities accused her of incitement through social media for posting pictures of slain Palestinians, writing “inciting captions,” and posting the will of slain Palestinian attacker Bahaa Elayyan. Following her detention, al-Natsheh said she was held in solitary confinement for 11 days in Israel’s Ramla prison and the Russian Compound detention center. “I went through very tough circumstances, I didn’t drink water for two days, the mattress was in a very bad condition where it was wet and rotten, and the bathroom inside the cell was very dirty,” al-Natsheh told Ma‘an, describing her time in solitary confinement. Once released from solitary, she was ordered to eight months under house arrest. “During my detention, Israeli forces raided my house, interrogated other women I knew, confiscated phones and devices from my home and checked the contents of everything that was confiscated,” she said. Al-Natsheh noted that during interrogation, Israeli inspectors focused on old photos posted on her Facebook account of Palestinians throwing rocks at Israeli forces, and car-ramming attacks committed by Palestinians against Israeli forces. Al-Natsheh, however, maintained to Ma’an that her Facebook account was hacked, and it was not her who posted the pictures. She added that Israeli authorities banned her from using social media, using smart phones and communicating with press while in house-detention, and that she couldn’t escort her husband to the hospital when he was sick, and couldn’t attend her son’s graduation ceremony. Despite the incitement charges against her, al-Natsheh explained that she was put on the Israeli blacklist for people not allowed to enter the Al-Aqsa Mosque in late 2015, and that she believed the primary reason for her sentencing was for her violation of the order against her….
Israeli Arab lawmaker to be indicted in phone smuggling case
AFP 5 Jan — Israel’s attorney general has given his approval for an indictment against an Arab Israeli lawmaker accused of smuggling mobile phones to Palestinian prisoners, the justice ministry said Thursday. Basel Ghattas of the Joint List, a coalition of Arab Israeli parties, was detained last month and has been under house arrest since December 27 until a court released him from house arrest later Thursday. He is to be charged with the use of property for terrorist purposes and breach of public trust, among other accusations, the ministry said in a statement. Israeli media have reported that 12 mobile phones were found on two separate prisoners in searches after the 60-year-old parliament member visited. One of the prisoners [Basel Bizra] is serving time for the kidnapping and murder of an Israeli soldier in 1984, news site Ynet reported [and included a security video of Ghattas transferring something to Bizra]. Ghattas is suspected of using his parliamentary immunity to avoid being searched in order to smuggle in the phones. In a recorded message to Channel 10 television, Ghattas accused the police of attempting to contaminate the legal process by leaking to the media details of the investigation. Ghattas reiterated he had not handed telephones or any other form of communication. “Everything I gave was printed material, for humanitarian reasons,” he said on Thursday….
Israeli police question imprisoned Islamic Movement leader over incitement
BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) 4 Jan– Israeli police summoned Sheikh Raed Salah, the leader of the northern branch of the outlawed Islamic Movement in Israel, for interrogation on Wednesday over alleged inciting statements, Israeli police said in a statement. Israeli police spokeswoman Luba al-Samri said the interrogation of Salah, who has been imprisoned since May, was carried out with the approval of an Israeli prosecutor. She added that Israeli police had previously interrogated Salah on Dec. 21 over alleged incitement and posting on social media about the continued existence of the Islamic Movement’s northern branch, whose activities were banned by Israel in 2015. Salah was detained in May and sentenced to nine months in prison for “inciting violence and terrorism.” Shortly afterwards, Salah was placed in solitary confinement, as the Israel Prison Service (IPS) reportedly claimed that the religious leader was “a threat to other prisoners due to his influential personality.” An appeal to end Salah’s isolation was rejected by an Israeli court in November….
Land, property theft & destruction / Ethnic cleansing / Settlements
WATCH: Palestinian women prevent West Bank home demolition
+972 mag 6 Jan by Natasha Roth — Israeli forces who turned up to demolish a home in the West Bank village of Budrus were met with an unexpected obstacle: dozens of Palestinian women protecting the house with their bodies — The women of Budrus, a Palestinian village in the West Bank, sent a powerful message on Wednesday when they physically blocked Israeli forces from carrying out a home demolition. Video of the incident, shot by photojournalist Issam Rimawi, shows dozens of Palestinian women standing on the porch and roof of the home, as Israeli army jeeps and Border Police officers idle out front. To the side stands a group of men from the village, observing the proceedings. The women of Budrus are not new to such exploits. In 2011, the village’s struggle to resist the occupation won international attention following the release of a documentary, “Budrus,” which covered local activists’ and organizers’ attempts to reroute the planned path of the Israeli separation barrier. The fight to stop the fence from cutting the village off from huge swaths of its land, while destroying thousands of its olive trees, turned a corner after Budrus’ women became actively involved. Images of women physically confronting Israeli bulldozers and jeeps are some of the most inspiring in the film. In a rare victory for anti-occupation activism, the path of the barrier was rerouted — leaving the village with 95 percent of its land….
First week of 2017: Israel demolishes houses of 151 Palestinians, almost four times last year’s average
Haaretz 7 Jan by Amira Hass — The IDF’s Civil Administration is carrying out Netanyahu’s vow to demolish the homes of Arabs with a vengeance — Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s promise to settlers from the unauthorized outpost of Amona to enforce the law “equally” by demolishing the homes of Arabs is being strictly fulfilled. The number of Palestinian buildings demolished in the first week of January 2017 is almost four times as high as the weekly average for 2016: 20 structures. In 2015, the average was 10 structures a week, according to the records of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA). In Area C, which is under full Israeli civil and security control, between Monday and Thursday the Israel Defense Forces’ Civil Administration demolished 65 structures in Palestinian communities, and seven rainwater cisterns. The Jerusalem Municipality demolished another two homes in East Jerusalem. Some 151 people, including 90 children, lived in the buildings that were demolished. On Monday, the day on which the Knesset Constitution, Law and Justice Committee discussed a proposal to annex the city of Ma’aleh Adumim (east of Jerusalem) to Israel, the Civil Administration and IDF forces demolished 12 tin and wood shacks – including eight used for living purposes – in two Bedouin communities from the Jahalin tribe south of the settlement; three shacks in Bir al-Maskub; and nine in Wadi Sneysel. In total, 84 people, 68 of whom are children, lost the roofs over their heads within just a few hours. …
In mid-December, the Civil Administration told Haaretz that it was holding 11 agricultural machines, mostly tractors, that were confiscated from Palestinian farmers after the IDF turned their lands in the northern Jordan Valley into a firing zone. The Palestinians must pay the Civil Administration a ransom of a few thousand shekels to release each tractor, and make a commitment not to commit the “offense” a second time. In 2016, only two tractors were released after payment was made. In addition to their agricultural uses, the tractors also aid in transporting water to the residents and their livestock, from the springs that are located a few kilometers away from the sheds. Israel does not allow the Palestinian communities in areas under its control to connect to the water infrastructure.…
After demolishing a family’s building, the Israeli municipality decided to demolish a residential facility that belongs to Ja‘afra family in Silwan
Silwanic 5 Jan — Israeli municipality issued a decision to demolish the house of Issa Ja‘afra in the “Bridge” district in Silwan village, under the pretext of building without a permit. After the occupation bulldozers demolished the family’s building on the land under the pretext of building without a permit, the citizen Issa Ja‘afra built a home from “wood, tin, iron sheets, and gypsum” at the beginning of last October. He says that now the Israelis are after him for his “little modest” house. Ja‘afra added: “They demolished our family’s building that consisted of four residential apartments on 10/26/2015, and its members became homeless. I began building near the rubble of our demolished building on our family’s land, and during that, municipal crews raided the area and handed me a “demolition warning”. When I finished building and moved in with my family of eight members (six children ranging in age from 17 years to 7 months), the municipality issued a decision of an “administrative demolition.” Ja‘afra added that the municipality held three courts to postpone the decision to demolish his home, but insists on the decision, rejecting to impose him with a building violation fee in exchange for postponing the demolition for a long time. Pointing out that the municipal crews asked him to demolish his home himself for not paying the charges for the demolition crews, which could reach 40 thousand Shekels. Ja‘afra’s response to that is: “I will not tear down my house by myself; I cannot even think about it, it does not make sense to tear down my house, which I built with my own hands.” Ja’afra explained that the municipality has been chasing the family in their homes. The building that was demolished last October was about 17 years old; the family managed to postpone the demolition decision several times, trying to certify it, until the final decision to demolish the house was issued and implemented which has caused the displacement of 30 people.
Jerusalem governor: A third of Arab homes in East Jerusalem threatened with demolition
RAMALLAH (WAFA) 5 Jan — One third of the Palestinian homes in occupied East Jerusalem are threatened with demolition by the Israeli municipality under the pretext they were built without a permit, Jerusalem governor, Adnan Husseini, told Voice of Palestine radio on Thursday. He said most of the targeted homes are located in areas around the Old City, such as Silwan, he said. Husseini said Palestinians build without permits not because they want to, but because the Israeli municipality does not grant them permits to build, in order to lower the number of Palestinians in the city vis-à-vis Jewish settlers. In contrast, Israel had built since its occupation of the city in 1967 thousands of homes for Jewish settlers in and around East Jerusalem and mainly on land seized from the Palestinians or should have been utilized for Palestinian growth and expansion. The United Nations Security Council adopted last month a resolution condemning Israeli settlement construction in the occupied Palestinian land, including in East Jerusalem, and described them as illegitimate and illegal under international law. Husseini, who is also Minister of Jerusalem Affairs in the Palestinian government, called on the international community to intervene to prevent Israel from carrying out its threat, which could displace and uproot thousands of Palestinian civilians living in those areas in order to replace them with Jewish settlers.
Settlers seize building in Jerusalem’s Silwan neighborhood
JERUSALEM (WAFA) 8 Jan – A group of Israeli settlers seized on Sunday a Palestinian-owned building in the Jerusalem neighborhood of Silwan, south of al-Aqsa Mosque compound, according to local sources. The settlers, who belong to Elad, an extremist settler organization, were accompanied by police forces to seize the building that belongs to Hani Sarhan, a Palestinian from East Jerusalem who was in Jordan when his house was seized. To be noted, settler organizations have recently been able to seize many buildings and homes in Silwan area and turn them into settlements outposts. Israeli authorities have also in recent years demolished some 88 houses in Silwan for the benefit of settlement expansion activities.
IOA threatens demolition of Palestinian home in al-Khalil
AL-KHALIL/HEBRON (PIC) 6 Jan — The Israeli occupation authorities (IOA) at noontime Thursday threatened to knock down a Palestinian home in al-Khalil’s western town of Tarqoumia, in the southern West Bank. Palestinian citizen Alaa Kaakour said the IOA handed him a notification to demolish his 220-square-meter home, shortly after he finished the exhausting construction works. The notification was issued under the pretext that the home is illegally built in the Israeli-run Area C.
Farmers ordered to stop work on access road to their land
HEBRON (WAFA) 5 Jan – Israeli forces Thursday ordered farmers to stop work on a road in the village of al-Burj in the south of Hebron in the occupied West Bank that would facilitate access to their land, according to local sources. The soldiers told the farmers that the access road was close to the barrier built on Palestinian land that is supposed to separates the West Bank from Israel and ordered them not to continue building it.
New Israeli bypass roads to increase colonist population in the West Bank
RAMALLAH (Gulf News) 6 Jan by Nasouh Nazzal — Israeli official says new road will present an opportunity for regime to annex West Bank — The Israeli Defense Ministry has announced that construction of a bypass-roads system in the West Bank will commence next week. The emergence of the Israeli roads plan as an immediate threat angered the Palestinian leadership who branded the plan as a threat to Palestinians. The Palestinian National Office for the Defence of the Land and Resist Settlement has warned about the new Israeli bypass-roads system which connects West Bank Jews-only colonies to each other and also connects the main roads in the West Bank to roads in Israel without having to pass through territory inhabited by Palestinians. The Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) office said in a statement that the Israeli plan worth several billions of Shekels is meant to achieve further growth of the colonist population in the West Bank each day. The office stressed that Israel’s colony construction in the occupied territories usually increases following the building up of new bypass roads, which are seen as a precursor to Israeli expansion in the West Bank … Ben-Dahan said that the first of the major bypass roads will connect the Israeli city of Kfar Saba to the Palestinian city of Nablus by bypassing the Palestinian village of Nabi Elyas, enabling the colonists who live in colonies and outposts around Nablus to reach areas inside the Green Line. Another road would run from Nablus to Za‘atarah Junction (Tapuah Junction) and bypass the Palestinian village of Huwarah. The work on this road is set to be finalised this coming March. Ben-Dahan said that another example of the Israeli bypass roads is the road that would connect the Gush Etzion Junction to the Palestinian city of Hebron by bypassing the Palestinian refugee camp of Al ‘Aroub and the town of Beit Ummar in addition to several other bypass roads….
As search for missing fisherman in Gaza continues, family announces his death
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 7 Jan — The family of Palestinian fisherman Muhammad al-Hissi, who went missing Wednesday after an encounter with Israeli forces, announced his death on Friday. However his body has yet to be recovered. Locals told Ma‘an at the time of the incident that Israeli forces purposely attacked and sank al-Hassi’s boat. Palestinian authorities, reportedly with the help of Israeli authorities, launched a search for the 33-year-old’s body that was still ongoing as of Thursday. The family said in a statement that “after consultations and after listening to witnesses who watched what had happened, we have decided to announce the death of Muhammad and declare him a Martyr for God’s reward,” using a common term used for any Palestinian killed by Israeli forces. The family added that Israel was fully responsible for the death, since Israeli forces had “deliberately sunk his boat.” The statement also urged the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and other international human rights groups to put pressure on Israel to find and return al-Hassi’s body and to stop the routine attacks on Gaza fishermen. An absentee funeral prayer will be performed for the missing fisherman on Saturday, according to the family, after midday prayers at the Gaza port mosque. A symbolic funeral will also be organized from the mosque to the family’s shared meeting hall in the al-Shati refugee camp. Meanwhile, the Hamas movement released a statement on Thursday, condemning the “direct assault” on al-Hissi’s boat, calling it an “organized and hideous crime.” The Islamic Jihad movement also released a statement Thursday, calling the incident a “terrorist assault,” and added that the missing fisherman represents a new violation to the declared ceasefire in 2014.
Mainstream media version:
Gaza fisherman who collided with Israeli ship declared dead
GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip (AP) 7 Jan — After 3 days of searches, Palestinians say Muhammad al-Hissi likely perished after accident off the Strip’s coast — The family of a Palestinian fisherman who disappeared after colliding with an Israeli navy ship off the Gaza coast has declared him dead. Hundreds held a symbolic funeral Saturday for 33-year-old Muhammad al-Hissi at a Gaza fishing harbor after three days of searches failed to locate a body. His uncle, Nidal al-Hissi, said a navy vessel hit al-Hissi’s boat, splitting it in half and turning him upside down. Israel typically allows Gaza’s fishermen to sail across six nautical miles and sometimes extends the zone to nine. The Israeli military said it was escorting a separate vessel that had deviated from the zone when it accidentally collided with the fisherman on a stormy day. It said forces helped search the area for the missing fisherman and were further investigating the incident.
After attack on fishing boat, Gaza fishermen strike for two days
GAZA (PIC) 6 Jan — Chief of the Gaza fishermen Nizar Ayyash announced that all fishing activities in Gaza waters would be suspended on Thursday and Friday in protest at the sinking of a fishing boat and the loss of a fisherman aboard it following a deliberate ramming attack by an Israeli gunboat. Ayyash told a news conference on Thursday in Gaza Port that a search operation was launched to find the missing fisherman, accusing the Israeli navy of deliberately sinking the boat. He strongly denounced the Israeli navy’s daily aggressive practices against the fishermen, who struggle to make ends meet, and appealed to the international community and its concerned organizations to work on protecting Gaza fishermen against Israeli violations. Dozens of fishermen, citizens and relatives of the missing fisherman rallied yesterday morning to protest the Israeli navy’s wanton attack on the fishing boat. An Israeli gunboat on Thursday morning rammed into a Palestinian fishing boat off the coast of al-Sudaniya area in northern Gaza, causing it to capsize and one fisherman aboard it to drown. The victim was identified as Ahmed al-Hissi.
Gaza residents face a cold winter with more than 12 hours of power cuts per day
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 7 Jan — A new chapter of embitterment has opened for those living in the besieged Gaza Strip, as residents scramble to sustain their daily lives under longer daily power cuts, leaving most of the coastal enclave with just a few hours of electricity a day amid the increasingly cold weather during winter months. According to a statement released Saturday by Gaza’s electricity company, most districts of the small Palestinian territory will only receive power for three-hour intervals in between 12-hour power cuts, as one of the two generators of Gaza’s sole power plant stopped operating on Friday due to severe fuel shortages. The statement added that out of the 600 megawatts of power needed in the besieged enclave, less than 150 megawatts are available. Israeli high voltage lines provide some 120 megawatts to the Gaza Strip, the statement said, while Egyptian power lines provide some 20 megawatts to southern Gaza. However, the statement continued, the Egyptian lines have been unreliable recently due to frequent breakdowns at the main station in al-Arish city in North Sinai. The statement highlighted that the company could not keep up with a precise schedule for distributing the electricity, owing to the limited supply of available power, adding that power theft in the besieged enclave also added to distribution issues. The electricity company also pointed out that some 60,000 subscribers to their electricity plan had not paid their bills, which has affected the company’s efforts to buy enough fuel in order to run the power plant.
The power cuts create dangerous environments for Palestinians attempting to keep warm in the winter or needing light during the night. On Monday night a father and his two daughters were injured after a fire broke out in their home in Gaza City, which was caused by a candle the daughters lit during a power cut so that they could do their homework….
Israeli soldiers open fire on homes, lands in Khan Younis
IMEMC 7 Jan — Israeli soldiers stationed on military towers across the border fence opened fire on Saturday morning targeting a number of homes and lands, east of Khan Younis, in the southern part of the Gaza Strip. Medical sources said the attacks did not lead to physical injuries, but caused anxiety attacks among several Palestinians, especially children. The attack came from several military towers, in army bases across the border fence, the WAFA Palestinian News Agency has reported.
How did Gaza’s economic elite become day laborers in Israel?
Al-Monitor 6 Jan by Shlomi Eldar — Once-prosperous Gaza merchants, having depleted their savings and barely surviving, are using their entry permits into Israel to search for odd jobs — Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman is currently considering allowing Palestinians from Gaza to once again work in Israel, particularly in agriculture. This was once a common practice, but it stopped about a decade ago after Hamas seized control of Gaza in 2007 … Before the Hamas coup, laborers from Gaza who worked in Israel in construction, agriculture and industry were the driving force of Gaza’s economy. People with permits to enter Israel were considered lucky despite the difficulties involved and the long journey they were forced to endure night after night so they could reach their destinations before dawn to perform manual labor for a minuscule fee. After all, it allowed them to somehow support their families. Will Liberman acquiesce, or will he reject the council heads’ request? At this point, no one knows. In the meantime, however, dozens of workers from Gaza can be seen every day at major intersections in southern Israeli cities, including Ashdod and Ashkelon, seeking to land odd jobs. They gather, clutching their bags of food, hoping to be picked up by building and repair contractors, even if only for a single day’s work. These scenes are a reminder of days gone by, when most construction workers in Israel came from Gaza. One might therefore ask whether there has been a change in Israel’s closed crossing policy. Is the presence of Palestinian workers in Ashdod or Ashkelon the result of an easing of the closure in an attempt to reduce the economic distress felt by Gaza’s residents? An examination by Al-Monitor found that the closure policy has not changed, and if anything, it has become more rigid. It was also discovered that the workers are actually merchants and businessmen who have permits to enter Israel for meetings and to purchase raw materials from Israeli suppliers. Given the appalling state of Gaza’s economy and the dramatic drop in their incomes, however, they are using their entry permits to instead work at odd jobs in the cities and towns across southern Israel. Most of these businessmen were once considered Gaza’s economic elite. They dealt in large sums of money and employed dozens of Palestinian workers….
Play time is over in Gaza
[with photos] MEMO 5 Jan by Mohammad Asad — A workshop that made rides for children’s playgrounds in the Gaza Strip has been forced to close because of Israel’s siege on the Strip. Mohamed Hasaballah, the owner of a fibreglass factory in Gaza, said he shut down the department specialised in producing several forms of structures used in children’s playgrounds because restriction on imports into the Strip have stifled production. Hasaballah said that he used to buy one gallon of fibreglass resin for $55 before the siege however this now costs $500. Repairs to playgrounds and toys have become too expensive as a result of the price hikes. Walking through one of Gaza’s children’s playgrounds it is easy to spot the many broken swings and slides and the holes dotted around the area. A guard in the area said the playground could not be repaired because of the lack of materials available.
Generator stops at Gaza electricity plant
MEMO 6 Jan — The energy authority in the Gaza Strip announced today that one of the generators at the electricity plant has stopped temporarily due to fuel shortages. In a press statement, the energy authority denounced the fact that the Karam Abu Salem crossing was not opened today to allow additional fuel to enter, despite its efforts and urgent demands in order to guarantee the continuation of the plant’s operations. “Given the fact that the crossing was not opened today, we will regrettably stop one of the electricity plant’s generators temporarily and only one will continue working. This is due to the lack of fuel, coinciding with the breakdown of the Egyptian lines a few days ago, thus causing more confusion regarding the current distribution programmes.” The authority reiterated its demands to the concerned parties to open the crossing and import additional amounts of fuel. They also called for not allowing the current energy crisis to escalate further in light of the petrol committee’s insistence on collecting the full price of the fuel in advance.
Israeli witness in Gaza: No water, no electricity and children dying unnecessarily
Haaretz 7 Jan by Ayelett Shani — An interview with an Arab Israeli who has been leading delegations from Physicians for Human Rights to the Gaza Strip for 30 years — Salah Haj Yahya, 50, who lives in Taibeh, runs a mobile clinic on behalf of Physicians for Human Rights and leads medical teams going to Gaza. We met at a Tel Aviv café, on a Thursday morning. Can you say something about Physicians for Human Rights? What is its agenda? What does providing healthcare as a political act mean? “We fight for the right to health and liberty, which everyone deserves. This includes citizens of Israel, migrants, refugees, Palestinians and people with no legal status. Our teams, medical and welfare ones, extend assistance to all these populations.” You personally are responsible for the West Bank and Gaza. As part of your job you enter the Gaza Strip frequently. “Yes. Every few weeks I head a medical team going to Gaza. The group consists of a few physicians, all Israeli Arabs, since the army and security services don’t allow Jewish doctors to travel there.” You’re the only civilian Israeli group going there, right? “We’re the only ones going there from Israel, with the approval of the IDF and security services. I don’t know of any other group.” What kind of relations do you have with Hamas? “We have no relationship with hem. We only treat the local populace.” You have no contact with Hamas, not even an informal one? Don’t you need their permission? Don’t they supervise your work? “There’s no contact. We coordinate our entry with the Israeli side, we don’t work with Hamas or its representatives. We only work with hospital directors and the Palestinian health ministry, with the health minister in Ramallah and his deputy in Gaza. They are the ones who approach us.” Gaza has been under siege for almost a decade. We don’t really know what’s happening there. Describe what you see there. “Gaza is cloaked in desperation. You feel it the minute you cross the border. It’s like traveling to another world. Already at the crossing you see seriously ill people, mainly cancer patients, waiting in line in a hall. They are hoping for some compassion and permission to cross the border and receive some treatment. You go by car and see ruins, thousands of destroyed houses, factories in ruin, sewage flowing through the streets.” (continued)
Weekly report on Israeli human rights violations in the occupied Palestinian territory (29 Dec-4 Jan)
PCHR-Gaza 5 Jan — Israeli forces continue systematic crimes in the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt) — A Palestinian woman was wounded and arrested at Qalendia Checkpoint, north of occupied Jerusalem. Israeli forces continued to target the Gaza Strip border areas, but no casualties were reported. Israeli forces conducted 74 incursions into Palestinian communities in the West Bank and a limited one in the Gaza Strip. 67 civilians, including 10 children, were arrested. 10 of them, including 6 children, were arrested in occupied Jerusalem. Israeli forces continued their efforts to create Jewish majority in occupied East Jerusalem. 11 dwellings were demolished, rendering 87 members of al-Jahalin Bedouin family homeless in al-Khan al-Ahmar area, east of the city. 4 dwellings were demolished in Beit Hanina and Sho‘fat, rendering 4 families comprised of 22 members, including 11 children. Settlers seized a building in al-Hilweh Valley neighbourhood in Silwan. Settlement activities continued in the West Bank. 14 dwellings and 22 other facilities were demolished in Kherbet Tana, east of Nablus, rendering 86 individuals homeless, including 33 children. Israeli forces continued to target Palestinian fishermen in the Sea. Israeli gunboats hit a fishing boat and a fisherman was then missed in the northern Gaza Strip. [details of these and other events follow]
The month in pictures: December 2016
Electronic Intifada 7 January
Eastern denominations mark Christmas in Bethlehem
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 6 Jan — Eastern Christian denominations following the Orthodox calendar on Wednesday welcomed archbishops and patriarchs to celebrate Christmas Eve outside Jesus Christ’s traditional birthplace at the Nativity Church in Bethlehem. Hundreds of Palestinians affiliated to the Orthodox, Assyrian, Coptic and Ethiopian churches arrived on Manger Square to mark the occasion. The Orthodox Assyrian parade of the holy lands and Archbishop of Jordan Mor Severios Malke Mourad arrived Friday morning to participate in midnight mass, which Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas is also expected to attend. Major General Jibreen al-Bakri of Bethlehem, Minister of Tourism Roula Maiyaa, and Mayor of Bethlehem Vira Baboun, along with many other official and religious figures, welcomed the start of the parade. This year’s Christmas celebration came as a slight reprieve from the Israeli violations — characterized by severe restrictions on Palestinian movement and what rights groups have called the ‘extra-judicial’ killings of Palestinians by Israeli forces — that have occurred since violence erupted across the occupied Palestinian territory and Israel in October 2015, which forced organizers last year to scale down Christmas celebrations….
Video: PA officers push Israeli army jeep from entering Qalqiliya
QALQILIYA (Ma‘an) 8 Jan — For the second time in recent weeks, Palestinian security forces early Sunday morning blocked Israeli troops from entering a city in the occupied West Bank and forced them to leave. In a video obtained by Ma‘an, several Palestinian national security service and police officers can be seen standing in the middle of the road a few meters away from an Israeli military jeep that is attempting to enter the city of Qalqiliya in the northern West Bank. A Palestinian officer is heard telling another officer to signal to the Israeli military jeep to retreat. “Tell him ‘lekh’,” he says, using the Hebrew word for “leave.” Another Palestinian officer is heard asking his commander, “These are our borders, right?” to which the commander answers, “Yes, these are our borders. Let him go back.” The Israeli jeep eventually moves back. Last month, Palestinian forces blocked Israeli troops from entering the city of Jenin in a similar incident, with both cases representing a rare standoff between Palestinian and Israeli forces, as the Palestinian Authority (PA) regularly allows Israeli forces to enter PA-controlled areas in the West Bank to conduct daily detention raids and other military operations, in contravention of the Oslo accords.
Palestinian police bust drug lab in Abu Dis
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) -7 Jan – Palestinian police uncovered a drug manufacturing lab Saturday in the town of Abu Dis in the Jerusalem district of the occupied West Bank. Police spokesman Luay Irzeiqat told Ma‘an that after Palestinian police received a tip about a lab producing ecstasy tablets, officers raided the suspected apartment after they obtained a warrant from the general prosecution. According to Irzeiqat, police found large amounts of chemicals and a pressing machine used for making pills, including ecstasy and other drugs. The house owner was arrested and he confessed during interrogation that he had been manufacturing the pills, the spokesperson added.
Israel halts $6 million to UN to protest settlements vote
AP 6 Jan — Jewish state cuts portion of its regular contributions, totaling more than $40 million, allocated ‘to anti-Israel bodies,’ such as UNRWA — Israel announced Friday it is cutting approximately $6 million in its annual dues to the United Nations this year to protest last month’s Security Council resolution condemning Israeli settlements as “a flagrant violation under international law.” Israel’s UN Mission said the amount represents the portion of Israel’s contribution to the UN’s regular budget totaling more than $40 million allocated “to anti-Israel bodies.” It named the UN agency for Palestinian refugees known as UNRWA, The Division for Palestinian Rights, the committee investigating Israeli practices affecting Palestinian human rights, and information programs on “the Question of Palestine.” “It is unreasonable for Israel to fund bodies that operate against us at the UN,” Israel’s UN Ambassador Danny Danon said. “The UN must end the absurd reality in which it supports bodies whose sole intent is to spread incitement and anti-Israel propaganda.” UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric, asked to comment, said: “We have not been informed. “Israel’s UN Mission said the cut in funding is the first in a series of steps under consideration by the Foreign Ministry and the mission in reaction to the recent Security Council resolution….
Netanyahu thanks US House for vote to rebuke UN
Ynet/AP 6 Jan — Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu thanked the US House of Representatives for approving a bipartisan measure that rebukes the United Nations for its recent resolution condemning Jewish settlements. In a video and message posted to all three of his official Facebook pages and all three of his official Twitter accounts, Netanyahu thanked the House and said, “They voted to either repeal the resolution at the UN or change it—and that’s exactly what we intend to do.” Netanyahu specified, “Democrats and Republicans alike know that the Western Wall isn’t occupied territory.” Lawmakers Thursday voted for a nonbinding measure that insists the U.S. reject any future “one-sided and anti-Israel” UN actions. In December, the Obama Administration abstained from the UN Security Council vote against Israel building settlements in the West Bank and east Jerusalem, territory claimed by the Palestinians.
Cruz pushes to move US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem
Ynet 5 Jan by Orly Azoulay — Republican Senator Ted Cruz submitted a bill proposal to the new US Congress on its very first day calling for the United States to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s eternal and undivided capital and to move its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. The Texan senator’s bill, which was also sponsored by Florida Senator Marco Rubio and Nevada Senator Dean Heller, includes an article that suggests Congress would delay the transfer of budgets to the State Department until the move from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem is done. “Jerusalem is the eternal and undivided capital of Israel,” Cruz, who lost to Donald Trump in the Republican primaries, said in a written statement. “Unfortunately, the Obama administration’s vendetta against the Jewish state has been so vicious that to even utter this simple truth — let alone the reality that Jerusalem is the appropriate venue for the American embassy in Israel — is shocking in some circles,” he added. “But it is finally time to cut through the double-speak and broken promises and do what Congress said we should do in 1995: formally move our embassy to the capital of our great ally Israel.” The Republican majority in Congress and President-elect Trump’s repeat promises to move the embassy make it likely the bill will pass.
Jordan: Moving US Embassy to Jerusalem is a ‘red line’
AP/Times of Israel 6 Jan — Jordan’s government spokesman warned on Thursday of “catastrophic” repercussions if President-elect Donald Trump follows through on a campaign promise to move the US Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem. Such a move could affect relations between the US and regional allies, including Jordan, Information Minister Mohamed Momani told The Associated Press, addressing the issue publicly for the first time. An embassy move would be a “red line” for Jordan, would “inflame the Islamic and Arab streets” and would serve as a “gift to extremists,” he said, adding that Jordan would use all possible political and diplomatic means to prevent such a decision. The US considers pro-Western Jordan an important ally in a turbulent Mideast. The Hashemite kingdom is a key member of a US-led military coalition against Islamic State extremists in neighboring Syria and Iraq, and maintains discreet security ties with Israel. Jordan also has a stake in Jerusalem, serving as custodian of the Temple Mount holy site, revered by both Muslims and Jews. Israel captured East Jerusalem from Jordan in 1967 and annexed it to its capital. The Palestinians want to establish the capital of a future state in the city’s eastern sector. Addressing the conflicting claims in the city would be central to any renewed Israeli-Palestinian negotiations on the terms of Palestinian statehood. Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat has said he will resign, the peace process will be over for ever, the PLO will revoke its recognition of Israel and the US will be forced by Arab public opinion to close all its embassies in the Arab world if the Trump administration moves the embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem….
Abbas slams US attempts at moving American embassy to Jerusalem
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 6 Jan — Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas Friday condemned attempts by the Republican-dominated US government to move the American embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, saying that such a move would send the Middle East peace process and the entire world into a “crisis.” During a meeting organized to celebrate Orthodox Christmas in Beit Sahour in the occupied West Bank district of Bethlehem, Abbas demanded that the American administration accept UN resolution 2334, passed last month after US President Barack Obama abstained from voting, which condemned Israel’s illegal settlement expansion on occupied Palestinian territory. Abbas reiterated that East Jerusalem was the Palestinian capital, and also a holy site for the three monotheistic religions — Islam, Christianity, and Judaism — and highlighted that each has the right to access and perform religious practices in Jerusalem … Abbas invited President-elect Donald Trump to visit Palestine, particularly Bethlehem city, and urged the soon-to-be president not to make any changes to the status of East Jerusalem that rests on a two-state solution with East Jerusalem as Palestine’s capital, calling the potential legitimization of Israel’s illegal annexation of occupied East Jerusalem a “red line.”….
Hamas slams Facebook over blocking dozens of accounts supporting the movement
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 7 Jan – The Hamas movement on Saturday slammed Facebook’s administration after the social media giant blocked dozens of accounts and pages in support of the movement following the launch of a social media campaign by the group promoting the actions of Hamas’ first bomb manufacturer. Husam Badran, a Hamas spokesman, said in a statement that Facebook had closed more than 90 pages supporting Hamas, in addition to 30 personal accounts affiliated with the movement. “This vicious campaign came after the launching of the 21st anniversary of the assassination of the first engineer of the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades (Hamas’ armed wing), Yahya Ayyash,” Badran said in the statement. Yahya Ayyash was assassinated in 1996 during the administration of Shimon Peres after Israeli authorities suspected him of being behind a number of suicide attacks against Israelis. He is known among Hamas supporters as “The Engineer,” as the group has said he was the first member to manufacture a bomb for the movement. As part of the anniversary, Hamas supporters launched a campaign promoting the actions of Ayyash, and adopted the slogan “Be like Ayyash,” prompting Facebook to shut down more than a hundred pages and accounts. Badran described the closure of Hamas’ support pages as a “persistent collusion of the Facebook administration with Israeli occupation policies,” and urged Palestinian Facebook users to look for other, more efficient, alternatives….
Arrests after death threats over Israeli soldier’s conviction
JERUSALEM (AFP) 5 Jan by Delphine Matthieussent — Israeli police arrested two people Thursday after death threats emerged online against a judge and other officials over the manslaughter conviction of a soldier who shot dead a wounded Palestinian assailant. Israel’s military has also assigned bodyguards to the three judges who found the 20-year-old French-Israeli soldier guilty on Wednesday, reports said. Sgt. Elor Azaria was convicted after a trial in a military court that began in May and which deeply divided the country. It has led to harsh criticism of the verdict by far-right activists, while right-wing politicians — including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu — have called for the soldier to be pardoned. Police said they had arrested two people from Jerusalem and the city of Kiryat Gat for incitement to violence online. According to Israeli news site Ynet, the posts by a 54-year-old man and 22-year-old woman included death threats against the head of the three-judge panel in the case, Colonel Maya Heller. “Police units are continuing to monitor social media and respond to threats and incitement to violence connected to the Azaria court decision,” a statement said….
Thousands rally against incitement in Tel Aviv
[with photos] Ynet 7 Jan by Asaf Zagrizak — Several thousand demonstrators flocked to a rally initiated by Capt. (res.) Ziv Shilon; rally for national unity and solidarity following post-Azaria trial-incitement; director of pro-Azaria group bursts onto stage and is forcibly removed by police — Several thousand Israelis came on Saturday night to Tel Aviv’s Rabin Square in a rally against incitement to violence and in a call for solidarity following the sharp divisions that have resounded in the country since the conviction of Sgt. Elor Azaria for manslaughter in the killing of the incapacitated Palestinian terrorist, Abed al Fatah a-Sharif, in March. The rally was initiated by community leader Capt. (res.) Ziv Shilon, who was critically wounded in a 2012 terror attack on the Gaza border fence. Since Azaria’s conviction, there has been incitement to violence against IDF Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkot and the judges who sat on the panel of the military court, amongst others. In addition to Shilon, the families of the three Israeli teenagers who were kidnapped and murdered in the West Bank in 2014—Eyal YIfrach, Gil-Ad Shaer and Naftali Fraenkel—were in attendance … Bat Galim Shaer, the mother of Gil-Ad Shaer, one of the three teenagers murdered in 2014, said, “We’re here to strengthen unity and the values of tolerance. We won’t permit ourselves to fall into disagreements that tear us apart. Difference is a blessed thing, and we need to learn how to disagree. I think that today it’s Elor’s trial, and tomorrow it’ll be something else. When the enemy wants to cause damage, they don’t care about our opinions, and we must be united as the chosen people and be an example of human morality.”
Israel arrests after protests against soldier’s conviction
AFP 8 Jan — Israeli police made seven arrests overnight following an unruly protest against the manslaughter conviction of a soldier for shooting dead a wounded Palestinian assailant, police said on Sunday. Those detained are accused of public order offences during a demonstration outside the Jerusalem residence of President Reuven Rivlin following a reconciliation rally in Tel Aviv. An eighth person was arrested on charges of seeking to disrupt Saturday’s rally in the commercial capital. Another was detained on suspicion of taking part in a hate campaign against armed forces chief of staff Lieutenant General Gadi Eisenkot, who ordered the prosecution of Sergeant Elor Azaria that angered many on the Israeli right. “During the night dozens of demonstrators arrived opposite the president’s residence where they wanted to carry out an illegal protest in support of the soldier Elor Azaria,” a police statement said. “Some of them blocked the road and refused to obey police instructions. Seven demonstrators were arrested for breach of public order.” Since a military court found Azaria guilty on Wednesday, there has been a wave of public protest and threats against officials involved in the prosecution of the 20-year-old French-Israeli infantryman. After the verdict was read out, protesters scuffled with police outside military headquarters in Tel Aviv. Radio and television channels broadcast recordings of the demonstrators chanting that the chief of staff should beware unless he wanted to share the fate of prime minister Yitzhak Rabin, who was assassinated by a Jewish extremist in 1995….
Israeli embassy official caught on camera discussing ‘taking down’ British lawmakers
Haaretz 8 Jan — An official with the Israeli embassy in London was caught on camera discussing “taking down” British lawmakers seen as anti-Israeli, U.K. media reported overnight on Saturday. The official, Shai Masot, was recorded by an undercover Al-Jazeera reporter apparently discussing his wishes to engineer the downfall of several British Members of Parliament, including Foreign Office Minister Sir Alan Duncan, a supporter of a Palestinian state and outspoken critic of the Israeli settlements. According to a press release, the Israeli ambassador, Mark Regev, apologized to Duncan and said the embassy considered Masot’s remarks “completely unacceptable.” Masot “will be ending his term of employment with the embassy shortly,” said the statement … The embassy stated that Masot was not a diplomat, but a junior employee … According to The Guardian, Masot is seen in the recording speaking to Maria Strizzolo, a civil servant and former aide to a Conservative minister. Another person present is a man they knew as “Robin,” and believed to be working for Labour Friends of Israel. But Robin was is in fact an undercover reporter working for Al-Jazeera. Masot is heard suggesting to Strizzolo that she help “take down” several MPs, and refers to Duncan by name, adding that he was causing problems, the Guardian reported. Another name mentioned was Crispin Blunt, chair of the Commons foreign affairs select committee, who has voiced his support for the Palestinian cause. Strizzolo refers to him as being on a “hitlist.”….