Waqf: 2016 marked the highest number of Israeli incursions into Al-Aqsa
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 31 Dec — The year 2016 saw the highest number of incursions on the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound by right-wing Israelis than previous recorded years, according to a statement released Saturday by the Islamic Endowment (Waqf) that manages the holy site. Head of the religious trust’s public relations department Firas al-Dibs said in the statement that a total of 14,806 Israeli settler incursions occurred on the compound in 2016 via the Old City’s Moroccan Gate. Al-Dibs added that the highest number of Israeli settler incursions on the Al-Aqsa compound occurred in October, with 2,856 such visits recorded by the trust, as the month marks several Jewish holidays that typically coincide with Jewish visits to the site. Al-Dibs pointed out that these incursions included assaults on employees of the Islamic Waqf, with Israeli forces routinely banning them from entering the holy site. Hussam Sidr, a guard at Al-Aqsa, was the latest to be banned by Israeli authorities from entering the compound for six months, while another guard, Fadi Bakir, was also detained on Wednesday. Severe restrictions on movement for Palestinians are also typically implemented at the holy site by Israeli authorities for alleged security purposes, particularly during Jewish holidays.
Tensions around Al-Aqsa Mosque were a main contributor to increasing unrest that began in October 2015, after right-wing Israelis made frequent visits to the site during the Jewish high holiday season….
Violence / Detentions — West Bank / Jerusalem
2016: A deadly year in the occupied Palestinian territory and Israel
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 1 Jan 2017 — The past year has been one of the deadliest and most violent in recent years for Palestinians living in the occupied West Bank and besieged Gaza Strip. In 2016 alone, more than 100 Palestinians were killed, the majority shot dead by Israeli forces. The wave of violence, termed by some as the “Jerusalem Intifada,” began in October 2015 and to date has seen 246 Palestinians killed by Israelis, with 135 Palestinians killed between the months of October and December 2015 alone. Since the violence began, Ma‘an has collected data regarding every person who has died as part of this latest chapter in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
In 2016, Ma‘an recorded the deaths of a total of 129 individuals from Jan. 1 to Dec. 31, 2016. Of these dead, 111 were Palestinian (86 percent of deaths), 15 were Israeli (11.6 percent of deaths), and three were foreign nationals (2.3 percent of deaths)– one American, one Sudanese, and one Jordanian. Of the Palestinians killed, 97.3 percent were killed by Israelis. One was killed while holding a pipe bomb that prematurely exploded, another while carrying out a deadly bomb attack, and another was killed by another Palestinian in a shooting attack.
Of the Israelis killed, 93.3 percent were killed by Palestinians, with one Israeli soldier killed by Israeli friendly fire. Nine Israelis (60 percent of the dead) were killed during shooting attacks. The violence has largely been characterized by small scale attacks and attempted attacks on Israeli armed forces, with 55 (49.5 percent) of the Palestinians killed by Israelis killed during stabbing and alleged attempted stabbing attacks. Drawing from statistics, a general portrait emerges of the average Palestinian to have died during this time: a young man in his late teens or early twenties from the West Bank district of Hebron, killed by Israeli security forces. Out of all Palestinians killed, 34 (30.6 percent) were from the Hebron district. Geographically speaking, the majority of Palestinian deaths — 82 to be exact — took place in the West Bank, while 17 occurred in the city of Jerusalem, seven in the besieged Gaza Strip, and five in Israel. Among those killed in Gaza were two Palestinian children, aged nine and six-years-old, who were killed by an Israeli airstrike. While 12 Palestinian women and girls were killed — 10 of whom while allegedly or actually carrying out attacks — the vast majority killed were Palestinian men and boys. Of the 111 Palestinians killed, 99 were male. According to Ma‘an’s records, the average age of slain Palestinians was 23. However, the most frequent age of death was 17 years old, with 14 Palestinian youth of that age losing their lives in the past year. (continued)
Israeli forces shoot Palestinian with rubber bullet to the head during clashes
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 1 Jan — Israeli forces shot a young Palestinian man in the head with a rubber-coated steel bullet on Sunday evening during clashes in the village of Hizma in the occupied West Bank Jerusalem district. Locals told Ma‘an that clashes broke out after Israeli troops stormed the village, with local youth hurling stones at the Israeli soldiers, who fired rubber-coated steel bullets and “showered the village’s alleys” with tear gas. An ambulance of the Palestinian Red Crescent Service evacuated the young man to the Ramallah Governmental Hospital. The paramedics who evacuated the young man confirmed to Ma‘an that he was in a stable condition and his injury was not life-threatening.
Funerals set off for 2 slain Palestinians returned after being held by Israeli state
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 31 Dec — Funerals were held Saturday for two slain Palestinians whose bodies were released on Friday by Israeli authorities in the occupied West Bank districts of Ramallah and Jerusalem. The bodies of Maen Nasser al-Din Abu Qaraa, 23, from the village of al-Mazraa al-Qibliyaa in the Ramallah district, and Hamad Khader al-Sheikh, 21, from the village of Beit Surik in the Jerusalem district, were held by the Israeli state for 57 and 17 days, respectively. The body of Abu Qaraa was carried from the Ramallah Governmental Hospital to al-Mazraa al-Qibliyaa for the final goodbyes and burial, while the body of al-Sheikh was taken from the same hospital to his family home in the village of Beituniya, before returning his body to his home in Beit Surik.
The bodies of Abu Qaraa and al-Sheikh were both wrapped in the Palestinian national flag, and had two different funerals due to the distances between the villages. Al-Sheikh’s father said that the family was relieved that they had received their son’s body and were finally able to bury him, while friends of Abu Qaraa remembered the slain Palestinian, saying that he had always been an activist and used to smile and “love life.” Deputy Secretary-General of the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (DFLP), a group which Abu Qaraa was aligned with, said during his funeral that “in accordance with international law, it is our people’s right to resist in order to achieve national freedom and independence.”….
Hamas taunts Israel with videos marking birthday of missing Israeli soldier
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 31 Dec — Hamas’ military wing the Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades published two videos on Saturday sarcastically celebrating the 23rd birthday of Israeli soldier Oron Shaul, who disappeared during the Israeli military offensive against the Gaza Strip in 2014. Oron Shaul, along with Israeli soldier Hadar Goldin, were pronounced dead by Israel during the war, though Hamas has claimed to be holding their bodies, which Hamas seeks to use as political leverage to coordinate the release of Palestinian political prisoners held in Israel. Hamas has never explicitly said whether the two Israeli soldiers are alive or dead.
The first video shows a cake sitting on a table that reads in Hebrew: “Oron, three years in Hamas captivity.” Then, the phrase: “a new year comes while Shaul is away from home,” appears on the screen in both in Arabic and Hebrew. The second video shows the face of Shaul digitally imposed over an actor, bound to a chair with a birthday cake set on a table in front of him, adorned with three candles symbolizing the soldier’s time in alleged captivity. As the soldier tries to free himself from the ropes, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, dressed as a clown, steps into the room through a darkened door and blows out the candles.
The video ends with the phrase: “the decision is in the hands of the Israeli government.” In 2006, Gaza militants captured Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit and held him for five years before freeing him in exchange for more than 1,000 Palestinian prisoners. Many have since been rearrested in violation of the agreement, and the Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades has demanded their release before starting talks in a new prisoner swap deal….
Israel says will not release bodies of slain Hamas men
JERUSALEM (AFP) 1 Jan — Israel on Sunday ruled that it would not release to their families the bodies of Hamas militants killed during attacks on Israelis but would instead bury them, the government said. The decision by the security cabinet followed the release on Saturday by the Palestinian group of video footage showing a mock birthday party for Israeli soldier Oron Shaul, believed by the army to have been killed in the 2014 Gaza war. “The political-security cabinet discussed standing policy on treatment of the bodies of Hamas terrorists killed during terror attacks and decided that they will not be returned but will be buried,” a statement posted on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s official Twitter account said. It did not elaborate on the burial plan, but said that the same meeting discussed ways of getting back the remains of soldiers killed in the 2014 Gaza war and obtaining the release of two Israeli civilians missing in Gaza and believed to be held by Hamas. The statement said ministers adopted a “plan of action”, but gave no details. Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhum said Sunday’s decision on Hamas corpses was “evidence of criminality and barbaric occupation” by Israel. “These decisions will not give positive results,” he told AFP in Arabic, without elaborating on the possible consequences. In the past, Israel has buried the bodies of slain militants at secret locations in remote parts of the country … The Israeli army believes that another soldier, Hadar Goldin, was killed along with Shaul two years ago and that Hamas holds their bodies as potential bargaining chips. In September, a senior Israeli official said that Israel had been holding since the 2014 Gaza war 18 Palestinians from the enclave as well as the bodies of 19 others and “offered to swap them for the bodies of the two Israeli soldiers”. But Lior Lotan, who is in charge of prisoners and missing persons, said at the time that Hamas rejected the offer.
Israeli forces detain 2 Palestinians, injure Israeli activist in Kafr Qaddum clashes
QALQILIYA (Ma‘an) 30 Dec – Israeli forces Friday suppressed a weekly march in the village of Kafr Qaddum in the occupied West Bank district of Qalqiliya organized to protest Israeli settlement activity in the area, detaining two Palestinians and injuring an Israeli peace activist. Murad Shteiwi, the coordinator of the village’s popular resistance committee, told Ma‘an that Israeli forces “attacked” protesters by firing live bullets, rubber-coated steel bullets, sound bombs, and tear gas canisters into the crowd of demonstrators, injuring an Israeli peace activist, identified only as Amnon, with a rubber-coated steel bullet in his hand. Shteiwi added that Israeli forces also detained Palestinians Jameel al-Barghouti and Ghaleb Shteiwi during the protest and transferred them to an unknown location. Shteiwi said that the march was launched after Fatah called upon members of the revolutionary council, Fatah’s secretary in Nablus Jihad Ramadan, members of popular committees, and all Palestinians to resist the Israeli separation wall and settlement activities to mark the 52nd anniversary of what is officially recognized as the start of the Palestinian revolution on Jan. 1, 1965.
Bil‘in’s weekly protest commemorates Jawaher Abu Rahma
IMEMC 31 Dec — Many Palestinian, Israeli and international peace activists conducted, Friday, the weekly nonviolent procession against the Annexation Wall and Colonies in Bil‘in village, west of the central West Bank city of Ramallah, also commemorating Jawaher Abu Rahma, who was killed by the army on January 1, 2011. The Popular Committee in Bil‘in said Israeli soldiers, stationed behind the Annexation Wall, and on military towers, filmed the protesters, and demanded them to leave under the allegation that the area is a “closed military zone.” This week’s protest commemorates the sixth anniversary of the death of Jawaher Abu Rahma, who died due to severe effects of teargas inhalation, after the soldiers assaulted a nonviolent procession in Bil‘in, in addition to marking the 52nd anniversary of the establishment of the Fateh movement. The protesters marched carrying pictures of Jawaher, in addition to carrying flags of Venezuela, Malaysia and New Zealand, for pushing through the resolution at the UN Security Council condemning Israeli settlement … It is worth mentioning that Jawaher is the sister of Bassem Abu Rahma, who was killed by the Israeli army, also during a nonviolent procession in Bil‘in, in April of 2009. She is also the sister of Ashraf Abu Rahma, who in 2008 was shot in the leg by a soldier, after he was bound and blindfolded, and was ordered to stand behind their vehicle. The incident was caught on film by a girl from Bil‘in, and the soldiers later targeted her and her family.
Israeli army abducts two Palestinians in Jenin and Hebron
IMEMC 30 Dec — Israeli soldiers abducted, on Friday at dawn, a young Palestinian man after stopping him at a sudden military roadblock, installed on a main road in the northern West Bank district of Jenin. The soldiers also abducted one Palestinian near Hebron, in the southern part of the West Bank. The WAFA Palestinian News Agency has reported that the soldiers installed a sudden roadblock on a road linking Qabatia town, south of Jenin, with the villages of al-Jarba and Sanour. It added that the soldiers stopped and searched many Palestinian cars, and abducted a young man, identified as Mohammad Bashir Abu ar-Rob, 24, from Qabatia. In related news, the soldiers invaded Halhoul town, north of Hebron, and abducted a young man, identified as Omar Hasan Ajarma. Eyewitnesses said Ajarma was riding his motorcycle when the soldiers stopped him, and added that the soldiers abducted him, and confiscated his motorcycle.
Israeli soldiers abduct two Palestinians near Jenin
IMEMC 31 Dec — Israeli soldiers invaded, on Friday at night, Ya‘bad town, southwest of the northern West Bank city of Jenin, clashed with many youngsters who hurled stones on the military vehicles, and abducted two young men. Mohammad Abu Shamla, a former member of Ya‘bad Local Council, said several military vehicles invaded the center of the town, and abducted two young men. He added that clashes took place in the town’s center, where the soldiers fired dozens of rubber-coated metal bullets, gas bombs and concussion grenades.
3 Palestinians detained in Jenin following alleged shooting attack
JENIN (Ma‘an) 31 Dec — Israeli forces Saturday detained at least three Palestinians during an overnight raid in the village of Yaabad in southwestern Jenin in the northern occupied West Bank, following reports of a Palestinian opening live fire on Israeli soldiers near the town [Friday night]. An Israeli army spokesperson told Ma‘an that Israeli forces detained three Palestinians in Yaabad, following a military search campaign after the alleged shooting attack on Israeli soldiers in the area. Former member of the Yaabad municipality, Muhammad Abu Shamleh, told Ma‘an that clashes erupted after several Israeli military vehicles raided the town overnight. Israeli forces fired rubber-coated steel bullets and tear gas bombs during the clashes. No injuries were reported. Abu Shamleh added that the detained Palestinians were taken to an unknown location.
An Israeli army spokesperson added that an additional detention was carried out overnight in the village of Yatta in the southern West Bank district of Hebron.
Israeli troops detain 7 Palestinians during overnight West Bank raids
JENIN (Ma‘an) 1 Jan — Israeli forces detained seven Palestinians, including four teenagers, during predawn [Sunday] military raids across the occupied West Bank, according to local Palestinian and Israeli army sources. In the northern occupied West Bank district of Jenin, locals told Ma‘an that Israeli forces raided the town of Yaabad, where they ransacked several homes before detaining 17-year-old Muhammad Faris Abu Bakr, 18-year-old Yousif Qusayy Amarna, and 19-year-old Hazim Muhammad Amarna … In the southern occupied West Bank district of Hebron, Israeli forces detained four Palestinians during overnight raids Sunday. Local sources told Ma‘an that Israeli soldiers raided home of Zeid al-Rajabi in southern Hebron city and searched the house thoroughly before they took him in custody. The Israeli army said in a statement that a weapon was found in a house in southern Hebron city. Separately, Israeli forces raided the town of Beit Awwa west of Hebron and detained Bajis Hasan Sweiti after ransacking and searching his home. Israeli forces also detained a 15-year-old boy Rani Muhammad Hdeib from al-‘Arrub refugee camp north of Hebron.
Israeli army abducts three teens in Tulkarem
IMEMC 2 Jan — Israeli soldiers abducted, on Sunday evening, three Palestinian teens in Tulkarem city, in the northern part of the occupied West Bank. The Tulkarem office of the Palestinian Prisoners Society (PPS) said the soldiers invaded an area close to a factory, west of the city, and abducted three teens who were walking nearby. It identified the abducted Palestinians as Soheib Sami al-Jallad, 16, Hotheifa Jihad al-Jallad, 17, and Dia’ Kamel Ahmad, 16. The soldiers cuffed and blindfolded the three abducted teens, and took them to an unknown destination.
Israeli forces remove memorial stone dedicated to slain Palestinian in Abu Dis
[with photos] JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 31 Dec — Israeli forces Friday removed a stone memorial dedicated to slain Palestinian Mazin Hasan Ureiba set up by the family in the town of Abu Dis in the central occupied West Bank district of Jerusalem, claiming that the monument was a form of “incitement.” Ureiba, an officer in the Palestinian Authority general intelligence service and a father of four, was shot dead by Israeli forces on Dec. 3, 2015 after opening fire on Israeli soldiers stationed at the Hizma checkpoint north of Jerusalem in the West Bank. Bassam Bahr, head of the Abu Dis Committee for Defending Lands and Resisting Settlements, told Ma‘an that Israeli forces raided Abu Dis and removed the monument, which had been installed to memorialize Ureiba and his mother, and also served as Sadaqah (charity) by providing running water to passersby. Bahr added that Israeli soldiers used hand tools to remove and break apart the memorial stone, before hanging up a paper which stated that the memorial was removed for “incitement and immortalizing the martyr,” and also stated that the decision to remove the memorial was made by an Israeli military leader in the area….
Man charged with attacking elderly woman at Jewish terrorist’s grave
Times of Israel 29 Dec — A 36-year-old man from the West Bank settlement of Kiryat Arba was charged Thursday with assault and elder abuse after he allegedly threw stones at and attacked an 80-year-old woman who visiting the grave of Jewish terrorist Baruch Goldstein. The woman was rattled but uninjured. The suspect was arrested last Friday and told police he saw the woman laying stones on Goldstein’s grave in the West Bank settlement, a sign of respect for the deceased, in what he deemed to be a provocative act. Goldstein, an American-born Israeli extremist, entered the mosque at Hebron’s Cave of the Patriarchs in February 1994 and opened fire on Palestinian worshipers, killing 29 and wounding 125 more. Israeli legislation passed in 1999 banning monuments to terrorists resulted in the IDF dismantling a shrine erected in his honor. The suspect, who was not named by police, admitted to throwing stones and shouting at the woman, approaching her and tussling with her.
Closures / Restriction of movement
A Palestinian family disabled by genetics and caged by the Israeli occupation
Haaretz 30 Dec by Gideon Levy & Alex Levac — Living on the Israeli side of a checkpoint near Jerusalem, this family is cut off from its village. Nor can any relatives visit them. The fact that three members of the family are paralyzed is of no concern to the occupation authorities — An elderly mother, her son and two of her daughters are all paralyzed. Their situation, caused by an incurable, progressive genetic disorder, is getting worse, their condition is deteriorating. The two daughters use wheelchairs, and will soon be joined by their younger brother, whose legs are already paralyzed. Equally incurable is the attitude of the occupation authorities toward these ill-fated people: They are condemned to live in a cage. To their misfortune, they live in an isolated house next to the Hizma checkpoint, northeast of Jerusalem,on its Israeli side. To expel them from their home is legally impossible, they are not allowed into Israel proper, and to top it off, relatives and friends in the village of Hizma across the way are not allowed to pass through to visit them. The Hatib family is thus doomed to live in what amounts to a cage. An enclave of the disabled. The house is on a slope and not visible from the checkpoint, so the thousands of people who pass through every day are completely unaware of the trapped occupants of the nearby dwelling. Late morning in the Hatib home. The mother, Keifiya, who is over 70, hobbles about using a cane. Her daughters Umm Kulthum, 42, and Hitab, 31, are in wheelchairs; her son Yusuf, 27, can barely stand. His hand has been injured. A third daughter, Zinab, 46, is healthy and strong, fortunately. It is on her that the entire burden of providing for the household and looking after her brother and sisters falls; there is no father. The house is well kept, the family members are constantly smiling, despite their tribulations … When Zinab is at work – at a pharmaceutical manufacturing plant in nearby Ramallah – they gather in the living room. If something should happen to them suddenly, if someone were to fall or if a stranger were to break into the house, there would be no one to assist them. They built their home here, on private land, in the 1970s. The nearby settlement of Pisgat Ze’ev, visible today from the window, didn’t yet exist; no one dreamed of the Hizma checkpoint. There was only a Bedouin tent encampment and their house, a few hundred meters from the edge of the village….
Israeli forces set up checkpoints at Ramallah villages
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 31 Dec — Israeli forces set up several military checkpoints at the main roads leading to Palestinian villages in the northern edge of the Ramallah district in the central occupied West Bank. Witnesses told Ma‘an in Ramallah that checkpoints were erected on the main entrances to the villages of Atara, Deir Nidham, Abud, Umm Safa, and Nabi Salih. Israeli forces also set up military checkpoints at the entrance to the village of Kafr al-Dik in the Salfit district. Israeli soldiers were stopping Palestinian vehicles and checking the identity cards of both passengers and pedestrians who attempted to cross the checkpoints. An Israeli army spokesperson told Ma‘an they were looking into the reports. A number of Palestinian villages in the central occupied West Bank have been facing heightened security measures and restrictions on movement, in response to alleged attacks on Israelis residing in nearby illegal settlements.
Land, property theft & destruction / Ethnic cleansing / Judaization / Settlements
Israeli settlers start new year with new illegal outpost in Nablus village
NABLUS (Ma‘an) 1 Jan — Israeli settlers started to establish a new illegal outpost on private Palestinian land in the northern occupied West Bank district of Nablus Sunday morning. Abd al-Karim Hussein, the mayor of the village of Azmut, northeast of Nablus city, told Ma‘an via telephone that Israeli settlers brought mobile homes to the Ras al-Ein area in the eastern suburbs of Azmut. He highlighted that the new outpost is located just a few hundred meters away from the illegal Elon Moreh settlement.
An Israeli army spokesperson did not immediately respond to a request for comment regarding whether or not they were aware of the outpost or if the army planned to take any action against the illegal structures. Most of Azmut’s land reserves are located in Area C — part of the more than 60 percent of the occupied West Bank under full Israeli control, where building permits are almost always denied to Palestinian villagers.
A recent report by Israeli rights group B’Tselem used the village of Azmut and other Nablus villages as a case study to illustrate Israel’s legacy of “the process of fragmentation imposed on Palestinian rural land in the West Bank.” “In practice, each and every restriction Israel has imposed on the residents of Azmut has enabled settlers to encroach on these lands and increase the land under settler control,” the report said, adding that settlers are enabled to “build houses, establish outposts, dig pathways, plant crops, and groves, graze flocks, and take over natural water sources on that land. Meanwhile, villagers are also regularly subjected to physical attacks.”….
Israeli settlers take over Palestinian building in East Jerusalem neighborhood
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 30 Dec — Israeli settlers under armed police escort raided the Wadi Hilweh area of Silwan in occupied East Jerusalem after midnight Friday morning and took over a Palestinian residential building there, allegedly for the purposes of the Elad settlement group. According to eyewitness accounts documented by local organization the Wadi Hilweh Information Center, approximately 20 Israeli settlers escorted by masked Israeli police special forces raided the building while its residents were not inside. Israeli settlers blocked off the al-Fakhouri area of the neighborhood with a truck, preventing people from approaching, and took control of the building, which is located less than a hundred meters south of the Old City’s walls and the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound. The center said that the building has changed ownership between three Palestinian families over the years — the Abu Irmeileh, Maswadeh, and al-Rajabi families — and that several other families rented space in the building, which consists of two 160-square meter space floors. Israeli daily Haaretz reported on Saturday that Palestinian sources in Silwan said the Elad organization had used a Palestinian “straw man” to buy the house about a year and a half ago, a tactic used in previous cases of settler takeovers of Palestinian properties in occupied East Jerusalem. The man reportedly presented a permit from the Palestinian Authority authorizing him to buy the property and saying he was not collaborating with Israeli authorities. Wadi Hilweh Information Center added that a Palestinian woman changed the locks to the building on Thursday, and that prior to the takeover late Thursday night, Israeli settlers raided Wadi Hilweh to install surveillance cameras at the entrance of the neighborhood. When asked about the involvement of Israeli police in the raid, Israeli police spokesperson Micky Rosenfeld questioned the validity of the reports, telling Ma‘an that Wadi Hilweh Information Center’s claims that Palestinian property had been taken over by settlers were “not serious” and “irrelevant.”
Israeli soldiers fence Palestinian lands in Bethlehem
IMEMC 31 Dec — The Israeli army invaded, Friday, privately owned Palestinian lands in Wad Rahhal village, south of the West Bank city of Bethlehem, and fenced them, in preparation for illegally confiscating them. Hasan Brejiyya, the coordinator of the Popular Committee against the Wall and Colonies in Bethlehem, told WAFA Palestinian News Agency that the fenced Palestinian lands are close to Efrat illegal colony, built on private Palestinian lands. He added that, besides isolating the lands, the fencing is also preventing other Palestinians from reaching their orchards. Brejiyya stated that the latest violation is part of ongoing Israeli attempts to illegally occupying more lands and orchards in order to expand existing colonies, and for military purposes. Wad Rahhal village has been subject to ongoing invasions, including violent searches of homes by the soldiers, especially over the last week.
UN seeks millions in humanitarian aid for Palestinians in 2017
Haaretz 2 Jan by Amira Hass — The United Nations is asking donor countries to contribute over $500 million now so it can meet the urgent humanitarian needs of Palestinians whose homes and other buildings are liable to be demolished in the West Bank and East Jerusalem this year, assuming Israel’s demolition policy doesn’t change. The money is also intended to fund legal advice and social and psychological assistance for people, especially children, who lose their homes to demolitions. Most demolitions take place in East Jerusalem and Area C, the 60 percent of the West Bank under full Israeli control. The UN says the money is needed in part to maintain Palestinians’ resilience in the face of Israeli pressure. In 2016, as of December 28, the Israeli authorities had razed or confiscated 1,089 Palestinian buildings in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. The demolitions, whose pretext was that the buildings were built without a permit, left 1,593 people homeless and impaired the livelihoods of another 7,101, according to the UN’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. This is the highest level OCHA has recorded since it began documenting demolitions in 2009. Altogether, the UN is seeking to raise $547 million to deal with humanitarian problems caused by Israeli policy in the West Bank and Gaza Strip in 2017; assistance for Palestinians whose homes are liable to be demolished is only one of many items on which the money would be spent. About 70 percent of the total is earmarked for the Gaza Strip, while 52 percent will be allocated to UNRWA, which assists Palestinian refugees. The latter sum would constitute only part of UNRWA’s total budget….
Israel confirms school in West Bank settlement built illegally on Palestinian land
Haaretz 31 Dec by Yotam Berger & Yarden Skop — Four years after construction of school complex, Civil Administration says ‘enforcement proceedings will be adopted against it.’ — The Civil Administration has confirmed that a school in a West Bank settlement was built and operates on private Palestinian land. The Administration stated that the school buildings in Sha’arei Tikva were constructed illegally, and declared that “enforcement proceedings will be adopted against it.” A perusal of aerial photographs of the site indicates that there are 18 illegal buildings in the school complex. According to the Madlan real estate website, the school was built in 2012 and has over 400 pupils. The state religious school is at the edge of the settlement, with cultivated areas beyond it. This is not the first time an Israeli school was built in violation of the law regarding private Palestinian land. In 2012 Haaretz reported that a school in the Neve Ya’akov neighborhood in northern Jerusalem was built on private Palestinian land, in violation of the law. It is in the northernmost part of the capital but outside the municipality’s area of jurisdiction, which means the Civil Administration is responsible for enforcement. In 2012 the Civil Adminstration confirmed that “this is a building that serves as an educational institution, which was built illegally and without the required approval of plans. The owners of the building received a stop-work order and a summons to the subcommittee for monitoring, and when they didn’t show up a demolition order was issued.”
But not only was the building not demolished, two new illegal buildings were added … Dror Etkes, of the left-wing Kerem Navot organization, which keeps track of settlement policy in the territories, said, “It’s no wonder that while Israel’s racist education minister is busy trying to find ways to make vermin like the Amona outpost kosher and to initiate laws meant to silence organizations such as Breaking the Silence, his officials are budgeting schools built on stolen private lands in other settlements.”….
Top minister: After Jan. 20, Israeli policy will be to annex Ma’ale Adumim
Times of Israel 29 Dec — Jewish Home’s Naftali Bennett says Trump’s arrival will enable annexation of major settlement; Kulanu’s Yoav Galant: No, it won’t — Naftali Bennett, leader of the Orthodox-nationalist Jewish Home party, claimed Thursday that Israeli government policy will change with the arrival of the Trump Administration, and that from January 20, “Israeli government policy will be to annex Ma’ale Adumim.” … In an interview with Army Radio on Thursday, Galant said he does not believe Israel will annex territories during the incoming Trump presidency, saying “I do not think it will come to that. I think that there are [also] other issues about which we should take a more moderate outlook.” Bennett told Channel 2 Thursday that Israel must “do what [former prime minister Menachem] Begin did in the Golan Heights in 1981.” When asked if he was suggesting Israel annex the entire West Bank, Bennett said: “No, my idea is to annex the areas where Israelis live, and [give] autonomy where they [the Palestinians] live.” Bennett has frequently called to annex the 60% of the West Bank, Area C, where Israel maintains security and civilian control and where most settlements are located….
Paved paradise? The secrets of an ancient Jerusalem-area village revealed
Haaretz 20 Dec by Nir Hasson — Ahead of plans to a luxury neighborhood, architects and archaeologists find a treasure of ancient remains in the onetime Palestinian village of Lifta on Jerusalem’s outskirts — The Antiquities Authority has just completed a first-of-its-kind survey in the abandoned village of Lifta, on the western approaches to Jerusalem, ahead of plans to build a neighborhood of private homes on the site. The survey, a copy of which was obtained by Haaretz, includes an archaeological, historical and geographic study, including measurements and digital reconstruction of each of the village’s structures, and how the entire village looked in various periods [see included video]. Israel has never reconstructed any former village in this manner …
Lifta, lying just north of the entrance road into Jerusalem, is an exception in Israel’s landscape. It is one of 400 villages abandoned by Palestinian inhabitants during the 1948 war, and has remained virtually untouched since that time. It’s one of the only former Palestinian villages to be frozen in time as most of the rest were either demolished or repopulated by Jewish residents. UNESCO has placed Lifta on a list of candidates for world heritage sites. For 20 years the Israel Lands Authority (ILA) and Jerusalem Municipality have promoted plans to build 115 private homes on the village’s site. Stores, cafes and restaurants will also be built in the new neighborhood. The plan has been opposed by architects, preservation advocates and the village’s refugees … Architects and archaeologists examined its surviving 75 houses. They documented stages of construction and created 3-D computer images of the village in different periods. They discovered that the oldest building dated back 2,000 years and reflected both Roman and Hellenistic styles.…
Prisoners / Court actions
Israeli court expected to sentence teenage Palestinian girl to 6 years in prison
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 1 Jan — The Israeli magistrate’s court in Jerusalem on Sunday postponed announcing a sentence for 16-year-old Manar Shweiki, accused of planning to carry out a stabbing attack against Israelis. The ruling was postponed until the court receives a report regarding her behavior over the course of the year that she has already served in Israeli custody. Nevertheless, Shweiki’s lawyer Mustafa Yahya said he already reached a plea bargain with the Israeli prosecution, according to which Shweiki will be sentenced to six years in prison. Shweiki was detained on Dec. 22, 2015 in the Wadi Hilweh area of Silwan in occupied East Jerusalem, when she was accused of planning to carry out a stabbing attack against Israelis. Israeli authorities claimed at the time that she was carrying a knife in her school bag. She is currently being held at Israel’s HaSharon prison.
Manar’s prison sentence is the latest in an Israeli crackdown on young Jerusalemite Palestinians, many of them women, who have been accused of involvement in attacks, while Israeli authorities have ordered lengthy prison sentences for Palestinians as young as 14 years old.
Israeli soldier on trial for killing Palestinian released home for a ‘short break’
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 30 Dec — Elor Azarya, the Israeli soldier facing manslaughter charges for shooting a Palestinian to death after he was immobilized on the ground in Hebron in March, was released to his home on Friday for a “short break” from his detention. According to Israeli new site Arutz Sheva, Azarya’s father Charlie took him home Friday morning for a break that would last until Sunday. The final verdict on the case is expected to follow shortly after. Azarya, 19, has been in “open detention” at an Israeli military base since April, where he is free to roam and has received visits from his family. Spokesman for the Azarya family Ran Karmi Bozaglo was quoted by Arutz Sheva as saying that “Elor was released for a short break, on the eve of the deliberations at which the verdict for his case will be announced.” “It is of note that limitations and conditions have been imposed on the break, including that he is forbidden from leaving his home, something which implies house arrest.”….
Israeli forces open fire at farmers in southern Gaza Strip
GAZA (Ma‘an) 30 Dec — Israeli forces Friday opened live fire at Palestinian farmers east of Khan Yunis in the south of the besieged Gaza Strip. Witnesses told Ma‘an that a number of Israeli soldiers stationed behind the border fence between the small Palestinian territory and Israel exited their vehicles and began shooting at Palestinian farmers in the town of Khuza‘a. No injuries were reported.
Israeli forces open fire on Palestinian fishing boats in Gaza
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 1 Jan — Israeli army gunboats opened fire at Palestinian fishing boats off the coast of the Gaza Strip Sunday morning, with no injuries reported, local sources in Gaza said. Israeli military incursions inside the besieged Gaza Strip and near the “buffer zone” which lies on both land and sea sides of Gaza, have long been a near-daily occurrence.
What were the top BDS victories of 2016?
EI 30 Dec by Nora Barrows-Friedman — 2016 began with a bang: French telecommunications giant Orange announced in early January it was dumping its Israel affiliate. This came just months after boycott activists renewed their campaign against the company over its support for Israel’s 2014 assault on Gaza and its complicity in Israel’s colonization of the occupied West Bank. The same week, a major Irish corporation yanked its cement contracts with Israel following boycott pressure. Meanwhile, churches, student unions and local activists continued to organize strong boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) campaigns that caused panic among Israeli leaders. Embarrassed by these significant victories, Israel spent 2016 waging “an all-out war” on the global BDS campaign, “in a desperate attempt to crush it,” according to the Palestinian BDS National Committee (BNC)….
BDS: Provincial council of Valencia declares itself ‘Israel Apartheid Free’
IMEMC/Agencies 1 Jan — Via the BDS National Committee. On the 29th of December, the Provincial Council of Valencia (Diputación de Valéncia) passed a motion supporting the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people and declared itself free of Israeli apartheid. The resolution – passed unanimously and proposed by the political parties València en Comú, Esquerra Unida del País Valencià, Compromís and Partit Socialista del País Valencià – recalls the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination and condemns the ongoing violations of human rights perpetrated by the state of Israel. The Provincial Council declared the Province of Valencia a war Crimes free zone, including the crime of Apartheid, earning the “Israeli Apartheid Free Zone” label; and declared its support for the international Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement, a Palestinian-led campaign that seeks the achievement of rights for the Palestinian people as recognized by international law through non-violent action. BDS is inspired by the boycott campaign that contributed to the end of the apartheid regime in South Africa. In practical terms, this motion allows the inclusion of ethical standards related to the enforcement of human rights and international law in the open tenders and contracts as well as in the award of grants by the Provincial Council. The motion passed adopts an effective mechanism that goes beyond the mere declaration of intentions….
Weekly report on Israeli human rights violations in the occupied Palestinian territory (22-28 Dec 2016)
PCHR-Gaza 29 Dec — A Palestinian civilian was killed and a child succumbed to his wounds in the West Bank. 14 Palestinian civilians, including 3 children and a journalist, were wounded in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Israeli forces continued to target the Gaza Strip border areas, but no casualties were reported. Israeli forces continued collective punishment measures against the Palestinian civilians. Demolishing the walls of a house belonging to Abu Sbaih family in Kufor Aqeb village, north of occupied Jerusalem, and closing it. Israeli forces conducted 60 incursions into Palestinian communities in the West Bank and a limited one in the Gaza Strip. 52 civilians, including 16 children and a woman, were arrested. 16 of them, including 10 children and a woman, were arrested in occupied Jerusalem. Israeli forces continued their efforts to create Jewish majority in occupied East Jerusalem. 5 agricultural and commercial facilities in Silwan village were demolished. A new tunnel was opened in Silwan village. The tunnel resulted in cracks in dozens of houses. Settlement activities continued in the West Bank. A well and an agricultural room were demolished. In addition, new demolition notices in Hebron were issued….
Palestinians in West Bank and Gaza commemorate Fatah’s 52nd anniversary
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 31 Dec — Supporters of the Fatah movement held rallies in the occupied West Bank and besieged Gaza Strip Saturday to commemorate the 52nd anniversary of the Palestinian revolution and the establishment of Fatah, with intraparty clashes breaking out at a celebration in Gaza City. Jan. 1, 1965 has been officially recognized as the start of the longstanding Palestinian revolution against Israeli colonization of Palestinian lands, refugee rights, and the ensuing Israeli occupation, now entering its 50th year. The year was marked by the founding of the Fatah national party and the first Palestinian attack on Israeli military targets. In a televised speech Saturday evening on the occasion of the anniversary, Abbas addressed the newly passed UN Security Council resolution 2334, and demanded Israel to stop all settlement activities and to avoid making any changes to the demographic situation of “the land of the state of Palestine which has been occupied since 1967, including East Jerusalem.” He reiterated that the Palestinian Authority would continue to extend a hand for peace, but won’t accept interim solutions or a Palestinian state with interim borders. The Israeli government, he said, “has been trying to overturn facts and mislead the international community while continuing to establish colonies maintaining one state solution and racial discrimination.”
Earlier Saturday afternoon, thousands gathered at Gaza City’s Unknown Soldier Square for a torch-lighting ceremony to commemorate the anniversary. A Fatah spokesman in the Hamas-run Gaza Strip Fayiz Abu Eita applauded the rally’s attendants “who came out to confirm their support of Fatah and its leadership headed by President Mahmoud Abbas.” He said that the Fatah movement would continue on its path of resistance through “all legitimate means,” remain committed to national unity, and would continue to exert efforts to end the crippling siege imposed on the Gaza Strip. However, amid the celebrations, clashes broke out between supporters of Palestinian President and Fatah Chairman Mahmoud Abbas and supporters of his rival Mohammed Dahlan, formerly a Fatah strongman in the Gaza Strip who has been dismissed from the movement. Supporters of each side tried to overpower each other at the Unknown Soldier’s statue, sparking heated arguments that developed into clashes with batons and fireworks. Head of the Emergency Department of al-Shifa Hospital in Gaza City confirmed that 11 people were treated for minor wounds and cuts as a result of the clashes….
With clock ticking, Palestinians pin hopes on Paris summit
RAMALLAH (AP) 30 Dec — After a pair of diplomatic victories, the Palestinians are now setting their sights on a Mideast peace conference in France next month in a bid to rally support as they prepare for the uncertainty of the Trump administration. The Palestinians are hopeful that a strong international endorsement in Paris will insulate them from what they fear will be a close alliance between President-elect Donald Trump and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. With their hopes for gaining independence in a deep freeze, the Palestinians had a rare week of optimism. First, the U.S. allowed the U.N. Security Council to adopt Resolution 2334, which declared Israeli settlements on occupied lands illegal. Then, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry delivered a farewell speech that harshly criticized Israeli settlements, saying Israel’s continued construction was imperiling hopes for a peace agreement and endangering the country’s democracy. Palestinian officials say they are now counting on the French-hosted Mideast peace conference to build on the momentum and set clear terms of reference for any future negotiations with Israel. Some 70 nations are expected to attend, although Israel and the Palestinians will not be participating. “The tools we have now are Security Council Resolution 2334, the Kerry speech and the Paris conference,” said Husam Zumlot, a senior adviser to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. He said the Palestinians would seek to make the resolution “a base for any political initiative.” The Palestinians seek the West Bank and east Jerusalem, territories captured by Israel in the 1967 war, for an independent state. They say that Israeli settlements in these areas, now home to about 600,000 Israelis, are threatening their hopes for independence by taking in lands where they hope to establish their state. The latest U.N. resolution, along with Kerry’s speech, essentially endorsed the Palestinian position by calling for the pre-1967 lines to serve as the reference point for a final border….
Palestinian president ready to work with Trump for peace
RAMALLAH, West Bank (AP) 31 Dec — Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas says he is willing to work with President-elect Donald Trump to reach a two-state solution to the conflict with Israel. Abbas spoke Saturday at an event marking the anniversary of his Fatah party. He said “We want to emphasize our willingness to work with the newly-elected American administration… to achieve peace… based on a two-state solution.” Abbas thanked the U.S. for its U.N. abstention vote last week, which allowed the Security Council to adopt a resolution declaring Israeli settlements in territory claimed by Palestinians illegal. The two-state solution has been the basis for peace talks under the past several U.S administrations. Trump’s election platform didn’t mention a Palestinian state and his choice for ambassador to Israel has strong ties to the West Bank settler movement.
UK officials say they were behind UN settlements vote – report
Times of Israel 29 Dec — While Netanyahu points finger at Obama, London says move was part of new strategy by PM May — … Israel’s ambassador to the United States Ron Dermer and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu have insisted since Friday’s Security Council vote that there’s “absolutely incontestable” proof that the Obama administration pushed the resolution, and that “the United States was actually behind that gang-up,” respectively. However, UK officials have stepped up in recent days to say the resolution was theirs, not the White House’s. The Jewish Chronicle quoted an unnamed senior British political source Thursday saying that by the time the text reached the 15-member body, it was “in effect a British resolution.” A day earlier, The Guardian reported Britain “played a key behind-the-scenes role” in ensuring the resolution passed. Another British source told the Chronicle that the “yes” vote for the resolution was part of UK Prime Minister Theresa May’s new strategy toward Israel, according to which the Jewish state’s friends have to take a stand against settlements to garner favor with the Palestinians….
In rare split, UK’s Theresa May criticizes US stance on Israel
LONDON (AP) 30 Dec — British Prime Minister Theresa May has taken the unusual step of distancing her government from President Barack Obama’s criticism of Israel. A spokesman for May said the British government does not think it is “appropriate to attack the composition of the democratically elected government of an ally.” The comments made Thursday were in response to U.S. Secretary of State John’s Kerry’s outspoken speech challenging the Israeli government’s policy on settlement expansion and other issues. May’s spokesman, speaking anonymously in line with government rules, said it was wrong to focus solely on the settlement issue when the Palestinian-Israeli conflict is so complex. The comments bring Britain’s government more closely into line with the view of President-elect Donald Trump, who has said the Obama administration is being far too harsh toward Israel. A U.S. State Department spokesperson, speaking anonymously in line with government policy, said the U.S. was “surprised” by May’s statement since Kerry’s remarks “were in line with the U.K.’s own longstanding policy.”….
Opinion: The two-state solution is already dead / Gideon Levy
Haaretz 1 Jan — Supporters of a two-state solution respond aggressively to anyone who tries to undermine their magical faith in a miracle that what is dead will somehow be resurrected — A question for declared supporters of the two-state solution, which means almost everyone, from U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry to Prof. Shlomo Avineri: You all say that this solution is in great danger, maybe even in its death throes. So what needs to happen for you to admit that it has breathed its last? What else needs to happen for you to declare it dead? Another 10,000 settlers? Or 20,000? Another five years of stalemate? When will you admit it? Most people know the truth but refuse to admit it. They know that the number of settlers has reached a critical mass. They know that no party in Israel will ever evacuate them. And without all of them being evacuated – and this, too, is something they know – there is no viable Palestinian state. They know that settler Israel never intended to implement the two-state solution. The fact is that all Israeli governments – all of them – continued the settlement enterprise … It’s hard to begin again from scratch. The two-state solution was ideal. It guaranteed relative justice to both sides and a state for each nation. But Israel did everything it could to destroy it via the settlements, the one irreversible factor in the equation of the Israel-Palestine relationship. That’s why the world’s anger at the settlements has suddenly increased: It knows they are irreversible. Yet two-state supporters, both in Jerusalem and in Washington, never did anything to stop them when it was still possible. The conclusion is unavoidable: declaring the death of the two-state solution. But instead, they continue waiting for a miracle … Indeed, the solution of a single democratic state is heresy against everything we were raised on. It requires us to rethink everything – to rethink Zionism and the all privileges that were bestowed on one people only. This is the beginning of a long, painful road, but it’s the only one that’s still open to us. This road leads to one of two destinations: an apartheid state or a democratic state. There is no third option.…
6.58 million each: Palestinians claim they’ll be as numerous as Jews in ‘historic Palestine’ in 2017
Times of Israel 29 Dec by Stuart Winer — The number of Palestinians living in Israel, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip is expected to rise to equal the number of Jews in the same area by the end of 2017, at 6.58 million, the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics claimed in figures it released on Thursday. Titled “Palestinians at the end of 2016” (Arabic and English) the report estimated that there are 6.41 million Palestinians living in “historical Palestine” — considered by the PCBS to be the area from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea, a figure that apparently includes the 1.8 million Arab Israelis. The PCBS has been responsible for providing Israel with demographic data for the West Bank since the 1993 Oslo Accords. The Israel Defense Forces also relies on the figures. “The number of Palestinians and Israelis will be equal at the end of 2017,” the PCBS report said, using the term “Israelis” to refer only to Jewish citizens of Israel. “However, the number of Palestinians in historical Palestine will total 7.12 million compared to 6.96 million Israelis by the end of 2020.” … The ratio of Israelis to Palestinians within Israel, the West Bank, and Gaza is a key argument in favor of the two-state solution for solving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, rather than a one-state solution that envisions autonomy for Palestinians but not full democratic rights….
UN vote against Israeli settlements boosts FIFA pressure: Human Rights Watch
JERUSALEM (AFP) 29 Dec – A UN resolution condemning settlements has raised pressure on Fifa to take action against Israeli football clubs based in the occupied West Bank, Human Rights Watch (HRW) said Thursday. The United Nations Security Council last week demanded an end to Israeli settlements in the first such resolution in decades. Israel labeled the resolution “shameful” but HRW said it increases pressure on world football’s governing body Fifa ahead of a meeting of its leadership next month. Six football clubs are based in settlements in the West Bank but play in the Israeli leagues, in what rights groups argue is a violation of international law. “The UN resolution makes it much more difficult for Fifa to pretend that allowing Israel to hold games in the settlements is neutral or acceptable,” Sari Bashi, HRW’s Israel advocacy director, told AFP. “The resolution clearly says that the settlements have no validity,” she added, meaning states and bodies like Fifa “should distinguish between Israel and the occupied territory.” … Fifa had been due to rule on the future of the six clubs in October but instead delayed its decision until the next meeting, due to take place January 9 to 10. Both the Israeli and Palestinian football associations are members of Fifa and the body’s governing rules prevent matches being played on another association’s territory without permission. Bashi pointed out that Fifa officials had previously referred to the West Bank as “disputed” but said the Security Council resolution clearly calls the region occupied….
Palestinian citizen of Israel among Istanbul shooting attack victims
TIRA (Ma‘an) 1 Jan — A Palestinian citizen of Israel was confirmed to be among the 39 victims of a shooting attack at a New Year’s Eve party at an Istanbul nightclub. The body of 18-year-old Leanne Zahir Nasser was found after she had been declared missing, an Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesperson confirmed on Sunday. Nasser, from the town of Tira in central Israel, was on a week-long vacation in Turkey along with three other women from Tira, relatives told Ma‘an. Nasser and her friends were among hundreds celebrating New Year’s Eve at the famous seaside Reina nightclub in Istanbul’s Ortakoy neighborhood, when an attacker randomly opened fire inside the club, killing 39 people and wounding some 70 others. A Turkish policeman and a civilian were shot dead outside the club before the gunman entered the venue. Turkish Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu said Sunday that only 21 of the victims had been identified, and that 15 or 16 were foreign nationals — reportedly including Israeli, Lebanese, Libyan, Moroccan, and Saudi Arabian citizens — while at least three of the Turkish victims may have been employees at the club. The mayor of Tira Maamun Abd al-Hayy and his deputy Walid Nasser, along with dozens of relatives of the bereaved family, gathered at Leanne’s family home to support them. Her parents flew to Istanbul to identify her body and bring it back to Israel for burial. Nasser’s friend, 18-year-old Rawa Sufian Mansour, sustained moderate wounds after she was hit in her hand and her leg. She was receiving treatment at a local hospital in Istanbul. Friends Alaa Abd al-Hai and Aya Abd al-Hai were suffering from anxiety….
Bedouin woman battles genetic diseases in Israel’s Negev
Al-Monitor 30 Dec by Shlomi Eldar — Israeli Bedouin doctor establishes a foundation that collects data and educates young Israeli Bedouin couples about genetic illnesses that occur because of marriages among family members — Israeli financial daily Globes has selected Dr. Yasmeen Abu Fraiha as one its “Forty under Forty” promising young people in 2016. The prestigious group includes high-tech entrepreneurs, CEOs of financial firms, lawyers and trailblazing researchers, all under the age of 40. The newspaper believes that they will have a decisive impact on the Israeli market and will emerge as leaders in their fields over the next few decades. But Abu Fraiha’s story is not just the story of another successful young Israeli woman. What distinguishes her is that she is a Bedouin who grew up in a family that decided to swim against the stream, shatter the rigid conventions of Bedouin society and overcome obstacles in order to integrate into Israeli society. Her family was the first Bedouin family to relocate from the southern Bedouin village of Tel Sheva to the prosperous Jewish neighboring town of Omer. …Yasmeen, now 27, has already completed her medical studies at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. During her internship, Abu Fraiha founded the organization Genesis, with the goal of diagnosing and preventing genetic diseases common in Bedouin society due to the frequency of marriages within the extended family. Her initiative to convince young Bedouin to be tested before they get married, to ensure that their children do not suffer from genetic diseases, got Globes to include her in this prestigious group of Israel’s most promising young people … Abu Fraiha explained that despite widespread changes within Bedouin society, which have led to greater openness, 67% of marriages are still kept within the extended family. Willingness to undergo genetic testing tends to occur only after a sick child is born. According to Abu Fraiha, some 95% of the people tested are married women, many of them during their second pregnancy, after they already gave birth to a child with a genetic illness. The goal of the work of Genesis is to instill awareness among the Bedouin, so that young people get tested before they get married.
‘Music was always the escape’: Omar Kamal on shaping his artistic identity
NPR 29 Dec — Twenty-four-year-old jazz crooner Omar Kamal is a certified heartthrob. The debonair singer, called the “Palestinian Frank Sinatra” by some fans, was born in Nablus, a town on the West Bank. Kamal says it’s pretty quiet now, but when he was growing up, it was a turbulent area. He was 8 years old at the start of the uprising known as the Second Intifada, an intense period of violence between Israelis and Palestinians. During that time, Kamal spent a lot of time in his house, and he found solace in the time he spent learning the piano. “I’m not trying to pick this up from a fairy tale, but I think music was always the escape from … reality,” he says. “That little space where you can be creative and kind of dream and move away from everything that’s happened to you.” One day, Kamal heard a song and a voice that changed the trajectory of his life: Sinatra’s “Fly Me to the Moon.” “From there, it kind of developed into an obsession,” he says. “I think Frank Sinatra has got all credit for me going into singing.” … Some other Palestinian artists choose to make music that is more nationalist or explicitly political than Kamal’s, but the singer says he believes there is room for many types of musicians….