Violence / Detentions — West Bank / Jerusalem / Israel
Israeli forces shoot, kill Palestinian teen during clashes in Tugu‘
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 16 Jan — Israeli forces shot and killed a Palestinian teenager during clashes in the Bethlehem-area village of Tuqu‘ in the southern occupied West Bank on Monday evening, the Palestinian Red Crescent (PRC) ambulance service said. A PRC spokesperson told Ma‘an that 17-year-old Qusay Hasan al-Umour was shot with live ammunition in the chest at least three times, and that Israeli forces had detained him for an unspecified period of time before handing over his body to the health organization. Doctors who examined the teenager’s body at al-Hussein Hospital in Beit Jala told Ma‘an they counted six bullet holes in al-Umour’s chest and lower extremities. An Israeli army spokesperson told Ma‘an that “violent riots” erupted in Tuqu‘ with “hundreds” of Palestinian youth throwing stones at Israeli border police. “Israeli border police fired 0.22-caliber rounds towards the main instigator, resulting in his death,” the spokesperson said, adding that no Israelis were wounded during the clashes.
However, a video [below] of the events taken by Palestinian journalist Hisham Abu Sharqah immediately after al-Umour was shot seemingly contradicts the Israeli army’s allegation that al-Umour was the “main instigator” in the clashes. The video shows Israeli forces running towards the teenager’s motionless body, lying in a field of olive trees at least 100 meters away from the road where the clashes were taking place. A young Palestinian man can be seen crouching next to al-Umour’s body before running away, just as Israeli forces begin running from the road towards the teenager’s body. As the Israeli soldiers reach al-Umour’s motionless body lying face down in the ground, one soldier can be seen stumbling on al-Umour’s legs, while another one gets on top of his body, forcefully turning him onto his back before more soldiers arrive. The video then shows four soldiers, each carrying either one of al-Umour’s arms or legs, dragging the motionless teen to the road in an area surrounded by soldiers and armored jeeps. It remained unclear whether al-Umour was already dead when Israeli forces got hold of him, or if he succumbed to his injuries while in custody. Four other Palestinians, including a woman, were also shot and injured during the clashes, PRC reported….
Silwan: Settlers assault the house of Mheisen family … and steadfastness against continuous threats
Silwanic 14 Jan — Settlers raided on Saturday early morning the courtyard of the house of Mohammad Ramadan Mheisen [or Muheisen] in the Middle Neighborhood in Silwan. Mohammad Mheisen explained that a group of settlers raided the courtyard of Mheisen family house and removed a picture of a verse from the Holy Qur’an, and also damaged the plants and chairs. They attempted to storm into the house, knocked on the main door and left after half an hour. Mheisen added that his wife and five children were home alone when he was accompanying his sick mother. He pointed out that they suffered a state of fear during and after the assault on their home. Mheisen lives in a building that consists of six apartments in which five of them were “leaked” to [infiltrated by?] settlers. The sixth is on the first floor where he lives with his family of 7 individuals. He is being subjected to extreme pressure since the other apartments were leaked in October 2014 in an attempt to force him to leave his apartment. Mheisen explained that settlers have been threatening him at times and tempting him at other to make him leave the apartment. They often offer to buy the apartment and sometimes assault them like what happened on Saturday morning. They also throw trash at his apartment and they cut power and water from his apartment after seizing the other apartments; they also damaged the water sewage system….
Israel detains former hunger striker Muhammad al-Qiq after protest
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 16 Jan — Former hunger-striking prisoner and journalist Muhammad al-Qiq was detained by Israeli authorities on Sunday, after he participated in a protest in the occupied West Bank city of Bethlehem held to demand the release of bodies of slain Palestinians held in Israeli custody. Palestinian news outlet al-Quds Network quotes al-Qiq’s wife Fayhaa Shalash as saying that he immediately declared a hunger strike in protest of his detention. Reports from social media and Palestinian news outlets announced on Monday that a march would be held in al-Manara square in Ramallah at 4 p.m. to call for his release, organized by family members of Palestinian prisoners and of slain Palestinians who had also participated in the Bethlehem rally. Al-Quds reported that al-Qiq was detained at the Israeli military checkpoint of Beit El in the Ramallah district — along with relatives of slain Palestinians Muhannad Shafiq Halabi, Thaer Abu Ghazaleh, and Hussein Muhammad Abu Ghush — after the group was returning from Sunday’s protest. Their vehicle was searched and the others were interrogated before Israeli authorities ultimately released them an hour later, while al-Qiq was taken to a detention center inside the illegal Israeli Beit El settlement … The 34-year-old journalist, who lives in Ramallah and is originally from Dura in the southern occupied West Bank district of Hebron, was released from Israeli prison on May 19, 2016, after a grueling 94-day hunger strike that brought him near death….
General Union for Palestinian Writers denounces abduction of Palestinian author
IMEMC 16 Jan — The General Union for Palestinian Writers issued a statement Monday strongly denouncing the abduction of author and intellectual Walid al-Hodali, who was taken prisoner at dawn, after many Israeli soldiers invaded his home in Ramallah. In a press release, the Union described the abduction of Hodali as another Israeli crime against liberty and freedom of speech, and demanded his immediate and unconditional release. “We at the General Union for Palestinian Writers strongly condemn this crime, the ongoing abductions of the Palestinian people, and their intellectuals; we demand their release,” it stated. “The abduction of Hodali is a very serious violation, an Israeli attempt to confiscate freedom of speech, meant at silencing the Palestinians.” The Union also said that Hodali was repeatedly abducted and imprisoned by Israel, spending many years behind bars, and that he is a senior writer, including theater and children’s books, while many of his works have been used in various televised documentaries and educational features in many TV and radio stations.
Israeli police detain 12 Palestinians suspected of stone-throwing in Negev
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 15 Jan — Israeli police detained 12 Palestinians citizens of Israel in the Negev at dawn on Sunday over suspicions of being involved in a rock-throwing incident. Israeli police spokeswoman Luba al-Samri said in a statement that the 12 individuals, all in their twenties and thirties, were suspected of throwing rocks at police vehicles that were chasing a car without license plates in the town of Rahat on Thursday. An Israeli police officer was reportedly injured in the incident, and three police vehicles were damaged, al-Samri added … Palestinian stone throwers face harsh penalties by Israeli authorities, with Israel passing a law in 2015 allowing for up to 20 years in prison if charged with throwing stones at vehicles and a minimum of three years for the act of throwing a stone at an Israeli — legislation rights groups say was designed specifically to target Palestinians, as Israelis and settlers are rarely prosecuted under the same standards of the law.
MK Basel Ghattas questioned by police in new case
Times of Israel 17 Jan — Knesset to vote on ousting lawmaker accused of passing contraband to prisoners, now suspected of fraud, money laundering — MK Basel Ghattas, already under investigation for smuggling contraband to Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails, was questioned by police on Monday in a new case involving forgery, fraud, and money laundering. The MK was questioned under caution by the Lahav 433 anti-corruption unit on suspicion of receiving bribes, falsifying documents and money laundering, according to police spokeswoman Luba Samri. She added that the probe came out of a State Comptroller investigation into funding for Ghattas’s Balad party, which is part of the Joint (Arab) List faction. In response Ghattas’s spokesperson called the probe “proof of a political witch hunt” against his party. The MK, under suspicion in a separate case for passing materials including cellular phones and SIM cards to prisoners, said the timing of the police summons is “peculiar” given the fact that the probe seemed to have been closed three months ago….
Israeli forces detain 10 Palestinians in multiple predawn raids
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 15 Jan – Israeli forces detained at least 10 Palestinians and confiscated money in multiple predawn [Sunday] military raids across the occupied West Bank, according to the Israeli army. An Israeli army spokesperson told Ma‘an that a “Hamas operative” was detained in the town of Beita south of Nablus in the northern occupied West Bank. Israeli media reported that “tens of thousands shekels” were seized from the detainee’s house, allegedly used in “terrorist activities against Israel.” In the northernmost district of Jenin, the Israeli army said they detained one person in Jenin city and another in the village of Birqin west of the city. Meanwhile, three Palestinians were detained in al-Jalazun refugee camp in the central occupied West Bank district of Ramallah. In the southern occupied West Bank, Israeli forces also raided the Hebron district and detained one Palestinian from the village of Sair and another from the village of al-Kom, according to the Israeli army spokesperson, who added two Palestinians were also detained in the village of Husan in the Bethlehem district.
Israeli forces detain 23 Palestinians, including MP, in West Bank
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 16 Jan — Israeli forces detained at least 23 Palestinians, including a Hamas-affiliated MP and a prominent former hunger-striking prisoner, between Sunday evening and Monday before dawn in the occupied West Bank, Palestinian and Israeli sources said. The Palestinian Prisoner’s Society (PPS) reported that 15 Palestinians were detained in the central West Bank district of Ramallah, including Palestinian Legislative Council member Ahmad Mubarak from the al-Bireh town. The Israeli army also detained six other Hamas members in the Ramallah district, identified as writer Walid al-Houdali and Sheikh Falah Abdullah Nada in al-Bireh; Sheikh Ibrahim Abu Al-Sabi and Muhammad Ali Qaraan in Beituniya; and Omar Nahed al-Barghouthi and Mahmoud Yousif al-Barghouthi in Deir Ghassana … PPS identified the other detainees in the Ramallah district as Jihad Mansour Karaja, Shujaa Darwish, Muhammad al-Dahla, Yousif Elayyan, Luay Nather Ahmad Saleh, Saeb Fahmi Salim, Yousif Shafiq Abd al-Karim, and Yazan Jad Mansour. Locals reported that Karaja and Darwish were detained in the village of Saffa, while Dahla and Elayyan were detained in Budrus, Saleh in Kobar, and Salim in Rantis. n Saffa, Israeli forces reportedly seized thousands of shekels, claiming the money belonged to terrorist groups….
Israel carries out collective punishment against 14 family members of Jerusalem attacker
IMEMC 16 Jan by Celine Hagbard — The Israeli Interior Minister ordered that the mother of a Palestinian man who rammed a group of Israeli soldiers with a truck last week should have her Jerusalem residency “revoked”, and that she should be forced out of her ancestral home. Fourteen family members of the young man who carried out the attack have also had their residency permits revoked by the Interior Ministry as collective punishment for the actions of Fadi Qunbar. The young man’s father and sister ware abducted by the Israeli military and held without charge in an interrogation center. In addition, the Israeli military took measurements of the family home of Fadi Qunbar, who was shot to death after plowing through a crowd of Israeli soldiers, killing four. The measurements were in preparation to demolish the home, which would render all remaining family members homeless. According to the Wadi Hilweh Information Center, they were informed by the deceased man’s family that the occupation forces raided the family’s house in Jabal Al-Mukabber and handed them orders to suspend the residency and reunion applications of several family members following an order made by the Israeli Minister of Interior Aryeh Dar’ee; they were requested to follow-up at the Ministry. The people who received the orders are: Manwa Qunbar- Martyr’s mother: A decision to suspend her residency in Jerusalem. Suha Qunbar- Martyr’s sister: A decision to suspend her residency in Jerusalem. Murad Aweisat- Suha’s husband: A decision to cancel his “reunion” application as well as cancelling the reunion applications and residency of their two children (Nagham 11, and Wadi’, 17) Dia’ Aweisat 21-Martyr’s nephew (Hind’s son): A decision to suspend his residency and cancel his “reunion” application … Furthermore, the occupation authorities requested four of the Martyr’s cousins to head to the Ministry of Interior next month. The family added that Saeed Nayef Qunbar and Zeid Nayef Qunbar headed to the Israeli Ministry of Interior today to renew their residency but the employee rejected their requests … No charges have been filed against any family member of Fadi Qunbar. This has led human rights groups to conclude that the actions being taken by the Israeli government are a form of collective punishment against the family. Collective punishment is a violation of international law.
Now that the fires are out / MK Tamar Zandberg (Meretz)
Times of Israel blog 13 Jan — A month and a half ago, we all sat in front of our TVs, shocked, worried and anxious in face of a wave of fires of catastrophic size. Into this fear and uncertainty entered politicians who claimed to have all the answers. Into this sensitive situation, they introduced horror and panic and declared we were dealing with mass arson. I remember getting calls from the news studios inviting me to be interviewed, and I couldn’t understand over what. What was there to say? Who knew what was actually going on? Unfortunately, these were not low-ranking politicians or internet commentators. Minister of Education Bennett accused all of the Arabs and claimed this was proof that “only those whom this land does not belong to would burn it.” Minister of Public Security Erdan promised to demolish the homes of the arsonists, Minister of the Interior Deri promised to revoke their citizenships, and Prime Minister Netanyahu called it a terrorist attack. The media was soon to fall in line and the terrible nickname “Terror of Arson” stuck. Do any of them intend to apologize now, when the last of those arrested was released, without a single bill of indictment? Now that the smoke has cleared, they must think that we have all forgotten and moved on to their next incitement. Yesterday, with the truth of the fires no longer relevant and no one going to dramatically burst into the news studio, Ali Makjana was released, after 45 days of arrest over setting fire to garbage in Umm al-Fahm. Hundreds of fires, zero arrests, zero indictments. But we did not forget, and a month and a half later it is time for answers. There are two possibilities, each one more frightening than the other. The first: Hundreds of cases of arson within a few days and all of the arsonists, smoke and blood thirsty terrorists, are all roaming free. If that is true, then we are dealing with one of the biggest police oversights in history. The second possibility is of lies and incitement. Netanyahu, Erdan, Deri and Bennett lied about arson without knowing if it was true….
Why Palestinian children throw stones
16 Jan by Jonathan Cook — Forget the empty posturing of world leaders in Paris yesterday. This photo tells us what the Israel-Palestine “conflict” is really about. Imagine for a second that the little boy – how old is he, eight, nine? – is your son, trying to adjust his keffiyeh because it keeps falling over his eyes and he can’t see anything. Image your small son surrounded by masked Israeli “soldiers”, or what looks more like a Jewish militia than an army. Imagine that the boy is likely soon to be bundled into the back of a military van and taken for interrogation without his parents or a lawyer present, or even knowing where he is. That he could end up beaten and tortured, as human rights groups have regularly documented. Maybe you can’t imagine any of that because you, a responsible parent living in Europe or the United States, would never let your child out to throw stones. Then you need to know more about the story behind this picture. This photo was taken in Kfar Qaddum last month. The boy and his friends aren’t there to bait Israeli soldiers or indulge a bout of anti-semitism. Jews from the violent – and illegal – settlement of Kedumim have taken over their farm lands. Kedumim’s expansion has been further used to justify the army closing the access road in and out of Qaddum. The village is being choked off at the throat. In short, these villagers are being ethnically cleansed. Parents living in such circumstances do not have the privilege of concealing from their children what is happening. Everyone in the village knows their community and its way of life are being extinguished. Israel is determined that they will leave so that the Jewish settlers next door can grab their land. Israel expects these villagers to join the rest of the aid-dependent Palestinian population in one of the ghettoised towns and cities in the bantustans of the West Bank. Even little boys understand the stakes. And unlike your child, this one knows that, if he doesn’t resist, he will lose everything he holds dear.
Israel poised to allow evidence from West Bank military courts
Haaretz 16 Jan by Jonathan Lis — The Knesset is expected to pass a bill Monday that would recognize the rulings of military courts in the West Bank as evidence in civil courts in Israel. Currently, military-court rulings are not accepted in Israeli civil courts because Israeli law does not apply in the West Bank, where the sovereign is the head of the army’s Central Command. The bill’s sponsor, MK Anat Berko (Likud), said the legislation was designed to make it easier for terror victims to sue for compensation in civil proceedings, but opposition MKs say the move is part of the “creeping annexation” being pursued by the right. Attorney General Avichai Mendelblit has criticized the notion of recognizing military-court rulings in Israeli courts, and the Knesset has been warned of possible repercussions abroad if the bill passes….
Israeli forces detain 5 Gaza fishermen after opening fire on them
GAZA (Ma‘an) 16 Jan — Israeli naval forces detained five Palestinian fishermen and seized their fishing boats on Monday morning after opening fire on them off the coast of the northern besieged Gaza Strip, according to local officials. Spokesperson for the union of Gaza fishermen Nizar Ayyash identified two fishermen detained off the coast of al-Sudaniya as Auranus al-Sultan and Muhammad al-Sultan, and reported no injuries in the incident.
Meanwhile, Zakariya Bakr, the spokesman for the Union of Agricultural Work Committees, told Ma‘an that Israeli naval forces opened fire at fishermen off the coast of al-Waha in northern Gaza and detained three, identified as Muhammad Abu Dayya, Imad Siyam, and his son Anas Imad Siyam. Bakr added that the three fishermen’s boats were also confiscated.
Israel detains 2 Palestinian merchants at Erez crossing
GAZA (Ma‘an) 16 Jan — Israeli intelligence authorities on Sunday evening detained two Palestinian merchants at the Erez Crossing between the besieged Gaza Strip and Israel. An official source from the Palestinian liaison told Ma‘an that Israeli intelligence detained Palestinian merchants Midhat Karam and Hazim Touman after interrogating them for several hours at Erez Crossing.An Israeli intelligence spokesperson was not immediately available for comment. Israeli forces had detained some 20 businessmen from Gaza during 2016 for various reasons, a source at the Palestinian liaison office told Ma‘an in November.
Israel tank hits Hamas post in response to gunfire
JERUSALEM (AFP) 15 Jan — Israeli tank fire hit a Hamas post in the Gaza Strip on Sunday after gunfire from the Palestinian enclave struck a military vehicle, with no injuries reported on either side, officials said. The Israeli army said in a statement it targeted a Hamas post in the southern Gaza Strip in response to the gunfire, without providing further details. Hamas’s interior ministry confirmed the post had been hit in the area of Al-Fukhari near the border with Israel, but it alleged Israeli tanks and bulldozers had earlier crossed the border.
Palestinian youth self-immolates in Gaza
IMEMC/Agencies 17 Jan — A Palestinian youth set himself on fire Monday in the central Gaza Strip refugee camp of al-Bureij, for unknown reasons. Gaza police spokesperson Ayman al-Bantaji told Ma‘an News Agency that the youth, identified as Islam al-Maqusi, poured gasoline on his body and set himself on fire in front of a local association for the disabled. Al-Maqusi was then taken to the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Hospital, where he was treated for burn injuries that al-Bantaji described as moderate.
Gaza to return to normal power schedule following delivery of Qatari aid
GAZA (Ma‘an) 16 Jan — The first installment of a $12-million donation from the Qatari government landed in a Gaza account on Monday, after Qatar pledged to help cover the cost of fuel for the besieged coastal enclave, which has been suffering from a debilitating electricity crisis. It was announced Sunday that Qatar would fund the small Palestinian territory with three payments of $4 million over the course of three months, the first of which arrived Monday, according to the Gaza Power Authority. Due to Monday’s donation, Gaza’s electricity company will be able to turn on a third generator, and the enclave will return to its normal schedule of having electricity for eight-hour intervals punctuated by eight-hour power cuts. For more than a week, the Gaza Strip has had to cope with 12-hour-long blackouts in between three hours of electricity. According to the Deputy Chief of the Gaza Power Authority Thafer Melhem, Emir of Qatar Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani had directed officials to take immediate steps to resolve the electricity crisis and lessen the suffering of people in Gaza Strip after a meeting with senior Hamas figure Ismail Haniyeh in Doha on Sunday.
When the Qatari fund was announced, Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah also mentioned that Turkey had confirmed that it would provide 15 tons of fuel to the Gaza Strip, with an official agreement to be signed in coming days….
PA official says new gas pipeline for Gaza to be inaugurated next month
RAMALLAH (WAFA) 15 Jan – Director General of border crossings Nazmi Muhanna said on Sunday that a new gas pipeline for the Gaza Strip has been constructed by the directorate and will be officially inaugurated next month. Muhanna said that the pipeline, which was created at the instructions of President Mahmoud Abbas, will be a substantial solution to the power crisis that the coastal enclave has recently experienced. He said the pipeline would cover the gas needs of the local Palestinian population of two millions. Muhanna added that the new pipeline will see 450 tons instead of 250-300 tons of gas being consumed daily in the Gaza Strip. Meanwhile, deputy president of Gaza’s power authority Thafer Melhem said the new pipeline aims to transform the sole power plant in Gaza from fuel-based into one that relies on natural gas to operate.
PM Hamdallah to Hamas: Hand over power authority to solve energy crisis
RAMALLAH (WAFA – news agency of the PA) 16 Jan by Malak Hasan – Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah Monday demanded Hamas to hand over the energy authority it currently runs in the Gaza Strip to the national unity government in order to solve the ongoing power crisis. He said in a press conference held at the Energy and Natural Resources Authority in Ramallah that for the Palestinian Authority (PA) to solve the power crisis, Hamas must hold itself responsible and allow the unity government to be in charge of all sectors in Gaza. “We are ready to fully run all sectors in the Gaza Strip,” he told local and international press. The demand came after a severe electricity crisis that sparked protests and unrest in the Gaza Strip after announcing that the electricity cycle will be cut back to three hours per day; five hours short of the regular eight-hour cycle. Hamdallah said the PA has always assumed responsibility for Gaza’s needs despite Hamas’ refusal to allow it to be fully in charge of the work of ministries and facilities. He said the Palestinian leadership is facing a defamation campaign by Hamas concerning the power crisis to which he responded that the PA spent $250 million money per year on importing, producing and developing electricity sources in the Gaza Strip. He said while the West Bank only receives between 4% – 6% in fuel support, the Gaza power plant receives 60% to 80% in fuel support. “Every month, Israel automatically deducts $10 million to $13 million from the Palestinian Authority’s tax revenues to pay for the power feed provided by the Israeli power company,” he said. He added that the Gaza power plant’s operation and production costs amount to $2 million every month. “The electricity provided by Egypt to the Gaza Strip costs the PA around $1.8 million every month.” Hamdallah explained that the money is automatically deducted from the Palestinian Authority’s funds donated by Arab states through the League of Arab States.
Gaza authorities release Palestinians detained during electricity protests
GAZA (Ma‘an) 16 Jan — Security authorities in the Gaza Strip said on Monday that they had released all Palestinians who had been detained for their involvement in recent protests against the enclave’s devastating electricity crisis, which left the majority of Palestinians there with only three hours of power a day. The announcement came the same day that funding arrived in Gaza from Qatar, which would enable the electricity company to return to its normal schedule of eight hours of power followed by eight hours without. Leader of Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (DFLP) Mahmoud Khalaf told Ma‘an that the Palestinian National and Islamic Forces Committee held a meeting on Monday with the head of Gaza’s security forces Tawfiq Abu Naim, where it was agreed to release the detainees. Spokesperson of Gaza’s Ministry of Interior Iyad al-Buzm said in a statement that those who were detained on suspicion of “creating chaos during the protests” were released as “a token of appreciation” for the role political factions and security forces played “in supporting popular causes for the Palestinian people.” It had already been announced on Sunday that a member of the the socialist Palestinian People’s Party (PPP), Adnan al-Faqaawi, was released, after being held incommunicado in a detention center for his alleged involvement in the protests.
Protesters burn pictures of Hamas leaders in Ramallah over Gaza power crisis
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 16 Jan — A rally was held on Sunday night at al-Manara square in the central occupied West Bank city of Ramallah, where demonstrators set fire to pictures of leaders of the Hamas movement to protest against Hamas’ handling of the crippling electricity crisis in the Gaza Strip and the movement’s suppression of dissent amid ongoing protests in the besieged coast enclave. Protesters told Ma‘an they burned the pictures to express outrage over the fact that electricity has allegedly not been cut in the homes of Hamas leaders in the Gaza Strip, while the majority of civilians there have been only receiving three hours of power a day in between 12-hour blackouts for more than a week. Protesters in Ramallah, which is the de facto administrative capital of the Fatah-dominated Palestinian Authority (PA) government in the West Bank, expressed their solidarity with the nearly two million Palestinians sealed inside the coastal enclave, and demanded a permanent solution be reached for the protracted power crisis that has seriously affected Palestinians suffering under the nearly decade-long Israeli blockade. Demonstrators raised signs saying that they held Hamas responsible for the issue and declared their outrage and rejection over the movement’s detention of protesters in the Gaza Strip in recent days….
Attempts to smuggle goods into Gaza up 165%
Globes 15 Jan by Yuval Azulai — New devices to detect smuggling have been installed at the border crossings — The number of attempt to smuggle goods from Israel into the Gaza Strip rose 165% in 2016, the Ministry of Defense Land Crossings Authority reported today. The Land Crossings Authority’s figures show that attempts to smuggle forbidden goods and items to the Gaza Strip increased over the past year. Such items are banned due to concern about strengthening Hamas and other terrorist organizations operating in the Gaza Strip. The goods involved include military clothing items, laser systems, metal balls, aluminum and metal pipes, snappling [rappelling] equipment, diving suits, model airplanes, drones, disassembled commercial vehicles, engines, etc. The Israel Security Agency and personnel from the Land Crossings Authority, which manages the Kerem Shalom border crossing, are responsible for preventing smuggling. The volume of goods transferred from Israel crossing to the Gaza Strip through the Kerem Shalom rose 13% last year. Ministry of Defense figures show that 175,000 trucks carried goods of various kinds to the Gaza Strip in 2016, and that 1,126 smuggling attempts were stopped. The Ministry of Defense today attributed the rise in attempts to smuggle goods to the Strip to an increase in the number of trucks authorized to carry goods to the Gaza Strip, the closing of many smuggling channels to the Gaza Strip from Egypt by way of Rafiah, and Hamas’s efforts to rebuild and consolidate its military forces since Operation Protective Edge in the summer of 2014….
A Gaza friendship
EI 16 Jan by Mousa Tawfiq & Mohammed Asad — When Adli Ibeid went to get his car repaired in a shop in Shujaiya, a neighborhood near Gaza City, in February 2010, he had no idea that he would make a new friend whose life would become profoundly intertwined with his own. “I heard of a skilled car electrician in the neighborhood. I went there to repair my car and I met Mansour for the first time,” Adli said. Mansour al-Qirim, the electrician, “was a very energetic, polite young man with a big smile. We grew closer to one another until we became good friends.” They came to rely on one another as each would be gravely injured in separate Israeli attacks the following year. “We had no choice but to believe that together, we could face our new fate,” Adli, now 25, said. Adli was the first of the pair to be injured. “I was walking near a group of children who were playing soccer in al-Mansoura street in March 2011. Suddenly, they were targeted by an Israeli airstrike,” Adli said. “I tried to help them, but another missile hit the area, leaving me with serious wounds.”… After spending three days at the intensive care unit at Gaza’s al-Shifa hospital, Adli regained his consciousness to discover that he had lost his left leg. Adli eventually traveled to Egypt for surgery which improved his condition. When he returned to Gaza, his friend Mansour was waiting for him. Mansour visited Adli regularly and encouraged him to have faith and patience … Mansour would need to take the same advice he had given to his friend … .“I was passing by some of my neighbors, near al-Muntar hill, when they were directly attacked” in an Israeli airstrike, Mansour recalled. “I stayed in a coma for 10 days and when I got out of it, I realized what had happened to my leg, in addition to losing two of my fingers.”… The two friends decided to stick together as they faced their new reality. “We knew that everything would be easier as long as we’re together,” Mansour said. “I do almost everything with Adli.” Adli said: “Luckily, we have the same foot size and the same taste in shoes. When we buy a pair of shoes, I take the right shoe and Mansour takes the left one. We also split the cost. “Furthermore, we drive a motorcycle together to go to the market, to the gym, or even to the corniche.”….
Land, property theft & destruction / Ethnic cleansing / Settlements
Israeli Arabs vow to press on against Netanyahu’s demolition plans
QALANSUWA, Israel (The National) 15 Jan by Ben Lynfield — Leaders of Israel’s Arab minority are planning further protests to discourage prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government from widening a crackdown on illegally built houses that started with a devastating demolition operation last week. Arab leaders and citizens consider the demolitions cruel and unwarranted, arguing that discriminatory government planning policies preclude Arabs from getting building permits, forcing them to build illegally on their own land. On Friday, thousands turned out to protest against the bulldozing of 11 buildings in the Arab town of Qalansuwa in central Israel three days earlier. It was one of the largest demolition operations in Arab areas in recent years, carried out with hundreds of police in attendance. “Destruction of houses equals destruction of dignity” read signs in the crowd that gathered amid the debris. Yousef Jabareen, an Arab member of Israel’s parliament, the Knesset, said the demonstration “sends a clear message to Netanyahu and the ministers that our community will not sit aside when they are planning more demolitions” … Demonstrators said there was no comparison between illegal Arab building and the Amona settlement outpost, stressing that the Arab citizens had built on their own land, while the Amona construction was carried out on the private property of Palestinians. “It’s a racist policy not to give permits to Arabs,” said Rashid Baransi, an electrician from the nearby town of Taibe….
Israeli authorities coerce Palestinian man to demolish own home in ‘Issawiya
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 17 Jan — A Palestinian from the occupied East Jerusalem neighborhood of ‘Issawiya demolished his own home on Tuesday in order to comply with a demolition order from the Israeli Jerusalem municipality. Homeowner Firas Mahmoud told Ma‘an that he had been notified by the Jerusalem municipality that if he didn’t take care of it himself, Israeli authorities would demolish his home themselves and charge Mahmoud 300,000 shekels ($78,518) for the cost of the demolition. Mahmoud added that he had begun building the 130-square-meter house in the Habayil al-Arab area of ‘Issawiya eight months ago and was about to move in with his family of five. ‘Issawiya local committee member Muhammad Abu al-Hummus said that Israeli authorities had recently been targeting Habayil al-Arab, taking photographs of the neighborhood and delivering demolition warrants “haphazardly.” Mahmoud is among many Palestinian residents of occupied East Jerusalem who are forced to demolish their own homes in order to avoid paying costly municipality demolition fees….
Palestinian, Israeli activists detained as Israeli forces uproot hundred of olive trees
QALQILIYA (Ma‘an) 16 Jan — Israeli forces began uprooting hundreds of olive trees in the occupied West Bank district of Qalqiliya on Monday morning as part of the construction of a road connecting illegal settlements to Israel, with Israeli forces detaining a Palestinian and two Israeli activists who had gathered at the site among dozens of other protesters. Fatah revolutionary council member Bayan Tabib told Ma‘an that Israeli civil administration employees had raided private Palestinian lands near the villages of Izbat al-Tabib, al-Nabi Elyas, and ‘Azzun on Sunday morning, with Israeli soldiers informing Palestinian farmers that plans to uproot trees in the area would begin the next day. A local activist against the separation wall and settlements, Moussa Tabib, told Ma‘an that Israeli forces declared the area to be a military zone, banning access to journalists, activists, and the landowners.
Later Monday afternoon, Israeli peace activist Adam Keller of the leftist organization Gush Shalom released a statement in Hebrew saying dozens of locals and volunteers had arrived in the field Monday morning to defend the 2,000 olive trees with their bodies before the military zone was declared and the demonstration was dispersed. Two Israelis were detained and later released, while one Palestinian was still being detained as of Monday afternoon, according to the statement. The Palestinian detainee was hurt in the leg while Israeli soldiers detained him, and required medical treatment, the statement added. According to Tabib, Israeli forces had already uprooted hundreds of olive trees and leveled land in the area as of Monday, and said that the process could take several more days. He added that some of the olive trees were several centuries old …
Gush Shalom also argued that pressure from Israeli settlers and settler leaders influenced the Israeli government to build the new road that will be three kilometers long and tens of meters wide, while some 150 dunums of privately-owned Palestinian land were confiscated for the project. The group expressed regret that the ongoing protests did not help prevent the 2,000 trees from being cut down, and said that are various reports that have suggested the road is only a small portion of a larger plan to build a network of settler-only roads in the area. Much of the three villages’ land has been slowly taken over since Israel occupied the West Bank in 1967, and the majority of homes in these small Palestinian municipalities — located in Area C under full Israeli military control — are slated for demolition, as residents were forced to build without the nearly impossible to obtain Israeli-issued construction permits. The nearby illegal Israeli settlement of Alfe Menashe meanwhile has continued to expand.
PHOTOS: How the state builds a road for West Bank settlers
Activestills 16 Jan Photos by Keren Manor, text by Yael Marom — Israeli authorities continue to uproot Palestinian-owned olive trees in order to build a road for nearby settlers — Israeli authorities uprooted dozens of olive trees in order to build a settler road near the West Bank city of Qalqilya on Monday morning … On Sunday Civil Administration contractors came to survey the land to ask the locals where they would like their trees to be moved to. The residents responded that there was nowhere to move them to. On Monday, the majority of the uprooted trees were left in a giant pile. The decision to build the settler road was made as part of a compromise with the Yesha Council, the umbrella organization that governs Jewish settlements in the West Bank. According to the text on the expropriation orders, paving the road is intended to “improve transportation between Nablus and Qalqilya.” The Palestinian landowners previously unsuccessfully petitioned the High Court against the plan. According to the head of Nabi Elias’ village council Raed Khalif, those who will be able to prove ownership over the land will receive meager compensation for the property they lost — which makes up an essential part of their livelihood.
Israeli forces confiscate agricultural tractors in Jordan Valley
TUBAS (Ma‘an) 16 Jan — Israeli forces confiscated agricultural tractors and a truck belonging to Palestinian residents in villages in the northern occupied West Bank Tubas district, in the northern Jordan Valley on Monday morning. Muataz Bisharat, who monitors settlement-related activities in the Jordan Valley, told Ma‘an that Israeli civil administration authorities under the protection of Israeli army forces raided the village of Ibziq and confiscated two agricultural tractors owned by Nimr Moussa Hroub and Mithqal Fayez Naghnaghiyeh. Bisharat added that Israeli forces also raided an area on the outskirts of Ibziq in the village of al-‘Aqaba and confiscated a truck owned by Hussein Ibrahim Masaed. He noted that Israeli forces took the confiscated vehicles to the Israeli Nahil Oz military base.
Other news, opinion
Palestinian youths speak out: one state or two?
We Are Not Numbers 15 Jan by Pam Bailey — The international peace conference held in Paris Sunday to move forward in solving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict was attended by representatives from about 70 countries—but no Palestinians or Israelis. In its concluding statement, the group “affirmed that a negotiated solution with two states, Israel and Palestine, living side by side in peace and security, is the only way to achieve enduring peace.” However, while politicians and diplomats keep holding onto the dream of two states living peacefully side by side, many Palestinians no longer see it as a possibility. In fact, in a December poll in the West Bank and Gaza by the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research, two-thirds of the public said they believe the two-state solution is no longer practical due to settlement construction. And many are beginning to say it’s time to focus on one state, with equal rights for all. Palestinian attorney Diana Buttu said on a recent American radio broadcast that, “The international community too often speaks about us and not to us. You see this particularly when it comes to Secretary Kerry’s statement that Palestinians don’t want to see one state. The polls are actually showing the opposite, that people don’t believe in two states any longer, and that many genuinely want to see one state. It’s time for people to start listening to the voices of Palestinians.” Voices that are particularly ignored are those of the youth, who make up more than half of the population of the occupied Palestinian territories. So, I asked members of We Are Not Numbers for their opinions, and here is what some of them said:….
Palestinian MK: New Israeli ad campaign ‘racist’
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 16 Jan — Former senior Israeli defense officials rolled out a massive ad campaign in Israel on Sunday “warning” Israelis of a single state with a Palestinian majority if the two state-solution was not implemented as the end goal in Israeli-Palestinian peace talks. The former officials are members of a group known as Commanders for Israel’s Security, “which is made up of approximately 200 former top officials from the country’s security services and is dedicated to advancing the two-state solution,” according to the Times of Israel. The ad campaign featured pictures of Palestinian crowds, which the Times of Israel referred to as a “Palestinian mob,” overlaid with the caption “Soon we will be the majority” written in Arabic, and “Palestine: One state for two people” in English. The ads reference the growing Palestinian population, which is projected to reach 7.13 million by the end of 2020, compared to 6.96 million Jews in “historical Palestine” — meaning the occupied West Bank, East Jerusalem, the Gaza Strip, and Israel — according to the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics 2016 census. The campaign featured in full-page ads in two of Israel’s “most influential newspapers” and billboards across the country, the Times of Israel reported. Palestinian lawmakers inside Israel slammed the campaign, which was reportedly intended to promote the two-state solution and to oppose right-wing calls to annex large swaths of occupied West Bank, calling it racist. Ayman Odeh, a member of Israel’s parliament, posted a statement on Facebook saying “this isn’t a peace campaign, but rather a hatred campaign against Arabs. It’s an ugly campaign and exaggerated campaign, and given the general atmosphere as the [Israeli] prime minister classifies Arab citizens as enemies, this campaign turns dangerous.”….
Palestinian-Israeli water committee to reconvene after years of PA boycott
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 16 Jan — The UN’s Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, Nickolay Mladenov, said in a statement Monday that he welcomed the signature of an agreement to renew the activity of the Palestinian-Israeli Joint Water Committee (JWC), towards improving the water infrastructure and supply for the occupied Palestinian territory. “If fully implemented,” the statement said, “this agreement would be an important step towards preserving the two-state solution. I encourage further cooperation between the two sides which is critical to the viability of a future Palestinian state.” “This, along with previous joint agreements on electricity, water, mail, and 3G cellular coverage, is in line with the Middle East Quartet’s recommendations.” During an Israeli Knesset meeting last June held over a debilitating water shortage in the occupied West Bank, Israeli Water Authority Director Alex Kushnir blamed the Palestinian Authority (PA) for refusing to convene the JWC. JWC was established more than two decades ago on a Palestinian-Israeli consensus system, which however enables Israel to veto any proposal by Palestinians to maintain existing water infrastructure or build new projects. As a result of Israel consistently using its veto power to limit development of Palestinian infrastructure while throwing unconditional support behind development in settlements, the PA has boycotted the JWC for years … Israelis, including settlers illegally living in the occupied West Bank, have access to 300 liters of water per day, according to water rights NGO coalition EWASH, while the West Bank average is around 70 liters, well below the World Health Organization’s recommended minimum of 100 liters per day for basic sanitation, hygiene and drinking. According to Amnesty International, nearly 200,000 Palestinians in the West Bank do not have access to running water….
Fatah claims that Hamas arrested its members in Gaza
MEMO 16 Jan — Palestine’s secular Fatah movement, headed by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, claimed on Sunday that Hamas security services in Gaza have arrested some of its members, Arab48.com has reported. According to Fatah, a number of people were arrested for their participation in the recent demonstrations about the severe electricity shortages in the Gaza Strip. Furthermore, claimed Fatah, the security services in Gaza arrested 15 of its members on Sunday in different areas across the coastal enclave. A spokesman for the Interior Ministry in Gaza, Iyad Al-Bozom, denied the claim. Speaking to Anadolu, he said that these are “false claims” intended to “incite” the public against Hamas and its security services. However, he accepted that the security services had arrested a number of civilians for damaging private and public property during the demonstrations against the electricity crisis. All of those arrested were released after signing a pledge not to damage or attack private or public property in the future. Meanwhile, Hamas and Islamic Jihad accused the PA security services in the occupied West Bank of arresting dozens of their members. Islamic Jihad said on Sunday that the PA had arrested several of its members who are ex-prisoners of the Israelis. The PA has denied the accusations.
Israel’s security experts redraw West Bank map for Trump era
JTA 4 Jan by Andrew Tobin — Institute for National Security Studies urges growth only in settlement blocs, calls for developing parts of Area C for Palestinians — Israel’s leading security think tank has published a plan to redraw the map of the West Bank in a bid to consolidate major settlements and prevent the spread of others. The plan, presented Monday to Israeli President Reuven Rivlin as part of the Institute for National Security Studies’ yearly strategic survey, calls for the government to allow construction in West Bank settlement blocs and Jerusalem. At the same time, it recommends a halt to construction in the 90 percent of the territory outside the major settlements. In laying out the plan, researchers Assaf Orion and Udi Dekel argue that negotiations with the Palestinians are unlikely to lead to a final-status agreement. With relations deadlocked, they warn, Israel is drifting toward a single binational state with the Palestinians, which threatens its democratic and possibly Jewish identity … To preserve Israel’s options, including the possibility of a Palestinian state, the researchers say, the government should implement their plan in coordination with the incoming administration of US President-elect Donald Trump, which has already signaled that it will not pressure Israel on the settlements or negotiations….
In rare move, Britain blocks EU council from adopting Paris peace summit statement
Haaretz 16 Jan by Barak Ravid — Britain prevented on Monday afternoon an EU Foreign Affairs Council decision adopting the closing statement of Sunday’s peace conference in Paris, European and Israeli diplomats told Haaretz. The British move was highly irregular and came a day after Britain refused to sign the Paris conference’s closing statement. Israeli and European diplomats said it was France that moved that the Foreign Affairs Council adopt a relatively brief resolution adopting the Paris peace summit’s conclusions, and stress the EU’s willingness to award Israel and the Palestinians with economic incentives if they reach a peace treaty. Several other countries, including Hungary and Lithuania, joined Britain’s reservations over the summit’s statement. Since resolutions in the Council must be passed unanimously, the French move was blocked. A senior European diplomat who attended the Council’s meeting told Haaretz that Britain’s action angered many EU members. According to the diplomat, the British were motivated primarily by a need to cozy up to U.S. president-elect Donald Trump, who told the Times on Sunday that he expects Britain to oppose any future UN Security Council resolution against Israel….
Zionists threaten British government over illegal settlement vote at the UN
MEMO 12 Jan by Yvonne Ridley — The powerful pro-Israel Zionist lobby in Britain, which wields money and influence within parliament, is threatening to bring down the entire Conservative-led government over an escalating row which has been simmering for weeks, long before last week’s Israeli Embassy scandal erupted. Zionist support for Israel has often led to accusations of political manipulation inside the British government and the accusations were apparently vindicated when an embassy official was caught on camera plotting to “take down” MPs who are vocal in their support of Palestine. However, it has now emerged that while the diplomatic spat between the Israeli Embassy and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office has been played out in banner headlines across the front pages, a far more sinister row has been brewing behind the scenes over the British government’s support for UN Security Council Resolution 2334, which condemned Israel’s illegal settlements. In a copy of a redacted email and other material seen by MEMO, a direct threat was made to the chair of Conservative Friends of Israel, Sir Eric Pickles MP, from one of the most senior figures in the Zionist lobby. The email delivers a blunt message: Prime Minister Theresa May and Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson should be “made to understand that Jewish support for the Conservative Party at the next General Election is at risk.”….
Map — Palestine: Growing recognition
Al Jazeera 15 Jan by Ali Al-Arian, Mohsin Ali — Amid efforts to bring the issue back to the negotiating table, 137 UN member nations have recognised State of Palestine — 70.5% of the 193 UN members — with six others awaiting government approval.
US had ‘secret accord’ to continue ‘natural growth’ of Israeli settlements
IMEMC/Agencies 16 Jan — A leaked cable from Paris reveals that the Israeli defense minister Ehud Barak advertised the fact that the US and Israel had a ‘secret accord’ to ‘continue the natural growth of Israeli settlements in the West Bank.’ ~ Rory Wood, Wikileaks. According to the cable [09PARIS827], the MFA Middle East Director Patrice Paoli reported that the Israeli defense minister made the bold claim during a meeting with French officials on June 15, 2009 – five years after a landmark ruling by the International Court of Justice underscored the United States’ requirement to enforce international legal obligations on countries with which they have influence. If the defense minister’s claims were indeed true (perhaps denoted by the fact that Ehud Barak retained his position until his retirement in 2011), this would place the Obama administration in direct violation of the World Court ruling and also violate the UN Security Council resolutions 446, 452, 465 and 471, which underscored the illegality of Israel’s colonization of occupied territories. In December 2016, US President Barack Obama decided not to veto a United Nations call to halt settlement-expansion in the West Bank. This last-ditch attempt at salvaging international esteem by the Nobel Peace Prize-awarded leader, however, does very little to shadow the fact that the Obama administration did more to shield an increasingly-oppressive Israeli government than any other US leader….
What do Israeli think about settlements? Turns out age matters
WashPost 11 Jan by Oded Haklai — U.N. Security Council Resolution 2334, approved on Dec. 23, condemned the establishment of Israeli settlements outside the 1967 borders as “a flagrant violation under international law.” The Israeli government has widely criticized the resolution and the Security Council’s focus on these settlements as well as the reference to the contested lands as “Palestinian Territory.” Though this diplomatic disagreement has been widely covered, there has been much less discussion of the Israeli public’s sentiments … Do Israeli Jews view the territories in question — which in Israeli discourse are commonly known as Judea and Samaria, their biblical titles — as Palestinian territories or as part of Israel? Do they view Jewish settlements on these territories as residing on occupied territory? Or are they viewed as part of Israel? A recent public opinion survey provides important insights on prevailing mindsets among this population. The survey was carried out between Oct. 28 and Nov. 3 and included 1,027 respondents over the age of 18, a representative sample of the Jewish-Israeli adult population … about half of the Jewish-Israeli respondents believe that Israel either has already formally declared its sovereignty over Judea and Samaria or should do so. Interviewees were further asked if certain settlements built on lands captured in the 1967 war are within the territory of the state of Israel … In the case of the questions about Israel declaring sovereignty over Judea and Samaria, the critical tipping age is 50. A majority of those 50 and over responded substantively differently than younger respondents, the largest difference between categories … The significance of the age of 50 is not incidental. The year 2017 will mark the 50th anniversary of the 1967 war in which Israel conquered the contested territories from Jordan. According to the findings in this research, those born before 1967 are more likely to remember Israel’s pre-1967 boundaries. They know that Israel has not formally declared its sovereignty on Judea and Samaria. They view settlements to be outside the State of Israel’s territory. This is especially true for those who were at least 10 years old in 1967. For that generation, the Green Line is tangible. In contrast, for those born after 1967, the boundaries of the pre-1967 war are not palpable .. In the Israeli case, those born after 1967 never experienced the Green Line — they regularly see Ariel on the weather forecast, they drive by Ma’ale Adomim on route to the Dead Sea and they went on school trips to parts of the Judean Desert on the East side of the Green Line…
250 high school students declare support for conscientious objectors
+972 mag 14 Jan by Haggai Matar — Over 240 Israeli high school students signed a petition on Friday morning in support of two conscientious objectors. The petition, organized by Mesarvot, an Israeli NGO that supports conscientious objectors, called to support Tamar Alon — a former student at Tel Aviv’s Ironi Alef High School, where the petition was circulated — and Tamar Ze’evi. The two are now serving their fourth stint in military prison for refusing to serve in the IDF due to their opposition to the occupation. On Monday Alon, 18, and Ze’evi, 19, declared their refusal to join the army, for which they were sentenced to 30 days’ detention, at Tel Hashomer induction center. The army also decided to separate the two women, sending them to different prisons. By the end of this latest period in jail, they will have spent a total of 74 days behind bars for refusing to serve in the army….
New gov’t bill allows for assistance in registering as Aramean
Ynet 15 Jan by Tova Tzimuki — A new bill put forth by MK Oded Forer (Yisrael Beytenu) and approved by Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked (Bayit Yehudi) allows Israeli-Arabs wishing to change their nationality to Aramean to do so without a fee and complicated paperwork — The government is set to approve a bill Sunday allowing for assistance to be granted to Arab-Israelis who request to register as Aramean. This distinction is for those who wish to differentiate themselves from Arab-Muslim society and/or draft into the IDF. A similar process began with the tenure of Gideon Sa’ar as Minister of the Interior, who allowed them to register as a separate nationality. However, those wishing to register as Aramean were required to fill out numerous forms and pay a fee of NIS 1,200 per request. According to the new bill put forth by MK Oded Forer (Yisrael Beytenu) and supported by Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked (Bayit Yehudi), those wishing to change their registration need only fill out a short form and will be exempt from paying a fee. Another section of the bill further states that a family representative may submit an application on behalf of several people from the same family. [See also Arutz Sheva 27/9/2014 ‘Is there really an Aramean nation?’ by Dr. Mordechai Kedar: “Is there really an Aramean nation?” by Dr. Mordechai Kedar: “One of the last things Israel’s Interior Minister Gideon Saar did before resigning from the Knesset was to recognize the Israeli Christians as members of the Aramean nation. The decision caused a media uproar, especially in the Arab sector, with most critics saying that there is no Aramaic nation and that the real reason for this step was an attempt to cause a split in the Arab population of Israel so as to “divide and conquer” and gain control of the Arab sector.”]
Israel’s war on Hezbollah’s accurate missiles
Ynet 16 Jan by Ron Ben-Yishai — Analysis: All signs indicate that the strike attributed to the IAF in the Damascus area early Friday was aimed at destroying a shipment of accurate Iranian surface-to-surface missiles, which threaten most essential facilities in Israel. This is part of the war between wars, in which the IDF is supposedly trying to minimize casualties and damage in the next battle with Hezbollah — This can be concluded from the claim that the attacked targets were near the airport and from the knowledge that Iran transfers the missiles it supplies to Hezbollah through cargo planes that land in the Damascus area, and mainly in the military airport which is located not far from the Lebanon border. Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah and senior commanders of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards announced recently that the Lebanese organization was receiving missiles, and even accurate missiles, from Iran—likely satellite-guided missiles (GPS) that could reach central and even southern Israel and threaten most of the essential facilities and civilian and military airports in the State of Israel….
Complaints describe border agents interrogating Muslim Americans asking for social media accounts
The Intercept 14 Jan by Murtaza Hussain — Customs and Border Protection agents have been invasively questioning Muslim-Americans at U.S. border crossings about their political and religious beliefs, asking for their social media information, and demanding passwords to open mobile phones, according to a set of complaints filed by the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR). In one case, a 23-year old American citizen alleges that he was choked by a CBP agent after declining to hand over his phone for inspection while crossing the border back from Canada. The complaints deal with the cases of nine people who have been stopped at various U.S. border crossings, eight of whom are American citizens, and one Canadian. They were filed to the Department of Homeland Security, Customs and Border Protection and the Department of Justice. The allegations come in the wake of The Intercept’s report that CBP agents have been working with the FBI to pressure Muslims entering the U.S. to become informants. Reports of racial profiling at the border have been endemic in recent years. In 2015, The Intercept also reported on portions of a questionnaire used by ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) agents that included invasive questions about religious practices and beliefs….