Violence / Detentions — West Bank / Jerusalem
19-year-old Palestinian shot and killed by Israeli forces in Jenin refugee camp
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 29 Jan — Israeli forces shot and killed a 19-year-old Palestinian and injured several others early Sunday morning in Jenin refugee camp in the northern occupied West Bank, after clashes erupted following an Israeli army raid into the camp. Locals identified the slain young man as 19-year-old Muhammad Mahmoud Abu Khalifa, with sources saying he was shot with a live bullet in the lower back that went through his body, emerging from his abdomen. Medical sources could not immediately be reached to confirm the nature of his injuries. State-run Palestinian news agency Wafa said that Abu Khalifa was left on the ground for hours before paramedics were able to evacuate his body. At least five other Palestinian youth were injured, including one seriously, and were evacuated to Jenin hospital for treatment. After undercover Israeli forces in a civilian vehicle infiltrated the camp, dozens of military vehicles stormed the area, sparking violent clashes that continued for several hours, according to reports. Israeli forces heavily fired live ammunition, stun grenades, and tear gas into the camp as youth threw stones and Molotov cocktails … The purpose of the hours-long raid remained unclear, as the Israeli army spokesperson said that no detentions were made in the camp. However, Muhammad’s cousins were detained in a raid into Jenin refugee camp on Thursday, with the Israeli army claiming brothers Muhammad and Ahmad Abu Khalifa were “Hamas operatives.” On Friday, four Palestinians were injured by being assaulted or shot with rubber-coated steel bullets during a predawn raid in the camp, when no detentions were reported.
Funeral held for 19-year-old Palestinian killed by Israeli forces in Jenin hours earlier
JENIN (Ma‘an) 29 Jan — Hundreds of mourners took to the streets of the city of Jenin on Sunday morning to join the funeral procession for 19-year-old Muhammad Mahmoud Abu Khalifa, hours after Israeli forces fatally shot him with a live bullet in the back during a military raid into Jenin refugee camp that erupted into clashes. Mourners carried his body to Jenin Governmental Hospital for a final farewell before gathering for a funeral prayer, and continued on to the Martyrs cemetery for burial. During the funeral march, mourners called for justice and demanded that Israel be prosecuted and held accountable for the crimes committed in Jenin refugee camp. Participants also called for an end to political conflicts among Palestinian factions as gunmen shot into the air. Members of the family said Muhammad Abu Khalifa was an employee of the Public Works and Housing Administration in Jenin and had celebrated his 19th birthday just a few hours before Israeli forces shot him to death. Muhammad Abu Khalifa’s father, Mahmoud Abu Khalifa, expressed his family’s deep pain and sorrow for the loss of their son, describing the killing as an escalation of Israeli crimes against the Abu Khalifa family. The grieving father explained that his slain son’s uncle, Issam, was killed by Israeli forces during the First Intifada, his cousin had been shot and injured by Israeli forces, and two other cousins — brothers Muhammad and Ahmad Abu Khalifa — were detained in an Israeli army raid on Thursday.
Israeli soldiers, undercover officers invade Jenin
IMEMC 30 Jan — Dozens of Israeli soldiers and undercover officers invaded on Monday at dawn the northern West Bank city of Jenin, and Jenin refugee camp, before breaking into stores and homes and confiscating several surveillance tapes. The soldiers invaded the city and its refugee camp from various directions, while undercover officers infiltrated several neighborhoods and alleys, before stopping and interrogating many young men, while investigating their ID cards. The soldiers fired many live rounds, rubber-coated steel bullets and gas bombs, during clashes with many youngsters, who hurled stones and empty bottles at them. On Sunday, the soldiers had invaded Jenin refugee camp, and killed a young man, identified as Mohammad Abu Khalifa, 19, in addition to wounding at least two others. In contrary to the army’s claims that he participated in clashes, Mohammad was shot while standing on the rooftop of his family’s home, watching the soldiers invaded the camp.
Israel returns body of slain 18-year-old Palestinian girl to family in Hebron
HEBRON (Ma‘an) 27 Jan — Israeli authorities returned the body of 18-year-old Majd al-Khadour to a Palestinian liaison and a representative of the family for burial in the village of Bani Naim in the southern occupied West Bank district of Hebron on Friday evening. Her body had been held for seven months. A Palestinian Red Crescent ambulance took the body to the al-Ahli hospital in Hebron. The body is expected to be examined by doctors and buried on Saturday following duhr (noon) prayers. Al-Khadour was shot and killed by Israeli forces on June 24 after they alleged that the teen attempted to carry out a vehicular attack after her car crashed into a stationary vehicle, lightly injuring two Israelis near the entrance of the illegal Kiryat Arba settlement. The circumstances of the incident were contested at the time, with some Palestinian social media outlets reporting that eyewitnesses told them the incident appeared to be a car accident, not a premeditated attack. Video released by Palestinian media of the incident, however, appear to show the car speeding towards a small junction popular for hitchhikers which usually has Israeli military personnel stationed there.
Israeli security forces shot and killed youth aged 17 while he was fleeing from the scene
B’Tselem 24 Jan — On 18 December 2016, at about 12:30 A.M., Israeli military personnel shot and killed Ahmad Hazem ‘Ata Zidani (a-Rimawi), 17, a resident of the village of Beit Rima, northwest of Ramallah. They also injured N.R., 25, also a resident of the village during clashes. Footage [included] from a CCTV camera installed on a local business shows a group of youths, including Zidani, throwing stones at military jeeps outside the frame, and then running for cover around the corner of a building. Zidani is the last to arrive, and is shot just as he reaches cover. The incident occurred during a raid by the security forces….
Israeli forces suppress weekly Bil‘in march, dozens suffer tear gas inhalation
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 27 Jan — Israeli forces Friday suppressed a weekly march in the village of Bil‘in in the occupied West Bank district of Ramallah, as dozens of protesters suffered from tear gas inhalation. Palestinians, international, and Israeli peace activists all took part in the march which set off from the center of Bil‘in following Friday prayers. Spokesperson for the popular committee against the wall in Bil‘in Abdullah Abu Rahmeh told Ma‘an the march was partly held in condemnation of the promotion of an Israeli officer and soldier who shot prominent Palestinian activist Ashraf Abu Rahmeh with a rubber bullet while the activist was blindfolded and handcuffed in 2008 … Bil‘in is one of the most active Palestinian villages in peaceful organized opposition against Israeli policies, as residents have protested every Friday for more than a decade, and have often been met with tear gas, rubber-coated steel bullets, and stun grenades from Israeli forces.
Israeli forces attempt to obstruct Youth Against Settlements event in Hebron
HEBRON (Ma‘an) 28 Jan — Israeli forces attempted to obstruct a volunteering event held by local organization Youth Against Settlements (YAS) in the Tel Rumeida area of Hebron in the southern occupied West Bank on Friday. Coordinator of YAS Issa Amro said that the group had organized a volunteering day to restore an old Palestinian factory, which was closed by Israeli forces during the Second Intifada, in order to transform it into a cinema. He added that the cinema would be used to introduce Palestinian children to Palestinian history and heritage in Hebron, as well as to spread awareness of issues relating to the near 50-year Israeli military occupation of the Palestinian territory. Amro said that the activists were able to reach the closed factory despite obstacles imposed by Israeli forces and settlements, including checkpoints and closures in the area….
Extremist Israeli colonists uproot and steal Palestinian olive saplings, grapevines, in Bethlehem
IMEMC 27 Jan — Several extremist Israeli colonists invaded, Friday, Palestinian orchards belonging to residents of the Al-Khader town, south of Bethlehem, before uprooting and stealing hundreds of olive saplings and grapevine seedlings. Ahmad Salah, the coordinator of the Popular Committee against the Israeli Annexation Wall and Colonies in al-Khader, said the colonists came from Boaz illegal colonialist outpost, and invaded orchards and farmland in Ein al-Qassis area, west of al-Khader. Salah added that the colonists uprooted 300 grapevine seedlings and 100 olive saplings, and stole them before fleeing the area. The lands are owned by the sons of late Mohammad Abdul-Salam Salah. He stated that the colonists also stole rolls of barbed wire and iron bars that the Palestinians brought to fence their lands to stop the ongoing Israeli vandalism of their orchards. The colonists also invaded an orchard belonging to Husam Mustafa Salah, and uprooted fifty olive saplings before fleeing the area with them. Salah said the Palestinians living in Ein al-Qassis area are subject to ongoing violations and assaults by soldiers and colonialist settlers.
2 Palestinian suspects detained over shooting near Israeli settlement
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 28 Jan — Israeli forces detained two Palestinians and seized weapons during a predawn raid Saturday in the village of Deir Abu Mashaal, with the Israeli army saying the two were suspects in a shooting attack that occurred hours earlier. A gunman opened live fire Friday night at an Israeli settler vehicle near the illegal Israeli settlement of Nili. No injuries were reported, but the spokesperson said that the car was damaged with multiple bullet holes. Following a widespread manhunt, Head of Foreign Media at the Israeli army Peter Lerner said on Twitter that two “suspected Palestinian terrorists” were detained and a gun was seized in an “overnight Special Forces intelligence based operation.” An Israeli army spokesperson told Ma‘an via telephone that the investigation was ongoing.
Israeli forces detain Palestinian for alleged knife possession west of Ramallah
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 29 Jan — Israeli media reported on Sunday afternoon that Israeli forces had detained a young Palestinian man for allegedly possessing a knife west of Ramallah in the central occupied West Bank near the illegal Israeli settlement of Talmon. An Israeli army spokesperson told Ma‘an they were looking into the case. Local sources identified the detainee as 22-year-old Muhammad Abd al-Rahman Mathloum from the village of al-Janiya northwest of Ramallah.
Israeli settlers hold 2 Palestinian teens returning home from school at gunpoint
BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) 29 Jan — Israeli forces and settlers detained two Palestinians teens at gunpoint on Sunday near an illegal Israeli settlement east of Qalqiliya in the northern occupied West Bank, according to reports from Israeli media, which alleged that the two Palestinians approached the settlement intending to carry out an attack. A video shared by Palestinian outlet Shehab News Agency showed at least two Israeli settlers holding the Palestinian girl and boy at gunpoint while other Israeli settlers and forces looked on behind them. A man holding a rifle can be heard calling in Arabic for the two Palestinians to drop their knives, after which he begins speaking in Hebrew. The young girl responds by calling for the men to lower their guns, stop filming, and speak Arabic. Shehab reported that the two Palestinians were returning home from school at the time. Reports from Israeli media said that the two were apprehended near the entrance of the illegal Israeli settlement of Karnei Shomron, claiming the suspects were holding knives, and taken in for interrogation with Israeli forces. The Palestinian Prisoner’s Society later identified the two students as 15-year-old Marah Luay Jeidi and 16-year-old Salim Hani Abu Hamada.
Israeli forces detain 12 Palestinians in overnight West Bank raids
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 27 Jan — Israeli forces detained at least 12 Palestinians during overnight and predawn raids Friday across the occupied West Bank, according to local Palestinian and Israeli army sources. Locals in the southern occupied West Bank district of Hebron told Ma‘an that Israeli forces carried out search and detention raids in the Hebron-area villages of al-Dhahiriya, al-Samu‘ and Dura, with Israeli forces detaining three teens from Dura. Locals identified the three detainees from Dura as Ayed Jamal Amr, Ali Mteir and Saddam Mwaffaq al-Talahmeh, all 17 years old. An Israeli army spokesperson confirmed one detention in Dura to Ma‘an. Meanwhile, Israeli forces raided several houses in al-Dhahiriya and al-Samu‘ and set up checkpoints in southern Hebron searching vehicles and IDs of passengers. In the northern occupied West Bank, locals reported that Israeli forces raided the ‘Azzun town in eastern Qalqiliya at dawn. Witnesses said that fifteen houses were searched and four youths were detained. The detainees were identified as Omar Mahmoud Salim, Walid Anan Sweidan, Saher Judat Majd and Ramez Saher Shalu. An Israeli army spokesperson confirmed four detentions from ‘Azzun. The army also said that it detained one Palestinian from Qalqiliya city, one from the Ramallah-area Qalandiya refugee camp, and two from the Hebron district.
Army abducts two Palestinians in northern plains, summon three from Bethlehem
IMEMC 29 Jan — Israeli soldiers invaded, on Sunday at dawn, Khirbit al-Hadeediyya area, in the Northern Plains of the occupied West Bank, searched homes and abducted two Palestinians. Media sources in Jenin said several army vehicles surrounded Khirbit al-Hadeediyya before storming and searching many residential tents and sheds, and abducted two siblings. The sources said that the two siblings have been identified as Moath Abdul-Rahim Bisharat, 27, his brother Sakhr, 17. Furthermore, the soldiers invaded Bethlehem city, in the West Bank, searched homes and summoned Ismael Kamel al-Kamel, 29, from the Saff Street area, in the center of the city, and Hamza Salman Obeyyat, 28, from Hindaza area, east of Bethlehem, for interrogation in Etzion military base and security center. Another Palestinian, identified as Ahmad Shanayta, 38, was also summoned for interrogation in Etzion, after the soldiers invaded and searched his home in al-‘Obeydiyya town, east of Bethlehem.
Israeli soldiers abduct five Palestinians in Hebron
IMEMC 30 Jan — Dozens of Israeli army vehicles invaded, on Monday at dawn, Hebron city, in the southern part of the occupied West Bank, in addition to Doura and Beit Ummar towns, searched homes and abducted five Palestinians. The Palestinian Prisoners’ Society (PPS) said the soldiers invaded Doura town, south of Hebron, violently searched homes and abducted three Palestinians, identified as Monir Samir Abu Sharar, Maher Mazen Abu ‘Atwan and Khalil Amro. The PPS added that the soldiers also searched homes in Hebron city, interrogated many Palestinians, and abducted Salama Sa‘afeen. In Beit Ummar town, north of Hebron, the soldiers invaded Bahar and al-Bayyada neighborhoods, searched many homes and abducted a former political prisoner, identified as Mahmoud Haitham Sleibi, 26, who was previously imprisoned by Israel for three years. Also in Beit Ummar, the soldiers summoned Yousef Bader Ekhlayyel, 37, for interrogation in Etzion military base and security center, north of Hebron. The soldiers also invaded many neighborhoods in Hebron city, and installed roadblocks, especially on roads leading to the towns of Sa’ir and Halhoul….
Israeli state ordered by Supreme Court to prove stone-throwing law not discriminatory
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 28 Jan — The Israeli Supreme Court has demanded that the Israeli state prove it was not directly discriminating against Palestinians in Israel and occupied East Jerusalem by passing a 2015 law that strips social benefits for Palestinian families whose children are convicted of stone throwing. According to Israeli newspaper Haaretz, the Israeli Supreme Court gave the state 45 days to produce legitimate reasoning as to how the decision to revoke social benefits of Palestinian families during the time their children are imprisoned for throwing stones did not “constitute a violation of the principle of equality before the law.” The justices also imposed a temporary injunction on the order until the state provides acceptable reasoning for the law. Haaretz noted that the order, which was passed in November 2015, states that “when a minor is convicted and jailed for any “politically motivated” offense, any payments their families may be receiving — such as child benefits, food and income allowances — will be suspended while the minor is incarcerated.” Israel detains hundreds of Palestinians for alleged stone throwing every year, with Israeli rights group B’Tselem reporting that from 2005 to 2010, “93 percent of the minors convicted of stone throwing were given a prison sentence, its length ranging from a few days to 20 months.” The amendment is one of several measures past in recent years as Israeli authorities have dramatically escalated crackdown on Palestinian youth who are caught throwing stones, with Israel passing a law in 2015 setting sentences up to 20 years in prison for stone throwing if intent to harm could be proven, and a minimum prison sentence of three years for throwing a stone at an Israeli … Haaretz pointed out that several rights organizations have petitioned the Israeli Supreme Court against the law, and accused the Israeli state of targeting Palestinian minors who typically employ stone throwing during protests or clashes with Israeli forces, while Jewish minors can be charged with a more serious offense but do not have their families’ social benefits revoked….
Court actions / Prisoners
Dareen Tatour’s prosecution for poetry continues in Nazareth court
Samidoun 29 Jan — Palestinian poet Dareen Tatour testified before the Magistrate’s Court in Nazareth on Thursday, 26 January; Dareen’s saga has lasted for nearly a year and a half as she faces prosecution and imprisonment for writing a poem, “Resist my people, resist them,” and posting it on YouTube. Arrested from her family home in the village of Reineh on 11 October 2015, Tatour, a Palestinian citizen of Israel, was imprisoned for several months in Kishon, Damon and HaSharon prisons on allegations of “incitement,” and she was then transferred to house arrest. For several more more months, she was confined to an apartment in the Tel Aviv area; due to the restrictions of her house arrest, her brother and sister-in-law had to leave work and school to permanently accompany her; she was finally transferred to house arrest in her home village of Reineh but remains subject to severe restrictions and must wear an electronic ankle bracelet at all times. She is prohibited from using the internet. Hundreds of internationally renowned writers and artists, including Edwidge Danticat, Ahdaf Soueif, Alice Walker, Eve Ensler, Ariel Dorfman, Russell Banks and Barbara Hammer, have called for Tatour’s release and the dropping of charges against her, a call endorsed by PEN, the international freedom of expression association. Despite the widespread support for Tatour and the almost farcical nature of the charges against her, she faces up to eight years in prison. (Continued)
Al-Qeeq transferred to isolation in Hadarim prison; Shahatit continues hunger strike for seventh day
Samidoun 19 Jan — On Friday, 27 January, the Israeli prison administration suddenly transferred Palestinian journalist and former long-term hunger striker Mohammed al-Qeeq from the Petah Tikva interrogation center to the isolation section of Hadarim prison from the Petah Tikva interrogation center. This came one day after al-Qeeq’s detention was extended by the Ofer military court for the third time after his arrest on 15 January at the Beit El checkpoint near Ramallah as he returned from a demonstration in Bethlehem protesting for the return of the detained bodies of Palestinians killed by Israeli occupation forces. His detention has been extended three times since then and his family home and the apartment he shares with his wife were raided by Israeli occupation forces. His wife, Fayha Shalash, was also summoned to Israeli interrogation on Wednesday, 25 January. Al-Qeeq was released from administrative detention – imprisonment without charge or trial – in May 2016, after he carried out a 94-day hunger strike to demand his release. His hunger strike gained international notice and highlighted the persecution of Palestinian journalists. Al-Qeeq has pledged to launch an open hunger strike if he is once again ordered to administrative detention without charge or trial. He is expected to be brought before military court again on 2 February.
Meanwhile, Randa Shahatit, held in isolation in HaSharon prison, is now on her seventh day of hunger strike. Shahatit was seized by occupation forces on 20 January; the former Palestinian prisoner was released in 2011 as part of the Wafa al-Ahrar prisoner exchange when 17 months remained in her 50-month sentence. She was seized by occupation forces in August as she went to the hospital with her 3-month-old daughter and held for 12 days before being released on bail and under confinement to the area of her village while a secretive military committee determined whether to reimpose her prior sentence – as has happened to dozens of Palestinian prisoners. On 3 January, it was announced that her sentence would not be reimposed and her bail conditions were lifted; only two weeks later, she is now being accused of violating her conditions of bail. She is on hunger strike against her arrest and isolation.
Also on hunger strike, for the fourth day, is Islam Dar Musa, 24, who launched a hunger strike on 25 January to demand to be housed with his also-imprisoned father, Sheikh Saleh Dar Musa, 52….
Protest demands release of Palestinian youth in administrative detention
Samidoun 29 Jan — Palestinians from the town of Kabul near Akka protested on Thursday, 26 January for the release of Mohammed Khaled Ibrahim, 20, a Palestinian citizen of Israel from the town held without charge or trial under administrative detention. Ibrahim has been imprisoned without charge or trial since 10 May 2016; he is one of approximately 700 Palestinians imprisoned under administrative detention and 7,000 total Palestinian prisoners. Administrative detention orders are issued on the basis of secret evidence for periods of one to six months and are indefinitely renewable. Palestinians have spent years at a time in prison without charge or trial under administrative detention. After Ibrahim was seized by Israeli forces in a pre-dawn raid in which his family’s home was ransacked and computers confiscated, he was ordered to administrative detention without charge or trial for six months; after six months, the detention order was renewed. He will have a court hearing on 15 March….
Palestinian prisoner escapes from Israeli hospital
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 29 Jan — A Palestinian prisoner reportedly escaped from an Israeli hospital on Sunday, Hebrew news sites reported. Samer Odeh, 32, was reportedly taken to the HaEmek medical center in the northern Israeli town of Afula for a checkup on Sunday morning and managed to escape the premises. Israeli police forces and helicopters were searching the area for the fugitive. As of Sunday night, there were no indications that Odeh had been found.
Israel refusing to let Gaza volleyball player into East Jerusalem for knee operation
Haaretz 29 Jan by Jack Khoury — Israel is not allowing a Palestinian volleyball player who used to play for the national team to leave the Gaza Strip for a knee operation. Daoud Abu Hazima, 30, from the Jabalya refugee camp, played for the Palestinian volleyball team until he tore a ligament in his knee in 2014. This is a very common sports injury which, if left untreated, can end an athlete’s career. Abu Hazima has not played since sustaining the injury. “There’s no doctor in the entire Gaza Strip who knows how to perform this kind of operation,” said Abu Hazima, who added that he received a referral from the Palestinian Health Ministry in 2016 to attend Makassed Hospital in East Jerusalem. He said the Shin Bet security service denied him permission to leave the Gaza Strip. Abu Hazima said he submitted six applications to the Israeli authorities, all of which were denied for security reasons. The nonprofit Physicians for Human Rights, which also approached the Israeli authorities regarding Abu Hazima, was told the injury wasn’t life-threatening and, therefore, wasn’t urgent. Abu Hazima said he has no security record. He says his condition is getting worse by the day, and fears that if he doesn’t receive treatment soon, he’ll be unable to play for the national team again. Sport is the only light in my life, and all I ask is the basic right to receive medical care and not to extinguish that light,” he said … The Shin Bet responded: “Abu Hazima entered Israel from the Gaza Strip a number of times in 2015, and in 2016 his entry to Israel was denied for security reasons. In the framework of an examination of his case, it was decided that in order to make an updated decision, he would have to be questioned. Based on the findings of this questioning, a decision will be made on his entry into Israel.”
Egypt opens Rafah crossing for 2nd consecutive day
GAZA (Ma‘an) 29 Jan — On the second of three days Egyptian authorities decided to open the Rafah border crossing to allow passage for Palestinians sealed inside the Gaza Strip, the Palestinian borders committee said 457 Palestinians crossed into Egypt and 591 Palestinians returned to Gaza through the crossing during on Saturday. The committee added that 38 were denied crossing into Egypt for unknown reasons. Egypt opened Rafah crossing on Saturday after 38 days of closure, announcing the crossing would be opened for a total of three days for humanitarian cases.
Army fires at homes, lands, east of Gaza City
IMEMC 29 Jan — Israeli soldiers stationed across the border fence fired many live rounds at Palestinian homes, property, and farmlands east of Gaza city, causing excessive damage. The WAFA Palestinian News Agency said the soldiers, stationed on towers in the Nahal Oz military base, fired dozens of rounds at homes and lands east of the Sheja‘eyya neighborhood, causing serious damage. The attack also forced Palestinian farmers and workers out of their lands, especially in areas close to the border fence.
Braving Israeli bullets in Gaza’s sea
GAZA STRIP (EI)26 Jan by Nesma Seyam — Gaza’s fishermen have already endured regular Israeli attacks during the first few weeks of 2017. On 4 January, Muhammad al-Hissi went missing after the Israeli navy sank the vessel on which he worked. Although his body has not been recovered, members of his family have resigned themselves to the probability that al-Hissi was killed. A memorial service was organized for al-Hissi a few days after he went missing, while his family issued a statement describing him as a “martyr for God’s reward.” Aged 33, he was the father of three children. “He is an excellent swimmer – like all fishermen,” said Muhammad’s brother Wael. “He would have made it to the shore if he was alive.” The incident occurred off Sudaniya Beach in northern Gaza. An Israeli navy gunboat rammed directly into the fishing vessel, which belongs to Rashad al-Hissi, Muhammad’s cousin, causing it to capsize. No warning was issued before the attack …
A number of other attacks against fishermen have taken place since then. On 12 January, Israeli naval ships opened fire at fishermen working off Khan Younis in southern Gaza. Four days later, Israel shot at fishermen in the northern Gaza area. Five fishermen were taken into detention. Anas Siyam and his father, Imad, were among those arrested. They were held until the following day. “We were operating within the permitted fishing area,” Anas said. “Yet they still arrested us and confiscated our net, power generator and the boat itself.” On 17 January, a fisherman was injured after the Israeli navy fired rubber-coated steel bullets at him. That incident, too, occurred in the northern Gaza area. Another fisherman was shot in the head with a rubber-coated steel bullet six days later. The fisherman in question, Auranus al-Sultan, was one of those who had been detained by Israel the previous week….
Israeli soldiers abduct two Palestinians in southern Gaza
IMEMC 29 Jan — Israeli soldiers abducted, on Sunday evening, two young men in Palestinian lands close to the border fence in Rafah, in the southern part of the Gaza Strip. The soldiers also fired live rounds and several flares. The WAFA Palestinian News Agency has reported that the soldiers abducted two Palestinians, in their twenties, and took them to a military base, across the border fence. WAFA added that the soldiers also fired dozens of live rounds, and flares, in the area, especially in Palestinian lands close to the border fence.
100,000 hours of isolation: Gaza blockade enters its 12th year
Global Research 28 Jan — A recent report by the Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Monitor exposes the catastrophic consequences of Israel’s 11-year long blockade on the Gaza Strip. While Israel is only continuing its long history of isolating Gaza yet at an unprecedented length and severity since 2006, the international community shoulders this isolation with silence and oblivion. For eleven years, Israel has systematically used the two policies of isolation and division, in addition to violence, to keep the humanitarian situation in Gaza growing worse and worse — “The consequences of the blockade continue to aggravate in unimaginable ways,” says Ramy Abdu, chairman of Euro-Med Monitor. “The multiple, multifaceted and interconnected crises documented in our new report communicate much about civilian suffering in the Gaza Strip. Over 2 million people struggle with both growing rates of poverty, unemployment and food-insecurity and with diminishing quality of basic services, including electricity, water, education and healthcare.” The report, Gaza: 100,000 hours of isolation, taking after the estimate duration of the blockade, brings to attention yet more shocking statistics of the humanitarian situation in Gaza. 65% of Gazans suffer from poverty, 72% are food-insecure, and 80% have grown dependent on international aid. 43% of Palestinians in Gaza face the heavy economic and social burdens of unemployment. This percentage, recorded in the fourth quarter of 2016, is unprecedentedly high, especially when compared to that in the West Bank, standing at 18.7% …. Click here to read the full report.
Gaza security forces detain Fatah member at Rafah crossing
GAZA (Ma‘an) 29 Jan — Gaza security forces detained Fatah leader Arafat Abu Shabab early on Sunday morning while he attempted to return to the Gaza Strip through the Rafah crossing, after leaving the besieged coastal enclave 10 years ago. Abu Shabab’s brother told Ma‘an that Hamas security forces detained Abu Shabab at the crossing at 2 a.m. on Sunday, amid a three-day opening of the Rafah border terminal, which is sealed by Egyptian authorities for the majority of the year. He added that Abu Shabab left Gaza in 2007, following Hamas’ election victory in 2006, which erupted into a violent conflict between the Fatah and Hamas as both attempted to consolidate control over the territory. Ma‘an reported in 2014 that Abu Shabab was also detained by Gaza security forces at the Rafah crossing when he attempted to return to Gaza Strip at the time. Sunday’s incident came after Fatah and Hamas officials met earlier this month to discuss political reconciliation and the eventual formation of a unity government, with Fatah officials affirming that the internal Palestinian divisions “should end in a short time.”
Gaza security forces detain Palestinian writer, summon activists
GAZA (Ma‘an) 29 Jan — Gaza security forces detained Palestinian writer Abdullah Abu Sharikh and summoned a number of activists from the Jabaliya refugee camp in the northern besieged Gaza Strip. Local sources told Ma‘an that Hamas security forces detained Abu Sharikh after summoning him for interrogation on Saturday. They added that activists Amr Balusha, Muhammad al-Taluli and Shukri Abu Aoun were also summoned over their involvement in protests denouncing the electricity crises in the blockaded Palestinian territory. “We have received summonses to meet with intelligence forces,” Balusha wrote on Facebook. “We demand that all factions leaders appointed to solve the crisis help resolve the situation as soon as possible.”
Alternative farming on the rise in besieged Gaza
[with photos] GAZA STRIP (Al Jazeera) 29 Jan by Mersiha Gadzo — January is usually a busy month for farmers in Gaza, as it marks the wheat planting season, but so far, Jaber Abu Rejela has had little work to do on his 80 dunams (8 hectares) of land in Abasan al-Kabira, near the Israeli border. “I have nothing to do. I’m looking for ways out of this country because we have nothing else to do,” Abu Rejela, 57, said wryly, noting that he was waiting for Israeli forces to spray pesticides over his farmland before planting, as the crops would be ruined if they were sprayed afterwards. The Red Cross told farmers that Israel would spray pesticides from mid-December to mid-January. According to Adham Bassiouni, chairman of Gaza’s Integrated Pest Management, most of the crops in more than 4,000 dunams of land near the border were damaged last year due to sprayed pesticides. Gaza’s most arable land is also its most dangerous. More than a third of Gaza’s agricultural land is now part of the Israeli buffer zone … With shrinking cultivable land and the water system largely contaminated, many Palestinians in the impoverished Gaza Strip have been searching for alternative ways of finding fresh food and water.
At sunset on a warm January day, Said Salim Abu Nasser’s three grandsons crouched on the ground, using bricks to crush chalk into powder for calcium to help grow vegetables in water. Abu Nasser, 53, has grown 3,500 kilogrammes of organic produce without any soil, transforming his rooftop and concrete lot in Gaza City into an organic oasis. He grows a dozen different types of vegetables and herbs for his family, including eight children and eight grandchildren. Using hydroponic techniques, Abu Nasser can grow twice as many crops than with conventional techniques, and he saves 90 percent more water by recycling nutrient-dense water. His broccoli, tomatoes, lettuce and cauliflower float on polystyrene squares with holes cut into them, while their roots absorb nutrients from the water….
2 Palestinians injured by unknown explosive device in Gaza
GAZA (Ma‘an) 30 Jan — Two Palestinians were injured when an unknown explosive device detonated in al-Nuseirat refugee camp in the central Gaza Strip on Sunday evening. Ministry of Health in Gaza spokesman Ashraf Qaddura said that one of the Palestinians was moderately injured, while the other was in critical condition and had to undergo surgery to amputate several fingers. The two Palestinians were being treated at the Shuhada al-Aqsa hospital in central Gaza, while security forces were investigating in the incident. While the nature of the explosion remained unclear as of Monday morning, more than 7,000 unexploded pieces of ordnance were left throughout the Gaza Strip following the 2014 war between Israel and Palestinian militant groups, according to officials of the UN Humanitarian Coordinator for the Palestinian territories (OCHA). A 2012 report published by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights said that 111 civilians, 64 of whom were children, were casualties of unexploded ordnance between 2009 and 2012, reaching an average of four every month in 2012.
Senior Hamas leader speaks out on new charter, Trump moving US embassy to Jerusalem
MEMO 27 Jan — In an interview with Al Jazeera English’s current affairs show UpFront, Osama Hamdan, a senior leader of Hamas, revealed that the group is working on a new charter which includes addressing widely criticised anti-Semitic statements in the  original. “We will have a clear political document, which is supposed to be in the near future, clarifying all those points,” Hamadan told UpFront host Mehdi Hasan, referring to anti-Semitic conspiratorial claims in the Hamas charter accusing Jews of running the world, creating communism and starting World War One and Two. “You will find in this document clear words that we against the Zionists, against the occupation of our lands and we will resist the occupiers, whoever they were. And we are not against anyone regarding to this religion or to his race,” Hamdan said. When asked about a timeframe for the new charter, Hamdan said it would be released “very soon”. Hamdan also commented on his organisation’s current stance on a two-state solution with Israel. “We want to build a Palestinian state on the lines of the 4th of June 67, including Jerusalem, with the right of return for Palestinians,” he said, referring to the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. However, when pressed to further clarify if that meant Hamas supports a two-state solution, Hamdan said that “would be inaccurate”. “You can call it whatever you want, but this is what we accept. Nothing more than this, nothing less than this,” he added….The interview was aired on 27th January 2017 at 19:30 GMT, full show is available to watch here.
Hamas leader ends ‘successful’ visit to Egypt
CAIRO (AP) 28 Jan — Hamas, the ruling Palestinian movement of the Gaza Strip, concluded a “successful” visit to Egypt on Friday, according to Egypt’s state-run news agency, the first visit by the group’s top leader in over three years. Hamas top official Ismail Haniyeh and his delegation departed Egypt to return to Gaza after talks with the country’s security and political authorities, including intelligence chief Khalid Fawzy, Egypt’s MENA reported. The two sides discussed Israel’s blockade of Gaza, Palestinian reconciliation and the lingering power outage in the strip. The agency quoted Hamas’ statement as saying the talks will have “positive results” on the situation in Gaza. It said that the delegation stressed that it doesn’t interfere in Egypt’s internal affairs.“The Egyptian brothers have presented a comprehensive vision on all issues … such vision will have positive results on the Egyptian and the Palestinian people,” it said. The agency gave no further details on future arrangements. But Haniyah posted on his Twitter saying after arriving in Gaza that the relations with Egypt will witness “paradigm shifts.” … For most of the past decade, Egypt has been a quiet partner with Israel in the blockade on Hamas-ruled Gaza, stifling the economy and largely blocking its 2 million people from moving in and out of the territory. In recent months, Cairo has increased the number of people allowed to exit through the Rafah border crossing, Gaza’s main gateway to the outside world. It also has begun to allow Gaza to import commercial goods through Rafah for the first time since 2013, and sent public signals that it is interested in improving relations.
Knesset panel okays release of bombshell 2014 Gaza war report
JPost 29 Jan by Yonah Jeremy Bob — The Knesset State Control’s classified subcommittee announced on Sunday that it had approved publishing of the State Comptroller’s Report on the 2014 Gaza war. Parts of the report would remain classified for national security reasons, the announcement also said. According to pundits, the report is expected to be a political bombshell for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in terms of his reputation as “Mr. Security,” with consequences ranging from eventually bringing down the government to being another shot against his standing as rivals wait for a moment to strike … According to leaked portions of the report, the comptroller first slams Netanyahu; Moshe Ya’alon, who was defense minister from 2013 to 2016; and former Lt.-Gen. Benny Gantz, who was IDF chief of staff from 2011 to 2015, for failing to warn the security cabinet about intelligence they had from the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) about the possibility of war with Hamas….
Land, property theft & destruction / Ethnic cleansing / Settlements
Israeli forces prepare to demolish newly donated homes in Umm al-Hiran
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 29 Jan — Israeli police forces raided the unrecognized Bedouin community of Umm al-Hiran in the Negev region on Sunday, surrounding mobile homes that were donated the previous day to provide housing for families that were left homeless two weeks ago after Israeli authorities razed their homes to the ground. Locals in the village said Israeli forces were preparing to dismantle the newly donated homes. Residents of the village called upon Palestinians citizens of Israel and their leadership to head to the village to prevent Israeli authorities from carrying out the demolition. Israeli police spokesperson Micky Rosenfeld told Ma‘an he was not aware of the incident. A representative from the local Israeli municipality could not immediately be reached for comment on the impending demolition.
On Saturday, two mobile homes were delivered to Umm al-Hiran, ten days after Israeli authorities demolished more than a dozen structures in the community belonging to Palestinian citizens of Israel. Eight homes and seven agricultural structures were razed to the ground in Umm al-Hiran on Jan. 18, hours after locals, activists, and Palestinian members of Israel’s parliament, the Knesset, gathered to resist the evacuation, sparking clashes with Israeli police that left two people killed under widely contested circumstances. Leadership from Palestinian-majority villages in the Wadi Ara region in northern Israel donated one mobile home, while the other was donated by the Arab Lawyers Union after representatives of the union visited Umm al-Hiran and initiated a campaign on social media platform WhatsApp, raising 25,000 shekels (approximately $6,625), according to local sources. A third mobile home donated by residents of the city of Jaffa in central Israel was also expected to arrive on Sunday.
Protesters condemn planned demolition of Bedouin community of al-Zarnouq
BEERSHEBA (Ma‘an) 29 Jan — Dozens of demonstrators gathered in front of the governmental complex in the city of Beersheba in the Negev region Sunday morning, in protest of a plan by Israeli authorities to expel thousands of Palestinian citizens of Israel from the unrecognized Bedouin community of al-Zarnouq. Protesters held signs condemning Israel’s policy of removing the indigenous Palestinian population from the Negev and transferring them to government-zoned townships to make room for the expansion of Jewish-Israeli communities. More than half of the approximately 160,000 Negev Bedouins reside across 35 villages considered “unrecognized” by the Israeli state. The state of Israel plans to evacuate some 5,000 residents to the village of Rahat in order to construct new Israeli housing on al-Zarnouq’s lands, protesters said. Among the participants of the demonstration were Rahat Mayor Talal al-Qrinawi, Palestinian Knesset member Talab Abu Arar, and head of the Steering Committee of Arabs in Negev and former Knesset member Talab al-Sana. … Meanwhile, Israeli news site Arab 48 reported on Sunday that Israeli police had interrogated two principals of schools in the northern Israeli city of Haifa over their role in organizing and participating in a student march in solidarity with Umm al-Hiran. According to Arab 48, students who participated in the march were also targeted by an anonymous campaign, with unknown sources threatening them not to participate in future actions….
Israel advances plans for settler units to house evacuees of illegal outposts
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 27 Jan — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has reportedly advanced plans for 68 housing units in the illegal settlement of Ofra in the occupied West Bank in order to house Israeli settlers residing in nine homes slated for demolition in February, Israeli media reported on Friday. According to Israeli newspaper Haaretz, an Israeli senior official had reported that a meeting was held on Wednesday between Israeli officials in order to form an agreement with the Israeli settlers. However, Israeli residents of the homes reportedly told Haaretz that they had not been informed of any deal, and rejected the offer of housing units, instead demanding an “inclusive agreement process.” The Ofra settlement has recently begun expanding without obtaining permission from the Israeli government, Haaretz reported, noting that ten to twenty mobile homes were set up in the span of a week without permits, in addition to another ten caravans the Israeli government had approved for the relocation of some of the residents of the Amona outpost, also slated for demolition in February. Ofra settlers reportedly announced this week that they were planning a hunger strike outside the Israeli Knesset to obtain government recognition for the unauthorized homes built on private Palestinian land.
Knesset set to okay outpost legalization bill in final votes
Times of Israel 29 Jan — The Knesset this week is set to pass into law a controversial bill that would legalize some 4,000 housing units in the West Bank built on privately owned Palestinian land. The so-called Regulation Bill was put on ice in December until US President Donald Trump entered the White House on January 20. On Saturday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu instructed coalition chairman David Bitan (Likud) to bring the proposed legislation to its second and third readings in the plenum this week, according to Hebrew reports. A special Knesset committee created to hammer out the legislation was set to vote on its final formulation on Monday morning, clearing the bill for its final votes in the plenum as early as Monday afternoon, though a final date has not yet been confirmed. The votes come ahead of the court-ordered demolition of the Amona outpost and nine buildings in the nearby West Bank settlement of Ofra by February 8. The legislation was not expected to circumvent the final court order on Amona but could avert the demolitions of other structures for which a final ruling has not yet been handed down. The residents of Ofra, who had planned to launch a hunger strike this week, called off the protest after the government announced it would advance the law, amid hopes it would annul the demolition orders, the Ynet news website reported … Under the bill, the government will be able to appropriate land for its own use if the owners are not known. If the owners are known, they will be eligible for either yearly damages amounting to 125 percent of the value of leasing the land, a larger financial package valued at 20 years’ worth of leasing the plots, or alternate plots. Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit has warned that the Regulation Bill breaches both local and international law, and indicated that the High Court is likely to strike it down….
New report reveals top Israeli official living in illegal colonial settlement
IMEMC 26 Jan — An Israeli Finance Minister, who is in charge of implementing a law to demolish Palestinian homes in the West Bank, is himself living in an unlicensed building in an illegal colonial settlement on Occupied Palestinian land – and he is just one of many Israeli officials living in illegal settlements, according to a new report. The report, released Wednesday by the Palestine Liberation Organization, documented a number of top Israeli officials, many of whom are tasked with displacing Palestinians or demolishing their homes, living on illegally seized Palestinian land. The Israeli Finance Minister Avi Cohen, lives in a colonial settlement outpost of 40 fixed and mobile structures, which was constructed on land stolen from Palestinian owners in the villages of Qaryout, Saweiya and Al-Luban in the Nablus region. The settlement where Cohen lives is an expansion of the larger settlement of ‘Eli’ and is known as ‘Bilgi Maime’. But the Israeli government did not approve this expansion, and Cohen’s part in building his home on stolen Palestinian land is in direct violation of both Israeli and international law. However, since Cohen has headed the Regional Unit on Planning and Construction, under his watch the unit has tacitly and actively allowed the expansion of settlements like Bilgi Maime on Palestinian land. Cohen himself was in charge of issuing demolition orders against Palestinian homes, including some that were demolished in order to make way for the construction of Cohen’s illegal settlement outpost….
Weekly report on Israeli human rights violations in the occupied Palestinian territory (19-25 January)
PCHR-Gaza 26 Jan — Israeli forces killed a Palestinian civilian in the north-eastern side of occupied Jerusalem. 2 Palestinian Civilians were wounded, including a child, in the West Bank. Israeli forces continued to target Palestinian fishermen in the Gaza Sea. 3 fishermen, including a child, were wounded in two shootings against their Boats in the northern Gaza Strip Israeli forces continued to target the Gaza Strip border areas, but no casualties were reported. A watchtower belonging to Palestinian armed groups was damaged, east of al-Maghazi. Israeli forces conducted 63 incursions into Palestinian communities in the West Bank and a limited one into the Gaza Strip. 64 civilians, including 17 children and 7 activists in the Popular Committee against the Wall and Settlements, were arrested in the West Bank. 17 of them, including 12 children, were arrested in occupied Jerusalem. Israeli forces continued their efforts to create a Jewish majority in occupied East Jerusalem. 22 commercial shops were demolished in the vicinity of Qalendia checkpoint, north of Jerusalem. A store, parking and store for construction materials were demolished. Israeli settlers took over a store in ‘Aqabet al-Khalidiyah neighbourhood in the Old City. Settlement activities continued in the West Bank. 4 dwellings and 10 other facilities were demolished in Kherbet Karzliyah, north of Jericho, rendering 11 persons homeless, including 6 children. Israeli settlers uprooted olive trees from the lands of Bitello village in Ramallah [details of these and other events follow]
Israel proposes anti-polygamy plan against Palestinians
MEMO 29 Jan — In a cabinet’s weekly meeting on Sunday, Israeli ministers backed a long-term plan which calls for polygamy elimination among Israeli Arabs, Times of Israel reported. The plan aims to incorporate anti-bigamy education in the Israeli schooling system and create outreach programmes. Speaking at Sunday’s meeting, Israeli Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked described the proposal as an “important step” in a bid to raise awareness of the phenomenon, noting that the polygamous lifestyle has a negative influence on family life, including in financial terms, and serves as a platform for further violations … Polygamy has been illegal in Israel since 1977, carrying a five-year jail sentence and a fine. However, the law is rarely enforced as many of the marriages are not registered by Israel’s population authorities. It is most prevalent among Israel’s Bedouin community, with some 36 per cent of the community in polygamous relationships, according to Israeli police data. According to figures presented in the cabinet proposal, a third of Bedouin men in Israel are thought to be bigamists and most of the women taken as second or third wives are Palestinians from the West Bank or Gaza Strip residing in Israel illegally. A recent report, released by Channel 10, has claimed that a number of Israeli rabbis affiliated with the Chief Rabbinate allowed some Orthodox Jewish men to take a second wife. On 15 January, Israel’s attorney general Avichai Mendelblit called on Israel’s authorities to increase enforcement of the laws concerning polygamy.
Palestinians in West Bank save Israelis after bus accident
The Media Line 29 Jan by Linda Gradstein — A Palestinian family in the West Bank village of Al-Lubban ash-Sharqiya ran into the pouring rain in their pajamas after they noticed an upturned bus that had rolled downhill. Two people were killed in the accident. Capt. Sivan Raviv, a medical officer in the Binyamin Division, told Ynet that the family was the first to call emergency services late Friday night, and that their quick thinking saved lives. “They didn’t hesitate or stop to weigh things out. They saw that human lives were on the line. When we arrived at the site we saw the family members already trying to extract the injured parties and offer them treatment.”
How Israel polices Palestinian voices online
Al Jazeera 29 Jan — At about this time last year, Israel was facing what came to be known as the “knife intifada” – hundreds of apparently uncoordinated attacks involving Palestinians stabbing Israelis. While 36 Israelis lost their lives, more than 200 Palestinians were killed, during that period, by Israeli security forces. The other weapon, apart from kitchen knives, that drew the attention of the Israeli security establishment was social media. The rationale offered: because some attackers went online to signal their intent or had been exposed to provocative posts there, the internet required policing for what the authorities called “incitement”. The result: hundreds of arrests and prison sentences for Palestinian activists, ordinary citizens, as well as journalists – based on what they wrote or shared – particularly on Facebook. Facebook itself has reportedly responded to numerous requests from the Israelis to censor its content, but that hasn’t stopped politicians pushing for new laws to force social media companies to comply more fully. Palestinians affected say Facebook is just another place where their voices have been silenced. The Listening Post’s Will Yong reports from Israel and the Occupied Territories on the emergence of social media as yet another battleground in the conflict between Israelis and Palestinians … Israeli minister Ayelet Shaked told members of the press: “A year ago Facebook removed 50 percent of content that we requested. Today Facebook is removing 95 percent of content we ask them to.
Protesters in Antwerp facing trial for organizing Palestine demonstration
Samidoun 26 Jan — Three demonstrators who participated in a 2014 protest in Antwerp, Belgium against the attack on the Gaza Strip were called before the court in Antwerp on 24 January. They are charged with incitement to racism against the Jewish community in Antwerp, not based on independent findings by the police, but instead on a complaint filed by supporters of Israel. Based on a very thin file, the public prosecutor began a prosecution against the three, joined by the Centre Against Racism. The prosecution is seeking heavy penalties against the defendants: six months in prison for two of the three defendants, identified as the organizers, and 60 days of community service for a Palestinian from Gaza. The ruling in the case will take place on 21 February. Below is the statement previously circulated by the event organizers:….
Trump cites Israel’s ‘wall’ as model. The analogy is iffy.
NY Times 28 Jan by Isabel Kershner — President Donald Trump has invoked Israel’s “wall” as a model for the barrier he has vowed to build along the United States’ border with Mexico. His wall, he says, will keep out unauthorized immigrants who bring drugs and crime into the United States. “A wall protects,” Trump told Sean Hannity of Fox News on Thursday. “All you have to do is ask Israel. They were having a total disaster coming across and they had a wall. It’s 99.9 percent stoppage.” It is not immediately clear which “wall” Trump was referring to. Israel has built fences along its borders with Egypt; along its northern border with Lebanon; and along its boundary with the Gaza Strip. But Israel’s best-known barrier is the one built along and inside the West Bank after a surge of terrorist attacks … Since March 2002, there has been a sharp decline in the number and scope of terrorist attacks by West Bank Palestinians in Israel. Security officials say that the barrier has undoubtedly helped, but that there are several other important factors. As the second Palestinian intifada, or uprising, waned around 2004, Hamas, the militant group that controls Gaza, put a moratorium on suicide bombings. Furthermore, the Israeli military still operates on the other side of the West Bank barrier, carrying out nightly raids in Palestinian towns, villages and refugee camps to arrest people suspected of being militants. Israel also benefits from continuing security cooperation with the Western-backed Palestinian Authority, which has an interest in suppressing Hamas and other militants in the West Bank and preventing attacks against Israel. The barrier was never meant to stop all Palestinian movement into Israel. Palestinian laborers apply for permits and more than 50,000 people legally cross daily through a series of checkpoints that puncture the winding 400-mile route of the barrier. But the system has proved far from hermitic. Depending on the season, up to 60,000 Palestinians without work permits sneak across the barrier to work in construction, agriculture or service industries in Israel, either through gaps in the route or by using the services of local smugglers….
Israel’s Netanyahu says US embassy should be in Jerusalem
AP 29 Jan — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Sunday that the American embassy in Israel should be moved from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, injecting himself once again into a charged campaign trail promise of U.S. President Donald Trump. Netanyahu’s comments at his weekly Cabinet meeting appeared aimed at countering reports that Israel was concerned about the fallout of such a move, which is vehemently opposed by the Palestinians and has sparked fears of a renewed outbreak of violence. It comes a day after Netanyahu unilaterally endorsed Trump’s call to build a wall along the Mexican border, saying the Israeli model along its border with Egypt has proven successful. I would like to clarify unequivocally that our view has always been, and continues to be, that the United States’ embassy should be here in Jerusalem,” Netanyahu said. “Jerusalem is the capital of Israel and it is appropriate that not only the American embassy will be here but that all embassies will move here and I believe that in due course most will come here, to Jerusalem.” Currently, nearly all foreign embassies are located in the coastal city of Tel Aviv because their countries have refrained from recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital until its status is resolved in future peace talks. Israel has long called for the embassies to be relocated but hasn’t pushed hard for it given the widespread international opposition. But Trump’s rise has emboldened Israel’s nationalists….
Israel takes in 100 Syrian orphans under UN conditions
TEL AVIV (Asharq Al-Awsat) 27 Jan — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Interior Minister Arye Deri have agreed to grant asylum to 100 Syrian orphans and provide them with housing and education hours after deciding to revoke the residency status of 11 Palestinians. Israel will coordinate the arrival of children with the United Nations, a source said. According to the source, there is a plan to admit the children to Israeli boarding schools and to accommodate them in the occupied Golan Heights or in Arab towns in Israel. The children will be brought to Israel with temporary residency status, said the source. That status will allow them to receive Israeli identification cards, however it will not immediately qualify them for national passports. Under the initiative, the state plans to inform the United Nations that after four years of residency in the country, the children will become eligible for permanent residency status, authorizing their indefinite legal stay in Israel. Since 2013, Israel has allowed around 3,000 Syrians in for medical care. The majority of the wounded Syrians have been civilians. They usually return home after the end of their recuperation period. Israel’s decision to take in the Syrian children came as Netanyahu and Deri began the process of revoking the residency status of the family of Palestinian Fadi al-Qunbar who rammed a truck into a group of soldiers in Jerusalem two weeks ago. However, it is not yet known whether the residencies of al-Qunbar’s nephews (ages five and eight) would also be revoked. According to Israel’s Population and Immigration Authority, the family members’ presence in Israeli would be considered illegal as soon as the residencies have been revoked. It is not yet clear how they will be deported. Some rightists have suggested that they be sent to Syria.