Violence / Detentions — West Bank / Jerusalem
Report: Israel planning to build settlement on site of Jerusalem attacker’s home
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 11 Jan — The Jerusalem municipality has reportedly approved plans to establish a new settlement in the occupied East Jerusalem neighborhood of Jabal al-Mukabbir, on the site of the home of a Palestinian who carried out a deadly truck attack on Saturday, according to Israel’s Channel 10. Israel’s security cabinet has already ordered Fadi al-Qunbar’s home to be demolished, after he drove his truck into a group of Israeli soldiers in the illegal Israeli settlement of East Talpiyyot that neighbors Jabal al-Mukabbir, killing four, and was shot dead at the scene. In spite of their insistence that they had no advanced knowledge of plans by al-Qunbar to carry out an attack, the family will be left homeless by Israel’s policy of punitive home demolition, which has been widely condemned as an act of collective punishment and illegal under international law. Al-Qunbar’s mother and 12 others of his relatives will also have their Jerusalem residency status revoked, as Israeli leaders have also called for the family to be exiled to the blockaded Gaza Strip or even war-torn Syria. According to a Hebrew-language report on the website for Israel’s Channel 10, the Jerusalem municipality is preparing to build a new settlement on the remains of the soon-to-be destroyed house and a large surrounding area in the neighborhood. The report claimed that plans for 2,500 settler units have been approved for construction in Jabal al-Mukabbir. A spokesperson for the Jerusalem municipality told Ma’an that “the plans in question were approved a year ago, and are unrelated to recent events,” adding that the planned housing units “were designed to address the needs of Jabal al-Mukabbir’s residents and to serve the local community.”
Palestinian teen undergoes leg amputation ‘after being hit by Israeli jeep’
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 11 Jan — A 16-year-old Palestinian detainee has had to undergo a below-the-knee amputation due to a severe injuries he sustained after an Israeli jeep hit him at an Israeli military checkpoint in the northern occupied West Bank district of Jenin last week, according to Palestinian prisoners’ rights group Addameer. Addameer wrote in a statement on Tuesday that an attorney representing Sharif Khanfar said the teen was with three of his friends riding a Vespa motorcycle when they were apprehended by Israeli forces for allegedly planning a vehicular attack on soldiers on Jan. 3, and were injured after an Israeli jeep hit them. The statement contradicted reports from Israeli police at the time of the incident, which did not mention an Israeli vehicle being involved. Initial reports from Israel media claimed the incident was a deliberate vehicular attack, but Israeli police spokesperson Luba al-Samri said later that it was an accident. The accident occurred at a so-called “flying checkpoint” — a non[?]-temporary Israeli military checkpoint — that had been set up between the city of Jenin and the al-Jalama checkpoint, which Palestinians use to cross into Israel from the northern occupied West Bank. Al-Samri’s initial statement said that one motorcycle “bumped into” Israeli soldiers who were on foot at a military checkpoint, while three other motorcycles involved in the incident “fled the scene.” However, she issued a correction later saying only three motorcycles had been involved — one carrying two Palestinians and another carrying one — without elaborating details of how the accident itself occurred. A second Palestinian was severely injured in the incident, and a third was lightly injured. Two Israeli soldiers were lightly injured under unclear circumstances, though al-Samri seemed to suggest, without saying explicitly, that they were on foot by neglecting to mention the involvement of a military jeep. Al-Samri also did not mention in her statements that anyone was detained after the accident or accused with wrongdoing. An Israeli police spokesperson could not immediately be reached on Wednesday to confirm whether or not the teen was in fact being detained. Israel’s emergency medical service Magen David Adom (MDA) said they evacuated the two severely injured Palestinian motorcyclists to Israel’s HaEmek hospital. However, according to Addameer, Khanfar was being detained by Israeli authorities in the hospital, which is located in the Israeli city of Afula, north of the border with the occupied West Bank. Addameer’s statement said Khanfar and his family members were “shocked” by the incident that resulted in the loss of a leg, and denied that he and his friends had intended to carry out an attack.
Israeli police prevented medics from treating Palestinian assailant shot at checkpoint, witnesses say
Haaretz 10 Jan by Nir Hasson — Footage received by Haaretz supports claims that Jihan Muhammad Hashimeh was left on the ground with three bullet wounds for an hour and a half after trying to attack Israeli police with a knife — Witnesses and Palestinian medical teams say police officers prevented them from providing medical care for an hour and a half to Jihan Muhammad Hashimeh, a 35-year-old woman from East Jerusalem, who tried to attack the police and was shot at the Qalandiyah checkpoint in northern Jerusalem. Haaretz has obtained footage from the scene which seem to support the claims that she did not receive medical treatment for a long period of time. Hashimeh, from the Isawiyah neighborhood of East Jerusalem, arrived at the checkpoint early on Friday morning, December 30, 2016. A police statement says she was walking in the lane meant for vehicular traffic to pass through the checkpoint, and approached quickly toward the police with an object in her hand that she was trying to hide. The Israeli forces followed procedure “and started calling several times for her to stop. When she did not respond to the calls of the police and continued to walk quickly in their direction with her hand holding an object the entire time, she was ‘neutralized,'” said the police. Hashima was wounded by a number of shots and fell in the road. Witnesses said that from that moment the police did not allow anyone to approach her for about an hour and a half. “The woman was at a distance of 30 to 40 meters and she was moving,” said a paramedic from the Palestinian Red Crescent society, Hassam al-Din Issa, to the Physicians for Human Rights organization. “I asked the Border Police to let me enter, so I could treat her, and they told me to leave the scene. After about an hour, during which no one approached the injured woman, a Magen David Adom ambulance arrived. For half an hour they did not come close to her while the woman did not stop moving and shouting ‘Allah Akhbar,'” he said.…
Israeli forces detain 33 Palestinians, confiscate belongings in overnight raids
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 10 Jan — Israeli forces detained at least 33 Palestinians, including at least six minors, during overnight raids in occupied East Jerusalem and the West Bank between Monday and Tuesday, Palestinian and Israeli sources said. In East Jerusalem, the Palestinian Prisoner’s Society (PPS) reported that Israeli forces detained three minors in the neighborhood of Jabal al-Mukabbir, identifying them as Usama Uweisat, 12, his brother Bassim, 14, and their cousin Muhammad, 14. According to a statement from Israeli police spokesperson Luba al-Samri, the three were detained and interrogated on suspicion of throwing rocks and Molotov cocktails at Israeli police in Jabal al-Mukabbir, with no injuries reported … In the northern occupied West Bank, PPS reported that Israeli forces detained 11 Palestinians in the village of Jaba‘a in the Jenin district …In the Tubas district, PPS identified four Palestinians detained in al-Fara‘a refugee camp … In the southern district of Hebron, Israeli forces detained Yaqoub Moussa Jaradat, Fadi Ishaq Jaradat, and Yousif Abd al-Rizq Jaradat in the village of Sa‘ir, as well as Qusay Ahmad Khalil Abu Hashem, 16, in Beit Ummar, PPS reported.
Local activist Muhammad Ayyad Awwad told Ma‘an that Israeli forces raided the home of Ahmad Khalil Abu Hashem and seized 2,500 shekels ($650) the family had collected through donations to pay a fine imposed on Qusay’s 18-year-old brother Hamza, who has been detained by Israel for five months. Awwad added that Israeli troops damaged furniture and confiscated two mobile phones from the house before detaining Qusay and summoning his father Ahmad, 50, for interrogation. Awwad said that Israeli forces also ransacked the home of Jamil Masharqa, confiscating 253 shekels ($66), a credit card, a watch, gold jewelry, a computer, and his wife’s car, despite the vehicle having a valid registration and insurance policy. The activist said that soldiers also took 255 shekels from the home of Mahmoud Muhammad Adi. An Israeli army spokesperson confirmed one detention in Beit Ummar, as well as two detentions in ‘Uddeisa, one in Khirbet Marah al-Butum, and another in Idhna — all Hebron-area villages.
Israel releases 2 children from Bethlehem-area town after detaining them for 3 hours
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 10 Jan — Israeli forces Tuesday released two Palestinian children from the town of al-Khader in western Bethlehem in the occupied West Bank after detaining them earlier in the day and allegedly assaulting one of them. A family member told Ma‘an that Israeli forces released Muhammad Salah, 12, and Issa Salah, 10, after holding them both for three hours on Tuesday. The family member added that Issa had been assaulted by Israeli forces, but did not provide details. The unidentified family member also said that the area was “becoming dangerous for our children as they are close to the separation wall where Israeli army forces are always around.” … According to the Bethlehem-based Applied Research Institute-Jerusalem, more than 1,300 acres have been confiscated from al-Khader village for the construction of Israel’s separation wall, cutting off scores of families from their agricultural incomes….
Army abducts father of Palestinian killed in October 2015
IMEMC 11 Jan — Israeli soldiers abducted, Tuesday, the father of Tha’er Abu Ghazala, who was killed by the army in early October of 2016. The Abu Ghazala family said dozens of soldiers surrounded their home before invading it, and violently searched the property. It added that the soldiers then abducted Abdul-Salam Abu Ghazala, and took him to the al-Qashla detention and interrogation center in Jerusalem’s Old City. It is worth mentioning that Tha’er Abu Ghazala was killed in Tel Aviv, on October 8, 2015, allegedly after stabbing and wounding four Israelis. The Israeli authorities kept his remains in a morgue for ten months, and only allowed a few members of his family to bury him on Tuesday at dawn, August 30, 2016.
Israeli forces detain 10 Palestinians in Shu‘fat refugee camp
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 11 Jan — Clashes erupted between Israeli forces and Palestinian youths during a detention raid in the Shu‘fat refugee camp in the Jerusalem district of the occupied West Bank on Wednesday afternoon. A spokesperson for the Fatah movement in Shu‘fat, Thaer al-Fasfous, said that Israeli forces raided the camp looking for Palestinians suspected of having entered Israel without permits, detaining ten residents, including two dentists. Al-Fasfous said that he, like a number of other Palestinians, was briefly detained during the raid and released after his ID was checked. Clashes broke out during the raid for more than two hours, with Israeli forces reportedly firing tear gas and rubber-coated steel bullets at youth.
Israeli forces detain 25 Palestinians, including former governor, in raids
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 11 Jan — Israeli forces detained at least 25 Palestinians during raids between Tuesday night and Wednesday morning, including a member of the Fatah Revolutionary Council and a number of teenagers. Fatah Revolutionary Council member Talal Dweikat was detained from his house in Nablus in the northern occupied West Bank, according to Fatah spokesman Munir al-Jaghoub. “The Israeli occupation targets every Palestinian regardless of political affiliation and the best response to that is to close ranks and maintain national unity,” al-Jaghoub said, commenting on the detention. Dweikat is the former governor of the northern occupied West Bank district of Tulkarem. Israeli forces also raided the Tulkarem-area Nur Shams refugee camp around dawn on Wednesday and detained four young Palestinian men, which was confirmed by an Israeli army spokesperson … Also in the northern occupied West Bank, the Israeli army said they detained two Palestinians in Nablus’ Balata refugee camp, one in the village of Beit Amin in the Qalqiliya district, one in the village of al-Zawiya. An Israeli army spokesperson also informed Ma‘an of one detention in Beit Rima in the Ramallah district, two others also near Ramallah, and one in the town of Dura in the southern occupied West Bank. In the southern occupied West Bank town of Tuqu‘ southwest of Bethlehem, Israeli forces carried out multiple predawn detention raids and detained 12 young men and teenagers, according to local sources and the Israeli army … The Israeli army also published video footage showing their activity in Tuqu‘ and in the nearby town of al-Khader. The footage from al-Khader shows Israeli soldiers surprising a group of Palestinians throwing stones at settler vehicles before soldiers detained them. In the village of Marah Rabah, also in the Bethlehem district, local sources said Israeli forces broke into a stone factory and seized records from surveillance cameras….
Palestinians stage sit-in in Nablus calling for return of hundreds of bodies held by Israel
NABLUS (Ma‘an) 11 Jan — Palestinian committees organized a sit-in with Palestinian families and local institutions in the northern occupied West Bank district of Nablus on Wednesday to demand the release of the bodies of Palestinians currently withheld by Israel. The mother of Darin Abu Eisha told Ma‘an that her daughter was killed on Nov. 27, 2002, after allegedly conducting an attack, and that Israel was still holding her body to this day. Coordinating Committee of Political Factions member Nasser Abu Jaish told Ma‘an that it was a human right to allow families to give their relatives a proper burial, and that obtaining the return of the bodies was a national duty. Abu Jaish added that Israel was still holding the bodies of 249 slain Palestinians, including some who have been held since the 1960s, adding that 52 of those withheld were from the Nablus district … A joint statement released by Addameer and Israeli minority rights group Adalah in March condemned Israel’s practice of withholding bodies as “a severe violation of international humanitarian law as well as international human rights law, including violations of the right to dignity, freedom of religion, and the right to practice culture.” Israel has long had “cemeteries for the enemy dead,” also referred to as “cemeteries of numbers,” where Palestinians who died during attacks on Israelis are held in nameless graves marked by numbers. Around 262 bodies were believed to be held by Israel as of mid-2015.
Land, property theft & destruction / Ethnic cleansing / Settlements / Judaization
10 Palestinian homes demolished in Israeli city, prompting mayor to resign
QALANSAWE (Ma‘an) 10 Jan — Israeli authorities demolished 10 homes belonging to Palestinian citizens of Israel in the city of Qalansawe in central Israel on Tuesday morning, prompting a defeated mayor to resign after Israeli authorities refused for decades to approve the city’s master plan. Local sources told Ma‘an the devastating demolition campaign sparked clashes between Israeli police and residents. Mayor Abd al-Basit Mansour visited the area along with members of the municipal council and announced he would resign from his post, as Israeli bulldozers razed the homes to the ground. Mansour told reporters that, “We have been waiting for approval of a master plan for twenty years, but our request fell on deaf ears.” “As head of the Qalansawe municipality, who doesn’t have the power to change anything, I decided to send my resignation to the Ministry of Interior.” Dozens of locals crowded in the area in an attempt to prevent bulldozers from demolishing the structures, but Israeli police officers dispersed them. One homeowner described the demolition as part of Israel’s policy of “oppression, injustice, and displacement.” Qalansawe resident Ashraf Abu Ali criticized leaders of Palestinian communities in Israel. “What have they done to prevent demolitions in the Arab communities?” he asked, asserting that Palestinian citizens of Israel would “remain under threat as long as master plans and allocating land for construction are dealt with so recklessly.”… Resident of the town Abd al-Rahim Odeh said large numbers of Israeli police officers and more than 20 bulldozers stormed Qalansawe “in an unprecedented act of barbarism.”….
Justice minister claims Bible gives Israel ‘legal right’ to Palestinian city
EI 10 Jan by Nora Barrows-Friedman — Israel has wasted no time accelerating Palestinian displacement during the first 10 days of 2017. On Tuesday, Israel’s justice minister Ayelet Shaked invoked biblical mythology to advocate for expanded Israeli Jewish colonization in the occupied West Bank city of Hebron. “This place was bought by patriarch Abraham for its full price, the first deed of sale of its type in the world, so we have both historical and legal right to this place,” she said in a short videotaped speech during a visit to the Ibrahimi mosque in Hebron. She dismissed recent “legal arguments” that have been raised concerning settlement construction and expansion, especially from the United Nations. Shaked also declared in Hebron that “the excuses” for freezing settlement construction are over as soon as US President-elect Donald Trump is sworn in, according to The Jerusalem Post. “[We] need to build and build,” she proclaimed, adding that Israeli settlement expansion in East Jerusalem as well as the rest of the West Bank “is our right,” the Post reports. Shaked, who has advocated for the genocide of Palestinians, denies that Israel is an occupier and has suggested that millions of Palestinians living in the occupied West Bank be pushed under Jordanian jurisdiction….
Palestinian citizens of Israel launch general strike in protest of demolitions
NAZARETH (Ma‘an) 11 Jan — Palestinian citizens of Israel launched a general strike on Wednesday in protest of the demolition of 10 homes in the central Israeli city of Qalansawe the previous day. The Higher Arab Monitoring Committee announced the strike — which will include the closure of all schools, businesses, and public places — following a meeting in Qalansawe. The meeting was held hours after Israeli bulldozers razed the houses to the ground for being built without permits, as authorities have rejected attempts by the municipality to legalize a master plan for the city for the past 20 years … Palestinian-majority cities across Israel will partake in the strike, including Nazareth, Umm al-Fahm, Rahat, and Kuseifa. Dozens of protesters in Umm al-Fahm held signs written in both Arabic and Hebrew condemning Israeli policies “strangling” Israeli towns with a majority Palestinian population and preventing them from developing. MK Yousif Jabarin participated in the event, calling the strike a successful expression of Palestinian citizens of Israel’s rejection of the Israeli government’s “racist procedures.” Strikes in towns and cities in the Southern Triangle region of Israel (Qalansawe, Tayibeh, Kafr Qasim, Tira, Kafr Bara and Jaljulia) will also include medical institutes.
Sit-ins were scheduled in the northern Israeli cities of Kafr Yasif and Baqa al-Gharbiyye in central Israel, while tens of Palestinian students with Israeli citizenship organized a sit in at Tel Aviv University on Wednesday morning in solidarity with Qalansawe and to condemn the Israeli demolition policy in Palestinian-majority towns. A march was also scheduled for Wednesday, from the entrance of Qalansawe to the site where demolitions were carried out. During a meeting of the Israeli Committee against House Demolitions in Qalansawe, committee members also decided to launch a campaign to aid the Palestinian citizens of Israel who were affected by the demolitions, to provide them with accommodation while they rebuilt their homes. Another major protest will be held after Friday prayers in the presence of residents from all Palestinian communities in Israel. Meanwhile, MK Dov Khenin [Joint List] visited Qalansawe and expressed his sympathy to the families affected by the demolitions….
Palestinians in Israel strike over home demolitions
Al Jazeera 11 Jan by Zena Tahhan — Palestinian citizens of Israel have announced a nationwide strike after Israeli authorities demolished 11 Palestinian homes. “We condemn the Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu personally for these crimes, that reflect his racist mentality and aim to divert attention away from his scandals,” said Mohammad Baraka, the head of the High Follow-up Committee, a representative body for the Palestinian citizens of the state. In a statement issued on Tuesday, the committee stressed the importance of standing in unity and joining ranks to repel “the new attack that the government has taken against us.” The homes were demolished on Tuesday in the city of Qalansawe in central Israel, on the pretext that they were built without a permit, but Palestinians say their permit applications are almost always denied causing them to build their homes illegally. The strike is taking place across all Palestinian towns within Israel and in all areas of public life, including schools.
Activist and professor of architecture Yosef Jabareen said half a million Palestinians face displacement in Israel and East Jerusalem. “Five hundred thousand people living in 100,000 homes within Israel and East Jerusalem are under threat of having their homes demolished,” Jabareen told Al Jazeera. Approximately 56,000 of those homes are in the Negev region in the south, the triangle in central Israel, and in the Galilee region in the north, while the other 44,000 homes are in occupied East Jerusalem. During the past two decades approximately 5,000 Palestinian homes in Israel have been demolished, Jabareen estimates. “There is an obvious plan to halt any prospect of Palestinian cities naturally developing and expanding as our population grows. There is systematic ghettoisation of our towns and a strategy to confine us within our existing spaces.” Palestinians have jurisdiction over only 2.3 percent of the entire state land, causing severe overcrowding in towns and villages and the building of houses without the required permits….
Israeli settlers sought to tax Palestinians for synagogue built on their land
MEMO 12 Jan — Israeli settlers sought to tax Palestinians for a synagogue built on their own land, Haaretz newspaper reported Wednesday. The settler local council for Kiryat Arba sent the $45,770 bill to Palestinian brothers Abdul Karim and Zaidan Jabari “after they had petitioned the High Court of Justice asking that the authorities remove from their land a structure built illegally by Kiryat Arba settlers.” In response to a petition by the landowners, the state announced that Kiryat Arba has no authority to demand municipal tax from the Palestinians. The state’s response was “based on the military’s orders for managing local and regional councils.” The state cited a 2004 ruling that these orders are part of “military command legislation that applies only to residents of Jewish communities.” The state said it was clear that “there was never any intent to grant Israeli local governments in Judea and Samaria authority regarding Palestinian residents or Palestinian properties.” According to Haaretz, Kiryat Arba’s Givat Ha’avot neighbourhood “sits next to the petitioners’ land, and in early 2003 a synagogue called Hazon David was put up on their land.” Although the synagogue has been repeatedly demolished by the Israeli authorities, there is currently “a tent serving as a synagogue” in addition to “a shed”, both located on the Palestinians’ land.
PCRS provides relief assistance to Bedouin families in the Red Khan area
AL-BIREH 4 Jan — PRCS’ teams provided relief assistance to Bedouin families after Israeli occupation forces demolished their makeshift homes, caravans in the Al Khan Al Ahmar area to the East of Jerusalem. PRCS and ICRC teams headed to the scene once the Israeli forces had departed and documented the demolition of makeshift structures and caravans which house 12 families comprising 87 individuals, including 44 females and 43 males. PRCS’ teams distributed relief items, personal hygiene kits, tents, kitchen utensils and tarpaulin sheets to affected families.
Jordanian delegation visits Islamic cemetery in Jerusalem
A senior Jordanian delegation yesterday visited the historical Islamic cemetery of Bab Al-Rahma, adjacent to Al-Aqsa Mosque, the Anadolu Agency reported. The delegation included the Executive Manager of the Hashemite Fund Wasfi Al-Kilani, the Director of Jerusalem and Al-Aqsa Department in the Jordanian Endowment Ministry, Abdullah Al-Abadi, and the representative of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) in Palestine, Ahmed al-Sabt. In addition to visiting the cemetery, the Jordanian delegation visited the neighbourhood of Wad Al-Hilwah and Silwan, which are subjected to continuous Israeli aggression. Employees from the Wadi Al-Hilwah Information Centre accompanied the Jordanian delegation and briefed them about the proposed Israeli judaisation projects. They also presented the Jordanian delegation with details of the daily Israeli harassment of Jerusalemites, telling them that the Israeli occupation works hard to prevent burying dead Palestinians in the Islamic cemeteries in the holy city.
Fire destroys shop in Gaza, amid rise in accidents as electricity crisis deepens
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 11 Jan — A fire broke out in a grocery story in the Khan Yunis district of the southern besieged Gaza Strip Tuesday evening, destroying its contents, with no human casualties reported. Witnesses told Ma‘an that all the commodities in a grocery store which is owned by Muhammad Barka in the town of Bani Suheila in eastern Khan Yunis, were completely burned. Firefighters were eventually able to control the blaze.
Fire accidents in the Gaza Strip have increased sharply over the past few years due to the use of candles or portable electricity generators, as the besieged coastal enclave has been suffering from a crippling power crisis and hours-long blackouts every day. Palestinians in the Gaza Strip took to the streets on Sunday and Monday to protest the ever-worsening electricity situation, as Gazans have been having to cope with only three hours of power in between 12-hour-long blackouts. The Palestinian NGOs’ Network (PNGO) warned of the dangerous consequences of continuous electricity crises. The network said in statement that numerous sectors, in particular healthcare and sewage systems, were greatly suffering as a result of the blackouts. PNGO noted that many families lived in caravans with no alternative means to obtain electricity for light and heat in the cold winter weather.
Gaza comedian arrested after video on electricity crisis
AFP 11 Jan — Authorities in the Hamas-run Gaza Strip arrested a Palestinian singer-comedian Wednesday, a source said, after he made a video about the electricity crisis in the enclave. Adel Meshoukhi was summoned by police and arrested, an interior ministry source said. On Wednesday Meshoukhi published an online video about the ongoing shortages of electricity and employment in Gaza which included the line “Hamas enough”. It has been viewed more than 150,000 times. Power shortages in the Palestinian enclave have occurred repeatedly in recent weeks, with homes in Gaza City typically getting around four hours a day instead of at least eight normally. A series of protests against the Hamas-run electricity company has been met with a number of arrests, according to the Palestinian Non-Governmental Organisations Network. Musical comedian Meshoukhi, who has been detained previously, is perhaps best known for an ode to a cat.
New marine force in Gaza has Israel on guard
GAZA CITY (Al-Monitor) 6 Jan by Rasha Abou Jalal — Hamas’ Interior Ministry in the Gaza Strip has announced the formation of new marine force tasked with protecting Gaza’s shores from smuggling operations, but Israel views the new military branch as part of the resistance. The establishment of this new security body sends a challenge to Israel. Eight years ago, the first Israeli war on the Gaza Strip broke out with sudden air raids that targeted security institutions across Gaza and claimed the lives of more than 350 security officers, among them police Chief Toufic Jaber and Attorney General Ismail Jaber. Maj. Gen. Toufic Abu Naim, the current head of Hamas’ security apparatus, said during the event, “The marine force will work to ensure the security of the coast of the Gaza Strip, which extends over 39 kilometers [24 miles]. The force will be responsible for the security of the coastal region to protect it from smugglers and outlaws and organize the fishing activities.” Interior Ministry spokesperson Iyad al-Bazm told Al-Monitor, “The marine force is an independent body tasked with developing the security measures along the Gaza coast and monitoring the shores to look out for smuggling operations and security breaches.” Bazm said that 600 members of the new force are veterans of various security units of the Interior Ministry….
Israeli navy opens fire toward Gaza fishermen
GAZA (Ma‘an) 12 Jan — Israeli naval ships opened fire towards fishermen’s boats off the coasts of Khan Yunis in the southern Gaza Strip on Thursday morning, witnesses said. Eyewitnesses told Ma‘an that Israeli boats opened fire heavily at the fishing boats, without causing injuries … The Israeli army regularly open fires on Palestinian fishermen and farmers along the border areas, despite a ceasefire agreement that ended the 2014 war … Earlier this month, a Palestinian fisherman went missing after an encounter with Israeli forces off the coast of Gaza, with his family announcing his death days later despite his body having yet to be recovered.
Israeli forces briefly enter southern Gaza ‘buffer zone’
GAZA (Ma‘an) 12 Jan — Israeli military vehicles reportedly staged a limited incursion into private Palestinian lands east of Khan Yunis in the southern Gaza Strip at dawn on Thursday. Locals told Ma‘an that four Israeli bulldozers entered 50 meters into private lands in the area, while a number of military tanks were stationed across the fence.
Israeli authorities uncover ‘smuggling network’ between West Bank, Gaza
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 10 Jan — Israel’s internal security agency, the Shabak, alongside the Israeli army and police reportedly uncovered a “smuggling network” between the besieged Gaza Strip and the occupied West Bank. According to Israeli media outlet Ynet, Hebrew-language sites reported that Palestinians Nuofil Abu Siria from Gaza and Nader Msalma from the West Bank, both of whom were merchants, smuggled “dual-use items” — reported as surveillance cameras and other communication devices — into the Gaza Strip via the Karam Abu Salem (Kerem Shalom) crossing. The materials — which were smuggled inside electronic appliances, such as televisions, a washer machine, and refrigerators — were transported into the Gaza Strip several times in 2016, Ynet reported. Israeli authorities suspected that the smuggled items could be used by “terror groups” in the besieged coastal enclave, and that some of them “fell into the hands” of Hamas’ armed wing, the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades.
Honey traps hack Israeli soldiers’ phones
Reuters 12 Jan — Using photos of young women and Hebrew slang, the Palestinian militant group Hamas chatted up dozens of Israeli soldiers online, gaining control of their phone cameras and microphones, the military says. An officer, who briefed reporters on the alleged scam, said the Islamist group that runs the Gaza Strip uncovered no major military secrets in the intelligence-gathering operation. Mainly using Facebook, Hamas used fake online identities and photos of young women, apparently found on the internet, to lure soldiers in, the officer said. “Just a second, I’ll send you a photo, my dear,” one “woman” wrote. “OK. Ha-ha,” the soldier replied, before a photo of a blonde woman in a swimsuit popped up. The “woman” then suggested they both download “a simple app that lets us have a video chat”, according to an example of an exchange provided by the officer. The officer said most of the soldiers were low-ranking and that Hamas was mostly interested in gathering information about Israeli army manoeuvres, forces and weaponry in the Gaza area….
Hamas military wing condemns media campaign against ‘resistance tunnels’
MEMO 11 Jan — The military wing of Hamas — the Ezzedine Al-Qassam Brigades — has condemned a media campaign targeting the “resistance tunnels” in the Gaza Strip, Safa news agency reported on Tuesday. A spokesman for the brigades described the people behind the propaganda as “collaborators” and noted that they are trying to cover up their “collaboration” with the Israeli occupation authorities in terms of the siege. “These are attempts to defame the resistance tunnels,” explained Abu Obaida on Twitter, “even though they are the basis of Palestinian resistance and the main reason why achievements have been made.” Describing the tunnels as “the most creative resistance techniques the Palestinians have ever developed” in their long war with the Israeli occupation, the spokesman accepted that they are nothing in comparison to Israel’s military capabilities. “Nevertheless, they have shocked the Israeli occupation army during three consecutive offensives against the Gaza Strip. The army was obliged to change its military theories due to the effectiveness of the tunnels.” Abu Obaida made his comments following remarks by Palestinian Authority Housing Minister Mamoun Abu Shahla, who dismissed the tunnels and accused the resistance groups of blackmailing the people in Gaza by channeling basic resources to their construction
Hamas arrests ‘veteran’ spy in Gaza
MEMO 10 Jan — The Palestinian security services run by Hamas in the Gaza Strip have announced the arrest of a “veteran” spy, Al-Majd website reported at the weekend. The 53 year old man, identified only as “NM”, is alleged to have helped the Israeli occupation forces to target the Palestinian resistance across the territory for eight years. According to Al-Majd — a Palestinian website close to the Islamic Resistance Movement which specialises in intelligence news — NM received a call in 2007 from someone who identified himself as an agent for Israel’s Shabak spy agency. He was, it is claimed, asked to cooperate with Israeli intelligence in return for payment. Having agreed, he was commissioned by Shabak to report any military activities of the Palestinian resistance and spread propaganda against Hamas and the resistance among the residents of Gaza. He became the contact person who loaded secret financial caches from which other spies could take their funds and electronic spying equipment. In the 2008 and 2012 Israeli military offensives against the Gaza Strip, NM provided Israel with information about the homes of resistance fighters, secret rocket launch sites and other details that led to the killing of many Palestinians. Apparently he was inactive during the 2014 Israeli war against Gaza due to a Hamas crackdown on spies and informers….
Qatar denies rebuilding embassy in Gaza
MEMO 11 Jan — The Qatari National Committee for the Reconstruction of Gaza, Ambassador Mohammad Al-Emadi, denied on Tuesday reports about building a new Qatari embassy in Gaza, Qatar News Agency (QNA) reported. He described the statements circulated in the media as “groundless”. In a statement released by Palestine Online on Tuesday, Al-Emadi stressed that the Qatari government had planned to build a representative office for Gaza Reconstruction Committee to oversee on the enclave’s projects implementation. He noted that the projects in the besieged Gaza Strip and West Bank are implemented in full coordination with the Palestinian Unity Government, headed by Rami Hamdallah. On Monday, Qatar decided, during a meeting of the Qatari committee for Gaza reconstruction, to build an embassy in Gaza, according to Ma’an News Agency.
Gazans kick off new year with plans for spring comedy festival
GAZA CITY (Al-Monitor) 6 Jan by Ahmed al-Komi — A media production company has decided to host the first comedy festival in the Gaza Strip. At a launching ceremony held Dec. 29 at Rotus restaurant, Maimas for Media Production formally announced the planning of Gaza’s first comedy festival to be held March 2017. The ceremony, which the organizers offered as a positive end to a difficult year for Palestinians in Gaza, included theatrical performances and comedy shows by five Palestinian comedians and live bands. The ceremony featured a short performance by famous Korean stand-up comedian Wonho Chung, who speaks fluent Arabic. In a previously recorded video, Chung expressed his admiration for the residents of the Gaza Strip, praising their steadfastness in the face of the siege and harsh living conditions and saying that comedy and laughter are powerful ways to ease the pain and grief of everyday reality. Chung said he will participate in the comedy festival and expressed hope that the shows will bring smiles to the sad faces of the people of Gaza….
Palestinian refugees — Lebanon, Jordan
Syria refugees test Palestinian solidarity in Lebanon
AFP 9 Jan by Paul Raymond — When Palestinian Fuad Abu Khaled fled Syria’s war in 2013, he sought refuge among his own, looking for solidarity among Palestinian refugees based in Lebanon’s Shatila camp. But instead he found a community already struggling to get by and sometimes resentful of new arrivals who are testing the limited resources of the UN agency dedicated to helping Palestinian refugees. “Despite the fact he’s Palestinian and I’m Palestinian, I’m Syrian and he’s from Lebanon,” said Abu Khaled, who fled the Yarmuk camp in Damascus with his family after fighting began there. “He sees you as coming to take his place, exploit him, take his daily rations,” he said at the camp in southern Beirut notorious for violence in the past. Abu Khaled is one of at least 31,000 Palestinians who have taken refuge in Lebanon since Syria’s conflict began in March 2011, part of a larger influx of some one million refugees from Syria. And Lebanon was already home to about 450,000 Palestinian refugees, mostly the descendants of those who fled their homes when the state of Israel was created in 1948 following a concerted attack from surrounding Arab nations, or during subsequent conflicts … UNRWA Syria’s director Matthias Schmale acknowledged the struggles faced by Palestinian refugees from Syria, as well as those in Lebanon hosting them. “The longer this displacement from Syria lasts and the more pressures grow on UNRWA and indeed the host population of Palestine refugees from Lebanon, I think we cannot rule out tensions,” he said in English. But he stressed Palestinian refugees in Lebanon had displayed impressive generosity under difficult circumstances, sharing resources and in some cases even hosting Syrian Palestinians. “It takes a lot of solidarity if you yourself live below the poverty line,” he told AFP….
Video: Work permits for Syrian refugees
BBC 11 Jan — Most refugees do not have the right to work. In Jordan they’re running an experiment to find out what happens when Syrian refugees are given that right … The new idea is that putting Syrians to work might actually help Jordan get richer….
Other news, opinion
Palestinians call on mosques across Middle East to pray against Trump embassy move
RAMALLAH (AFP) 10 Jan — Palestinian leaders on Tuesday called for prayers at mosques across the Middle East this week to protest against plans by Donald Trump to move the US embassy in Israel to Jerusalem. There have been warnings that moving the US embassy to the contested city and recognising Jerusalem as Israel’s capital could inflame tensions across the region and sink what remains of peace efforts. Mohammad Shtayyeh, a senior Palestinian official and Fatah central committee member who was speaking on behalf of the Palestinian leadership, said doing so would mean an “end to the two-state solution.” He said the Palestinian leadership had been informed by diplomatic contacts that Mr Trump could call for the move in his inauguration speech on January 20. Palestinian leaders are considering whether to withdraw their recognition of Israel if the move goes through, he said. They have added the issue to the agenda of a meeting of foreign ministers from the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation on January 19 in Malaysia, he added. Mr Shtayyeh called for prayers at mosques throughout the Middle East on Friday as well as for churches to ring bells in protest on Sunday….
72 countries to attend Mideast peace summit in Paris
PARIS (AP) 11 Jan — French authorities are expecting 72 countries to attend Sunday’s Middle East peace conference in Paris — but not Israel or the Palestinians. Government spokesman Stephane Le Foll said Wednesday both Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu have been invited to come to France after the conference to be informed of its conclusions. Netanyahu has declined the invitation — saying only direct negotiations will produce a solution. Abbas is expected to visit the French capital at the end of the week on the sidelines of the conference. It was unclear whether he would meet French President Francois Hollande. Participants will include U. S. Secretary of State John Kerry. France wants “to restart the (negotiation) process at a moment when it has been largely abandoned,” Le Foll said.
Obama defends UN abstention, Iran deal and peace push in Israeli TV interview
JTA 10 Jan — President Barack Obama defended his record on Israel in a wide-ranging interview on Israeli TV, and said that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, with whom he has clashed, “had a good friend” in the White House. Speaking with Channel 2’s Ilana Dayan in an interview aired Tuesday, Obama defended the Iran nuclear agreement, his push for peace talks and the recent U.S. abstention on a U.N. Security Council resolution criticizing Israeli settlements. Obama flatly denied Israeli assertions that the U.S. was behind the resolution’s passage on Dec. 23, noting that the U.S. neither wrote the resolution nor introduced it or voted in favor of it. Obama said the U.S. would have vetoed anything that didn’t contain a “balanced statement” condemning what it sees as Israeli and Palestinian missteps, and said the resolution was the “best move” for peace. “I did believe it was important to send a signal and to lift up the facts that so often get buried under other news in terms of what is happening with settlements in the West Bank,” he said. “I have an obligation to do what I think is right.” As he has in the past when faced with criticism on Israel, Obama said he has Israel’s best interest in mind and has always ensured Israel’s security, and that “established traditions of the Zionist movement in Israel are consistent with the values that I have tried to live by.” He added later that even if Israel continues expanding settlements, robust support for Israel in Congress means “the United States will still be there” as an ally. Obama’s administration brought Israelis and Palestinians to the negotiating table twice, in 2010 and 2013-14, each time unsuccessfully. Obama told Dayan that Israel’s military advantage gives it the ability to take risks for peace….
Pope to host Palestinian president Abbas on January 14
AFP 10 Jan — Pope Francis will grant Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas an audience at the Vatican on Saturday, the Holy See confirmed indirectly Tuesday by announcing arrangements for media coverage of the visit. It will be the third time Francis has met Abbas following an encounter during the pontiff’s 2014 trip to the Holy Land and the Palestinian leader’s 2015 visit to the Vatican to attend a canonization ceremony for two Palestinian nuns. Relations between the Holy See and Palestine were upgraded in 2015 with the signing of an accord expected to lead to the establishment of a Palestinian embassy in the Vatican at some point this year….
‘Afro-Palestinians’ forge a unique identity in Israel
JERUSALEM (AP) 12 Jan by Isma‘il Kushkush — In the shadow of the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem’s Old City lies the “African Quarter” — home to a little-known community of nearly 50 Arab families of African descent. Descended from Muslim pilgrims from a variety of African countries, they now consider themselves proud Palestinians, despite widespread poverty and occasional discrimination from both Palestinians and Israelis. Several have even participated in violent attacks against Israel. “We regard ourselves to be Afro-Palestinian,” said community leader Ali Jiddah. Jiddah, a former member of the radical Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, spent 17 years in Israeli prison for taking part in a 1968 bombing that wounded nine Israelis before he was freed in a prisoner swap. Jiddah, who long ago renounced violence, is now a well-known tour guide in the Old City, offering what he calls an “alternative” perspective on the conflict with Israel. Afro-Palestinians reside in various Palestinian cities, with large communities in Jerusalem, Gaza and the West Bank town of Jericho. Some are the descendants of slaves or soldiers brought in during Ottoman times. The forefathers of Jerusalem’s African Quarter are mostly Muslim pilgrims from Chad, Sudan, Nigeria and Senegal who settled here or got stuck during periods of war. “My father came from Chad, from the Salamat tribe,” said Mousa Qous, 55, director of the African Community Society, a grassroots center that serves black Palestinians in Jerusalem….
Is PA on road to reconciliation with Egypt?
GAZA CITY (Al-Monitor() 10 Jan by Ahmad Abu Amer — Relations between the Palestinian Authority and Egypt have been strained lately, but some are denying the seriousness of this fallout — After a months-long chill in relations, Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas seems ready to try to mend ties with Egypt. Tensions arose after Abbas refused to cooperate in September with an initiative led by the Arab Quartet (Saudi Arabia, Egypt, United Arab Emirates and Jordan) to heal Fatah’s internal split over enmity between Fatah Chairman Abbas and dismissed Fatah leader Mohammed Dahlan. The quartet believes mending that rift would then allow for a reconciliation between Fatah and rival party Hamas. The strain between Egypt and Abbas worsened Dec. 22 when Egypt withdrew its UN Security Council draft resolution condemning Israeli settlement construction. On Dec. 23, the same draft was submitted to the Security Council by New Zealand, Malaysia, Venezuela and Senegal, and was approved 14-0, with the United States abstaining. But Abbas sent PLO Executive Committee Secretary Saeb Erekat on a surprise visit to Cairo, where he met Dec. 31 with Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry. A source at the Egyptian Foreign Ministry in Cairo told Al-Monitor on condition of anonymity, “Erekat’s visit confirmed that relations between the PA and Egypt are strong. It also aimed to discuss the mechanisms of implementation of the [Security Council’s] recent anti-settlement resolution.”….
Jordanian vegetable shipment arrives in West Bank
Jordan Times 9 Jan — A shipment of vegetables directly to Palestine arrived in the West Bank on Monday, according to the Agriculture Ministry. Agriculture Ministry Spokesperson Nimer Haddadin said the export of fruit and vegetables to Palestine will continue. The 15-tonne shipment of vegetables that arrived Monday had left the Kingdom through the King Hussein Bridge, Haddadin added, according to the Jordan News Agency, Petra. The shipment contained cucumber, among other vegetables, Haddadin told The Jordan Times recently, noting that the Kingdom will also start exporting live sheep soon to Palestine. The official noted that opening the West Bank market to the country’s produce will benefit farmers and exporters of fruit and vegetables, who are facing challenges in marketing their produce in light of the ongoing closure of the Kingdom’s borders with Syria and Iraq. “The West Bank is a promising and feasible market for our produce of fruit and vegetables… Exporting to the West Bank has faced challenges before, but it is expected to increase from now on,” Haddadin said….
Is Hamas producing weapons in the West Bank?
Al-Monitor 9 Jan by Adnan Abu Amer — The wave of Palestinian attacks against Israelis that began in October 2015 has greatly receded. The most recent ones occurred Dec. 30, when a girl attempted to stab Israeli soldiers at the Qalandia military checkpoint near Ramallah; Jan. 3, when two Israeli soldiers were wounded by a driver who ran over them near the Jalama checkpoint, north of Jenin; and Jan. 8, when four more soldiers were killed in a truck attack in Jerusalem. These types of attacks have been accompanied by a gradual increase in the use of firearms, including a Dec. 19 incident in which an Israeli settler was shot and wounded near the Beit Aryeh-Ofarim settlement. On Dec. 21, the Israeli army announced the discovery of a large weapon mill in Hebron capable of producing a variety of arms. The Israeli army is currently investigating possible connections to Hamas. The workshop contained 12 lathes and hundreds of weapons and combat gear. The Israelis also discovered equipment used to manufacture knockoff versions of US-made M-16 rifles and sniper rifles, a first in the territories, and unfinished Russian rifles capable of hitting targets at 600 meters (656 yards). Earlier in 2016, the army had discovered an armory of 40 lathes for arms production and confiscated 420 weapons and assorted gear. Wasef Erekat, a retired commander of artillery forces for the Palestinian Liberation Organization, told Al-Monitor, “The discovery of the weapons workshops and militant cells is an Israeli narrative that is yet to be confirmed by Palestinians. But Israel is blocking any Palestinian attempts to produce weapons, as it recognizes the threat from local manufacturing like that in Gaza, where Palestinians indeed succeeded in producing such weapons and mortar shells starting in early 2000. Israel also fears such military production could move to the West Bank. Such a scenario would represent security threats given the proximity of Palestinian and Israeli cities.”….
Report: Qatar mediating prisoner exchange deal between Israel and Hamas
Ynet 11 Jan by Elior Levy — The Arab-Israeli newspaper Kul al-Arab has reported that Qatar is mediating between Israel and Hamas in a potential prisoner exchange deal that would secure the release of Lieutenant Hadar Goldin and Staff Sergeant Oron Shaul, who were both killed during Operation Protective Edge in the summer of 2014. The deal may also involve the return of Avraham ‘Abera’ Mengistu, an Ethiopian-Israeli reportedly held hostage by Hamas after he was seen crossing the border into Gaza out of his own volition in 2014. According to the report, Hamas made the talks conditional upon the release of 60 prisoners who were released in the Shalit deal and who were subsequently arrested at various stages following its implementation. The report suggests that Israel agreed to the demand on the condition that the released prisoners are expelled to the Gaza Strip or Qatar. This suggestion however, was apparently rejected by Hamas. An official close to Hamas told Ynet that Qatar’s ambassador to the so-called Palestinian territories Mohammad al-Amadi — who is responsible for rehabilitation projects in Gaza, often visits pays visits there and occasionally meets with Israeli officials — is involved in the negotiations … The report comes just days after the family of Hadar Goldin issued a scathing statement over what they described as the government’s failure to engage in any serious negotiations to secure the release of their son’s body, or that of Oron Shaul….
Knesset approves preliminary ‘Breaking the Silence’ bill
Haaretz 11 Jan by Jonathan Lis — Bill’s sponsor accuses the veterans’ anti-occupation group of helping Hamas in its campaign to delegitimize Israel — In a preliminary reading Wednesday, the Knesset approved a bill that would ban the anti-occupation veterans’ organization Breaking the Silence from giving talks in schools. If the legislation ultimately passes, it would grant the education minister the authority to ban certain groups or individuals from speaking at schools if those groups’ activities could lead IDF soldiers to be tried abroad. The bill was a joint initiative of Education Minister Naftali Bennett and Yesh Atid chairman Yair Lapid, and was submitted by Habayit Hayehudi faction chair MK Shuli Moalem-Refaeli. Lapid called on lawmakers to support the bill. “Time after time, Breaking the Silence has been proven to be lying,” he said. “But their supporters, even in this house, don’t care about that. For [them], Israeli is always the guilty party. They know full well that there is no army more moral than the IDF and no army that is more scrupulous about the rules of combat, but that doesn’t matter to [them].”….
Bill to ban entry to Israel for BDS supporters passes first Knesset reading
BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) -11 Jan — A Knesset committee approved on Wednesday a first reading of a bill that would ban supporters of the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement from entering Israel, Israeli media reported. According to The Jerusalem Post, the Internal Affairs and Environment Committee of Israel’s parliament approved the first reading of the bill, which is supported by MK Bezalel Smotrich from the far-right Jewish Home party. A bill needs to go through three readings in the Knesset before becoming a law. “Why should I let someone who slanders the state and harms it into my home?” The Jerusalem Post quoted committee chairman David Amsalem as saying … The planned crackdown on BDS supporters has led to outcry from groups like the International Solidarity Movement (ISM).“Isolation of Palestinians by denying access and/or deporting human rights activists aims to make Palestinian communities already vulnerable and suffering from abuse…even more vulnerable,” ISM said in a statement in August….
Exclusive: Israel lobby infiltrates UK student movement
Al Jazeera Investigative Unit — 11 Jan — Israel is influencing student, activist and parliamentary groups in the UK, offering financial and strategic assistance in order to gather support among young organisers and shape British politics, Al Jazeera’s Investigative Unit reveals. For six months, undercover reporter Robin (an alias) infiltrated pro-Israeli groups working to counter the powerful and growing movement against the illegal occupation of Palestinian land. He uncovered a close link between Shai Masot, whose business card described him as a senior political officer at the Israeli embassy in London, and a network of politicians, activists and analysts in Britain who are sympathetic to Israel. The aggressive lobbying comes as the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement swells, and as the opposition Labour Party is led by Jeremy Corbyn, a vocal supporter of Palestinian interests. BDS enjoys wide support at British universities; in June 2015 the National Union of Students (NUS) voted for the boycott. A year later the NUS elected its first black, Muslim, female president: Malia Bouattia – a pro-Palestinian human rights supporter. Al Jazeera’s Investigative Unit discovered that the UJS not only received money from the Israeli embassy, but also attempted to influence the NUS presidency election, and even oust Bouattia following her victory. Michael Rubin, a young parliamentary officer and pro-Israel activist who claimed to work “with the ambassador and embassy quite a lot”, told Robin that Bouattia was “really bad” and “awful”…..
Israeli official: Cooperation strong with Egypt
JERUSALEM (AP) 11 Jan — An Israeli defense official says the country has developed a new policy in recent years to allow Egypt to quickly beef up its forces in the volatile Sinai peninsula as part of a shared struggle against Islamic militants. The official’s comments Wednesday came days after Egyptian President Abdel-Fatteh el-Sissi said there are about 25,000 Egyptian troops operating in Sinai. It was the first time an Egyptian leader has commented on the number of troops battling militants there.
Why Netanyahu rushed to link Jerusalem attack to IS / Akiva Eldar
Al-Monitor 10 Jan — Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was quick to blame the Islamic State for the terror attack in Jerusalem, ignoring that Palestinian assailants are motivated first and foremost by the Israeli occupation — Just moments after the Jan. 8 terror attack in Jerusalem, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was already able to state categorically, “We know the identity of the attacker, and according to all the signs he is a supporter of Islamic State [IS].” The blood of the four dead and 17 wounded had not even dried when he declared with certitude, “This is part of the same pattern inspired by Islamic State, by ISIS, that we saw first in France, then in Germany and now in Jerusalem.” Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman also knew right away, stating, “What we have before us is a terror attack purely at the instigation of IS. … We saw it in France, we saw it in Berlin and unfortunately we saw it today in Jerusalem.” The defense minister asserted with total confidence, “It’s clear that there was only one reason for this cruel terror attack — because we are Jews and we’re living here in the State of Israel.” With a barely disguised dig at Israel’s political left wing — where would we be without them? — Liberman said there is no point in seeking the motive of the truck driver, Fadi al-Qanbar, in 50 years of Israeli occupation or, as he put it, “in the settlement of Jews.” The defense minister knew already with certainty that such attacks are in no way linked to an absence of diplomatic negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians. That is exactly the point of instantly attributing the terror attack to IS: Liberman and Netanyahu wish to sever any link between Palestinian terrorism and Israel’s occupation and settlements and instead plant terrorism in the Israeli consciousness as a type of global “natural disaster” unrelated to Israeli policy….
France displays Israeli flag on Paris Municipality in solidarity with Israel in wake of terror attack
Ynet 10 Jan — An Israeli flag was hung on the front of the Paris Municipality on Tuesday in a symbolic act of solidarity with the wounded and killed victims of Sunday’s vehicular attack in Jerusalem. The act follows the examples set by Germany, in which the colors of the Israeli flag illuminated the Brandenburg Gate Berlin on Monday evening, and by the Netherlands, which on Tuesday flew the Israeli flag atop the Rotterdam city hall building. The Israeli Ambassador to France, Aliza Ben-Nun, commented on the occurrence, saying “we are happy that the Paris Municipality has shown an act of solidarity with Israel in relation to the abhorrent act of terror that took place in Jerusalem. We are part of the fight of the global war on terror.”
Israeli court’s conviction temporarily fends off ICC
Al-Monitor 10 Jan by Daoud Kuttab — The manslaughter conviction of an Israeli soldier for killing a wounded Palestinian youth has fended off an investigation of that particular crime by the International Criminal Court, but it does not mean Israel is in the clear on allegations of war crimes for other deaths — The documented case of the Israeli soldier shooting and killing an injured Palestinian youth in March 2016 in Hebron could have provided the perfect case for the International Criminal Court (ICC) to launch a war crimes investigation. The Hague-based ICC is authorized to look into violations of international humanitarian law in areas under its mandate. The Palestinian occupied territories became part of its jurisdiction on April 1, 2015, after Palestine was accepted as a full member of the court. The ICC doesn’t indict governments or organizations, but goes after individual war criminals if there is a strong case for indictment. The evidence was damning in the case of Elor Azaria shooting Abdel Fattah al-Sharif. A video taken by a human rights activist clearly shows that the Israeli soldier killed an injured person lying on the ground incapacitated. It was not the first time that an Israeli soldier had shot a Palestinian in violation of international law, or even in violation of his own military’s rules of engagement, which specify that soldiers are not allowed to open fire unless their lives are in danger. Amnesty International (AI) has shone a light on this issue, documenting that Israeli soldiers often carry out “unlawful” killings that amount to war crimes. In September 2016, AI sent a memo to the Israeli government noting that in at least 15 cases documented between September 2015 and September 2016, “Palestinians were deliberately shot dead, despite posing no imminent threat to life, in what appear to be extrajudicial executions.”….
UN prepare blacklist of Israeli companies working in settlements
MEMO 11 Jan — The United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) is preparing a blacklist of Israeli companies working in the illegal Jewish settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories, an Israeli newspaper reported on Tuesday. According to Israel Hayom, the list is an initiative “prompted” by the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement and is scheduled to be released later this year. Former UN Special Rapporteur in the occupied Palestinian territories, Richard Falk, is said to have come up with this idea six years ago when he was in office. Describing him as a “known BDS activist”, the newspaper said that Falk now has the support of a number of Arab states. Pro-settlement group NGO Monitor has written to the UN claiming that such a list “would be a violation of international law” as it would target “Jewish-owned” companies. This, it argues, violates the UNHRC’s own guidelines against discrimination based on national origin. BDS is an international initiative of Palestinians living under Israel’s brutal military occupation. It is an entirely peaceful movement which has spread across the world and discourages commercial and cultural trade with Israel and those companies which benefit from the occupation. Interestingly, the Israel Hayom article does not mention the word “occupation” at all. It refers instead to companies “operating beyond the Green [1949 Armistice] Line” in “Judea and Samaria”, the Zionist term for the occupied West Bank.
Op-Ed: B’Tselem ensuring we don’t lose our humanity / Ronen Bergman
Ynet 11 Jan — …[Imad] Abu Shamsiya lives 50 meters away from the IDF post in Tel Rumeida. On March 24, 2016, upon hearing voices, shouts and gunshots, he quickly grabbed the camera and ran outside. He handed the seven video segments he had filmed in the following minutes to the main organization he volunteers in, B’Tselem, which immediately handed them over to the Israeli Military Police … Later on, Abu Shamsiya testified at the Military Court, where Sergeant Elor Azaria was convicted of manslaughter. The judges were apparently impressed by his account, and even stated in the verdict that the material provided by B’Tselem, which the conviction was primarily based on, was completely authentic and that no one had attempted to edit or fabricate part of it … In its clear statement regarding the severity of Azaria’s actions, the court nailed the importance of the organization that exposed them. This becomes all the more important in light of the delegitimization, incitement and abashment campaign launched by right-wing politicians, and those fawning over the Right, against B’Tselem. They think — justifiably — that the majority of the public supports them, that the majority of the public believes B’Tselem outcry should be gagged, that its members are Israel’s enemies and act to humiliate Israel in the world, that they are leftist traitors. But they, of all people, are the brave ones, the real defenders of democracy in Israel, the ones ensuring that we don’t lose our humanity.
Book review: A satisfying celebration of Jerusalem
EI 11 Jan by Sarah Irving — Jerusalem Interrupted: Modernity and Colonial Transformation, 1917-present, edited by Lena Jayyusi, Olive Branch Press (2015) — With the Palestinian population of Jerusalem increasingly pushed aside by Israeli policies and practices – ranging from making family life unlivable to supporting Jewish settlement expansion and ethnic violence – it is ever more important to emphasize the diversity of this magnificent city. For centuries, Jerusalem has been home to a medley of different peoples, languages and faiths, existing alongside and interacting with one another in relative harmony. Whether Arabic or Aramaic has been the dominant tongue, or Islam, Judaism, Christianity or paganism the majority religion, the city has always been a patchwork; monocultural uniformity – as modern Israeli governments have sought to impose – is anathema to its very soul. Jerusalem Interrupted is very much a celebration and assertion of this fact. A satisfyingly substantial tome of 500 large-format pages, it charts many of the trends and changes which have marked the city’s history from the late Ottoman period at the start of the 20th century, through the British Mandate occupation from the end of the First World War until the Nakba (the forced expulsion of Palestinians) of 1948 and into the eras of Jordanian and Israeli rule. A cultural hodgepodge We are introduced to many facets of Jerusalem’s 20th-century existence in 18 chapters by scholars of Palestinian history and culture….
Video: ‘The Boy from H2’ to premiere at the Berlin International Film Festival
Palestine Chronicle 11 Jan — A short documentary, “The Boy from H2”, by Helen Yanovsky in collaboration with B’Tselem’s field researchers and Camera Project volunteers in Hebron, will premiere at the 67th Berlinale (9-19 February 2017). According to a B’Tselem statement, the documentary follows 12-year-old Muhammad Burqan, who lives in Area H2 of Hebron. Citing the security of some 800 settlers living in H2, Israel imposes severe restrictions on the movement – by pedestrians and by car – of some 43,000 Palestinians living there. Palestinian residents are also subjected to routine violence by Israeli security personnel and settlers, for which no one is held accountable,” B’Tselem noted. B’Tselem added, “This state of affairs has led many of the area’s original residents to relocate, leaving behind mostly underprivileged families.” The organization asserted that in Area H2, soldiers routinely detain children “on suspicion of stone-throwing. Muhammad, who has nine siblings, is one of those children. His life revolves around his crowded home and the street, where he must deal with the constant presence of Israeli security forces and settlers.”