Analysis: Azaria verdict may pose far-reaching global implications for Israel / Yonah Jeremy Bob
JPost 4 Jan — The conviction of Azaria is the strongest move Israel has made to date which could get the ICC to back off — A court case that reverberated across the country on Wednesday may see even greater ripple effects beyond its borders, as far as the International Criminal Court and Israel’s legitimacy are concerned. At the ICC, Hebron shooter Elor Azaria’s manslaughter conviction may affirm the credibility of Israel’s apparatus for prosecuting its own soldiers. This is important because it is the decisive issue affecting whether the ICC will dive deeper into the Israeli- Palestinian conflict. If Chief Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda finds that the IDF properly prosecutes its own for alleged war crimes, then she is barred from intervening, as the ICC is only a court of last resort when a country fails to prosecute its own. If she finds that the IDF does not properly prosecute its own, she can decide to move to a full criminal investigation ….
Activist who filmed Hebron shooting ‘fears for his life’ after Israeli soldier convicted
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 4 Jan — Imad Abu Shamsiyya, a Palestinian activist who filmed the point-blank shooting of Abd al-Fattah al-Sharif by an Israeli soldier in Hebron last March, said he “feared for his life” after the Israeli soldier was found guilty of manslaughter for the killing Wednesday. One message written to Abu Shamsiyya said that his killing was “inevitable,” while the activist also said members of the soldier’s family had broken into his house. The court notably ruled Wednesday that the video shot by Abu Shamsiyya was authentic and admissible, as the panel of three judges meanwhile proceeded to give a wholesale rejection to every argument presented by the defense. At a protest in Hebron organized by al-Sharif’s family while the verdict was being announced, Abu Shamsiyya told Ma‘an he has continued to receive hundreds of death threats since the video he shot for Israeli rights group B’Tselem went viral and sparked international outrage over the apparent “extrajudicial execution” of al-Sharif, who was already seriously injured after being shot for allegedly attempting to stab an Israeli soldier. He said that members of Elor Azarya’s family — the soldier who shot al-Sharif — broke into his home and “asked me to go to court and change my testimony.” He said he had video footage proving the incursion took place. “I have received hundreds of messages from Israeli settlers threatening me, and they have tried to pay me bribes to convince me to change my testimony in court.” ….
Palestinian Foreign Ministry calls Elor Azaria conviction a ‘show trial’
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 4 Jan — After an Israeli soldier was found guilty of manslaughter for the execution-style killing of a Palestinian — a video of which garnered widespread outrage from the international community — the Palestinian Foreign Ministry called the case a “show trial,” handing down a lenient sentence on the soldier, while focusing on the case to distract from a wider culture of impunity for Israeli forces. Shortly after the verdict for 20-year-old Elor Azarya was announced on Wednesday afternoon, the ministry said that since the video went viral the day of the killing back in March, “the Israeli government and its political, judicial, and military arms have been trying to attract international reactions to this hideous crime through the farce of detaining and trying the killer soldier.” “Except for some voices who have tried to defend the alleged Israeli army’s code of ethics, the majority of Israeli officials including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and several of his ministers, have embarked upon defending the murderer Azarya.” While the Israeli military court gave a wholesale endorsement of the prosecution’s argument that the killing of 21-year-old Abd al-Fattah Yusri al-Sharif in Hebron was unjustified in its decision to convict Azarya — supported by the blistering testimonies given by his army commanders — Azarya has garnered mass support from Israel’s far-right citizens and government, who have labeled the soldier a national hero. A 2016 poll by the Israel Democracy Institute found that 47 percent of Jewish Israelis supported the sentiment that “any Palestinian who carries out a terror attack against Jews should be killed on the spot, even if he has been captured and clearly does not pose a threat.” … “Today we are watching the last chapter of the killer soldier’s trial, defined by a familial atmosphere in the court, with the killer entering the hall laughing before he took a seat near his relatives,” the Foreign Ministry statement continued. Videos published in Israeli media show Azarya being met with applause as he entered the session, which was attended by members of his family who embraced the smiling soldier….
Analysis: Hebron shooter Elor Azaria is indeed the norm / Amira Hass
Haaretz 5 Jan — Over the past year and a half, dozens of Palestinian men, women and children have been killed, even though they could have been overpowered while they were still alive. The difference between them and Azaria is that he was videotaped — There’s one thing on which Palestinians agree with Elor Azaria and his supporters: that he wasn’t the only one, he just had the bad luck to be videotaped without his knowledge. Palestinians agree with Azaria and his supporters that he was complying with the norm and did exactly what other soldiers do – namely, shoot with intent to kill even when nobody’s life is in danger. Palestinians agree with Azaria that the system discriminated against him. It’s just that they believe dozens of other soldiers and policemen should also have stood trial. Like Azaria himself, Palestinians are wondering why he stood trial while the soldiers who killed Hadeel al-Hashlamoun of Hebron were never even investigated by the Military Police. She, too, was lying on the ground, after soldiers shot her from a distance at a checkpoint because she held a knife (which no soldier was even scratched by). And then, while she was lying there, they continued shooting her in the upper body. (This was on September 22, 2015, and Hebron residents attribute the subsequent outbreak of lone-wolf attacks to this incident.) On June 11, 2010, Maxim Vinogradov, a Border Policeman, “confirmed the kill” of Ziad Jilani, who was already lying on the ground, shot and wounded, after having run over other policemen with his car in Jerusalem’s Wadi Joz neighborhood. The prosecution decided against indicting Vinogradov, accepting his ridiculous claim that he feared Jilani had a bomb. He was in the heart of a Palestinian neighborhood – why would he blow himself up there? Fadi Alloun of Isawiyah was also lying on the ground, after having stabbed an Israel in Jerusalem’s Musrara neighborhood on October 4, 2015. An anonymous policeman shot him to death after passersby encouraged him to do so. In this case, there was video footage from a cell phone, but it wasn’t enough for any steps to be taken against the killer … The boundary between self-defense and nationalist vengeance has been completely blurred. This is the atmosphere in which Azaria operated. Therefore, the message sent by the military court judges stands out for its rarity: Elor Azaria violated the rules of engagement, so he was convicted. But the message the Israeli defense establishment sends to its soldiers and policemen is equally loud and clear: “Take care that you aren’t videotaped when you do the deed….
Family of Palestinian killed by Elor Azaria disappointed with verdict, vows to go to Hague
Haaretz 4 Jan by Jack Khoury — ‘There’s more than one Azaria in Israeli society and the others have been glorified, not convicted,’ charges Arab lawmaker — The conviction of Sgt. Elor Azaria on charges of manslaughter brought little satisfaction to relatives of the Palestinian shot by Azaria – or to Arab lawmakers in Israel. One, Joint List lawmaker Jamal Zahalka, called for Israel’s leaders “to be judged in the Hague” for the killing of thousands of other Palestinians. Other Arab lawmakers bemoaned the widespread Israeli sympathy for Azaria, especially by members of the government. Azaria was convicted by an Israeli military court of the March 24 killing of a prone Palestinian assailant, Abed Fattah al-Sharif, who had already been shot after trying to stab an Israeli soldier. Following Wednesday’s verdict, Fathi al-Sharif, the uncle of the 21-year-old Palestinian shot by Azaria, expressed disappointment with the manslaughter conviction, and vowed to have the case brought before the International Criminal Court in The Hague. “We’ll go after him in every international arena,” he said. “From the beginning, we stated that he [Azaria] had committed murder and needed to be convicted of murder. The fact that they changed the count of the indictment to manslaughter is a perversion of justice and of the court.” Sharif added: “The question that remains open is what sentence will be imposed on him, and we don’t have many expectations. It’s clear that he will receive a light sentence or be pardoned, because we understand the pressures being brought to bear on the system and the sympathy that the soldier has been winning in Israeli society.” … “Azaria is one of many murderers,” charged Joint List parliamentarian Haneen Zoabi. “Every year, dozens of Palestinians, including minors, women and men, are murdered by IDF soldiers, settlers and privately [employed] checkpoint security guards and no one takes an interest in this.” On average, she claimed, a Palestinian is killed every 3.6 days, and punishment must be demanded of every Israeli soldier who has killed a Palestinian….”
Violence / Detentions — West Bank / Jerusalem
Israeli forces open fire at Palestinian deputy minister’s car
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 5 Jan — Israeli forces opened fire at the car of Palestinian Deputy Minister of Health Asaad al-Ramlawi on Wednesday evening in the occupied West Bank district of Jerusalem. The Ministry of Health said in a statement that Israeli soldiers deliberately opened fire at al-Ramlawi’s car as he was driving near the village of al-Ram, adding that the front windshield of his vehicle was damaged, but that the deputy minister was not injured. Palestinian Minister of Health Jawad Awwad condemned the attack, and called it part of an “escalation” of Israeli policies and “savage” procedures against Palestinians. Meanwhile, the Israeli army said in statement that al-Ramlawi had been driving in an area where clashes were taking place between Israeli soldiers and Palestinian youth, and that he was not intentionally targeted, as Israeli soldiers were aiming towards alleged stone throwers.
Clashes break out as Israeli forces storm Shu‘fat refugee camp, detain 25
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 4 Jan — Clashes broke out in the Shu‘fat refugee camp in occupied East Jerusalem on Wednesday afternoon after Jerusalem municipality crews and inspectors stormed the camp under heavy armed protection. Thaer al-Fasfous, spokesman for the Fatah movement in the camp, told Ma‘an that dozens of armed Israeli police officers escorted Jerusalem municipality crews into the camp who began breaking into shops for “inspection.” During the raid, local youths clashed with Israeli forces in attempts to prevent the soldiers from advancing through the camp. Israeli forces and municipality crews then withdrew to the military checkpoint at the entrance to Shu‘fat, firing tear gas heavily in the streets. Al-Fasfous highlighted that before clashes broke out, municipality inspectors delivered fines to a number of stores claiming that they operated “illegally”. He added that Israeli forces detained some 25 young Palestinian men who were holders of West Bank ID cards … Shu‘fat refugee camp is located in northeastern Jerusalem within Israel’s municipal boundaries of the city, but is encircled on three sides by Israel’s separation wall, forcing residents to pass through a congested military checkpoint to access the rest of Jerusalem where most claim residency status. In September, the camp experienced at least seven consecutive days of violent raids in the weeks following a fatal shooting of a camp resident by Israeli forces while he was driving home. Meanwhile, the camp is routinely the site of violent clashes between Israeli forces and Palestinian youth….
Human Rights Watch: Israel backing ‘shoot-to-kill’ policy against Palestinians
IMEMC/Agencies 5 Jan — Senior Israeli officials, including religious clerics, back the illegal “shoot-to-kill” policy against Palestinians, Human Rights Watch said in a statement. “Some senior Israeli officials have been encouraging Israeli soldiers and police to kill Palestinians they suspect of attacking Israelis even when they are no longer a threat,” the statement said. “Other Israeli officials have failed to repudiate the calls for excessive use of force.” The statement noted, according to Days of Palestine, that Human Rights Watch had documented numerous statements since October 2015, when the current intifada started, proving its finding. It said that the statements were delivered by senior Israeli politicians, including the police minister and defense minister, calling on police and soldiers to shoot to kill suspected attackers, irrespective of whether lethal force is actually strictly necessary to protect life. “It is not just about potentially rogue soldiers, but also about senior Israeli officials who publicly tell security forces to unlawfully shoot to kill,” said Sari Bashi, Israel advocacy director at Human Rights Watch. There have been more than 150 instances, since October 2015, in which security forces fatally shot Palestinian adults and children, some were suspected of trying to stab, run over, or shoot Israelis in Israel and the West Bank. The organization cited an example of a stabbing attack that injured two Israeli passers-by in West Jerusalem, on 10 October, 2015, noting that the Israeli police fatally shot the 16-year-old Palestinian suspect. Commenting on the incident, HRW said, the Jerusalem Police District Commander Moshe Edri told reporters that those who carry out attacks should be killed….
Israeli forces detain 15 Palestinians, 8 minors, in overnight raids
HEBRON (Ma‘an) 2 Jan– Israeli forces detained at least 15 Palestinians, including eight minors, during overnight and predawn military raids Monday in the occupied West Bank, according to Palestinians sources. In the northern West Bank district of Tulkarem, Palestinian security sources told Ma‘an that Suhaib Sami Jalad, 16, Diyaa Eyad Kamel Ahmad, 16, and Huthaifa Jihad Jalad, 17, were detained in an area near the Nitzani Oz checkpoint in the western part of Tulkarem and took them to an unknown location. The Palestinian Prisoner’s Society (PPS) said in a statement that the three were later released. According to PPS, eight Palestinians were detained from the Jerusalem district, including five minors between the ages of 15-17. The minors were identified as Ameer Darwish, Adam Mustafa, Hussam Eliyan, Moumen Hashim and Saleh Abu Assab. PPS also identified two Jerusalemite brothers who were detained as Omar and Nasser Ibrahim. In the southern West Bank Hebron district, local activist Muhammad Ayyad Awad told Ma‘an that Israeli forces raided the town of Beit Ummar north west of Hebron and detained former prisoners Muhammad Kamel Zaaqiq, 26, and Anwar Yousif Ekhdir Awad, 22….
Israeli forces detain 45 Palestinians in West Bank overnight raids
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 3 Jan — Israeli forces detained at least 45 Palestinians, including at least eight minors, in overnight raids across the occupied West Bank between Monday and Tuesday, Palestinian and Israeli sources said. Israeli forces carry out detention raids across the occupied Palestinian territory on a near-nightly basis, with the UN recording some 178 raids in the West Bank between Dec. 13 and 26, 2016. According to prisoners’ rights group Addameer, 7,000 Palestinians were held in Israeli prisons as of October. The organization estimates that 40 percent of Palestinian men have been detained by Israel at some point in their lives.
In the northernmost West Bank district of Jenin, the Palestinian Prisoner’s Society (PPS) reported that Muhammad Amarna was detained in Ya‘bad … In the Nablus district, PPS said that 10 Palestinians were detained by Israeli forces … Locals told Ma‘an that al-Hindi, Hamad and Rayhan were detained in the city of Nablus, while the seven others were detained in the Balata refugee camp. In Balata, witnesses said that Israeli soldiers raided dozens of homes, causing material damages … In the Bethlehem district, PPS said that Israeli forces detained seven Palestinian teenagers in the village of Beit Fajjar. It identified them as Ahmad Mahmoud Taqatqa, 16, Muhammad Walid Thawabta, 16, Ahmad Jihad Thawabta, 16, Nour Nasser Thawabta, 16, Khalid Muhammad Taqatqa, 15, Usama Abd al-Rabbu Thawabta, 14, and Bilal Shahir Deriya, 15. PPS added that Ibrahim Yousif al-Sheikh, 27, was detained in the village of Marah Rabah, while Muhammad Ahmad Jadu, 17, was detained in the ‘Aida refugee camp….
Israeli forces detain 40 Palestinians in overnight raids
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 4 Jan — Israeli forces detained at least 40 Palestinians in overnight and predawn detention raids across the occupied Palestinian territory Wednesday, including two women, a teenage girl, and a number of male minors … In the northernmost district of Jenin, Israeli forces detained five Palestinians, identified by the Palestinian Prisoner’s Society (PPS) as Nael Mansour, Jihad Mansour, Salih Mansour, Husam al-Khatib, and Yousif Amarna from the village of al-Khaljan. An Israeli army spokesperson said three were Hamas operatives. The PPS statement added that three teenage boys from Jenin refugee camp were injured by the soldiers who detained them. They were identified as Sharif Muhammad Khanfar, 16, Muhammad al-Sabbagh, 17, and Ahmad Muhammad Issa, 16. Four Palestinians were detained from the northern West Bank city of Tulkarem, identified in a statement by PPS as former prisoner Musab Quzah, Fahd Yassin, who locals said is an engineering student at the al-Najah University, Hussein Abu Shanab, and Usayd Awad. An army Israeli spokesperson said the four were detained for allegedly being members of Hamas. Locals in the village of Burin in the northern occupied West Bank district of Nablus said Israeli forces violently raided the town early Wednesday morning, firing stun grenades. Israeli soldiers “assaulted and interrogated” two youths while briefly detaining them. They were identified as 17-year-old Asid Ahmad Muhammad Imran and 19-year-old Hassan Ali Taher Najjar … Former prisoner Ahmad al-Sheikh and Haitham Abu Ayyash were detained from the southern district of Bethlehem, PPS reported, as the army confirmed two detentions. Overnight, Israeli forces also raided several houses and took pictures of the owners in the village of Wadi Rahhal in southern Bethlehem, locals said. The PPS statement reported that 12 Palestinians were detained in southern occupied West Bank district of Hebron alone, including a 39-year-old woman, Bayan Muhammad Aqil, and her teenage daughter Fatima….
Prisoners / Court actions
Israeli court sentences 2 Palestinian children to 2 years in juvenile detention center
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 4 Jan — An Israeli court in Jerusalem sentenced two 13-year-old Palestinian boys from occupied East Jerusalem to two years in an Israeli juvenile detention center on Wednesday after the two were charged with attempted murder and possession of knives. Muhammad Mahmoud, a lawyer for the defense, told Ma‘an that Shadi Anwar Farah and Ahmad Raed Zatari were sentenced to two years of imprisonment in an Israeli juvenile facility. Mahmoud added that Farah and Zatari were initially detained on Dec. 12, 2015, but that the period they had already spent in detention would not be counted toward their two-year sentence. Exactly a year ago, Farah and Zaatari were charged with attempted murder and possession of knives, after Israeli forces allegedly found knives on the boys during a stop-and-search in Jerusalem. Amjad Abu Asab, who heads a Jerusalem committee for prisoners’ families, said at the time that both children were “interrogated in the absence of adult family members and lawyers, which is a serious violation of Israeli law and international law.” Abu Asab added that the Jerusalem central court also ordered each of the boys’ families to pay a bail of 5,000 shekels ($1,297) and sign a bail of 10,000 shekels ($2,593)….
Israeli court sentences 17-year-old Palestinian girl to 8 years in prison
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 4 Jan — Israel’s central court in Jerusalem sentenced a Palestinian teenage girl to eight-and-a-half years in prison on Wednesday morning, convicting her of attempting to carry out a stabbing attack in occupied East Jerusalem in October 2015. According to Amjad Abu Asab, head of the Jerusalem Committee for Families of Prisoners, the court sentenced Marah Jawdat Moussa Bakr, 17, from the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Beit Hanina, to eight-and-a-half years of prison and imposed a fine of 10,000 shekels (approximately $2,595). Bakr was shot and subsequently detained by Israeli forces on Oct. 12, 2015 after carrying out a stabbing attack which injured two Israelis in East Jerusalem’s Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood, where she attended the nearby Abdullah Bin al-Hussein high school. According to Abu Asab, Bakir sustained critical injuries in her arm and still needs treatment and medical-follow-up. The teenager was initially imprisoned in Israel’s Ashkelon prison before being transferred to Ramla prison, and then to HaSharon prison. According to a February report from the Palestinian Committee of Prisoners’ Affairs, the Israeli Prison Service (IPS) had failed to provide adequate care for at least 29 female Palestinian prisoners being held in Israel’s HaSharon prison last winter, including Bakir, who was one of 11 minors being held in the prison at the time….
Palestinian teen charged with ‘attempted murder’ of Israeli officer
MEMO 4 Jan — A 16-year-old Palestinian girl has been indicted at an Israeli military court in the occupied West Bank district of Nablus for attempting to murder an Israeli border guard officer, according to a statement from an Israeli police spokesperson yesterday. Luba Al-Samri said in her statement that during interrogations the girl confessed that she intended to stab an Israeli soldier, “expressing her regret for failing to achieve what she had planned.” The statement included drawings [below] Al-Samri said the girl drew, depicting knife attacks against Israeli forces, with the phrases “stab the soldier” and “the Jerusalem Intifada continues” written in Arabic. Israeli forces detained the teenager two weeks ago, after she allegedly attempted to carry out a stabbing attack near Qalqiliya in the northern occupied West Bank at an Israeli border police base in the area. At the time, witnesses identified the teenager to Ma’an as 16-year-old Eiman Jalal, and said that she was wearing her school uniform when she was detained. Al-Samri said Jalal was from the village of Beit Amin in the Qalqiliya district. While the details of the girl’s sentence were not yet announced, Israeli authorities have recently handed down a number of lengthy sentences to young Palestinians for alleged involvement in or planning of knife attacks, many of them women and girls.
Arab-Israeli receives administrative detention order
MEMO 4 Jan — An Arab-Israeli held in administrative detention had his six-month detention order extended for an additional three months last week by ultra-right Israeli Defence Minister Avigdor Lieberman, Israeli media reported yesterday. Administrative detention is almost exclusively used against Palestinians from the occupied West Bank, including East Jerusalem. Muhammad Khaled Ibrahim, 20, is one of only two Israeli citizens held under the policy, according to Israel Prison Service (IPS) data cited in Israeli media. Israeli news outlet Ynet reported that Ibrahim was handed a term of six months in administrative detention on 6 June 2016, which was renewed by Lieberman last week. Ibrahim is reportedly a computer technician from the village of Kabul in the Galilee region of northern Israel. The widely condemned Israeli policy allows for a detainee to be sentenced for up to six-month renewable intervals based on undisclosed evidence. According to prisoners’ rights group Addameer, 720 Palestinians were held in administrative detention as of October, while the group also reported that 70 Arab-Israelis were being held in Israeli custody as political prisoners after being formally charged. IPS data states that there are 534 administrative detainees currently being held in Israel. Ynet reported that Ibrahim was detained after reportedly making “frequent visits” to Al-Aqsa Mosque in occupied East Jerusalem and for “conducting a religious way of life”. However, since Israeli authorities are not required to disclose any evidence concerning cases of administrative detainees for alleged security reasons, the reasons behind his detention remain unclear. Meanwhile, Attorney Mustaf Suheil told Israeli newspaper Haaretz that the order was “puzzling”, considering the Ibrahim’s age, adding that the measure was “unusually harsh” for an Israeli citizen. According to Haaretz, the family of Ibrahim, alongside local activists, have established a popular committee to launch protests to demand his immediate release. The committee has also reportedly filed an appeal through a district court in Haifa.
UN worker accused of aiding Hamas sentenced to 7 months
AFP 4 Jan — A Palestinian UN worker accused by Israel of aiding the Islamist group Hamas was sentenced to seven months’ jail Wednesday in a plea deal which will see him released soon. Waheed Borsh was convicted of “rendering services to an illegal organisation without intention”, his lawyer Lea Tsemel told AFP. The Israeli justice ministry confirmed the plea deal, saying that it also included. eight months’ probation. Borsh’s employer, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), said the deal showed there had been no wrongdoing by the organisation. He was arrested in July and with time already served and good behaviour, is expected to be released on January 12. The case centred on accusations that rubble in Gaza under the responsibility of the UNDP was misused by Hamas which controls the enclave. Coming shortly after accusations against a senior employee of the World Vision NGO, the case caused a major stir in Israel, with officials accusing the UN of naivete and alleging systematic misuse of aid by Hamas. Israel originally alleged that Borsh had been recruited by Hamas, which is considered a terrorist organisation by the European Union, the United States and Israel, and had deliberately diverted rubble to a port — which was then used to build a military jetty. But Tsemel stressed that her client had been convicted only o f unintentionally aiding the Islamists by “moving some rubble”. “The prosecution claimed that he should have checked better as this could have helped Hamas.”….
Palestinian prisoner undergoes surgery for injury sustained during detention
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) — Palestinian prisoner and law student Azmi Sahel Nafaa, 21, from the northern occupied West Bank city of Jenin, underwent surgery on his right hand Tuesday to treat wounds he sustained during his detention by Israeli forces, according to his father, who claimed the family was not given prior notice regarding their son’s surgery. In an interview with Sawt al-Asra (Voice of the Prisoners) radio, Nafaa’s father said the Israel Prison Service (IPS) cancelled his visit to his son, which was scheduled to take place this week. According to Nafaa’s father, an IPS official called him to cancel his visit, saying that his son was currently not at Gilbao prison — where Nafaa has been held since November 2015 — and that he was undergoing surgery. The IPS official did not inform Nafaa which hospital his son was in. Nafaa’s father added that IPS officials had also been denying his mother and brother from visiting Nafaa for the past five months. Nafaa, who was shot in his upper jaw with live fire by Israeli forces after he rammed his car into a group of Israeli security personnel, injuring four, at the Zaatara military checkpoint south of Nablus in the northern West Bank, suffered from injuries in his hand’s tendons, injuries in his face, loss of teeth and damages in his upper gum. It remained unclear how many surgeries, if any, Nafaa has undergone since he was shot and detained over one year ago … According to Nafaa’s father, Israeli officials have renewed his son’s detention eight times, while various Arabic media outlets have reported that an Israeli court sentenced Nafaa to 20 years in prison on September 20.
Israelis extend detention of epileptic Palestinian boy
MEMO 4 Jan — The Israeli occupation authorities have extended the detention of Ahmed Mahmoud Khaddour, aged 16, who suffers from partial epilepsy. The young Palestinian will be held until at least Thursday, Quds Press has reported. According to the boy’s sister Hanin, he also suffers from hemiplegia and leukaemia. She pointed out that he can only move with great difficulty and that the Israeli forces arrested Ahmed near the Ofer checkpoint on Monday evening; they claim that he was throwing stones at them. “As soon as my mother heard about his detention, she rushed to the place and tried to get Ahmed freed,” she explained. “However, she gave up when one of the soldiers pointed his gun and threatened to shoot her.” The Israelis transferred the boy to an investigation centre and called his father to attend. “There, they told my father that he was arrested for throwing stones at the Israeli soldiers and his detention was extended until Thursday.” She said that Ahmed is the youngest in her family and fears that his detention will aggravate his health problems.
Israeli forces raid Nafha prison, assault Palestinian prisoners
MEMO 3 Jan — Israeli Prison Services (IPS) forces yesterday raided Nafha prison cells and assaulted Palestinian prisoners, causing injuries among prisoners and damaging their personal belongings, according to the Palestinian Committee of Prisoners’ Affairs. Head of the committee, Issa Qaraqe, told Ma‘an that three Palestinian prisoners were injured as Israeli forces attacked prisoners, “beating them violently and firing tear gas”. Qaraqe quoted prisoners as saying that the Israeli commander of Nafha prison was injured during the clashes, while the Hebrew language news site of Israel’s Channel 20 reported that Palestinian prisoner Muhammad Dahnoun, who is serving a life sentence, “spilled a hot cup of coffee at the prison commander, but he wasn’t hurt”. The Palestinian official condemned the raid and described it as “vindictive and savage”, adding that IPS sprayed pepper spray at Palestinian prisoners. He added that IPS transferred 10 Palestinian prisoners including Al-Dahnoun, who serves as the representative for the prisoners in section 4 of Nafha, to solitary confinement after the prisoners attempted to “break up the Israeli aggression against them”.
Land, property theft & destruction / Ethnic cleansing / Settlements / Judaization
The EU giveth, Israel taketh away in West Bank
RAMALLAH (Al-Monitor) 3 Jan by Ahmad Melhem — Palestinians are calling for the European Union to put its muscle where its money is by increasing pressure on Israel to stop destroying EU-funded facilities. Israel is preparing legislation to forbid EU states from aiding Palestinian building projects in the West Bank’s Area C. The aid the EU gives Palestinians in Area C often ends up wasted. Despite the EU’s long-running complaints that Israel’s settlements are illegal, not much has been done about it, as the abuses continue. In some recent examples, inhabited EU-funded facilities north of Jericho were destroyed Dec. 6, and on Dec. 7, solar panels and electrical appliances were confiscated from Hebron and farms were destroyed in the village of Nabi Samwil, northwest of Jerusalem. All these locations are in Area C. The destruction sparked the anger of EU delegations in Jerusalem and Ramallah, and they voiced their ire in a Dec. 13 press statement that read, “Since early 2016, Israel has destroyed around 866 facilities funded by the EU and affected the lives of 5,704 Palestinians, including 1,221 who have become homeless and 586 children. It has cost the EU around 536,000 euros [$558,096].” Area C, which covers more than 60% of the West Bank, is under Israel’s administrative and security control under the Oslo Accord signed on Sept. 13, 1993. About 150,000 Palestinians currently reside in Area C. EU media official Shadi Othman told Al-Monitor, “The European aid, whether humanitarian or developmental, is directed to Area C in order to maintain the Palestinian presence there and keep the two-state solution viable. Depriving Palestinians of their existence and conducting [Israeli] construction and development works in these areas is the biggest challenge for this solution.” Israel claims it is demolishing houses that were built without permits in Area C. But Israel is in charge of issuing such permits….
Israeli troops demolish 11 Bedouin homes – dozens of children among the 87 made homeless
IMEMC 3 Jan by Celine Hagbard — On Monday morning, Israeli forces invaded Khan al-Ahmar, east of Jerusalem, and destroyed the homes of 87 Palestinian Bedouins, most of whom are women and children. Adal Jahaleen, one of the residents of the Bedouin village, told the Palestinian Wafa news agency that the Israeli military arrived with several Caterpillar D9 armored bulldozers in the morning and forced his family and other families out of their homes. The Israeli military then proceeded with the destruction of eleven dwellings, home to 87 people. The demolition took place in the middle of winter, and Jahaleen said that he is extremely worried for his family and the other families that were forced into the cold today when the military destroyed their homes. Dawood al-Jahalin, a representative of the Abu Nuwwar Bedouin community, told Press TV reporters that the Israeli army carried out the demolition without giving any notice to the families, and without allowing them to retrieve any of their personal belongings from their homes before the military demolished them. Nearly 7000 Palestinians have been rendered homeless this year by Israeli home demolitions.
Israeli soldiers demolish residential structures near Nablus
IMEMC 3 Jan — Several Israeli army vehicles, and bulldozers, invaded earlier Tuesday the village of Khirbit Tana, east of the northern West Bank city of Nablus, and demolished several residential sheds and structures. Ghassan Daghlas, a Palestinian Authority official in charge of Israeli settlements’ file in the northern part of the West Bank, said the soldiers surrounded the entire community before invading it. Daghlas added that the soldiers then proceeded to demolish many residential sheds and structures, owned by Bedouin families, after forcing them out. The official also stated that the village has been subject to frequent invasions and destruction, including the demolition of its only school, in addition to many residential sheds, structures and barns.
Israeli soldiers demolish 10 water wells near Bethlehem
IMEMC/Agencies 5 Jan — Israeli authorities, on Wednesday morning, knocked down water wells in Teqou‘ village, east of Bethlehem. Mayor of the town, Tayseer Abu Mufreh, said Israeli occupation vehicles demolished ten water wells used by Palestinian farmers, under the pretext of unlicensed construction. At the same time, according to the PNN, Israeli forces prevented the land owners from reaching the demolition scene. The Teqou‘ mayor dubbed the demolition illegal and groundless, as no court ruling has been issued regarding the affair.
Deir Ballout: A village struggling against Israel settlement expansion
DEIR BALLOUT, Salfit (WAFA) 2 Jan by Ula Mawkidi – Israel has recently been intensifying its violations of Palestinian rights through expansion of settlements, land grab and restriction on construction of regular and farm roads in the villages of Kufr al-Deek, Deir Ballout and al-Zawiyah, located to the west of Salfit in the north of the West Bank. Deir Ballout, a village bordering the 1948 green line, is the most vulnerable of the area to this settlement expansion that has grabbed what was left of the village land. Residents daily watch Israeli bulldozers razing land only meters away from homes at the entrance to the village. An Israeli military watch tower sits in the area to monitor what residents do and to make life miserable for them. On December 20, the so-called Israeli “Civil Administration,” the arm of the military government in the occupied territories, ordered Idris Jbara Abdullah, 62, to vacate his land and reverse what he has done to it under the pretext it was “state land.” He was given 30 days to file an objection to the decision. Abdullah told WAFA that his land, which he planted with olive seedlings with the help of the Ministry of Agriculture, is 82 dunums in area and is legally registered in the Land Registry since his grandparents were alive. He said that his sons and grandsons live off the land but the occupation “doesn’t want to leave us a tree.” He adds that the confiscation issue covers 12 dunums of his land and it will be carried out in a month in case he does not stand against the Israeli forces and their bulldozers, which hadn’t stopped working on the land….
VIDEO: Israeli forces demolish 2 Palestinian homes in Beit Hanina
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 4 Jan — Israeli forces on Wednesday demolished two Palestinian-owned homes in the neighborhood of Beit Hanina in occupied East Jerusalem, according to a statement by the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO). According to statements released on the PLO’s Twitter account, Israeli forces demolished a Palestinian home in Beit Hanina, before making their way to demolish another home in the same neighborhood. Amer Ubeido, the owner of the second home, told Ma‘an that his family had tried to get the Israeli magistrate and central courts to postpone the demolition of the house where they had lived for 16 years since early Wednesday morning, in vain. Ubeido said that the central court had approved a postponement in the afternoon on the condition that his family pay a 50,000-shekel ($12,948) fine within half an hour. Ubeido added that he rushed to obtain the large sum of money, only to find out upon reaching the court that the demolition was under way. He added that the Israeli Jerusalem municipality had previously ordered him to pay a 42,000-shekel ($10,876) fine for illegal construction, and that he had spared no efforts to try and obtain a permit, but that the municipality had insisted on the demolition….
Israeli forces demolish 2 homes in Jerusalem, displacing 18 Palestinians
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 4 Jan — Israeli bulldozers demolished Palestinian homes in the neighborhood of Shu‘fat in occupied East Jerusalem, and delivered demolition orders in the village of Jinsafut in the Qalqiliya district of the occupied West Bank between Tuesday and Wednesday. At 4 a.m. on Wednesday, Israeli bulldozers entered the Shu‘fat neighborhood in northern Jerusalem and demolished two houses belong to Adnan Shweiki after evacuating the residents and some material contents inside the home, locals told Ma‘an. Shweiki said that two families lived in the houses on a rental lease, and pointed out that the demolition was carried out without any prior notice. Israel’s Jerusalem municipality had recently issued an order postponing the demolition until Jan. 1. However, the family filed another extension in an attempt to obtain Israeli-issued building permits for both houses. Shweiki added that the houses were built 15 years ago and comprised a total space of 300 square meters. The municipality had also imposed a total of 335,000 shekels ($86,962) worth of fines during the previous years, he said. The houses were raided seven years ago in order to be demolished, Shweiki told Ma‘an, but he was able to postpone the order, while a fine of 80,000 shekels ($20,767) was imposed for payment to municipality crews, as Palestinians are forced to cover any costs incurred by Israeli crews for preparations for demolitions and actual demolitions of Palestinian property. Shweiki said that 18 people, including 10 children, had resided in the two now-demolished homes. A spokesperson for the Jerusalem municipality told Ma’an that it had “executed courts orders to dismantle an illegal structure built on area designated for a public road for the benefit of local residents.”
Meanwhile, Israeli forces raided the village of Jinsafut in eastern Qalqiliya in the northern West Bank on Tuesday and delivered demolition orders for several steel structures. The notices said that the structures, belonging to Majid Sukkar and Abd al-Fattah Bashir, lacked Israeli-issued building licenses.
Israeli authorities deliver 19 stop-construction orders in Salfit area
SALFIT (Ma‘an) 4 Jan — Israeli authorities on Wednesday delivered 19 stop-work orders to Palestinian residents in the towns of Kafr al-Dik, Kifl Haris, and Deir Istiya in the northern occupied West Bank Salfit district. Palestinian officials from the Salfit governorate told Ma‘an that Israeli officials ordered Palestinian residents of the towns to immediately halt the construction of houses and buildings, claiming they were being built illegally in Area C — the more than 60 percent of the West Bank under full Israeli security and civilian control. Officials called the move punitive, and vowed to move forward with appropriate legal procedures to prevent the likely demolition of the 19 structures in question.
Israeli forces detain 5 Palestinian employees of Hebron rehabilitation committee
MEMO 2 Jan — Israeli forces Monday morning detained five Palestinian employees of the Hebron Rehabilitation Committee (HRC) while they were conducting rehabilitation works on a house on the al-Shuhada Street in Hebron’s old city. General Director of HRC Imad Hamdan said in statement that Israeli forces detained five of their employees while working in a house in al-Shuhada Street as part of the committee’s aims to preserve Palestinian culture in the area. Hamdan said that legal unit of the Committee is pursuing the issue with Israeli authorities, noting that Israel had detained several employees of the committee previously and most of them were released on bail. He added that such Israeli procedures “aim to obstruct the committee’s work in maintaining the cultural aspect of Hebron and protect it from the Israeli attempts to Judaise it.”
Bizarre Jerusalem family case shows peace, settlements incompatible
Al-Monitor 3 Jan by Daoud Kuttab — The bizarre case of the Sublaban family reflects how the Israeli settlement policy has spun out of control as a couple has been allowed to stay in its Jerusalem home for 10 years on condition that their children can’t stay with them — … In responding to an appeal against the family’s expulsion from the home it has lived in since 1953, the Israeli High Court ruled Dec. 20 that Mustafa and Nora Sublaban can stay in their home 10 more years — but on condition that their children can’t live with them so as not to transfer ownership to the third generation. A small storage room that also belonged to the family was granted to the hard-line settler movement that has been trying to expel the Sublaban family …. Mohammad Dahleh, the attorney for the Sublaban family, told Al-Monitor that the ruling is “unprecedented” and one of the strangest he has seen. “Allowing the woman who was born in this house to live in it for 10 years and preventing her children from being with her has never been ruled on by Israel’s highest court. They tried to appear to show justice to Nora Sublaban, while tying her hands as to how the house she has a right to can be used.” Dahleh said that it will be hard to implement this decision. “Who will decide if her children are living in the house or not? Will the settlers put up cameras or hire a guard to record the goings and comings of the Sublaban family?” Dahleh asked….
Closures / Restriction of movement
Coordination office succeeds in reopening Bethlehem area road
RAMALLAH (WAFA) 2 Jan – The Palestinian Military Coordination Office succeeded Monday in reopening the road between Marah Rabah and Beit Fajjar to the south of Bethlehem, which was blocked by the Israeli authorities two weeks ago. Israel claimed the road was closed for military reasons. However, an intervention by the Military Coordination Office succeeded in convincing the Israelis to remove the dirt that blocked the road, considered vital to the two villages and surrounding areas. Israel regularly closes main roads in the West Bank as a collective punitive measure if stones are thrown at Israeli vehicles travelling on in the area.
Opinion: Palestinian time in Israeli hands / Amira Hass
Haaretz 4 Jan — Hours a day, every day, at every gate in the separation fence, at every checkpoint, at every vehicle inspection post, Palestinians’ lives come to a halt as they wait for armed Israeli soldiers to let them go past — The chatter that arose near the separation fence’s gate made it clear the farmers had come despite the rain. About 30 of them gathered inside the tin shack, and the lighted cigarettes roughly highlighted their faces in the dark. Youths and adults from a number of villages in the area had arrived by 4:45 in the morning. The gate in the fence that divides them from their land will open at six. They want to save a good spot at the front of the line. On a clear day, the line of workers is much longer. The military police arrive a few minutes late. Sheer luck. Sometimes they are much later. They walk slowly to the gate. One soldier protects the other, who opens the first lock and then lingers with the second lock and chain. They tell the farmers to approach in groups of five. The cold restricts their movements as they hold the gate permit and the ID. Then a female soldier in an elevated guard post checks the permits on the computer. Then they open the big gate – to tractors and trucks. There is not much work on rainy days, perhaps two to three hours’ worth. However, the gate will only open again at 1 P.M. Some four hours will pass without the farmers doing anything, before returning home. That is how it is every day. At all the gates … The man waiting for a ride at 4:30 A.M. at a curve in the road in Ein Arik village works in Israel. His destination is the Ni‘lin checkpoint. Once he gets through all its turnstiles and electromagnetic gates, he and dozens of other workers will wait on the other side for two hours. They are early, because they prefer to burn those hours waiting, sparing them the congestion inside the checkpoint and the risk of missing the ride to work at 7. That’s how it is every day. At all the checkpoints … There is no need for economists to calculate how much the economy and every family lose because of those thousands of hours (and liters of fuel) that Israel routinely makes Palestinians waste. You don’t need sociologists to understand the process by which social structures, compositions and relationships break down, fall apart and wear out. Even without a psychologist, it is clear that the stolen hours leave a residue of missed opportunities, humiliation and frustration….
Gaza fisherman goes missing after being shot at by Israeli navy
GAZA (Ma‘an) 5 Jan — A Palestinian fisherman went missing on Wednesday night after his boat was attacked by Israeli naval forces off the coast of the northern Gaza Strip, Palestinian sources said. The head of the Gaza fishermen’s union, Nizar Ayyash, said that an Israeli navy ship attacked and sank a boat belonging to Muhammad al-Hissi at around 10:30 p.m. off the coast of Beit Lahiya, and that al-Hissi went missing shortly afterwards. Ayyash added that searches were being conducted to find the fisherman.
Gaza fisherman missing after Israeli navy sinks his boat
GAZA (PIC) 5 Jan — The Israeli navy on Wednesday evening ferociously attacked Palestinian fishermen and their boats off the northern shores of the Gaza Strip. According to the Palestinian Information Center (PIC), a fishing boat sank during the attack and the fisherman who was aboard disappeared from sight. The incident happened when an Israeli gunboat swamped the boat using a water cannon. There is still no information about what happened to the fisherman. As this boat was sinking, Israeli naval troops attacked other fishermen and their boats by firing flares and live ammunition at them off the shores of al-Sudaniya and al-Waha areas and forced them to return ashore. Local sources affirmed that the fishermen were working within the permitted fishing zone, describing the attack as unjustified.
Israeli navy opens fire at fishing boats in Gaza
GAZA (WAFA) 3 Jan – Israeli navy opened fire on Tuesday at Palestinian fishing boats sailing off the northern shores of the Gaza Strip, according to fishermen. They said the navy opened fire at their boats, which caused them to leave the area and return to shore in fear of getting shot. There were no reports of casualties or damage.
Candle causes house fire during Gaza power cut, injuring father and 2 daughters
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 3 Jan — A man and his two daughters suffered from burns overnight Monday after a fire broke out in their apartment in Gaza City’s al-Shuja‘iya neighborhood. The cause of the fire, according to the family, was a candle the girls lit during a power cut so that they could do their homework. A 12-year-old girl and her 8-year-old sister sustained moderate burns, while their father suffered from minor burns, according to spokesman for the Ministry of Health in the Gaza Strip Ashraf al-Qidra.
The besieged Gaza Strip has been suffering for years from a serious power crisis, which intensifies in the winter when families have to make do with only a few hours of power a day. Gaza’s usual electricity schedule alternates eight hours of power followed by eight hours without. In May 2015, three small children died in a house fire caused by candles the family used during a power cut.
Egyptian army destroys 12 tunnels along Gaza border
CAIRO (Ma‘an) 2 Jan — Egyptian border forces on Sunday “uncovered” and destroyed 12 tunnels along the borders of the northern Sinai and Gaza Strip, according to Egyptian army spokesman Tamer al-Rifae. It remained unclear exactly how the tunnels were destroyed.
Four Palestinians from the besieged Gaza Strip were left dead last month when Egyptian authorities deliberately flooded a tunnel with seawater. Palestinians in Gaza have relied on underground smuggling tunnels across the Egyptian border since 2007, when Israel imposed a crippling military blockade on the coastal enclave after Hamas took control there. Until the July 2013 ouster of Egyptian president Muhammad Morsi, tunnels connecting the Gaza Strip to Egypt provided a vital lifeline for the small Palestinian territory. Since Egyptian President Abd al-Fattah al-Sisi came to power, however, Egypt has strictly enforced the blockade and flooded hundreds of the tunnels as part of an ongoing security campaign in the northern Sinai Peninsula against anti-regime militants launching attacks on Egyptian police and military personnel….
Photos: A day of political activism in Gaza
MEMO 4 Jan — Protests took place in Rafah, demanding a new hospital, and in Al-Bureyj refugee camp, against recent power cuts
Photos: Dutch artist turns Gaza ruins into piece of beauty
GAZA (Alresalah.ps) The global 63-year-old Dutch artist, Marian Toyon, visited the Gaza strip lately with a team of engineers as she is an artist, who turns ruins into artistic beautiful forms.In the Gaza strip, she turned the ruins of a house destroyed by the Israeli occupation forces in mid-2014 to the a beautiful piece with European art characteristics in Gaza city of Khan Younis. Toyon worked with the help of Dutch engineers and Palestinian and Europeans technicians. In the east of Khan Younis in the southern Gaza Strip, they finished work at a destroyed home, turning it into a stunning piece of art. Toyon and her crew re-used the ruins of the house, waste stones, columns and ceilings to turn the house of the Palestinian citizen Ahmed Juma into attractive art forms. Toyon says that the house took them 3 months, with the help of a team of engineers and specialists as well as workers … She pointed out that through her work in this museum, she wants to deliver a message of love and peace,, which she described as a “wonderful and beautiful” thing , through which she transform the suffering of the residents of the Gaza Strip to countries around the world. Mohammed Abu Daka, the assistant of Toyon, expressed his happiness with the completion of this project, which as he said would deliver a message to the whole world about the suffering of the Gaza Strip.
Paratroopers’ officer critically wounded in Protective Edge passes away
Ynet 4 Jan by Yoav Zitun, Isaac Dabush, Goel Beno — Maj. Hagai Ben-Ari, who was critically wounded during the 2014 Operation Protective Edge and had been unconscious since then, passed away on Tuesday. In his passing, he became the 68th IDF soldier killed in the Gaza war. His funeral will be held at 2pm Wednesday at Moshav Haspin’s cemetery.The 31-year-old officer was highly regarded and was supposed to be appointed the commander of the Paratrooper Commando Unit. On July 21, 2014, five days after the beginning of the IDF’s ground operation in Gaza, Ben-Ari was critically wounded when a sniper bullet bore through his helmet and hit his head. He was airlifted to the Soroka Medical Center in Be’er Sheva, where he underwent a series of operations in an effort to save his life. Eventually the doctors determined his injury was so severe he had no chance of recovery and said it was a miracle he was still alive….
PHOTOS: Looking back at Palestine in 2016
MEMO 1 Jan — Looking back at the main events that took place in Palestine in 2016. [Diverse and interesting collection of photos]
Archbishop was ‘an icon to Palestinians’
NAZARETH (Al Jazeera) 3 Jan by Jonathan Cook — A Greek Melkite archbishop, described as an “icon” of the Palestinian liberation struggle, has died in Rome at the age of 94. Hilarion Capucci, who was appointed the Patriarchal Vicar of Jerusalem in 1965, was arrested by Israel nine years later and jailed for arms smuggling. Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas was among those praising him for “defending the rights of the Palestinian people.” Hanan Ashrawi, a member of the executive committee of the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO), said Capucci was a reminder of an era when priests were actively engaged in political struggles, from opposition to the Vietnam war to leading liberation movements in Latin America. “He embodied the activist church – spiritual leaders who were prepared to translate their principles into action and struggle against injustice. He became an icon to Palestinians,” she told Al Jazeera. “The days of revolutionary priests are over,” she added. “The church is no longer deeply immersed in active struggle. It is more hesitant and cautious. Today, priests are more likely to express their solidarity by being witnesses or advocates.” Born in 1922, in the Syrian city of Aleppo, at the time under French colonial rule, Capucci played a prominent role in several conflicts in the Middle East. The Palestinian struggle, however, appeared to be especially close to his heart. Deeply influenced by liberation theology, Capucci lectured and wrote about the Palestinian cause and human rights abuses during the 1960s, and soon struck up a close friendship with PLO leader Yasser Arafat. On several occasions, Capucci compared Jesus to Palestinian resistance fighters. But he came to wider public attention in August 1974, when Israel arrested him as he drove between the Lebanese capital, Beirut and occupied East Jerusalem in a car with Vatican diplomatic licence plates. Soldiers searching his Mercedes found rifles, pistols, ammunition and explosives. Israel also accused him of being involved in a failed plot a few months earlier to fire three Katyusha rockets towards Jerusalem during a visit by Henry Kissinger, then the United States secretary of state. Labelled a “terrorist priest” by the Israeli media, Capucci was charged with contact with foreign agents and transporting illegal weapons – the most serious charges ever laid by Israel against a senior cleric. The Greek Melkite patriarch of the time, Maximos V, compared Capucci’s role to that of priests who three decades earlier had risked their lives to save Jews from the Nazi occupation of Europe. Capucci refused to take the stand, insisting that the Israeli military court was not competent to try him. He was sentenced to 12 years in jail. He went on several hunger strikes, and under pressure from Pope Paul VI, Israel commuted his sentence in 1978. Palestinians had demanded Capucci’s release in several guerilla operations of that period, including following the hijacking of an Air France plane in 1976….
City of Ramallah names street after Archbishop Capucci
RAMALLAH (WAFA) 4 Jan – The city of Ramallah Wednesday said it has named a street after the late Greek Melkite archbishop, Hilarion Capucci, who was described as an icon of the Palestinian liberation struggle. Capucci died in Rome on Sunday at age 94 … Mayor of Ramallah Musa Hadid announced that this step came to “honor the memory of Capucci in observance of his national positions and defence of Palestinian people’s rights.”
Hamas slams PA for establishing election court
MEMO 4 Jan — The Palestinian Islamic Resistance Movement [Hamas] has slammed the Palestinian Authority for establishing a new court to look into issues related to local elections, Safa news agency reported on Tuesday. In a press release, Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum said that, according to article 10 of the Local Elections Law 2005, the Court of First Instance is the only institution which is entitled to look into issues related to such elections. Hamas pressed home this point after the PA ministerial council chaired by Rami Al-Hamadallah approved a bill at its weekly meeting calling for the elections court to be set up. According to the PA, this court will look into all crimes and legal issues related to the elections in local districts. It pointed out that the bill was sent to PA President Mahmoud Abbas for a decree to be issued. Last year, the Palestinian Central Elections Commission cancelled local elections planned to take place in October. The PA took the decision to postpone the elections for four months. These moves were made after the PA High Court cancelled the elections in Gaza under the pretext of not recognising the courts which cancelled a number of electoral lists. Prior to the High Court decision, the courts in several cities in the Gaza Strip cancelled Fatah’s electoral lists due to legal violations by the nominees on the lists.
Hamas leader floats idea of West Bank-Gaza Strip federation
JPost 2 Jan by Adam Rasgon — A senior Hamas official said on Friday that a federation between the West Bank and the Gaza Strip could be a feasible solution to the ongoing division between Hamas and Fatah. “A federation between the West Bank and Gaza Strip may be better than the ongoing division,” Mousa Abu Marzouk, the vice president of the Hamas Politburo, told Al-Ghad, a London-based Arabic satellite channel. A federation is defined as a political entity made up of partially self-governing regions. The division between Hamas, which controls the Gaza Strip, and Fatah, which dominates the West Bank, has lasted for more than nine years. Arab and international parties have undertaken numerous efforts to end the division, overseeing agreements between the two parties, which ultimately have gone unimplemented. Abu Marzouk added that other countries have used the model of a federation to unite their countries, regardless of their geographical size. “A federation is one of the forms of government that has united many countries like Switzerland, the United Arab Emirates, the United States of America,” he said. “It does not matter if the country is small or large—the population of Switzerland is less than that of Palestine, but it is united.” Many of the PLO’s factions, including Fatah, denounced Abu Marzouk’s statements, calling his proposal “dangerous.” Osama Qawasmeh, a Fatah spokesman, rejected his comments, saying that they “reinforce the division.” … Mahmoud Khalaf, Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine leader, condemned Abu Marzouk’s comments, saying that they “dismember the Palestinian issue.”….
Abbas receives Israeli opposition in Ramallah
MEMO 4 Jan — Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas yesterday received an Israeli convoy from the opposition faction Meretz at his office in the occupied West Bank city of Ramallah, the Anadolu Agency reported. Addressing his guests, Abbas reiterated that the PA is sticking to achieving peace based on the international resolutions which stipulate the establishment of a Palestinian state on the 1967 borders with East Jerusalem as its capital. He stressed that the latest UN Security Council Resolution 2334, which stressed the illegitimacy of Israeli settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories “is not against Israel, with which we are seeking to achieve just and comprehensive peace.” Meanwhile, the Israeli convoy extended its congratulations to Abbas on the success of Fatah’s Seventh Congress and his re-election as Fatah leader. The secretary of the Israeli faction told Abbas that there is an Israeli petition, signed by about 1,000 Israelis, which calls on France to go ahead with the peace conference even if Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu refuses to partake. According to Army Radio, during discussions about US President-elect Donald Trump’s promise to move the American Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, Abbas told the visiting group: “Moving the embassy will have serious consequences not only for the Palestinian people, but also for the legitimacy of the entire international struggle against the occupation.”
Hebron hospital staff stages strike over $7 million debt owed by PA
HEBRON (Ma‘an) 3 Jan– More than 200 employees of the al-Mezan private hospital in the southern occupied West Bank city of Hebron went on strike on Monday in protest of not having received salaries for three months due to outstanding debts from the Palestinian Authority (PA) amounting to millions of dollars. A spokesman for the hospital staff, Sharif Taradi, told Ma‘an that protests would continue as long as employees were not paid regularly. “Some 250 people work at al-Mezan hospital, and we haven’t received our salaries for the last three months,” Taradi said, adding that salaries hadn’t been paid regularly for about a year. The hospital’s financial crisis, the doctor said, was due to a failure by the Palestinian Ministry of Health to pay back money it owes the hospital. Al-Mezan General Director Hazem Shalalda said that the debt was worth an estimated 27 million shekels ($7 million)….
Anti-drugs force raids marijuana factory in West Bank
RAMALLAH (WAFA) 2 Jan – The Palestinian anti-drugs police raided a marijuana plantation and a small drug factory in Kufr al- Deek village in the north of the West Bank, a statement by the general prosecution’s office said on Monday. It said that based on information it received regarding presence of a drug factory in the village, a joint anti-drug and police force along with staff from general prosecutor’s office raided the site where they seized 300 marijuana seedlings. The general prosecution statement also pointed out that investigation into the incident will continue in order to arrest those responsible.
Lost at sea: The search for missing refugees
Al Jazeera 1 Jan by Samya Kullab — …Thousands of refugees still brave the dangerous sea voyage to Europe across the Aegean Sea each year, but for every refugee that reaches Greece successfully, there are others who are never heard from again. Many are thought to be dead, with some buried in unmarked graves. The process to identify them is mired in bureaucratic and logistical hurdles, leaving their families in limbo. According to Maria Landri – a coordinator for the tracing services department of the Hellenic Red Cross, a department that aims to assist these families – there are currently 900 cases open, while 114 cases have been solved since 2014. This represents only a fraction of the more than 4,400 missing persons, according to the International Organization for Migration’s Missing Migrants Project … United Rescues, a fledgling organisation founded in 2015, has stepped in to assist in these searches, with a volunteer base spread out across Europe. Initially focused on rescuing refugees from the sea, United Rescues later opened a separate search division amid overwhelming demand. The organisation is currently looking into around 250 cases … Among the more complicated cases that United Rescues has come across is Bonita’s. A Palestinian refugee from Syria, she arrived in Greece by boat in July 2015, following her husband, who had arrived a few months before. Anticipating border closures, he urged her to carry on to Germany without him, saying that he would meet her soon after sorting out a land sale. “He told me go now, and to wait for him. He said he was waiting for a paper from his family in Syria to sell the land,” said Bonita, who did not provide her last name. As the weeks passed in Germany with no word from her husband, she grew worried. Four months on, she learned that he had called his family and Syria and told them that he did not want to be found. An investigation by United Rescues suggested that Bonita’s husband may have been recruited by an illicit network, although the details were unclear.”He said he would come after me. He told me to wait for just a day. To this day, I haven’t heard his voice,” Bonita told Al Jazeera, breaking down into tears. “I love my husband; I will wait for him.”
Criticism of Istanbul terror victim exposes Arab-Israeli generation gap
AL-Monitor 4 Jan by Shlomi Eldar — The killing of young Palestinian Lian Zaher Nasser in the Istanbul terror attack has exposed a growing rift within Arab-Israeli society between young people seeking a modern way of life and those adhering to a strict religious moral code — The funeral of 19-year-old Lian Zaher Nasser was held in the Arab-Israeli town of Tira on Jan. 3 … Thousands attended the funeral, among them hundreds of young Arab-Israeli women who came to pay their last respects to Nasser but also in defiance of those who cast aspersions on Nasser’s moral character, claiming her death was divine retribution for celebrating a Christian holiday in mixed company with men at an amoral alcohol-soaked affair. Such claims were first expressed in mosques and then erupted onto social media sites, where stormy arguments developed. “Moderate” posters wondered what a group of Muslim girls was doing in an Istanbul nightclub, and some went so far as to compare the club to a brothel. Her relatives said Nasser was murdered twice: once by an Islamic State terrorist and a second time by sympathizers of the movement within the Arab-Israeli community. At the end of the funeral procession, her father, Zaher Nasser, reacted to those seeking to sully his daughter’s name. “My daughter was murdered through no fault of her own. All she wanted was to enjoy herself, and that’s not forbidden. The fact that she’s a Muslim does not prevent her from having a good time, and Islam does not call for murder and such violence,” he said. During the funeral procession, Arab Knesset member Ahmad Tibi said angrily, “We are sad and pained but also angered by the crimes. People who cannot find a kind word should just keep silent and be ashamed of themselves.” The chairman of the Joint List, Knesset member Ayman Odeh, wrote on Facebook that he was deeply shocked that instead of mourning the murder of a young woman in a terror attack carried out by Muslim fanatics, Arab society was concerning itself with the lifestyle of young women unwilling to accept the religious Muslim way of life preached by the Islamic State group … these tensions and confrontations do not just pit religious and nonreligious Muslims against each other, but also the older generation against the younger. These young people are defining a new, unique identity: a minority group intent on throwing off the shackles and isolationism of their society and leading an independent lifestyle … The new movie by Arab director Maysaloun Hamoud, a resident of the mixed Jewish-Arab city of Tel Aviv-Jaffa, offers a fascinating glimpse of the currents shaking up Arab society. “Not Here, Not There,” which hit Israeli movie screens Dec. 30, revolves around three young Arab women who rent an apartment in the center of Tel Aviv, but are forced to conceal their liberal lifestyle from their families….
Rights groups urge cancellation of citizenship revocation law
HAIFA (WAFA) 4 Jan — Adalah–The Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel and the Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI) submitted arguments on behalf of Alaa Zayoud to the Haifa District Court on 22 December 2016 asking the court to reject Interior Minister Aryeh Deri’s request to revoke his citizenship, an Adalah press release said on Wednesday The human rights organizations also demanded the cancellation of an amendment to Israel’s Citizenship Law that authorizes the court to approve requests from the interior minister to revoke the citizenship of Israeli citizens for “breach of loyalty” – an amendment that is being applied in a discriminatory manner against Arab Palestinian citizens of Israel. Zayoud is a Palestinian citizen of Israel from the town of Umm el-Fahem who was sentenced to 25 years in prison on charges related to an attempted murder. If his citizenship is revoked, Zayyoud will become stateless as neither the interior minister nor the attorney general provided an alternative citizenship status for him, in contrary to the provisions of the Israeli Citizenship Law as well as the requirements of international human rights law. Adalah Attorney Sawsan Zaher and ACRI Attorney Oded Feller emphasized that moves to revoke citizenship currently proceeding solely against Arab Palestinian citizens of Israel suggest selective and discriminatory enforcement of the law … In 1996, the Israeli Supreme Court rejected a request to revoke the citizenship of Israeli Jewish citizen Yigal Amir, who assassinated then-Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin in 1995. In that case, the Supreme Court ruled that the criminal justice system is the accepted method by which Israeli society expresses its reservations against criminal violations, stating that “society has expressed its reservation about this brutal murder, but that is no reason to revoke Amir’s citizenship, not because of the killer’s dignity, but because of the dignity of that right [to citizenship].”….
Arab MK Ghattas suspended from Knesset for six months
MEMO 3 Jan — The Knesset Ethics Committee yesterday suspended Member of the Knesset Basil Ghattas of the Joint List from all Knesset activities for six months. The decision was approved by the committee three against one. Israeli police arrested Ghattas two weeks ago on suspicion of smuggling mobile phones, SIM cards and documents to prisoners held in Israeli jails. Ghattas described the Ethic Committee’s decision “political revenge” and said he would consider petitioning the High Court of Justice against it. “The Ethics Committee named itself judge and gave a ruling before the claims against me were clarified, so it is clear to all that this decision was not appropriate,” Ghattas said. He added that the committee “did not take such decisions against Jewish Knesset members before the investigations end.”
Knesset passes first reading of controversial ‘Facebook bill’
MEMO 3 Jan — Israel’s Knesset passed the controversial “Facebook bill” – which would allow Israeli officials to force the social media giant to remove certain content through a court order if there are suspicions of “incitement” – through its first reading today. According to Ynet, the bill passed its first reading, and will be followed by a second and third reading to determine if the bill is to become official Israeli legislation. According to Israeli media outlet the Times of Israel, the bill, proposed by Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan and Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked would “only be invoked in cases of suspected incitement, where there is a real possibility that the material in question endangers the public or national security.” Despite Facebook complying with 95 per cent of the Israeli government’s removal requests in recent months, some members of the Knesset have expressed indignation that Facebook has not taken enough action to remove content inciting “acts of terror against Jews”… Erdan also defended the bill’s application to Palestinians living in the occupied West Bank, using the Israeli term “Judea and Samaria”, and underscored his concerns that Facebook did not recognise Israeli military control over the Palestinian territory. “If someone writes something problematic and they live in Judea and Samaria, [Facebook] won’t cooperate with us and they say it’s outside of Israel and therefore they can’t cooperate,” the Times of Israel reported Erdan saying….
How Palestinians in this Egyptian village are holding onto customs
GEZIRA FADEL, Egypt (Al-Monitor) 2 Jan by Mohammad Othman — About 100 kilometers (62 miles) northeast of Cairo and about two hours away is the village of Gezira Fadel in Sharqiya governorate. Gezira Fadel is the last village inhabited by Palestinians who have taken refuge in Egypt after being displaced from their villages in Palestine that were occupied by Israel in 1948. The village’s streets are not paved, and to travel the village’s 2-meter-wide (6.5-foot-wide] main street, one has to get on a tuk-tuk, the most popular means of transportation in popular Egyptian areas. Al-Monitor reached the mayor’s headquarters in the center of the village. Mayor Eid al-Namuli said that his family makes up the majority of the village’s population of 5,000 inhabitants. Namuli explained that the residents are all from the Namuli tribe, which was originally affiliated with the Abu Hassoun tribe that emigrated from the city of Beersheba in Palestine in 1948 and settled in Sharqiya governorate. He said, “The village is 500 acres. It was founded by my father, Sheikh Naseer Namuli, right after he migrated here in 1948. It is administratively affiliated with the city of Abu Kabir in Sharqiya governorate. We have a customary council composed of seven people to resolve disputes among the residents and between our village and nearby Egyptian villages.” Namuli, who was chosen by the village’s elderly to serve as mayor after his father and brother passed away in 2014, noted that the villagers hold on dearly to their Palestinian customs and traditions even 68 years after leaving Beersheba, not to mention that 95% of the time, men marry women from within the same tribe….
Israel signs to take 20,000 Chinese building workers
Globes 4 Jan by Ori Chudy — 6,000 of the new Chinese workers are expected to arrive in the first months of 2017 — After years of fruitless negotiations, an Israeli government delegation today signed a final agreement with the Chinese Ministry of Trade and the Chinese association of contractors for bringing thousands of Chinese construction workers to Israel, the Ministry of Construction and Housing announced today. The official ceremony is scheduled for late February. The agreement paves the way to bring professional construction workers to Israel from China. As of now, there is a new quota of 20,000, with 6,000 slated to arrive in Israeli in the first six months of 2017. In contrast to the agreements signed with Eastern European countries, the agreement with the Chinese government stipulates that the Chinese authorities will be responsible for selecting the workers sent to Israel through special companies established for this purpose….
Tunisian engineer allegedly assassinated by Israel was developing remote-controlled submarines
MEMO 3 Jan — The Israeli newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth reported that Tunisian engineer Mohammed Al-Zawari, who was killed last December, was working on developing remote-controlled submarines that were to target Israeli oil and gas platforms in the Mediterranean Sea. The Tunisian engineer was shot in the Tunisian coastal city of Sfax in an operation involving at least eight Tunisians, whom officials in Tunisia said they were agents for foreign bodies. The Israeli intelligence agency, Mossad, is suspected to be responsible for Zawari’s death. The eight suspects were already arrested pending the investigation into Zawari’s death. Israeli Defence Minister Avigdor Lieberman was quoted by Ynetnews.com as saying that the aerial engineer “probably wasn’t a great mean of peace or up for a Nobel Peace Prize.” “We will protect our interests in the best way we know how, he added. Former counterterrorism agent for the US State Department Fred Burton commented on the issue in an article published on the intelligence website Startfor: “From the streets of Europe to the Middle East, Israel’s agents time and again have found their mark, with their victims dispatched in novel ways, from bombs under beds to lone figures targeted on dark streets with silenced Beretta .22s. I’ve often wondered if somewhere inside the Mossad there is a secret office that mulls over plots from fiction novels and uses them to plan real-world missions,” he wrote. He added that Zawari, a Hamas researcher, was known as “The Engineer” for his expertise, and he was “working to develop an armed underwater drone that would have targeted Israeli oil and gas platforms in the Mediterranean Sea.” The case, the US expert says, is reminiscent of Israel’s 1988 assassination of the Fatah operative Khalil Al-Wazir in his home in Tunis.
Israel’s global standing continues to sink, top strategists say
EI 4 Jan by Ali Abunimah — Israel’s global standing is continuing to deteriorate, a new report from some of the country’s top strategists concludes. “Israel’s image in Western countries continues to decline, a trend that enhances the ability of hostile groups to engage in actions aimed at depriving Israel of moral and political legitimacy and launch boycotts,” the Institute for National Security Studies (INSS) at Tel Aviv University states in its 2016-2017 Strategic Survey for Israel. The 275-page report, authored by a who’s who of figures from Israel’s political, intelligence and military establishment, was presented on Monday to Israeli President Reuven Rivlin by INSS director Amos Yadlin, a former air force general and head of Israeli military intelligence. It notes in particular that “the international campaign to delegitimize Israel continues, as reflected in the BDS movement,” a reference to the growing Palestinian-led boycott, divestment and sanctions campaign. Israel habitually describes advocacy for full rights for Palestinians, or criticism of its abuses, as “delegitimization.” The report says that Israel’s “current right-wing government has contributed to this deterioration,” as have “anti-democratic legislative initiatives,” as well as international concerns about Israel’s “overreaction” to what it terms a “wave of terrorist attacks” by Palestinians –No substitute for US– According to the report, Israel’s efforts to compensate for its deteriorating relations with its traditional supporters, by bolstering ties with “non-democratic countries, especially Russia and China, are looked down upon in the international arena … “Despite good relations between Moscow and Jerusalem, Russia is not a substitute for security, political and economic support by the United States and the West,” the report concludes … The Israeli strategists are clear that in terms of the conventional balance of forces in the region, “Israel’s military power is undisputed” – there is no threat from the armies of Egypt, Syria or Jordan. But they continue to view the Lebanese resistance movement Hizbullah as a major threat….
‘Made in Israel’: Rise in US complaints over ‘mislabeled’ exports from settlements
Haaretz 3 Jan by Uri Blau — The United States Department of the Treasury is reporting an increase in allegations that merchandise produced in West Bank Jewish settlements is being imported into the U.S. without the proper country of origin markings, in contradiction to U.S. customs regulations. Each year the U.S. Customs and Border Protection agency receives between 800 and 1,000 complaints regarding the import of items from around the world into the country. Recently, the CBP confirmed, there has been a growing number of complaints about products ostensibly manufactured in the settlements but exported under a different label. The CBP declined to say whether it has contacted the Israeli exporters or begun any proceedings against them. In response to a question by Haaretz, the CBP spokeswoman confirmed the guidelines. “Marking items produced in the West Bank or Gaza Strip as ‘Made in Israel,’ ‘Israel,’ ‘Occupied Territories-Israel,’ or words of similar meaning, and later exporting those items to the U.S., is contrary to the noted Treasury decisions,” she said. She added that when it comes to items imported from East Jerusalem or the Golan Heights, the customs service has no special instructions, and declined to say whether new guidelines regarding those areas are anticipated. The CBP also confirmed that when required, it generally turns to the State Department for guidance on the issue….