Land, property theft & destruction / Ethnic cleansing / Settlements
100-year-old Bedouin woman left homeless as Israel continues Negev demolitions
NEGEV (Ma‘an) 8 Feb — In the latest instance of Israel’s demolition campaign in the Negev region of southern Israel, homes were demolished in two unrecognized Bedouin villages on Wednesday, while Israeli police surrounded the village of Umm al-Hiran. Israeli bulldozers, escorted by Israeli police, demolished a house in the village of Wadi al-Na‘am in the western part of the Negev in southern Israel. Locals told Ma‘an that the demolished house was owned by an elderly woman and her daughter. A member of the local committee, Yousif Ziyadin, said that an emergency session would be held to discuss the Israeli demolition. A relative of the elderly homeowner, Ahmad Zanoun, told Ma‘an that 100-year-old Ghaytha Zanoun and her 60-year-old daughter Hilala were living in the house, both of whom suffer from various health issues. Zanoun said that both Ghaytha and Hilala were unable to walk, and noted that the family had renovated the home in accordance with their doctor’s suggestions due to their health conditions. He added that Ghaytha and her daughter now were homeless following the demolition….
Israeli forces demolish Bedouin village of al-Araqib for 109th time
NEGEV (Ma‘an) 8 Feb — Israeli bulldozers demolished the unrecognized Bedouin village of al-Araqib in the Negev region of southern Israel on Wednesday for the 109th time. Israeli forces raided the village early Wednesday, surrounding the residents’ makeshift tents, and proceeded to raze them to the ground. Israeli forces also demanded that the residents pay 2 million shekels (approximately $532,750) for the cumulative cost of Israeli-enforced demolitions carried out against the village since the first time it was destroyed in 2010 … Local committee member Aziz Sayyah told Ma‘an that they “demolished the village without considering the weather and the impact this will have on residents now made homeless.” The weather in Israel and the occupied Palestinian territory remains cold, particularly during night hours. “No matter how many times they demolish and destroy our village, they will not break our spirits,” Sayyah added. “Al-Araqib is ours and we are here to stay.” Demolitions targeting Palestinians with full Israeli citizenship have been the target of widespread protests in recent weeks, after an Israeli police raid to evacuate the unrecognized Bedouin village of Umm al-Hiran left two people killed. While Bedouins of the Negev are Israeli citizens, the villages unrecognized by the government have faced relentless efforts by Israeli authorities to expel them from their lands in order to make room for Jewish Israeli homes….
Analysis: The real housing crisis in Israeli is in its Arab towns
Haaretz 10 Feb by Hagai Amit — Little available land, not enough builders, a low-rise housing culture and red tape are among the culprits — We’re riding in the car of Imran Kanana, the mayor of Yafi‘a, trying to reach the highest point in this town of 20,000 to see the view. It’s not easy. The streets of this community near Nazareth, whose official name is Yafa an-Nasseriyeh, are barely wide enough for a single vehicle. Yet all the streets are two-way and also used for parking and by pedestrians, as there are no sidewalks. So over and over again, Kanana has to stop, often to back up and maneuver in order to facing traffic. In addition, children in their uniforms are pouring into the streets at the end of the school day. Kanana doesn’t get aggravated. He’s used to it. The traffic situation in Yafi‘a is typical of Arab towns in Israel, and of villages throughout the world that were laid out when all transportation was two- or four-legged. But the crowding here is much worse than in a typical Greek or Italian village, say. The main cause is the housing shortage in Israel’s Arab communities. That shortage was also the underlying cause of the uproar that followed the demolitions in January of 11 unauthorized buildings in Kalansua [Qalansuwa], and the tragedy a week later in Umm al-Hiran, in the Negev, where the demolition of illegally built homes sparked riots and ended in the deaths of an Israeli police officer and a Bedouin resident … Kanana believes the housing crisis is the main reason for the economic gap between Israeli Arab society and the majority Jewish community: The lack of available land makes it harder to establish industrial zones and sometimes limits the construction of new schools. “Why don’t they see that investing in housing and education in the Arab sector should be a top Israeli priority? If you invest in these things, people won’t turn to extremism, and their participation in the economy will grow,” says Kanana….
Army demolishes an under-construction building in Jerusalem
IMEMC 7 Feb — On Tuesday, several Israeli military vehicles and bulldozers invaded Beit Hanina neighborhood, north of occupied East Jerusalem, and demolished an under-construction building. Media sources in Jerusalem said dozens of soldiers surrounded and invaded the area, after declaring it a “closed military zone.” The soldiers then proceeded to demolish the building, in addition to detaining and interrogating several Palestinians. In related news, the army invaded Kardala village, in the West Bank’s Northern Plains, and demolished several barns owned by a few shepherds.
Hebron activists launch campaign to get rid of settlers in old city
HEBRON (WAFA) 9 Feb – Palestinian activists in the southern West Bank city of Hebron launched on Thursday a campaign to get rid of several hundred fanatic Israeli settlers who live in the old city under heavy army protection and who have turned the life of Palestinians living there into hell. The campaign, launched from a school inside the old city to mark the 23rd anniversary of the Ibrahimi mosque massacre when a Jewish settler gunned down  Palestinians while performing dawn prayers at the mosque, aims to end the military siege imposed on the old city, according to Mufeed Sharabati, one of the activists. He said the military checkpoints around the old city, which is under full Israeli military control and referred to as H2 where several hundred settlers live among 15,000 Palestinians, “have turned the old city into a ghetto prison.” Under the campaign title “Dismantle the Ghetto off Hebron,” the activists said many people have left the old city fearing for the life of their children from Israeli army and settlers and after life has become very difficult for them. Another activist, Muhannad Jaabari, said the campaign aims to end the misery of the people who live in the old city and who cannot have their families to visit them. He said efforts will be exerted to help them remain steadfast in their homes. The campaign includes Tel Rumeida, Shuhada Street and all the old city and surrounding areas.
Palestinians plant olive trees near settlement industrial zones
SALFIT (Palestine Monitor) 4 Feb by Sarah Bedson — In mid-January, over 100 people, including Palestinian officials, farmers and international activists, convened on the top of a hill to plant olive saplings in Khirbet Kurkush, in the northern occupied West Bank district of Salfit. Salfit’s district governor, Ibrahim Al-Balawi, explained that this action was part of an annual project to boost crops across the West Bank, the primary or secondary source of income for between 80,000 and 100,000 Palestinian families. The location of the action was particularly pertinent due to its proximity to an illegal Israeli settlement industrial zone, Ariel West, as well as on-going threats by Israeli authorities to confiscate land in the area. “This is our land; we live here, as is recognized by international law. We will continue to live and build on our land here despite the occupation,” Al-Balawi said. Mayor of Bruqin, Said Allan, told Palestine Monitor that the local municipality had begun work at the beginning of the month to resurface a road that goes from Khirbet Jalal al-Din to Khirbet Kurkush with the intention of allowing easier access to both farmers working their land and Palestinians visiting the Roman ruins found there. The road, first opened about five years ago, marks the border between Area B (under Palestinian civil control and shared Palestinian and Israeli security control), and C (under full Israeli jurisdiction). On January 15, the mayor reported, Israeli authorities issued a stop-work order for the approximately 4-kilometre stretch of road in Khirbet Kurkush, claiming that the so-called “state land”, in Area C, was being used without permission. The order included a court date. Just a few days earlier, two Israeli soldiers and two civilians had approached the man working on the road, taken the keys to his truck and threatened to arrest him and confiscate his road roller if he did not stop working. Israel has undergone a campaign of remapping in the West Bank in order to requisition areas as “state land”, with 62,000 dunums (15,320 acres) being remapped in 2015 alone….
Palestinian historical city of Sebastia besieged by settlements
Al-Monitor 6 Feb by Zuheir Dolah — Palestinian officials have been attempting to add the West Bank’s historical city of Sebastia on UNESCO’s World Heritage List to protect it from alleged Israeli violations — At the intersection between Nablus and Jenin in the West Bank, specifically between the fields of corn and cypress and almond trees, different civilizations intermingle in a town that took on importance in 876 B.C. In Sebastia, Canaanites settled, and statues like Rhodes Andreas line the tunnels. The Roman, Greek, Farsi, Assyrian and Ottoman empires left their mark on the cathedral in the city center through columns, palaces, towers and antiquities. The cathedral was built during the Byzantine days in the 12th century B.C., and French engineers rebuilt it to breathe life into it. It still stands to this day. Sebastia, which is located on a hilltop that is 440 meters high (one-quarter of a mile), north of Nablus city, is known as the Palestinian capital of Romans, as it is famous for Greek and Roman antiquities dating back to the days of the Roman era. Although Sebastia is a melting pot for civilizations and enjoys historical value dating back 3,000 years, it is besieged by settlements and threatened with disappearance due to Israeli violations such as attempts to move the antiquities to Israeli museums. Sebastia, the gateway of historical civilizations, is facing a future of invaders different from those in previous eras. These invaders are committing serious violations to eliminate the city’s history and impose the Jewish story on it. One of the most dangerous violations is the Israeli decision to ban the entry of foreign tourists to the land of Palestinian antiquities. To tighten the noose on Sebastia, Israel established the Shavei Shomron settlement after confiscating and controlling most of the city’s lands. Sebastia mayor Nael al-Shaer told Al-Monitor, “Israel’s violations against Sebastia affected all archaeological sites and entailed the theft of antiquities from the Ottoman Mosque and their transfer to Israeli museums, as well as the attempt to move some pieces from the Royal Roman Cemetery in the town center. But after failing to lift the large stone graves, they left everything, and the town kept the wooden cranes to stand witness to the Israeli destruction.” Shaer revealed the danger of the new Judaization project in Sebastia, which aims at confiscating all of its lands through the increased attacks of settlers with security coverage from the Israeli army….
West Bank roads to receive NIS 5 billion upgrade
Ynet 7 Feb by Ofer Petersburg — Five-year plan expected to help ease traffic congestion in the area, especially at entrances to Jerusalem, and make the roads safer; Transportation Minister Katz says massive upgrade to infrastructure will help the Jewish settlements further expand and develop — The Israeli government has launched a new five-year plan to upgrade the transportation infrastructure in the West Bank to the tune of NIS 5 billion ($1.3 billion). The massive project, led by Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz, will include excavating new tunnels, expending main highways, road resurfacing, paving interchanges, new access roads and bypasses, and creating easier access to the Tel Aviv and Jerusalem metropolitan areas via light rail and special public transit lanes. The new public transit lanes are meant to help reduce the traffic congestion on the roads leading into the metropolitan areas … Several roads will be paved to bypass roads that pass through Arab villages. A road to bypass Nabi Ilyas is being paved as part of Route 55 to the tune of NIS 54 million, while a road to bypass Al-Arroub, which will connect the Judea region to Kiryat Arba-Hebron and Jerusalem, is in the planning stages. In addition, a road to bypass Huwara is being planned to better connect the northern Samaria region to Ariel and to central Israel….
Reports: Israel approves 1,162 settlement units in West Bank
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 9 Feb — Israel reportedly approved the construction of 1,162 settlement units on Wednesday, to be built in the occupied West Bank, according to Hebrew news website Walla. Walla reported that Israel’s higher planning council on settlement activity, which is affiliated to the Israeli civil administration, approved the new 1,162 settlement units, including units in a new settlement near the existing Shvut Rachel settlement in the northern West Bank district of Nablus. The new settlement adjacent to Shvut Rachel was initially planned to be built to house residents of the now evacuated illegal Amona outpost — an offer refused by the Amona setters. A spokesperson for the Israeli civil administration was not immediately available for comment. It remained unclear as of Thursday whether or not the 1,162 units were part of the more than 6,000 housing units to have been approved for construction in East Jerusalem and the West Bank by the Israeli government since the beginning of 2017.
Israel’s top court petitioned to strike down settler law
AFP 8 Feb — Israeli and Palestinian rights groups petitioned the Supreme Court on Wednesday asking it to strike down a new law allowing expropriation of private Palestinian land for Jewish settlers. The law has sparked an outpouring of condemnation from around the world since it was passed in the Israeli parliament late Monday, although the United States has remained tight-lipped. The act, which legalises dozens of wildcat outposts and thousands of settler homes in the occupied West Bank, now faces a legal challenge, however. Israeli group Adalah said that it and the Palestinian NGO, Jerusalem Legal Aid and Human Rights Center (JLAC), sought to overturn the “dangerous” law. “We have very strong arguments against the law,” Adalah’s lawyer Suhad Bishara said outside the court. “We definitely hope that the Supreme Court will declare that the law is unconstitutional and thus cancel it.” The law is seen by critics as promoting at least partial annexation of the West Bank, a key demand for parts of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s right-wing government. Its backers want to prevent a repeat of last week’s traumatic forcible eviction of the wildcat settlement outpost of Amona, in the northern West Bank … Israeli Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit has himself warned the government that the law may be unconstitutional and risks exposing Israel to international prosecution for war crimes. He has said he will not be able to defend it before the Supreme Court, and Israeli newspaper Maariv said on Wednesday that he may even testify against it. The United Nations, the European Union and the Arab League strongly criticised the legislation on Tuesday, although the new administration of US President Donald Trump remained silent….
Germany says trust in Israel ‘shaken’ by legalization of West Bank settlements on Palestinian land
JERUSALEM (JTA) 8 Feb — Germany condemned a controversial new Israeli law that retroactively legalizes settler homes built on private Palestinian land. Berlin said Wednesday that the “regulations law” undermines trust in Israel’s seriousness about reaching a compromise with the Palestinians. “Many in Germany who stand by Israel and feel great commitment toward it find themselves deeply disappointed by this move,” a German Foreign Ministry spokesman said in a statement. “Our trust in the Israeli government’s commitment to the two-state solution has been fundamentally shaken.” The law, which the Knesset passed in a raucous late-night session Monday, allows the state to seize private Palestinian land on which settlements or outposts were built, as long as the settlers were not aware of the status of the land. In cases where the landowners are known, they are entitled to compensation. Censure of the law has come from governments around the world, including the United Nations, the European Union, France, Britain, Turkey, Jordan and the Palestinians….
Violence / Detentions — West Bank / Jerusalem / Israel
Elderly Palestinian dies after being run over by Israeli settler
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 8 Feb — An elderly Palestinian [riding on a donkey acc. to Times of Israel] died after being run over by an Israeli settler on Wednesday near the illegal Israeli settlement of Neve Daniel in the occupied West Bank district of Bethlehem. Suleiman Hamad Salah, an 85-year-old resident of the village of al-Khader, was killed after being run over on Route 60, an Israeli bypass road that cuts through the occupied Palestinian territory and connects illegal settlements to Israel. The Israeli settler reportedly left his car in the area, and “escaped” before a Palestinian ambulance reached the scene, according to medical sources. Muhammad Awwad, the head of the ambulance services of the Palestinian Red Crescent, said that Salah sustaining serious injuries from the incident, and succumbed to his wounds after arriving to a hospital. An Israeli army spokesperson told Ma‘an she would look into reports. It was unclear whether the incident was being investigated as a deliberate ramming attack. [IMEMC has photos here]
18-year-old Palestinian beaten, arrested in Petah Tikva after allegedly injuring 3 Israelis
IMEMC 10 Feb by Celine Hagbard — Israeli media sources reported Friday that an 18-year old Palestinian [Sadiq Nasser Aweida] was in custody after having been beaten unconscious with rocks and clubs by a crowd that suspected him of shooting and injuring two Israelis, then stabbing another with a screwdriver after his gun jammed. In addition to the three people injured by the attacker, two people were admitted to the hospital for bruises sustained falling down while running, and three other people were treated for shock by Israeli medics. The 18-year old Palestinian man from Nablus who is currently in Israeli police custody is suspected of carrying out the attack, but it is unclear from local reports whether he was actually witnessed attacking anyone. Israeli newspaper Ha’aretz reported that the 40-year old Israeli who was stabbed by the screwdriver told them, “I stood on Salor Street and I heard shots and shouts of ‘terrorist, terrorist.’ I saw the terrorist running. He entered a sewing shop and tried to stab me. He somehow stabbed me with a screwdriver and then all the rest entered. We were four to five people who beat him into submission because he did not want to give up. They beat him with a club and a stone.” The attack took place Friday morning at the open-air market of Petah Tikva, in central Israel. According to Israeli sources, the suspect opened fire toward the crowd, lightly injuring two people with gunshot shrapnel wound, then ran down Baron Hirsch Street and into a sewing shop. In the shop, police say that he grabbed a screwdriver and stabbed an Israeli man in the neck, moderately wounding him. But the wounded man remained conscious, and was able to give media reporters the full statement quoted above.
Israeli Arab beaten by passers-by who mistook him for a terrorist
Ynet 9 Feb by Hassan Shaalan — An Israeli Arab was beaten by passersby who mistook him for a terrorist after he yelled in Arabic on the scene of the terror attack in Petah Tikva on Thursday. Maed Amar, 35, from Kafr Qasim, was just finishing his shopping in the Petah Tikva market, when he heard gunshots. “I yelled in Arabic — ‘watch out, take cover,’ and then people started pummeling me, yelling ‘there’s another terrorist here.’ I wanted to warn people, and they nearly killed me,” he recounted. Amar suffered head and leg injuries and was evacuated to Beilinson Hospital at the Rabin Medical Center in the city, where he was hospitalized. His condition is considered light. A video filmed at the scene depicts Amar lying wounded on the ground, surrounded by security personnel. Passersby are heard shouting: “Kill him.” … Osama Amar, Maed’s brother, added that his brother “is a quiet man, who would never hurt anyone. He always liked to help others. Now, he is shocked, and he still can’t comprehend what happened to him. I hope this event doesn’t recur.” Another Kfar Qasim resident, who was also nearby, said that “Maed Amar didn’t do anything. They attacked him simply because he is an Arab. He was unarmed and posed no threat to anyone, but there are racist people who attack Arabs because of hatred. It’s good they didn’t shoot him to death.”
Arrests as IOF storms home of Petah Tikva anti-occupation attacker
NABLUS (PIC) 10 Feb — The Israeli occupation forces (IOF) at dawn Friday stormed the home of the Palestinian activist who carried out an anti-occupation attack in Petah Tikva on Thursday. The IOF rolled into Beita and ‘Ousrin [or ‘Usarin] towns, in southern Nablus, just a few hours following the Petah Tikva anti-occupation attack, carried out by 19-year-old Sadiq Nasser Aweida, a native of Beita. According to local sources, the IOF broke into Aweida’s family home at daybreak and subjected all the family members to exhaustive interrogation. The occupation troops further wreaked havoc on civilian homes in the town and kidnapped two friends of Aweida — Radi al-Jaghoub, 19, and Adham Eili, 19. 24-year-old Samer Adeili was also kidnapped by the IOF from the nearby ‘Ousrin town and got his car seized on claims of transferring Aweida from Beita to ‘Azzoun town [in Qalqiliya governorate] before he headed to Petah Tikva and carried out the attack. Aweida’s father, working in the 1948 occupied territories, was reportedly kidnapped by the Israeli forces just a few minutes after the attack.
At the same time, the IOF claimed responsibility for the abduction of ten Palestinians from the West Bank at predawn time including eight from Qalqilya province and another from Fahma village, in Jenin. The assault culminated in the abduction of two Palestinian youths from ‘Askar al-Jadeed Camp, in eastern Nablus.
Israeli soldiers invade an orphanage school in Jerusalem
IMEMC 7 Feb — Israeli soldiers invaded, Tuesday, “Dar al-Aytaam” Industrial Orphanage School, in the al-Waad street area, leading to the Al-Aqsa Mosque, in occupied East Jerusalem. The soldiers violently searched the school, and interrogated many orphans, after alleging that some hurled stones on army vehicles. After conducting the searches and interrogations, the soldiers left the school without conducting any arrests. It is worth mentioning that the orphanage school has recently been subject to various military invasions, under similar allegations, and the soldiers also abducted and imprisoned the headmaster and several students.
Israeli soldiers clash with youth in ‘Aida refugee camp, 2 arrested
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 10 Feb — Israeli forces clashed with Palestinian youth late Thursday afternoon in the ‘Aida refugee camp in the southern occupied West Bank district of Bethlehem. Locals told Ma‘an that Israeli forces fired tear gas, while Palestinian Authority (PA)-owned news agency Wafa reported that Israeli forces also used live fire. According to Wafa, clashes erupted when a Palestinian youth threw a locally made explosive device at the Israeli military base near the Bilal Ibn Rabah mosque, also known as Rachel’s Tomb. Wafa added that witnesses said soldiers fired at water tanks on the rooftops of two homes to destroy them, and arrested two young men identified as Rani Abu Aker and Saeb Amarneh. Locals told Ma‘an that at least one of the two was released.
Settlers attack Palestinian journalist on a West Bank road
RAMALLAH (WAFA) 7 Feb – Jewish settlers attacked on Tuesday a Palestinian journalist on a road near the settlement of Ofra, east of Ramallah. The journalist, Zaher Abu Hussein, who works in the media department of a Palestinian non-governmental organization, told WAFA that five settlers blocked a road he was driving on and then threw rocks at him when he got out of the car. He said he was hit in the back and on the limbs. He was taken to hospital in Ramallah for treatment. The settlers also caused damage to his car. The Israeli government recently passed a law that imposes heavy prison sentence on stone throwers because it could endanger lives. However, the law seems to apply only to Palestinians throwing rocks at Israelis but not Jewish settlers attacking Palestinians.
Settlers creep into Palestinian land, steal 400 olive seedlings
BETHLEHEM (PIC) 9 Feb — Israeli settlers on Thursday uprooted 400 olive seedlings grown in Bethlehem’s southern town of al-Khader. Coordinator for the popular anti-settlement committee Ahmad Salah said Israelis residing in the illegal Sidi Boez outpost stole 400 newly planted olive trees from al-Shaaf area, in al-Khader town. The Palestinian land owner, Ali Ahmad Issa, was reportedly shocked as he caught sight of the theft. According to Salah, Palestinian lands in al-Khader town have increasingly come under the threat of such Israeli assaults and theft attempts. A couple of weeks earlier, Israeli settlers uprooted 450 olive and grape seedlings owned by the Palestinian farmer Mohamed Abdul Salam Saleh.
Israeli soldiers abduct fifteen Palestinians in the West Bank
IMEMC 8 Feb — Israeli soldiers abducted, overnight and at dawn Wednesday, fifteen Palestinians in different parts of the occupied West Bank, including East Jerusalem, after invading their homes and violently searching them. The Palestinian Prisoners’ Society (PPS) said the soldiers abducted five young men in Um Tuba and al-Mokabber towns, in occupied Jerusalem, after searching their homes … In Bethlehem, the soldiers invaded and searched homes in various parts of the district, and abducted four Palestinians … In Hebron district, in the southern part of the West Bank, the soldiers abducted Saed and his brother Hasan Jibreel, from their home in Yatta town, in addition to Waseem Taha Abu Mariya, from Beit Ummar town, north of the city. In the northern West Bank district of Tulkarem, the soldiers abducted Mohannad Sufian Matar, 32, from his home in Thannaba town. In Qabatia, in the northern West Bank district of Jenin, the soldiers abducted Haitham Ahmad Assaf, from his home. One Palestinian, identified as Eyad Dweikat, from the northern West Bank district of Nablus, was abducted while heading to the border terminal, on his way to Jordan.
VIDEO: Israeli forces violently detain Palestinian boy in broad daylight, 16 others in night raids
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 8 Feb — Israeli forces violently detained a Palestinian minor off the street in broad daylight on Wednesday afternoon, while at least 16 other Palestinians were detained earlier from across the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem in predawn raids. According to locals in ‘Aida refugee camp in the southern occupied West Bank district of Bethlehem, Israeli forces raided the camp Wednesday afternoon and violently detained a boy in the street as he was walking home from school. A video shared on social media shows Israel soldiers aggressively throwing the boy into the back of a military vehicle. Witnesses said they saw the military jeep suddenly careen into the camp before soldiers emerged and grabbed him, asserting that there were no clashes or stone throwing in the area at the time, and that the boy was walking home from school by himself. Locals later identified the boy as 14-year-old Ali Jawarish. Bethlehem-based NGO BADIL said that he was beaten by soldiers inside the vehicle. In a predawn raid on Wednesday in ‘Aida, Israeli forces had also delivered a notice to an unidentified Palestinian youth to meet with Israeli intelligence for interrogation, according to locals, which followed a raid in the camp Tuesday evening. Locals in ‘Aida have reported escalated military procedures over the past several months, creating what some residents have called a perpetual “atmosphere of fear.”
Israeli forces detain 16 Palestinians across West Bank
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 9 Feb — Israeli forces detained at least 16 Palestinians, including two minors, across the occupied West Bank between Wednesday and Thursday, Palestinian and Israeli sources said. The Palestinian Prisoner’s Society (PPS) reported that two Palestinians were detained in the northern West Bank, identifying them as Abd al-Salam Badawi in the Tulkarem district and Ahmad Fayez Saadi in the Jenin refugee camp. In the central West Bank, PPS reported the detention of Odeh Ahmad al-Qadi, 50, and his son Mustafa in the village of Mazaria‘a al-Nubani in the Ramallah district. An Israeli army spokesperson did not inform Ma‘an of detentions in the northern West Bank or Mazaria‘a al-Nubani, but said that four Palestinians were detained in the Ramallah-area village of al-Mazra‘a al-Qibliya. In the Jerusalem district, PPS stated that Israeli forces detained Samer al-Dibsi in the village of Kafr ‘Aqab, while Yaqoub Sidawi, 14, was detained in al-Ram. In the Bethlehem district, PPS stated that Ahmad al-Umour, 24, was detained in the village of Tuqu‘. The detention was confirmed by the army … PPS added that Nafith al-Shawamra and Muhammad Kamil Iqtiel in the Hebron district, as local sources told Ma‘an that the two were detained during a raid in the village of Deir al-‘Asal. The army spokesperson confirmed the detention of one “Hamas operative” in Deir al-‘Asal, and of two other Palestinians in the villages of Hijra and al-Tabaqa. Israeli forces carry out detention raids across the occupied territory on a near-nightly basis, with the UN recording an average of 95 weekly raids in the West Bank in 2016, and 100 weekly raids on average thus far in 2017. A joint report by Palestinian prisoners’ organizations said that over the course of January alone, 590 Palestinians were detained across the occupied territory, including 128 children, 14 women, and one journalist.
Prisoners / Court actions
Israeli torture of Palestinian children ‘institutional’
Al Jazeera 7 Feb by Ben White — Confessions by Palestinians who have been tortured are regularly accepted by Israeli judges, rights groups say — A recent article published by the Israeli newspaper Haaretz has confirmed the extent to which Shin Bet interrogators subject their prisoners to torture. Methods include slapping the head “to hurt sensitive organs like the nose, ears, brow and lips”, forcing a handcuffed individual to squat against a wall for long periods of time, and placing the suspect bent backwards over a chair with his arms and legs cuffed. The interrogators’ accounts echo what Palestinians and Israeli human rights groups have long documented. Prisoners’ rights NGO Addameer said that such practices “are known to be routinely and systematically used against Palestinian detainees”. Other torture methods used against Palestinians include sleep deprivation and threats against family members, an Addameer spokesperson told Al Jazeera. Rachel Stroumsa, the executive director of the Public Committee Against Torture in Israel (PCATI), said that her NGO was aware of hundreds of complaints and allegations along these lines. In addition to interrogation being used to gain information about future acts, “our experience is that torture is also used to obtain confessions regarding past acts”, Stroumsa told Al Jazeera. In its annual report last year, Amnesty International found that Israeli forces and Shin Bet personnel had “tortured and otherwise ill-treated Palestinian detainees, including children, particularly during arrest and interrogation”, with methods including “beating with batons, slapping, throttling, prolonged shackling, stress positions, sleep deprivation and threats”. A representative of Defence for Children International – Palestine told Al Jazeera that the group’s research had shown that almost two-thirds of Palestinian children detained in the occupied West Bank by Israeli forces had endured physical violence after their arrest….
Israeli court sentences Palestinian mother to year in prison
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 9 Feb – An Israeli magistrate court in Jerusalem sentenced a Palestinian mother of six on Thursday to a year in prison and a fine of 12,000 shekels ($3,203) for depositing funds into a prison commissary belonging to a Hamas-affiliated Palestinian prisoner held in Israeli custody. Lawyer Muhammad Mahmoud from prisoners’ rights group Addameer told Ma‘an that Dalal Abu al-Hawa from Jerusalem’s Old City was sentenced for depositing the funds. Israel Prison Service (IPS) allows families of Palestinian prisoners in Israeli custody to deposit a fixed amount of money each month into a prisoner’s commissary, which they can then use to purchase items from the prison’s canteen. However, since Israel considers Hamas to be a “terrorist organization,” families of Hamas-affiliated Palestinian prisoners are extremely vulnerable to being detained and charged by Israeli authorities when interacting with imprisoned family members. A spokesman for the Jerusalem Committee for Families of Prisoners, Amjad Abu Asab, noted that Abu al-Hawa was detained on Aug. 28 from her home, before Israeli police forces stormed the house and searched it, while confiscating mobile phones and other properties. Abu al-Hawa, he added, is a mother of six. One of her sons, 17-year-old Omar Khalil Abu al-Hawa, is also serving two years in Israeli prison.
Israeli court sentences 3 Palestinian minors to prison
RAMALLAH (PIC) 10 Feb — Israeli Central Court in occupied Jerusalem sentenced Thursday four Jerusalemites, including three minors, to prison. Head of the Jerusalem Committee for Families of Prisoners Amjad Abu Assab affirmed that the young man Yasser Basti, 21, was sentenced to three years imprisonment for stone-throwing charges. Basti was detained on Oct. 12, 2015 and is currently held in Ohalei Kedar Detention Center in the south of Israel, he added. Meanwhile, the 17-year-old boy Youssef Abu Shukheidim was sentenced to nine months plus a fine of 800 $US. The two children Mohamed Khatib, 15, and Ahmed Fawaqa, 14, were also sentenced to ten months in prison after being convicted of throwing stones at Israeli soldiers. Both boys were detained on Dec. 13, 2016 and are currently held in Megiddo prison.
52,000 NIS in fines imposed on imprisoned Palestinian children in Ofer Prison in January
IMEMC 7 Feb — The Palestinian Detainees’ Committee has reported, Monday, that Israel has collected at least 52.000 Shekels in fines and bail from families of Palestinian children imprisoned in Ofer prison alone, in January. The committee stated that eight of the imprisoned children were shot and injured prior to their abduction. It added that one of the children, identified as Ahmad Hanatsha, 16, is currently held under an arbitrary Administrative Detention order, without charges or trial. The committee also said that 64 children were sent to Ofer in January, and that 28 of them were abducted after the soldiers stormed and searched their families’ homes during early dawn hours. Six other children were abducted after the soldiers stopped them at military roadblocks, and two others were held prisoner after being summoned for interrogation. 28 of the detained children have been sentenced by different military courts to imprisonment periods that vary between one and twelve months, while the rest are still held under interrogation.
2 Palestinians killed, 5 injured in reported airstrike on southern Gaza tunnel
GAZA (Ma‘an) 9 Feb — Two Palestinians were killed and five were injured during a reported airstrike on a smuggling tunnel between Egypt and Gaza on Wednesday night, official Palestinian sources said. Gaza Ministry of Health spokesman Ashraf al-Qidra said on Thursday that Hussam Hamid al-Sufi, 24, from the town of Rafah, and Muhammad Anwar al-Aqraa, a 38-year-old resident of Gaza City, were killed in an Israeli airstrike in Rafah, while five other Palestinians were injured. An Israeli army spokesperson however denied to Ma‘an that the army was involved in the reported strike. However, Israeli media stated that the alleged tunnel attack came in the wake of four rockets being fired from Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula towards the southern Israeli city of Eilat, which were later claimed by the so-called Islamic State group. No casualties were reported in the incident.
The casualties came in the wake of multiple airstrikes launched by the Israeli army inside the Gaza Strip on Monday which injured two Palestinians, after a rocket that landed in an open area in the Ashkelon region of southern Israel. The Gaza-based al-Mezan Center for Human Rights expressed concern on Tuesday that Israel could be leading up to a wide-scale military offensive….
Israeli navy attacks fishing boats in Gaza, army attacks homes and lands
IMEMC 9 Feb — Israeli navy ships opened fire, on Wednesday evening, targeting several Palestinian fishing boats, in Gaza territorial waters, in the northern part of the besieged coastal region. Israeli soldiers also fired live rounds at homes and lands. Eyewitnesses said the soldiers, stationed across the border fence, in northern Gaza, fired dozens of live rounds at homes, and agricultural lands, causing property damage. They added that the soldiers also fired many flares over the area, but did not conduct a military invasion. In addition, Israeli navy ships opened fire on several Palestinian fishing boats, close to the shore, also in the northern part of the Gaza Strip, forcing the fishers back. On Tuesday evening, the navy opened fire at Palestinian fishing boats, close to the shore in Rafah and Khan Younis, in the southern part of the besieged Gaza Strip. On Tuesday morning, the navy fired several live rounds at Palestinian fishing boats, in Gaza territorial waters, close to the shore in the northern part of the coastal region.
Egypt to open Rafah crossing for three days
GAZA (PIC) 10 Feb — The Egyptian authorities decided to open the Rafah border crossing on Saturday for the travel of passengers for three days. The interior ministry’s crossing and border authority in Gaza said on Thursday that it was officially informed of Egypt’s intention to open the crossing in both directions from Saturday to Monday. Some lists of passengers were published on the website of the interior ministry and others will be available later, according to the border authority. About 30,000 passengers have already registered for travel through the crossing. This will be the second time the Egyptian authorities has opened the Rafah crossing since the beginning of the current year. Two weeks ago, they opened the crossing for three days and extended it for a fourth day.
Egyptian exports to Gaza signal better ties with Hamas
GAZA (Reuters) 8 Feb by Nidal al-Mughrabi — Egypt has eased restrictions at a tightly-controlled border with the Gaza Strip in a sign of improved relations with the Palestinian territory’s Islamist rulers. Truckloads of goods ranging from steel to fish have rolled into the enclave in the past several weeks. Egypt had insisted for years that the Rafah crossing – which it opens for a three-to-five day period about once every 40 days – would handle the passage of only people, not goods. Long at odds with Gaza’s governing Hamas group, Egypt had destroyed nearly 2,000 smuggling tunnels that provided its two million people with a steady flow of consumer products. That left Israel’s Kerem Shalom border crossing as the only conduit for Gaza imports, although some items are banned and the Israeli navy maintains a maritime blockade. Last month, however, commercial material moved through the crossing along with travelers on the few days it was operational. Officials and economists listed some 20,000 tonnes of products include cement, wheat, steel, lumber, paint, tar and fish, as having moved from Egypt into Gaza. The bulk of Egyptian imports for Gaza continues to enter through Israel, where the goods are inspected, and then sent to the territory via Kerem Shalom. Last year, Cairo began allowing cement into Gaza via Rafah to help rebuild homes damaged or destroyed in four wars between Israel and Palestinian militants since 2006. Cement shipments for projects sponsored by the United Nations already move through the Israeli crossing. EGYPT-HAMAS TALKS Ashraf Abouelhoul, an Egyptian expert on Palestinian affairs, said recent talks in Cairo between Egyptian officials and a Hamas delegation may have led to the decision to move goods through Rafah. “Everyone knows Hamas has improved to some extent the security situation along the Gaza border with Egypt and has to some extent hardened control on smuggling tunnels of people and goods,” he said. Mohammad Abu Jayyab, a Gaza economist, said Egypt might have been motivated by hopes that in return for more imports, Hamas would further bolster security along the border with the Sinai peninsula, where Cairo is battling Islamist militants … Egyptian officials had no immediate comment on commercial ties with Gaza. Israeli authorities also declined to speak about goods moving through Rafah.
Egypt destroyed 6 Gaza smuggling tunnels in the span of 2 weeks
CAIRO (Ma‘an) 9 Feb — The Egyptian army claimed on Wednesday to have destroyed six tunnels between Egypt and the besieged Gaza Strip in the span of two weeks earlier this year. Egyptian army spokesman Tamer al-Rifai said that six tunnels were uncovered and destroyed at the border between Gaza and the North Sinai between Jan. 17 and Feb. 4. The announcement came a day before an alleged airstrike killed two Palestinians and injured five others in a smuggling tunnel between Egypt and the southern Gaza Strip on Thursday. While Palestinian officials said that the tunnel had been targeted by Israel, the Israeli army denied involvement in the strike. Earlier this year, al-Rifai stated that Egyptian forces had destroyed 12 tunnels during an unspecified time period at the end of 2016. Four Palestinians from the besieged Gaza Strip were left dead in December when Egyptian authorities deliberately flooded a tunnel with seawater.
Israel to allow nitrous oxide into Gaza for hospital use
GAZA (Ma‘an) 9 Feb — Israel allowed the entry of nitrous oxide, a gas used as an anesthetic for patients during surgery, into Gaza Strip hospitals on Thursday morning, according to the Gaza Ministry of Health. Spokesperson for the ministry Ashraf al-Qidra told Ma‘an that Israeli authorities had allowed the entry of nitrous oxide as an import, noting that hospitals in Gaza would not be allowed to have their own reserves of the critical gas. Al-Qidra said that the entry of nitrous oxide was allowed under certain conditions imposed by Israeli authorities, who determined the quantity of cylinders of gas as well as the type of gas. It remained unclear how much of the gas would be allowed in on Thursday. Al-Qidra added that the besieged Gaza Strip — which has suffered under an Israeli blockade for nearly a decade — needed around 400,000 liters of nitrous oxide gas yearly. He expressed appreciation to international organizations for supporting Gaza’s health sector, “especially the efforts to apply pressure on Israel to allow entry of quantities of nitrous oxide for Gaza Strip hospitals.” Thursday’s announcement came a day after reports citing al-Qidra surfaced saying that Israel had “banned” the entry of the gas, resulting in a number of “urgent medical procedures” being halted. Reports added that according to al-Qidra, there were 200 patients awaiting urgent medical treatment in Gaza’s hospitals.
Hundreds of chickens killed in Israeli airstrike on Gaza
MEMO 7 Feb — Poultry farmer Khalid Al-Haya expressed his anger after the occupation forces targeted his farm during the military attack on the Gaza Strip yesterday [Mon 6 Feb]. Khalid told MEMO that he was surprised that his farm was targeted, as it has never been targeted, not even during the last war on Gaza. A missile from an F-16 plane caused great damage to the farm and resulted in a seven-metre hole in the ground. This caused 80 per cent damage to the farm and killed hundreds of chickens. Four families earn their living from the farm, he said, and the losses as a result of the airstrike are estimated to be between $60,000 and $70,000. Workers tried to save as many chickens as possible and lift the tin roofs that fell on them and the cages that were broken. The entire area was subject to over 15 artillery missiles in the context of the occupation’s escalation that took place in neighbouring agricultural areas and open spaces.
The vision project for blind and visually impaired children in Gaza successfully concluded
UNRWA 7 Feb — The Vision Project for over two hundred blind and visually impaired children in Gaza has come to a successful conclusion, with teachers and children affirming the transformative impact of the project. The education initiative for 217 children uses cutting-edge “Voice Dream Reader” technology, which allows digital information imported onto mobile devices to be read in a human voice. UNRWA is grateful to project funder, the UK-registered charity Interpal, for their generous support. “This project has had a tangible impact in the lives of children whose education prospects had been severely curtailed. Thanks to the Vision Project they have been given hope and a sense of optimism for a better future.”, said Commissioner-General Pierre Krähenbühl. The project saw 33 UNRWA teachers trained to use Voice Dream Reader technology in the classroom. The Voice Dream Reader app was generously donated by its inventor and CEO of Voice Dream Reader, Winston Chen….
Qatar delegations arrive in Gaza to inaugurate new projects
[with photos] MEMO 9 Feb — The Head of the Qatari Committee for Rebuilding Gaza, Ambassador Mohamed Al-Emadi, arrived in the Gaza Strip on Wednesday accompanied by several delegations to inaugurate new projects, Quds Press has reported. Apart from touring Qatar-funded projects in Gaza — including residential buildings and healthcare facilities — the delegations will also take part in inaugural events for some of the projects. Notable amongst them will be the handing over of an apartment block in the south of the Gaza Strip and the opening of the audiology department in Shaikh Hamad Hospital in the north of the enclave. In addition, the groups will lay the foundation stone of a new emergency healthcare centre. One of the delegations with the ambassador is made up of specialists in cochlear implants. Operations on 22 deaf children are planned. Local doctors will receive training on such operations during the Qataris’ stay in Gaza, which is expected to last for a week
Israel uncovers West Bank-Gaza terror cash pipeline
Times of Israel 8 Feb by Jacob Magid — The Shin Bet security service said Wednesday that it had uncovered a Hamas and Islamic Jihad operation to transfer cash from the Gaza Strip to operatives in the West Bank. The Gaza-based terror organizations would send debit cards loaded with funds, either via the mail or smuggled by couriers through the Erez Crossing from Gaza into Israel. West Bank members then withdrew the money from ATMs for use to fund terror attacks, the Shin Bet said. Two suspects from Gaza and the West Bank were detained by Israeli security forces for questioning during November and December, according to a Shin Bet statement. Gaza City resident Salim Tutah, 26, received a permit to enter Israel to work as a tractor driver for a Palestinian contractor doing projects for the American government aid agency USAID in the West Bank. Tutah confessed during interrogation to handing over a debit card loaded with thousands of shekels designated for the Islamic Jihad group. He had received the card from Hamas operatives on the Palestinian side of the Erez Crossing. Ismail Huamda, 26, a Hamas member from the village of al-Samu near Hebron, received another debit card through a courier and was ordered to withdraw funds, the agency said.
VIDEO: Where the Arab world goes to find the dankest memes
Daily Dot 6 Feb by Matt Silverman — Some parts of the Gaza Strip only have electricity for eight hours a day. Unemployment is a whopping 25 percent. There are shortages of clean water and concrete. But there’s one resource to which it has nearly unlimited access: the internet. At the Gaza Sky Geeks incubator, one startup is building a social network for viral humor, memes, and user-generated content. It’s a self-described 9GAG for the Arab world called 5QHQH, which translates to “5haha.” “Arab people love to laugh,” says Mohammed Qasem, its founder. “Did you know that when Leonardo DiCaprio won the Oscar, here in [the Middle East], we make a million jokes about this?” Despite extremely difficult circumstances, Gazans are leveraging the power of the internet to start businesses, push back against poverty, and share a laugh. And investors have taken notice. Watch our Interconnected documentary above to see how life and culture are changing in the Gaza strip thanks to technology. This video was filmed and edited by Evan Engel and produced by Josh Rubin.
VIDEO: Gaza’s ‘Spider-Man’ contortionist enters record books
GAZA CITY, Palestinian Territories (AFP) 10 Feb — A young Palestinian contortionist known in Gaza as “Spider-Man” has entered the Guinness book of records, his trainer said on Thursday. The 13-year-old, Mohammad al-Sheikh, broke the record for the most full body revolutions maintaining a chest stand in one minute, Mohammed Loubbad told AFP. The move involves lying on the chest, bending the back to put the feet in front of the head then rotating the hips to run the feet in laps around the body. “Mohammad al-Sheikh set the record by performing 38 laps around his body in one minute. He beats the previous record, which was 29 laps,” Loubbad said. A team from Guinness World Records was planning to visit the small coastal enclave to see the attempt but it has been subject to a tight Israeli blockade for 10 years, he said. Instead, the attempt took place in Amman, Jordan. Neither Sheikh’s mother nor his trainer received Israeli permission to leave the Gaza Strip, so he traveled with another adult. But those obstacles did not dampen his trainer’s determination. “We are preparing another three record attempts,” said Loubbad, who has been working with Sheikh for three years. “He has received invitations to competitions and shows in several countries,” he said. That is a bright prospect for the youngster who, says his trainer, fears returning and being “buried” in Gaza.
Palestinian intelligence chief meets US security officials
JERUSALEM (AP) 9 Feb by Ian Deitch — An official says the Palestinian intelligence chief has met with U.S. security officials in the first meetings between the Palestinians and the Trump administration. The official said on Thursday that Majed Faraj met with U.S. security and intelligence officials in Washington over the past two days. The official spoke on condition of anonymity in line with protocol. The Palestinian leadership has tried unsuccessfully to reach out to President Donald Trump and feared the possibility of being sidelined as the administration is embracing Israel’s prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, who heads to the White House next week. A strong relationship with the United States has been key to the Palestinian strategy for statehood. The U.S. has served as sole broker in two decades of intermittent talks between Israel and the Palestinians.
Palestinian writer afraid to go home amid uproar over novel
RAMALLAH, West Bank (AP) 10 Feb by Mohammed Daraghmeh — A young Palestinian author is stranded in Qatar after Palestinian authorities in the West Bank confiscated all copies of his latest novel and issued an arrest warrant for him — accusing him of including “sexual terms” in a provocative work that takes aim at taboo issues such as fanaticism, religious extremism and homosexuality. The crackdown on 29-year-old Abbad Yahya has set off a wide public debate between the Palestinian society’s large conservative segment and the small liberal minority. In a telephone interview, Yahya told The Associated Press that he was visiting Doha when he learned of the ban and the arrest warrant, published by the official governmental news agency. He said he is now stuck in the Qatari capital, fearing he would be arrested as soon as he returns home. “I don’t know what to do. If I go back, I will be arrested, and if I stay here, I can’t stay far from my home and family,” he said. The novel, “Crime in Ramallah,” tracks the lives of three young Palestinian men who meet in the city, which serves as the headquarters of the Palestinian government that rules in autonomous enclaves of the Israeli-occupied West Bank. The youths work together in a bar, where the murder of a young woman takes place. One of the three, a gay youth, is arrested and interrogated about the crime. Although he is cleared of any charges, the officers realize he is gay and they beat and humiliate him. He ends up moving to France, looking for a society that accepts him. The second man faces huge outrage from members of his conservative family after they learn that he works in a bar that serves alcohol, which is banned by Islam. Later in the book, he turns into a religious extremist. The third man is the boyfriend of the murdered woman. He is haunted by the killing, which he witnessed while remaining paralyzed, unsure whether he should chase the killer or try to save his dying girlfriend. Unable to stand the torment any longer, he ends up killing himself. The scene is meant to symbolize the Palestinian national movement, which has failed to rescue the nation or deliver independence from Israel’s 50-year-old occupation….
Report: Violations against press freedom in Palestine declining but still persisting
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 9 Feb — The Palestinian Center for Development and Media Freedoms (MADA) introduced their annual report on Thursday documenting press violations in the occupied Palestinian territory, revealing that 2016 saw a significant decrease in media violations both by Israeli forces and the Palestinian governments. MADA recorded a total of 383 violations against the media in Palestine during 2016, representing a significant decrease from 2015 which saw at least 599 violations of media freedoms in the Palestinian territory. While Palestinian governments in the occupied West Bank and besieged Gaza Strip represented 35 percent of the violations, Israeli authorities committed 249 violations against Palestinian press freedoms, constituting 65 percent of the total.
The “gravest and most prominent violations” in 2016 included the killing of Omar Sajadiyya, 22, by Israeli forces. Sajadiyya was a media student at al-Quds University and was shot dead by Israeli forces in Qalandiya refugee camp during an overnight military raid
Other Israeli violations involved the “injuring and arresting of dozens of Palestinian journalists, raiding, confiscating, and sabotaging media outlets, including the shutdown of 12 Palestinian media outlets and printing houses.” The report stated that the decline in Israeli violations was attributed to the decrease of clashes and direct confrontations between Palestinians and Israelis …
Meanwhile, while the number of media violations committed by Palestinian parties had also dropped in 2016, the report highlighted that there were incidents of security forces both in the West Bank and Gaza inflicting “certain types of torture” against Palestinian journalists during their detentions. A continuation of Palestinian authorities “prosecuting journalists in relation to their publications on social media sites,” was also reported….
Palestinian police: 2016 witnessed 20 percent decline in homicide rate from 2015
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 9 Feb — Palestinian police said on Thursday that the occupied West Bank witnessed 43 homicides in 2016, a roughly 20 percent decline from the previous year. Palestinian police spokesman Luay Irzeiqat told Ma‘an that 43 people were killed in 2016 in 38 felony murder cases committed across various districts in the West Bank. 19 cases, he said, were classified as premeditated murders, 14 as voluntary manslaughters, and five were classified as involuntary manslaughter. The Nablus district in the northern West Bank had the highest homicide rate in 2016, with approximately 16 percent of the total homicides occurring in the district, followed by Jenin with approximately 14 percent, then Salfit with approximately 10 percent, then Bethlehem and Jerusalem districts with approximately 8 percent each, 3 percent in Ramallah, Tulkarem, Tubas, and Qalqiliya. The Jericho and Jordan Valley district did not witness any homicides in 2016.Speaking about the possible motives behind felonies in 2016, Irzeiqat said that vengeance, land disputes, and brawls involving minors were the most noticeable motives. Irzeiqat highlighted that homicide rates in the last four years reached the highest level in 2015 with 54 felony murders. He added that 2013 witnessed 31 felony murders, while 2014 saw 38. He added that Palestinian police experienced trouble with family feuds and brawls that took place in West Bank areas under Israeli control, though tribal dignitaries “were very helpful in containing brawls even in areas under Palestinian control.”
Ireland to recognize Palestine soon, warns Israel’s ambassador
Haaretz 9 Feb by Barak Ravid — Israel’s ambassador to Ireland, Zeev Boker, cabled a warning to Jerusalem on Tuesday that the Irish government was soon likely to recognize Palestine as a state. An official in Jerusalem noted that Israel’s embassy in Dublin had assessed a while ago that official recognition of Palestine was coming, but in recent days, after Israel’s decision to expand settlement construction and passage of the law allowing the expropriation of private Palestinian land, this assessment has been reinforced. The official noted that Boker proposed working now to block the move, both by asking the new U.S. administration to pressure Ireland to avoid recognizing Palestine and by having Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu call his Irish counterpart Enda Kenny to discuss the issue.
In October 2014 the Swedish government officially recognized Palestine as a state, making Sweden the first Western European country to do so … In December 2014, the Irish parliament passed a declarative resolution calling on the government to recognize Palestine. A few weeks afterward Irish Foreign Minister Charles Flanagan said Dublin was considering it. Ireland is considered one of the leading critics in Europe of Israel’s policies in the territories. Nevertheless, two years have passed and Ireland hasn’t taken this step. In June 2016 Irish MP Darragh O’Brien submitted a resolution calling on Dublin to expedite the recognition of Palestine. In recent weeks O’Brien has intensified his actions in the Irish media and in parliament to bring the resolution to a vote….
Former Palestinian PM to be new UN Libya envoy
AFP 10 Feb — UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres plans to appoint former Palestinian prime minister Salam Fayyad as UN envoy to Libya, tasked with brokering talks on changes to a faltering political deal, diplomats said on Thursday. Guterres informed the Security Council in a letter that he intends to appoint Fayyad to replace Martin Kobler of Germany, who has been Libya envoy since November 2015. Fayyad, 65, was prime minister of the Palestinian Authority from 2007 to 2013 and also served as finance minister twice. The appointment comes amid diplomatic negotiations over changes to a UN-brokered political deal that led to the formation of Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj’s unity government….
Israel targeted under law passed to help 9/11 victims sue Saudis
Politico 7 Feb by Nahal Toosi — Congress overrode President Barack Obama’s veto last year to pass a law making it easier for families of Sept. 11 victims to sue Saudi Arabia — but now a Washington lawyer is using it to target Israel instead. In a 103-page complaint filed Feb. 1, attorney Martin F. McMahon alleges that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, as well as U.S. charities tied to President Donald Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner and Trump’s Israel ambassador pick David Friedman, are complicit in war crimes against Palestinians because of their financial support for settlement activity in the West Bank. The suit could bolster critics of the Saudi-targeted law, who warned U.S. lawmakers that the statute opened the door to legal claims that ultimately could drag U.S. officials into court, even on flimsy grounds. The lawsuit was first reported on by Courthouse News Service. The Israeli Embassy in Washington did not offer immediate comment Monday. The White House deferred to Friedman, who did not respond to a request for comment, and the Kushner Family Foundation, which declined comment … The law has two main provisions: one that allows lawsuits against foreign states — not just Saudi Arabia — for terrorist attacks committed on U.S. soil, and one that allows legal action in the case of terrorist attacks carried out by designated foreign terrorist groups … The roughly three dozen plaintiffs in the new lawsuit include Palestinians, Palestinian Americans and Jewish Americans. Aside from Netanyahu, Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman, and Tzipi Livni, a former Israeli foreign minister, are listed as defendants….
Trump adds nuance to pro-Israel approach ahead of Netanyahu visit
WASHINGTON/JERUSALEM (Reuters) 9 Feb by Matt Spetalnick & Luke Baker — During his 2016 election campaign, Donald Trump signaled his presidency would be a boon for Israel and tough on Palestinians. The U.S. Embassy would move to Jerusalem, he would name an ambassador who backs Israeli settlements on land Palestinians seek for a state and there would be no pressure for peace talks. But as Trump prepares for his first White House meeting with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, his administration has not only toned down its pro-Israel bravado but also taken the first tentative steps towards a more cautious Middle East diplomacy, including consultations with Sunni Arab allies and U.S. lawmakers, according to people familiar with the matter. While any strategy is still far from complete, there is growing consensus in the White House that tackling the Israeli-Palestinian conflict could require gentle nudging of Israel together with assurances to the Arab world that Trump will be more even-handed than his campaign rhetoric suggested….
City of Jerusalem evicts gallery after invite to left-wing group
Times of Israel 8 Feb by Sue Surkes — The Jerusalem municipality on Wednesday said it was evicting an independent art gallery, a day after Culture and Sport Minister Miri Regev pressured the mayor not to allow a controversial left-wing organization to lecture there. The order came just hours before Breaking the Silence was scheduled to hold its event at the nonprofit Barbur Gallery and Community Art Center in the city’s Nahlaot neighborhood. However, the city denied it was caving in to political pressure, saying that the move was merely about enforcing local planning regulations. “This has nothing to do with free speech. The municipality needs the building for other municipal purposes and will consult, among others, with neighborhood representatives about its future use,” Mayor Nir Barkat said. The order to clear the building within 90 days came a year and seven months after the mayor boasted that the Barbur, which is Hebrew for “swan,” would stay open after alternative accommodation had been found for a kindergarten that qualified to use the premises….
Israel apologizes over questioning of American activist
JERUSALEM (AP) 9 Feb by Josef Federman — Israeli immigration officials on Thursday apologized over their treatment of a senior executive from a liberal Jewish-American group who was interrogated for an hour on her arrival in Tel Aviv the previous day. Jennifer Gorovitz, a vice president of the New Israel Fund, said she was questioned about her nonprofit group’s activities. The New Israel Fund supports a number of liberal, progressive groups in Israel, some of which have been criticized by the Israeli government. “It was humiliating and emotionally scarring to find that, although I am a Jew and a Zionist, I might not be allowed into the country because I do not adhere to the government’s ultra-right-wing ideology,” Gorovitz said in a statement late Wednesday. According to the statement, Gorovitz said the interviewer had a document with information about her that had highlighted the term “BDS” — an acronym for the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions Movement. The international BDS movement seeks to ostracize Israel by lobbying corporations, artists and academic institutions to sever ties with the Jewish state. Supporters say the boycott is aimed at ending Israeli occupation of Palestinian lands, and that their efforts are modeled on the nonviolent movement against apartheid South Africa. Critics say the campaign goes far beyond Israel’s policies in the West Bank and is aimed at delegitimizing and destroying Israel. The New Israel Fund’s statement said Gorovitz told the officer that the group does not support BDS, but that it “funds Israeli organizations that work toward human rights, democracy and equality for all Israelis.” Interior Ministry spokeswoman Sabine Haddad said the ministry later apologized to Gorovitz over any “unpleasantness” she may have experienced but not over the questioning itself. Haddad said the questions were about Gorovitz’s numerous visits to the country and not connected to BDS.
Settlements, strikes mar first ministerial visit to Israel in 7 years
TEL AVIV (Hurriyet Daily News) 7 Feb — The extension of Israeli settlements on Palestinian territory and air strikes on Gaza have overshadowed the first ever ministerial-level visit from Turkey to Israel since relations deteriorated in 2010. Turkey’s visiting culture and tourism minister, Nabi Avcı, urged the Israeli Supreme Court to adhere to international law after a Knesset decision to retrospectively legalize settlements in the West Bank, while Israeli Tourism Minister Yariv Levin said the decision was the correct decision within the standards of democracy….