Violence / Detentions — West Bank / Jerusalem
Abu al-Qee‘an’s father dies of shock
IMEMC/Agencies 10 Feb — The father of Yacoub Abu al-Qee‘an [or al-Qi‘an] reportedly died Thursday morning, after succumbing to shock over the death of his son, who was killed while defending his village of Umm al-Hiran. According to Al Ray Palestinian Media Agency, a sword has hung over the heads of Umm al-Hiran’s 1,000 inhabitants for many months, now, as the Israeli government has advanced plans to raze the Palestinian Bedouin village of 150 homes and replace it with a town exclusive to Israeli Jews. Raed Abu al-Qee’an, Yacoub’s 40-year-old nephew, said that not only did the police kill him in cold blood, “but now they are holding his body hostage to try to make more convincing their ridiculous story that he is a terrorist.” Al-Qee‘an’s body was laid to rest Thursday afternoon, alas without a chance to bid farewell to his son.
Palestinian succumbs to gunshot wounds inflicted 3 months ago by Israeli forces
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 10 Feb — A Palestinian held in Israeli custody succumbed to his wounds on Friday after being shot by Israeli forces in November for allegedly attempting to carry out a stabbing attack. Issa Qaraqe, the head of the Palestinian Committee of Prisoners’ Affairs, told Ma‘an that 24-year-old Muhammad al-Jallad (also reported as Muhammad Amr) died in Israeli custody while at the Beilinson Hospital in the city of Petah Tikva in central Israel. Al-Jallad was shot by Israeli forces on Nov. 9, 2016 at the Huwwara military checkpoint in the southern part of the occupied West Bank district of Nablus, Qaraqe said. Israeli authorities claimed that al-Jallad had attempted to stab an Israeli soldier with a screwdriver before Israeli forces opened live fire on him. According to Qaraqe, Israeli forces took al-Jallad into custody at the time and transported him to Beilinson hospital for treatment. Qaraqe added that al-Jallad had also suffered from lymphoma. Al-Jallad became the ninth Palestinian to be killed by Israeli forces this year, with 112 Palestinians killed in 2016, according to Ma‘an documentation.
Palestinian taxi driver still healing from hate crime
JERUSALEM (Al Jazeera) 10 Feb by Nigel Wilson — Walking with a slight limp, his lower right arm wrapped in a cast, Eshaq Abu Jibneh crossed the living room slowly to place a tray of coffee and cakes on the table. “Right now, I can move my hand, but I can’t lift heavy things or open bottles,” he told Al Jazeera, noting that he would soon go for surgery on his wrist, while his ankle had recovered well after surgery in the summer. Abu Jibneh suffered the injuries in a brutal attack in a West Jerusalem public square last summer, belatedly recognised by Israeli authorities as a hate crime. A taxi driver by trade, Abu Jibneh had arrived at Zion Square to meet a friend in the early hours of August 5, 2016. The square is a popular location for Palestinian taxi drivers to take breaks between shifts, drink coffee and catch up on the latest local news and gossip. Abu Jibneh had wanted to congratulate his friend, who had recently bought a new taxi. “It was 3:30 on Friday morning. I parked and was standing there with the other taxi drivers. We were talking. It is normal at that time that Arab taxi drivers stop in that spot and meet,” he said. He recalled that he and his friends were then approached by a group of six Israeli men who “looked like normal Israelis.” “One of them said, ‘Here is an Arab taxi driver, right here.’ He started to curse us, told us, ‘Get out of our country, go to work in Gaza. This is our land. Get out of our land,’ and saying rude things about us, cursing our families, our mothers.” Responding to the men in Hebrew, Abu Jibneh said that he drew on his previous training and experience as a security guard in an attempt to defuse the situation, but he and his friends quickly decided to leave the area. At that point, he said, the gang started to hit the taxi drivers. “One of the Israelis had pepper spray, and they sprayed me in the face, in the eyes. I couldn’t see what was happening around me. They started to kick me, hit me with stones, and it left me with several injuries,” he said….
Israeli stabs 2 Palestinian street cleaners in Beersheba
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 12 Feb — Two Palestinian street sweepers were stabbed in the city of Beersheba in southern Israel on Sunday morning, according to an Israeli police spokeswoman, who said an Israeli in his twenties was detained for committing the attack. Luba al-Samri said in a written statement in Arabic that the Palestinian workers were from the area, seeming to suggest the two held Israeli citizenship. The two were evacuated to a hospital where they were treated for minor wounds. Al-Samri identified the suspect behind the stabbing as an Israeli Jew in his twenties from Beersheba, saying that initial investigations indicated the motive behind the attack was “criminal,” without providing further details.
Two Palestinians injured in Bil‘in’s weekly nonviolent protest
IMEMC 10 Feb — Israeli soldiers attacked, Friday, the weekly nonviolent protest held by Palestinian, Israeli and international peace activists in Bil‘in village west of the central West Bank city of Ramallah, leading to clashes that resulted in wounding two Palestinians, including a child. The Popular Committee against the Wall and Colonies in Bil‘in said the protesters were marking the twelfth anniversary of ongoing popular, nonviolent resistance against the Annexation Wall and Colonies in the village. The marchers carried Palestinian flags, and chanted for national unity, steadfastness, and ongoing resistance until liberation, independence and the release of all political prisoners. Some local protesters started banging on the iron gate of the Annexation Wall with stones, in addition to walking alongside it, before clashes erupted with the soldiers. Israeli soldiers, stationed near the gate of the Annexation Wall, fired rubber-coated steel bullets and gas bombs on the protesters. The Committee said that local activist Ashraf Abu Rahma and a child, identified as Mohammad Eyad Burnat, were mildly injured. Dr. Rateb Abu Rahma, the media coordinator of the Popular Committee in Bil‘in, called on all factions, and the Palestinian people, to participate in the central procession next Friday, February 17, 2017, in commemoration of those who were killed due to excessive force by the soldiers against the nonviolent protesters.
Anadolu Agency freelancer injured in West Bank protest
RAMALLAH, Palestine (Anadolu Agency) 1 0 Feb Reporting by Qays Abu Samra and Gulsen Topcu; Writing by Burcu Arik — A freelance photojournalist working for Anadolu Agency was shot in the foot by a rubber bullet fired by Israeli police officers as he was covering a weekly protest against the separation barrier in the northern West Bank. According to a written statement by a local NGO, the Committee Against The Wall and Settlements, the Israeli police used tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse the crowd in the Palestinian town of Kafr Qaddum. Nedal Eshtayah was among the photojournalists covering the weekly protest when he was hit. Dozens of Palestinian demonstrators were also affected by the gas, the statement added.
#DismantleTheGhetto: start of campaign in Al-Khalil
HEBRON, Occupied Palestine (ISM, al-Khalil Team) 10 Feb — Israeli forces and colonial settlers on Thursday, 9th February 2017, disrupted a peaceful protest near Qurtuba school on Shuhada Street in occupied al-Khalil (Hebron). Settlers attacked and injured one female student, and prevented Palestinian teachers and students from leaving the area. The event was organized by the National Campaign to Lift the Closure of Hebron as part of the ‘#DismantleTheGhetto: Take the Settlers out of Hebron’ campaign. The day started with a celebration at Qurtuba school, which is located just above Shuhada Street, where most of the houses and businesses have been ethnically cleansed of Palestinians by the Israeli forces in the aftermath of the Ibrahimi Mosque massacre. Students performed a play, sang songs, and the best students from each class were honoured, along with teachers. Afterwards, the group walked towards the Qurtuba school stairs … As the Palestinians were chanting slogans against the occupation and for freedom for Palestinians in al-Khalil and for an end to the closed military zone and the ghettoization of this part of al-Khalil, soldiers at the bottom of the stairs immediately called for reinforcements and settlers started gathering. The settler Anat Cohen, who is infamous for violently attacking Palestinians and internationals with complete impunity (search YouTube ‘Anat Cohen Hebron’ for several filmed examples), ran up the slope that separated the children from the soldiers on Shuhada Street and began violently to attack the schoolchildren. She was joined by another settler with a violent and aggressive history. This had been an entirely peaceful demonstration where children demanded their own freedom of movement and an end to the occupation of Palestine, according to their human rights. There was no provocation….
Israeli settlers occupy Palestinian-owned properties in Silwan
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 10 Feb — Israeli settlers Thursday evening occupied a room and an adjacent house of a 76-year-old Palestinian in the Wadi Hilweh area of the occupied East Jerusalem neighborhood of Silwan. The elderly man’s son Khaldoun Salah, who lives in the house with his father, told Ma‘an that settlers also prevented him from using the house’s courtyard, the only path to enter and exit the house. The Silwan-based watchdog Wadi Hilweh Information Center said that Israeli settlers, under the protection of Israeli police, occupied a room, a warehouse, and a toilet in the area. The group added that the settlers had changed the locks on the doors and erected a fence. The room occupied by the settlers was reported to measure 30 square meters, while the courtyard measures 50 square meters, both belonging to Arif al-Qarain. He also owns part of the warehouse, measuring 200 square meters. Local Palestinian residents managed to force the settlers out from 150 square meters of the warehouse. However, they remained in the section belonging to al-Qarain. Salah was quoted by the center as saying that his family was using the room that the settlers occupied, but the owner, al-Qarain, evacuated the family through a court order two years prior. Since then, the room has remained unused.
Settler takeover makes life hell for East Jerusalem Palestinians
+972 blog 6 Feb by Amit Gilutz — In Jerusalem’s Batan al-Hawa neighborhood, Palestinians have been facing a series of ‘quiet’ evictions by state-backed settler organizations — “A police officer named Fares made us stand facing the wall, and kicked our legs hard until we spread them apart. Then he beat us and spoke to us very rudely. He said: ‘Do you want me to fuck you?’ When I said no, he asked: ‘Have you ever been fucked?’ I said no, and he kept asking: ‘Do you want me to fuck you some other time?’ I turned around and said: ‘If you want for yourself.’ He said: ‘I’m going to punch you now so hard it’ll flatten your face.’” This scene is not an excerpt from a Jean Genet novel, but from a testimony given by 13-year-old M. to B’Tselem field researcher Hussam Abed. While the experience M. described is horrifying, it is not particularly remarkable among the children of his neighborhood, Batan al-Hawa, in East Jerusalem. They have been living in a state of constant friction with Israeli security personnel ever since settlers — accompanied by police and private security guards, generously funded by Israel’s housing minister — began invading the crowded neighborhood. There is nothing spontaneous about Jewish settlers moving into the heart of a Palestinian neighborhood while dispossessing the local residents. In fact, it is a well-planned undertaking that is broadly supported by Israeli state authorities. In this case, the organization behind the home ownership claims is Ateret Cohanim, whose actions were facilitated by a racist combination of three laws, which make it possible to claim ownership over property that had belonged to Jews before 1948. The courts have given their stamp of approval to these injurious actions….
‘We go to heaven, you go to hell’: Israeli settlers caught on video threatening to kill Palestinians in Hebron
Mondoweiss 10 Feb by Allison Deger — A group of Israeli settlers rode a red ATV into a densely populated Palestinian area in the West Bank city of Hebron yesterday to taunt and threaten locals. The incident was recorded by Hebron 90.4 FM’s correspondent Musab Shaawer and shared online by Palestinian media. “Where are all the Arabs? They left you and joined us,” an Israeli settler yells in the video to Palestinians nearby while a group of young women accompanying him look on and laugh. “We go to heaven, you go to hell,” he adds. And in a final ominous warning the settler says: “If war breaks out the Jews will come here and evict and kill you all.”
Palestinian shepherds reportedly assaulted by Israeli civilians, soldiers near West Bank outpost
Haaretz 12 Feb by Amira Hass — Three Palestinian shepherds said they were attacked by a group of Israeli civilians and soldiers on Friday morning near a new Israeli outpost in the northern Jordan Valley. According to the three, the incident involved three civilians and two soldiers and occurred within eyesight of the Israeli military’s Netzah Yehuda base, where a special ultra-Orthodox Jewish unit is stationed. The base is near the border of the Umm Zuka nature reserve. According to the Palestinians, two of the civilians initially demanded that the shepherds leave the area with their flocks. They were then joined by two soldiers and another civilian who arrived on an ATV. The group allegedly detained and searched the Palestinians, took their mobile phones and beat them. The Israeli army said that it isn’t familiar with the claims. “If a complaint is filed or if substantiated information is submitted, it will be seriously investigated,” the military said. Just prior to the incident, the Palestinian shepherds managed to alert a few people that Israelis were approaching them in an intimidating manner. The information reached Rabbi Arik Ascherman from the human rights NGO Hakel (The Field) – Jews and Arabs in Defense of Human Rights, who immediately called the police. Two hours later, the Palestinians were released. The shepherds refused to leave the area and said their flocks have been grazing there for many years. Other shepherds joined them over the course of the day to ensure they weren’t attacked again.
At the end of 2016, there were multiple attempts to acquire land and building permits for the new outpost in the Jordan Valley. On January 4 of this year, Israeli civilians came in large numbers and started erecting various farming structures in the outpost. As of the beginning of February, the outpost hosted a large water tank, a tractor, two large tents, all-terrain vehicles, two caravans, sheds, a generator and a horse. The outpost is populated by seven pre-army teenage boys, at least some of them armed, who say they grew up in settlements and dropped out of yeshiva high schools….
Israeli army won’t let Palestinian farmers till their land because of settler violence
Haaretz 8 Feb by Amira Hass — One family’s lawyer reached out 12 times to the Israeli authorities so that the farmers could coordinate access to their almond grove, but to no avail — Despite a 2006 High Court ruling, military commanders in the West Bank are not facilitating access for two Palestinian farming families north of Ramallah to work their land. The plots, both north of Ramallah, belong to Fawzi Ibrahim from the village of Jalud and the other, to the Mu‘ein Musa family from Qaryut. In both cases, the proximity of two outposts known for their history of harassing Palestinian villagers prevents the farmers from accessing their fields. Ibrahim is permitted to enter his 250-dunam (62 acres) plot only twice a year, and only in coordination with and accompanied by the army. If he isn’t able to reach his field this week in order to plough it and sow wheat, he could miss the entire season. The Musa family doesn’t officially need to coordinate with the army but their fears of settler violence and the army’s preference to avoid confrontations between settlers and Palestinians necessitates that they coordinate their activity with the army in practice … The outpost of Esh Kodesh was built close to Ibrahim’s land. The outpost of Yishuv Hada’at, also known as the Bayit Adom (Red House), was built on the Musas’ land … From the end of the 1990s and particularly since the 2000s, agricultural outposts have been built in the area surrounding the settlement of Shilo. With them came increased harassment and violence directed at the residents of Jalud, Qaryut and three other villages in the area. In response to these attacks, the army closed an area covering 9000 dunams to Palestinian farmers, preventing them from working their land or tending their flocks there. This phenomenon of settler violence leading to the closure of an area for Palestinians is common across the West Bank, and has led to a joint petition filed with the High Court of Justice by human rights groups.…
Israeli soldiers abduct father, his seven sons and daughter-in-law in Hebron
IMEMC 12 Feb — Israeli soldiers and police officers abducted, on Saturday evening, a Palestinian father, his seven sons, and the wife of one of his sons, in the Sammoa‘ [or al-Samu‘] town, south of the southern West Bank city of Hebron, and confiscated military uniforms and ammunition. Israeli Police spokeswoman Luba Samri issued a statement claiming that the police, and the army, received info about weapons and munitions in the town, and acted accordingly. She added that the police detained seven Palestinians, and managed to locate two pistols, a large amount of ammunition, in addition to military gear and a uniform. The abducted Palestinians have been identified as Mohammad Mousa Bheiss, his sons Mousa, Emad, Rami, Jihad, Ra‘fat, Ali and Ra‘ed, in addition to the wife of one of his sons. The nine Palestinians were cuffed and blindfolded before being moved to an interrogation facility.
Israel arrests Fatah’s West Bank Youth Movement leader
RAMALLAH (WAFA) 11 Feb – The Fatah Youth Movement in the West Bank strongly protested Israel’s detention of its deputy secretary general, Iyad Dweikat, while he was traveling to Jordan across King Hussein (Allenby) Bridge, a statement by the movement said on Saturday. It said it sent dozens of cables to support and partner movements around the world to inform them of this development and to ask for their intervention to secure the quick release of Dweikat, who is considered one of the top leaders of the Fatah Youth Movement. Israeli forces raided Dweikat’s family building in Nablus four times in the last two months and detained his brother and cousin.
Israeli soldiers abduct three Palestinians in Qalqilia
IMEMC 11 Feb — Israeli soldiers abducted, on Friday evening, three young Palestinian men while walking in Palestinian olive orchards, south of Kufur Qaddoum, in the northern West Bank district of Qalqilia. Morad Eshteiwy, the coordinator of the Popular Committee against the Wall and Colonies in Kufur Qaddoum, said the soldiers attacked the three young men and abducted them before moving them to a nearby military base. Eshteiwy added that the three abducted Palestinians have been identified as Wi’am Waleed, 20, Sanad Raed, 19, and Abdul-Latif Jom‘a, 21.
Israeli police detain Palestinian girl in Hebron for alleged knife possession
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 11 Feb — Israeli border police detained a Palestinian teenage girl at a military checkpoint near the Ibrahimi mosque in the southern occupied West Bank city of Hebron on Saturday afternoon, claiming she was in possession of a knife and intended to carry out a stabbing attack. According to Israeli police spokesperson Luba al-Samri, the girl approached Israeli police deployed at the checkpoint, and the girl was brandishing a knife. Israeli forces pulled out their weapons and detained the woman immediately, al-Samri said, adding that forces did not open fire or “use force,” while detaining the girl. No Israelis were injured in the incident. Local sources identified the girl as 17-year-old Israa Sameeh Jaber, who lives near the southern side of the Ibrahimi mosque. Witnesses told Ma‘an that after Jaber entered a closed military zone near the mosque where entry to Palestinians is forbidden, Israeli border police apprehended her and put her flat on the ground to handcuff her. Witnesses added that in addition to border police, some 20 Israeli settlers were present at the scene, and that Jaber did not attempt to attack any of them, though the sources could not confirm whether or not the teen was in possession of a knife. According to al-Samri, Jaber was transferred to Israeli intelligence for interrogation. A photo later released by Israeli police purported to show the knife that was seized in the incident.
‘State of Jenin’: A Palestinian refugee camp raided by Israeli troops night after night
Haaretz 10 Feb by Gideon Levy & Alex Levac — After a soldier was wounded in Jenin, the IDF intensified its nighttime raids there. And when the Israelis don’t enter this West Bank refugee camp, the Palestinian security forces do — This is a type of anxiety that no Israeli civilian is familiar with: nights when sleep is marred by the noise of soldiers moving about, gunshots, armored vehicles outside the window, stun grenades and explosives in an adjacent alley. Night after night. Soldiers who storm the house rowdily, after blowing up the front door. Children who wake up in a fright to the sight of masked, heavily armed figures during dead-of-night kidnappings euphemistically called “arrests.” On one occasion during the second intifada, I slept over in the Jenin refugee camp. I’ll never forget the fear that seized me when soldiers raided it. It’s a particularly chilling experience in a densely crowded, yet determined and militant camp like that in Jenin. Last week, raids were carried out there almost every night. After a soldier sustained light to moderate wounds during one, the Israel Defense Forces ratcheted up even more the rate and intensity of its infiltration. Residents are convinced that on the night between Jan. 28 and 29, soldiers had come to avenge the wounding of their buddy and teach the camp a lesson it wouldn’t forget. “They came to kill,” people in the battered camp said this week, as they buried another of its sons, Mohammed Abu Khalifa, after he was killed by soldiers’ bullets on Sunday. He was buried in the cemetery of intifada victims at the edge of the camp, which, like Jenin itself, suffers from severe overcrowding.…
Incitement and hasbara
Rights group: Israeli online incitement toward Arabs doubled in 2016
Mondoweiss 8 Feb by Allison Deger — An Arab rights group has found ten of thousands of Israelis are publishing “widespread hatred and incitement against Arabs and Palestinians” on social media, and are often motivated to harass following charged statements by Israeli politicians. The hate speech is going unnoticed by Israeli officials who are advancing a law to scrub similar content from Facebook, but only when it is made by Palestinians against Israelis, said the Haifa-based group 7amleh, the Arab Center for Social Media Advancement, in a report published Tuesday. 7amleh focused on Hebrew social media posts. Along with the Israeli firm Vigo, it analyzed keywords used online during 2015 and 2016. The group said the results were “horrifying,” due to the sharp increase of incitements towards Arabs in the last year. The study showed slanderous, provocative, and threatening posts made by Israelis against Arabs and Palestinians more than doubled in 2016, reaching 675,000 posts made by 60,000 Hebrew-speaking Facebook users.
Israeli website exposes Palestinians to Hamas atrocities
Ynet 10 Feb by Elior Levy — The Ministry of Defense has begun undertaking efforts to reveal information to the Palestinian people which is otherwise concealed by their leadership in Ramallah and Gaza by launching a new Arabic website. The website would not only be useful to Palestinians for tasks such as downloading work permit forms, etc, but it will also facilitate the communication of Israel’s message directly to the people. This new online platform would be joining other similar sites in Arabic, such as Twitter and Facebook, used for similar purposes. The site was created on the orders of Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman and the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) Maj. Gen. Yoav (Poli) Mordechai, with the ultimate goal of exposing Palestinians to events and matters hidden by their leadership. Part of the site’s projects will consist of the uploading by the COGAT unit of in-depth articles on the various events taking place in the Palestinian arena. These articles will predominantly be intended to discredit Hamas in Gaza, their actions and general conduct….
Prisoners / Court actions
Torture: as described by interrogators themselves
Days of Palestine 9 Feb — originally published in Haaretz, by Chaim Levinson — For years, the Israeli establishment has tried to conceal what happens in interrogation rooms. When interrogators use torture – or “special means,” to use the establishment’s term – the concealment efforts are redoubled. Even when testimony of torture reaches the public, the system does everything it can to leave the interrogators’ role in darkness, including signing lenient plea bargains with suspects who were tortured to ensure that the conspiracy of silence remains unbroken. People who have undergone interrogation have described various methods, from interrogators screaming in their ear, to blows, to being forced into painful positions for long periods. To date, however, all these descriptions have come from the complainants. But recently, a conversation among interrogators in the presence of several witnesses provided a chance to hear from the interrogators themselves about the kinds of torture used in major cases, who approved it and what information it produced. N., a former senior interrogator who was authorised to approve “special means,” insisted that it is not like Guantanamo; he and his colleagues do not make suspects stand naked in 10-below-zero weather, he added. He said the methods used are carefully chosen to be effective enough to break the suspect’s spirit, but without causing permanent damage or leaving any marks….
13-year-old Palestinian awaits sentencing for throwing rocks at Rachel’s Tomb
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 12 Feb — Israeli police said Sunday that a 13-year-old Palestinian boy was awaiting indictment after he was detained in ‘Aida refugee camp in the southern occupied West Bank city of Bethlehem last week for throwing stones. Israeli police spokeswoman Luba al-Samri said that the boy, who remained unidentified, threw stones at Rachel’s Tomb, which is located just next to the camp beyond Israel’s separation wall and next to a military base. Al-Samri did not specify when the boy was detained. She said he was released on a conditional basis and would be indicted at a later date. The police statement said that the boy was detained while he was holding a slingshot and wearing Kufiyeh scarf covering his face. Al-Samri included a picture purporting to show the slingshot and scarf that were seized from the 13-year-old child. Al-Samri said that the boy also confessed to being involved “in similar events,” during his interrogation. She added that seven other Palestinians were detained last week in ‘Aida refugee camp on suspicion of throwing stones, Molotov cocktails, and improvised explosive devices at Rachel’s Tomb.
UN group says Israeli forces opened fire at Gazans at least 52 times in two weeks
JERUSALEM, February 11, 2017 (WAFA) – On at least 52 occasions between January 24 and February 6, Israeli forces opened warning or direct fire at Palestinians present in or approaching the Israeli-imposed Access Restricted Areas (ARA) on land and sea in Gaza, a United Nations organization said on Friday. The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) in the occupied Palestinian territories said in its bi-weekly Protection of Civilians report that while no injuries were reported, the work of farmers and fishermen was repeatedly disrupted. It said Israeli forces entered inside Gaza and carried out leveling and excavation activities near the perimeter fence, and, on another occasion, arrested two fishermen and requisitioned their boat.
Egypt opens Rafah crossing to humanitarian cases for 2nd day
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 12 Feb — Egyptian authorities opened the Rafah crossing between Egypt and the besieged Gaza Strip on Sunday morning for the second of three days that Egypt decided to open the terminal for humanitarian cases. According to the Palestinian borders and crossings committee, 325 passengers left Gaza to travel to Egypt on Saturday, including holders of Egyptian passports. In addition, 183 passengers arrived in Gaza from Egypt through the crossing. The committee highlighted that two Palestinians who died in Egypt were brought to Gaza for burial via Rafah. Egyptian authorities denied 11 Palestinians entry into Egypt on Saturday, without giving any justifications. Furthermore, 70 truckloads of cement and iron bars for construction were allowed into the Gaza Strip through the crossing, to be used for private sector in the besieged coastal enclave.
Qatari-funded neighborhood inaugurated in south Gaza
Times of Israel 11 Feb — The deputy head of Hamas’s political bureau Ismail Haniyeh took part in a ceremony Saturday to dedicate a new Qatari-funded housing project in the southern Gaza Strip city of Khan Younis. Haniyeh announced at the ceremony that the emir of Qatar, Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, will deliver an additional $100 million for the rehabilitation of the Gaza Strip, the Ynet news site reported. Of those funds, Haniyeh added, $25 million will be allocated for a hospital in Rafah, and another $10 million will be designated for a center to treat people with special needs in Gaza City. The Hamas official further stated that Qatar had vowed to transfer $30 million to erect new electricity lines, and another $12 million for fuel to be used in Gaza’s power plants.
Lecturers at Gaza’s Al-Aqsa University announce 2-day strike
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 11 Feb — Lecturers of Al-Aqsa University in Gaza City have called a strike Sunday and Monday, protesting a move by the school’s administration to sign university certificates for selected students, while hundreds had still not received approved certificates, according to a statement released Saturday by representatives of the university’s employees. “Why would the president sign a selected number of certificates while hundreds of students are waiting impatiently for their certificates to be signed and approved?” the statement asked. “Has the president’s jurisdiction been limited to certain students?” The statement said that the “illegitimate administration” had gotten university president Kamal Shirafi to sign certificates for just nine students, alleging the move came at the influence of a “shadow leadership” outside of the university’s campus.
Gaza’s starman aims to fight occupation with science
GAZA CITY (Al Jazeera) 11 Feb by Ylenia Gostoli — Living in what has been called the world’s largest open-air prison did not deter astrophysicist Suleiman Baraka from turning his gaze to the cosmos. “Astronomy is the science of everything. When you study astronomy, you study yourself, because you are part of this cosmos,” Baraka told Al Jazeera from inside his lab at Gaza’s Al-Aqsa University, a small room that he shares with two research students. Papers and books are piled up next to several desktop computers arranged in a semicircle. A whiteboard is covered with scribbled formulas, while posters of celestial bodies hang on the walls and two telescopes sit in cardboard boxes nearby. Although humble, the small Centre for Astronomy and Space Sciences aims to put Palestine on the map for research in the field. “Because we don’t have advanced labs, our students use theory a lot, and they are very strong in it. I have a student who published a book,” Baraka, 52, said proudly. His own research, which won him a prestigious collaboration with French scientists, involves studying atypical events in the magnetosphere, the region within Earth’s magnetic field. Currently the holder of the Palestinian astrophysics chair for UNESCO, Baraka in 2010 brought the first telescope into Gaza – a donation from the International Astronomical Union. Since then, Birzeit University in the occupied West Bank, has also equipped its department. “I cannot work to US standards while trapped like a prisoner in Gaza,” said Baraka, who was banned from leaving the Gaza Strip to enter Israel and the occupied West Bank three decades ago. “December 16, 1987, was the last time I crossed Erez.”
Israeli man indicted for trying to cross into Gaza
Ynet 9 Feb by Matan Tzuri — A 23-year-old Rehovot resident was indicted on Thursday for attempting to cross the border into the Gaza Strip the previous day. According to the indictment, the young man was carrying a backpack with two kitchen knives, clothes and cash money. He made it to the fence near Moshav Netiv HaAsara, where he attempted to cross the border. An IDF force who identified him hurried toward him, fearing he would be captured by Hamas, and arrested him. The man was charged in an expedited process with unlawfully trying to leave the country and possessing a knife … The young man’s remand was extended, and he was sent for psychiatric evaluation … Three Israelis have voluntarily entered Gaza over the past three years and are believe to be held by Hamas. Abera Mengistu, a young man from Ashkelon, entered the strip in 2014. Three months later, Hisham al-Sayed, a Bedouin man known to be mentally ill, also crossed the border. Then, last July, a third Israeli citizen crossed into Gaza: Jumaa Ibrahim Abu-Ghanima, also a Bedouin man.
Analysis: Unusual alliances, conflicting interests behind tensions in Israel’s south / Amos Harel
Haaretz 9 Feb — An exceptional number of incidents involving Hamas, the IDF and an ISIS affiliate are making the decision makers on both sides twitchy. Incorrect handling of the crisis now could trigger another war — …security tensions have been increasing. And under certain circumstances, these could develop into a real escalation. It is happening on the complicated southern front where Israel and Hamas are facing off, with additional significant involvement by – and often temporary alliances with – two other players: Egypt and Ansar Beit al-Maqdis (the Islamic State-affiliated group formerly known as Wilayat Sinai). What gets reported in the media is mostly the incidents that cannot be hidden, like rocket fire or the results of a mysterious blast in a tunnel. But below the surface lies a web of variously conflicting and intersecting interests. Faulty management of the crisis could lead to a big blow-up – as happened in the summer of 2014 – though at present none of the key players seem to want such an outcome. A summary of recent events: On Monday morning, a rocket fell in open land in the northern Negev, and shots from light weaponry were apparently fired from Gaza toward Kibbutz Kissufim. The rocket fire was attributed to a radical Salafi organization, and was seen as an intended show of defiance against Hamas for arresting and torturing some of its people. Israel holds Hamas responsible for any fire against it that emanates from Gaza. It responded with a series of strikes on numerous Hamas targets, which somehow resulted, yet again, in only a few minor casualties. On Tuesday, two cabinet members – Education Minister Naftali Bennett and Construction and Housing Minister Yoav Galant – threatened that there could be another war in Gaza within a few months. On Wednesday evening, a barrage of rockets were fired at Eilat from Sinai – for the first time since the summer of 2014. The Iron Dome defense system intercepted three rockets, while a fourth fell in an open area. Ansar Beit al-Maqdis claimed responsibility for the rocket fire. A few hours later, there was an explosion in a tunnel beneath the Gaza-Egypt border at Rafah. Two Palestinians were killed and five others wounded. Hamas announced it was due to an Israeli airstrike, and Gaza security sources said it came in response to the rocket fire on Eilat. The Israeli army denied carrying out the attack. All of this is happening at a time when there has been a surprising rapprochement between Hamas and Egypt – after years of open hostility on the part of the generals in Cairo toward the leadership in Gaza, whom they view as an extension of the Muslim Brotherhood movement … It would appear that the clear Israeli interest is to preserve its power of deterrence and delay the next war in Gaza for as long as possible. Any other policy would lead to an unnecessary entanglement in a long war, which, even if it ultimately led to the downfall of Hamas – as a number of ministers are pushing for – would still drag the IDF into the Gaza swamp for many years to come.
Is the Lebanese scar guiding Israel’s operations in Gaza?
Haaretz 10 Feb by Amos Harel — Twenty years later, a reserve brigade commander believes Israel’s great helicopter disaster hastened the exit from Lebanon in 2000. Fear of soldiers dying is also paralyzing leaders today — It has been 20 years since the helicopter disaster that took the lives of 73 soldiers on their way to Lebanon, and Col. (res.) Kobi Marom has been visiting bereaved families around the country … Marom, now a research fellow at the International Institute for Counter-Terrorism at the Interdisciplinary Center Herzliya, argues that the Lebanese scar accompanied Israel in its subsequent military operations – in Lebanon in 2006 and in Gaza in 2008-09, 2012 and 2014. “Any thoughts about reoccupying the territory we left was accompanied by the memory of our experience in southern Lebanon” This is particularly evident in the question of the price in soldiers’ lives. All governments are afraid to approve operations that risk a large number of soldiers getting killed,” he says. “This concern, which paralyses decision-making, was born there, in Lebanon…” As for the 2014 Gaza war, “In my view, our stuttering in Operation Protective Edge was dreadful. Something has happened to our self-confidence – and I think this stems from the weight of the losses in lives that hangs heavy on our leaders’ necks.”
Land, property theft & destruction / Ethnic cleansing / Settlements
After settlement dismantled, Palestinians wait to return
AFP 10 Feb — Mariam Hamad remembers perfectly the day more than 20 years ago when her land was taken by Israelis to build the illegal settlement of Amona. But a week after the Jewish village was finally demolished following a two-decade legal struggle, Hamad and other Palestinian land owners still don’t know if or when they will be able to set foot on their soil again. The tiny settlement, home to just forty families, was evacuated and demolished last week amid protests and even violence from Jewish hardliners. Israel’s courts declared it was built on private Palestinian land. But the demolition prompted Israel’s rightwing to propose a law opposing similar moves against other illegal settlements. It passed through parliament this week in a move criticised by world powers. Largely forgotten amid the turmoil of Amona’s destruction and its wider ramifications are the six families who originally owned the land. For them the demolition should herald a longed-for return to the land they called not Amona but simply Al-Mazarea, the farms in Arabic. On the hilltop near Ramallah in the occupied West Bank they used to cultivate tomatoes and watermelons one year, wheat the next, said 83-year-old Hamad. In her house in nearby Silwad she still has a sheaf of dried wheat from the last unfinished harvest. “We worked in the fields with my husband until the settlers forced us out,” Hamad remembered, saying the Jewish arrivals came armed. “‘This land is not yours, it’s ours,’ they said” she recalled. Despite the demolitions, she and the other owners are waiting to see if they can return, with the Israeli army still in control. Hamad told AFP she was “hopeful” but also had strong doubts, with other landowners also uncertain … After Amona was formed in 1995, Hamed twice tried to return to her two-and-a-half hectares. The first time, she said, Israeli soldiers forced her back while the second she fled because a woman was shot dead, allegedly by settlers. Another landowner Ibrahim Yaqoub, 56, said his mother was shot and his aunt killed while approaching family land. He has more than three hectares of land his children have never seen. From the creation of Amona to its destruction 13 Palestinians were killed, most during demonstrations and clashes near the outpost, Abdel Rahman Saleh, the mayor of nearby Silwad, said….
Amona Express: Settlers build new outpost in northern West Bank
+972 blog 10 Feb by Eli Bitan — Israeli settlers have established a new settlement outpost in the Jordan Valley, likely the first since the illegal outpost of Amona was demolished and in the shadow of a recently-passed law that retroactively legalizes Israeli outposts. According to Israeli activist group Machsomwatch, a volunteer organization of Israeli women that monitors checkpoints and the separation wall, there are currently 11 settlers — including one soldier — living in the outpost, located adjacent to the Umm Zuka Nature Reserve. Two caravans have already been erected next to a large water tank. Machsomwatch has submitted a complaint to the Civil Administration. According to the organization, two additional illegal outposts were established nearly three months ago in the northern area of the Jordan Valley. The new outpost is still in initial stages. It is located next to Route 5788, and according to eye witnesses, there are three adults, eight teenagers, and one soldier currently living there. The teenagers, who work as shepherds, carry weapons, though it is unclear whether they have a license to do so. Palestinians who live in the area told Machsomwatch activists that they own over seven acres of the nature reserve’s land, yet the IDF does not allow them to enter. Palestinian shepherds in the area described how the teens of the outpost took over their land, kicking them out at gunpoint. According to Dafna Banai, a Machsomwatch activist: “We were driving on a regular patrol when we were shocked to discover that under the IDF’s nose settlers built an illegal outpost. It is staggering and angering to discover that a soldier in uniform is taking part in building the outpost — and the IDF is not intervening and does not prevent this dangerous, irresponsible injustice from taking place.”….
Israeli forces deliver land confiscation notices in Ramallah-area village
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 11 Feb — Israeli forces delivered confiscation notices on Friday for 275 dunams (69 acres) of private Palestinian land on the outskirts of the village of Beituniya in the western part of the occupied West Bank district of Ramallah. Official Palestinian news agency Wafa reported that farmers from the villages of Beit Ur al-Tahta and Beit Ur al-Fuqa found notices in the fields where Israeli forces had seemingly scattered them around. The notices reportedly read that the lands would be confiscated for “urgent military purposes.” The notices, according to Wafa, were found near an Israeli military checkpoint on Route 443 west of Ramallah. A spokesperson from COGAT, the Israeli agency responsible for implementing Israeli policies in the occupied Palestinian territory, was not immediately available for comment. According to the Applied Research Institute – Jerusalem (ARIJ), at least 60 percent of the village is under threat of confiscation and isolation owing to the construction of Israel’s separation wall. The land confiscated by Israeli authorities has been repurposed for the construction of illegal Israeli settlements, ARIJ said….
Israel issues stop-construction orders for homes in Jordan Valley
JORDAN VALLEY (WAFA) 12 Feb – Israeli forces Sunday issued stop construction orders for 16 structures in the area of Hemsa al-Fuqa in the Jordan Valley, local sources said. Mutaz Bsharat, who monitors developments in the Jordan Valley, told WAFA that the targeted structures include residential homes. He added that the notices’ deadlines are on February 26th, noting that these structures include seven families and are owned by Abu Kabbash family.
Solidarity / BDS
Opinion: Israel’s shining stars of conscience: its conscientious objectors / Odeh Bisharat
Haaretz 6 Feb — Three young women prefer to be behind bars than be part of an occupation that embitters Palestinian lives — The Israeli army transferred two conscientious objectors after a support rally for this weekend was planned outside the jail they are being held in. The protest in support of Tamar Alon and Tamar Ze’evi, two 18-year-old refuseniks, was planned for Saturday. The rally was slated to take place outside the army’s infamous Prison Six, one of two holding facilities where the Israel Defense Forces jails soldiers. However, the two received transfer orders on Thursday and were moved to the army’s second military prison – Prison Four in central Israel. The two received no information as to why they were being transferred, but on Sunday, when they were transferred back to Prison Six, it became clear that it was due to the support rally. Yesh Gvul and Mesarvot, who organized the support rally, followed suit and relocated the event to the new location. “These [two young women] refuse to serve and we support their refusal. We protest their arrests and the attempt to force them to serve an oppression which is contrary to their values,” the group said in the updated invitation to the protest. Both Alon and Ze’evi have been jailed for about a month and a half for their refusal to enlist in the IDF. According to the two, they were told that they would be moved every time a support rally is planned. Mesarvot, an NGO that supports female conscientious objectors, said the frequent transfers are part of an attempt to break their spirits. Tair Kaminer, a former refusenik, was also moved around due to protests in her support.
Exclusive: UN set to defer report on companies with Israeli settlement ties
GENEVA 10 Feb by Stephanie Nebehay — A United Nations report on establishing a database of companies with business interests in Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank is set to be delayed until later this year, diplomats and activists said on Friday. The U.N. human rights office had been due to present its first report on the politically charged issue at a session that opens on Feb. 27, which Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas is also due to address. But the report is not ready and will be deferred for many months, at least until September, the sources said, adding that an announcement was expected on Monday. “There is a need for more time, it is a very complex issue,” a Western diplomat told Reuters. “You need to have a clear vision of how you list the companies, what is the exact criteria.” The issue is sensitive because companies appearing in such a database could be targeted for boycotts or divestment aimed at stepping up pressure on Israel over its West Bank settlements. Goods produced there include fruit, vegetables and wine. Israel assailed the U.N. Human Rights Council last March for launching the initiative, calling the database a “blacklist” and accusing the 47-member state forum of behaving “obsessively” against Israel.
2 NFL stars pull out of Israel government publicity trip
Times of Israel 11 Feb by Gavin Rabinowitz — Michael Bennett, Kenny Stills quit Holy Land tour, say they don’t want to be ‘used’ by the Israeli government — Two top US National Football League players have pulled out of publicity trip to Israel, saying that they do not want to be “used” by the Israeli government. Seahawks defensive end Michael Bennett was the first to pull out of the trip planned for 12 football stars to tour Israel, including stops at Rambam hospital, Yad Vashem, and Jordan River’s Yardenit baptismal site. Bennett first tweeted a picture of Martin Luther King Jr., saying “Im not going to Israel.” He then followed it with a long letter late Friday explaining his motivation. “I was excited to see this remarkable and historic part of the world with my own eyes. I was not aware until reading this article about the trip in The Times of Israel that my itinerary was being constructed by the Israeli government for the purposes of making me, in the words of a government official, an ‘influencer and opinion-former’ who would then be ‘an ambassador of good will.’” “I will not be used in such a manner,” Bennett said. “When I go to Israel — and I do plan to go — it will be to see not only Israel but also the West Bank and Gaza so I can see how the Palestinians, who have called this land home for thousands of years, live their lives.” After he published the letter, Miami Dolphins wide receiver Kenny Stills retweeted Bennett, saying “Couldn’t have said it any better. I’m in!” Bennett noted in his letter that one of his heroes was Muhammad Ali, who ”always stood strongly with the Palestinian people,” and said that he wants to be a “voice for the voiceless.”….
Weekly report on Israeli human rights violations in the occupied Palestinian territory (02-08 Feb 2017)
PCHR-Gaza — 5 Palestinian civilians, including 4 children, were wounded in the West Bank and Gaza Strip Israeli warplanes carried out 4 airstrikes against civilian objects and sites related to the Palestinian armed groups. A poultry farm was destroyed, resulting in the death of 5,000 birds and partial damages to another farm. Three training sites were destroyed. Israeli forces continued to target Palestinian fishermen in the Gaza Sea. Israeli forces continued to target the Gaza Strip border areas, but no casualties were reported. A watchtower belonging to Palestinian armed groups sustained damages, east of al-Maghazi. Israeli forces conducted 79 incursions into Palestinian communities in the West Bank, and one limited incursion in the northern Gaza Strip. 59 civilians, including 2 women, were arrested in the West Bank. 22 of them were arrested in occupied Jerusalem. Israeli forces continued their efforts to create Jewish majority in occupied East Jerusalem. Two houses were destroyed in Beit Haninah neighbourhood, north of Jerusalem. Settlement activities continued in the West Bank. Two residential tents, 3 livestock barns in addition to 3 attached structures were destroyed in the Northern Jordan Valley. Settlers uprooted 700 olive almond trees from the lands of Barqah village, northwest of Nablus. Israeli forces turned the West Bank into cantons and continued to impose the illegal closure on the Gaza Strip for the 10th year. Dozens of temporary checkpoints were established in the West Bank and others were re-established to obstruct the movement of Palestinian civilians. 8 Palestinian civilians were arrested at military checkpoints. [Details of these events follow]
US blocks appointment of former Palestinian PM as UN envoy to Libya
AFP 11 Feb — The United States on Friday blocked the appointment of former Palestinian Authority prime minister Salam Fayyad to be the new UN envoy to Libya. US Ambassador Nikki Haley said in a statement that she did not “support the signal this appointment would send within the United Nations” where the state of Palestine does not have full membership. UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres had informed the Security Council this week of his intention to name Fayyad to lead the UN support mission in Libya and help broker talks on a faltering political deal. Haley said the United States was “disappointed” to see the letter from Guterres, his first appointment of an envoy to a major conflict area. “For too long the UN has been unfairly biased in favor of the Palestinian Authority to the detriment of our allies in Israel,” said the US ambassador. “Going forward, the United States will act, not just talk, in support of our allies.” The UN chief had given the council until late Friday to consider the choice, and the United States came forward to raise objections. Fayyad, 64, was prime minister of the Palestinian Authority from 2007 to 2013, and also served as finance minister twice. He had been tapped to replace Martin Kobler of Germany, who has been the Libya envoy since November 2015….
PLO: US objection to Fayyad’s appointment to UN post ‘blatant discrimination’
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 11 Feb — The Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) slammed the United States for objecting to a proposal by the United Nations to appoint former Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad to head a UN mission, calling the move “a case of blatant discrimination on the basis of national identity.” After learning of a plan by United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to appoint Fayyad to lead the UN political mission in Libya, US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley said on Friday that the US was “disappointed,” claiming the move showed bias against US ally Israel. “For too long the UN has been unfairly biased in favor of the Palestinian Authority to the detriment of our allies in Israel,” Haley said, noting that the US does not recognize a Palestinian state nor does it “support the signal this appointment would send to the United Nations.” Palestine is a non-member observer state at the UN and its independence has been recognized by 137 of the 193 UN member nations. The United Nations Security Council released a statement on their website on Saturday defending the proposal to appoint Fayyad, saying it was “solely based on Mr. Fayyad’s recognized personal qualities and his competence for that position.” “United Nations staff serve strictly in their personal capacity. They do not represent any government or country,” the statement explained. The UNSC statement also noted that “no Israeli and no Palestinian have served in a post of high responsibility at the United Nations. This is a situation that the Secretary-General feels should be corrected, always based on personal merit and competencies of potential candidates for specific posts.” It remained unclear whether or not the US objection had ended Fayyad’s candidacy for the post….
‘Anti-Israeli’: US move against ex-Palestinian premier baffles veteran American officials
Haaretz 12 Feb by Amir Tibon [article not behind Haaretz’s paywall] — Former American officials who served under both Obama and Bush criticized President Donald Trump’s administration for blocking the appointment of former Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad as the head of the UN’s mission in Libya, calling the move ignorant, counter-productive and even anti-Israeli. Robert Danin, a former deputy assistant secretary of state and a member of George W. Bush’s National Security Council tweeted a picture of President Bush with Fayyad in the Oval Office and tagged Trump’s UN ambassador, Nikki Hailey. “@NikkiHaley: President Bush and the man you just threw under the bus,” the tweet read. In a second tweet, Danin attached a photo of Fayyad and former President Shimon Peres, writing, “@NikkiHaley: This is the Palestinian patriot you just attacked.” Fayyad, who holds a PhD in economics from the University of Texas, was a favorite of the Bush administration and particularly well-liked by the Texan president. In another tweet, Danin said that the decision to block Fayyad’s appointment was “simply shocking, as the past two American presidents and three Israeli prime ministers would acknowledge.” Martin Indyk, a former envoy for the Israeli-Palestinian negotiations and a two-time ambassador to Israel who served under the Obama and the Clinton administrations said that Fayyad was a Palestinian partner for Israel and added that heading the mission to Libya “has nothing to do with Israel.” … Susan Rice, Obama’s national security adviser and UN ambassador didn’t mince words either. “Are all Palestinians precluded from serving the UN?,” she wrote in a tweet. “This statement is ignorant, offensive, counterproductive,” she added and posted a link to Haley’s official statement on the vote. Rice called Fayyad “first rate” and added that the UN “would be lucky to have him in Libya or anywhere else.”
Palestinian intelligence chief met with US officials
IMEMC/Agencies 10 Feb — Palestinian chief of intelligence Majed Faraj has reportedly met with US security and intelligence officials in Washington, in the first meetings between the Palestinians and the Trump administration. High-level Palestinian sources told the PNN that the meeting was “good” and took place in a positive atmosphere, and that it came upon US request. An American official reported to the Associated Press, on Thursday, that the intelligence chief met with top US security officials over the past two days. The meeting also comes just prior to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s arrival to the White House for a scheduled sit down with the US President Donald Trump, on February 15. Palestinians have previously raised concerns of being “sidelined” by the US president, who has adopted an outwardly favorable stance towards Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.http://imemc.org/article/palestinian-intelligence-chief-met-with-us-officials/
Trump speaks out against Israeli settlements
JERUSALEM (AP) 10 Feb — An Israeli newspaper quoted President Donald Trump on Friday as saying that settlement expansion in land claimed by the Palestinians does not advance peace, indicating there might be some difficult discussions on the topic in a high profile White House meeting with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu next week. Netanyahu has been on a settlement construction binge since Trump took office, apparently believing the new administration would be far more lenient on the settlements than his predecessor. But in an interview with a pro-Netanyahu daily published Friday, Trump said: “They (settlements) don’t help the process. I can say that. There is so much land left. And every time you take land for settlements, there is less land left. But we are looking at that, and we are looking at some other options we’ll see. But no, I am not somebody that believes that going forward with these settlements is a good thing for peace.” The remarks came in a Trump interview with Yisrael Hayom, a free newspaper financed by American billionaire and Netanyahu backer Sheldon Adelson a few days before the prime minister visits the White House. The two leaders are scheduled to meet at the White House on Feb. 15.
Canadian government, Prime Minister inaugurate new Tulkarem courthouse facility
TULKAREM (WAFA) 10 Feb – Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah, Global Affairs Canada and the High Judicial Council Thursday joined Tulkarem Governorate officials and community members to inaugurate the newly operated courthouse facility. According to a press release from the Canadian government, Global Affairs Canada provided $19.3 million (Canadian) for the construction and equipping of the Tulkarem Courthouse. The newly constructed 8,900 square meter courthouse has been designed, constructed and equipped based on best practices and international standards of safety, functionality and accessibility. To enhance the security of all parties, judges, the public and the accused, have separate access points and corridors for movement. To ensure the sustainability of the new courthouse, Canada is also supporting capacity building in facility management and court administration. The new facility will contribute to the improvement of effectiveness and efficiency of the judiciary in Tulkarem in delivering services to the public, and thus continue to enhancing public trust in the justice system.
Palestinian singles find love through matchmaking service
RAMALLAH, West Bank (Al-Monitor) 10 Feb by Ahmad Melhem — Although a marriage matchmaking service is a novel idea for the traditional Palestinian society, a new center in Ramallah that matches couples has no problem finding clients — At Al-Amal Marriage Center, which opened in December 2016 in Ramallah, Amal Kokash Abu Hijleh spends eight hours a day in her office taking requests from men and women searching for a spouse. Al-Amal Center is a marriage matchmaking service. Abu Hijleh, 45, matches couples by relying on her extensive social contacts, as she is the former mayor of Deir Istiya in Salfit governorate and a social worker. She has been a wedding videographer for 20 years. Al-Monitor visited Al-Amal Center and met with Abu Hijleh, who explained why she opened the center. She said, ”Whenever I film weddings, women ask me to use my social network to find spouses for their sons, so I decided to start a matchmaking service. I also like helping older men find a spouse since their chances of meeting someone decreases with age.” Traditional marriage (a marriage arranged by the parents without the couple having a prior relationship) is very common in the Palestinian territories. Abu Hijleh emphasized that her main aim is helping women find a spouse, saying, “In our society men could be 40 years old before deciding to marry, and when they do decide they choose girls who are much younger. On the other hand, the chances of a 30-year-old woman finding a husband are slim.”….
Nablus’ only oud maker keeps city in tune
NABLUS, West Bank (Al-Monitor) 7 Feb by Ahmed el-Komi — Through a long career dedicated to the oud [al-‘oud], Ali Hassanein has a unique perspective of the ancient and treasured Arab musical instrument — In a small workshop in the old city of Nablus in the West Bank, Ali Hassanein, 56, has been busy for 60 days manufacturing an oud. Hassanein is the only oud maker in Nablus, and citizens from there and neighboring cities head to his workshop to buy ouds and have their own instruments restored and repaired. The oud, which is also Arabic for “wood,” is a pear-shaped stringed instrument. Considered one of the oldest man-made musical instruments, dating back more than 5,000 years, it is one of the most popular instruments in Middle Eastern music. Hassanein told Al-Monitor that he started playing the oud when he was 12 years old. He was first taught by his father and went on to study with other musicians in Nablus. When his small oud needed repair, he was unable to find anyone in the West Bank to help him fix it. He thought of traveling to get his oud fixed, but finally succeeded in doing it himself. That was when he decided to start manufacturing and fix them for others. He began manufacturing these musical instruments in 1993….