Rasmea Odeh accepts a plea agreement with no prison time
Samidoun 23 Mar — Rasmea Odeh, the 69-year old Palestinian American community leader who was tortured and sexually assaulted by the Israeli military in 1969, is bringing to a close her battle to win justice from the U.S. legal system. After living in this country for over 20 years, Rasmea was charged in 2013 with an immigration violation that was always just a pretext for a broader attempt to criminalize the Palestine liberation movement. She has spent the last three and a half years leading a powerful battle to resist this attack, joined by hundreds of supporters for every court appearance, and thousands of supporters across the country and the world. However, the prospects for a fair trial are slimmer than ever … Under this current, racist political climate, and facing 18 months or more of imprisonment, as well as the possibility of indefinite detention by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), Rasmea has made the difficult decision to accept a plea agreement. She will plead guilty to Unlawful Procurement of Naturalization, lose her U.S. citizenship, and be forced to leave the country, but will exit the U.S. without having to serve any more time in prison or ICE detention, a victory, considering that the government had earlier fought for a sentence of 5-7 years….
Weekly report on Israeli human rights violations in the occupied Palestinian territory (16-22 March)
PCHR-Gaza 23 Mar — Israeli forces killed 2 Palestinian children in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. 3 civilians, including a child, and 2 Israeli activists, were wounded. Israeli warplanes targeted two training sites for the Palestinian armed groups in the Gaza Strip, but no casualties were reported. House Demolitions on grounds of collective punishment. Israeli forces closed with cement the family house of Fadi Qunbor in al-Mukaber Mount, southeast of occupied Jerusalem. Israeli forces continued to target the border areas in the Gaza Strip, resulting in the death of 4 sheep. Israeli forces conducted 70 incursions into Palestinian communities in the West Bank and a limited one was conducted in the southern Gaza Strip. 58 civilians, including 8 children, were arrested in the West Bank. 5 of them, including 3 children, were arrested in occupied Jerusalem and its suburbs. Among those arrested was a PLC Member. Israeli forces continued their efforts to create Jewish majority in occupied East Jerusalem. Two barracks for livestock and horses were demolished. Israeli forces continued their settlement activities in the West Bank. Israeli settlers uprooted 75 olive seedlings, south of Nablus. Israeli forces continued to target Palestinian fishermen in the Gaza Strip Sea. 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. 6 Palestinian civilians, including a child, were arrested at military checkpoints in the West Bank. [Details follow]
David Friedman approved as US ambassador to Israel
Al Jazeera 23 Mar — The US Senate has approved the appointment of President Donald Trump’s former bankruptcy lawyer, a supporter of Israeli settlement building, as Washington’s ambassador to Israel. Trump’s nomination of David Friedman had raised concerns about America’s commitment to a two-state Middle East peace deal. But Friedman apologised to lawmakers for his past harsh language at a confirmation hearing last month, and the Senate approved him on Thursday by a margin of 52 to 46. Two of the chamber’s 52 Republicans did not vote and two of the 48 Democrats voted against their camp to approve Friedman … Before becoming the ambassadorial nominee, Friedman was known as a vocal supporter of Israeli causes, including the building of illegal settlements on Palestinian land in Jerusalem and the occupied West Bank … Israeli daily Haaretz revealed recently that he was a donor to the American branch of Ateret Cohanim, a far-right Israeli group that settles Jews in key locations in East Jerusalem, and especially around al-Aqsa, the most sensitive Islamic site in the region. He is also the president of American Friends of Beit El Institutions, which raises millions of dollars each year for a settlement close to the Palestinian city of Ramallah. He has clashed with American Jewish progressive groups, notably dubbing liberals “worse than kapos,” a reference to Jewish collaborators who worked as guards in Nazi prison camps. He has also dismissed the two-state solution – the vision of an end to the conflict in which Israel and a future Palestine live side-by-side within agreed borders….
Poll: Half of West Bank youth support two-state solution
JPost 21 Mar by Adam Rasgon — Palestinian youth in the West Bank are split down the middle between those who support and those who oppose the two-state solution, a new poll found. 7.4 percent of West Bank Palestinian youth said they back a two-state solution, whereas 47.7 percent said they oppose it. The poll of 650 West Bank Palestinians between the ages of 18-30 was conducted February 1-5 by Arab World for Research and Development (AWRAD), a Ramallah-based research and polling institute. http://www.jpost.com/Arab-Israeli-Conflict/Poll-Half-of-West-Bank-youth-support-two-state-solution-484819
More Palestinians in Jerusalem seek Israeli citizenship
JERUSALEM (AP) 22 Mar by Karin Laub & Mohammed Daraghmeh — More Palestinians in east Jerusalem are applying for Israeli citizenship in hopes of swapping their vulnerable status as mere city residents for the rights and ease of travel that come with an Israeli passport. But after long touting its offer of citizenship to them, Israel is now dragging its feet in granting it, said those who track Palestinian applicants. Lawyers said their Palestinian clients now wait months for an appointment with the Interior Ministry and an average of three years for a decision. Israeli officials denied they were trying to discourage applications through stalling tactics, saying delays resulted from a rise in the number of requests. The citizenship debate reflects the unsettled status of Jerusalem’s 330,000 Palestinians — who make up 37 percent of the city’s population — 50 years after Israel captured and annexed the eastern sector. The vast majority have city residency documents, allowing them to work and move about, but aren’t citizens of any country. For travel abroad, they use temporary documents issued by Israel or Jordan. Asking for an Israeli passport still carries the stigma of implied acceptance of Israeli control, and only about 15,000 Palestinians have requested one since 2003, according to the Interior Ministry, which did not provide early figures. Of those, fewer than 6,000 were reportedly approved. Some polls have indicated the actual number of Palestinians interested in Israeli citizenship is actually larger, mainly because of the practical benefits they can derive….
New Israeli law allows revocation of citizenship for nationals living overseas
Palestine Chronicle 21 Mar — Adalah, the Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel and the Association or Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI) issued a statement in response to a newly approved law, which allows Israeli courts “to prevent citizens living outside the country from returning home if the state has a ‘concern’ that their return would allegedly endanger Israeli national security.” The statement noted that the right to citizenship has become a target for the Israeli Knesset, which essentially targets Arab citizens of Israel. “The right to citizenship has itself become a target in the state’s vindictive efforts to threaten the status of Arab citizens. The Knesset has chosen to inflict severe harm to this most basic of rights.” The Israeli claim to the new law is that these citizens constitute a danger to the security of the state, noting that “The law allows revocation of citizenship based on unproven and speculative ‘concern’ that state security might be threatened, without having to present any actual evidence to the individual in question.” ….
Ex-Mossad chief says occupation is Israel’s only existential threat
Haaretz 22 Mar by Gili Cohen — Former Mossad chief Tamir Pardo asserted on Tuesday that the Israeli occupation and the conflict with the Palestinians are the only existential threat facing Israel. “Israel has chosen not to choose, hoping the conflict will resolve itself – perhaps the Arabs will disappear, maybe some cosmic miracle will happen,” Pardo told a conference at the Netanya Academic College. “One day we will become a binational state because it will be impossible to untie the Gordian knot between the two peoples. That is not the way to decide.” Pardo stated: “Israel has one existential threat. It is a ticking time bomb. We chose to stick our head in the sand, creating a variety of external threats. An almost identical number of Jews and Muslims reside between the sea and the Jordan. The non-Jewish residents of Judea and Samaria live under occupation. This is Israel’s definition, not mine. The law in this territory is as we have made it, a military justice system that is subject to the authority of the Israel Defense Forces.” He said that despite the full withdrawal from Gaza, responsibility for the territory remains in Israel’s hands. “Israel is responsible for the humanitarian situation, and this is the place with the biggest problem in the world today,” he said….
‘Ball in Israeli court,’ says Palestinian FA chief
ZURICH (AFP) 23 Mar — Palestinian football chief Jibril Rajoub insisted on Thursday the ball is now in Israel’s court after a meeting at FIFA headquarters to discuss Israeli clubs playing in the occupied West Bank. Palestinians argue that the presence of six Israeli football clubs playing on land containing settlements seen as illegal under international law is in breach of FIFA statutes. On Wednesday a special committee under the presidency of South African official Tokyo Sexwale met at FIFA headquarters along with Rajoub and Israeli counterpart Ofer Eini. Sexwale presented a “draft final report containing specific recommendations”, FIFA said, adding that the parties will “come back” to him before he submits his final report to the FIFA Congress in May in Bahrain. “I don’t think that there will be any kind of agreement (in Bahrain),” Rajoub told AFP. “The question (is) whether the Israelis are going to abide and respect (international law and FIFA’s statutes) or they want to continue bullying like the bully of the neighbourhood — it is up to them, the ball is in their court….
Palestinians mourn Irish politician Martin McGuinness
RAMALLAH (WAFA) 22 Mar – Palestinian officials Wednesday mourned the passing of Sinn Fein politician and former deputy First Minister of Northern Ireland Martin McGuinness. Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) Executive Committee members Saeb Erekat and Hanan Ashrawi expressed in two different statements the Palestinian people and leadership’s heartfelt condolences over the departure of McGuinness, who was described as “a symbol of the just cause of the Irish people.”“Martin symbolized the Irish quest for a just and lasting peace, fulfilling the national rights of the Irish people, and achieving a just and lasting peace,” said Erekat, the PLO’s secretary general. “Our late comrade Martin always reassured the Palestinian people of the constant support of the Sinn Fein, and his personal commitment for the fulfilment of the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people. His passing will be an irreparable loss to all those who struggle for social justice, peace and freedom from oppression and injustice,” he said….
Opinion // Israel’s cowardly new broadcaster / Janan Bsoul
Haaretz 22 Mar — The suspension of Samah Watad proves that Israeli society is unable to embrace the complex experience of Palestinians who are Israeli citizens — Last week, Samah Wattad was suspended from her job with the new public broadcasting corporation, Kan, after she shared a tweet about Basil al-Araj, a writer and Palestinian activist who opposed the occupation and was killed in an exchange of fire with Israel Defense Force soldiers near Ramallah. (The IDF claimed he headed a terrorist cell.) The tweet in question included only a picture of al-Araj with a quote from one of his writings, but whether her sharing was an expression of support or not (Wattad said she rejects violence on any side) – the fierce and aggressive response by the broadcasting corporation to the content of the tweet is of much more interest. The tweet and the sharing of it express something that Israeli society refuses to internalize: Palestinians who are citizens of Israel have a natural and legitimate connection with the Palestinian narrative and with opposition to the occupation because of the personal history of each and every one of us, and not out of some fictitious thirst for blood. The wound of the Nakba and the expulsion of hundreds of thousands that occurred during it in 1947-49 is still bleeding, many of our grandparents who were present during the Nakba are still alive, and a large number of us are direct descendants of refugees, in the simplest and most direct meaning of that term. But this connection, which is built on our and our parents’ emotional and personal experiences, is unbearable in the eyes of the Israeli hegemony, which is trying with all its might to defend itself from the “Arab threat” through a dichotomous attitude toward it: An Arab is either good and loyal, or a “terrorist.” Israeli society – and this apparently also includes the seemingly elitist and left-wing media – cannot contain the ideological and moral complexity in which the Palestinian citizens of Israel live. The automatic suspension of Watad only proves this once again….
Opinion // Twisting the knife and calling the twisting a solution / Amira Hass
Haaretz 22 Mar — At any given moment there is an Israeli somewhere, exercising his status, power and authority to worsen the condition of some Palestinian, or a few of them, or all of them. Some take pleasure in this while others do it out of inertia, unaware of what they are doing. Most are obeying orders while others invent them. They are civilians and soldiers, men and women, adults and minors, coming from every social class, ethnic community and military rank. There are those who think it is only natural to make things worse for a Palestinian, and over the years their numbers have swelled. This is the order of things that they were born into and they protect it and nurture it. And the rest? Going through our lives, ranging from reasonable to very comfortable ones, we are all collaborators. Even the few among us who try to employ their privileges to combat this regime of privileges are involuntary accomplices of the system. Call it apartheid, call it colonialism or democracy for Jews. The definitions aren’t really important. The monstrous thing is that there isn’t a moment in which millions of Israeli Jews (and a significant number of Druze) are not involved in this abuse … No intelligence warning by the head of the Shin Bet security service or the coordinator of government activities in the territories is worth a damn it if doesn’t take into account the density of evil and the worsening of this evil that we, masses of Israelis, inflict at any given moment. No intelligence warning is worth the salaries invested in producing it if it doesn’t address the basic question: What is our power structure (government, bureaucracy and civilian population) inflicting on the Palestinians as individuals and as a people? … Over the weekend thousands of Palestinians, mainly young people, took part in two funerals: one in Al-Walaja, where 33-year-old Basil al-Araj was buried after being killed by soldiers and Border Policemen in Al-Bireh on March 6, the other for 16-year-old Murad Abu-Ghazi from the Al-Aroub refugee camp, killed by soldiers on Friday. The manufacturers of intelligence warnings, like all Israelis, disconnect these victims from their own reality, from our system of organized sadism that drives them to choose the path of asymmetrical confrontation, personal confrontation, amateurish, pitting themselves against armed soldiers of a global military power….
Violence / Detentions — West Bank / Jerusalem
1 Palestinian teen killed, 3 critically injured after Israeli forces open fire on vehicle
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 23 Mar — A Palestinian youth was killed and three others were critically injured Thursday evening after Israeli forces opened fire on a Palestinian vehicle near the al-Jalazun refugee camp north of Ramallah city in the central occupied West Bank. Ambulances of the Palestinian Red Crescent Society transferred the four youths, all residents of al-Jalazun camp, to the Ramallah Government Hospital, where one was pronounced dead. Ma‘an previously reported based on reports from medical officials at the hospital that a second teen succumbed to wounds, thought the ministry later clarified that while three were still undergoing surgery, only one teen had been pronounced dead. The Palestinian Ministry of Health identified one of the slain Palestinians as 17-year-old Muhammad Mahmoud Ibrahim al-Hattab, who was shot in the chest and shoulder. The ministry identified the three injured as 18-year-old Jassem Muhammed Nakhla, who was shot in the head and foot, 18-year-old Muhammad Hattab, who was shot in the abdomen, and 18-year-old Muhammed Musa Nakhla, who was shot in the foot and shoulder. The three remained in critical condition.
Local sources told Ma‘an that Israeli soldiers fired heavily at the the vehicle while the teens were inside, from military tower near the entrance of the camp. An Israeli army spokesperson told Ma‘an that “three suspects exited a vehicle adjacent to the community of Beit El,” referring to the illegal Israeli settlement adjacent to al-Jalazun, ” where the suspects threw firebombs at the community. In response to the threat Israeli forces in the area fired towards the suspects, and several hits were confirmed. The suspects then fled the scene.” The spokesperson would not comment on reports that the teenagers were fired at while still inside the vehicle, or on reports that Israeli forces fired at the teens from a military watchtower. When questioned about how the teens could have re-entered their car and driven away from the scene after being injured with multiple rounds of live fire to the head and chest, the Israeli army spokesperson said she could not comment. In a video taken by locals at the scene, reportedly showing the car in which the teenagers were shot at, the car can be seen with shattered windows and multiple bullet holes in the car’s exterior, casting doubt on the Israeli army’s claims that the boys were shot while outside of the vehicle….[This excerpt comes from a long article, worth reading in its entirety]
Clashes erupt in Ramallah after Israeli forces kill 17-year-old Palestinian
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 14 Mar — Clashes erupted late Thursday night between locals of al-Jalazun refugee camp and Israeli forces who were deployed at the entrance of the illegal Israeli Beit El settlement in the central occupied West Bank district of Ramallah, shortly after Israeli forces shot and killed one Palestinian teenager, and critically injured three others in the same area. Israeli forces fired live fire, rubber-coated steel bullets, stun grenades, and tear gas at protesters, while Palestinian youth threw rocks and Molotov cocktails at soldiers. An Israeli army spokesperson said they were looking into reports. Meanwhile, protesters marched from the Ramallah Government Hospital, where the four teens were taken after they were shot, through main streets in Ramallah city, demanding all stores and shops close in mourning for the slain teen, 17-year-old Muhammad Mahmoud Ibrahim al-Hattab. Protesters called for uniting Palestinian factions “to respond to Israeli crimes against Palestinians.” Al-Hattab, who was shot in the chest and shoulder, succumbed to his wounds at the hospital, while 18-year-old Jassem Muhammed Nakhla, who was shot in the head and foot, 18-year-old Muhammad Hattab, who was shot in the abdomen, and 18-year-old Muhammed Musa Nakhla, who was shot in the foot and shoulder, remained in critical condition. Sources told Ma‘an that two of the three surviving teens were “brain dead,” though it remained unclear which two … Al- Hattab was the 15th Palestinian to be killed by Israeli forces this year, the majority of whom were shot and killed by Israeli army forces … Al-Hattab’s death marked the third time this year that Israeli forces fatally shot a Palestinian minor.
Video: Israeli officer beats Palestinian in Jerusalem
JERUSALEM (Al Jazeera) 24 Mar by Ibrahim Husseini — Officer suspended from duty after video emerges showing him violently assaulting Palestinian resident of East Jerusalem — An Israeli policeman was caught on video on Thursday physically assaulting a Palestinian in the occupied East Jerusalem neighbourhood of Wadi el-Joz. The video shows a plainclothes police officer agressively confronting a Palestinian truck driver – later identified as 50-year-old Mazen Shweiki – after the latter hit the officer’s car. The verbal confrontation quickly turns physical. In the span of two minutes, the officer headbutts, slaps, punches, knees and kicks Shweiki. Shweiki was hospitalised overnight on Thursday and treated for four broken ribs and severe dizziness, his wife, Umm Rafaat, told Al Jazeera. We are definitely going to sue that policeman,” she said. The video of the assault went viral.
“I was heading to work in my truck, which was parked in the Ministry of Interior’s parking lot in Wadi Joz as usual this morning, when I was surprised by an Israeli special force officer who headed towards me and asked me: ‘Why did you hit my car?'” Shweiki, a resident of East Jerusalem, told local media. Swheiki, a father of seven, said he accidentally hit the officer’s car in the parking lot on Tuesday, and had searched for the owner to help repair it, but had been unable to find him. Ahmad Teibi [Tibi], a Palestinian member of the Israeli parliament, contacted the Israeli minister of public security and the Israeli police chief to inquire about the matter. Gilad Erdan, the Israeli minister for public security, later informed Teibi the police officer was put on forced leave and would be investigated. The Israel police released a statement calling the policeman’s conduct “grave and unusual”. The officer’s identity has not been released. He reportedly is part of a special undercover unit within the Israeli police called “Yasam”, which is tasked with riot control … Rami Othman, a Palestinian lawyer who helped file a complaint, told Al Jazeera had the incident not been caught on video, the Israeli police would likely have sided with the officer….
Several Palestinians injured in Bethlehem after Israeli soldiers assaulted nonviolent protesters
IMEMC 23 Mar — Several Palestinians were shot with rubber-coated steel bullets, and many others suffered the effects of teargas inhalation, Wednesday, after Israeli soldiers attacked a nonviolent protest demanding Israel to return the bodies of four slain Palestinians. The procession, organized by several factions and various institutions in Bethlehem, started at the northern entrance of Bethlehem, close to the Annexation Wall, and was attended by dozens of Palestinians, including officials and the head of the Detainees Committee, Issa Qaraqe. It took place while the Israeli Supreme Court was holding a session to discuss an appeal filed by the “National Committee for Retrieving the Bodies of Martyrs,” demanding the release of the remains of four Palestinians, from Bethlehem district. The protesters carried signs, and chanted slogans, demanding the immediate release of the remains, and to void Israeli decisions holding them captive, as a measure of collective punishment against their families.
Israeli Supreme Court once again rules not to release slain Palestinians’ bodies
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 22 Mar — The Israeli Supreme Court on Wednesday ruled not to release the bodies of Palestinians still held in Israeli morgues to their families for burial, shortly after a rally organized by relatives of the slain Palestinians was violently suppressed by Israeli forces in Bethlehem. The court also a rejected a petition by Israel’s general prosecution that requested that the four Palestinians, who died while carrying out attacks on Israelis, be buried in Israel’s “cemetery of numbers,” a series of mass graves comprised of marked and unmarked plots of mostly Palestinians killed by Israeli forces over the past 60 years. In January, Israel’s security cabinet said that the bodies of Palestinians allegedly affiliated to the Hamas movement would not be returned to their families, as Israel considers the bodies to be a bargaining chip that could be used in a future exchange deal with Hamas, the de facto ruling party of the besieged Gaza Strip, where the bodies of two Israeli soldiers are believed to be held. According to lawyer Muhammad Mahmoud, who was present at the court hearing, the Supreme Court rejected the state’s order because the claim that the bodies could be used in such a deal was “unconvincing.” The court gave the Israeli prosecution 45 days to again justify the state’s reasoning for continuing to detain the four [five] bodies — those of Abd al-Hamid Abu Srour, Muhammad al-Faqih, Muhammad Tarayra, Rami Awartani, and Misbah Abu Sbeih — which have been held for 11 months, eight months, seven months, seven months, and five months, respectively. As the court ruled to reject both the request to return the bodies to their families for burial and to bury them in the cemetery of numbers, it remained unclear what outcome the court envisaged for the case. Israel has also continued to hold the body of Fadi al-Qunbar, whose house was punitively sealed with cement on Wednesday, although he was not included in the case heard at the Supreme Court.
Video: Israeli forces drag 8-year-old Palestinian boy, wearing no shoes, looking for stone-throwers
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 23 Mar — A video published on Thursday by Israeli human rights NGO B’Tselem showed Israeli forces earlier this week in the southern occupied West Bank city of Hebron dragging an eight-year-old Palestinian boy, wearing only socks on his feet, through a neighborhood in the city in order to identify other children who allegedly threw stones and a Molotov cocktail at a nearby illegal Israeli settlement. The incident took place on March 19 around midday, according to a statement from B’Tselem, who identified the boy as Sufiyan Abu Hitah. “Hitah was wandering barefoot outside his house in Hebron looking for a toy he had lost, when a group of at least 15 soldiers seized him,” the statement said. The soldiers then grabbed the boy, who remained visibly distressed throughout the nearly three-minute-long video, “and dragged him to the al-Harika neighborhood, where they demanded that he point out children who had allegedly thrown stones and a Molotov cocktail at the Kiryat Arba settlement earlier on,” according to B’Tselem. In a detailed account of the events that day, B’Tselem wrote that Hitah had just arrived to his grandparents’ home upon realizing that he lost a toy that he had bought on the way. Despite his mother forbidding him from going outside, as she knew that soldiers were patrolling the area — a near-daily occurrence in Hebron — Hitah snuck outside to find his toy. Minutes later, neighborhood children were rushing to Hitah’s grandparent’s home to tell his mother, Amani, that soldiers had her son and were leading him towards the nearby illegal Israeli settlement of Kiryat Arba … When Amani pleaded with soldiers to return her son to her, soldiers refused, saying “if you want to get him back, convince him to tell us the names of the children who were throwing stones.” Despite her efforts to explain to soldiers that her and her son did not even live in the neighborhood, but were just visiting her parents, and that Sufiyan did not know the names of the neighborhood children, the soldiers ignored her and continued to drag her son by the arms. …“ Sufiyan was shaking with fear. I saw him talk to the soldiers and tell them that he doesn’t know anything, but it didn’t help,” Amani said, adding that soldiers dragged her son into the home of Muhammad al-Nahnush. “When they came out, about five minutes later, Sufiyan was crying. They didn’t arrest anyone in that house. I didn’t know whether they beat Sufiyan while they were in there, or what happened inside….
Gideon Levy // Israeli troops shoot Palestinian teen in the back amid firebomb plot
Haaretz 23 Mar by Gideon Levy & Alex Levac — Last Friday night [17 Mar], 17-year-old Murad Abu Razi went to a party celebrating the release of a resident of his refugee camp from Israeli prison, after 13 years. The party in honor of Ismail Farjoun, who had been let out that very day, was held in the clubhouse run by the popular committee at the Al-‘Arroub camp, which lies on the main road between Bethlehem and Hebron. It’s a crowded, hardscrabble place where happy events are few and far between. Perhaps that’s why so many people showed up to welcome the liberated prisoner home with sweets and cries of joy. Murad left the party in the early evening, accompanied by both his father, Yusuf, who has been hard of hearing since birth, and an uncle, Hassan, a retired teacher. Murad bade them farewell without saying where he was going. Not long afterward he was shot in the back and killed by an Israel Defense Forces soldier who had been lying in ambush. From the clubhouse, Murad had walked toward the camp’s western edge, which is delineated by a fence, toward Highway 60. There’s a permanent IDF post there – a fortified watchtower, concrete cubes that serve as roadblocks, and an almost constant presence of soldiers. Murad was joined by four more youths his age. They carried plastic bags that held improvised Molotov cocktails of their making … Fearing that Murad would get into trouble, [his older cousin] tried to persuade him – in vain – to go home. In the meantime, two members of the group left. Now they were three, approaching the fence. They took the firebombs out of the bags and placed them on the concrete cubes. Their plan was to throw them over the high fence that had been built years ago by the Israeli authorities in order to prevent stones and incendiary devices from being thrown at vehicles on the busy road. Parked on the other side of the fence at the time was an IDF jeep. In the dark of evening the youths didn’t notice the soldiers who were lying in ambush inside the camp. Suddenly, from a nearby abandoned tin shack with torn, perforated walls, soldiers sprang out. Spotting them, the three teens started to run toward the camp. The soldiers shot at them from behind as they fled. Murad was hit by a single bullet in the back. One of his friends, Seif Rushdi, was also hit, in one of his legs; he lost a great deal of blood, and is now in intensive care in Hebron’s Al-Ahli Hospital and could not be visited this week … Murad was shot at 8:40 P.M. on Friday, apparently from a distance of about 15-20 meters. He was obviously not endangering the soldiers as he fled. He managed to lunge forward after being shot, before he collapsed….
One day’s arrests
Israeli forces detain 19 Palestinians overnight, including MP, journalist, and young boy
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 23 Mar — Israeli forces detained at least 19 Palestinians — including a lawmaker, a journalist, and a 13-year-old boy — in overnight raids in the occupied West Bank and annexed East Jerusalem between Wednesday and Thursday, Palestinian and Israeli sources said.
Northern West Bank The Palestinian Prisoner’s Society (PPS) reported that Israeli forces detained Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC) member Ibrahim Dahbour from the village of ‘Arraba in the northern West Bank district of Jenin. At least four other Hamas MPs have been detained by Israeli forces since the beginning of the month.
In the Tulkarem district, PPS said that journalist Yousif al-Shalab was detained in the village of Attil, while Muthana Abdullah Sadla, 26, was detained in the village of ‘Anabta. An Israeli army spokesperson confirmed the two Tulkarem detentions, claiming that the two were “Hamas operatives.”
In the Nablus district, PPS reported the detention of Assim al-Shinar, 19, without specifying the municipality from which he was detained. The army spokesperson, meanwhile, told Ma’an that Israeli forces detained two Palestinians in the Balata refugee camp — where tensions have been running high between local fighters and Palestinian Authority (PA) security forces — as well as another detention elsewhere in the Nablus area.
Central West Bank and East Jerusalem In the district of Qalqiliya, PPS said that Israeli forces detained seven Palestinians — identifying them as Tahsin Daoud, Firas Abu Alba, Walid Jourani, Hamza Houtri, Nassim Houtri, Mamoun Rafiq Ishteiwi, and Nader Abd al-Rahim Omar. Popular resistance committee coordinator Murad Shteiwi told Ma’an that Ishteiwi, 40, and Omar, 27, were detained in the village of Kafr Qaddum.
In the Ramallah district village of Deir Nidham, locals said that Israeli forces detained 13-year-old Ragheb Muhammad Abd al-Rahman Tamimi at dawn. They added that Tamimi had recently undergone surgery and was still recovering from the unspecified procedure. PPS meanwhile stated that Bassam al-Qabr, 16, and Mazen Shweiki were detained in East Jerusalem.
However, it remained unclear whether PPS was referring to Mazen Rafaat Shweiki, a Jerusalemite who was assaulted by an Israeli police officer on Thursday morning, but not detained.
Southern West Bank PPS reported the detention of Murad Ali Asakra in the Bethlehem district. The army did not mention any detentions in the Bethlehem area. In the village of Taffuh in the Hebron district, PPS said that Israeli forces raided a blacksmith workshop in Taffuh and confiscated a lathe allegedly being used for manufacturing weapons. The army spokesperson meanwhile said that three Palestinians, two of whom they claimed were Hamas operatives, were detained in the city of Hebron.
Restriction of movement / Closures
Hebron schoolgirls denied entry to Jerusalem despite having permits
HEBRON (Ma‘an) 23 Mar — Israeli forces prevented Palestinian students from the Umm Salma primary school for girls in the village of Yatta, in the southern occupied West Bank district of Hebron, from entering Jerusalem for a school visit on Thursday, despite them having Israeli permits, locals told Ma‘an. The director of education in Yatta, Khalid Abu Sharar, condemned the move, saying it was part of Israel’s “vicious campaign against Palestinian students and education, aiming to separate Palestinian students from the holy city.” Head of public relations for education in Yatta Jibril al-Bababsa also condemned the move, noting that the students were all 12-year-old girls.
Israel closes Hebron-area crossroads in response to ‘increased stone-throwing’ in the area
HEBRON (Ma‘an) 23 Mar — Israeli authorities Thursday closed entrances of the Beit Einun crossroads in the northern part of the Hebron district, located in the southern occupied West Bank. Locals told Ma‘an that Israeli forces closed various entrances of the crossroads with iron gates, preventing vehicles from passing through the crossroads, which connects Hebron with the town of Sair. The closure reportedly came upon an order by the Israeli military commander of the area who cited an increase of rock-throwing in the area.
Israel shuts down Arab primary school in East Jerusalem
SUR BAHER, occupied East Jerusalem (Al Jazeera) 23 Mar by Nigel Wilson — Perched on a stool in his mother’s shop, Mohammad Jadallah recited the homemade study plans he has used since his school was closed down by the Israeli Ministry of Education. “I study science and maths. English is my favourite subject,” said the 10-year-old fourth-grader, spelling out his name and grade on a loose sheet of paper. The closure of al-Nukhba school in the occupied East Jerusalem neighbourhood of Sur Baher has left the parents of the 230 children it served in a predicament .In the month since the school was shuttered, Mohammad has spent most of his time at home alone, studying textbooks and checking the school’s Facebook page for news. His mother Myasser, who runs a local optician’s shop, has become concerned that a prolonged closure could damage his educational prospects … On February 23, the Israeli Ministry of Education forced the closure of al-Nukhba school, after a months-long investigation by Israel’s intelligence services and Jerusalem police. The ministry alleged that the school was affiliated with the Hamas movement, which is banned in Israel, and that it aimed to teach content that would undermine the Israeli state … School administrators and parents remain adamant that the school should be reopened. Teachers and students have held classes on the street outside the school building, and also in the square in front of the local municipal offices, in an effort to protest the closure … Myasser Jadallah says that the quality of education provided at Nukhba is the key reason she wants her son to remain there. The Hebrew language is taught from the second grade, earlier than in most Jerusalem schools that follow the Palestinian curriculum, as are ethics and logic. There are also swimming lessons and a science fiction class.
Punitive home destruction
Israel punitively seals Jabal al-Mukabbir home with concrete, displacing 5 Palestinians
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 22 Mar — Israeli forces punitively sealed a Palestinian home in the occupied East Jerusalem neighborhood of Jabal al-Mukabbir on Wednesday morning by pouring concrete inside the house, displacing five Palestinians — including four children — as a result. The house belonged to the family of Fadi al-Qunbar, who was shot dead by Israeli forces in January after he drove a truck into a group of Israeli soldiers, killing four. Israeli special forces, police, and intelligence officers were heavily deployed in the neighborhood, having closed off the main streets and preventing vehicles and pedestrians from entering or leaving the area.
Witnesses saw Israeli forces raid the al-Qunbar house, deploy on its roof, and seal it with concrete. Israeli police spokesperson Micky Rosenfeld said in a written statement that “Police and border police units will respond to any incidents during the operation.”
Five Palestinians had been living in the house, al-Qunbar’s wife and four children — the eldest of which is seven years old while the youngest is nine months old. After the deadly incident on Jan. 8, the Israeli Supreme Court ruled in favor of punitively demolishing al-Qunbar’s house, despite the fact that his family repeatedly denied having advanced knowledge of any plans to carry out an attack….
Prisoners / Court actions
Israeli military court orders release of wounded Palestinian teenager
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 22 Mar — The Israeli military court at Ofer detention center issued an order on Wednesday to release 17-year-old Jihad Muhammad Hammad from detention, according to a statement from the Palestinian Prisoner’s Society (PPS), which later specified that Hammad would be transferred on Wednesday evening. Hammad, from the village of Silwad in the central occupied West Bank district of Ramallah, was detained by Israeli forces on March 10 after he was shot in the head with a live bullet during clashes in the town. The teen was evacuated to Israel’s Hadassah Hospital in Jerusalem, where he underwent surgery. PPS lawyer Munther Abu Ahmad was quoted in the statement as saying that the court order did not impose any conditions on the release of Hammad, who has been detained in the hospital’s ICU for 12 days. Hammad will reportedly be taken to the Palestine Medical Complex in Ramallah.
Palestinian prisoners continue hunger strike in protest of administrative detention
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 22 Mar — Two Palestinian prisoners on Wednesday continued their open hunger strikes in protest of being held under administrative detention — Israel’s widely condemned policy of internment without charge or trial based on undisclosed evidence — the Palestinian Prisoner’s Society (PPS) said in a statement. PPS said that Rafat Shalash, 34, from the village of Beit Awwa in the southern occupied West Bank district of Hebron, and Akram al-Fassisi, 34, from the Hebron-area village of Idhna, were refusing all forms of food and nutrition except for water … Both PPS and Samidoun noted that al-Fassisi had been detained by Israeli forces on multiple occasions, and had previously launched two hunger strikes in 2013 and 2014 for 58 and 70 days, respectively, to demand his release from administrative detention. “In September 2014, al-Fassisi was released in the agreement that ended his 70-day hunger strike, only to be re-arrested once more in November 2014, a similar two-month period between his release and re-arrest in 2016. He had previously been imprisoned in 2011 through 2012, accused of membership in the Palestinian Islamic Jihad Movement,” Samidoun said. Al-Fassisi and Shalash join Jenin-area resident Muhammad Nasser Alaqma, who has been on hunger strike for 26 days, also in protest of his administrative detention, which allows detention for three- to six-month renewable intervals.
15-year-old Palestinian killed, 2 injured by Israeli shelling in Rafah
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 22 Mar — An 15-year-old Palestinian was killed and two other Palestinians were injured by Israeli shelling in eastern Rafah city in the southern Gaza Strip before dawn on Wednesday. Locals told Ma‘an that Israeli drones were also flying overhead as the sound of gunshots and explosions were heard. Spokesperson for Gaza’s Ministry of Health Ashraf al-Qidra said in a statement that Yousif Shaaban Abu Athra, 15, was killed while two others sustained multiple injuries from shrapnel as a result of the artillery fire. He was initially reported to be 18-years-old. The two injured were taken to the Abu Yousif Najjar Hospital in Rafah for treatment. Their identities and their medical conditions remained unknown. An Israeli army spokesperson told Ma‘an that Israeli forces had “detected three suspects” near Israel’s military border fence in southern Gaza, and that Israeli forces responded by “firing with a tank toward the suspect,” adding that “one hit was confirmed.” However the spokesperson did not explicitly acknowledge that someone had been killed or elaborate on what had been suspicious about their behavior. According to Israel news site Ynet, the Israeli army was investigating whether the three Palestinians “were trying to plant an explosive device.”
[Al Jazeera reported that ‘Yasser Abu Athira, the killed teen’s cousin, said the 18-year-old was on the farming land that his family owns. “We heard the noise of about 15 shells that came down. After a while, we found out that it was Yousef. The Israeli army said he was trying to get into Israel, but we completely deny that claim,” he told Al Jazeera. “We are very angry and we blame this on the occupation and the Israeli army. He was not armed and he is not part of any faction.”‘]
Gazans bid final farewell to 15-year-old Palestinian killed by Israel artillery fire
GAZA (Ma‘an) 22 Mar –Crowded masses marched on Wednesday in the Rafah governorate in the southern Gaza Strip for the funeral of 15-year-old Yousif Shaaban Abu Athra, who was killed before dawn on Wednesday by an Israeli artillery shell in eastern Rafah. The funeral procession set off from Abu Athra’s family home in al-Shabura refugee camp in central Rafah to the al-Awda mosque, where mourners performed a final prayer for the teen before making their way to a nearby cemetery to lay Abu Athra to rest. The Ministry of Education in Gaza released a statement condemning “the Israeli crime” of killing the teen, who was a 10th grade student at the Muhammad Yousif al-Najar school in Rafah. The ministry demanded that the international community and all human rights organizations “stand in the face of Israeli aggression,” and stressed “the necessity of prosecuting the Israeli occupation for its crimes that violate all international laws and regulations.”
Israeli army responds ‘disproportionately’ to Gaza rocket fire, chief of staff says
Haaretz 22 Mar by Jonathan Lis — The Israeli army reacts “disproportionately” to rocket fire toward Israel’s border from Gaza, Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Gadi Eisenkot told a parliamentary panel Wednesday morning. “The Israel Defense Force employs a policy of using aggressive, and disproportionate, force in order to prevent situations in which they fire rockets at us and we return shells,” Eisenkot told the State Control Committee. “For us, there is one address in the Strip: Hamas.” The chief of staff went to elaborate that Israel does not “attack sand dunes or empty storehouses. Every rocket or shell we fired was toward a target of value. [Such as] manufacturing means,” Eisenkot said. “Hundreds of targets have been attacked since Operation Protective Edge (the Israeli campaign against Gaza in the summer of 2014).” … The chief of staff also confirmed for the first time that the IDF has struck Hamas tunnels after the 2014 Gaza war using a new method … Even though the work the Israeli army faces is very intensive, Eisenkot said, and despite the “very serious threat” that the tunnels pose, the security situation is “good.” “Our role is to work hard and for civilians to live their lives and work the fields, to the last furrow.” The tunnels do not pose a strategic or existential threat, just as the IDF never did define suicide attackers as existential threats to the State of Israel, Eisenkot clarified….
Israeli naval forces detain 2 Palestinian fishermen off Gaza coast
GAZA (Ma‘an) 23 Mar — Israeli naval forces detained two Palestinian fishermen off the coast of the besieged Gaza Strip on Thursday morning, Palestinian security forces said. Gaza naval police said in statement that Israeli forces detained Khader al-Saadi and Rajab Abu Mayala, both residents of the al-Shati refugee camp, while they were sailing three nautical miles from the shore of Gaza City. Gaza police added that Israeli forces also confiscated the fishermen’s boats and equipment.
Israeli army invades Palestinian lands in southern Gaza
IMEMC 22 Mar — Several Israeli army vehicles and armored bulldozers invaded, Wednesday, Palestinian agricultural lands east of Khan Younis in the southern part of the Gaza Strip, and bulldozed them, while war jets hovered over various areas on the besieged coastal region. The WAFA Palestinian News Agency said at least six military vehicles, including three armored bulldozers, left the Kissufim military base across the border fence and advanced 150 meters into Palestinian lands, east of al-Qarara town, north of Khan Younis. It added that the soldiers uprooted and bulldozed sections of the invaded lands, especially close to the border fence, in addition to installing sand hills, while military drones flew overhead, and over several areas of the Gaza Strip.
In war-scarred Gaza, water pollution behind health woes
phys.org 23 Mar by Sakher Abou El Oun — More and more Gazans are falling ill from their drinking water, highlighting the humanitarian issues facing the Palestinian enclave that the UN says could become uninhabitable by 2020. The situation has already reached crisis point in the war-scarred, underdeveloped and blockaded territory, says Monther Shoblak, general manager of the strip’s water utility. “More than 97 percent of the water table is unfit for domestic use because of salinisation never before seen,” he said. The United Nations puts scarcity and pollution of water resources at the forefront of Gaza’s scourges. If the catastrophe does not arrive this year, it will surely be here within three years,” said Zidane Abu Zuhri who is in charge of water issues at UNICEF, the world body’s children’s fund. Almost all of the narrow coastal strip’s two million people depend upon its water table for their private or commercial needs, reaching their taps through a dilapidated public system or pumped privately from the ground. The health of Gazans is suffering as a result. “Each year we see a 13-14 percent increase in the number of patients admitted with kidney problems,” said Dr Abdallah al-Kishawi, head of nephrology at Shifa Hospital in Gaza City. These kidney problems have “previously known origins, such as tension, diabetes and hereditary diseases, but there is no doubt that water pollution also plays a role”, he said. High salinity, for example, can cause kidney stones and problems in the urinary tract … In a territory on the edge of the desert, bounded by Israel, Egypt and the Mediterranean Sea, where watercourses are reduced to mainly dry gulches, the water table is overexploited. The level drops and seawater seeps in, raising salinity. Brackish water is then used for cooking, showers, laundry and irrigation. Pollution by ammunition Well-off Gazans dig their own wells pumping water brought to the surface from dozens of metres (yards) below. Sami Lubbad, in charge of environmental issues at the Gaza health ministry, says pollution is of two kinds, chemical and microbiological. At the deepest part of the water table, these pollutants combine and raise the chloride and nitrate levels. They can cause congenital cyanosis in babies “and also play a role in the development of cancers”, says university professor Adnan Aish. Microbiological pollution is caused by bacteria of faecal origin, mainly from wastewater and agriculture runoff. Chemical pollution is caused by pesticides but also, say experts, by the toxic remnants of ammunition fired during wars. Lead and sulphur can cause kidney problems, says Dr Kishawi….
Delivery of carbon dioxide for Gaza hospitals banned by Israeli government
IMEMC/Agencies 23 Mar — Israeli authorities have prevented the delivery of carbon dioxide to the Palestinian hospitals in the Gaza Strip, the Palestinian Ministry of Health said on Wednesday. According to a statement by the Ministry, the stock of carbon dioxide needed for refrigerators, ventilators and many other medical equipment is soon to run out. “This will worsen the already bad condition of the healthcare sector,” the statement read, stressing that many of the medical facilities would shut down. Therefore, the statement added, many of scheduled laparoscopic and ophthalmic surgeries would not be carried out. World Health Organisation (WHO) said that it had been trying to put pressure on Israel in order to resume delivering this necessary gas. Gaza hospitals, WHO said, consume approximately between 150 to 200 kilograms of carbon dioxide every month. The international body called for the Israeli occupation to maintain the humanitarian needs of the Gaza residents far away from the strict siege that has been in place for more than ten years. WHO has called for keeping humanitarian issues aside from political conflicts to save lives of patients and heal their pain. — Riham Shehada for Days of Palestine
Islamic Bank, UNRWA sign $30 million agreement for Gaza homes
JERUSALEM (WAFA) 23 Mar — The Islamic Development Bank (IDB), in its capacity as Coordinator for the Program of the Gulf Cooperation Council for the Reconstruction of Gaza, has re-programmed and signed a $40 million agreement with the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) for reconstruction of Gaza homes, an UNRWA statement said on Thursday. The revised agreement will now include the shelter repair and reconstruction of at least 1,000 housing units across the Gaza Strip for families whose houses were damaged or destroyed during the 2014 Israeli war on Gaza. Welcoming the agreement, Bo Schack, UNRWA Director of Operations in Gaza, said: “This agreement is testament to the continuing trust and partnership between UNRWA and the Gulf Cooperation Council acting through IDB, who have become among UNRWA Gaza and Palestine refugees’ most committed supporters, providing us now with resources to ensure families have an adequate roof over their heads. Despite the cyclical conflict, continuing to live under blockade and the dire socio-economic conditions in Gaza Strip, this agreement provides a piece of hope and one less worry for refugee families; it is an agreement for which UNRWA Gaza is very grateful to the Gulf Cooperation Council and IDB.” As a reprogramming of funds from a previous agreement signed in 2015 and with a Master Plan for camp improvement in place, UNRWA will prioritize Deir El-Balah residents, especially displaced refugee families that are being hosted by others in Deir El-Balah as a result of destroyed homes … Without the full funding to complete the destroyed homes caseload, UNRWA is projecting to require between $12 and $15 million in contributions for Transitional Shelter Cash Assistance. There are currently approximately 5,900 families eligible for TSCA.
Saudi Arabia contributes $80 million toward Gaza reconstruction program
GAZA (WAFA) 23 Mar – Saudi Arabia has contributed $80 million that will go toward reconstructing Gaza homes destroyed during the 2014 Israeli military onslaught, Minister of Housing Mufeed Hasayneh said on Thursday. He told a press conference in Gaza that $40 million will be disbursed in cooperation with the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) to 1300 beneficiaries, while $10 million out the remaining $40 million will go toward reconstructing 274 homes in coordination with the United Nations Development Program (UNDP). Hasayneh said that once the current projects are completed, almost 89 per cent of the Gaza reconstruction plan would be completed. The housing minister also said Israel recently approved 876 applications for purchase of cement for private use in Gaza. He said a total of 1.6 million tons of cement have been imported from Israel as part of the Gaza reconstruction plan.
Israel arrests Turkish aid agency official for ‘aiding Hamas’
AFP 21 Mar — Israeli authorities said Tuesday they have arrested a Palestinian employee in Gaza of Turkey’s international aid agency TIKA on accusations of diverting its project funds to Hamas. It was the third such arrest in recent months by Israel, with a UN worker and the Gaza head of Christian charity World Vision having previously been accused of aiding Hamas, the Islamist movement that runs the Gaza Strip. Israel’s domestic security agency Shin Bet said Muhammad Murtaja, coordinator of the Gaza branch of the Turkish Cooperation and Coordination Agency (TIKA), was arrested last month. It said he had duped TIKA, with the agency run by the office of Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim unaware of his activities. “The investigation showed that Murtaja deceived TIKA by misusing the organisations resources and funds, which were intended for substantial humanitarian projects in the Gaza Strip, by diverting them to Hamas’s military wing,” Shin Bet said in a statement. “This fraud was carried out in collusion with the senior ranks of Hamas in Gaza, headed by Ismail Haniya,” it added, referring to Hamas’s former top leader in Gaza. Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum said the accusations were false and part of an effort by Israel to “strengthen the blockade on the Gaza Strip” by “terrorising international organisations so that they stop helping Gazans”….
Australian probe clears World Vision over Gaza case
JERUSALEM (AFP) 21 Mar – An Australian government probe has found no evidence taxpayer money was misused by the World Vision NGO in the Gaza Strip, after Israel alleged millions of dollars were diverted to Hamas. In August 2016, Israel accused World Vision’s Gaza head Mohammed al-Halabi of siphoning off millions of dollars per year to the Islamist group which rules the Palestinian enclave, claims the NGO said it had seen no evidence for. Australia had given millions of dollars to the charity’s work in the Palestinian territories in previous years and immediately suspended its funding for their Gaza programmes, with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) announcing a review. “The review uncovered nothing to suggest any diversion of government funds,” DFAT said in a statement sent to AFP on Tuesday. Halabi’s court case is ongoing but his lawyers have accused the prosecution of refusing to hand over much of the evidence. World Vision itself is also conducting an independent review of its operations to determine whether any graft occurred….
Women’s unit organizes training course on security and wellbeing for women working in al-Aman shelter
PCHR-Gaza 23 Mar — On 22 and 23 March 2017, the Women’s Unit at the Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR) organized two training courses on security and wellbeing in Lighthouse restaurant in Gaza City. The course targeted 25 female workers in the Social Affairs Ministry’s Al-Aman Shelter for Women. Lawyer Hanan Matter, Director of the Women’s Unit, opened the course, which as she said comes as part of the joint cooperation between the Women’s Unit and al-Aman Shelter. She added that this course aims at renewing the spirit of cooperation by being in such an extraordinary activity and taking the workers out of the nature of their work which requires dealing with women subject to violence for long periods. Matter also talked about the programs and activities of the Women’s Unit throughout 20 years of providing legal aid for women, representing them before Sharia Courts, and working in the field of the legal awareness of women. Matter added the Unit is considered the official advisory body for al-Aman Shelter. The Unit’s lawyers conduct periodic visits to al-Aman Shelter in order to check the inmates’ conditions, give them legal advice and provide legal aid for women in need of it and represent them before the Sharia Courts. Hanadi Skeik, Director of al-Aman Shelter, expressed the strong ties between PCHR and the Shelter, noting that it is more like a partnership to serve women subject to violence.
VIDEO: Exiled in Gaza — The ordeal of Baseem Abu Ramadan
Press TV 22 Mar by Halla Alsafadi — Baseem Abu Ramadan is an exile in Gaza. He has been there for over a year and a half and has been denied permit to reunite with his family. Baseem has left behind his wife and six children in Jerusalem al-Quds. Our correspondent caught up with him in Gaza to reflect the account of his ordeal.
Women dare to dance in Gaza
GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip 22 Mar by Rasha Abou Jalal — Women in Gaza have increasingly begun forming and performing as all-female dance troupes to perform at local Muslim and Christian weddings. Their initiative has been driven in part by a desire to earn money, given the lack of job opportunities and Gaza’s high rates of unemployment, as well as to make space for women in a conservative society only accustomed to male dance troupes. According to statistics released by the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics on March 7, female unemployment in Gaza and the West Bank stood at 44.7% at the end of 2016, compared to male unemployment, which totaled 22.2%. Women in Gaza tend to work in jobs and professions where they are not around men, including as teachers in girls schools and in sewing and embroidery enterprises. Mahmoud Salem is busy planning his wedding, scheduled for April 5 at a hotel in Gaza City. He had already booked a male-only fadous band, when he decided to also hire a female troupe for a women’s celebration of his marriage. The female dancers charge the same as the men, about $250. Salem told Al-Monitor, “I decided to hire the female troupe at the request of my mother, who had seen them perform at a wedding in Gaza and was very impressed by them. To be honest, I find it a bit odd and out of the ordinary.” Wedding celebrations in Palestinian society are traditionally segregated by gender … Al-Akeber is the most famous female dance troupe that performs at weddings….
150 historic Palestinian coins seized in Cairo airport
[photo] MEMO 22 Mar — Egyptian authorities today confiscated approximately 150 historical Palestinian coins in a parcel from Israel, according to a shipping source at Cairo International Airport. “The seized coins belong to various periods of Palestinian history, 30 of them belong to the year 1927, 30 to 1941, 30 to 1942, 30 to 1945 and 30 to 1946,” the source, who asked not to be named due to a lack of authorisation to speak to the media, told the Anadolu Agency. “The airport’s archaeological unit stressed the significance of the seized currencies for Palestinian heritage since they belong to before the 1948 war,” the source added. “The coins were confiscated by the Egyptian Ministry of Antiquities in preparation for handing them over for the Palestinian Embassy in Cairo,” said the source. “This comes in accordance with a 1970 UNESCO Convention which prohibits the illegal import, export and transfer of cultural property between countries.” The source did not reveal the coins’ intended destination or how they were smuggled from Israel.
Land, property theft & destruction / Ethnic cleansing / Settlements
Israeli forces detain Palestinian, confiscate vehicles in northern Jordan Valley
TUBAS (Ma‘an) 22 Mar — Israeli forces on Wednesday morning detained a young Palestinian man in the village of Ibziq in the northern Jordan Valley region of the occupied West Bank and confiscated a tractor and a private vehicle in the area. Muataz Bisharat, an official who monitors settlement activity in the Jordan Valley, told Ma‘an that Israeli forces, escorted by several Israeli Civil Administration jeeps, detained Mahmoud Muhammad al-Hroub, 23, and confiscated a tractor belonging to his father and a vehicle belonging to Hayil Turkman. The confiscated vehicles were taken to the Nahal military site in the al-Maleh area of the Jordan valley, Bisharat said. A spokesperson from Israel’s civil administration declined to comment on the incident. Bisharat highlighted that Israeli forces had confiscated at least three tractors from the surrounding areas, which are located in Area C — the more than 60 percent of the West Bank under full Israeli security and civilian control — during the past two months. Palestinian residents of the Jordan Valley regularly face evacuations and interruption due to Israeli military exercises on or near their land. The Jordan Valley district of Tubas is one of the occupied West Bank’s most important agricultural centers.
Washington talks end without agreement on Israeli settlements
WASHINGTON (Reuters) 23 Mar by Matt Spetalnick — The Trump administration reiterated its concerns about Israeli settlement activity, the two sides said on Thursday, as a round of talks ended without agreement over limiting future construction on land the Palestinians want for a state. The four days of high-level meetings in Washington marked the latest step by President Donald Trump´s aides aimed at opening the way to renewed peace diplomacy between Israel and the Palestinians, despite deep skepticism in the United States and Middle East over the chances for success. Trump´s Middle East envoy, Jason Greenblatt, who recently returned from a visit to the region, led the U.S. delegation in what were described as “intensive discussions” with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu´s chief of staff Yoav Horowitz and foreign policy adviser Jonathan Schachter … In the talks, officials discussed measures for improving the climate for peace, according to the joint readout. It said a key focus was on steps that “could have a meaningful impact on the economic environment in the West Bank and Gaza,” and specifically a desire to advance efforts toward “self-sustainability” in electricity and water.
Netanyahu said to reject US proposal on West Bank settlements
The Forward 23 Mar by Daniel J. Solomon — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reportedly blew off a demand by President Donald Trump to freeze settlement building in isolated areas of the West Bank as a condition for continuing construction in larger blocs and east Jerusalem. “The talks have not been completed, but there is progress and we will hear about it when we reach Israel,” Netanyahu said on a visit to China, where he struck an upbeat tone. But United States officials are said to have been surprised by his rejection of their plan, which is more generous to settlements than those offered under former President Obama but still falls short of the carte blanche that far-right members of Netanyahu’s coalition seek….
Media: Netanyahu to continue East Jerusalem construction
JERUSALEM (AP) 21 Mar — Israeli media is quoting Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as saying that he has no plans to limit Jewish construction in East Jerusalem. The Haaretz newspaper reported that Netanyahu made the comments to Israeli reporters during a visit to Beijing Tuesday. It quoting him as acknowledging “difference of opinion” with the U.S. government on the issue and that he was “ready to discuss” limiting settlement construction in the West Bank and coming up with an “agreed-upon formula.” But the report quoted Netanyahu as saying that the issue of construction of East Jerusalem was not up for discussion. Palestinians regard East Jerusalem as the capital of a future Palestinian state. Netanyahu met with U.S. President Donald Trump’s envoy last week.
BDS says Israeli allegations of tax evasion against its co-founder a smear campaign
RAMALLAH (WAFA) 23 Mar – The Palestinian Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) National Committee (BNC) said Thursday that Israeli allegation of tax evasion against its co-founder Omar Barghouti is part of a smear and intimidation campaign against him and the movement. Israeli tax officers raided Barghouti’s home on Sunday and interrogated him for 16 hours about his income and taxes before detaining him. He was released but banned from leaving the country. The BNC said in a statement that Barghouti has for years been subjected to intense threats and intimidation by the far-right Israeli government, but after failing to intimidate him into stopping his BDS work, the Israeli authorities reverted to a more dramatic act such a accusing him of not reporting his income nor paying taxes … “The fact that this investigation includes a travel ban and that it comes a few weeks before Omar Barghouti is scheduled to travel to the U.S. to receive the Gandhi Peace Award jointly with Ralph Nader in a ceremony at Yale University proves its true motive — repression.”….
Israeli ministry trying to compile database of citizens who support BDS
Haaretz 21 Mar by Barak Ravid — Strategic Affairs Minister Gilad Erdan wants to set up a database of Israeli citizens who are involved in promoting and supporting boycotts, divestment and sanctions (BDS) against Israel or the settlements. Senior Israeli officials noted that Attorney General Avichai Mendelblit is vehemently opposed to Erdan’s proposal, arguing that the Strategic Affairs Ministry has no legal authority to collect information on Israeli citizens. Three Israeli officials familiar with the issue said that Erdan, who in his capacity as strategic affairs minister is responsible for coordinating Israel’s response to the BDS movement, has been trying to advance his proposal for several months. Erdan has already set up an intelligence unit to collect information on foreign BDS activists, but also wants to collect information on Israelis involved, and has discussed the matter with officials in other ministries, most prominently the Justice Ministry. The senior officials said that Erdan and his people made it clear that the information would be assembled primarily from open sources — the media, the internet and social networks like Twitter and Facebook. But a few weeks ago Deputy Attorney General Avi Licht distributed a legal opinion that Erdan’s ministry had no authority to collect such information on citizens, and stressed that this was forbidden even if the information was solely from open sources….