Prisoners / Court actions
Novelist released on bail after hours of interrogation as six more Palestinian youth seized by occupation forces
Samidoun 12 Mar — Palestinian novelist Khalida Ghosheh was released in Jerusalem on Saturday, 11 March on a payment of 10,000 NIS in bail ($2722 USD) with an unspecified future court date after hours of interrogation by the Shin Bet. Israeli occupation police invaded her Jerusalem home in the morning on Saturday, telling her she was under arrest and taken to interrogation. In an interview with Quds News, she said that the subject matter was her forthcoming novel, “The Jackal’s Trap,” focusing on Palestinian collaborators with Israeli occupation forces. She said that the interrogators claimed that her novel poses a threat to collaborators working with the occupation, saying that the novel reflects her own experiences and aims to warn young people about ways the occupation may attempt to compel them to become collaborators.
As Ghosheh was released and awaits charges and a trial for writing a novel about the Israeli occupation, six more Palestinians were seized in military raids in the early morning hours of Sunday, 12 March. Among those taken by Israeli forces include Palestinian journalist Musab al-Said of Bir Zeit, as well as Osama Fuqaha, a Palestinian student and a member of Bir Zeit University’s student council. Also seized by occupation forces was Batal al-Ramahi, 24, a young woman from the town of Surda near Ramallah, Ali Mohammed Sa‘adat from Huwwara near Nablus, and two young people, Muhtadi Ayyash and Salah Attia, from the town of Biddu in Jerusalem.
Jamal Abu al-Leil suspends hunger strike after striking deal with Israel
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 12 Mar — Palestinian prisoner Jamal Abu al-Leil suspended his hunger strike after 25 days on Sunday after reaching an agreement that would see him freed from Israeli custody after serving the remainder of his current six-month administrative detention sentence. Abu al-Leil, a former member of Fatah’s revolutionary council, declared a hunger strike on Feb. 16 along with fellow Qalandiya refugee camp resident Raed Mteir, after they had both been imprisoned under administrative detention — Israel’s policy of internment without trial or charges — for a year. The Palestinian Committee of Prisoners’ Affairs and the Palestinian Prisoner’s Society (PPS) said that Abu al-Leil had consumed only water for 25 days, adding that the Israel Prison Service (IPS) had transferred Abu al-Leil between prisons a number of times in order to pressure him to end his hunger strike. Mteir ended his hunger strike after going 12 days without food, after reaching an agreement to be released in April 2017 without his administrative detention being renewed.
Violence / Detentions — West Bank / Jerusalem
Witnesses: Israeli police ‘execute’ Palestinian in Jerusalem over alleged attack
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 13 Mar — Israeli police shot and killed a 25-year-old Palestinian near the Lion’s Gate entrance to occupied East Jerusalem’s Old City early Monday morning over an alleged stabbing attack that left two Israeli police officers lightly and moderately injured. The slain man was identified as Ibrahim Mahmoud Matar, a resident of the East Jerusalem neighborhood Jabal al-Mukabbir, located south of the Old City. The shooting happened ahead of the al-fajr (dawn) prayers, as worshipers were headed to Al-Aqsa Mosque inside the Old City. Witnesses told Ma‘an they saw a dispute inside an Israeli police post located near Lion’s Gate, between an Israeli policeman and a Palestinian “who was carrying a stick.” Israeli police then forced the young man outside of the enclosure and “executed” him at point blank range with with four bullets, leading to his immediate death, witnesses said. Referring to the dispute that lead up to the shooting, eyewitnesses told Ma‘an that Israeli police were “controlling the situation” and could have easily detained Matar without using lethal force.
However, a statement released by Israeli police spokeswoman Luba al-Samri alleged that Matar entered the police post with a knife and stabbed two Israeli police officers before a third police officer shot and killed him immediately. According to al-Samri, Matar had arrived to the area in his car, which he parked near Lion’s Gate, and approached the Old City walls. Israeli border police stopped him as he tried to pass through Lion’s Gate and led him into the police room to search him, when he “attacked” two Israeli border police officers that were inside. A third officer was able to leave the room, who then shot and killed Matar, the police statement said. Al-Samri said the first officer sustained medium injuries, while the second was lightly injured.
Following the killing, Israeli forces were heavily deployed in and around Lion’s Gate and prevented many Palestinians from reaching Al-Aqsa Mosque to pray, with witnesses saying the lockdown lasted from 4:30 until 6:00 a.m. Later Monday morning, Israeli forces raided Matar’s home in Jabal al-Mukabbir and detained his brother, parents, and his uncle, according to al-Samri.
Palestinian shot in the head by Israeli forces in ‘serious but stable’ condition
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 11 Mar — A Palestinian who was injured in the head with a live bullet on Friday during clashes in the village of Silwad in the central occupied West Bank district of Ramallah was reported to be in serious, but stable condition, according to a statement released by the Palestinian Prisoner’s Society (PPS) on Saturday. The injured Palestinian was identified by PPS as 19-year-old Jihad Muhammad Hammad. A PPS lawyer who had visited Hammad at Israel’s Hadassa Ein Karem hospital on Saturday said that the teenager had undergone surgery. He added that while Hammad was in stable condition, he remained unconscious.
Israeli colonists attack, wound two Palestinians in Jerusalem
IMEMC 12 Mar — Extremist Israeli colonists stacked and injured, on Saturday evening, two Palestinian men in Hizma town, east of occupied East Jerusalem. Rateb Jabour, the coordinator of the Popular Committee against the Annexation Wall and colonies in southern Hebron, in the southern part of the West Bank, said the assailants came from Mikhmas illegal Israeli colony, built on Palestinian lands northeast of occupied Jerusalem. He added that the assailants targeted a vehicle transporting Ahmad Mohammad Shawaheen, from Yatta town near Hebron, and Jamil Mustafa Khatib, from Hizma, causing excessive damage, then started beating and striking the two, causing various cuts and bruises. Jabour also stated that the Israeli assailants also stole a sum of cash from the two Palestinians and fled the scene.
Palestinian families prevent Israeli settlers from breaking into Hebron kindergarten
HEBRON (Ma‘an) 12 Mar — Palestinian families and activists reportedly prevented a number of Israeli settlers from raiding a kindergarten in the occupied West Bank city of Hebron on Sunday. Youth Against Settlement (YAS) coordinator Issa Amro said that a number of settlers and their children attempted to enter a kindergarten on al-Shuhada street in Hebron’s Old City, but that Palestinian locals were able to prevent them from crossing the fence surrounding the school. Israeli settlers in Hebron often gather in al-Shuhada street and the neighborhood of Tel Rumeida during the Jewish holiday of Purim. The Hebron settlers chanted a number of anti-Palestinian slogans on Sunday, including some hailing Baruch Goldstein, who killed 29 Palestinian Muslims in Hebron’s Ibrahimi Mosque in 1994.
Israeli forces raid Birzeit twice, detain Palestinian student
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 11 Mar – Israeli forces raided the central occupied West Bank town of Birzeit twice on Saturday and detained a Palestinian university student from his home, local sources told Ma‘an. Witnesses said that when Israeli forces first raided the town, troops escorted a handcuffed and blindfolded Palestinian youth from a military vehicle and took him into the local cemetery for unknown reasons. After roughly an hour, Israeli forces escorted the youth, who remained unidentified, back into the vehicle as soldiers were carrying “black bags” that seemed to have been “hidden in the cemetery,” witnesses said. The troops then withdrew from the village. Witnesses said the raid sparked clashes between locals and the Israeli soldiers, though no injuries were reported.
Hours later, Israeli forces raided the town once again and surrounded a building that serves as a private dormitory for students at Birzeit University, and detained a student whose identity has not been revealed.
Israeli forces, settlers raid Palestinian village to visit shrine
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 12 Mar — Israeli forces reportedly raided the Palestinian town of Kifl Haris in the central occupied West Bank district of Salfit on Sunday morning to provide protection for Israeli settlers visiting a site believed to be a Jewish shrine. According to a report in Hebrew from Israeli news site Arutz Sheva, the chief of the illegal Nablus-area settlement bloc Yossi Dagan and Eli Shapiro, the chief of the illegal Israeli settlement of Ariel, were among the visitors to the tomb of Joshua. The Israel army’s commander in the Nablus area was also reportedly among the visitors. Residents of Kifl Haris have been living under continuous tension due to Israeli settlers’ raids to visit religious sites. A number of tombs exist in Kifl Haris, which Palestinians in the area believe to be the graves of Muslim prophet Dhul-Kifl, the Sufi saint Dhul-Nun, and another shrine built by 12-century Sultan Saladin.
However, some Jews believe the tombs belong to the biblical figures Joshua, Caleb, and Nun. Like many other Palestinian towns across the West Bank with religiously significant sites, Kifl Haris, situated on the main road connecting the illegal Ariel settlement to Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, commonly experiences incursions by Israeli settlers accompanied by armed escorts. Settlers who visit the tombs to pray often actively disrupt Palestinian residents and damage property. Meanwhile, Palestinians are restricted from visiting holy sites in Israel without hard-to-obtain permits from Israeli authorities.
Israeli soldiers open fire at homes near Jenin
IMEMC 11 Mar — Israeli soldiers fired, on Friday evening, many live rounds at several homes in ‘Aneen village, west of Jenin, in the northern part of the occupied West Bank. Resident Radi Khaddour told the WAFA Palestinian News Agency in a phone interview that the soldiers, stationed near the military fence, fired many live rounds at his home and the homes of his brothers. Khaddour added that the attack caused his children so suffer severe anxiety attacks, in addition to leading to property damage. He called on human rights and international human rights groups to intervene, especially since the attack is just the latest of similar ongoing violation against the villagers, their homes and lands.
Israeli forces suppress weekly marches in Bil‘in, Kafr Qaddum
[with photos] RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 10 Mar — Israeli forces suppressed weekly Friday marches in the village of Bil‘in in the central occupied West Bank district of Ramallah and the village of Kafr Qaddum in Qalqiliya, detaining two Palestinians, including a 14-year-old, and causing many to suffer tear gas inhalation. In the village of Bil‘in, Israeli forces detained two Palestinians after installing checkpoints at three roads leading to the village, preventing foreign protesters to enter the village and participate in their weekly march. Coordinator of the popular committee against the Israeli wall and settlements Abdullah Abu Rahma said that Israeli forces detained Majdi Abu Rahma, 32, and seized his vehicle, while also detaining Issa Khader Abu Rahma, 14. During the march, residents held up Palestinian flags and pictures of Palestinian activist Basil al-Araj who was killed by Israeli forces in Ramallah earlier this week. Protesters reached the area of the separation wall’s gate, and shouted national slogans demanding the freeing of Palestinian prisoners, particularly Jamal Abu al-Leil, who has been on hunger strike for 22 days, and Muhammad al-Qiq, who ended his 32-day hunger strike on Friday. Israeli forces shot tear gas canisters at the protesters, causing many to suffer from tear gas inhalation, as clashes broke out between soldiers and Palestinian youth. Protesters gathered at the village’s entrances and succeeded in forcing Israeli soldiers to leave and re-open the entrances to the village following clashes….
Israel continues to hold body of slain Palestinian activist Basel al-Araj
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 10 Mar — Israeli authorities postponed on Friday returning the body of slain Palestinian activist Basel al-Araj until further notice, the Palestine Red Crescent Society (PRCS) said in statement. According to the statement, Israel had announced on Thursday to return al-Araj’s body at a checkpoint near his home town of al-Walaja, near Bethlehem in the southern occupied West Bank Friday afternoon. Al-Araj, 31, was killed by Israeli forces Monday in a two-hour shootout at a home in the outskirts of the Qaddura refugee camp, where al-Araj was staying.
Israeli soldiers abduct a child in Hebron
IMEMC 12 Mar — Israeli soldiers abducted, on Saturday evening, a Palestinian child at the main entrance of the Shuhada Street, in the center of the southern West Bank city of Hebron. Media sources in Hebron said the abducted child has been identified as Mohammad Moneef Qazzaz, 15. The Israeli army said the soldiers stopped and searched the child, and “found out that he was carrying a concealed knife.” The child was handcuffed and blindfolded, before the soldiers took him to an interrogation center.
Israeli forces detain 7 Palestinians in predawn raids
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an)12 Mar — Israeli forces detained at least seven Palestinians during predawn raids Sunday across the occupied West Bank. According to a statement from the Palestinian Prisoner’s Society (PPS), three were detained from the central occupied West Bank district of Ramallah, identified as 28-year-old journalist Musab Ibrahim Said, Usama Fuqaha, and a 24-year-old woman, Batul al-Ramahi. Locals said Israeli forces raided the town of Birzeit north of Ramallah and detained Said after ransacking his home. A few kilometers to the south in the town of Surda, Israeli forces detained al-Ramahi from her home. Al-Fuqaha, a student and member of Birzeit University’s student union, was detained from his home in Ramallah city. In the central Jerusalem district, PPS said that two young men were detained in the village of Biddu, identified as Muhtadi Khalid Ayyash and Salih Mansour. The Israeli army confirmed the five detentions in the Ramallah and Jerusalem districts. According to PPS, Israeli forces also detained 27-year-old Ali Muhammad Saada in the northern occupied West Bank district of Nablus, while Hamza Mahmoud Jarrar, a resident of the northern Tulkarem district, was detained while visiting Israel. Israeli forces carry out detention raids across the occupied Palestinian territory on a near-nightly basis, with the UN recording an average of 95 weekly raids in the West Bank in 2016, and 73 weekly raids on average thus far in 2017.
Israeli soldiers abduct eleven Palestinians in Jerusalem
IMEMC 13 Mar — Dozens of Israeli soldiers abducted, overnight and at dawn Monday, eleven Palestinians, including two children, in Silwan town, south of the Al-Aqsa Mosque, in occupied Jerusalem … Media sources said the soldiers invaded and violently searched many homes, in various neighborhoods in Silwan, and abducted the eleven Palestinians, before moving them to interrogation and detention centers, in Jerusalem. The abducted Palestinians have been identified as Sondos al-Joulani, 17, Mosleh Nasser Shehada, 15, Karim Abu Tayeh, Ayman Abu Tayeh, Odai Abu Tayeh, Mahmoud Abu Naab, Mohammad Abu al-Hamam, Wael Majdi Karawa, Wael Abu Ramouz, Mohammad Bader Salah and Hazem Shweiki. In addition, the soldiers invaded Qabatia town, south of the northern West Bank city of Jenin, and abducted a young man, identified as Tareq Maher Zakarna, who works with the Civil Defence in Jenin, after breaking into his home and searching it.
Israeli soldiers abduct two Palestinians, including father of slain child, in Hebron
IMEMC 13 Mar — Israeli soldiers invaded, on Monday at dawn, Bani Neim and Beit Ummar towns, in the southern West Bank district of Hebron, searched homes and abducted two Palestinians, including a father of a child who was killed by the army last year. The Hebron office of the Palestinian Prisoners’ Society (PPS) said several army vehicles invaded Bani Neim town, east of Hebron, and abducted Eid Sobeh Tarayra, 47, after violently searching his home, causing damage. Eid is the father of Issa Tarayra, 16, who, on September 20, 2016, was killed by Israeli army fire near Bani Neim town, after the soldiers claimed he “attempted to stab them”, while eyewitness said the child was shot right after he stepped out of a taxi that was stopped by the soldiers. In addition, the soldiers invaded Sho’ab as-Saber area, near Karmie Tzur illegal colony, built on Palestinian lands southwest of Beit Ummar town, north of Hebron, and searched homes, before abducting a Palestinian, identified as Rabea’ Mohammad Awad, 21.
A new generation learns to ‘shoot’ the occupation
[with photos] HEBRON 10 Mar by ISM– Human Rights Defenders have started a new project to protect the human rights of the children who have to live and study in the middle of the occupation and ghettoisation which is the centre of Hebron. Last Sunday, 5th March, the first of four schools, Qurtuba School, had training in how to use video cameras as a tool to resist the attacks and harassment they regularly face from settlers and Israeli forces. Three other schools will also receive training. The project is called the ‘Capturing Occupation Camera Project’. Groups of students in each of the four schools will be taught to use the cameras, and to understand their own human rights and the legal situation as it relates to their own film-making and activism; they will be trained always to put their own safety first, last and always. They will be a new generation of human rights defenders who ‘shoot’ the occupation, with cameras and not bullets or stones. as they relate to their own film-making and activism; they will be trained always to put their own safety first, last and always. They will be a new generation of human rights defenders who ‘shoot’ the occupation, with cameras and not bullets or stones. As Badia Dwaik from Human Rights Defenders says: ‘The camera is our gun. We use it to shoot the occupation. We need to use the energy of the kids in the right way. To be a good resistance, you should be alive: you should keep safe, and resist for a long time. We don’t want to be killed. To be alive and keep resisting is the most important thing.’ Human Rights Defenders have a history of using cameras to fight for human rights in Hebron….
Opinion: A boy without a leg, an occupier without a heart / Gideon Levy
Haaretz 12 Mar — Perhaps Israel would only understand what’s happening in the territories if the roles were reversed – if the Palestinians had shot a disabled Jewish child and taken him away for interrogation — We left the house in the Deheisheh refugee camp near Bethlehem last week with a malaise I cannot remember feeling for a long time: sadness over a boy’s fate, frustration at my helplessness, and rage at those who had caused him the suffering. Issa al-Mouati – a 14-year-old boy whose right leg was amputated after he was shot by Israeli soldiers in September 2015 – is being held in an Israeli prison. Back in the home of his sick grandmother in the overcrowded refugee camp, his mother Rada told me, with remarkable acceptance, what happened to her son since the soldiers left him permanently crippled. She spoke of the two and a half months he had been confined to hospital, one of which he spent as a detainee with his hands bound to the bed. She did not move from his side, leaving her newborn baby and sick mother behind. She told us of the three operations when they amputated his leg, in stages. Of his month-long trip to the United States, alone, at the age of 13, for the prosthetic leg fittings. And of his arrest in the dead of night about 10 days ago.The Israel Defense Forces stormed the camp in one of its unnecessary, abominable round-up operations, intended mainly as a show of strength, to abuse the residents and as a military exercise. The camp’s youth tried to resist the invader with their primitive weapons – rocks and firebombs. The soldiers hunted down whoever they could catch and Issa, with his prosthetic leg, was part of their haul.
The IDF spokesman would later claim the soldiers didn’t know he was disabled. The police spokesman would say that an indictment was being prepared against him. Rada would tell of the beatings her son received during the interrogation and the kick to his prosthesis, which dislodged it. The police spokesman would deny it. Rada would recount that she was instructed to produce medical documents to prove Issa’s leg had been amputated, in order to release him.…
Closures / Restriction of movement
Israel extends closure on West Bank and Gaza by 24 hours
Haaretz 11 Mar by Gili Cohen — This is the second year in a row that all crossings are closed to Palestinians during the Jewish Purim holiday — Israel on Saturday extended the closure imposed on the West Bank and Gaza over the Purim holiday weekend. The Israel Defense Forces said that the decision to extend the closure by a day, until Monday night, was taken by the political leadership. The IDF didn’t specify a reason for the extension. The decision was taken following a situation assessment made by defense agencies over the course of the weekend. As part of the closure, which began on Thursday night, all the crossings to the West Bank and Gaza were closed to Palestinians, with the exception of humanitarian cases, medical and otherwise, with the approval of the IDF’s Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories. Purim is celebrated in most of Israel on Sunday this year, while in Jerusalem it is observed on Monday….
Israel blocks head of pro-BDS organization from entering Israel
Haaretz 13 Mar by Barak Ravid & Ilan Lior — Israel’s Population and Immigration Authority and the Strategic Affairs Ministry prevented Hugh Lanning, the chairman of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign, from entering Israel on Sunday night. In a joint statement by the two offices, the ministries said the decision was due to Lanning’s ongoing efforts to advance a boycott of Israel and was reached following consultation with the Foreign Ministry. Lanning is expected to board a plane back to the U.K. early Monday morning. The statement claimed that the organization led by Lanning, the PSC, is the leading force in the effort to delegitimize Israel in Britain and among the biggest in Europe. According to the statement, the group cooperates “with other delegitimizing organizations to promote the boycott [of Israel] and other activities against the state of Israel.” Some of the PSC’s members also participated in the Mavi Marmara Gaza flotilla, the statement said, adding that the PSC website is rife with calls to boycott Israel. Israel further claimed that Lanning also maintains ties to Hamas’ leadership in Gaza … On Thursday, a Human Rights Watch researcher [Omar Shakir] who was initially refused a work visa was allowed to enter on a tourist visa.
Reports: Israeli army to lift ‘security ban’ imposed against some Palestinian youths
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 10 Mar — The Israeli army announced on Thursday that a “security ban” imposed on many Palestinian youths from the occupied West Bank that prevents them from obtaining Israeli-entry permits will be lifted, Hebrew media sites reported. Hebrew media cited Israeli commander Roman Gofman as saying that in collaboration with the the Shin Bet, Israel’s internal intelligence agency, the Israeli army will be working to take some Palestinian youths off Israel’s black-list, “after making sure that these youths stopped conducting activities to escalate tension in Palestinian lands such as rock-throwing, Molotov cocktail throwing, and engaging in shooting incidents.” Gofman said that campaigns have been organized to “study” lists of names of Palestinian youth presented by Palestinian officials, in order to reevaluate their security status. Deputy of the Palestinian Authority (PA) ministry of labor Nasser Qatami previously told Ma‘an that the ministry had “presented a series of suggestions (to Israeli authorities) to improve the situation of Palestinian workers in Israel.” Qatami said that Israel has already approved 21,000 permits for Palestinian workers from the occupied West Bank, and that the ministry was “waiting for the Israeli security procedures to be completed to issue these permits.” An Israeli army spokesperson did not respond to Ma‘an’s request for clarifications on a number of issues surrounding the potential “security ban” lift, including how many cases are currently up for review and why has the Israeli army decided to re-evaluate cases at this point in time.
Judaization / Lack of respect for other cultures and religions
Thousands of Palestinian citizens of Israel protest ‘Muezzin bill’
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 12 Mar — Thousands of Palestinian citizens of Israel took to the streets Saturday in protest of a bill moving forward in Israel’s parliament, the Knesset, which seeks to impose limits on the broadcast of the Muslim call to prayer in Israel and occupied East Jerusalem. The so-called Muezzin bill — a term that refers to the men responsible for the call to prayer — passed a preliminary reading in the Knesset on Wednesday, when several Palestinian Knesset members were removed from the plenum for denouncing the proposed legislation for being “racist” and “a violation of religious freedom.” Wednesday’s reading was the first of three rounds of votes that the bill must pass through before it can become law. According to reports from Israeli media, some 3,000 men and women took part in a march Saturday through the town of Kabul in northern Israel, with protesters waving Palestinian flags and signs that read: “The muezzin law won’t pass” or “Don’t silence the muezzin,” and chanting against the legislation and against Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. “The call to prayer existed long before the right-wing politicians who have no connection to this land,” Kabul’s imam told Israel’s Channel 2. “We will continue to sound our calls to prayer, we’ll even increase the volume of our muezzins.” … Palestinian Authority (PA) spokesman Yousif al-Mahmoud said that the bill was a violation of freedom to worship in Jerusalem, highlighting that the holy city in particular and Palestine in general had a history of respect and harmony between all residents regardless of their religious beliefs. “It is unbelievable that the long religious and cultural history of the city is being destroyed with the stroke of a pen,” al-Mahmoud added. Mosques in Israel and East Jerusalem have already experienced backlash for the potential ban, with a mosque in al-Ludd being fined $200 in November for using loudspeakers to broadcast the call to prayer. Adnan al-Husseini, the Palestinian Authority (PA)-appointed governor of Jerusalem, told Ma‘an in November that the sound of the call to prayer didn’t rise above an agreed-upon decibel level, adding that Israeli settlers in East Jerusalem were not annoyed by the noise, but by the adhan as a reminder of Palestinian presence in the city.
Opinion: Muting prayers is muting the Palestinian struggle / Mariam Barghouti
ISRAEL 10 Mar — Driving the streets of the West Bank, you see Israeli-issued street signs reading, in Arabic, “Urshalaym”, the Hebrew word for Jerusalem instead of the Arabic namesake “Al-Quds”. Like most Palestinians with West Bank IDs, I am rarely presented with the opportunity to visit Jerusalem owing to Israel’s discriminatory regulations requiring a permit issued by the District Coordination Office. On the rare occasions that I have been able to visit Jerusalem, it has appeared foreign and has clashed with the accounts of my grandfather who would often visit it before the creation of the state of Israel. The solace testifying that I am not a stranger was the Arabic call for prayer rebounding off the walls of the old city. It was, in a way, contesting the Israeli procedures aiming to eradicate any Palestinian linkage to the land. -Another step to colonise further- Earlier this week, the Israeli Knesset approved a preliminary reading of two versions of a bill aimed at muffling mosque calls to prayer in Jerusalem and Israel. While its critics deem it racist and a contravention of the right of worship, the ramifications are far more intricate. They, however, will align with Israel’s ironclad efforts to belie the Palestinian register. Israel has constantly fought the Palestinian narrative of its colonisation. They have divided us into bantustans, forced us into exile and fought our de facto existence as this bill does through muffling a traditional sound associated with the Arabic-speaking Palestinian population. The call to prayer has been a part of Muslim culture since the rise of Islam and a part of Jerusalem since Arab presence was established in the region. In Islam, prayer call is to designed to be a reminder, to both Muslims and non-Muslims, of the spiritual element of the religion while concurrently acting as a collective call for mobilising the congregation of Muslims. While Israel continues to monopolise on the myth of being the “only democracy in the Middle East” its practices parallel institutions built on supremacy ... Throughout the process of colonising Palestine, Judaizing Jerusalem has played a fundamental role in Israel’s claim for the territory….
Struggling to bury their dead
OCCUPIED EAST JERUSALEM (Palestine Monitor) 6 Mar by William Bower — Muslim residents of Silwan and Jerusalem’s Old City are facing an ongoing battle to bury their dead in land which has served as the final resting place of their forbears for some 1400 years. Bab Al-Rahma cemetery, an enclosed strip of soil and graves lying in the shadows of the southeastern wall of the Old City, is both a valuable artifact of Islamic history and also the modern burial ground used by tens of thousands of Muslims living in its vicinity. Islamic tradition allows graves to be reused every seven years. Until recently, the cemetery represented an unbroken connection between the residents of Silwan and their future descendants. In recent years, locals have been facing more and more difficulties in burying their loved ones. In 1974, the Israel Nature and Parks Authority (INPA) classified the land upon which the cemetery finds itself as a national park. The Jerusalem Walls National Park forms a ring around the Old City and includes the whole of Bab Al-Rahma and parts of Silwan. The cemetery’s inclusion within the park’s borders enabled the INPA to fence it in and restrict access and burial in the name of protecting ancient remains….
Israeli forces injure Palestinian with live ammunition in Gaza Strip
GAZA (Ma‘an) 10 Mar — A Palestinian was shot and injured on Friday in the east of Gaza city after Israeli forces opened live fire on Palestinian youth near the security barrier between the besieged Gaza Strip and Israel. Witnesses told Ma‘an that Israeli forces stationed at the Nahel Oz military post east of the neighborhood of Shuja‘iyya opened live ammunition on a group of Palestinian youths who had approached the border area, causing the injury of a Palestinian youth in his foot. Witnesses added that the injured Palestinian was transferred to al-Shifa hospital where his injury was described as medium.
Hamas stages Gaza sit-in to denounce detention of Palestinian MPs by Israel
GAZA (Ma‘an) 12 Mar — Hamas lawmakers of the “Change and Reform” parliamentary bloc organized a sit-in in Gaza on Sunday in solidarity with MPs detained by Israel. Protesters in front of the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC) headquarters in Gaza expressed their rejection of Israel’s recent detention of a number of Hamas-affiliated MPs in the occupied West Bank. Change and Reform bloc head Mahmoud al-Zahar said that the detention of Palestinian deputies was a violation of fundamental political rights, and called on Palestinian political movements to stand united in support of figures such as Hamas MP Samira al-Halaiqa, who was detained on International Women’s Day in the Hebron district of the West Bank. “We don’t depend on the hypocritical world that stays silent vis-à-vis Israeli crimes and deals with the Palestinian case with hypocrisy,” al-Zahar said. “We all hope that Palestine will be freed at the hands of resistance fighters.” Al-Zahar added that the sit-in sought to affirm the PLC’s position as the sole representative of the Palestinian people. PLC Deputy Head Ahmad Bahr said that al-Halaiqa’ detention showed that Israel “only understood the language of force.” He added that Israeli detention of Palestinian political figures was a deliberate move to deprive the Palestinian people of their leadership, and stressed that Palestinian resistance factions were striving to release all Palestinians held prisoner by Israel. According to the event organizers, some 10 political leaders, including Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) Secretary-General Ahmad Saadat and prominent Fatah figure Marwan al-Barghouthi, were currently held in Israeli custody … Rights groups say that Israel has used its detention of Palestinians to attempt to disrupt Palestinian political and social processes, notably targeting Palestinian politicians, activists, and journalists.
Why Israel arrested Hamas-affiliated MPs in West Bank / Shlomi Eldar
Al-Monitor 10 Mar — The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) arrested on March 9 Samira Halaika, a Hamas delegate to the Palestinian parliament from the West Bank town of Hebron. Reports of her detention emerged only after the Hamas Change and Reform Party issued an announcement saying Israeli soldiers had raided her home in the early morning hours near Hebron, searched the premises and took her with them when they left. On March 6, IDF troops raided the homes of and then arrested two other Hamas parliament delegates, Khaled Tafesh and Anwar Zboun, residents of the town of Bethlehem. The three joined a fourth Hamas member of parliament from the Ramallah area, Hussein Abu Kuweik, who was arrested in August 2016. The IDF didn’t release any statements explaining the arrests, but a Palestinian security source, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told Al-Monitor that the Palestinian Authority’s (PA) security services believe there’s no real reason for the move because the detained parliament members are not linked to the armed wing of Hamas. In his assessment, the arrests were a tool in the psychological warfare Israel is waging against Hamas to force it to return the bodies of two Israeli soldiers killed in the Gaza Strip in 2014 — Hadar Goldin and Oron Shaul — as well as Israeli civilians being held in Gaza. The members of Hamas’ Change and Reform Party were elected in the last PA elections, which took place more than a decade ago, in January 2006. But the parliament has been inactive since the 2007 takeover of the Gaza Strip by the Hamas military wing, and Hamas and Fatah have each set up alternative, temporary bodies … In this anomalous situation, those representing the organizations elected to the now-defunct parliament continue to bear the title of “member of parliament” despite being elected more than 10 years ago and serving in the Palestinian legislature barely a year….
Changes to Gaza’s Futuwwa program reduce child protection risks
IMEMC/Agencies 10 Mar — Gaza’s Futuwwa program, an “awareness and fitness program” in government-run schools, no longer includes the controversial military-style drills that provoked international criticism and raised concerns about child recruitment. A Ministry of Education (MOE) official and a principal told Defence for Children International – Palestine components of the program involving children carrying weapon replicas and donning uniforms had been suspended. In its current form, the Futuwwa program is a civic and health program only, DCIP sources said. Its goals are to promote positive decision-making, physical activity, and patriotism in high-school boys. Program leaders assigned to each school by the Ministry of Interior (MOI) lead children through warm-up exercises and the Palestinian national anthem during morning queues. Once or twice a month, the program leaders also teach a lesson on Palestinian history, cooperation, personal development and cultural pride. Although it takes place during school hours, participation is now optional and there are no grades. Black uniforms, which were used in the past during the military-style drills, have also been dropped. There is talk of expanding the program to girls. Loosely translated as “chivalry,” the Futuwwa program takes its name from a long tradition of young men’s associations or guilds around shared religious, craftmanship, or military ideals, dating back to at least the sixteenth century … Recent changes to the program stemmed, in part, from a slew of parent complaints in 2012, as a MOE official who wished to remain anonymous explained … Pressure continued to mount as the Futuwwa program drew international criticism. In addition to objections over the use of weapons replicas in schools, there were fears that the program funneled children into summer and winter camps administered by Palestinian armed groups. [Long and interesting article, apparently mainly from Defence for Children International – Palestine]
Palestinian rock band dreams of a brighter future
GAZA CITY (Al Jazeera) 10 Mar by Isra Namey — From inside the Asayal Studio in Gaza City, five young musicians have made it their mission to convey an optimistic message about life in the besieged Palestinian territory. “We are simply trying to send out a message full of hope and peace from Gaza to the world. People of Gaza deserve to live in peace and dignity,” Mohamed Zohud, the 25-year-old lead singer of Typo, told Al Jazeera, noting that the band’s goal is to “bring joy to the faces of Palestinians in Gaza”. Along with his four bandmates, Zohud composes songs that reflect and document their experiences of living in Gaza amid mounting political and economic pressure. Typo is the first rock band to emerge in Gaza, and after releasing a debut album last year, they are already working towards a second. “Nowadays, youth are breaking down the barriers between nations and constructing bridges based on art and music,” studio manager Wael el-Eazji told Al Jazeera, noting that social media has made it easier for different types of music to catch on in the isolated territory. An early version of the band formed after Israel’s 2012 war on Gaza. Zohud and his close friend, Basem Hamlawi, began thinking about how they could help people to escape from the widespread post-war despair. That is when they turned to music, studying a series of YouTube videos to learn about rock music. They studied tutorials on how to play the guitar, bass and keyboard.
Any business is good business in blockaded Gaza Strip
GAZA STRIP (AFP) 10 Mar –In the heart of the Shati refugee camp, machines buzz as Mohammed Abu Shanab’s employees sew small, round pieces of cloth into Jewish skullcaps for export to Israel. It may seem an unlikely product to be made in a Palestinian enclave ravaged by Israel in three wars since 2008, but with unemployment and poverty rampant, some in Gaza will take any business they can get. “The Israelis appreciate our products for their quality and our proximity to their market,” Mr Abu Shanab said. “On the other hand, they fear the crossings will be closed and the delivery of goods will be delayed.” Israel controls all crossings into and out of the Gaza Strip, apart from one bordering Egypt. One terminal on the Israeli border – Kerem Shalom – is designated for goods. With about a dozen sewing machines, Mr Abu Shanab’s small factory, located near the home of Hamas’s former leader in Gaza Ismail Haniya, produces shirts and trousers as well. But his production level is not what he would like. He shut down when Israel imposed a blockade on the Gaza Strip in 2006, after the Islamist movement Hamas took control of territory. The three wars that followed completely or partially took out about 50 companies in the Gaza Strip, according to industry representatives. Mr Abu Shanab’s factory reopened only last year….
Gaza comic is standing up for her dream of making it big in comedy
GAZA CITY (The Observer) 12 Mar by Emma Graham-Harrison — Reham al-Kahlout defies neighbourhood gossips, online trolls and the occasional insult from strangers for a handful of laughs and a powerful dream. The 19-year-old hails from the isolated and increasingly conservative Gaza Strip, and hopes to become the first woman from her hometown to make it big in comedy. “I believe that I have to break that barrier, I have to make it through,” she says with a grin. “Everyone wants to know why, but I say ‘why do you ask me that?’ – I have to keep going.” Life in Gaza is difficult even for those young people who haven’t decided to defy convention and chase their dream. The territory is in the grip of water and electricity shortages, and a lengthy blockade has crippled the economy, with nearly two-thirds of young men and women out of work. For now, Kahlout appears in low-budget YouTube skits produced by a local comedy troupe. The men who appear in them are stars in Gaza, but for her, fame is more complicated. “The feedback is more negative than positive, I have to say. The men get totally the opposite response.” The critics who hunt her out on YouTube or in the streets are not annoyed by bad jokes or bad acting – just her temerity in appearing on screen, often with her hair uncovered, in a place where local female actors are vanishingly rare and most women wear the hijab….
Gaza’s all-female café, a breath of fresh air
GAZA CITY (Al-Monitor) 12 Mar by Najlaa Eskafi — Colorful butterflies and flowers adorn the walls of the café where ladies sit together for a cup of morning coffee to engage in cordial conversation. In one corner, an Arabian-style seating area is set up, where women and girls gather to read and discuss literary and cultural books. The café opens to a small garden planted of Graminaceae (green flowering plants), which creates a soothing outdoor ambiance. Inside, women have access to a movie theater room equipped with a 3-D flat-screen TV. The room leads to a game room, where women can play a variety of sports or educational games, including billiards, cards, chess, backgammon and dominoes. Women can enjoy all of this and more at al-Jalaa, an all-female café on al-Jalaa Street in the center of Gaza City. The cafe is managed by three female friends, Heba al-Banna, Douaa Aly and Yasmin Fayez, who were unable to find jobs after graduating from university in light of a 41.7% unemployment rate in the Gaza Strip. A year ago they decided to open a special coffee shop for women. The idea was to provide an all-female recreational gathering point that ensures privacy, is in line with the social needs of Gaza’s women and reflects their interests; a place where they can relax, talk and laugh aloud, as most women do not feel comfortable sitting in mixed restaurants and coffee shops….
Celebrating ten years of Gaza scholarships
SHEFFIELD, UK (The Star) 10 Mar — An event to celebrate the links between Sheffield and Palestine has been held at Sheffield Town Hall. The event, earlier this week, marked International Women’s Day, as well as the 10th anniversary of the Sheffield Palestine Women’s Scholarship Fund. The celebration, hosted by the Lord Mayor, Coun Denise Fox, brought together speakers and the voices of the Gazan women students that have been supported by the fund in the last decade. The Scholarship Fund started with three students in 2007 and last year sponsored 39 women into higher education … Dr Mona El Farra, from the Red Crescent Society and Middle East Children’s Alliance, is the fund’s link in Gaza. She said: “This is proof of how acts of solidarity and the power of education are having a real impact on the lives of women in the Gaza Strip….
Palestinian refugees – Lebanon
Palestinian killed, Hamas official injured during clashes in Lebanon refugee camp
BEIRUT (Ma‘an) 10 Mar — A Palestinian was killed and an Hamas official was injured in the back on Friday afternoon when an exchange of fire erupted in the Palestinian Burj al-Barajneh refugee camp in southern Beirut. Palestinian factions condemned the armed clashes in a statement, saying that the deadly incident was caused by a dispute between two local families and was not politically motivated. The statement stressed the importance of the collaboration between the Lebanese army, and Lebanese and Palestinian factions in the refugee camp in order to achieve stability and security for residents. Palestinians in Lebanon have the highest percentage of their population living in abject poverty from among the other countries the organization serves, according to UNRWA. Facing discriminatory employment policies, Palestinians in Lebanon are restricted from working in over 20 professions or claiming the same rights as other non-citizens in Lebanon, while all the refugee camps suffer from overcrowding, poor housing conditions, and a lack of infrastructure.
Solidarity / Activism / BDS
Israeli Apartheid Week held at 30 UK universities, despite repression
EI 10 Mar by Michael Deas — Israeli Apartheid Week took place on more than 30 university campuses across the UK last week despite a massive government backed campaign of repression. The week saw some events cancelled, with unprecedented and bizarre restrictions imposed on organizers. Israeli Apartheid Week is an annual series of events that last year took place in more than 225 cities across the world to raise awareness about how Israel meets the UN definition of apartheid and to build support for the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement. Thousands of students and academics attended events as part of what was one of the biggest Israeli Apartheid Weeks in the UK to date. This was doubly impressive given the unprecedented campaign of repression launched against Israeli Apartheid Week by the UK government, universities and the pro-Israel lobby. The campaign came in the context of broader attacks on Palestine organizing in the UK and across the world. On 13 February, UK universities minister Jo Johnson wrote a letter, seen by The Electronic Intifada, titled “Tackling Anti-semitism on campus” to Nicola Dandridge, the head of Universities UK, the representative organization for universities. Apparently signaling that universities should seek to subject Israeli Apartheid Week events to special scrutiny, Johnson wrote that events which “might take place under the banner of ‘Israel Apartheid’ events” must be “properly handled by higher education institutions to ensure that our values, expectations and laws are not violated. Johnson’s letter was passed on to the head of each of the UK’s universities. British university staff are also being told to “manage” pro-Palestine events on campus as part of the government’s controversial Prevent anti-extremism strategy, Middle East Eye reported. In addition, pro-Israel organizations lobbied universities directly, urging them to cancel Israeli Apartheid Week events and organized mass letter writing campaigns. According to an email newsletter it sent out, the Board of Deputies of British Jews, a pro-Israel organization, met with several universities to call for the cancellation of events. Apparently urged on by pro-Israel groups, the Charity Commission, the regulating body for UK charities, sent intimidating emails to student unions at many of the universities where Israeli Apartheid Week was taking place….
Richard Gere to Haaretz: Settlements are an absurd provocation, the occupation is indefensible
Haaretz 12 Mar by Allison Kaplan Sommer — ‘Norman’ star had a hard time deciding whether to come to Israel for local premiere: ‘I had people living here who told me, “Look, no good will come of this. The bad guys will use you.”‘ — Richard Gere says his decision to travel to Jerusalem last week for the Israeli premiere of his new film, ‘Norman: The Moderate Rise and Tragic Fall of a New York Fixer,’ wasn’t easy. Perched on a bench in the courtyard of the Jerusalem Cinemathèque, a sweeping view of Jerusalem behind him, the movie star and human-rights activist told Haaretz that despite the fact he has traveled to the country numerous times in the past, this visit “was more complex than any other time I’ve come here.” Over the course of a full month, Gere says he debated whether “it would be a good thing” for him to make the trip….
Weekly report on Israeli human rights violations in the occupied Palestinian territory (2-8 March 2017)
PCHR-Gaza 9 Mar — Israeli forces killed a Palestinian civilian in al-Bireh. 5 civilians, including a child and journalist, were wounded in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. An Israeli drone targeted a military observation point belonging to Hamas Movement and completely destroyed it. Israeli forces continued to target the border areas in the Gaza Strip. Two Palestinian civilians were wounded in the northern Gaza Strip. Israeli forces continued to target Palestinian fishermen in the Gaza Sea. Israeli forces conducted 62 incursions into Palestinian communities in the West Bank and four limited ones were conducted in the central and southern Gaza Strip. 57 civilians, including 2 children and 2 PLC Members, were arrested in the West Bank. 10 of them, including a child, were arrested in occupied Jerusalem and its suburbs. Israeli forces continued their efforts to create Jewish majority in occupied East Jerusalem. Two events to celebrate the International Women’s Day were cancelled in Jerusalem. Israeli forces continued their settlement activities in the West Bank. Two houses were demolished in Khelet al-‘Idah neighbourhood, south of Hebron. Israeli settlers uprooted and damaged 22 olive seedlings while they sprayed with toxic herbicides 3 dunums planted with grain, south of Hebron. Israeli settlers attacked a farmer and his wife, northeast of Qalqilya. 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. 5 Palestinian civilians were arrested at military checkpoints. [Details follow]
Basel al-Araj: PA Police break up protest over court case
RAMALLAH (Al Jazeera) 12 Mar by Ylenia Gostoli — Palestinian police violently suppressed a demonstration over a court case against slain activist Basel al-Araj and five others imprisoned by the Palestinian Authority (PA) last year. A prominent activist and youth movement leader, Araj, 31, was killed in an Israeli raid in Ramallah last week. About 200 people took part in what was a peaceful gathering on Sunday until Palestinian security forces and riot police intervened to break it up, violently arresting its leaders, firing tear gas and rubber-coated bullets, and swinging batons to disperse the group. At least 11 people were injured, including Araj’s father, and were transferred to the nearby Ramallah hospital. Security forces prevented many Palestinian journalists from covering the event, assaulting some and breaking their equipment. Protesters chanted slogans against the judges responsible for ruling on the case and held pictures of Araj. Altercations began when police arrived at the scene and formed a wall in front of the district court, shoving protesters back. A number of demonstrators were arrested, including Islamic Jihad leader Khader Adnan. “We’re here against all political arrests, against all political courts,” Lema Nazeeh, a lawyer and activist, told Al Jazeera. “The PA should take responsibility for protecting people, not taking them to court and making them into easy targets for the Israeli army,” she added. A request for comment from the Palestinian Authority went unanswered. The official news agency Wafa quoted police spokesman Louay Azriqat as saying security forces “treated the [protesters] with force, in accordance with the law, in order to open up the street and get things back to normal”….
Palestinian forces use live fire against protesters opposing the PA in Duheisha
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 12 Mar — Clashes erupted between Palestinian Authority (PA) security forces and demonstrators at Duheisha refugee camp in the occupied West Bank district of Bethlehem on Sunday evening, as locals reported that police were shooting live fire towards Palestinian youths. Scores of Palestinians marched from Duheisha on Sunday afternoon to protest a legal case against slain activist Basel al-Araj and five other Palestinians who were imprisoned alongside him last year by the PA, as well as to denounce police repression against a similar protest in Ramallah earlier in the day. The march headed to a Palestinian police station in the nearby village of Artas, where clashes then erupted. Local news sources and Duheisha residents reported that Palestinian police officers forces were using live bullets, tear gas, and sound bombs against the demonstrators, as youths threw rocks and Molotov cocktails at police forces. Local news page al-Duheisha al-Hadath said that Palestinian forces had raided at least one home in Duheisha in the clashes … Video footage [below] from Duheisha showed PA forces firing heavily towards the crowd.
Palestinian police deny that Ramallah chief resigned over suppression of anti-PA protest
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 13 Mar — Palestinian Authority (PA) security forces spokesman Adnan al-Dmeiri denied on Monday reports that Ramallah chief of police Abd al-Latif al-Qaddumi had resigned in the wake of the police’s violent suppression of anti-PA protests in the central occupied West Bank city a day earlier. Dmeiri told Ma‘an that reports in some local media outlets claiming that al-Qaddumi had resigned and that a number of other police officers were interrogated were false, calling the reports “a provocation.”
PA police detain 34 Palestinians at Allenby Bridge crossing over the week
JERICHO (Ma‘an) 11 Mar — Palestinian police over the past week detained 34 Palestinians wanted by the Palestinian Authority (PA) or otherwise banned from travel at the Allenby Bridge crossing between the occupied West Bank and Jordan, according to a statement released Saturday by the public relations and media department of the Palestinian police. The statement added that some 16,099 Palestinians and visitors left the West Bank into Jordan through the crossing, while 15,445 arrived from Jordan.
Also during the week, coordination was made for 15 sick Palestinians on both sides of the crossing to pass though with Palestinian ambulances. The statement added that 40 travelers were turned away from the Israeli side of the crossing during the week for alleged security reasons. Israeli forces routinely detain Palestinians at the crossing, as Palestinians must cross the border to access the Amman International Airport in order to travel abroad.
Hamas reportedly establishing new Gaza administration, casting shadow on Palestinian unity
Haaretz 11 May by Jack Khoury — Hamas is making long-term plans to run Gaza independently despite agreeing to form unity government with PA; Fatah accuses Hamas of establishing a ‘shadow government — Hamas is working to establish an administration that would run the Gaza Strip, thus putting off the planned reconciliation with the Palestinian Authority, according to a report in Lebanon’s Al-Akhbar newspaper. This despite the fact that Hamas and Fatah, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’ party, agreed to establish a unity government during talks in Moscow two months ago. About a month later, Hamas elected a new leader in Gaza, Yahya Sinwar. Al-Akhbar reported on Saturday that Hamas wants to run Gaza independently in the long run due to the belief that true reconciliation and joint governance can’t be achieved as long as Abbas leads the Palestinian Authority. According to Al-Akhbar, a senior Hamas figure in Gaza, Salah Al Bardawil, said this weekend that “the Palestinian Legislative Council in Gaza is working to establish a new administrative apparatus in the Strip within a month.” The apparatus will consist of ministers and senior defense figures, and will be led by Yusuf Al-Kayali of the Gazan Finance Ministry. Its establishment is part of the reorganization of the Strip’s government. Fatah blasted Hamas over the plan….
Hiking tours could boost domestic tourism in West Bank
BETHLEHEM, West Bank (Al-Monitor) 10 Mar by Aziza Nofal — Climbing and hiking tours in the West Bank not only have the potential to increase tourism, but also give Palestinian youth the chance to visit areas they have never seen before, thus strengthening their sense of belonging to the homeland — When Amro Halayka joined the Palestinian Association for Mountain Sports Development (PAMSD) three years ago, he was only planning to take up climbing for leisure. He had just graduated from the faculty of media and journalism at Hebron University, and enjoyed touring Hebron and visiting historic areas on his days off from working at a media office. Then climbing turned into an activity that took up more of his time; Halayka started going on hiking trips in Palestine and abroad, specifically in Europe. In July, Halayka, 27, will go to France and participate in a training program for alpine mountaineering, in preparation of his attempt to achieve his dream of climbing Mont Blanc. PAMSD, which was established in late 2013 by a group of people specialized in tourism and various mountain sports, organizes mountain sports activities, including hiking and climbing, across the West Bank. The association is registered with the Palestinian Ministry of Interior….
Banksy discusses new West Bank installation ‘The Walled Off Hotel’
NME 10 Mar by Sam Moore — Banksy has discussed his new installment ‘The Walled Off Hotel’ – located in Bethlehem – in a new statement. The Bristol-born street artist set up his latest exhibition last week in a building next to the controversial barrier wall built by Israel in the occupied West Bank region. Priding itself on offering “the worst view in the world,” the installment will also act as a real hotel when it opens on March 20. In a new statement from the artist about his latest art installation, Banksy explained the political reasoning behind its new location. “It’s exactly one hundred years since Britain took control of Palestine and started re-arranging the furniture — with chaotic results,” he explained. “I don’t know why, but it felt like a good time to reflect on what happens when the United Kingdom makes a huge political decision without fully comprehending the consequences.” The artist asked Elton John to play at the hotel’s ‘opening party’ – “I don’t know much about piano players; I could only think of one,” Banksy explained. “So, I wrote Elton John an email, and, rather amazingly, he agreed to play” – a gig that John ended up performing remotely, with the performance being beamed into the hotel via television screens. Watch footage of Elton John performing below.
Banksy’s West Bank hotel raises ire among Palestinians
BETHLEHEM, West Bank (MEE) 10 Mar by Sheren Khalel — When Banky’s Walled Off Hotel made itself known in Bethlehem, the news spread quickly. While the hotel seemed to garner praise internationally, some Palestinians quickly took to criticising the artist’s latest stunt as a “normalisation” project that supports conflict tourism. Suspicions of the project, which is backed by UK-based graffiti artist Banksy, centres primarily around the project’s lack of transparency. The international community and Palestinians learned of the hotel’s existence together as the hotel’s developers kept the project secret until the big reveal. No one seems to know where the profits from the hotel will go, or if developers had to get permission from Israeli authorities to make renovations for such a controversial project in the administrative region of the West Bank known as Area C, where on average only 1.5 percent of all Palestinian building permit requests are approved, according to the UN. On the hotel’s website, developers addressed the question of whether the hotel is “making a profit off of other people’s misery,” but they assured guests not to worry, as “Banksy won’t see a penny” … One hospitality manager in Bethlehem, who asked to remain anonymous, told MEE that he had heard rumours about the hotel’s finances. “There’s absolutely something weird about the hotel. I know someone who works there and they’re paying their employees three and four times more than the normal salaries for people working in hospitality, and we want to know where the money is coming from, first thing, and also, where it is going,” he said.
Israel to allow Palestinian minors outside of Palestine to obtain Palestinian IDs and passports
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 10 Mar — Palestinian minors living outside of the occupied Palestinian territory will now be permitted by Israel to enter the territory to obtain Palestinian identity cards and passports, Palestinian sources said on Thursday. Head of the Palestinian Civil Affairs Committee Hussein al-Sheikh stated that Israel had agreed to allow Palestinian minors, aged between 14 and 16, who are living outside of Palestine to enter the territory with their birth certificates. The minors will then be able to file applications with the civil affairs committee to obtain Palestinian IDs and passports, along with becoming registered in the Palestinian population.
Haaretz editorial: An Arab-free Knesset
12 Mar — It is outrageous to demand that the elected representatives of Israel’s non-Jewish minority swear loyalty to the ‘Jewish state.’ — This morning, a few days after Likud MK Miki Zohar proposed annexing the West Bank without giving Palestinians the right to vote, the Ministerial Committee for Legislation is scheduled to discuss a bill that could harm the right of Arabs who are citizens of Israel to vote and to run for office. The proposed amendment to the Basic Law on the Knesset would add to the oath of office sworn by Knesset members — “to be loyal to the State of Israel” — the phrase “as a Jewish and democratic state, in accordance with the spirit of the Declaration of Independence, to preserve and to respect it symbols.” It is not by chance that the preamble to the draft law contains no mention of the purpose of the change. After all, it is obvious that no declaration of loyalty has the power to increase loyalty to the state. At best, the bill will cause hatred, anger and rebellion of Israel’s Arab minority. At worst it will reduce this community’s participation in the electoral process, thus dealing a mortal blow to Israeli democracy. From this it follows that the aim of the draft law is not to solve a problem, but rather to spark outrage and to impinge on the right of Arabs to vote and to run for office. For a large portion of Arab Knesset members, the oath’s revised version requires them to be untrue to themselves: For years, the term “Jewish state” means exclusion and discrimination…..
Remains of possible Jordanian soldier found in East Jerusalem
[with photos] JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 10 Mar — Israeli Jerusalem municipality crews on Wednesday uncovered the remains of two unidentified soldiers during excavation works in the occupied East Jerusalem neighborhood of Sur Bahir, Israeli media reported. The Times of Israel reported that the nationalities of the two soldiers remained unknown, but that the remains could be dated back to before the creation of the state of Israel in 1948. Meanwhile, eyewitnesses told Ma‘an that remains of at least one Jordanian soldier, including his military Jordanian uniform, were found during the excavation works in an area of Sur Bahir that served as a Jordanian military post prior to Israel’s occupation of East Jerusalem in 1967. According to locals, the district west of Sur Bahir where the remains were found was a Jordanian military camp named al-Jaras that Israeli forces occupied during a battle with the Jordanian army in 1967, in which six Israeli soldiers and 85 Jordanian soldiers were killed. The remains of the soldiers were reportedly taken to Abu Kabir Forensic Institute for examination.
Will FIFA ever stand up to Israeli teams in illegal settlements? / Dave Zirin
The Nation 9 Mar — Human-rights organizations have a simple demand for FIFA: Follow your own bylaws — The situation for Palestinian and Arab soccer players in Israel, the West Bank, and Gaza has for some time been dire at best. On one side of the wall, segregated youth teams, racist abuse, and heckling — including charming chants such as “Death to the Arabs” — are working hazards of taking the field. On the other, checkpoint detention, imprisonment, and the bombing of soccer stadiums have become regular features of what is supposed to be the people’s game. Given the powerful role that soccer plays as a point of community cohesion in the West Bank and Gaza, this everyday violence has been interpreted as a full-frontal attack on civil society, normalcy, and hope. Soccer in the region has been so troubled for so long that FIFA, the international body that oversees global soccer, has a specific committee to monitor Israel-Palestine issues. One of the problems in front of them is how to handle the fact that Israel’s national soccer league has six teams — Ma’aleh Adumim, Ariel, Kiryat Arba, Givat Ze’ev, Oranit, and settlements in the Jordan Valley — that are based in illegal, universally condemned settlements. The existence of these teams comprises a violation of international law. It also conflicts with FIFA’s own bylaws, which state that member organizations cannot compete within the national borders of another territory without permission. For Netanyahu, this issue is bigger than soccer, but symbolic of his expansionist ideology. He has been on a full-scale offensive to keep FIFA from casting out these teams … This week, a wide coalition of human-rights organizations has announced their opposition to FIFA’s decision to drag their feet on this issue indefinitely. The Palestinian Football Association, Human Rights Watch, the UN Special Adviser on Sport for Development and Peace Wilfried Lemke, and Palestinian solidarity organizations around the world have demanded that soccer teams based in illegal settlements be moved or disbanded. In addition, a petition has been presented, addressed to new FIFA president Gianni “Johnny Baby” Infantino and signed by almost 10,000 football fans, asking for resolution of this question….
Abbas, King Abdullah II discuss Arab summit in 2nd phone call in 24 hours
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 11 Mar — Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Jordan’s King Abdullah II held the second phone call together on Saturday afternoon within a span of 24 hours. Palestinian news agency Wafa reported that Abbas discussed preparations for the upcoming Arab League Summit with Abdullah expected to be held in the Jordanian capital of Amman by the end of the month. Wafa also reported that Abbas had informed Abdullah that US President Donald Trump, who the Palestinian leader had his first phone call with on Friday, had confirmed that his administration would remain committed to a “real peace process.”
Donald Trump invites Mahmoud Abbas to White House
Al Jazeera 12 Mar — US Presiden Donald Trump has invited Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas for a visit to the White House, in the first phone call between the two leaders since Trump’s inauguration on January 20. Trump invited Abbas “to visit the White House soon to discuss ways to resume the [Palestinian-Israeli] political process”, Wafa, the official Palestinian news agency, quoted Abbas’ spokesman Nabil Abu Rudeina as saying on Friday. The White House said in a statement that Trump invited Abbas to a meeting at the White House “in the near future”. Abbas told Trump that peace was a “strategic choice” for the Palestinian people which should lead to the “establishment of a Palestinian state alongside Israel,” Wafa reported.” The president emphasised his personal belief that peace is possible and that the time has come to make a deal,” according to a White House statement. Al Jazeera’s Patty Culhane, reporting from Washington, DC, said this signals that Trump is going to take a different approach than previous administrations. “Like most things, he puts things in the language of a businessman. He’s said in the past that it would be the ‘ultimate deal’,” our correspondent said. “We believe he is going to let his son-in-law Jared Kushner take the lead. It’s not clear how much the Palestinians will trust him. His family foundation has given money to illegal settlements in the West Bank. That is something the likely new US ambassador to Israel has also done.” ….