Violence / Detentions — West Bank / Jerusalem
Palestinian teen ‘executed’ by Israeli police after stabbing, lightly injuring 3 Israelis
[with VIDEO, photos] BETHLEHEM (Ma ‘an) 1 Apr — Israeli forces shot and killed a Palestinian teenager in occupied East Jerusalem’s Old City on Saturday, after he carried out a stab attack that left three Israelis lightly injured, with witnesses asserting Israeli police could have easily detained the boy without killing him. Israeli police spokeswoman Luba al-Samri said in a written statement that a 17-year-old Palestinian armed with a knife stabbed and lightly injured two “Jewish young men” — aged 18 and 23, at around 3:30 p.m. Israeli forces chased after the teen, who ran inside a building that had its door left open, al-Samri said. As Israeli police struggled to detain him, one policeman was lightly injured, according to al-Samri. More Israeli police officers arrived at the scene and opened heavy fire on the boy, killing him. The slain Palestinian was identified by the Palestinian Ministry of Health as 17-year-old Ahmad Zahir Fathi Ghazal from Nablus in the northern occupied West Bank. An eyewitness told Ma‘an that he saw the the boy stab “two settlers” on al-Wad street in the Old City and escape into the nearby building, before Israeli forces ambushed Ghazal in a small apartment, which had no alternate exit. “Then we heard sounds of intensive shooting coming from the building,” he said.”They could have detained him — he was surrounded by a large number of soldiers. But they executed him.” … According to the witness’ testimony, a female border police officer was seen exiting the building with a minor foot injury. “They ambushed him in the staircase. They could have detained him without any problem, but they wanted to kill him instead. We heard four soldiers riddling him with bullets. It was like a battlefield.” When officers withdrew from the apartment, locals who approached the building were beaten by Israeli forces and forced to leave. Journalists were also prevented from taking photos. Witnesses said more than 25 bullet holes were puncturing the walls of the apartment. Israeli police meanwhile imposed heightened security measures in the area, forcing shops to close, and denying pedestrians access to the street….
Gideon Levy // ‘If our sons are a threat to Israel, why not arrest them? Why kill them?’
Haaretz 31 Mar by Gideon Levy & Alex Levac — The car was set afire by young people in the Jalazun refugee camp after the body was removed and the wounded extricated. It’s not clear whether they were venting their anger or wanted to prevent the Israel Defense Forces from confiscating the vehicle. The burned-out wreck now lies on a hill at the far end of the neighboring village of Jifna. The scorched remains of the Peugeot 206, which has yellow (Israeli) license plates and was probably stolen, tells an important part of the story. The chassis is perforated like a sieve. The soldiers fired at least 10 rounds into the car and the bullet holes are still visible, even after the torching. They are of different sizes – some exceptionally large – and all are on the right-hand side of the vehicle and what remains of its seats. Was it necessary to shoot so many bullets at the car, even if one of its occupants apparently threw a Molotov cocktail – which hurt no one and caused no damage? What exactly happened at around 8:30 P.M. last Thursday, adjacent to the back entrance of the Beit El settlement, whose iron gate was locked and shuttered at the time of the incident? The result is unquestionable, for sure. None of the five teenagers in the car emerged unscathed. Muhammad Mahmoud Ibrahim al-Hattab, 17, was killed by a bullet to the chest; Jassem Nakhle, 18, is hospitalized in critical condition, struck by a bullet to the head that apparently caused brain death; Ahmed Zayad, 15, suffered a serious chest wound with damage to his left lung; Moussa Nakhle, 18, is in serious condition after being shot in the chest and stomach; and the driver, M., 17, was lightly wounded by shrapnel … According to M. – who doesn’t want to give his full name for fear of being arrested – the five teens went to Ramallah to eat. On the way back, their car stalled and they pulled over next to Beit El. M. told Iyad Hadad, the Ramallah area field researcher for the Israeli human rights organization B’Tselem, that the shooting began when he got out of the vehicle in order to try to push it, apparently after it stalled. He was hit by a bullet in the arm, he says, and got back into the car fast. Muhammad was sitting next to him. The wounded youths fell on him one after the other, thereby protected him from the gunfire, he says … Muhammad was the only son of Mahmoud Hattab, who is employed in the office of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas as liaison to the United Arab Emirates Embassy in Ramallah. The teen’s dream was to be a pilot. His father often took him to work with him, as seen in the family photos. One shows 10-year-old Muhammad in the Muqata (the seat of the Palestinian government in Ramallah) with the pilot of a helicopter sent by Jordan’s King Abdullah to fly Abbas to Amman … “What is the reason for such violent behavior by the soldiers and for such heavy firing at the car?” [Mahmoud] asks. “After all, there are rules even in war, and this is not a war but shooting at unarmed civilians. We ask Israeli society: Do we pose a danger to you? Are our sons a threat to you? Jassem and Moussa live in the house opposite ours; they are our cousins. What kind of threat are they to Israel? And if they are a threat, why weren’t they arrested? Why kill them? We as a family say to the Israeli public: Our children were murdered in cold blood.”…. [long and disturbing article – it’s well worth a subscription to Haaretz to read articles like this in their entirety]
Israeli forces shoot, injure 15-year-old Palestinian in Ramallah-area village
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 1 Apr — Israeli soldiers shot and injured a 15-year-old Palestinian with a live bullet on Friday evening near the village of Ni‘lin in the central occupied West Bank district of Ramallah, claiming the boy threw a Molotov cocktail at an Israeli settler’s vehicle near an Israeli bypass road. The boy was identified as Utayba Jiyad Hussein Amireh. The details of his injury were not yet known as of Saturday. Israeli media reported that the youth had allegedly thrown a Molotov cocktail at an Israeli settler vehicle on a nearby bypass road, one of a number of bypass roads that cut through the occupied Palestinian territory to connect illegal settlements to Israel and Jerusalem. Israeli soldiers sealed the area following the shooting and prevented people and Palestinian Red Crescent ambulances from approaching the wounded teenager, according to locals. Amireh was detained and transferred to an unidentified location. The entrance of Ni‘lin was also sealed, as Israeli forces erected a military checkpoint and prevented any vehicles from coming in or out of the village. An Israeli army spokesperson told Ma‘an that the official responsible for the shooting was from the Israeli border police.
Army injures four Palestinians in Kufur Qaddoum
IMEMC 1 Apr — Israeli soldiers attacked, Friday, the weekly nonviolent protest in Kufur Qaddoum town, east of the northern West Bank city of Qalqilia, and wounded four, in addition to causing damage a main water pipeline. Morad Eshteiwy, the media coordinator of the Popular Committee against the Annexation Wall and colonies in Kufur Qaddoum, said this week’s protest also marks March 30th, the Palestinian Land Day, in addition to its weekly message against the closure of the town’s main road, for the fourteenth consecutive year, Israel’s ongoing illegal construction and expansion of its colonies, and constant violations. Eshteiwy added that the soldiers shot, and mildly wounded, four Palestinians with rubber-coated steel bullets, while several others suffered the effects of teargas inhalation. The soldiers also damaged a main water pipeline, providing the village and its lands with the needed water supply, and added that Local Council workers managed to fix it four hours later.
One night’s detentions
Israeli forces detain 18 Palestinians in overnight raids
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 30 Mar — Israeli forces detained at least 18 Palestinians in overnight detention raids between Wednesday and Thursday across the occupied Palestinian territory, Palestinian and Israeli sources said. Israeli raids in Palestinian towns, villages, and refugee camps are a daily occurrence in the occupied West Bank. The UN recorded an average of 95 weekly raids in the occupied West Bank in 2016, and 78 weekly raids on average thus far in 2017.
Northern West Bank — In the northernmost occupied West Bank, an Israeli army spokesperson told Ma‘an that one Palestinian was detained in the city of Jenin, while another was detained in the Jenin refugee camp. Meanwhile, locals told Ma‘an that Israeli forces raided the house of blind former prisoner Izz al-Din Amarna in the Jenin-area village of Yaabad, interrogating him before confiscating several computers. Clashes then erupted in the village, with Israeli forces firing tear gas and sound bombs at Palestinian youths, causing some to suffer from tear gas inhalation. No detentions were reported in Yaabad.
In the district of Tubas, the Palestinian Prisoners’ Society (PPS) said that Israeli forces detained three Palestinians, identified as Muhammad Hussein Aida, Hussam Salah Abu Amro, and Muhammad Fathi Mansour. The army spokesperson confirmed three detentions in the city of Tubas, and added that another Palestinian was detained in the al-Faraa refugee camp. The army also said one Palestinian was detained in the Tulkarem-area village of ‘Anabta….
In Photos: Israeli Arabs and Palestinians commemorate 41st anniversary of Land Day
HindustanTimes 1 April — 10 photos – caption on one reads “A Bedouin girl wears traditional dress attend a rally marking the 41st anniversary of Land Day, in Deir el-Balah, Central Gaza Strip, Friday, March 31, 2017. Land Day commemorates riots on March 30, 1976, when many were killed during a protest by Israeli Arabs whose property was annexed in northern Israel to expand Jewish communities. (Adel Hana / AP)”
PHOTOS: Thousands of Palestinians march to commemorate Land Day
Activestills 30 Mar — Hundreds of Palestinians took part in marches across Israel on Wednesday and Thursday to mark “Land Day,” commemorating the six Palestinian citizens killed by Israeli forces in 1976. The events began on Wednesday in a torch-lit march in the northern village of Deir Hanna, and continued Thursday, when hundreds marched in Sakhnin, Araba and Deir Hanna, as well as in the occupied territories.
Madama village marks Land Day 2017 under heavy military violence
[with photos] MADAMA, occupied Palestine 31 Mar by International Solidarity Movement, Ramallah Team — Thursday the 30th of March was Land Day, a day in which Palestinians and their supporters commemorate the loss of huge amounts of land stolen by the Zionist colonisers in 1976. In Madama village, in the Nablus area, around 300 Palestinian activists with some internationals marched to the outskirts of their village to plant olive trees on village land which has been stolen by the extremist illegal settlement Yitzhar. This non-violent action came under heavy attack by the Israeli Forces with more than 45 people shot with rubber-coated metal bullets and many more suffering from tear gas inhalation … Over the next two hours or so, the Israeli forces became more and more aggressive firing rubber-coated metal bullets at anyone who was there, often at head height. If someone was injured and on the floor they would fire upon them again and at the people coming to rescue them, even if they were clearly marked as medics. According to the Red Crescent at least 45 people were injured by rubber-coated metal bullets throughout the demonstration. An activist from ISM was also shot with both a rubber-coated metal bullet and hit with a tear gas canister upon their lower legs whilst providing medical support to the injured. Extremist settlers from the illegal settlement of Yitzhar also came to attack the demonstration with stones. They were held off by the people of the demonstration and after talking to the army sat and watched the Israeli forces fire upon unarmed demonstrators. Despite this extreme repression of a group of unarmed demonstrators, people did not leave until all the trees were planted, demonstrating that this is their land and they will not be threatened into not using it.
Four Palestinians arrested during Land Day action in al-Khalil
[with photos] HEBRON, occupied Palestine (31 Mar) by ISM, al-Khalil Team — On Thursday the 30th March, four prominent Palestinian activists were violently arrested by Israeli forces following an olive tree planting action marking the 41st Land Day demonstrations in al-Khalil. ISM activists joined demonstrators who had gathered near the Palestinian house now occupied by the army in the Jabari area of al-Khalil. The demonstrators were already surrounded by dozens of Israeli soldiers, border police, and civilian Israeli police. Over fifty Palestinian demonstrators then made their way down the steep hill into the olive groves where, accompanied by ISM, EAPPI, and CPT activists, as well as the international press, they planted a number of olive trees in defiance of the continuing dispossession and destruction of their olive groves by Israeli settlers. Once the trees were planted, demonstrators made their way back up to the road where they were met by an increased number of Israeli forces claiming that the area had been declared a closed military zone. The demonstration continued on an embankment beside the road. However, it wasn’t long before Israeli forces began pursuing and violently arresting Palestinian demonstrators, whilst colonial settlers – including the notorious Ofer Yohana – harassed and filmed them. As the demonstrators made their way up the hill they continued to be harassed by Ofer Yohana and other colonial settlers and Israeli forces, who took photos and videos of them using their mobile phones. One Israeli settler attempted to block ISM activists from filming by holding up an Israeli flag, and telling the activists to ‘Go [back] to Europe!’. Despite one Palestinian man telling Israeli forces that one of his cuffed hands had been broken in the arrest, the detainees were pushed into military vehicles and taken away. The four Palestinian activists are currently still detained, and will be charged on Sunday at the military court in Ofer. They are charged with participating in an illegal demonstration and being present in a closed military zone…
Dozens injured as Palestinians across West Bank, Gaza commemorate Land Day
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 30 Mar — Palestinians across Israel and the occupied Palestinian territory held protests and marches on Thursday for Land Day — the day in 1976 when Israel confiscated approximately 21,000 dunums of historic Palestinian land across Israel, sparking widespread protests that lead to the death of six young Palestinians at the hands of Israeli forces. Israeli forces suppressed multiple protests in the West Bank, leading to the injury of dozens of peaceful Palestinian protesters…
Locals in the town of Beit Jala set off from the Arab Orthodox Club and headed towards the Israeli separation wall, which cuts through Palestinian lands in Beit Jala in order to separate the town from Israel’s illegal Gilo and Har Gilo settlements, also constructed on Palestinian lands in the area. Israeli forces fired tear gas and sound bombs at lawyers, activists and members of the Palestinian education ministry who participated in the march …
Several Palestinian towns and villages in Israel’s southern Negev region — which was one of three regions, along with central Israel and the northern Galilee, subject to the mass land confiscation in 1976 — organized events to “honor the blood of slain Palestinians” and to stress their “right to defend Palestinian land against Israeli apartheid policies.” In the Bedouin village of Umm al-Hiran, which has been the site of deadly home demolition raids this year, locals uncovered a memorial for slain Palestinian Yaqoub Abu al-Qian, a local math teacher who was killed by Israeli police on January 18 during a demolition raid in the village …
Meanwhile in Sakhnin city, located in the lower Galilee, protesters from the city and surrounding areas marched on Thursday afternoon to the memorials and family homes of the six young Palestinians who were slain on March 30, 1976. Palestinian members of the Israeli Knesset Ayman Odeh and Masoud Ghanayem, and former MK Basel Ghattas, also participated in the protest… Peaceful protests in Gaza — Palestinians of various political factions also joined in protest across the besieged Gaza Strip on Thursday…
Photos: Palestinians commemorate Land Day in Gaza
MEMO 30 Mar — Palestinians around the world are marking the 41st anniversary of Land Day — Hamas official Mushir Al-Masri said that the Gaza Strip is “a fortress for the Palestinian resistance and will not be a safe arena for Israel’s Mossad spy agency.” During his speech in an event marking the 41st anniversary of Land Day in northern Gaza this morning, he stressed that the resistance possesses something in its quiver that would make the Palestinian people happy. “The unity of the Palestinian people is the key to the liberation of our people,” he told the audience. “We will travel valleys and climb mountains to liberate all our prisoners. Our battle with the occupation is not a religious battle, but an existential battle. The Israeli occupation has no religious or historical right to Palestine,” he added. Al-Masri noted that the Palestinians are the true heirs of the land of the prophets, stressing the need to commit to the right to return to the cities and villages in occupied Palestine. Palestinians around the world are marking the 41st anniversary of Land Day. Dozens of Palestinians headed this morning to the Hammouda junction, just a few hundred of metres from the barbed wire separating northern Gaza from the Erez Border Crossing. The Palestinians, with the participation of various factions, renewed their vow to continue efforts to liberate Palestine and regain their occupied land.
Fearing violent pushback, police ban annual Passover sacrifice by Temple Mount activists
Haaretz 31 Mar by Nir Hasson — The activists, who have been conducting the ritual for 15 years, say they will appeal to the High Court — Temple Mount activists will not be permitted to hold their annual Passover sacrifice at an archaeological park near the Western Wall in Jerusalem’s Old City, the police said Thursday. The activists, who campaign for the rebuilding of the ancient Temple on the Temple Mount, plan to petition the High Court of Justice against the decision. According to a letter sent Thursday by the Jerusalem District’s attorney general, Michael Frankenburg, “an evaluation of the situation by the relevant parties” did not allow the event to be held at the park, known as the Davidson Center. Sources say the holding of the sacrifice so near the Temple Mount would infuriate Islamic groups; the Muslim religious trust that administers the site, the Waqf, views the entire area as part of the Mount, which Muslims know as the Noble Sanctuary. Also, archaeologists have said the holding of events at the park violated the site’s character … The ceremony, conducted annually for the past 15 years, began as a semi-underground event in which an animal was sacrificed a few days before Passover. The reenactment, however, is now the most important event of the year for Temple Mount activists. In recent years the municipality has supported the event, and an inspector from the veterinary service has been on hand to supervise. Hundreds of people, including Knesset members, rabbis and other public figures have attended.
Prisoners / Court actions
Palestinian ‘reborn’ after Israel murder sentence revoked
GAZA CITY (AFP) 31 Mar – A Palestinian prisoner freed after 17 years in an Israeli jail for a murder he was later acquitted of said he felt reborn Friday, after returning to his family in Gaza. Hatem al-Maghari was arrested and convicted of murder after the brutal lynching of two Israeli soldiers in 2000, but was released this week after new evidence emerged, the Israeli army said. He arrived in Gaza overnight, he said, and returned to his family in Rafah in the south of the Palestinian enclave. “The feeling of freedom is indescribable,” he told AFP by phone from his family home. “I didn’t kill anyone.” “I am reborn, I felt major injustice and oppression in prison.” Maghari said he was working as a police officer in the Palestinian city of Ramallah in the occupied West Bank when two Israeli reservists drove into the city by mistake. They were taken to a police station for their own safety but images filmed by an Italian television channel showed the crowd storming the station. Later, the crowd was seen striking one of the soldiers who had apparently been beaten to death. A photo of another man with bloody hands screaming with joy at the window after the deaths became an iconic image from the second Palestinian intifada, or uprising. Maghari had always maintained he was not involved and the Israeli military court granted his request following “new elements that make it difficult to prove his effective participation in the killing of one of the soldiers,” the army said in a statement Thursday….
Scores of Palestinian prisoners pledge to join Fatah-led mass hunger strike
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 2 Apr — After Fatah-affiliated Palestinians held in Israeli prisons organized a mass hunger strike to take place on Palestinian Prisoners Day later this month, scores of Palestinian prisoners from across the political spectrum have pledged their involvement in the strike. The strike, led by head of the party’s central committee Marwan Barghouti, is scheduled to launch on April 17, aiming to achieve a list of demands, including an end to the prohibitions and cuts to family visits, proper medical care, an end to deliberate medical neglect, and an end to isolation and administrative detention. A 2012 agreement which ended a similar hunger strike involving some 2,000 Palestinian prisoners was meant to end Israel’s widely condemned policy of internment without trial or charge, but some 536 Palestinians remain held under administrative detention, according to prisoners’ rights group Addameer….
State vows to cut detention times for Palestinians
Haaretz 2 Apr by Amira Hass — But gap with settlers will persist, ‘for security reasons.’ — The state will continue to narrow the gap between the detention times for Palestinians and for settlers in the West Bank, the State Prosecutor’s Office told the High Court of Justice on Thursday. The state was responding to petitions filed in 2010 that already led the army to make changes. The most significant was to begin distinguishing between Palestinian minors and adults in how long they can be held after being arrested before being brought before a judge. However, the state’s representatives told the court the changes would not lead to full equality in the duration of custody between Jews and Palestinians in the West Bank. The state also asked that it be allowed to introduce the changes gradually until May 2018. Attorney Raghad Jeraisy of the Association for Civil Rights in Israel — one of four nongovernmental organizations that asked the High Court to eliminate the gap — said that the groups welcomed any narrowing of the gap. She added, however, that the changes that have been made should have been introduced earlier, and that it was regrettable to have to wait an additional year for further improvements. Jeraisy said that ACRI’s position was that keeping the gaps between the length of time for which Jews and Arabs in the West Bank are held in custody meant the acceptance of two different justice systems.In its response, the State Prosecutor’s Office said that conditions in the West Bank made it more difficult to question Palestinians, gather preliminary evidence against them and transport them. Equalizing detention durations between Jews and Palestinians would harm security, the state wrote….
Restriction of movement
In Photos: Thousands participate in 5th annual Free Movement Palestine Marathon
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 31 Mar — Six thousand Palestinians and international visitors from around the globe set off on Friday morning to participate in the fifth annual Free Movement Palestine Marathon (formerly Right to Movement Palestine Marathon) in the southern occupied West Bank city of Bethlehem. Marathon runners set off from the Nativity Church in Bethlehem’s Manger Square, with head of the Palestinian Olympic Committee Jibril al-Rajoub firing a shot in the air to signal the start of the race. The marathon included a three-kilometer race titled “family race,” a 10-kilometer race, a 21-kilometer race and the full marathon of 42.195 kilometers. The Governor of Bethlehem Jibrin al-Bakri spoke at Manger Square as the marathon drew to an end, saying “the most important message of the marathon is a national one that stresses on the Palestinian reality of restricted movement, land theft and the construction of a separation wall which are all racist actions that violate human rights agreements.” Al-Bakri also added that the marathon sends athletic, humanitarian and social messages as it “opens the space for reinforcing spots and concentrating on different social cases including rights of people with disabilities,” highlighting that 500 people with disabilities took part in the marathon. [PIC: South African runner Mervin Steenkamp, 28, won the full marathon]
Israel releases 2 Gaza fishermen after 3 years of detention
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 31 Mar — Israeli authorities on Friday released two Palestinian fishermen from the Gaza Strip after three years of detention. Head of the Gazan Fishermen Union Zakariya Bakr told Ma‘an that Israeli authorities released fishermen Imad al-Din Mansour and Rami Jumaa via the Erez crossing. Mansour and Jumaa were detained by Israeli forces while working off the coast of Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip three years ago.
Israeli forces open fire at Palestinian lands in southern Gaza
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 1 Apr — Israeli forces opened fire on Palestinian lands in the southern Gaza Strip on Saturday morning, according to locals. Witnesses told Ma‘an that Israeli forces deployed behind the border fence in eastern Rafah city opened fire at Palestinian agricultural lands in the area. No injuries were reported.
Gaza: Israel seeks to ‘drag Hamas into war’
GAZA STRIP (Al Jazeera) 1 Apr by Belal Aldabbour & Ahmed Abdellall — Residents and analysts of Gaza anguish over the prospects of another Israeli onslaught — One week since the assassination of Hamas senior activist Mazen Faqha, the prevailing mood in Gaza is one of uncertainty and fear of another Israeli onslaught. “Many people here regard a fourth Israeli war [on Gaza] as inevitable – a matter of when, not if,” said Moutasem al-Haddad, a shop owner in Gaza’s lively al-Rimal street. Faqha was a former detainee who was freed in the 2011 Shalit prisoner swap deal and exiled to the Gaza Strip. Israel has repeatedly charged him with leading Hamas’ efforts to reestablish an armed presence for the Gaza-based movement in the occupied West Bank. He was shot dead by unidentified gunmen in front of an apartment building where he lived in Gaza City’s southern Tel al-Hawa suburb late on Friday night. The operation was unusual in both tactics and location. It left people in the Strip in a state of shock and dismay. “The past few days remind me of the days in 2014, before the third war [on Gaza] started,” said Sobhiya al-Areer, a Palestinian woman whose son was killed and house destroyed in the 2014 Israeli assault on the Strip. Areer has only recently relocated from a rented apartment to her newly rebuilt house in Shujayea, while her sons remain displaced, waiting for their turn in the sluggish reconstruction process. “As a mother who lost a son in the war I felt the pain of losing Faqha more than anyone,” Areer said. Still, she fears what a new war may bring to her family. “I still have nightmares whenever the [talk of] war is brought up,” she told Al Jazeera. Faqha’s shooters remain on the run while security apparatuses in Gaza try to decode the murder. Since the assassination, checkpoints were erected along key streets in the Strip and police presence has intensified. Restrictions were imposed by the Interior Ministry on the movement of people through the Beit Hanoun (Erez) crossing between Gaza and Israel. “The professional style of this operation, and the tools that the assassins used, indicate that a sophisticated enemy was behind it,” Iyad al-Bozum, spokesperson for the Interior Ministry, told Al Jazeera, naming Israel as the most likely culprit. “Investigations are still ongoing, however,” he added … So far, there has been no official Israeli comment over Faqha’s death. Still, the heated rhetoric and the intense buzzing of Israeli drones over Gaza leave little room for people in the Strip to feel at ease….
UN agency suspends Gaza missions after Hamas restrictions
JERUSALEM (AFP) 31 Mar — A United Nations political agency suspended its missions to Gaza Friday after the Hamas authorities in the Palestinian enclave partly closed the key border crossing into Israel, a source said. The UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East peace process (UNSCO) will not send staff to Gaza until further notice, the source close to the organisation told AFP on condition of anonymity, after Hamas imposed tough new restrictions following the assassination of one of its members. The decision was made, the source added, as frustration grows at the negative impact of the restrictions for aid work and Gazan citizens. UNSCO is the key UN agency working on the currently stagnant Palestinian-Israeli peace process, and the restrictions will apply to its head, UN envoy for the Middle East Nickolay Mladenov. In previous conflicts between Hamas and Israel UNSCO helped to negotiate ceasefires, and Mladenov reports regularly to the UN Security Council. Hamas, which runs the Gaza Strip, shut the Erez crossing into Israel on Sunday after blaming the Jewish state for assassinating senior military figure Mazen Faqha, 38, near his home last Friday. Erez is the only crossing for people, although a separate route is available for goods.
Hamas permits exit of UN. ICRC employees amid Gaza lockdown
GAZA CITY (Ma’an) 1 Apr — Hamas authorities in the Gaza Strip allowed employees of the United Nations and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) to leave the besieged coastal enclave through the Beit Hanoun (Erez) crossing on Friday. Hamas has denied Gaza’s residents passage through the crossing in both directions until further notice, and implemented severe security measures across the small Palestinian territory, in response to the killing of Hamas leader Mazen Fuqahaa in Gaza City, which Hamas has branded as an assassination by Israel. Gaza’s Ministry of Interior eased restrictions on Monday, allowing medical patients, those traveling to visit their relatives in Israeli prison, women of all ages, boys under the age of 15, men above the age of 45, and three Palestinian Authority ministers to leave the Gaza Strip through Erez, while all were being allowed to return to Gaza from Israel…
The ministry has also said that the Rafah border crossing that connects to Egypt — which Egyptian authorities only open on an occasional basis — would also remain closed if Egypt decided to open it. Palestinian fishermen have also been prohibited from fishing amid the lockdown. Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh addressed a crowd in Gaza City on Saturday and warned the “killers of martyr Fuqahaa” that they would not escape punishment.
Hamas releases new video threatening senior Israeli security officials
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 30 Mar — The Hamas movement released a video [below] on Wednesday threatening top Israeli security officials, as the group continued to vow revenge for the alleged assassination of Mazen Fuqahaa, a senior member of the Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades — Hamas’ armed wing. According to Israeli news outlet Ynet, the video displays images of the following Israeli officials: Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman; Israeli army’s Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkot; Shin Bet Director Nadav Argaman; Mossad Director Yossi Cohen; the army’s Deputy Chief of Staff Aviv Kochavi; Minister of Public Security and Strategic Affairs Minister Gilad Erdan; and Oz Brigade Commander David Zini. The video then vows revenge for the assassination of Fuqahaa, saying that “the type of retribution will be in accordance to the act.” Unknown assailants opened fire at Fuqahaa last week at the entrance to a residence in the Tal al-Hawa neighborhood in southwestern Gaza City, shooting four bullets into the man’s head before they fled the area, witnesses said at the time. The assassination was carried out with a gun equipped with a silencer, according to member of Hamas’s politburo Izzat al-Rishq….
Hamas vows to crack down on ‘collaborators’ in Gaza after killing of Mazen Fuqahaa
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 1 Apr — The Ministry of Interior of the Hamas-run government in the besieged Gaza Strip announced that security forces were planning to launch a crackdown in the coming days against Palestinians accused of collaborating with the Israeli occupation. Spokesman for the ministry Iyad al-Buzm said in a statement Saturday evening that authorities would crack down on all “traitors” as part of the ongoing effort to uncover the killers of Mazen Fuqahaa, a Hamas leader who was shot dead in front of his home in Gaza City last week, which was branded by Hamas as an assassination by Israel. Al-Buzm did not provide further details regarding the investigation, or what the coming crackdown would entail. Hamas has yet to provide evidence to support their accusation that Israel was responsible for Fuqahaa’s killing, and the attorney general in the small Palestinian territory has meanwhile issued a gag order banning publication of any information about the ongoing investigation.
Under Palestinian law, willful, premeditated murder and treason as well as collaboration with the enemy — usually Israel — are punishable by death. Gaza military courts issued a number of death sentences last year to Palestinians accused of collaborating with Israel, while several alleged collaborators having been executed in Gaza in recent years. Al-Buzm’s announcement came as residents of the coastal enclave remained under a Hamas-imposed lockdown, with authorities denying passage out of Gaza until further notice amid the manhunt.
Gaza security forces release Fatha official after 2 months in prison
GAZA (Ma‘an) 30 Mar — Fatah leader Arafat Abu Shabab was released on Wednesday after spending two months imprisoned in the besieged Gaza Strip. Abu Shabab was detained by Gaza security forces on Jan. 29 as he attempted to enter the blockaded coastal enclave through the Rafah crossing with Egypt. Abu Shabab had not returned to Gaza since he left a decade prior in 2007, following Hamas’ election victory in 2006 which erupted into a violent conflict between Fatah and Hamas as both parties attempted to consolidate control over the territory. Abu Shabab was also detained by Gaza security forces at the Rafah crossing when he attempted to return to the Gaza Strip in 2014.
Israel to allow shipment of diesel, cooking gas into Gaza Strip
GAZA (Ma‘an) 30 Mar — Israeli authorities decided on Thursday to open the Karam Abu Salam (Kerem Shalom) crossing on Friday between Israel and the Gaza Strip to allow fuel into the besieged coastal enclave. Director General of the Public Administration of the Crossing Points and Borders Committee in Gaza Nathmi Mahana told Ma‘an that Israel had agreed to open the crossing “exceptionally” on Friday to allow a regulated amount of diesel into the besieged coastal enclave, to be used by the Gaza Electricity Company. Mahana added that Israeli authorities had also agreed to allow cooking gas in during the opening. It remained unclear how much diesel and cooking gas would be allowed into Gaza during Friday’s opening. The cooking gas crisis in Gaza has been caused by the lack of gas being pumped into Gaza, with officials telling Ma‘an that Gaza needs some 450 tons of cooking gas daily, but only received 200 tons through Kerem Shalom. Kerem Shalom was opened earlier this month, and twice last month to allow diesel into the small coastal territory.
Film Review: Gaza Surf Club is a wave-centric window into life in the Gaza Strip
Vogue 30 Mar by Julia Felsenthal — Gaza Surf Club, a new documentary by Philip Gnadt and Mickey Yamine premiering today on Sundance Now and set in the embattled sliver of territory known as the Gaza Strip, revels in its juxtapositions. There’s the violence of nature — the fierce Mediterranean Sea crashing against dilapidated concrete jetties, drowning beaches and breaching escarpments — and the violence of mankind, evident in the rickety, bombed-out buildings of seaside Gaza City, in the poverty of its inhabitants and in news dispatches that play over the film’s opening credits, reporting Israeli airstrikes and lapsed ceasefires. There’s the vastness of the ocean, Gaza’s western border, which stretches toward Europe and Africa, and the harsh reality of life under Israeli blockade, fenced in by tight borders and patrol boats that confine Gazan fishermen to a narrow, overfished lane of water. (A major theme: There are plenty of fish in the sea, but not if you live in Gaza.) And then there’s the surf culture that a group of Gazans is attempting to import from abroad, a laid-back, mellow, wave-centric way of life that lies in stark contrast to the stress of existing inside a political pressure cooker — and, in certain ways, to the conservatism that’s sprung up in the era of Hamas, the Islamist political group that has controlled Gaza for the past decade. Politics is not the point of Gaza Surf Club — it is, in fact, barely mentioned — but the political situation there informs every part of this project. Importing surf culture to Gaza actually represents a logistical nightmare….
Arts of the circus cheer hearts of siege-weary Gazans
GAZA CITY, Palestine (Anadolu Agency) 30 Mar by Nour Abu Aisha — Jenny Higgins, a 29-year-old Irish acrobat, stands above a five-meter cloth rope hung from the ceiling of a large room. In a small school for teaching the circus arts in the northern Gaza Strip, she performs an elaborate trapeze act for a group of young Palestinian students. As part of a cultural exchange project between Gaza and Ireland, six young men from the Gaza Strip are learning the arts of the circus from the talented Irish trainer. “This is the seventh time I have come to the Gaza Strip after being invited here to teach the circus arts,” Higgins told Anadolu Agency. “I want to teach something to the people of Gaza that combines my circus talents with the civil-society work I do in Ireland,” she said. “Young Gazans are very enthusiastic to learn,” Higgins added. “After they complete the training, they are able to perform wonderfully; we’re proud to see them working now as professional circus artists.” She now hopes to establish Gaza’s first girls-only school for the circus arts….
Land, property theft & destruction / Ethnic cleansing / Settlements
Palestinians in ‘Issawiya protest Israel’s demolition campaign in the neighborhood
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 31 Mar — Palestinians in the occupied East Jerusalem neighborhood of ‘Issawiya performed Friday prayers at the entrance of the neighborhood in protest of Israel’s demolition policies in the area and authorities’ refusal to approve Palestinian construction. Muhammad Daru, who delivered the khutbah (Islamic sermon), said that the prayer was performed at the entrance of the neighborhood to protest Israel’s demolition campaign on Palestinian homes for lacking Israeli-issued building permits, despite “constant attempts” by residents to get their construction plans approved by Israeli authorities. Following the prayer, Palestinians organized a sit-in and held signs rejecting Israeli policies, some of which read “we will not leave, “no to demolition policy,” “this is our land and we are staying.” The protest was carried out while Israeli police and soldiers were stationed at the entrance of the neighborhood. Dari told Ma‘an that the Israeli municipality had rejected a construction blueprint presented by residents of ‘Issawiya and instead issued a blueprint that “doesn’t adhere to the construction needs of the 22,000 residents in the neighborhood.” He also noted that the Israeli municipality has continued to confiscate ‘Issawiya’s land for what it has said was for the “public interest.” … Al-Hummus noted that there were 34 Israeli-issued demolition orders on homes in ‘Issawiya, while tens of cases are still open in Israeli courts for residents to gain permits for construction, which includes paying large financial sums to pay fines to prevent demolitions of the properties while Palestinian residents are fighting for permits in court….
The new declared settlement policy – no restraint at all
Peace Now 31 Mar — Israeli media reports that yesterday’s government decision included not only operative steps to expand the settlements … but rather also a new government policy towards the building of settlement units. The new policy would enable continuous expansion of all settlements, without any limitations, contrary to how the government is trying to frame this. According to Barak Ravid of Haaretz, the new policy is to limit construction by applying 4 conditions: (1) that the construction would only be within the “built-up area” of a settlement whenever this is possible; (2) If the first condition (restriction to “built-up area”) is not possible, then construction would be limited to an area adjacent to the built-up area; (3) However, if conditions (1) and (2) are not possible, then construction would be in an area that is close as possible to the “built-up area.” (4) Finally, the new policy is to prevent the establishment of new illegal outposts. A close read of this policy suggests that in practical terms, no restriction would be enforced at all. First, the policy allows to build everywhere – inside, adjacent to or outside of the settlement. Second, previous experience has taught us that a policy of “building within” a settlement is in practice a way to dismiss international criticism while at the same time expand settlements, as explained below. And third, one of the most important effects of the expansion of settlements has to do with the number of settlers that Israel will need to evict in an agreement based on the two state solution formula. For this matter, it doesn’t matter how much land settlements take but how many people live in them….
One indicator to the real intention of the government is the reaction of the settlers’ leadership who seems very pleased of the new “restraint”. According to Yesha Council, the new policy, “enables continued settlement establishment within all settlements at Judea and Samaria.”
Examples of settlements and “built-up areas:” By looking at the settlements of Eli and Maale Adumim, one can see how troubling the term “built-up area” is. In the pictures below, we drew a Yellow Line around the current built-up area of the both settlements. We also added a a Black Line to indicate the fence that is surrounding the settlement, to that shows the actual land grab of the settlement. In the map of Ma’ale Adumim, we also included in light Blue the jurisdiction area of the settlement to highlight to the extent of the control that the settlement has. Accordingly, it is possible to identify that there are great “empty” lands between built- up areas within an established settlement. The new policy construction is seemingly permitting of construction within these “empty territories.” Furthermore, because the policy does not define the “outline” of the built up area, i.e, how to draw the “border” of the built up area, it is possible to draw almost any imaginary “outline” that connects distant built up areas, and thus enabling to drastically expand any given settlement.
Israeli cabinet approves new settlement
Peace Now 31 Mar — Last night, (30 March 2017) the Israeli cabinet approved three major advancements of settlements in the West Bank. The decisions include the establishment of a new settlement, deep in the West Bank and for the first time since 1991; the publication of tenders for nearly 2,000 housing units; and the declaration of almost 1,000 dunams as “public lands,” otherwise termed “state lands,” that will enable the retroactive legalization of 3 outposts, Palgei Maim, Givat Haroeh, and Adei Ad, all located north of Ramallah and deep in the West Bank.
Details: 1) The establishment of the new settlement on a hilltop referred to as “Geulat Zion” will be the first time the government of Israel is creating a new settlement since 1991, with the exceptions of 3 outposts that were retroactively recognized as new settlements in 2012 (Bruchin, Rechelim and Sansana). The previous government decision on a new settlement was for Eshkolot in 1991, prior to the Interim Agreement between Israel and the PLO, otherwise known as the Oslo Accords. Geulat Zion is located deep in the West Bank, east of Shilo, and will never be part of the state of Israel in the framework of an agreement. The location of Geulat Zion is strategic for the fragmentation of the West Bank, as it continues a stretch of settlements from the Green Line to the Jordan Valley, aiming to undermine the possibility of creating a viable Palestinian state. [see maps] …
2) The cabinet also decided to approve the publication of 10 tenders in 4 settlements for 1,992 housing units. The settlements are Alfei Menashe (698 housing units) Beitar Illit (612 housing units), Beit Arie (630 housing units), Karnei Shomron (52 housing units)…
3) Finally, the cabinet was updated on the upcoming declaration of a total of 977 dunams as “state lands” due to the work of the Civil Administration’s Blue Line Team that will enable the retroactive legalization of 3 outposts. The 3 outposts are Palgei Maim, Givat Haroeh, both located near Eli settlement, as well as Adei Ad, located east of Geulat Zion and near the Jordan valley. The Blue Line Team is a body within the Civil Administration of the IDF that is responsible for the declaration of public lands, otherwise termed “State Lands”, in Area C in the West Bank.
As Israel’s Arab home demolitions surge, a non-profit group proudly takes credit
SHA’AR BINYAMIN, West Bank (The Forward) 30 Mar by Naomi Zeveloff — A big row is brewing between Israeli Arab citizens and their government, and it all seems to stem from a surprisingly small activist source. The year 2017 began with protests as thousands of Arab citizens took to the streets to counter the demolitions of homes without permits in their neighborhoods. In Umm al-Hiran, a Bedouin village in the Negev, protests turned violent during a court-ordered demolition in which a police officer and a Bedouin resident were killed. In Qalansawe, a village outside Netanya, residents set up a tent at the entrance to protest continued demolitions in the city. The ramped-up demolitions exacerbate a fragile state of affairs in Israel by threatening to ignite tensions between Arab citizens and the state that could flame up into violence. The stakes are getting higher as the demolitions proceed. Yet the uptick in home demolitions can be traced almost in its entirety to a small, nondescript office in the Sha’ar Binyamin industrial zone outside Jerusalem in the Israeli-occupied West Bank. That is the headquarters of Regavim, an Israeli organization focused on stopping unauthorized building in the Arab sector … Though Regavim is headquartered in an Israeli-run industrial park in the West Bank, Hasten insists it is not a settler organization. The group works all over Israel and the occupied territories, with three field workers constantly traveling to locate unpermitted Arab building when it first springs up, before a project’s advancement makes it harder to fight in court. The group also works in the Knesset, to lobby the government to uphold its laws against building without a permit and to create new stringent protocols….
Long-awaited maintenance works offer rare sight for Palestinians in al-Khalil
HEBRON, occupied Palestine 30 Mar by ISM, al-Khalil Team — On Wednesday 29th March 2017 Israeli forces opened a blocked-off street for the first time in almost two decades to allow long-overdue sewage system works. The alley in occupied al-Khalil, open for less than a day, gave Palestinians the rare opportunity to see Shuhada Street and the illegal settlements which have caused countless closures for the civilian Palestinian population. Palestinians have been pursuing permission from the Israeli side to do this maintenance work for years – with no success. The market in the Old Town runs almost parallel to Shuhada Street, where the main illegal settlements in the heart of Hebron are located and where Palestinians are totally prohibited. As one of the lowest points in the Old City, this area of the souq is regularly flooded in winter by rainwater and overflowing sewage as much of the sewage system has been cut off by the illegal settlements. Despite a one-day ‘permit’ granted by Israeli forces for work to be undertaken, several delays were caused when Israeli forces would not allow additional maintenance vehicles to enter the area. Furthermore, the small amount of time granted by the permit only allowed workers to fix a short stretch of sewage pipe immediately beneath the concrete slabs, with other vital works having to be postponed. Heavily armed Israeli forces were present on site at all times to ‘guard’ the path to what was once a thriving Palestinian market and the main route between north and south al-Khalil … During the maintenance, passing Palestinians could be seen reacting with surprise and stopping to watch the work and take photographs. Sunlight – long hidden by the high cement slabs barricading the street – suddenly flooded the souq from the small archway. For many Palestinians, this brief opening served as a reminder of a time before the severe crackdown on Palestinian human rights by the Israeli forces in the aftermath of the Ibrahimi Mosque massacre. One elderly man demanded the soldiers let him through so he may visit his shop, which remains sealed-up on Shuhada Street where Palestinian movement is entirely forbidden by Israeli forces to favour and facilitate settler movement.
Pushing Palestinians off their land — by pumping sewage onto it
+972 Blog 31 Mar by Yossi Gurvitz, for Yesh Din — Not content with ongoing demolitions in Umm al-Kheir and the destruction of its taboun, settlers in nearby Carmel have resorted to piping their waste onto the land belonging to the village — …On the face of it, what happened in Umm al-Kheir in the south Hebron Hills in December 2016 is a minor event — barely worth mentioning. A sewage pipe was built in the settlement of Carmel, causing the settlement’s waste to pour directly into land belonging to the Palestinian village of Umm al-Kheir. Technically, it’s nothing more than an insignificant squabble between neighbors. Except these aren’t your typical neighbors. Umm al-Kheir was built in the 1960s by Bedouin refugees who were expelled in 1948 from the Tel Arad region. Unfortunately for them, they were re-occupied by Israel in 1967 … Israel didn’t much care for the small Palestinian village, and in 1981 the settlement of Carmel was built nearby. Carmel is supposedly sitting where Nabal the Carmelite (see 1 Samuel 25:3) used to live. So the Palestinians lived there first? No matter. The government – in the guise of the Civil Administration – is on the side of the invaders. Umm al-Kheir had a taboun: traditional oven built from mud and hay, which was used by the villagers to bake bread. In order for it to function, the taboun had to operate at all times. The smell emanating from it was disliked by the residents of Carmel, and they demanded its demolition, claiming it was an illegal structure. The villagers began a legal process, and managed to get an order delaying the demolition. The legal process was apparently too slow for the opponents of the taboun, and in November 2013 a group of Israelis came from the direction of Carmel – escorted, of course, by IDF soldiers – and attempted to extinguish the oven’s fire. They failed to do so, but several days later an unknown person came at night and poured a bucket of water into the taboun…. Since July 2016, report the villagers, drones have been buzzing above Umm al-Kheir, photographing every attempt by the villagers to build anything. If something is built, it is quickly demolished. But they have nowhere to go, so they stay there. And Carmel doesn’t want them there. So what do you do? After the demolitions, the invasions, the threats, the assaults, and the dread, comes the pollution: Carmel’s sewage simply seeps into the land of the natives. This isn’t an accident. This isn’t one tidbit in a series of unrelated events. This is the latest piece in a pattern that has been slowly built over 30 years … A pattern which, when completed, will leave no remnants of a village that existed almost 20 years before Carmel was ever built. The goal is dispossession of non-Jews of their land, and every trick will do. From this standpoint, the Umm al-Kheir story is a microcosm of the Israeli occupation in the West Bank.
Israeli forces demolish Palestinian facilities in West Bank
MEMO 30 Mar — Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) demolished and razed on Wednesday Palestinian facilities east of the occupied West Bank city of Bethlehem, Quds Press reported, quoting a local source. The source explained a number of the occupation forces’ bulldozers stormed Khalayl Al-Louz area east of Bethlehem, razing nearby agricultural lands and facilities, as well as demolishing retaining walls. The occupation forces also demolished a Palestinian house that was under construction in the Khillet Al-Nahleh area southeast of Bethlehem. The house, which was claimed by the Israeli authorities to have been built without a permit, is owned by the local resident Nabhan Nasrallah. According to the source, the house is located in the West Bank’s C area, referring to the Oslo I Accord signed between the Israeli government and the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) in Washington in 1993.
Israeli forces level lands in Bethlehem-area village
[photos] BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 31 Mar — Israeli forces on Friday leveled 12 dunums (approximately 2.9 acres) of privately owned Palestinian land in the Artas village southeast of Bethlehem in the southern occupied West Bank. Local sources told Ma‘an that Israeli bulldozers leveled 12 dunums of lands owned by Ahmad Abu Srour, Riyad Issa, Muhammad Abu Laban, Omar al-Afandi, Jamal Zighari, Bassam al-Farahin, Hasan Shahin, Mustafa al-Afandi and Hussien Hamash. COGAT, the Israeli agency responsible for implementing the Israeli government’s policies in the occupied territory, was reportedly not involved in the activity in Bethlehem.
Palestinian refugees — Syria
UN reports Palestinian population decline in Syria
BEIRUT (AP) 31 Mar — Syria’s Palestinian refugee population has fallen by one-fifth since the start of the Syrian conflict in 2011 and many of those who stay in Syria have been displaced, the U.N.’s Palestinian relief agency said Friday. UNRWA Director Pierre Krähenbühl said there are 440,000 refugees in Syria, compared to 560,000 in the country before the war. Many of those still in Syria have been displaced by Syria’s six-year civil war. For them, it is the second time they or their families have been forced out of their homes, after being displaced from Palestinian lands by Israeli forces last century. “Displacement is a very difficult experience, to lose another home, to lose another place of residence,” said Krähenbühl, who was wrapping up a five day tour of UNRWA operations in Syria. Several Palestinian camps in Damascus and Aleppo, Syria’s largest city, have been destroyed during the conflict that has killed more than 400,000 people, displaced half the country’s population and sent more than 5 million as refugees, mostly to neighboring countries.
US and Israeli UN ambassadors vow to eliminate BDS
IMEMC/Agencies 31 Mar — Israeli Ambassador to the UN Danny Danon said on Wednesday that Israel would “keep fighting” until it “eliminates BDS completely.” “There is a new approach [to fighting BDS] and it is being heard in the halls of the UN Indeed,” Danon told 2,000 attendees at a pro-Israel UN event, according to Days of Palestine. “We have seen a lot of legislation since the first conference; 17 states have enacted anti-BDS legislation and we are seeing more groups fighting back against BDS,” he added. Danon’s remarks echoed stronger remarks about the issue by US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley. Haley said at the same event: “The effort to delegitimize the state of Israel being waged on college campuses and the anti-Israel obsession at the UN are one in the same. They both seek to deny Israel’s right to exist.” She continued: “They are both efforts to intimidate US friends and embolden her enemies. They are both extensions of an ancient hatred.”. The ambassador added: “And how tragic is it that of all countries in the world to condemn for human rights violations, these voices choose to single out Israel.
Under Israeli gag order, Omar Barghouti urges more BDS
EI 1 Apr by Ali Abunimah — Human rights defender Omar Barghouti is urging people around the world to increase boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) campaigns as the best way to show support for him – and for the Palestinian people – as he faces escalating repression by the Israeli government. “Finally, I was allowed to access my email account after 12 days of being banned from doing so during the most intense phase of the ongoing interrogation I am subjected to by the Israeli authorities,” Barghouti wrote in an email to supporters on Saturday. In what is his first public statement since his interrogation began in mid-March, Barghouti condemned Israel’s “McCarthyite witch hunt” against him and the BDS movement. “Due to a gag order, I am not allowed to delve into any facts about the case,” Barghouti added. “I am thus denied the ability to even refute the vicious lies published by Israel’s regime against me. I am in no hurry to do so, though, as their main objective – attempting to tarnish my reputation and, by extension, hurting the BDS movement – has clearly failed.”… Barghouti was due to travel to the US this month to receive the Gandhi Peace Award. But by preventing him from doing so, “Israel’s regime has inadvertently increased the publicity around this award,” Barghouti asserted. Israel’s strategic affairs ministry last year created a “tarnishing unit” to assist its efforts to thwart the growth of Palestine solidarity around the world. “This devious unit’s key function is summed up in ‘digging up dirt’ against human rights defenders and networks associated with the BDS movement and, if no dirt is found, in fabricating it,” Barghouti said….
Weekly report on Israeli human rights violations in the occupied Palestinian territory (23-29 March)
PCHR-Gaza 30 Mar — Israeli forces killed a Palestinian child in al-Jalazone refugee camp and a woman in occupied Jerusalem. 9 Palestinian civilians, including 2 children, were wounded. Israeli forces continued to target the border areas in the Gaza Strip, but no casualties were reported. Israeli forces conducted 51 incursions into Palestinian communities in the West Bank. 57 civilians, including 14 children and 3 young women, were arrested in the West Bank. 25 of them, including 8 children and two young women, were arrested in occupied Jerusalem and its suburbs. Among those arrested were 10 of al-Aqsa guards. Israeli forces continued their efforts to create Jewish majority in occupied East Jerusalem. Israeli forces forced a civilian to self-demolish his house roof in Beit Hanina, north of the city. Two under-construction houses in al-‘Issawiyah were demolished in addition to two inhabited ones in al-Mukaber Mount, rendering 14 persons homeless, including 10 children. Israeli forces continued their settlement activities in the West Bank. A mobile house (caravan) was confiscated from the Northern Jordan Valley, and a metal workshop was demolished in al-Jaftalak village, north of Jericho. 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. 7 Palestinian civilians, including a child, were arrested at military checkpoints in the West Bank.[Details follow]
The PA won’t employ violence against its own citizens, and they in turn won’t accuse it of treason
Haaretz 2 Apr by Amira Hass — Inquiry into Palestinian protests tried to balance the competing needs of government, public —A Palestinian commission of inquiry has recommended that criminal charges be filed against two high-ranking Palestinian police officers over the violent suppression of a demonstration in El Bireh on March 12. Disciplinary proceedings were also recommended against the two, the Ramallah district commander and the head of the police special forces unit. The commission, which was ordered by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and by Prime Minister and Interior Minister Rami Hamdallah, also offered praise — for the governor of the Bethlehem district, who gave the police clear orders to show restraint in dealing with a demonstration in his district that same day, and for the district’s security forces, which used measured force to disperse demonstrators who threw rocks, firecrackers, Molotov cocktails and pipe bombs at the city’s police headquarters. The report recommended prosecuting anyone whose participation in that violence could be proved. The report was issued on March 26. It was the first time a Palestinian inquiry commission set up to investigate a domestic issue has published its findings and recommendations in full, and that earned it immediate and widespread praise … The beginning of the report discussed the widespread feelings of frustration among the Palestinian public, and especially the young, due to the absence of a political horizon and the high unemployment, as well as the feeling of a lack of personal security due to the Israeli occupation regime and its daily assaults (especially in the refugee camps), executions and arrests … All this provided the political and emotional basis for the report’s authors to address the demonstrations, which erupted against the background of accusations of treason against the Palestinian Authority and the Palestinian police for alleged collaboration with Israel that led to the death of Araj and the arrest of his friends. These are accusations of incomparable gravity, and the report criticized those who made them and urged the political parties not to descend to accusations of treason. But at the same time, it voiced expectations that the authorities would demonstrate understanding for and sensitivity toward their public, which lives in a permanent state of emergency.
Abbas orders providing financial help, health coverage to Syrian refugees in Gaza
RAMALLAH (WAFA) 1 Apr – President Mahmoud Abbas Saturday ordered providing financial support, health coverage and passports to Syrian refugee families who have been living in the Gaza Strip since 2012 after leaving their war-torn country. Abbas’ decision came following an appeal by one of the Syrian refugees in Gaza during a call to the radio show “Good Morning Palestine.”
The refugee said there were eight Syrian families and three individuals who had moved to the Gaza Strip five years ago after they had left their country due to the ongoing conflict. Abbas ordered immediate provision of financial assistance, a health insurance plan and to issue them Palestinian passport. The president said the Palestinians remember very well the support the Syrian people gave to the Palestinian refugees after the 1948 Nakba and therefore they want to show the Syrian refugees similar support.
Why the whole region is looking at Palestine’s youth
+972 Blog 29 Mar by Ronit Marzan — Young Palestinians play an important role in the future of the region, and as their anger rises, so do the chances of renewed uprisings in the Arab world — Approximately 1.4 million young people between the ages of 15-29 live in the West Bank and Gaza today, making up 30 percent of the Palestinian population (Arabic). Similar to the situation in other Arab countries, the Palestinians suffer from a fast-growing population which harms its economic growth. Over the past two months a number of conferences have been held in Cairo, Istanbul, Tehran, Ramallah, and Doha to discuss the issue of young Palestinians and human rights. The locations of these conventions symbolize the geo-strategic struggle between the Arab nationalist world, represented by Egypt, Jordan, and Saudi Arabia on the one hand, and the Islamist world represented by Turkey and Iran on the other. In the middle is Qatar, which combines Arab identity, Islam, and a certain amount of pluralism. Young Palestinians have a central role to play in the region, and as their anger increases, so do the chances of renewed uprisings in the Arab world. The Second Intifada that began in 2000 was a defining experience for young people who only a decade later would take part in the protests of the Arab Spring, breaking through the barriers of fear imposed by Arab regimes….
Watch: IDF holds major West Bank drill ahead of Passover holiday
JPost 30 Mar by Anna Ahronheim — The exercise was largest conducted in the area in the last five years –The IDF Central Command this week completed the biggest exercise conducted in the West Bank in five years. The drill, which lasted four days, saw hundreds of regular and reserve troops simulate a variety of scenarios and emergency situations, such as settlement infiltrations, abductions of Israeli citizens, bombings, vehicular or shooting attacks, and large-scale riots. During the drill, Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen.Gadi Eisenkot, accompanied by OC Central Command Maj.-Gen. Roni Numa, received an assessment of the situation and an overview of the command’s capabilities in the area of intelligence during times of emergencies. Security forces regularly step up their preparedness prior to holidays, regularly imposing closure on the West Bank to avoid tension and violence.
Hundreds of Jews and Arabs march in Jerusalem against Israeli occupation
[with short video] Haaretz 2 Apr by Nir Hasson — Rally comes hours after stabbing attack in Jerusalem, which organizers say ‘was a painful reminder of the price of the occupation.’ — Hundreds of Jews and Arabs are taking part in a Jerusalem march against the occupation. Saturday’s event is the first in a series organized by Standing Together, an umbrella movement consisting of pro-peace organizations and left-wing parties, marking 50 years since the Six-Day War. The rally is meant to “protest against the continued Israeli control over the territories and especially East Jerusalem, and in favor of a peaceful solution and justice for both peoples,” the movement said in a statement. Earlier Saturday, a Palestinian was shot dead after wounding two civilians and a border policeman with a knife in Jerusalem’s Old City. One of the organizers, Itamar Avneri, said the incident “was a painful reminder of the price of the occupation. We convey wishes of swift recovery to the wounded, and hope we don’t see any more such incidents or fear on the city’s streets. This has to end.” The march began at Gan Hasus in the city’s center and concluded in the Old City with a rally near Jaffa Gate. Knesset Member Zehava Galon, the chairwoman of the Meretz party, addressed the rally, saying: “We can’t keep the conflict with the Palestinians on the back burner, when the flame is on top of a barrel bomb. The stabbing attack in the Old City exposes the illusion that it’s possible to deprive an entire people of rights and sovereignty without the desperation turning into horrible hatred and violence.” Mohammed Abu Hummus, the head of the popular committee of Issawiyah in East Jerusalem, urged “anyone who believes in the Palestinian people to stand against the racist [Israeli] government … Avi Buskila, director of Peace Now, expressed hope for unity: “The rightist settler government and the occupation want hatred to take over hearts and control the streets, with Jews hating Arabs, Mizrahim hating Ashenazim, rightists despising leftists, Ofakim hating Tel Aviv. They are afraid because they know we will win, all of us, Jews and Palestinians, Jerusalemites and Tel Avivians, Mizrahim and Ashkenazim, Ethiopians and Russians, men and women, all of us together will win.”
How Chicago’s Jewish Federation funds anti-Muslim hatred
EI 28 Mar by Charlotte Silver — A Chicago-based group that claims to “stand against hate” has contributed hundreds of thousands of dollars to organizations identified by the Southern Poverty Law Center as “anti-Muslim extremists,” tax documents reveal. According to an investigation by the Chicago chapter of Jewish Voice for Peace, the Jewish United Fund of Metropolitan Chicago, also called the Jewish Federation, gave nearly $650,000 to Daniel Pipes’ Middle East Forum between 2011 and 2014. The group also contributed $26,000 to Steven Emerson’s Investigative Project on Terrorism during the same time period. Emerson and Pipes have a long history of disseminating forged or false information with the aim of maligning Muslims in the United States. In total, between 2011 and 2014, the Jewish United Fund gave $784,000 to organizations with documented records of promoting Islamophobia. The contributions were disclosed in the Jewish United Fund’s filings with US tax authorities … Donors to the Jewish United Fund, which raised more than $83 million in 2015, may not be aware of its contributions to what has been termed the Islamophobia network – a tight-knit group of individuals and organizations that has played a key role in disseminating anti-Muslim propaganda in an effort to influence policy. Jewish Voice for Peace says this network laid the foundation for the current surge in anti-Muslim policies being pushed by President Donald Trump’s administration….
55yo father beaten by ‘terrorist’ Jewish Defense League outside AIPAC (VIDEOS)
RT 30 Mar — Footage has emerged of a 55-year-old Palestinian-American being beaten by members of the Jewish Defense League outside the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) meeting in Washington D.C. Video of Sunday’s attack shows a group of JDL members beating Kamal Nayfeh, who is on the ground. A number of the group use their American and JDL flags to hit him, while others kick him. Nayfeh, a teacher at Central Piedmont Community College in Charlotte, North Carolina, was in the area to visit his daughter, Danya, who attends Georgetown University. Danya can be heard screaming, “That’s my dad,” in the video. “When I heard the screams and found out my father was being beaten nearby, I was horrified,” Danya said in a statement to the Institute for Middle East Understanding (IMEU), cited by 972Mag. “I ran to him as quickly as I could. He appeared stunned and his eye looked awful, all swollen and cut up. They beat him after they heard he was Palestinian.” The footage doesn’t show what happened before the altercation, but other videos show more clashes between demonstrators. The Washington Jewish Week reports Nayfeh said he went to the protest to make sure his daughter was safe … Two members of the JDL, Yosef Steynovitz from Ontario and Rami Lubranicki of New Jersey, were arrested and charged with a felony assault with significant bodily injury, and a simple assault misdemeanor, respectively, reported Washington Jewish Week. The JDL was described as being a “right-wing terrorist group” by the FBI in 2001. Founded in New York in 1968, it was responsible for a number of attempted bombings in the city. Another video shows more clashes outside AIPAC. One of the violent instigators, seen wielding his flag, is pulled away by another member of the JDL, who tells him, “Never f**king do that again,” and makes him sit down before police come over.
Pro-Israel activists thrown out of UK parliament
MEMO 31 Mar — Two pro-Israel activists were removed from the House of Lords during a pro-Palestinian event for breaching Houses of Parliament rules and regulations on Wednesday. Pro-Israel activist and journalist Jerry Lewis and Jonathan Hoffman were removed by police after refusing repeated requests to switch off their recording device by Lord Warner, who was chairing the event. The meeting was organised by the Palestinian Return Centre (PRC), a London based Palestinian advocacy group, under the heading: “Balfour Declaration, no marking, no celebration, it is an apology”. PRC representative, Sameh Habeeb, informed MEMO that the Israeli parliamentary correspondent, Jerry Lewis “broke into the meeting”. Habeeb said that this was an invitation only event and guests were requested to confirm their attendance prior to the meeting. The organisers say that they had to be extra vigilant following the misrepresentation of their previous meeting in October by members of the pro-Israel lobby who accused the chair, Baroness Jenny Tonge, of anti-Semitism….