Violence / Detentions — West Bank / Jerusalem
Tens of Palestinians injured as clashes erupt on ‘Day of Rage’ across occupied West Bank
[photos] BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 28 Apr — Ongoing clashes have erupted across the occupied West Bank on Friday, with several Palestinians injured, on what Palestinians are calling the Day of Rage — initially called for by the Fatah movement — in support of hunger-striking Palestinian prisoners who entered the 12th day of a mass hunger strike on Friday. Israeli forces heavily fired tear-gas bombs, rubber-coated steel bullets, and live fire during the clashes, which have erupted following Friday prayers in cities, villages and refugee camps in various districts of the West Bank. The Israeli army told Ma‘an that some 2,000 Palestinians participated in “violent riots in several locations throughout the day,” adding that Israeli forces had responded to the “riots” with “crowd control means.”
Ramallah district Several Palestinian youths were injured while dozens of others suffered from severe tear-gas inhalation during clashes across the Ramallah and al-Bireh district. A march set off from the Nabi Saleh village in northwestern Ramallah in solidarity with hunger-striking Palestinians. Israeli forces opened live fire and tear gas canisters on the protesters, injuring three Palestinians. Locals in Nabi Saleh told Ma‘an that Israeli forces were firing the once-banned “tutu” ammunition on protesters, which explode once they come in contact with the body. Sources from the Palestinian Red Crescent said that one youth was injured in the head with a tear gas canister while two others were injured in the legs with tutu bullets. The identity and conditions of the injured Palestinians remained unknown. Meanwhile, dozens of Palestinians suffered from severe tear-gas inhalation during clashes that erupted between Palestinian youths and Israeli soldiers near the Ofer prison in western Ramallah and at the northern entrance of Silwad in eastern Ramallah. Witnesses said that three Palestinians were injured with rubber-coated bullets. In Silwad, a Palestinian was injured with live fire in the leg, while tens of others suffered from tear gas inhalation, as Israeli forces fired live bullets, rubber bullets, sound bombs, and tear gas canisters after violent clashes broke out in the area. In the Sinjil village in northern Ramallah, Palestinian youths threw rocks at Israeli settler vehicles passing by the main road near the village, causing damages to the vehicles, while Israeli soldiers closed all roads leading to the village and set up checkpoints at the main road adjacent to the village which connects the Nablus and Ramallah districts. At the Qalandiya checkpoint, which connects Ramallah with occupied East Jerusalem, Israeli forces suppressed a solidarity march with live fire and rubber-coated steel bullets leaving four injured with live fire shrapnel and two injured with rubber-coated steel bullets, according to witnesses….
Israeli soldiers abduct a wounded child from an ambulance in Jerusalem
IMEMC 29 Apr — Israeli soldiers abducted, on Thursday evening, a Palestinian child who was shot by an army sharpshooter, in the al-‘Eesawiyya town, in occupied East Jerusalem, after the soldiers chased an ambulance transporting him to the hospital. The child, identified as Mos‘ab Mahmoud Mheisin, 14, was shot by several live rounds in the lower extremities, including the groin. One of his relatives, identified as Bashar Mheisin, said that Mo‘ab was standing just a few meters away from his home, and he and his family were on their way to a social event, when clashes took place after the soldiers invaded al-‘Eesawiyya, and clashed with local youths, who hurled stones at their vehicles. After being shot with several live rounds, a Palestinian ambulance moved him to the al-Makassed hospital, in the at-Tour area, and the doctors later decided he needs further treatment at Shaare Tzedek Israeli medical center. Mheisin stated that the soldiers, driving a civilian car, chased the Palestinian ambulance, before stopping it, and forced the driver to park it near Augusta Victoria hospital, not far from al-Makassed. “Then they wrote down my ID number, my phone number, and asked me many questions, before two officers accompanied us in the ambulance that was ordered to head to Sha’are Tzedek Medical Center,” he said, “The civilian car that transported secret security officers, followed us all the way there.” Mheisin added that the incident led to at least an hour delay in transferring the child, despite his serious injuries, and his urgent need for surgery … On Friday, an Israeli ambulance took the wounded child to the District Court in occupied Jerusalem, where a judge ordered him under interrogation at the Police station in Salaheddin Street area….
Israeli court extends detention of injured Palestinian teen in Jerusalem
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 29 Apr — The Israeli magistrate court in Jerusalem on Friday extended the detention of a Palestinian teen, who was detained in an ambulance on Thursday after being injured by Israeli forces with live ammunition, until next Sunday. The Wadi Hilweh Information Center said that Israeli forces had detained Musaab Muheisen, 14, on Thursday while he was inside an ambulance after being injured by Israeli forces during clashes in the occupied East Jerusalem neighborhood of ‘Issawiya. Paramedic Bashar Muheisen, who is also the teen’s uncle, told the center that a live bullet hit Musaab’s lower extremities and settled under his pelvis. Bashar said that there would be “dangerous consequences” for Musab if the bullet is not removed. It was unclear if the hospital had indeed removed the bullet before the teen was transferred for interrogations….
Israeli gas canister sparks fire in Nablus-area village, causing severe damage
[photos] NABLUS (Ma‘an) 28 Apr — A tear gas canister shot by Israeli forces amid clashes in Beita village in the northern occupied West Bank district of Nablus on Friday ignited a fire in a market in the village and burned down more than eight warehouses. Locals told Ma‘an that the fire was caused by tear gas canisters shot by Israeli forces at a warehouse that contained plastic and cardboard objects. Within a few minutes the fire was ignited in the warehouse, locals said, and later spread to more than eight other warehouses, causing all of them to burn down. The Palestinian fire department and the Nablus municipality rushed to the scene and were able to control the situation after two hours of attempting to tame the flames. One local merchant told Ma‘an that the damages caused by the fire were estimated to be worth millions of shekels … Clashes erupted at the Beita crossroads south of Nablus city following Friday prayers, in which hundreds of Palestinian worshipers took part in solidarity with hunger-striking prisoners….
Israeli colonists open fire on a nonviolent Palestinian procession
IMEMC 27 Apr — As dozens of Palestinians marched, Thursday, in solidarity with the hunger striking detainees in Israeli prisons, a number of extremist Israeli colonists opened fire on them, in al-Biereh city, in central West Bank. Media sources said the settlers were from Psigot colony, illegally built on private Palestinian lands, in al-Biereh city, in the Ramallah and al-Biereh district. The sources added that the Israeli assailants, hiding behind concrete blocks, fired many live rounds into the air, pushing some youngsters to hurl stones at them. The incident did not lead to any casualties.
Israeli forces detain Palestinians, confiscate surveillance equipment in West Bank raids
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 28 Apr — Israeli forces detained at least five Palestinians during predawn raids on Friday in the occupied West Bank, according to local Palestinian and Israeli army sources. In the southern West Bank district of Bethlehem, locals told Ma‘an that Israeli forces raided the Doha area of Bethlehem city and detained three brothers identified as Moussa, Malek and Hamadeh al-Zghari after raiding and searching their homes. Israeli forces also raided the al-Saff Street in the city and detained Naji Abed Hijazi, 43, after raiding and searching his home. An Israeli army spokesperson told Ma‘an that one person was detained from Bethlehem.
In the central West Bank Salfit district, Israeli forces raided the Yasuf village in the eastern part of the district, where they raided the village council’s office and confiscated surveillance camera recorders. Head of the Yasuf village council Hafeth Ubayya told Ma‘an that Israeli forces raided houses of the council’s employees and took them to the council building to open its doors. Israeli forces confiscated recorders of surveillance cameras claiming they wanted to see movement on the street over the past few days.The Israeli army spokesperson said she would look into reports of the raid. Additionally, the spokesperson told Ma‘an that one Palestinian was detained from the northern West Bank district of Jenin.
Mass hunger strike
12 days in, Fatah decides to end ill prisoner’s hunger strike
NABLUS (Ma‘an) 28 Apr — The Fatah movement announced late Thursday evening that a decision was made to end a Palestinian prisoner’s hunger strike due to his critical condition and severe health deterioration since the start of the “Freedom and Dignity” hunger strike on April 17. Secretary of the Fatah movement in the Nablus-area village of Beita, Bashar Khreiwish, said in a statement that an organizational decision was made to end the hunger strike of Atef Abd al-Karim Mariah from Beita, who is serving a 16-year sentence in the Negev-area Ketziot (al-Naqab) prison, on the sixth day of the strike. Mariah had begun hunger striking on April 22, five days into the mass hunger strike in which an estimated 1,500 Palestinian prisoners have refused all forms of nutrition except salt and water. Mariah had developed a serious blood clot in his left leg, causing Fatah leaders to convince him to end his strike. Khreiwish added that 34 prisoners from Beita have joined the hunger strike, led by imprisoned Fatah leader Marwan Barghouthi, since it began.
As Mariah was forced to end his strike, reports emerged from the Media Committee for Palestinian Prisoners’ Hunger Strike — a joint committee formed by the Palestinian Prisoner’s Society (PPS) and Palestinian Committee for Prisoners’ Affairs — that Israeli Prison Service (IPS) forces had assaulted prisoners in Ashkelon prison for not standing during a cell search. Prisoners also claimed that IPS administration had been “conducting internal trials” for hunger-striking prisoners, imposing a series of punitive measures and fines of up to 500 shekels for anyone participating in the strike, in addition to moving prisoners to solitary confinement for up to 10 days at a time.
Groups petition Israel’s Supreme Court to allow lawyers’ visits to striking prisoners
HAIFA (WAFA) 29 Apr — Adalah – The Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel and the Commission of Detainees and Ex-Detainees Affairs filed on Thursday a petition to the Israeli Supreme Court against the Israel Prisons Service (IPS) practice which is preventing Palestinian prisoners who are participating in a hunger strike from meeting with their lawyers … In response to the petition, the Supreme Court scheduled a hearing for May 3, said Adalah in a press release. In response to the hunger strike, as a punitive measure, the IPS is preventing hunger-striking prisoners from meeting with their lawyers. Attorneys who had scheduled authorized visits with their clients were surprised to discover that the IPS has cancelled their meetings for a variety of illegal pretexts relating to the prisoner’s participation in the hunger strike, it said. Meetings between lawyers and prisoners not participating in the hunger strike have not been affected … The joint petition stressed the particular importance of lawyer-client meetings “during a hunger strike when prisoners experience deterioration in their physical condition and become more vulnerable and exposed to risks, and to IPS punitive sanctions. It is thus of utmost importance to particularly maintain the rights of hunger striking prisoners and detainees to meet with their lawyers.”….
Behind the hunger strike are countless stories of suffering / Dr Ines Abbad
PIC 28 Apr — The Israeli reaction to the Palestinian prisoners’ hunger strike that began on 17 April has been unprecedented. The hunger strike, which involved more than 1,500 Palestinian prisoners, aimed to highlight the unfairness of Israel’s detention policies and demand better treatment for inmates, however it has been met with calls for the participating prisoners’ execution. Reactions have bordered on the dangerous and racist, including the remarks made by Knesset member Oren Hazan who said: “There is no problem even if all the prisoners were to perish as a result of their strike. After all, prisons are overcrowded whereas there is room in the earth for all of their corpses.” There have also been the statements made by Defence Minister Avigdor Lieberman who, in addition to calling for their execution, said that participating prisoners should be left out to die of hunger. In other statements, the prisoners were described as poisonous cockroaches who should be exterminated with gas and for whom extermination camps should be set up …
Arab solidarity The hunger strike started with the hope that it would, in time, win the solidarity of all the Palestinian factions and national and popular forces. We also hoped that, soon afterwards, it would develop into a movement of Arab solidarity, perhaps even an international one, with the cause of the prisoners and their demands, building pressure on Israel and forcing it to meet the prisoners’ legitimate and humanitarian demands. Mass hunger strikes may have a much bigger impact than individual ones. Yet, they are no less dangerous and difficult if they continue for too long, just as in the case of individual strikes. After one week or so on hunger strike, the body of a prisoner begins to erode after their weight is reduced by no less than five kilograms. Don’t forget: in this current strike, those participating include minors, women, the elderly and the sick. The hunger-striking prisoner suffers more from pain than from hunger: headache, joint ache, trembling and immobility are just some of the symptoms. Most of the strikers suffer from various other illnesses such as osteomalacia, cancer, rheumatism, shortness of breath, asthma and other sicknesses that have resulted from tough prison circumstances, including torture and malnutrition. As it is, these prisoners require special medication that they are regularly denied….
500 Islamic Jihad members and leaders declare 24-hour solidarity hunger strike
[photos] GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 27 Apr — 500 leaders and members of the Islamic Jihad movement in the besieged Gaza Strip declared a 24-hour hunger strike on Thursday, in solidarity with the more than 1,500 Palestinian prisoners on the 11th day of hunger strike in Israeli prisons. The movement declared the strike from al-Saraya Square in central Gaza City, and called upon all Palestinians to “escalate support and solidarity activities with hunger strikers.” In southern Gaza’s Rafah district, hundreds of activists took part in a human chain in central Rafah city in solidarity with hunger-striking prisoners.The National Society for Democracy and Law in the Rafah district organized the human chain in cooperation with civil society institutions and activist groups….
Sit-ins organized in Palestinian territory, Israel, Venezuela in solidarity with hunger strike
[many photos] BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 28 Apr — … In the northern part of the West Bank district of Salfit, dozens of Palestinians performed Friday prayers in the village of Deir Istiya, near an agricultural area that had been closed off by Israeli forces, which has prevented Palestinian farmers from reaching their lands. In Salfit city, in the central West Bank, Palestinians performed Friday prayers in a solidarity sit-in tent constructed for the hunger strikers … In the southern West Bank district of Bethlehem, a march was organized in Beit Sahour in solidarity with the prisoners. Tens of Palestinians toured the city holding pictures of prisoners and lit candles. Further south, hundreds of Palestinians also performed Friday prayers at a solidarity tent in Hebron city … In Hebron’s al-Fawwar refugee camp, Palestinians held a march in support of the hunger strikers. Witnesses told Ma‘an that gunmen of Al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigade — the armed wing of the Fatah movement — had fired live bullets into the air while participating in the march. One of the members also gave a speech in the sit-in tent at the camp and confirmed the movement’s support for the hunger strikers. In occupied East Jerusalem, a sit-in was also organized at Al-Aqsa Mosque compound following Friday prayers with the participation of families of Palestinians being held in Israeli prisons … In the South American country of Venezuela, a sit-in was organized at the Palestinian embassy in solidarity with the hunger strikers, and was attended by a number of Palestinians residing in Venezuela and international officials. Palestinian ambassador to Venezuela Linda Subih said during the sit-in that the Palestinian diaspora supports Palestinian prisoners in their fight for dignity and freedom. Subih also talked about the circumstances the Palestinian prisoners have faced and stressed that the prisoners’ demands were fair and in accordance with international laws … Venezuelan Deputy Foreign Minister Felix Plasencia confirmed Venezuela’s supportive stance towards the Palestinian cause, and said it would continue “until the Palestinian people gain freedom and independence.”….
European parliament members stage sit-in in solidarity with hunger strikers
[photos] BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 27 Apr — Several members of the European parliament organized a sit-in in solidarity with hunger-striking Palestinian prisoners on Thursday, the 11th day of the mass “Freedom and Dignity” hunger strike taking place across Israeli prisons, with an estimated 1,500 Palestinian prisoners participating in the strike. The sit-in was organized by Chair of Delegation for relations with Palestine Neoklis Sylikiotis, and took place at the European parliament in Brussels, Belgium. Among the participants was MEP Martina Anderson, an Irish politician from Northern Ireland who had spent 12 years in British jails. Anderson tweeted a photo from the sit-in, showing a group of parliament members holding signs in support of the prisoners. Parliament members from Sweden, Greece, France, Italy, Spain, Britain, Austria, Denmark and Portugal took part in the sit-in. Representative of the Palestinian embassy in Brussels Adel Attiyeh also took part in the gathering.
Gideon Levy: The longest-serving Palestinian inmate in Israeli prison
Haaretz 29 Apr by Gideon Levy & Alex Levac — He was released in a prisoner swap after serving 33 years for the murder of an Israeli officer, then sent back in on a technicality — The three photographs on the chest of drawers at the entrance to the living room tell the whole unbelievable story. The first shot, from 1978, shows a long-haired youth. The second, taken 15 years later, is a portrait of a prisoner between his two aged parents, both of whom lean on canes. It was taken the last time they met. The third is of an elderly man, at the time of his release from prison. Thirty-nine years separate the first and third images, and Nael Barghouti, the man in all of the photos, spent most of that time incarcerated in an Israeli prison for murdering an Israel Defense Forces officer, in 1978. There is no longer-serving prisoner than Barghouti, and no crueler arbitrary treatment by the authorities than that demonstrated in his case. Barghouti was released as part of the Gilad Shalit deal in October 2011, after serving 33 years, but was sent back to prison 32 months later on the grounds that he had violated the terms of his release. He had been one of 70 prisoners freed as part of the deal – which involved an exchange of Palestinian inmates for the captured IDF soldier – who were rearrested in the wake of the abduction of three Israeli teens in the West Bank in June 2014. The arrests were made solely to placate the settlers, and shortly after the bodies of the three youths were found, Israel launched a brutal attack, known as Operation Protective Edge, in the Gaza Strip. In May 2015, the military court in Ofer Prison found that Barghouti had not committed any offense since his release, but in February 2017 it reversed its decision. Barghouti, who had been incarcerated since June 2014, was sent to serve out the rest of his original punishment, which was disproportionate to begin with: life plus 18 years. The accusations that led to his being locked up again – indefinitely? Giving a talk at a university about his experiences in prison, and reports in the Palestinian media that he was a candidate to become the Palestinian Authority’s minister for prisoner affairs….Waiting in a lovely home with its breathtaking view, high up in the village of Kobar, northwest of Ramallah … is Aman Nafa, Nael’s wife. She too is a former prisoner, one of the heroines of the Palestinian struggle … She and Nael spent only 31 happy months in this house after their wedding – which took place a month after his release – before he was rearrested again. During those months they renovated the house, planted fruit trees in the garden that are now producing a yield, and dreamed of having a child….
Israel to close West Bank, Gaza for Israeli Independence Day
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 29 Apr — Israeli authorities will implement a closure on the occupied West Bank and besieged Gaza Strip beginning Saturday night for Israel’s independence day. An Israeli army spokesperson confirmed the closure, which will be in effect until Tuesday night. Severe restrictions on movement for Palestinians are typically implemented by Israeli authorities during Jewish holidays for alleged security purposes. Debilitating poverty and lack of employment drives many workers in the occupied West Bank to enter Israel in search of work. Israel’s imposition of closures on the Palestinian territory has severely affected the livelihoods of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians who depend on entering Israel, or its illegal settlements, for employment opportunities. Israeli authorities imposed movement restrictions on Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza earlier this month during the Jewish holiday of Passover. Israeli authorities also sealed the West Bank and tightened the decade-long closure of the Gaza Strip for the Jewish holiday of Purim last month, preventing movement both in and out of the occupied territory….
4 Gaza hospitals shut down as fuel crisis deepens
MEMO 28 Apr — Four hospitals in the besieged Gaza Strip have shut down as a result of the ongoing fuel crisis in the enclave, Medical Aid for Palestinians (MAP) announced today. In a press release, the NGO said the Palestinian Ministry of Health in Gaza yesterday said that it has been forced to close Abu Yousef Al Najjar Hospital in Rafah, Beit Hanoun Hospital, Al Dorra Pediatric Hospital and the Mental Health Hospital, both in Gaza City. The move followed the announcement of a breakdown in the existing agreements for the purchasing of fuel from Israel by the Palestinian Authority. Cuts to x-rays, specialist scans, sterilizations, and other services had been made previously, as MEMO has previously reported, and further cuts are highly likely. Primary health care clinics currently remain open but without recourse to expensive-to-run generators.”All patients are now being affected but we fear mostly for anyone needing emergency or intensive care, dialysis and newborn babies, said Fikr Shalltoot, MAP’s director of programmes in Gaza. “These hospitals are our only option for life-saving treatment, due to the blockade and closure. Unless this crisis is resolved immediately we will start to see widespread and severe deterioration in patient health and in all health services.”
UN agency releases emergency funding for fuel for Gaza hospitals
JERUSALEM (WAFA) 27 Apr – In light of the rising electricity crisis in Gaza, the United Nations Coordinator for Humanitarian Aid and Development Activities approved Thursday the release of $500,000 for the purchase of emergency fuel to maintain the delivery of essential services at hospitals and other emergency medical facilities in the Gaza Strip, according to a statement. It said to avoid further deterioration, the Humanitarian Fund for the occupied Palestinian territories, led by the Humanitarian Coordinator, approved the allocation of the emergency aid. The UN Coordinator for Humanitarian Aid and Development Activities, Robert Piper, expressed concern about the deteriorating energy situation in the Gaza Strip and called for swift action from Israeli and Palestinian authorities and members of the international community to protect the provision of critical basic services to Gaza’s two million residents. “With power outages at 20 hours a day and emergency fuel supplies running out, basic services are grinding to a halt,” warned Piper. Fuel to power back-up generators at seven out of 13 hospitals in Gaza is expected to run out within three days. Already, residents of high-rise buildings no longer receive regular water supply, due to lack of power for pumps to reach higher levels, and some 110 million liters of raw or poorly treated sewage is flowing into the Mediterranean Sea every day due to lack of energy to treat it.
Gaza’s Karam Abu Salem crossing opened for entry of fuel, cooking gas
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 28 Apr — Israeli authorities opened the Karam Abu Salem (Kerem Shalom) crossing between Israel and the besieged Gaza Strip on Friday to allow limited amounts of fuel into the coastal enclave. The Gaza Petroleum Committee said that some 500,000 liters of diesel, 100,000 liters of fuel and 120 tons of cooking gas are expected to enter. The Karam Abu Salem crossing has been opened intermittently since the beginning of the year, affecting the small Palestinian territory’s access to fuel to power the enclave’s sole electricity plant.
Israeli forces open live fire on Palestinian fishermen in Gaza
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 29 Apr — Israeli naval forces opened live fire at Palestinian fishing boats on Saturday morning off the coast of the northern Gaza Strip. Witnesses told Ma‘an that the Israeli navy opened fire at Palestinian fishermen near al-Sudaniyyeh and forced them back to shore. No injuries were reported. An Israeli army spokesperson told Ma‘an that Israeli forces had fired “warning shots” into the air after Palestinian fishermen “deviated from the designated fishing zone.” After the fishermen allegedly ignored the warnings, Israeli forces shot at the boats, the spokesperson said.
Israel to close Gaza commercial crossing for 2 days
MEMO 28 Apr – Israeli authorities have decided to close the only commercial crossing between Israel and the besieged Gaza Strip on Monday and Tuesday on the occasion of two Israeli holidays, Palestinian sources said yesterday. Director General of the Public Administration of the Crossing Points and Borders Committee in Gaza Nathmi Muhanna said that Israeli authorities had informed Palestinian officials that the Karam Abu Salem (Kerem Shalom) crossing would be closed for two days, as Israel marks its Memorial Day and “Independence Day” – which commemorates the foundation of the state of Israel in 1948 and the Nakba for Palestinians when they were forced out of their homes by armed militias. Muhanna added that the crossing would only allow the entry of fuel into Gaza on Friday, and would be operating normally on Sunday.
Israel to launch major project to block Hamas tunnels
Al-Monitor 27 Apr by Shlomi Eldar — In April, Israel transmitted the following message to Hamas via Egypt: By July, Israel will start construction work on an anti-tunnel obstacle project adjacent to the border with the Gaza Strip in order to block Hamas digging cross-border attack tunnels. This is what a Palestinian security source told Al-Monitor. According to the source, the message was intended to inform Hamas that the project is defensive in nature; Israel has no hostile intentions to attack the Gaza Strip. In addition, Hamas was told that the project will involve hundreds of workers and heavy vehicles. The assessment is that the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) are worried that a misunderstanding on Hamas’ part regarding the work could lead to another round of violence. The message transmitted via Egypt also included a threat: Should Hamas attempt to harm the workers or sabotage the construction work, Israel’s military response will be harsh. Israel feels that there is a chance that Hamas’ military wing may try to sabotage the construction in order to rescue the apple of its eye: the tunnel project. According to the Palestinian source, Ismail Haniyeh, the deputy head of Hamas’ political bureau, received details about the onset of construction, but Hamas has not yet officially responded to the messages. Perhaps Haniyeh purposely wants to keep his cards close to his chest and retain Hamas’ ambiguous stance on the issue. The Israeli earthworks will continue for about two years. Already, a concrete production plant has been built adjacent to the Gaza border; the plant will manufacture the tremendous quantities of concrete necessary for erecting the obstacles above and underground, at a depth of dozens of meters and at a length of about 64 kilometers (about 40 miles)….
Under blockade and political rift, crimes soar in Gaza
TheNewArab 27 Apr by Mohammed Arafat — As an unprecedented spike in crime rocks Gaza, Arafat looks at the core factors throwing Gaza into further instability — “Her graduation ceremony was going to be after one month only. He killed her, and he orphaned my kids,” came the heartfelt cry of Nisreen Sultan’s husband. In a robbery gone wrong, a thief stormed into the 33-year-old’s house situated in Gaza’s Nosairat on Saturday when she was alone. Cutting off her ears to steal her earrings, when Nisreen saw the thief and recognised him, he killed her by hitting her head with a gas jar. Nisreen’s murder is not the crime that has taken place in the besieged Strip during the last week. Three days after Nisreen’s brutal death, a husband killed his wife in Rafah, days after she had given birth. In Tal el-Hawa, attackers robbed a 70-year-old man and killed him, throwing him through his house’s window. Al-Dameer Association for Human Rights condemned these crimes, urging the Palestinian government in the Strip to respond quickly before it becomes a phenomenon. The question every Gazan is asking however is why are people committing these crimes and whose responsibility is it. Research suggests depression is a strong factor in the manifestation of violent crime, caused by poverty, which currently affects more than three quarters of the population. Commenting on Gaza’s recent crimes, Aymen Batniji, Gaza’s spokesperson for the police force, said around 88% of these crimes are due to addiction to drugs like Tramadol. “The drugs today are different from anything Gaza had before. They cause hallucinations to those addicted to them.”….
Gaza women lead local water and sanitation project
ANERA 27 Apr — Om Ahmed is a role model for the women in her community. Not only is she highly influential, but she’s called the leader by her neighbors. It’s not hard to see why — this grandmother never stops. Each morning, she slips on her sneakers and her traditional embroidered dress and goes for a walk on the seashore. In the afternoons, she spends time with her grandsons. And in between, she’s leading a women’s initiative to bring health and hygiene to her water-scarce community. Accessing water has long been a major struggle in her Gaza City neighborhood of Sheikh Ejlien. “Water is even more scarce during summertime. One summer, we had no water for 7-10 days and because of the power outages, the water pressure was low, too.” In response to the erratic water schedules that summer, Om Ahmed’s family kept a large jug under the open taps, so they would be able to collect water at whatever odd hour it came. Similarly, neighbors relied on excavating wells to drag water to their homes and gardens. The well water was sufficient at first, but then excessive use depleted the already-scarce resource. What little was left had become saline and unsafe for cooking. “Water is even more scarce during summertime. One summer, we had no water for 7-10 days. I lost my trees and lovely roses,” said Om Ahmed. That’s when she decided she needed to act. Ever since she took part in a Swedish project 15 years ago, she and 25 other women formed a volunteer group dedicated to campaigning for pressing neighborhood issues like water and hygiene….
Why were Gaza’s poor denied monetary allowances?
GAZA CITY (Al-Monitor) 27 Apr by Moath al-Amoudi — Hundreds of residents in the Gaza Strip lined up in front of banks April 10, the day before the Palestinian Authority Social Affairs Ministry in Ramallah began disbursing welfare payments to poor families. The payments — 150 Israeli shekels ($41) per family member — are disbursed to poor families without an income every three months. People who expect to receive these payments must check with the tax office to ensure their names do not appear on a tax roll; in April, 638 families in Gaza discovered that their payments had been denied as a result of the updating of tax records. Adel Abu Mustafa, a father of five from Khan Yunis, can no longer work because of severe burns covering his entire body as a result of an accident involving a gas lantern. Abu Mustafa waited in line from 11 p.m. April 10 until 10 a.m. April 11 only to find out that his payments had been cut off. Abu Mustafa had opened a small shop selling vegetables with a $2,000 grant from Oxfam, but less than six months later he ran out of funds to continue operating the shop. His tax record, however, is still listed at the Labor Ministry, despite many requests he sent to cancel it. Khaled al-Barghouti, the director of the Anti-Poverty Department at the Social Affairs Ministry in Ramallah, told Al-Monitor, “To say allowances were cut off is unfair; vital records must be up to date so that beneficiaries who are no longer entitled to aid will not receive allowances from the Social Affairs Ministry.”….
London terrorism suspect was on Gaza flotilla ship in 2010: sources
LONDON/WASHINGTON (Reuters) 28 Apr – A man arrested on suspicion of planning a terrorist act on Thursday, carrying knives near Prime Minister Theresa May’s office, was on a ship raided by Israeli soldiers in 2010, sources familiar with the investigation have told Reuters. The 27-year-old man was arrested by armed counter-terrorism officers during a stop-and-search as part of an ongoing security operation, British police said. No one was injured in the incident and police said knives had been recovered from the man, who was being monitored by British intelligence agents and counter-terrorism officers. He remains in custody on suspicion of terrorism offences and possession of an offensive weapon. Sources told Reuters on Friday the suspect was Khalid Omar Ali from London. Ali was on board the Mavi Marmara, part of a flotilla which was challenging an Israeli naval blockade of the Gaza Strip when it was intercepted by the Israeli Defence Forces in May 2010, the sources, speaking on condition of anonymity, said. Nine Turkish activists were killed in the raid.
However, one source close to the current investigation said that investigators believed that Ali’s involvement in the boat protest was entirely separate from whatever might have led up to Thursday’s incident. A man who is identified as Ali also features on a video on an activist’s website from 2010. In the footage, he states he was among a group who said they were held against their will by the captain of the Greek-managed ship Strofades IV when they tried to take aid by sea from Libya to Gaza some months after the Mavi Marmara incident. He also talks about joining the Road to Hope convoy which sought to take aid to Gaza in Nov. 2010 via Egypt. (Reporting by Michael Holden and Mark Hosenball in Washington; editing by Ralph Boulton)
Israel sentences Palestinian lawyer to 7 years in prison
MEMO 28 Apr — An Arab-Israeli lawyer has been sentenced to seven and a half years in jail for allegedly serving as a messenger between Hamas and Palestinians prisoners, an Israeli court in Haifa ruled yesterday. Mohammed Abed, from the city of Bi‘ina in the north of Israel, was accused of relaying messages from Hamas leaders to the group’s prisoners in Israeli jails. Abed, whose clients included security prisoners, was also convicted of being in touch with five “foreign agents”, with the aim of helping Hamas and, eventually, harming Israel’s security. The Haifa District Court Judge, Avraham Elyakim, stated that the information passed by the lawyer was “a ticking time bomb”. In addition to his prison term, the court gave Abed a choice between one year’s suspended sentence, a 50,000 shekel ($13,700) fine to be paid by 1 May 2018, or an additional five months behind bars, according to The Times of Israel. Responding to the charges made by the court, Abed told reporters he had been practicing his work “legally”. He described the verdict as an “injustice”, noting that he would appeal to the Supreme Court.
Land, property theft & destruction / Ethnic cleansing / Settlements
Israel planning 15,000 more settlement homes in Jerusalem
JERUSALEM (Reuters) 28 Apr by Ori Lewis — Israel intends to build 15,000 new settlement homes in East Jerusalem, the Housing Ministry said on Friday despite U.S. President Donald Trump’s request to “hold back” on settlements as part of a possible new push for Israeli-Palestinian peace. A formal announcement of the settlement plan, quickly condemned by the chief Palestinian negotiator, could come around the time Trump is scheduled to visit Israel next month. Israel views all of Jerusalem as its “eternal and indivisible capital”, but the Palestinians also want a capital there. Most of the world considers Jerusalem’s status an issue that must be decided through negotiations. The last peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians collapsed in 2014. Housing Minister Yoav Galant told Israel Radio that his ministry and the Jerusalem Municipality had been working on the plan for two years, with proposals for 25,000 units, 15,000 of which would be in East Jerusalem, which Israel captured in the 1967 Middle East war and later annexed. “We will build 10,000 units in Jerusalem and some 15,000 within the (extended) municipal boundaries of Jerusalem. It will happen,” he said. Saeb Erekat, the Palestinians’ chief negotiator, said Israel’s move was a systematic violation of international law and a “deliberate sabotage” of efforts to resume talks. “All settlements in occupied Palestine are illegal under international law,” he said in a statement. “Palestine will continue to resort to international bodies to hold Israel, the occupation power, accountable for its grave violations of international law throughout occupied Palestine.” Channel 2 news said an announcement on building could be made on “Jerusalem Day” which this year, according to the Hebrew calendar, falls on May 24, when Israel celebrates its capture of the eastern part of the city….
Under 50’s think West Bank is part of Israel
The Forward 27 Apr by Naomi Zeveloff — A growing number of Israelis believe that the settlements are part of sovereign Israel, according to a new poll published in Fathom, a UK journal on Israel. A public opinion poll conducted between October and November 2016 asked 1,027 Israeli Jews whether Israel had declared sovereignty over the West Bank (it hasn’t). The survey is distinct from past research focused on what Israelis believe should happen in the region, and instead asks them to describe what already exists. Oded Haklai, a political scientists at Queen’s University, asked the respondents about eight different settlements and found that there “was not a single settlement which a majority of respondents thought was outside the territory of the State of Israel.” The article found that the older the respondent, the more likely they were to understand that Israel had not declared sovereignty in the West Bank. Younger respondents seemed less sure that this was the case. In other words, the age of 50 is a breaking point of sorts,” he wrote.
The impossible choice faced by East Jerusalem Palestinians
+972 Blog 19 Apr by Suleiman Maswadeh — Palestinians in East Jerusalem live in an ongoing state of limbo: either stay where they are and risk having any additions they make to their homes demolished, or move away and lose their residency status — It was a day I’ll never forget. I was 14, and my father invited me to “visit a friend” with him. I initially refused, but he insisted it was urgent — his best friend needed help, and we had to assist him. I left our house in East Jerusalem feeling curious and peeved at the same time. As we made our way through the alleys of Jerusalem’s Old City, I realized where we were going, and when we arrived at our destination I saw that the building we’d come to had been partially demolished. Several people were crying and wailing, while others helped my father’s friend to clear out what remained among the destruction. At first I thought a bomb had hit the area, or that a section of the house had caught fire and caused part of the building to collapse. But my father told me that the Jerusalem municipality had issued a demolition order against a new floor of the home that had been recently built, which left me with a pile of questions: Why was it forbidden to build? And if it’s forbidden, why did my father’s friend decide to build? And why on earth did he demolish his own house, rather than the municipality doing it? There were no answers to these questions. I didn’t want to bug my father so I decided to help the family with what was left in the house. Yes, at the age of 14 I helped someone destroy their dream — a beautiful house into which he’d poured money, time and effort. I saw the owner of the house, his brother and a friend breaking up and removing what was left of the walls, with tears streaming from their eyes. I saw how agitated they were and so didn’t dare ask why they were doing it and not the municipality. Many hours passed and the demolition was finally finished….
Palestinian efforts to confront Judaization of the Old City
[photos] AL-KHALIL (PIC) 28 Apr — The Old City of al-Khalil [Hebron] abounds with unique Arab and Islamic historical sites and a rich cultural heritage that have been exposed for long years to Judaization attempts and violations by the Israeli occupation regime and Jewish settlers. In an effort to confront Israel’s Judaization activities and to consolidate the City’s Arab identity, Palestinian youth and media groups started recently to stage initiatives and tours in the Old City aimed at making the young people familiar with its history and traditions. Last Saturday, a crew of young journalists and media activists toured the neighborhoods and alleys of the Old City and visited its Islamic historical sites, including the Ibrahimi Mosque … Activists working in the field of tourism promotion accompanied the participants on their tour of the Old City. The most prominent one among them was Samer Hassouna, who said the tour would contribute to strengthening the steadfastness of the Old City residents and resisting attempts to Judaize it. Hassouna told the PIC that al-Khalil city is the only one divided as a result of the Oslo accords, between the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) and Israel, into Area H1 and Area H2. He affirmed that there are initiatives and projects to strengthen the Palestinian presence in the Old City such as a project intended to help the local newlyweds, who have no place to stay in, to start a family life by giving them a house and pay their water and electricity bills. Hassouna also talked about some of the famous landmarks in the Old City, saying that Sheikh Ali al-Bakka Mosque was named after a pious religious man who was known for shedding tears out of fear of Allah (God). He added that ash-Shallalah street, which is adjacent to the Mosque, used to be the most prosperous area in al-Khalil city, where the headquarters of the municipal authority was once located, in addition to many banks and private companies. During the organized tour, the participants had the chance to visit Prophet Ibrahim’s Hospice, which provides food for the needy throughout the year and is known locally as at-Takiyya al-Ibrahimiya. They also visited the Ibrahimi Mosque where Israeli soldiers imposed restrictions on their entry and confiscated their tour jackets and some of their caps. For his part, journalist Ra’ed Abu Rumaila talked to the PIC about the locals’ suffering from Israel’s barriers and checkpoints that restrict their movement, as well as about the ongoing Judaization of the Ibrahimi Mosque….
Israeli forces demolish 3 settler outpost structure in Ramallah district
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 27 Apr — The Israeli Civil Administration reportedly demolished three illegal outpost structures, erected by Israeli settlers, east of Ramallah city in the central occupied West Bank on Thursday. Hebrew media reported that Israeli army and civil administration forces demolished the structures that were set up near the illegal Israeli settlement of Nariya.
Opinion: Winning in Israeli court isn’t enough to get you justice, Palestinian farmers are reminded / Amira Hass
Haaretz 28 Apr — Across the West Bank, they’re barred from their own land when Israeli army fails to enforce court orders — Moshe Ben-Zion Moskowitz from the West Bank settlement of Shiloh was asked in court whether, when he began farming a plot in the jurisdiction of the Palestinian village of Qaryut in 1980, he owned it. Twice, he responded that the plot’s owner was God. But attorney Jiat Nasser kept pressing him over whether he personally owned the land, and Moskowitz finally responded, “Not personally, but the Jewish people does.” Nasser then sought a clarification: “Is it true that you didn’t buy the land?” Moskowitz responded, “It’s the Jewish people’s land.” But neither God nor the Jewish people helped Moskowitz in the suit he filed in 2010 against the Qaryut local council and some of its residents. The court didn’t accept the Bible as a deed of purchase. Moskowitz had asked the court to prevent the Palestinian defendants from harassing him, as he put it, via police complaints about trespassing and attempts to farm that same land. For 30 years, he complained, he worked the land without any problems, until in mid-2007 along came Rabbi Arik Ascherman (then of Rabbis for Human Rights, today of Haqel – Jews and Arabs in Defense of Human Rights) and demanded proof of ownership. “I showed him the Bible. We’ve returned to our land,” Moskowitz told the court in December 2010.
But after an exhausting legal battle, Judge Miriam Lifshits ruled in April 2016 that Moskowitz failed to prove he had worked the land continuously since 1980, or even for the 10 years before the suit was filed. In contrast, the defendants proved their connection to the land and their use of it; Lifshits found no proof that the land was lying fallow when Moskowitz took it over. He never gave the court the documents he promised; what he told police contradicted what he told the court; and his witnesses contradicted him. Yet even if the Bible and the Jewish people failed him, the law enforcement agencies – the police, the army and Israel’s Civil Administration in the West Bank – did not. One year after the judge’s ruling, they haven’t lifted a finger to remove the greenhouses Moskowitz built on the land while the case was in court. And this week, Col. Yuval Gez, commander of the Binyamin Brigade, barred the land’s legal owners from entering it for the first time since 2007….
Leaked report highlights Israel lobby’s failures
EI 28 Apr by Ali Abunimah — The Reut Institute, founded by former government advisor Gidi Grinstein, has conceded in a secret report jointly prepared with the ADL that Israel’s efforts to thwart the Palestine solidarity movement have failed. (via Facebook) — Key Israel lobby groups have conceded that they have failed to counter the Palestine solidarity movement, despite vastly increasing their spending. The admission is contained in a secret report that The Electronic Intifada has obtained. The report, published here in full for the first time, outlines Israel’s failure to stem the “impressive growth” and “significant successes” of the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement for Palestinian rights. It also sets out strategies, endorsed by the Israeli government, aimed at reversing the deterioration in Israel’s position. But while calling for harsher measures against the Palestine solidarity movement, the report offers no new ideas to deal with how Israel is beset not by an image problem but a reality problem: its regime of occupation, settler-colonialism and apartheid is increasingly viewed around the world as reprehensible and unsustainable, even by many of Israel’s defenders. The report nevertheless identifies key concerns and likely targets of Israel’s propaganda planners….
May Day: Palestinian trade unions call for intensifying BDS
IMEMC/Agencies 28 Apr — Official statement from the Palestinian Trade Union Coalition for BDS (PTUC-BDS): “On May Day, we Palestinian trade unions are proud to stand with the trade union movement internationally as we collectively resist attacks on our working conditions, cuts to public services and job losses. We lend our voices to the mass rallies taking place internationally uniting trade unions, immigrants and refugees, social movements, and environmentalists fighting for a better future and dignified living. We also remind the world that Palestinian workers continue to endure and resist Israel’s regime of occupation, settler-colonialism and apartheid on a daily basis, including resistance to Israel’s shameful prison system. We salute our political prisoners on hunger strike to protest Israel’s grave and ongoing violations of Palestinian human rights. We will continue to refuse Israel’s vision of a truncated network of Palestinian Bantustans and associated industrial zones, under which we relinquish our rights and become a pool of cheap labour for the Israeli state. That is why in July 2005, when over 170 Palestinian organizations urged the world to adopt a campaign of boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) against Israel in the manner of South African Apartheid, this historical call was signed by all the main Palestinian trade union federations. We believe that trade union campaigns targeting corporate and state complicity with Israeli violations of international law are a vital and effective form of solidarity with the Palestinian struggle for freedom, justice and equality….
Israeli report accuses European governments of helping incite violence
MEMO 27 Apr — An Israeli report has accused the governments of a number of European countries of funding NGOs that incite violence and legitimise attacks against Israeli civilians. The report, published by NGO Monitor and distributed to 300 members of the European Parliament, “documents a disturbing nature of some organisations’ work that incite to violence”. The Israeli report claimed that European, Palestinian and Israeli leftist organisations receive large amounts of money from the European Union, and “exploit them to legitimise violence as part of the terrorist activity”. The coordinator of the Palestinian BDS National Committee, Mahmoud Nawaja, said the Israeli report is “a new attempt to disrupt the work of the BDS movement and combat its achievements and campaigns internally and externally.” In an interview with Quds Press, he described the Israeli allegations as “slander and lies” pointing out that the organisation does not receive aid from any European or Arab governments. He added that the Israeli reports come to cover up the Israeli failure to thwart the BDS movement’s achievements and try to delegitimise it and stop its activities.
Texas senate passes anti-BDS bill, gov. expected to sign in May
JPost 28 Apr by Benjamin Weinthal — “Israel Independence Day will be celebrated in the Lone Star State this year with a greater sense of pride than ever.” — The Texas Senate passed an anti-boycott Israel bill by a vote of 26-5 on Thursday. The Governor of Texas is slated to sign the anti–BDS (Boycott,Divestment,Sanctions) legislation on Israel’s Independence day on Tuesday in Austin. “Rep. Phil King and Sen. Brandon Creighton deserve our respect and deep gratitude for driving this monumental piece of legislation. We are confident other lawmakers in other states will look to their leadership and model their efforts on their legislation,” Charles Kaufman, who chairs B’nai B’rith’s International Center for Human Rights and Public Policy, told The Jerusalem Post. Kaufman, who resides in Austin, testified on behalf of the anti-BDS bill. He added: “Israel has a great friend and business partner in the State of Texas. Texas holds more than $50 million in Israel Bonds. It exports $495 million of product to Israel. Military contracts by Israel in Texas totaled $118 million (2012). Texas also is engaged in joint projects with Israel in agricultural research and development, science and technology and industrial research and development. Israel is Texas’ fourth leading trade partner.”….
Palestinian refugees – Syria
461 Palestinian women killed in Syrian conflict
IMEMC/Agencies 26 Apr — About 461 Palestinian refugee women have been killed in Syria as a result of various reasons, including bombing, sniping, clashes and torture, the Action Group for Palestinian of Syria reported Wednesday. According to Al Ray, the group recorded that the total number of Palestinian refugees killed in Syria is 3,483 since the beginning of the Syrian war. It is worth mentioning that there is no official Palestinian statistical office in Syria that records the number of Palestinian victims in Syria. Many activists criticize the Palestinian Embassy in Damascus and the Palestinian Liberation Organization, on their neglect of this issue. The Action Group for Palestinians of Syria also recorded the arrest of 1,187 Palestinian refugee in Syria by the Syrian regime.
Meet Palestine’s new generation of diplomats
Al-Monitor 27 Apr by Daoud Kuttab — A cadre of young Western-trained Palestinians are increasingly filling diplomatic posts around the world — When Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas walks into the White House on May 3, a team that includes a 43-year-old Western-trained career diplomat will have done most of the preparations for this important visit. Husam Zomlot, an assistant to Abbas appointed to head the PLO’s delegation to Washington, moved to the US capital and took up his position April 1. A few months earlier, Zomlot surprised many at the Fatah Congress by getting the sixth most votes in the elections for the Fatah Revolutionary Council. Ambassador Amal Jadou, another Western-trained career diplomat and assistant to the foreign minister for European affairs, told Al-Monitor that the new generation of Palestinian diplomats is quite different from the previous cadre of PLO representatives in various capitals. “Palestinian diplomacy has seen a lot of change in recent years, with younger and more professionally trained and career-oriented diplomats filling the top positions and replacing many of the older PLO cadres, who joined the diplomatic service coming from being either active in Palestinian student councils or part of the Palestinian armed struggle,” Jadou said….
Jerusalem mayor: City’s diverse residents ‘all my children’
JERUSALEM (AP) 29 Apr — Fifty years after Israel conquered east Jerusalem, the city’s mayor says the upcoming anniversary is a time to celebrate, despite the deep rifts and occasional bursts of violence that disrupt daily life in the volatile city. But like other prominent politicians of the hard-line Likud Party, Nir Barkat says Jerusalem must remain united under Israeli control, rejects Arab claims they are second-class residents — even though the vast majority are not even citizens — and insists the city’s diverse array of inhabitants are “all my children.” “Jerusalem is the crown jewel. It will always stay the united, undivided capital of the Jewish people with respect to all religions,” the 57-year-old Barkat told The Associated Press this week at his office, which overlooks the Old City. “The prayer of all Jews, for thousands of years, is to return to the city of God, the holy city of Jerusalem.” Barkat preside– and claimed as a capital by both Israelis and Palestinians. On the other side of the Mideast conflict, the half-century mark of Israel’s victory in the 1967 six-day war is being perceived quite differently. “They can call it 50 years of whatever they want. But for us, the Palestinians, it is 50 years of occupation and this occupation should end,” said Adnan Husseini, the Palestinian minister for Jerusalem affairs. Jerusalem’s nearly 900,000 residents are split almost evenly three ways among secular and modern Orthodox Jewish residents, Muslim Palestinians and ultra-Orthodox Jews. All in all, it’s one of Israel’s poorest cities. The Arab population lives almost entirely in east Jerusalem, where many neighborhoods suffer from lack of resources, poor infrastructure, overcrowded classrooms and overall neglect. Recent figures gathered by the Jerusalem Institute for Policy Research think-tank found that 82 percent of the Arab population lives below the poverty line, compared to 28 percent of the Jewish population, among several statistics indicating vast gaps between the groups. In another indicator of the wide disparities, Ir Amim, an Israeli advocacy group that promotes coexistence in the city, found in a 2014 report that the municipality allocated only an estimated 10 to 13 percent of its annual budget to east Jerusalem, even though Arab residents make up just over a third of the city’s population.
A May Day surprise for Palestinian workers at an Israeli checkpoint
+972 Mag 27 Apr by Haggai Matar — Palestinian workers coming into Israel through the IDF’s Eyal checkpoint Thursday morning probably didn’t expect to be handed flowers by members of Knesset. But that’s exactly what happened at 5 a.m. in one of the busiest checkpoints for Palestinian laborers who cross into Israel each morning for work. At the crack of dawn, three Hadash MKs from the Joint List, along with members of the Hadash caucus in the Histadrut labor federation, stood outside the checkpoint and handed out red flowers and pamphlets explaining workers’ rights in Israel. Tens of thousands of Palestinians pass through IDF checkpoints every day to reach their workplaces in Israel, and many others find circuitous ways of entering the country to make a living. In order to get to work on time, many are forced to leave their homes at 2 or 3 a.m. to wait in long lines at the checkpoints, and once they are through, board buses that take them into the Israeli cities where they work, often in construction. At the Sha’ar Ephraim checkpoint, not far from Eyal, Palestinians launched two workers’ strikes in recent years in protest of their treatment by the private company to which the Israeli army outsourced the checkpoint’s operations. Both strikes were successful: by refusing to pass through the checkpoint, and thus not showing up for work in Israel, the Palestinian workers compelled the authorities to improve conditions at the checkpoint. (See the video below)….
Analysis: Abbas is trying to curry favor with Trump by punishing Hamas, Palestinian sources say
Haaretz 29 Apr by Zvi Bar’el — Keeping Gazans in the dark could be a political play by the Palestinian president to convince Trump he’s a partner for peace — The two million residents of the Gaza Strip are in darkness – not as a metaphor for the lack of a diplomatic horizon, but in reality. The blackout comes on top of the economic siege the territory is under. Tens of thousands of Palestinian Authority employees in Gaza are seeing their salaries cut by at least 30 percent, and many workers expect to be forced into early retirement. The assistance the PA gives Gaza’s health and welfare systems is likely to shrink dramatically. And if a solution to the rift between Hamas and Fatah isn’t found in the near future, PA President Mahmoud Abbas is liable to declare Hamas-run Gaza “a state in rebellion” and perhaps even label Hamas a terrorist organization. All this is happening as Khaled Meshal, who still heads Hamas’ political bureau, prepares to release the organization’s new charter in Qatar on Monday. Two days after that, Abbas will meet with U.S. President Donald Trump. The pressure on Gaza isn’t accidental, nor is it disconnected from regional and international developments. At a gathering of Palestinian ambassadors from around the world in Bahrain on April 11, Abbas said he intends to take vigorous action against the “dangerous situation” Hamas has created in Gaza. A few days later, he ordered the salary cuts, pursuant to the European Union’s announcement earlier this year that it would no longer fund salaries for PA employees in Gaza….
How Palestinian filmmakers are promoting their message in Egypt
Al-Monitor 28 Apr by Mohammed Othman — The third edition of the Palestinian Film Week, organized by the Egyptian Association of Film Writers and Critics and the Palestinian Embassy in Cairo, took place on April 18-24 at the Opera House in Cairo. Seventeen Palestinian documentaries and short films shed light on the lives of the Palestinians in the diaspora, the West Bank, Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip, and their suffering as a result of the harsh Israeli practices … Fa’eq Jarada, the art director of the Palestinian Film Week, told Al-Monitor that what characterized this edition is the cooperation of the Palestinian Embassy in Cairo and the Egyptian Film Writers and Critics Association. Add to this that the festival featured several Palestinian documentaries and films that were funded and directed by Palestinians only. “I believe that the films screened in the festival are very important as they convey to the Egyptian people the daily Palestinian sufferings. The 17 films highlighted in detail the life of the Palestinian people, the apartheid wall and the Palestinian prisoners inside Israeli jails as they conveyed a message that the Palestinian people love life but are suffering,” he said….
Critics blast US shipment of fighter jets to Israel
Al Jazeera 26 Apr by Jonathan Cook — Israel received three F-35 stealth fighter jets from the United States at the weekend – a new generation of “near-invisible” planes that critics fear will free Israel’s hand to launch air strikes and spying operations against neighbouring states undetected. In total, Israel has bought 50 F-35s from manufacturer Lockheed Martin, and claims it will have the first squadron combat-ready before the end of the year. Israel is the first country outside the US to be allowed access to the war plane, the most expensive ever developed. The F-35’s main selling point is its advanced stealth capabilities, reportedly allowing it to evade even the most sophisticated anti-aircraft missile systems. Lockheed describes the plane as “virtually invisible”. According to Israeli officials, the jet will be able to outsmart Russian S-300 missiles, which are stationed in both Syria and Iran. Israel has launched repeated air strikes in Syria over the past five years, while Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has suggested he wants to attack Iran. US foots huge bill Analysts have noted that, although the jet comes with a huge price tag – each plane costs around $110m – US taxpayers will be footing the bill. Israel’s fleet of F-35s are to be financed out of US military aid. The annual $3bn Israel receives from Washington will rise next year to $3.8bn, under a 10-year deal agreed by Barack Obama shortly before he stepped down as US president….
Lonely Planet erases Israeli occupation of Syrian Golan
EI 26 Apr by Al-Marshad — Why has Lonely Planet – publisher of the popular travel guidebooks – erased Israel’s occupation of the Syrian Golan Heights? Following the 1967 War, 66 percent of the Syrian Golan – a land mass slightly smaller than Greater London – has been militarily occupied by Israel. Its mountainous terrain, forests and rivers means that it is an area of stunning natural beauty, home to a variety of wildlife, including a species of wolf found only in the region. As such, it is no surprise that the Golan has attracted vast numbers of Israeli tourists since its occupation. Indeed, the Golan has long been promoted by the Israeli government and tourism industry that market it as “Northern Israel,” even referring to it as the “Israeli Texas” due to its size. In 1968, just one year after the occupation, the region received 150,000 visitors. By 2005 this figure had reached approximately 1.5 million people. Consequently, tourism represents a major part of the Israeli settlement economy in the Golan … Promoting tourism in settlements International law makes it clear that the Golan is not part of Israel and that Israeli settlements are illegal. However, given their continued expansion and Israel’s efforts to cement its hold on the Golan, it is not surprising that the government and tourism industry market the Golan as “Northern Israel” and promote tourism activities in Israeli settlements. International travel companies such as Lonely Planet, Booking.com and Airbnb – among others – also misleadingly describe the Golan as part of Israel and promote accommodation and tourism in illegal Israeli settlements. When Al-Marsad, a human rights group in the occupied Golan, came across the Lonely Planet website last year, it was shocked to discover that Majdal Shams, the largest of the five remaining Syrian villages in the territory, was categorized as being in Israel….
Using children for Israeli propaganda
Dissident Voice 27 Apr by Yves Engler — On Tuesday thousands will gather to celebrate the most aggressive ongoing European settler colonialism. Organizers of Montréal’s annual Israel Day rally claim it is the largest event of its kind in the country. A significant proportion of the crowd will come from the city’s 15 Jewish day schools, which receive most of their funds from the public purse. Many of the kids bused downtown will carry Israeli flags and their faces will be painted in its colours. At the 2014 Israel Day rally a 12-year-old Herzliah student, Jon Frajman, told the Montréal Gazette, “if we didn’t support Israel, we wouldn’t have a place to call home.” (A few years ago I witnessed a similar type of child abuse at an anti-abortion protest in Ottawa packed with Catholic school students.) Herding students to a weekday rally is a visible form of activism, but it’s a small part of these schools’ crusading for Israel. A recent Canadian Jewish News cover story titled “What to teach Jewish students about Israel?” detailed the growing importance given to classes on Israel at Jewish day schools….
Book Review: Dismantling the distortion about Israel
EI 27 Apr by Rod Such — Ten Myths About Israel, Ilan Pappe, Verso Books (2017) — The historian Ilan Pappe’s latest work, Ten Myths About Israel, is a useful primer for people just becoming familiar with the Palestinian liberation struggle – but it is far more than that. It is also a valuable tool for veteran organizers seeking to explain cogently and simply how Israel’s foundational myths and ongoing propaganda perpetuate the oppression of the Palestinian people. While concise at 192 pages, Ten Myths About Israel points readers to many of the seminal works in Palestinian and Israeli historiography. Those who wish to explore more deeply can thereby obtain other, more in-depth guides. What are the 10 myths? Pappe divides the book into three sections: “Fallacies of the Past,” “Fallacies of the Present” and “Looking Ahead.” The six myths of the past include the well-known saying, “a land without a people for a people without a land,” the conflation of Zionism and Judaism, Zionism as a national liberation movement and the alleged voluntary flight of Palestinians during the 1948 war. The three myths of the present era are the claim that Israel is a democracy, that the Oslo accords represented a genuine peace process rather than a “ploy to deepen the occupation” and that Israel’s multiple attacks on Gaza were simply acts of self-defense. The final myth looking ahead is that creating two, separate states for Israelis and Palestinians is the only way to achieve a just peace….