Violence / Detentions — West Bank / Jerusalem / Israel
Mike Huckabee among 4,000 Israelis to visit Joseph’s Tomb, sparking clashes
NABLUS (Ma‘an) 22 May — Clashes erupted between local Palestinians and Israeli soldiers who escorted some 4,000 right-wing Israelis to Joseph’s Tomb east of Nablus in the northern occupied West Bank overnight Sunday, when at least two Palestinians were detained and several others suffered from tear gas inhalation. Among the group of Israelis who arrived to the site under armed protection was Mike Huckabee, former US governor of the state of Arkansas, who ran against Donald Trump in the Republican presidential race. Huckabee has since thrown his support behind Trump … Local sources said that hundreds of extremist Israelis and settlers arrived in 18 buses under heavy military protection and performed Jewish rituals from around 2 a.m. until Monday’s early morning hours. Fierce clashes broke out between dozens of young Palestinians and Israeli forces who escorted the group, with Israeli soldiers firing tear gas canisters and stun grenades at the protesters who pelted soldiers stones and empty bottles.
Palestinian medical sources said several Palestinians suffered from severe tear gas inhalation…
Israeli news site Ynet quoted Mike Huckabee as saying that “It’s an amazing experience to have to come to this type of difficulty just to be able to come to a holy site for Jews and frankly even for Christians, who pay tribute to Joseph.” “To have to do it in the dead of night, under armed guard, with the smell of tear gas in the air, burning tires along the route, it’s a stark reminder (to how different) it is in the heart of Israel, where the Israeli government protects every Muslim that accesses their holy site,” he added. “In Judea and Samaria Jewish people do not have unhindered access to holy sites without having to go to extraordinary lengths in order to be able to access these places for prayer,” Huckabee bemoaned, using the Israeli term for the occupied West Bank.
However, like many other Palestinian towns across the West Bank with religiously significant sites, Nablus commonly experiences incursions by Israeli settlers — who reside in the occupied Palestinian territory in violation of international law — accompanied by armed escorts, resulting in severe restrictions on freedom of movement for local Palestinians. Settlers who visit the tombs to pray often actively disrupt Palestinian residents and damage property. Meanwhile, Palestinians are restricted from visiting holy sites in Israel without hard-to-obtain permits from Israeli authorities.
Israeli soldiers kill a child near Bethlehem
IMEMC 23 May — Israeli soldiers shot and killed, on Monday evening, a Palestinian child at the Container military roadblock, near Bethlehem, reportedly after he attempted to stab them. Palestinian medical sources have confirmed that the slain child has been identified as Raed Ahmad Radayda, 15, from the al-‘Obeydiyya town, east of Bethlehem. The Israeli army claimed that the child ran towards the soldiers while carrying a knife, and after a short scuffle, the soldiers shot and killed him. The army did not report any injuries among the soldiers. Red Crescent medics rushed to the roadblock, but the soldiers prevented them from approaching the wounded child, who bled to death. His family said they were searching for him after he went missing in the afternoon, until they were officially informed of his death at night.
Child dies from wounds suffered when Israeli soldiers shot her two months ago
[with video] IMEMC 20 May — The Palestinian Health Ministry has confirmed that a Palestinian child died, on Saturday evening, from serious wounds she suffered two months ago, after an Israeli soldier shot her at the Etzion junction, south of Bethlehem, in the occupied West Bank. The Health Ministry said Fatima Jibril ‘Ayed Taqatqa, 15, died at Sha’are Zedek Israeli Medical Center, from serious wounds she suffered after an Israeli soldier shot her with a live round in the head, and she remained on life support machines until her death. Fatima was shot on March 15, 2017, after Israeli soldiers claimed she “tried to ram them with her car,” near Etzion colony block, south of Bethlehem. The child, from Beit Fajjar town, south of Bethlehem, had no driver’s license and was not experienced in driving a car. She was shot after her car came to a complete halt. Eyewitnesses said the child panicked after seeing the soldiers at the intersection, and lost control of her car, causing her to cross the median before striking metal bars protecting a bus stop in the opposite direction before the soldiers started firing at her. The army claimed that the incident was not an accident, but “a deliberate attack.”
Palestinian child hospitalized after Israeli forces fire tear gas canister at his head
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 21 May — A seven-year-old Palestinian boy sustained a serious head injury midday Sunday, after being hit in the head with a high-velocity tear gas canister fired by Israeli soldiers in the town of al-Khader in the southern occupied West Bank district of Bethlehem. Hours later, he was reported to be in a stable condition. Clashes erupted in the town, with Israeli forces firing rubber-coated steel bullets, stun grenades, and tear gas canisters toward students who were heading home from school, when Hasan Ahmad Issa was hit in the back of the head with a tear gas canister and knocked unconscious, the boy’s father Ahmad Issa told Ma‘an. According to the father, Hasan was first evacuated to al-Yamamah hospital in al-Khader, then to al-Hussein Beit Jala governmental hospital, and finally to the Bethlehem Arab Society hospital in Beit Jala. Director of the intensive care unit at Bethlehem Arab Society Hospital Nasr Jawabrah said that the boy was still unconscious when he arrived from al-Hussein, and that doctors were awaiting the results of a CT scan. Later in the afternoon, coordinator of al-Khader’s popular committee Ahmad Salah wrote on his Facebook page that doctors confirmed that the boy suffered from mild internal bleeding and “would not need surgical intervention,” and that the doctor recommended the boy be monitored for the coming 24 hours. However, in an update Sunday night, a member of the boy’s family told Ma‘an that Ahmad had undergone head surgery to stop the bleeding….
Israeli soldiers abduct two Palestinians, injure one, near Tulkarem
IMEMC 20 May — Israeli soldiers abducted, on Friday evening [19 May], two young Palestinian men, including one who was shot by the army, and rammed a third Palestinian with their jeep, during clashes that took place at the Bazaria junction, east of Tulkarem, in the northern part of the West Bank. The WAFA Palestinian News Agency said one of the abducted Palestinians was shot with a live round before the soldiers abducted him. One Palestinian was also injured after the soldiers rammed him with their jeep, and was moved to Thabet Thabet Governmental hospital, in Tulkarem. Another Palestinian was struck in the chest by a teargas bomb, fired by the soldiers, and was moved to a local clinic. Furthermore, medics provided the needed treatment to three Palestinians who suffered the severe effects of teargas inhalation.
20 Palestinians shot as Israeli forces suppress rallies in support of hunger strike
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 22 May — At least 20 Palestinians were shot and injured — one seriously — during clashes with Israeli forces in the occupied West Bank districts of Ramallah and Hebron on Monday afternoon, as clashes also broke out when Israeli forces suppressed demonstrations launched in solidarity with more than 1,300 Palestinian prisoners who entered their 36th day on hunger strike. Israeli forces fired both live ammunition and rubber-coated steel bullets at Palestinian protesters who marched from Ramallah city to Israel’s Qalandiya military checkpoint, according to Palestinian medical sources. Among those injured was a young man who was hit with a live bullet in the abdomen and was evacuated to the Palestinian Medical Complex in Ramallah. Doctors there reported his condition as “moderate to serious.” Seven others were shot with live fire, and 10 were shot with rubber-coated steel bullets, medical sources said. The Palestinian Red Crescent’s ambulance service set up a field clinic near the Qalandiya checkpoint to treat protesters and bystanders, dozens of whom whom were suffocating as Israeli soldiers showered the area with tear gas. Witnesses said Israeli soldiers fired at the demonstrators from rooftops overlooking the main street. In response, demonstrators pelted Israeli soldiers with stones…
In the Ramallah-area village of Nabi Saleh, two Palestinian “youth” were injured with live ammunition during clashes that erupted with Israeli forces at the entrance of the village, after Israeli forces suppressed a solidarity march. In response to a request for comment on the clashes in Nabi Saleh, an Israeli army spokesperson said that “60 Palestinians were rolling burning tires and hurling rocks at Israeli forces. Forces responded to the immediate threat using crowd control means to disperse the violent riot.” She also confirmed the use of 0.22 caliber rounds, rubber-coated steel bullets, tear gas, and stun grenades on the protesters.
Meanwhile, clashes broke out in the Zif community between Yatta and Hebron city in the southern occupied West Bank, after Israeli soldiers suppressed a peaceful march from a sit-in tent established in solidarity with the prison hunger strike. Israeli forces shot live fire into the air and fired tear gas canisters at protesters, causing at least two Palestinians to suffer from tear gas inhalation, locals told Ma‘an.
Clashes also erupted between Palestinian youth and Israeli forces at the Bab al-Zawiya area of Hebron city, where Palestinians threw rocks at the Israeli military checkpoint at the entrance to al-Shuhada Street, while Israeli forces fired tear gas and rubber-coated steel bullets at Palestinians, causing no injuries.
The clashes came as Palestinians observed a general strike across the Palestinian territory in support of the mass hunger strike, and also to express opposition to US President Donald Trump who arrived in Israel on Monday for a two-day visit that will include a meeting with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in Bethlehem in the southern occupied West Bank on Tuesday.
Palestinian shot, detained, after allegedly stabbing police officer in central Israel
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 23 May — Israeli forces shot and detained a Palestinian after he allegedly stabbed an Israeli police officer in the Israeli city of Netanya on Tuesday morning, Israeli police reported. Israeli police spokeswoman Luba al-Samri said in a statement that an Israeli police officer in mid-twenties sustained minor wounds after being stabbed in the neck by a Palestinian man, whom she identified as a 44-year-old resident of the occupied West Bank district of Tulkarem. The police officer shot at the Palestinian, moderately injuring him, al-Samri said, adding that a female passerby was injured by shrapnel from the gunshots. All three were evacuated to a hospital for treatment. Israeli police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said that police was investigating the circumstances surrounding the attack, which was being treated as a “suspected terror-related incident.”
This is a developing story.
Israeli forces detain 14-year-old Palestinian girl at Qalandiya checkpoint
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 20 May — Israeli forces detained a teenage Palestinian girl at the Qalandiya checkpoint between Ramallah and Jerusalem on Saturday, with Israeli police claiming she had attempted to carry out a stabbing attempt on Israeli forces.
Israeli police spokeswoman Luba al-Samri said in a statement that security forces at the checkpoint noticed a Palestinian girl approaching them while walking down the vehicle lane. They ordered her to stop, but she reportedly ignored their directives and continued to walk towards them. When Israeli forces noticed the knife in her hand they began to detain her “without any injuries,” al-Samri said. Al-Samri added that the girl was 14 years old and was transferred for questioning with Israeli authorities. Hebrew-language media sources said that the teenager had attempted to stab the soldiers before Israeli forces used pepper spray on the girl and detained her.
In a video [below] of the arrest taken by a bystander from inside a vehicle and circulated on social media, a man is heard pleading with Israeli soldiers, first in Arabic and later in Hebrew, not to shoot the girl. “Don’t shoot her! That’s enough! Don’t shoot! She is young, just tie her!” as she sits crouching on the pavement with her head in her hands. Then addressing the girl, the same man shouts, “Just stay there as you are, girl,” as a soldier tackles her to the ground to handcuff her, and at least one other soldier stands by, aiming his gun at her at close range. Another person can then be heard saying in Arabic that there is a knife in her bag, though a knife is not apparently visible in the footage. Al-Samri later reported in a statement, presumably after the teen was interrogated, that “it was revealed during investigation that the girl left her house with a knife in her possession intending to carry out a terrorist stabbing attack again security forces, to retaliate for the death of the terrorist who carried out an attack at Damascus Gate about two weeks ago” — referring to the fatal shooting of 16-year-old Fatima Hjeiji, which witnesses described as a “cold blooded killing.”
WATCH: Israeli forces dismantle West Bank protest
+982 Mag 21 May by Mairav Zonszein — Dozens of Israeli soldiers dismantled on Saturday night a protest camp in the West Bank village of Sarura, which was established by Palestinians, Israelis, and diaspora Jewish activists a day earlier. At the time of the dismantling, around 80 people were there, roughly 60 American Jews and 20 Palestinians. The camp, called “Sumud: Freedom Camp,” was built in the south Hebron Hills on the former site of Sarura, whose residents were expelled by Israeli forces between 1980 and 1998. The residents have been unable to return to their land due to a combination of military orders and ongoing violence and harassment from Israeli settlers. As a result, Sarura was completely depopulated from 1998 until Friday, when the village was re-established. After nearly 48 hours of restoration work, soldiers came in without a military order and began taking the camp apart, disconnecting it from electricity and confiscating all the equipment. Meanwhile the activists chanted in English, “We will build this tent again!” “The whole world is watching” and “There is no other time, Jews must stand with Palestine!” Some also yelled out, “What will I tell me congregation about this back home?” and “What will I tell my Hebrew school students?” No arrests were made, nor was anyone was forced to leave the camp. According to people on the ground, some were shoved to the ground, while and a few of the Jewish activists were punched. As of Saturday night, there was virtually no coverage of the event in Hebrew, except for on Local Call … While Palestinians in the West Bank have been engaged in nonviolent protests against Israeli occupation for many years, and Israelis have joined them in solidarity, this is likely the biggest delegation of diaspora Jews ever to come Palestine in order to engage in direct action against Israeli policies in the West Bank. The Jewish activists, primarily from North America but which included a handful from Australia and Europe, are challenging the Israeli occupation because they say it violates their Jewish values.
Video shows settlers throwing stones at Palestinians in West Bank as Israeli soldiers watch
Haaretz 22 May by Yotam Berger — Settlers were caught on video throwing rocks at Palestinians in the West Bank on Sunday as Israeli soldiers looked on. The incident took place near the settlement of Givat Ronen, south of Nablus. The settlers also threw rocks at people affiliated with the left-wing movements Yesh Din and Rabbis for Human Rights, who filmed the incident. Only after some time did the soldiers intervene – to tell the Palestinians to move away. The settlers, some with their faces concealed, continued to throw stones at the Palestinians even after the soldiers arrived, the video shows. The clips show about ten settlers and at least four soldiers. This is not the first time that such an incident occurred. A similar one last week was documented by Yesh Din. The Israel Defense Forces denied that the soldiers did nothing and asserted that both sides had been throwing stones.
This time, one segment of the video shows settlers approaching to within meters of the activists. A soldier stands between the parties. The clip shows him talking with a settler while the rest continue to throw rocks. The soldier goes toward the Palestinians, apparently ordering them to leave, and then distances the attackers. Zakaria Sadeh of Rabbis for Human Rights says the incident began with settlers throwing rocks at Palestinian homes on the outskirts of the village of Burin, located near Givat Ronen….
Arsonists set fire to a kindergarten west of Jenin
JENIN (Ma‘an) — Unidentified arsonists set fire to a kindergarten in the northern occupied West Bank village of Rummana west of Jenin, locals told Ma‘an on Sunday morning. Locals in the village explained that a fire was set in a building that houses Abu Ammar (Yasser Arafat) kindergarten and the Rummana Charitable Society. Assailants also smashed the windows of Rummana elementary school. The civil defense service in Jenin said in a statement that locals managed to control the fire before firefighters arrived to ensure the fire wouldn’t break out again. The statement highlighted that the assailants broke into the kindergarten’s administration office by tearing off the window’s security bars, and set a fire inside the room. Governor of Jenin Ibrahim Ramadan denounced the arson and instructed Palestinian security services to investigate the attack.
Israel returns body of slain Jordanian citizen to Jordanian authorities
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 22 May — Israeli authorities returned the body of slain Jordanian citizen Muhammad al-Skaji to Jordanian authorities on Sunday, according to a report from Israeli news website Ynet. Al-Skaji, 57, was shot dead by Israeli forces in the Old City of occupied East Jerusalem on May 13 after he stabbed and injured an Israeli police officer. According to Ynet’s Hebrew-language site, al-Skaji’s body was transferred to Jordanian authorities on Sunday via the Israeli-controlled Allenby Bridge crossing between Jordan and the occupied West Bank. Israel police said at the time of the attack that al-Skaji had arrived in the country one week prior on a tourist visa, after initially reporting him to be a Palestinian. Local media said that al-Skaji was of Palestinian origin and from the West Bank city of Jericho. At the time of the attack, Israeli news daily Haaretz reported that Israeli police were investigating whether the attack may have been driven by a personal grievance or a mental issue, and that police also raided the hotel where al-Skaji had been staying and detained one of the trip organizers.
Freedom and Dignity mass hunger strike
IPS transfers tens of hunger-striking prisoners to civilian hospitals, prison field clinics
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 22 May — DAY 36 — A number of Palestinian prisoners who entered their 36th day of mass hunger strike on Monday have been transferred to civilian hospitals, as Israeli authorities moved tens of prisoners into prison field clinics, according to the media committee formed to support the hunger strikers … Hebrew media sites reported that the Israeli Prison Service (IPS) transferred 70 hunger-striking prisoners to a number of Israeli civilian hospitals due to a “serious deterioration” in their health conditions. Sites said that the 70 prisoners were transferred to the Assaf Harofeh, Soroka, Barzilai, Hamek and Beilinson hospitals in Israel. An IPS spokesperson was not immediately available for comment.
Meanwhile, the hunger strike media committee reported that a number of hunger-striking prisoners held in central Israel’s Ramla prison were evacuated to hospitals inside Israel. The committee quoted lawyer Ehab al-Ghalith, who visited prisoners Hafith Sharayaa and Mansour Fawaqa, as saying that hunger strikers were showing “dangerous symptoms,” such as losing consciousness repeatedly, nausea, vomiting, severe head and limb pains, low blood pressure, low heart rates, and weight loss of at least 15 kilograms. The two prisoners told al-Ghalith that at least 72 hunger-strikers were being held in Ramla, in “despotic and disastrous conditions.”
In a separate statement, the media committee said that IPS officials in southern Israel’s Ashkelon prison were planning on moving all hunger-striking prisoners to the prison’s field clinic by the end of the day on Monday. A lawyer of the Palestinian Committee of Prisoners’ Affairs visited hunger-striking prisoners in Ashkelon prison on Monday, and reported that the health conditions of the hunger strikers are “worsening,” highlighting that a number of them have stopped consuming water. The lawyer quoted prisoners as saying that 45 of 60 prisoners on hunger strike have been “continuously fainting since Monday morning,” but confirmed that “they are still determined to continue the strike until their demands are met.”
Solidarity events continue in support of hunger strikers
In the southern occupied West Bank city of Bethlehem, tens of Palestinians gathered in Manger Square, outside the Nativity Church — where US President Donald Trump is scheduled to visit on Tuesday — and protested the president’s visit as they expressed solidarity with the hunger-striking prisoners. “We came to tell you that the one who decides the fate of Palestinian people are the Palestinian refugee camps and not the Americans, the cause of the camps is the cause of all Palestinians,” one protester shouted, as dozens others gathered around him. “The fate of Jerusalem can’t be decided by Trump, for Jerusalem is Arab; Jerusalem is Palestinian, and we decide its fate, not the Americans. The only ones who supported Palestinian people are the heroic prisoners, they are strugglers, fighting with only their bodies,” the man said.
Meanwhile in Gaza, members of the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (DFLP) in Gaza organized a crowded march in the central coastal enclave’s Gaza City, with protesters holding signs in support of prisoners and shouting slogans condemning IPS’ refusal to negotiate with prisoners and the silence of the international community towards the strike.
Fadwa Barghouthi, member of the Fatah revolutionary council and wife of Marwan Barghouthi, the Fatah official leading the hunger strike, participated in a sit-in on Monday along with a number of Palestinian mothers of hunger-striking prisoners, inside the shrine of late Palestinian president Yasser Arafat.
Palestinians observe general strike in solidarity with hunger-striking prisoners
[photos] BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 22 May — Palestinians observed a general strike on Monday, shuttering businesses and institutions en masse in support of more than 1,300 Palestinians who have been on hunger strike in Israeli prisons since April 17. Palestinian activists also blocked roads in the central occupied West Bank to prevent commuters from accessing Ramallah.
The media committee for the Freedom and Dignity hunger strike said in a statement that it was “the first time since the First Palestinian Intifada (1987-1993) that a general strike was observed in occupied West Bank, the Palestinian territory occupied in 1948 (present-day Israel), and in the diaspora.” The committee urged Palestinians to gather at one of the many sit-in tents established throughout the occupied territory in support of the strike at 11 a.m. to prepare for political rallies organized for later in the day. The statement also called upon Palestinians to undertake a 12-hour “hunger strike,” and fast between 10 a.m to 10 p.m. on Monday in solidarity with hunger-striking prisoners, who are calling for an end to the denial of family visits, the right to pursue higher education, appropriate medical care and treatment, and an end to solitary confinement and administrative detention — imprisonment without charge or trial — among other demands for basic rights.
The Higher Follow-up Committee for Arab Citizens of Israel held a meeting at Tayibe city hall in central Israel, and stressed that all Palestinian citizens of Israel should join general strike, with the exception of schools and emergency services.
Monday’s strike was also widely observed in occupied East Jerusalem. Palestinian shops and businesses in Jerusalem shut down, including in the Old City and its surrounding villages. Head of the union of parents’ committees in the occupied East Jerusalem Ziyad al-Shamali told Ma‘an that schools also observed the strike. According to al-Shamali, the Israeli mayor of Jerusalem Nir Barakat released a statement Sunday ordering all schools administered by the Israel’s Jerusalem municipality to operate normally on Monday. However, the parents’ committees affirmed that the schools would close anyway in solidarity with hunger-striking Palestinian prisoners, “because Jerusalem is an integral part of the Palestinian homeland,” al-Shamali said. The “occupation’s municipality owns and runs several (Palestinian) schools in the city, but it doesn’t own the students and their families,” he said.
Earlier Monday morning, Palestinian activists blocked off all roads leading to the central occupied West Bank cities of Ramallah and al-Bireh with large rocks and burning tires to ensure people adhere to the general strike, witnesses told Ma‘an … Activists blocked the Ramallah-Jerusalem road at two locations, near Qalandia refugee camp and near al-Amari refugee camp. The main highway between Ramallah and Nablus was also closed, as locals blocked a section of the road near al-Jalazun refugee camp in northern Ramallah with dumpsters and burning tires….
Starving with their sons
EI 19 May by Maram Humaid — Latifa al-Naji Abu Humaid’s family are worried about her health. They are trying to convince the 70-year-old that she should start eating again. But Latifa is determined to continue refusing food in solidarity with her sons who are undertaking a hunger strike behind Israeli bars. “I cannot eat while my sons are starving,” said Latifa, who lives in al-Amari refugee camp near Ramallah, a city in the occupied West Bank. “If they end the hunger strike, I will too.” Four of Latifa’s sons have been in prison since 2002. All affiliated to al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade, the military wing of the Fatah organization, they have been convicted of various charges and sentenced to multiple life sentences for their roles in planning and helping carry out suicide bombings and other armed operations. The four have joined the mass hunger strike by Palestinian prisoners. All nine of Latifa’s living sons have been jailed by Israel. A tenth, Abd al-Munim, was assassinated by Israeli forces in 1994 after allegedly killing an intelligence officer in an ambush in Ramallah … At least eight Palestinian mothers have decided to refuse food in solidarity with their sons on hunger strike. Samira al-Haj Ahmad, known as Um Raed, is another Gaza woman who felt compelled to act. Her son Raed al-Hajj Ahmad is being detained at Nafha, a prison in the [Naqab] region of Israel. He was sentenced to 20 years of imprisonment in 2004 after attempting an attack at the Erez checkpoint in northern Gaza. With her son on hunger strike, Um Raed has decided to stop eating, too. “I don’t even enter the kitchen in my home,” she said. “Whenever I start craving for food, I remember my son and I cry.” She fully supports Raed’s hunger strike, arguing that it is “the only means by which prisoners can achieve their basic demands.” Yusra Saleh, known as Um Ramzi, also from Gaza, has two sons – Ramzi and Said – in prison. Both have been jailed by Israel for more than a decade over their activities with Islamic Jihad. She, too, has been forbidden from visiting her sons for the past year, without Israel giving her an explanation. Because she is unable to communicate with her sons, she has not been able to ascertain if they are also taking part in the fast. But she has joined the solidarity hunger strike….
International call for day of global one-day hunger strikes for Palestinian prisoners 25 May
MEMO 22 May — Internationalist activists and organisers issued a call for a global one-day hunger strike on 25 May in support of hunger-striking Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails. On 17 April 2017, 1500 Palestinian political prisoners, out of a total of nearly 6500 in Israeli prisons, launched the Strike for Dignity and Freedom. …A number of solidarity strikes have been organised internationally, including a three-day strike in Paris organised by the initiator of the global call for hunger strike, CAPJPO-EuroPalestine. Additional actions have been organised in Edinburgh, Manchester, Brussels, Chicago, Turin and elsewhere. A one-day hunger strike in South Africa included the participation of Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa and numerous anti-apartheid veterans and former political prisoners. “Given the critical situation of the Palestinian prisoners and the Israeli refusal to take their just demands into account, an appeal is made to all people of conscience in the world to mobilize in the streets on Thursday, 25 May, by observing a hunger strike to show their solidarity with the heroic resistance of the Palestinian prisoners on hunger strike since 17 April,” writes Europalestine. [see their Facebook page] Several cities have already confirmed their participation in a collective hunger strike on this day, including Washington, DC, London, Paris, Sydney, Dublin, Lyon, Nimes and Albertville.
Israeli forces release Palestinian bystander detained after Jerusalem stabbing
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 20 May — A Palestinian who was detained for allegedly failing to help thwart a stabbing attack in occupied East Jerusalem’s Old City a week ago was released from Israeli custody on Saturday. Kifah Daana told Ma‘an that upon his release, the Israeli magistrate’s court sentenced him to a ten-day house arrest, banned him from entering the Old City for one month, and fined him with a 2,000-shekel ($558) bail, despite having no charges brought against him. The 34-year-old juice stand owner and resident of the Old City was detained on May 13, shortly after an Israeli policeman shot and killed Jordanian citizen Muhammad al-Skaji, who stabbed and injured the police officer. An Israeli police spokesperson said at the time that Daana “saw from the beginning that an attack was about to happen, but did not lift a single finger to try and prevent it from happening,” and that he also prevented a passersby from trying to come to the aid of the policeman. However according to Daana, he had been working at his juice stand near the Chain Gate marketplace as usual, when he witnessed what he thought was an average street fight between a man and an Israeli police officer, he told Ma‘an on Saturday. He said that he had seen “three Israeli settlers” try to intervene before he also attempted to intervene and moved the Israelis out of the way. The police officer, who had been stabbed, then fired three or four gunshots at al-Skaji, Daana said. “I had no idea what was going on,” Daana told Ma‘an … Daana said he was interrogated several times during his week spent in Israeli custody, and consistently denied all charges, which prompted the judge to order his release. He highlighted that his juice stand was also confiscated, despite the fact that it was licensed by Israel’s Jerusalem municipality two years ago.
Army injures a Palestinian in central Gaza
IMEMC 23 May — Israeli soldiers shot and injured, on Monday evening, a young Palestinian man, east of the al-Boreij refugee camp, in central Gaza. Medical sources said the young man, in his twenties, suffered a moderate injury after the soldiers shot him with a live round in his right leg. The wounded young man, from Um Hosniyya area, east of the al-Boreij refugee camp, was moved to the Al-Aqsa Hospital, in Deir al-Balah. The young man was shot by soldiers stationed across the border fence, after the army started firing at many residents marching in solidarity with the Palestinian detainees, ongoing with their hunger strike for the 36th day.
Murder in the Mediterranean — the perils of fishing in Gaza
MintPress Opinion 20 May by Ian Berman — In 2016 alone, there were at least 126 incidents in which small wooden fishing vessels were fired on by the Israeli Navy — On Al Nakba Day of all days, the Israeli Navy killed another Palestinian fisherman, Muhammad Majid Bakr. The second in this year alone. The Israeli Navy claims Bakr’s fishing trawler responded neither to their calls, nor warning shots, after deviating “from the designated fishing zone in the northern Gaza Strip.” The boundaries of the fishing zone off Gaza are arbitrarily determined by Israel and enforced by its Navy. These boundaries follow neither international law (12 nautical miles (nm); 22.2 km; 13.8 mi), nor the Oslo Accords that Israel signed (20 nm; 37.0 km; 23.0 mi). “In the years before 2006, fishermen could go out 10 nm to 12 nm, but from 2006 until 2012 the zone was limited to 3 nm.” In 2012, Israel agreed to increase the zone to 6 nm, but later cut it back. The cease-fire agreement to the 2014 assault on Gaza restored the 6 nm zone. Since then the zone’s boundaries have changed too. The difference between 6 nm and 9 nm is significant. Within the 6 nm zone, the fishing areas are sandy and not conducive to larger fish. The best fishing is found in rocky areas which extend into the 9 nm area. Since Israel follows neither the international boundaries of territorial waters, nor the boundaries that it agreed to at Oslo, Israel’s Navy is imposing an illegal blockade. This is an act of war. Further, even if the blockade was legal, to fire upon and kill unarmed civilians that pose no threat is a war crime.
This was not the only incident of the day. “In the hours before Bakr was slain, Israeli forces detained six Palestinian fishermen and confiscated two boats.” This is another violation of international law – piracy. As the Electronic Intifada reports, “the Palestinian Center for Human Rights recorded 126 incidents in which fishing vessels were fired on by Israel [in 2016], and 130 arrests of Palestinians aboard fishing vessels during that period.” Clearly Israel’s naval blockade, its attacks upon civilians and its piracy are not one-off incidents….
62 Palestinians from Gaza visit imprisoned relatives in Ramon
GAZA (PIC) 22 May — 62 Palestinians from the besieged Gaza Strip left the coastal enclave Monday morning through the Israeli-controlled Erez checkpoint after they were granted permission to visit their imprisoned relatives in Ramon prison. International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) spokesperson in Gaza Suheir Zaqout affirmed that 62 Palestinian from Gaza visited 40 Palestinian prisoners held in Ramon prison through facilitation from the ICRC. Zaqout added that there were 12 children among the visitors.
Video: Israel siphoning natural gas from Gaza, says Dutch report
Real News 20 May — US and Israeli companies are working with Israeli approval to siphon natural gas from Gaza’s territorial waters, even though this is illegal according to international law, says TRNN’s Shir Hever
Video: Gaza pilgrims denied right to perform Umrah due to blockade
GAZA (Press TV) 22 May — For the 3rd consecutive year, Palestinians in the Gaza Strip have been denied their right to perform the minor Hajj or Umrah in Saudi Arabia. The Israeli blockade of the coastal enclave and Egypt’s closure of the Rafah crossing are two of the reasons behind the denial. Our correspondent in Gaza, Halla Alsafadi, has visited Hajj travel agencies to find out more details.
Gaza women make inroads into driving
GAZA CITY (Al-Monitor) 21 May by Najlaa Eskafi — In the United States, women are accustomed to — and often annoyed by — jokes about female drivers. But there is nothing funny about the topic in the Gaza Strip, where only about 18% of women hold driver’s licenses, Jamal Abu Jarad, the head of the public Transportation Workers Union, told Al-Monitor. Those who are trying to make a living from driving are few and far between. With the high poverty rate of 65% in Gaza, more women are turning to nontraditional jobs. But working as a driver is considered outlandish for a woman and is denounced by families and the community. The very idea offends customs and traditions. And possibly worst of all, it is often seen as an invasion of male space. Gazan women have worked in male-dominated industries before, such as carpentry, blacksmithing and fishing, to provide for themselves and their families. Some consider working as a driver a dream — a means of freedom. But for women, driving as a profession is considered off limits. Answering Al-Monitor’s question of whether they would like to work as drivers, Fida Maghribi and Alaa Khalaf, both Gaza City women in their 20s, both said, “We wish.” Khalaf added, “I have always told my father that my dream is to work as a cab driver. But the answer was ‘Absolutely not.’ My dream was unattainable.”….
Qatari Committee for the Reconstruction of Gaza signs new contracts worth $12 million
GAZA (QNA) 11 May — HE Chairman of the Qatari Committee for the Reconstruction of Gaza Ambassador Mohammed El Emadi has signed new project contracts worth 12 million. Ambassador El Emadi said that the signed projects include the construction of 7 residential buildings of the third phase of the HH Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani Residential City, the launch of the Committee’s headquarters project, and the infrastructure project for HH Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani’s Al Amal City….
Gaza’s new strawberry farmers make progress in their field
GAZA CITY (Al-Monitor) 21 May by Entsar Abu Jahal — Strawberry season in the Gaza Strip comes to an end at the end of May. Some farmers in the village of Um al-Nasser in the northern part of Gaza, who started planting strawberries in December 2016, seem quite satisfied with this first-of-a-kind experience. They exported their strawberries into the West Bank and Israel and sold them in local markets. The introduction of new crops was part of the project to reclaim desert or sandy land in the village, which the municipality first launched in cooperation with the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) in 2014.he project aims to make these lands suitable for agriculture and then rent them to unemployed citizens from the village. An individual rents 2 dunams (0.5 acre) for an amount not exceeding $100 per year, a step that helps alleviate unemployment, which stands at about 41.7% in Gaza, according to a 2016 survey by the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics. In addition, the project allows residents to take advantage of state-owned border areas in a way that economically benefits citizens and the homeland….
Palestinian dies ‘fighting for ISIS’ in Sinai
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 20 May — A Palestinian from Rafah city in the southern Gaza Strip was killed while fighting for the so-called Islamic State in Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula. The al-Attar family said Saturday that their son Subhi al-Attar was killed in Sinai on Thursday, without providing further details on the incident. Fighting between Egyptian forces and local Islamic State affiliate the Sinai Province has escalated since Egyptian President Abd al-Fattah al-Sisi took power from Muhammad Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood in 2013. A number of Palestinians from the Gaza Strip have reportedly died while fighting with ISIS in Libya, Syria, and Iraq as well.
IDF resurrects defunct Haruv as special operations unit
Ynet 20 May by Yoav Zitun — 51 years after it was founded and 43 years after it was dismantled, the Haruv (“carob”) reconnaissance unit is now returning to the IDF as a special operations unit contained within the Kfir Brigade. The unit will focus on fighting in Gaza and specialize in fighting in tunnels. The reconnaissance unit — called a “sayeret” in Hebrew — will operate in the form of three divisions (a smaller force than an infantry company), a process that will be completed in about a year and a half. “It’s just exciting,” said Yosef Koller, one of the original unit’s commanders in the 1960s … In contrast to the divisions in the patrol battalions of the other infantry battalions, the Haruv reconnaissance units will be divided into specialized teams that will specialize in fighting in the West Bank (mainly in built-up areas) and in the Gaza Strip, with an emphasis on tunnel warfare….
Restriction of movement
Israel announces ‘special procedures’ for Palestinian Muslims over Ramadan
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 21 May — Israel has announced “special procedures” for the entry of Palestinians from the occupied West Bank and besieged Gaza Strip into Israel and occupied East Jerusalem during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. Palestinians who have already been denied permits for so-called security reasons would not be allowed to enter, according to a statement released Friday by Israel’s Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT), the Israeli agency responsible for enforcing Israeli government policies in the occupied Palestinian territory. Regarding Palestinians in the West Bank, COGAT said that 200,000 Palestinians who have families in Israel would be granted special permits to visit their relatives during Ramadan, which will begin either on May 27 or on May 28, depending on moon sighting on Friday the 26th. In addition, 700 Palestinians will be granted permits to visit their families in Israel during Eid al-Fitr, which comes immediately after Ramadan. Men over 40 will be allowed to go to occupied East Jerusalem to pray at the Old City’s Al-Aqsa Mosque on Fridays throughout the holy month as well as on Laylat al-Qadr (Night of Decree), without a need for permits. Boys under 12 years old and women regardless of age will be also allowed to pray at Al-Aqsa on the same days without permits. Men between 30 and 40 years old can apply for special permits to pray in Al-Aqsa Mosque on Fridays and on Laylat al-Qadr.
With regards to the Gaza Strip, COGAT’s statement said that 100 men over 55 would be granted permits every Friday to pray in Al-Aqsa Mosque, tightening restrictions from last year, when 300 men over the age of 50 were allowed to attend weekly prayers. On average, 200 Gazans have been allowed to travel to Al-Aqsa as part of the ceasefire deal between Palestinian militant groups and Israel which ended the 2014 war on Gaza. However, the agreement has been regularly suspended over Israeli claims regarding security. In addition, 300 employees of Palestinian and international organizations including the Palestinian Red Crescent, trade unions, and international organizations based in the besieged coastal enclave, will be granted permits to travel to Jerusalem Sunday-Thursday during Ramadan, on condition that they are married and over 55, and do not have any security bans. The special permits will be issued between Sunday May 21 to Thursday the 25th, between the hours of 8 a.m and 10 p.m., COGAT said.For many Palestinians in Jerusalem and across the occupied Palestinian territory, Ramadan is directly connected to the Al-Aqsa Mosque.
Land, property theft & destruction / Ethnic cleansing / Settlements
70% of new settlement construction is outside blocs, group claims
21 May by Times of Israel staff & Jacob Magid — Peace Now says building up 34% in 2016 from year before; Yesha Council slams data as misleading — Some 70 percent of settlement construction in the West Bank last year took place outside the so-called settlement blocs, a settlement watchdog group claimed in a report released Sunday. According to Peace Now, more than 25 percent of new construction in 2016 also took place to the east of the security barrier, which runs primarily along the pre-1967 armistice lines but also juts into the West Bank to include a number of settlements. However, the report by Peace Now relies on the definition of the blocs as outlined on the 2003 Geneva Initiative, which was rejected by the government of then-prime minister Ariel Sharon. The watchdog therefore considered various large settlements (Efrat, Givat Ze’ev and Ariel) which are situated west of the security barrier to be located to its east, and thus outside of the accepted boundaries, since this would have been the case were the barrier built in accordance with the Geneva Initiative. Israel has vowed to retain the settlement blocs in any future peace deal, with mutually agreed land swaps with the Palestinians. The report also claimed that 10 percent of construction in 2016 was carried out illegally, half of it in unauthorized settlement outposts….
Israel razes Palestinian factory in Jenin
MEMO 20 May — Israeli bulldozers razed a Palestinian coal factory in the West Bank city of Jenin on Thursday and seized tons of goods, Quds Press reported. Kayid Abu Bakr, who heads a coal factory owners syndicate, said that Israeli forces razed the facility, including two dormitories and 11 storehouses, adding that they seized tons of wood and coal. Abu Bakr said that Israeli settlers living in the illegal Jewish settlement near the coal factory asked the Israeli authorities to get rid of the coal factories, claiming “they cause pollution and disease in the area.” “The Israeli occupation forces raze Palestinian facilities and lands under fake pretexts in order to expand illegal settlements,” Abu Bakr said. To prove his assertions, Abu Bakr pointed out the existence of several coal factories in Israel near residential buildings, where no such measures are taken against them. He said that the owners of the coal factories are planning to move against the Israeli measures that damage their interests and to file complaints against the destruction of these “violations.”
Israeli forces conduct military drills near Palestinian homes in Jordan Valley
JORDAN VALLEY (WAFA) 21 May – Israeli forces Sunday conducted military drills adjacent to Palestinian homes across the Jordan Valley, said local sources. Residents in the Jordan valley reported on the heavy presence of Israeli soldiers near their homes, where live-fire artillery exercises were conducted. Israeli army conducts military training in areas inhabited by Palestinian Bedouins on regular bases forcing many to leave their homes for few days each time. Palestinians believe the military exercises are part of a larger Israeli scheme to empty the land of its Arab inhabitants for further settlement expansion. In May 2014, a senior Israeli army officer admitted that military live fire training in the West Bank “is used as a way of reducing the number of Palestinians living nearby, and serves as an important part of the campaign against Palestinian illegal construction.” According to B’Tselem, an Israeli human rights group, Israeli military training in the Jordan Valley “cause unreasonable disruption to the lives of the communities in the area.”
Israel in rare overture to Palestinians ‘at Trump request’
JERUSALEM (AFP) 22 May — Israeli ministers have approved measures aimed at improving the Palestinian economy and facilitating crossings, rare moves said to be at Donald Trump’s request hours ahead of the US president’s arrival. An Israeli official told AFP on condition of anonymity that ministers were responding to a Trump request to present him with “confidence-building measures” ahead of his talks with Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas on Tuesday. In a statement, Trump’s administration welcomed the moves, saying he “has been encouraging both sides to take steps that improve the environment for peace making.” “He has expressed particular interest in taking steps to improve the Palestinian economy in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.” In what the Israeli official described as a “gesture for Trump’s visit, which does not harm Israel’s interests”, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s security cabinet on Sunday approved the enlargement of a Palestinian industrial zone on the edge of the southern West Bank. He said that the possibility of extending Israel Railways services to the northern West Bank city of Jenin would also be examined. They also gave the nod to streamlining transit procedures at Shaar Ephraim, a busy crossing point in the northern part of the occupied West Bank for Palestinian labourers with permits to work in Israel. The official said that opening hours for passage across the main Jordan River bridge linking the Palestinian territory and the neighbouring kingdom were to be extended to 24/7. There would also be reforms to Palestinian land use in urban areas in the 60 percent of the West Bank under full Israeli control. He did not elaborate but Israel’s Haaretz daily said the intention was to allow construction of “thousands of Palestinian homes” in the area where for years it has been almost impossible for Palestinians to get Israeli permits to build on their own land. Haaretz said that at Sunday night’s meeting Education Minister Naftali Bennett and justice minister Ayelet Shaked, of the religious-nationalist Jewish Home party, “objected vehemently” to the building plans.
Trump meets with Abbas in Bethlehem during brief visit in West Bank
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 23 May — Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas welcomed US President Donald Trump at the Palestinian presidential palace in the southern occupied West Bank city of Bethlehem on Tuesday morning … Trump’s convoy entered Bethlehem shortly before 10 a.m., arriving from the 300 Checkpoint and driving past Israel’s illegal separation wall. The American head of state was greeted by Abbas, as well as Palestinian religious dignitaries and military officials at the presidential palace before retreating for the meeting. Abbas and Trump held a brief joint press conference following the meeting, before Trump left Bethlehem ahead of a planned visit to the Holocaust memorial and the Israel Museum in Jerusalem. Nimr added that some 2,000 members of Palestinian security forces were deployed across Bethlehem for the occasion, where at least one banner welcomed Trump to the city as “the man of peace.” Melania and Ivanka Trump’s absence in Bethlehem, as well as low security around the Church of Nativity indicated that a visit to the religious site, believed to be built on the birthplace of Jesus Christ, was not in the cards on Tuesday, despite being a common occurrence during diplomatic visits to Bethlehem.
Trump’s two-day visit — during which he has visited the Church of the Holy Sepulcher and the Western Wall in occupied East Jerusalem — comes amid fierce opposition among Palestinians, who denounce the far-right leader’s strong support of Israel and its policies targeting Palestinians, as well as his notorious anti-Muslim rhetoric. Palestinians in both the occupied West Bank and inside Israel observed a general strike Monday, called for in part to express support for 1,300 Palestinians on hunger strike in Israeli prisons, and also to voice opposition to the resumption of peace talks between the Palestinian Authority and Israel under US sponsorship. Palestinians have also called for a “Day of Rage” on Tuesday to coincide with Trump’s arrival in Bethlehem, when confrontations between locals and Israeli forces are expected to take place across the occupied West Bank.
Trump to Abbas: Peace won’t come where violence ‘rewarded’
Times of Israel 23 May — In Bethlehem, US president says PA leader and Netanyahu both assured him they were ‘ready to work toward peace in good faith’ — In his first visit to the Palestinian Authority, US President Donald Trump issued implicit criticism of Palestinian funding for imprisoned terrorists, while praising the counterterrorism efforts of the PA and urging condemnation of terror attacks “in a single unified voice.” Trump spoke alongside PA President Mahmoud Abbas at the latter’s presidential compound in Bethlehem Tuesday. The two men began their respective statements with condemnations of the apparent suicide bombing in Manchester the night before. “Peace can never take root in an environment where violence is tolerated, funded and even rewarded,” Trump said, in an apparent reference to the salaries paid by the PA to families of Palestinian prisoners killed while committing terror attacks or convicted of terrorism. “We must be resolute in condemning such acts in a single unified voice,” he said. Trump also promised American help to renew long-stalled Israeli-Palestinian peace talks. “Peace is a choice we must make each day, and the United States is here to help make that dream possible for young Jewish, Christian and Muslim children all across the region,” he said. “In so doing we will all enjoy a safer and brighter future and a safer and brighter world.” … While implicitly criticizing the Palestinian Authority’s stance on terrorism, he praised Abbas, who he said had “committed to taking firm but necessary steps to fight terrorism and confront its hateful ideology …
Speaking before Trump, Abbas said that the Palestinians’ “fundamental problem is with occupation and settlements and the failure of Israel to recognize the state of Palestine as we recognize it,” and not with “Judaism.” “Once again we reassert to you our positions,” he continued: “accepting the two-state solution along the borders of 1967, a state of Palestine with a capital in East Jerusalem alongside Israel… and resolving longstanding issues based on international law and agreements… in accordance with Arab peace initiative.”
During Trump’s visit, the families of hunger-striking Palestinian prisoners protested at the nearby Manger Square, but were kept in check by Palestinian security forces. They waved photos of prisoners, including many convicted of terror attacks, who are protesting their conditions in Israeli prisons. The group of around 70 protesters, among them children, demanded Trump intervene with Israeli authorities on behalf of the Palestinian strikers. “Hear, hear Trump, the prisoners will not kneel,” they shouted. The PA’s Prisoner Affairs Minister Issa Qaraqe told The Times of Israel, “We want Trump to intervene on the Israeli side so the demands of the prisoners can be met.” Abbas also raised the issue in his comments alongside Trump….
Abbas attends Arab-Islamic-American Summit in Saudi Arabia
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 21 May — Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas attended the Arabic-Islamic-American Summit in the Saudi capital of Riyadh on Sunday, along with 50 leaders of Arab and Muslim-majority countries, as well as US President Donald Trump. Abbas arrived in the country on Saturday, and was welcomed at the Riyadh Air Base Airport by Saudi Prince Muhammad Bin Abd al-Rahman Bin Abd al-Aziz, Riyadh Mayor Ibrahim Sultan, senior Saudi official Abd al-Rahman Bin Abd al-Aziz al-Sihibani, and commander of Riyadh Air Base Muhammad Bin Ali al-Awaji. Abbas was also escorted by Secretary-General of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) Saeb Erekat, Deputy Prime Minister Ziad Abu Amro, government spokesperson Nabeel Abu Rdina, Abbas’s consultant of diplomatic affairs Majdi al-Khaldi, and Palestinian Ambassador to Saudi Arabia Bassim al-Agha.
Hamas accuses Trump of ‘bias’ toward Israeli occupation
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 21 May — The Hamas movement accused US President Donald Trump of betraying his bias towards the Israeli government, after Trump included Hamas in a list of terrorist groups that he said posed a global threat of “epic proportions.”
In a speech delivered before leaders of Arab and Muslim-majority countries in the Saudi capital of Riyadh on Sunday, Trump said: “We now face a humanitarian and security disaster in this region that is spreading across the planet. It is a tragedy of epic proportions.” “No description of the suffering and depravity can begin to capture its full measure. The true toll of ISIS, Al Qaeda, Hezbollah, Hamas, and so many others, must be counted not only in the number of dead. It must also be counted in generations of vanished dreams,” he said, in his first speech delivered abroad since taking office … Shortly after the speech was broadcast, Hamas reacted in a statement, accusing Trump of “complete bias” toward the policies of the Israeli occupation by designating the movement as a terrorist organization. “Trump’s remarks will not thwart our goal of liberating Palestine, nor will they hinder our people’s steadfastness and resistance,” Hamas said. Despite being designated as a terrorist organization by Israel, the US, EU, and UK, as well as other powers, Hamas — an acronym for Harakat al-Muqawama al-Islamiyya, the Islamic Resistance Movement — identifies as a Palestinian national resistance movement. The group became the ruling party of the Gaza Strip’s de facto government after Hamas won legislative elections across the Palestinian territory in 2006 … Israeli officials have routinely claimed that a trend of small-scale attacks by committed by Palestinians that peaked in Fall 2015 — a number of which Hamas said were carried out by Palestinians affiliated to the group — is part of an international rise in Islamist extremism.
White House removes video showing Israel with pre-1967 borders
RT 20 May — A short video promoting President Donald Trump’s first foreign trip to the Middle East and Europe posted to the White House YouTube channel showed a map of Israel that excluded disputed territories the Gaza Strip, West Bank and Golan Heights. On Thursday, the day before Trump’s scheduled departure, the White House posted a video on its YouTube channel, which featured a map of Israel that omitted Gaza, the West Bank and the Golan Heights. The short video, which has since been removed, highlighted the five stops Trump is making during his eight-day trip. The White House stated his trip was made to “reaffirm America’s global leadership, continue building key relationships with world leaders, and deliver a message of unity to America’s friends and allies.” “I hope this is just ignorance and not policy,” Israeli Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked said, referring to the video, according to Yedioth Ahronoth, an Israeli newspaper….
Arab Orthodox scouts barred from greeting Trump in Jerusalem’s Old City
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 22 May — The Arab Orthodox Union scouts of Jerusalem were barred from accompanying US President Donald Trump into the Church of the Holy Sepulcher in occupied East Jerusalem’s Old City on Monday because of the Palestinian flag on their costumes, according to the Arab Orthodox Union Club. The club said in a statement Monday, as Trump launched his two-day visit to Israel and the occupied Palestinian territory, that the district head of the Israeli police “was adamant” that the scouts “not even get near the Old City” because of the flags on the their costumes. According to the statement, the scouts had been asked by the Trump team to stage a parade in the Old City and accompany the US president into the church. Their participation was also approved in person by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. The union club said that extensive deliberations were conducted over the past two days, when “all pertinent details” — including the scout’s costumes, flags, and instruments — were agreed upon with the Americans. However, after the phone call from the head of district police, the Arab Orthodox Union Club consulted with Trump’s team, who “were worried about the safety of the kids” in the event of a confrontation with police, and “it was agreed that the scout’s participation would be cancelled.” “The Arab Orthodox Union Club and its scouts have been in Jerusalem since before the creation of Israel, and this the flag is not simply an item on a uniform; it is apart of who we are,” the statement concluded….
Inside Palestine’s first camp for female former prisoners
GAZA CITY (Al-Monitor) 22 May by Ahmed el-Komi — The Women’s Association for Development and Empowerment launched the first-of-its-kind camp in Jerusalem to help former female detainees cope with their new lives inside their communities after their release — The Women’s Association for Development and Empowerment in Jerusalem concluded May 6 the first-of-its-kind camp for former Palestinian female detainees in Jabal Baba in the town of al-Eizariya, southeast of Jerusalem. Eleven former female prisoners ages 12 to 18 from various West Bank governorates attended the camp. Elham Naaman, the director of the association, told Al-Monitor that the idea for the camp came in response to the needs of former female prisoners. She said, “We received word that former female prisoners needed courses in social awareness, education, personal development and psychological assistance.” Naaman added, “The camp lasted for three days and was organized for the first time by our association as part of its activities aimed at empowering Palestinian women an important group in Palestinian society.”… The camp’s youngest participant was Dima al-Wawi, who at 12 years is the youngest prisoner freed from an Israeli jail. On Feb. 9, 2016, Israel arrested Wawi near the Karmi Tzur settlement north of the city of Hebron in the West Bank on charges of attempting to carry out a stabbing. A military court in Israel sentenced the girl to 4½ months in jail and a fine of 8,000 Israeli shekels ($2,230), making her the youngest prisoner in Israeli jails.