Political and other news
Fatah maintains majority in local councils by going largely uncontested
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 16 May — Two days after municipal elections took place across the occupied West Bank, the Palestinian Central Elections Commission (CEC) reported that Fatah, the ruling party of the Palestinian Authority (PA), maintained a majority of local council seats, despite independent lists having scored a higher number of votes. While approximately 65 percents of seats up for grabs during Saturday’s election went to registered or independent lists in 145 municipalities, another 181 villages and towns mainly saw Fatah lists run unopposed, official Palestinian news agency Wafa quoted CEC as saying on Monday. As anti-PA sentiment has continued to grow over the past year, a number of political factions, including Hamas, Islamic Jihad, and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), decided to boycott the elections. According to CEC data, in municipalities where elections took place, in addition to two-thirds of seats going to independents, Fatah lists won 27.6 percent of seats, while the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (DFLP) won 2.77 percent, party coalition lists won 2.77 percent, Palestinian National Initiative lists won 0.58 percent, the Palestinian Democratic Union 0.45 percent, the Democratic Alliance 0.32 percent, the Palestinian Popular Struggle Front 0.26 percent, and the Palestinian People’s Party won 0.19 percent. In the 181 municipalities in which lists ran unopposed, 74.9 percent of the total 1,683 local council seats went to Fatah, while 12.9 percent went to party coalition blocs, 11.6 percent went to non-partisan lists, and 0.6 percent went to DFLP. According to CEC, around a fifth of seats went to female candidates….
West Bank municipal election results revealed amid low turnout, party boycotts
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 14 May — The Palestinian Central Elections Committee (CEC) released on Sunday results for municipal council elections which took place a day prior across the occupied West Bank. According to CEC chairman Hanna Nasser, voter turnout stood at 53.4 percent — as 420,682 of 787,386 eligible voters headed to the polls in 145 municipalities. According to reports on Saturday evening, voter turnout was lower in big cities compared to villages and rural areas. The lowest turnout was registered in the Nablus district, with only 28 percent of registered voters heading to the polls, although CEC said voting hours were extended for Samaritans, who observe the sabbath on Saturdays. Nasser said on Sunday that 1.3 percent of voters cast white ballots, while 2.75 percent of votes were null. Lists that were not officially tied to any political parties won 65 percent of contested municipal council seats during the election, while official political party lists obtained 35 percent of seats.
The participation rate was virtually the same as in the 2012 and 2005 locals elections, which political analyst Talal Akel told Ma’an at the time was a sign of Palestinians’ frustration with political parties and the Palestinian Authority (PA). Since then, anti-PA sentiment has continued to grow, leading a number of factions to boycott the elections, including Hamas, Islamic Jihad, and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP). As a result, only certain political parties were officially represented in the elections that were called for by the Fatah-dominated PA. While the “National Liberation and Constructiveness” blocs are officially tied to Fatah, some lists with names such as “Baladi” or “Baladna” — “my town” or “our town” — are traditionally tied to the PFLP. Despite its boycott, Hamas encouraged Palestinians to cast their votes for “the most competent” candidates, acknowledging the “crucial role” local councils in the West Bank have in confronting Israeli policies and providing the basic services to the Palestinian people….
Palestinian president kicks off India visit with tech tour
NEW DELHI (AFP) 15 May — Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas began a three-day visit to India on Monday with a tour of an IT facility that is helping Ramallah build a high-end tech hub. Abbas, who arrived late Sunday, will hold talks on the Middle East peace process, among other issues, with Prime Minister Narendra Modi in coming days. But his first stop was to a technology institute outside Delhi where India is lending its IT know-how to help Palestine spur job creation in the tech sector. India agreed in October to spend US$12 million financing a new IT hub in Ramallah in a sign of India’s “strong commitment to support [the] Palestinian cause”, the foreign ministry said at the time. Abbas and his delegation spent nearly two hours touring the Centre for Development of Advance Computing. The Palestinian leader will this evening attend a function at the India Islamic Cultural Centre in New Delhi…
Teaching our children Arabic should be elementary
+972 log 16 May by Gil Gertel — A new study shows that Jewish Israeli teens who studied Arabic in elementary school have a better appreciation for Arab society later on. As the government continues its attacks on Arabic, it is imperative that teachers and parents fight to ensure children learn the language — The so-called nation-state bill, which passed its first reading in the Knesset last week, is not intended to uphold Israel as the “nation-state of the Jewish people” as per MK Avi Dichter (Likud), the original author of the bill, in 2017. The privileges of Jews in Israel are well protected, including legally, as well as through the state’s police and military power. The nation-state bill is actually intended to further harm and humiliate those who are not Jewish. Step by step, we are bearing witness to a fascistic spiral: he who is strong remains on top; he who is weak is humiliated. These days, we don’t need to guess how the results of a steady attack on human rights look, especially vis-à-vis those who are not part of the ruling nation. But how do we stop the downfall? Among the different options, I propose that parents and educators demand and promote Arabic learning in Hebrew elementary schools. This is crucial at a time when the government and the Knesset are trying to minimize the presence of Arabs in the country. Teaching the language could be a step in the opposite direction. Elementary Arabic Arabic is compulsory for middle-schoolers in Israel. Elementary schools have two different programs for Arabic learning, whose books were approved by the Education Ministry … First of all, let’s establish that Arabic will be taught without use of transliteration, since the letters of the language are integral to Arab culture. The idea of using transliteration, that is, writing in Arabic in Hebrew letters, stems from Hebrew speakers’ feelings of superiority and condescension. After all, no one would dare think of teaching English or French in Arabic letters….
British, US and Dutch diplomats visit Surif to inspect demining program
JERUSALEM (WAFA) 16 May — The British, US and Dutch Heads of Mission in Jerusalem and Ramallah Tuesday visited Surif, a small village northwest of Hebron, to see the success of a joint mine clearance project supported by the three countries, according to a press release. The United States, the Netherlands, the UK and New Zealand have jointly contributed $8.2 million to the HALO Trust to remove and clear mines placed in the 1950s and 1960s throughout the West Bank and to create a safe environment for all. HALO has cleared over 784 anti-tank and anti-personnel mines, 89 dangerous remnants and 15 unexploded ordnances from four sites across the West Bank. As a result, lives have been saved, over 125,000 square meters of unused land has been repurposed by Palestinian land owners for commercial and agricultural use, and Palestinian communities can thrive again without the fear of mines, said the press release….
‘We will support you by every possible means’: David Friedman arrives in Israel
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 16 May — US President Donald Trump’s pick for US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman embarked on his first official trip to Israel on Monday, as the ultraright, pro-settler ambassador reportedly told Israeli leaders that he and Trump would support Israel “by every possible means.” Friedman’s first stop after landing in Israel was the Western Wall, a holy Jewish site located in occupied East Jerusalem and adjacent to Al-Aqsa Mosque, where the ambassador “prayed for Donald Trump.” ….
Palestinians in Gaza mourn fisherman ‘killed in cold blood’ by Israeli forces
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 16 May — Palestinians in the besieged Gaza Strip took part in the funeral march on Tuesday for 26-year-old Muhammad Majed Bakr, an unarmed fisherman who was fatally shot by Israeli naval forces the previous day while sailing off the coast of northern Gaza. The Israeli army claimed they opened fire on the boat for allegedly sailing past Israel’s unilaterally declared fishing zone, though local and medical sources insisted the boat was only four nautical miles off the coast, well within the fishing zone, according to the Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR). Bakr was shot in the chest at around 8:30 a.m. Monday morning while fishing with his brother Umran Majed Bakr, before Israeli forces surrounded the boat and detained him. Hours later, Muhammad was declared dead at Israel’s Barzillai hospital in the central Israeli city of Ashkelon.
At least six other fishermen, including three members of Muhammad’s extended family, all from al-Shati refugee camp in western Gaza City, were detained in separate incidents between Sunday night and Monday morning. Mourners carried Bakr’s body from the al-Shifa hospital in Gaza City to his home in the al-Shati, calling out slogans in condemnation of the killing. Some participants in the march fired gunshots into the air and demanded revenge for the young fisherman’s death, as they proceeded towards the “martyrs” cemetery in the camp. Several fighters from the Abu Ali Mustafa Brigades, the military wing of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, took part in the funeral. One of Muhammad’s relatives, Zakariya Bakr, highlighted that some 4,000 Palestinian fishermen in Gaza risk their lives every day to make a living, and he denounced Israel for its continued violations aimed to deliberately threaten Gaza’s tenuous fishing sector. Muhammad was survived by his wife and his two young daughters.
According to the Ireland Palestine Solidarity Campaign, Muhammad was also the cousin of the four young boys that were killed in an Israeli missile attack while playing football on the beach during Israel’s devastating assault on the small Palestinian territory in 2014. “The killing of Muhammad Majed Bakr is the latest in an ongoing pattern of attacks by Israel on Gaza’s farming and fishing community, termed ‘economic warfare’ by Israeli officials who see this as a legitimate campaign against Gaza and its Hamas-led government,” the Ireland Palestine Solidarity Campaign wrote in its statement. “For the Bakr family, it adds to the terrible weight of grief they endure and the economic burden of providing for Muhammed Majed Bakr’s wife and two small daughters in an already impoverished community.”
Israeli soldiers open fire at Palestinian lands in southern Gaza
IMEMC 16 May — Israeli soldiers opened fire, on Tuesday morning, into Palestinian agricultural lands east of Khan Younis, in the southern part of the besieged Gaza Strip. Media sources in Khan Younis said the soldiers fired many live rounds at farmers working on their own lands east of Khan Younis, forcing them away.
Gaza security forces reveal details of investigation in to Mazen Fuqahaa’s killing
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 16 May — Days after it was announced that the suspected killer of Hamas leader Mazen Fuqahaa had been arrested, the Hamas-run Ministry of Interior in the Gaza Strip has released the details of the case. Fuqahaa’s assassination in front of his home in Gaza City in March sparked a severe security crackdown by Hamas authorities across the besieged coastal enclave, culminating in the arrest of three Palestinians who confessed to having collaborated with Israel to carry out the assassination, in addition to the arrest of 45 other collaborators, head of Gaza’s Internal Security Forces Tawfiq Abu Naim said on Tuesday. The new head of Hamas’ politburo, Ismail Haniyeh, said Thursday that Fuqahaa’s “killer” had confessed and provided “all information and details of his crime” and that he had received direct orders by Israeli officials to carry out the assassination.
Haniyeh called the development a “historical moment” and a point of justice for a “heroic leader” of Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades — the armed wing of the Hamas movement — during the press conference. Abu Naim said at a press conference in Gaza City that the self-styled “Decoded” security campaign was launched immediately after the assassination. The crackdown was marked by unprecedented restrictions on freedom of movement in the small Palestinian territory for nearly two weeks and “a week of repentance,” in which security and legal protection was promised to those who confessed to collaborating with Israel on the killing.
Wrapping up the gag order imposed by authorities amid the security campaign, Abu Naim announced that security services were able to arrest Fuqahaa’s “direct executioner,” who he identified as 38-year-old “A.L.,” who allegedly confessed committing the crime and to his relation to Israeli intelligence services. A military court in Gaza reportedly began his trial on Monday. Two other collaborators — 44-year-old “H.A.” and 38-year-old “A.N.” — also confessed to having main roles in the assassination, according to Abu Naim. Noting that the security campaign involved sealing Gaza’s land and sea borders as well as erecting numerous security checkpoints, Abu Naim said that investigations also lead to the arrest of 45 additional collaborators with Israel, which he referred to as a “brutal blow to Israeli intelligence services.”
A 14-minute video published by the Gaza Interior Ministry on Fuqahaa’s assassination purported to show the three collaborators making detailed confessions, with faces blurred in dimly lit rooms to conceal their identities, though voice changers were not used…. [long article, worth reading in its entirety]
Hamas names chief suspect in commander killing
AFP 15 May — A military court in Gaza on Monday held the first hearing of three men accused of assassinating a Hamas military leader, naming the chief suspect for the first time. Hamas has accused Palestinian “collaborators” of working with Israel to commit the murder. “In Gaza today, the first hearings were held for three (men) accused of killing Mazen Faqha,” Assistant Military Attorney General Fadl al-Jadili said in a statement carried by a local news agency. He named Ashraf Abu Leila as the chief suspect in shooting dead Faqha, a senior Hamas official killed near his home on March 24. Two other accused men faced a separate session, with Jadili saying they had been tasked by the Israeli security service with tracking Faqha’s movements in the period prior to his killing. Abu Leila was arrested about two weeks after the assassination, a security source said. The source added Abu Leila had allegedly been a member of Hamas’s military wing, Ezzedine al-Qassam Brigades, for a number of years before being expelled in 2008. An image allegedly showing Abu Leila’s identity card was shared on social media, according to which he was born in 1979 in the Nuseirat refugee camp in central Gaza. [According to the Associated Press, “A Hamas official said the shooter had been kicked out of Hamas for “moral crimes” four years ago and had joined an al-Qaida-inspired group known as the Army of Islam. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss the sensitive case.”]
Hamas says videos reveal PA collaborators who helped Israeli kill resistance fighters
EI 15 May by Ali Abunimah — Hamas on Saturday released a series of videos which it says contain confessions by agents working for the Palestinian Authority who passed information to Israel that was used to attack the Gaza Strip. In at least one case, Hamas says that information a collaborator passed to his PA handler was used by Israel to target and kill one of its members. One of the videos contains what Hamas says are confessions from PA officers that they were behind a recent series of car burnings that were intended to sow chaos and instability in Gaza. The Palestinian Authority in Ramallah has dismissed the Hamas claims … Confessions of a collaborator? One video shows a person who is described as “one of the spies collaborating with the Preventive Security who was arrested due to his suspicious behavior of monitoring resistance fighters” during last summer’s Israeli assault on Gaza. The Preventive Security is one of the intelligence agencies of the Ramallah-based Palestinian Authority led by Mahmoud Abbas. The man’s face is obscured and his name is not given in order to protect his family, the video states. There is an enormous stigma attached to having a family member accused of collaboration in tight-knit Gaza, as in other occupied territories throughout history … The unnamed suspect does however name his handler as Preventive Security officer Ahmad Abd al-Halim Abu Shawqa. “Ahmad [Abu Shawqa] got in touch with me during the war,” the suspect says. “He used to ask me for information about where rockets were being launched from.” He adds that he was asked to look out for weapons, especially rockets and anti-aircraft missiles. He adds that he was asked to look out for weapons, especially rockets and anti-aircraft missiles. The man also says he was asked about who frequented the local mosque and to find out who had recently been recruited into the Qassam Brigades, the military wing of Hamas. He says that he passed on information about one Abdallah Arafat Eid Shamaligh, a resident of the Sheikh Ajlin district of Gaza. According to the video, Shamaligh, a 37-year-old father of five who was a member of the Qassam Brigades, “was killed after he was informed on by this spy.” The video claims that Hamas was able to match many instances of information accused collaborators say they provided their handlers with actual Israeli attacks….
Gaza on brink of ‘systemic collapse’, ICRC warns
EI 16 May by Ali Abunimah — Gaza is on the brink of a “systemic collapse” as the electricity crisis deepens, the International Committee of the Red Cross is warning. “Severe power and fuel shortage has reached a critical point in Gaza, endangering essential services including healthcare, wastewater treatment and water provision,” the ICRC said on Tuesday. “ICRC doesn’t issue statements often,” Omar Shakir, the Israel and Palestine director for Human Rights Watch commented, “When they do, you listen.” ICRC added that without immediate intervention, “a public health and environment crisis is looming.” No “humanitarian” fix Years ago, the ICRC declared that Israel’s blockade of Gaza is illegal. “The whole of Gaza’s civilian population is being punished for acts for which they bear no responsibility,” the ICRC stated in 2010. “The closure therefore constitutes a collective punishment imposed in clear violation of Israel’s obligations under international humanitarian law.” “The dire situation in Gaza cannot be resolved by providing humanitarian aid,” it added. Yet in the total absence of accountability for Israel’s violations, humanitarian aid has repeatedly been used to keep Gaza at the edge of subsistence and out of the headlines. The United Nations has gone even further, becoming directly complicit in administering the illegal blockade through the so-called Gaza Reconstruction Mechanism. The recently launched Gaza Unlocked campaign notes that when the media do report about Gaza, stories “primarily focus on violence and politics, while stories of how the blockade impacts everyday life remain largely untold.” The campaign aims to mobilize public pressure on politicians to end the Israeli blockade.
Israeli activists send hundreds of gifts to sick children in Gaza
+972 mag 15 May by Orly Noy — Children at the al-Rantisi Hospital in Gaza have received packages containing hundreds of gifts, following an initiative by Israeli activists. The parcels arrived around 10 days ago, delivered through Erez Crossing in coordination with both the Palestinian and Israeli authorities. The idea was proposed by Zohara Haddad, a Jerusalem-based activist involved with Ta‘ayush. “I’m very preoccupied with Gaza, and this [idea] came to me,” she says. “It’s important to me that those living there know there are people who think and care about them.” Haddad approached Buma Inbar, a veteran activist, in order to help realize her plan. They started out by campaigning, with the aid of left-wing activist Vered Bitan, for donations of clothes, shoes, jewelry, bags, books, home ornaments, and more. The donated items were then auctioned off at the Almacén gallery in Jaffa. Once the funds from the auction were in place, Inbar put Haddad in contact with Saleh Abbasi, a Haifa-based publisher, from whom they bought coloring-in and other books for the children in Gaza. “Saleh’s input into this project was amazing and moving,” Haddad says. “For every book we bought he donated an additional book, and he gave us a significant discount on the books we purchased. Not only do I think he didn’t make a shekel out of this sale — I assume it actually cost him money.”… For the next step, youngsters at the Arab-Jewish Community Center in Jaffa packaged around 700 individual presents, each with their own wrapping. Attached to each gift were a large balloon with “I love you” written on it in Arabic, a rubber bracelet in the colors of the Palestinian flag, candy, and a personal note….
69th anniversary of the Nakba
Watch our documentary series Al-Nakba
Al Jazeera 29 May 2013 — A series on the Palestinian ‘catastrophe’ of 1948 that led to dispossession and conflict that still endures — This series attempts to present an understanding of the events of the past that are still shaping the present. Episode 1/ This story starts in 1799, outside the walls of Acre in Ottoman-controlled Palestine, when an army under Napoleon Bonaparte besieged the city. It was all part of a campaign to defeat the Ottomans and establish a French presence in the region. In search of allies, Napoleon issued a letter offering Palestine as a homeland to the Jews under French protection. He called on the Jews to ‘rise up’ against what he called their oppressors. Napoleon’s appeal was widely publicised. But he was ultimately defeated. In Acre today, the only memory of him is a statue atop a hill overlooking the city. Yet Napoleon’s project for a Jewish homeland in the region under a colonial protectorate did not die, 40 years later, the plan was revived but by the British….
Nakba: ‘It remains bitter and continues to burn’
BETHLEHEM, Occupied West Bank (Al Jazeera) 16 May by Jaclynn Ashly & Soud Hefawi — A Palestinian elder recounts how the creation of Israel shattered his pastoral village life nearly 70 years ago — Abd al-Qader al-Lahham remembers the sweet taste of fruit, the rolling hills of olive trees, the rippling fresh springs, and the sheep, cows and camels grazing until sunset on his land in the now-destroyed Palestinian village of Beit ‘Itab in Jerusalem. Now 97 and the oldest resident of Dheisheh refugee camp, Lahham’s life in the compact concrete maze of Bethlehem’s largest Palestinian refugee camp contrasts starkly with the pastoral life he once knew before the expulsion of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians during the 1948 creation of the state of Israel. This became known as the Nakba, or catastrophe, among Palestinians. “The happiest times of my life were in my village,” Lahham told Al Jazeera. “When I fall asleep, I dream of those days.” Lahham owned some 100 dunams (25 acres) of land in Beit ‘Itab. To this day, he still holds the official ownership title. “We used to eat straight from the crops on our farms. Our land provided everything for us. Life was good then,” he said. Today, he spends his days venturing to and from the camp’s mosque five times a day, slowly making his way past graffiti and murals of Palestinians killed by Israeli forces that decorate the narrow streets. In 1948, Lahham, then 28, was in a nearby village tending to his sheep when the sound of bombs interrupted the quiet evening. He passed through villages whose residents were fleeing their homes as Zionist militias invaded the area. His family and fellow villagers had already been expelled, so Lahham continued travelling with his sheep until he arrived in the Bethlehem-area village of al-Khader. It was only after three days that Lahham finally found his family hiding in a mosque in the village of Artas…
Erekat: The Nakba means an ongoing journey of pain, loss, and injustice
RAMALLAH (WAFA) 15 May – As Palestinians worldwide mark 69 years since their uprooting from their homeland, referred to as the Nakba (catastrophe), the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) said this anniversary means an ongoing journey of pain, loss, and injustice. “Our nation marking 69 years of the Nakba, our national catastrophe, is symbolized in our exile and the systematic denial of our rights,” said Saeb Erekat, secretary general of the PLO’s Executive Committee. “The Nakba means an ongoing journey of pain, loss, and injustice.” Erekat said the Nakba is also time to remember massacres committed by the Zionist gangs against the Palestinian civilian population before the creation of the state of Israel in 1948. “Today we mark Deir Yassin and Abu Shusha, among other massacres that led our people to exile. As with almost every single crime committed by Israel before and since its creation, the criminals responsible for such massacres and war crimes enjoyed full impunity,” he said. “In order to achieve a just and lasting peace between Israel and Palestine, it is important that Israel recognizes the Nakba and apologizes for it. In that sense, we call upon the Israeli government to open all its 1948 archives and show their own nation the truth of what was done to our people, including its ethnic cleansing policies and the policy of shooting to kill Palestinians that attempted to return home,” said the PLO official. “We call upon the United Kingdom to apologize for its role in the Palestinian catastrophe, beginning by the infamous Balfour Declaration and the denial of our national rights….
Israeli forces suppress Nakba Day rallies in Bethlehem, Ramallah
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 15 May — Israeli forces cracked down on Palestinians commemorating the 69th anniversary of the Nakba, or “catastrophe,” on Monday, with several Palestinians sustaining gunshot injuries and suffering from severe tear gas inhalation during marches in Bethlehem and Ramallah. At least three people were hospitalized for after Israeli forces violently suppressed a Nakba march in the southern occupied West Bank city of Bethlehem around midday Monday, with one march participant describing the use of force as one of “the worst (tear) gas experiences” they had witnessed in the city in five years. Witnesses told Ma‘an the Israeli forces were deliberately launching tear gas canisters directly at demonstrators on the main street in northern Bethlehem where the march culminated, and continued to shoot tear gas at those attempting to escape, causing numerous people to suffer from tear gas suffocation. Local sources said Israeli soldiers also sprayed skunk water on demonstrators. Israeli soldiers also used stun grenades and opened fire on protesters with rubber-coated steel bullets. At least three people were shot and injured in their extremities and evacuated to the hospital for treatment.
Meanwhile, in the central occupied West Bank city of Ramallah, at least seven demonstrators were shot and injured after a march held to commemorate the Nakba and in support of hunger-striking Palestinian prisoners near Israel’s Beit El military checkpoint erupted into clashes.The march set off from a solidarity sit-in tent in Yasser Arafat Square in central Ramallah and headed towards the checkpoint where Israeli forces fired tear gas, rubber-coated steel bullets, and “tutu” (0.22 inch) bullets at crowds, as protesters responded by throwing rocks. Seven Palestinians sustained gunshot injuries, local sources told Ma‘an.
Earlier in the day, thousands of Palestinians gathered at the Arafat Memorial in Ramallah to take part in the Nakba day march led by a military marching band and scouts hoisting Palestinian and black flags, Wafa reported.
Many were clad in black T-shirts with the number 1948 written on the back, marking the year of the Nakba when the state of Israel was created, leaving some 750,000 Palestinians and millions of their descendants as refugees.Demonstrators also carried a large Palestinian flag and a black flag with the words “We shall return” written on it in Arabic.After reaching the city center at noon time, Palestinians stood for 69 seconds — symbolizing the 69th anniversary of the Nakba, when sirens were sounded before speakers narrated the history of the Nakba and the promise of the Palestinian right of return.
Hamas organized Gaza march ahead of Nakba anniversary
GAZA (Ma‘an) 14 May — Hamas organized a march to commemorate the 69th anniversary of the Nakba and to support hunger-striking Palestinian prisoners on Saturday in the besieged Gaza Strip. On May 15, the 1948 Nakba will be commemorated for the 69th year, recalling the 750,000 Palestinians displaced during and after the establishment of the state of Israel. Some 750,000 Palestinians were expelled from their lands in 1948 and were scattered across refugee camps in the occupied West Bank, the Gaza Strip, Jordan, Lebanon, and Syria, according to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA). More than five million Palestinian refugees, whether in the occupied Palestinian territory or in the diaspora, still call for the application of to their internationally recognized right of return to their homes and villages in present-day Israel, a right which has been enshrined in international law following the adoption of United Nations Resolution 194. Hamas official Hani Islayim said that the march aimed to tell “hypocrites” that “we are staying in Palestine.” “On the 69th anniversary, we say that the land is ours, Jerusalem is ours and Palestine is ours,” Islayim said. “If some people have forgotten our cause, we say that we haven’t forgotten and the occupation will be forced out of our land soon, God willing, and Palestine will stay Islamic and Arab.”
Australians hold Nakba Day, prisoner solidarity march in Sydney
SYDNEY (Ma‘an) 16 May — A march commemorating the 69th anniversary of the Nakba, or “catastrophe,” was organized on Monday evening in Sydney, Australia, by the Palestinian Action Group in Sydney, according to the group’s official Facebook page. The march, which was also held in support of some 1,300 Palestinian prisoners who entered their 30th day of mass hunger strike on Tuesday, drew a large crowd of people, including politicians, parliament members, activists, and diaspora Palestinians. Several academics and politicians gave speeches at the march, commemorating the Nakba and supporting the prisoners’ struggle, while protesters waved Palestinian flags and signs calling for the right of return for Palestinian refugees….
‘Freedom and Dignity’ mass hunger strike
Barghouthi to stop drinking water as Israel fails to respond to hunger strike’s demands
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 16 May — As the mass “Freedom and Dignity” hunger strike in Israeli prisons entered its 30th day on Tuesday, the Palestinian Committee of Prisoners’ Affairs announced that leader of the strike Marwan Barghouthi will stop drinking water in response to Israel’s continued refusal to respond to the hunger strikers’ demands. Participants in the strike, now involving some 1,300 Palestinian prisoners, have been refusing food and vitamins since the strike began on April 17, drinking only a mixture of salt and water as sustenance. Hunger-striking prisoners 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 committee’s statement quoted lawyer Khader Shqeirat as saying that Barghouthi’s decision to escalate measures by refusing water would be “a new turning point in the ongoing open-ended hunger strike.” The Israeli government, the statement said, is responsible for leading the prisoners’ along a “tragic and disastrous road” and putting hunger strikers in imminent danger, by taking “a criminal stance regarding the just demands of prisoners.” According to the committee, Barghouthi insists on transparently achieving all of the demands made by the hunger-striking prisoners under his leadership, without bargaining or making compromises….
Palestinian circus trainer Mohammed Abu Sakha on hunger strike for 29 days; freedom on horizon as detention limited
Samidoun 15 May — Palestinian circus performer Mohammed Abu Sakha has now been on hunger strike for 29 days as part of the Strike of Dignity and Freedom. Abu Sakha, who has been held in administrative detention without charge or trial since 14 December 2015, is one of the 1500 Palestinian prisoners who launched the hunger strike on 17 April 2017 … Abu Sakha is a trainer with the Palestinian Circus School and has worked with the school since 2007; he has traveled around the world with the school and participated in numerous circus tours in Palestine. He specializes in working with children with special needs at the school. However, his international tours and training have been put on hold due to the repeated extension of his imprisonment without charge or trial. On 11 May, Addameer Prisoner Support and Human Rights Association reported that an extension of Abu Sakha’s detention – scheduled to expire on 11 June 2017 – has been limited to a maximum of three months, following an appeal by lawyer Mahmoud Hassan….
Palestinians close road in Tulkarem in solidarity with hunger-striking prisoners
TULKAREM (Ma‘an) 17 May — Palestinians used burning tires to close a main road in the northern occupied West Bank district of Tulkarem overnight Tuesday, as activists have continued to blockade commuter thoroughfares across the West Bank in recent days in solidarity with a mass hunger strike underway in Israeli prisons. Protests have been staged daily since the strike began on April 17, in solidarity with the Palestinian prisoners who are calling for an end to solitary confinement, medical negligence, the denial of family and lawyer visitations, and internment without charge or trial under administrative detention. Palestinian security sources told Ma‘an that dozens of Palestinian youths set fire to rubber tires and blockaded Nablus street near Nur Shams refugee camp in eastern Tulkarem. Activist Omar Qazmuz told Ma‘an that the youths also gathered in the town’s sit-in tent erected to support the hunger strike, demanding that Palestinian leadership immediately intervene to save the hunger strikers’ lives and pressure Israel to respond to their demands. Qazmuz said that Nablus street was completely closed for more than a half hour before one lane was opened for vehicles to pass through, in time to allow for the return of Taha al-Irani, head of the Nur Shams refugee camp services center, who was released from Israeli prison after being detained last Friday. Activists also closed off a number of other roads in villages around Ramallah in the central occupied West Bank on Wednesday morning. After Palestinian forces arrived to reopen the Birzeit-Ramallah road, activists clashes with police, locals said.
Other prisoner news / Court actions
Israeli border police ‘volunteer’ sentenced to 7 months for 2013 killing of Palestinian
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 15 May — An Israeli court in the city of Kfar Saba, south of Haifa in northern Israel, sentenced a “volunteer” of the Israeli border police to seven months in prison for killing a Palestinian worker in 2013. Israeli news website Ynet reported that the “volunteer,” David Arik Bibi Rubi, 43, agreed to a plea bargain with the prosecution, which will also include an additional four months of probation following his release from prison. Rubi shot and killed 23-year-old Antar Aqra, from the Nablus-area village of Qabalan, for not having an Israeli-issued work permit during “a joint police operation to identify and arrest illegal Palestinian workers,” according to Ynet. Ynet reported that after a group of 41 undocumented Palestinian workers had been detained, “Rubi was assigned to watch over them while forces continued their searches for additional suspects,” adding that Aqra then attempted to escape. “According to the indictment, Rubi gave chase to Aqra and ordered him to stop. Aqra then ducked down — an act that, according to the defense, led Rubi to believe that the Palestinian had picked up a rock or another weapon with which to attack him. Rubi drew his weapon and shot Aqra in the chest, killing him,” Ynet said. The court charged Rubi with “negligence in service” and sentenced him to seven months in prison, and ordered him to pay 30,000 shekels ($8,320) to Aqra’s parents, and another 70,000 shekels ($19,416) in compensation to Aqra’s widow. An Israeli border police spokesperson was not immediately available for comment.
Hebrew U. cancels conference on Palestinian prisoners, following pressure
+972 Blog 14 May by Eli Bitan — Hebrew University canceled the conference after a student group associated with Naftali Bennett’s Jewish Home party penned an open letter to the university president. ‘The very existence of this conference lends legitimacy to terror — Hebrew University announced it is canceling an academic conference on the topic of Palestinian prisoners, which was slated to take place this Tuesday. The conference, which was organized by the Harry S. Truman Research Institute, was to feature a study by Dr. Maya Rosenfeld on Palestinians in Israeli prisons. Despite the timing of the conference, which would have taken place as over 1,600 Palestinian prisoners are currently on hunger strike, the date was set before the strike began. The conference, titled “50 years of Israeli occupation — where is the prisoners’ movement going?” was supposed to bring together Fatah’s Ashraf al-Ajrami, a former prisoner who also served as the minister of prisoners’ affairs in the Palestinian Authority; Radi Ghar’i, who helps manage the Abu Jihad Museum for the Prisoners Movement Affairs; and Fahd Abu Al-Haji, who runs Abu Jihad….
Torment ‘never heals’ – Palestine’s longest-serving female prisoner
EI 11 May by Budour Youssef Hassan — After 15 years of imprisonment, Lina al-Jarbouni is struggling with life in the outside world. She finds it difficult to sleep at night and to be in a room with an open door. She is still getting to know her nieces and nephews. As they were born while she was in jail, she had only seen photographs of them before her release. New technology baffles her. She has been given a smartphone by her brother but she has no idea how to use it. Lina, now aged 43, only heard about social media in 2015. She was introduced to the concept by some younger Palestinians who had recently been detained in Hasharon, a prison inside Israel. Lina had been detained there since 2004. Some of the younger women and girls in Hasharon wrote and performed a play for her. It told the story of children visiting an ill grandmother, whom they had not seen in a long time. Rather than speaking – or listening – to their grandmother, the children spent all their time fixated on their mobile phones … Lina was raised in ‘Arrabeh, a town in the Galilee region of historic Palestine. ‘Arrabeh witnessed mass protests and intense clashes between Palestinian youths and Israeli forces during the second intifada. Because ‘Arrabeh is located within present-day Israel, Lina is officially a citizen of the state. Nonetheless, her Palestinian identity was “never in question,” she said. “I learned that all Palestinians are under occupation regardless of the color of their identification card. It doesn’t matter whether you live in the Galilee, the West Bank, Gaza or a refugee camp in exile. We are all Palestinians and resistance is our only choice.”….
Video: The story of Yazan and Yousef
SILWANIC 11 May — Two children, Yazan (14) and Yousef (13), tell the story of how they were abducted by soldiers when they were throwing stones at a pigeon that couldn’t fly. They were in the street – there is no playground in their neighborhood. The soldiers accused them of throwing stones, took them to interrogation without a parent present, and then to two courts in one day. One was released on NIS 2000 bail but only to house arrest, where he remained for 20 days, unable to go to school. At the end of the 20 days, the house arrest was renewed….
Violence / Detentions — West Bank / Jerusalem
Israeli forces detain wounded Palestinian, shot by an Israeli settler near Ramallah
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 17 May — Israeli forces detained a wounded 19-year-old Palestinian on Wednesday morning after an Israeli settler got out of his car and shot the young man for allegedly throwing rocks at passing vehicles on Route 60 in the central occupied West Bank. Locals told Ma‘an that Israeli settlers opened fire on 19-year-old Ibrahim Rasem Hamed and a group of other Palestinian activists who had closed off the section of the highway east of Ramallah to voice support for the ongoing mass hunger strike launched by more than 1,000 Palestinian prisoners held by Israel, which entered its 31st day on Wednesday.
Activist youth have been blockading commuter thoroughfares across the West Bank in recent days for the same reason, demanding Palestinian leadership support the prisoners and intervene to help achieve the aims of the hunger strike. An Israeli police spokesperson could not be reached for comment, however, Israeli news site Ynet reported that as a group of 20 Palestinians were throwing rocks at passing vehicles, one driver got out of his car and chased them, “attempting to make a citizen’s arrest.” “During the chase the driver shot one of the fleeing Palestinians, who was moderately wounded and evacuated to a hospital shortly after,” where he was reportedly in a stable condition, according to Ynet. The report made no mention of any disciplinary action being taken against the Israeli settler who shot Hamed. It also remained unclear where Hamed was being treated.
Palestinian hospitalized after Israeli settler attack south of Nablus
NABLUS (Ma‘an) 17 May — A Palestinian man was hospitalized after a group of Israeli settlers attacked Palestinians with rocks south of Nablus in the northern occupied West Bank on Tuesday night. An official who monitors settlement activity in the northern West Bank, Ghassan Daghlas, told Ma‘an that Yousif Abu Bakr, from Jenin, sustained injuries after he was struck with a rock thrown by an Israeli at a crossroads near the illegal Israeli settlement of Yitzhar adjacent to the Palestinian village of Huwwara.
Abu Bakr was evacuated to the Huwwara emergency center for treatment. In response to a request for comment, an Israeli army spokesperson told Ma‘an that several Israelis had gathered in the area and hurled rocks toward Palestinian vehicles, before Israeli forces “dispersed the gathering to prevent any escalation of violence.” She added that she was not aware of any detentions being made or disciplinary action taken against the Israeli stone throwers.
Israel returns body of slain teenage girl to family in Ramallah
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 16 May — Israeli authorities returned the slain body of 16-year-old Fatima Hjeiji to her family in the central occupied West Bank district of Ramallah on Tuesday, after the teenager was shot and killed by Israeli forces earlier in the month under disputed circumstances. Her body was delivered to representatives of the Palestinian Civil Affairs, military liaison, and Hjeiji’s father at Israel’s Ofer detention center. Her body was then placed in a Palestinian Red Crescent ambulance and taken to the Ramallah governmental hospital to undergo an autopsy. Hjeiji, from the village of Qarawat Bani Zeid in Ramallah, was shot dead by Israeli forces in occupied East Jerusalem for allegedly attempting to carry out an attack on Israeli police and border guards, with witnesses saying that Israeli forces had shot the girl at least 20 times. After the shooting, an eyewitness told Ma‘an that Hjeiji had been standing near Damascus Gate, more than ten meters away from a group of Israeli border guard soldiers, before she was killed. “One of the soldiers started to shout ‘knife! knife!’ and moments after that, about five soldiers opened fire at her from every direction,” he said. Another witness said that the girl was “executed in cold blood,” expressing shock at the extent of indiscriminate force used on the teenage girl, allegedly armed with only a knife. Israeli rights group B’Tselem also released a report on the shooting, and stated that Hjeiji could not have posed a threat to Israeli forces, but rather the case represented another incident of Israel’s “shoot-to-kill” policy for Palestinian alleged or actual attackers….
Israel once again delays decision on releasing bodies of slain Palestinians
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 16 May — The Israeli Supreme Court has once again granted Israel’s general prosecution more time to provide justification for continuing to detain the bodies of five Hamas-affiliated Palestinians who died while carrying out attacks on Israelis. Palestinian watchdog the Wadi Hilweh Information Center released a statement Tuesday, quoting lawyer from the Palestinian Committee of Prisoners’ Affairs Muhammad Mahmoud as saying that the court agreed to the prosecution’s request to allow more time to determine their stance on returning the bodies of Abd al-Hamid Abu Srour, Muhammad al-Faqih, Muhammad Tarayra, Rami Awartani, and Misbah Abu Sbeih — which have been held for 13 months, 10 months, nine months, nine months, and seven months, respectively. The court gave the prosecution until June 14th to present their detailed response, the statement said, adding that according to Mahmoud, the prosecution demanded to postpone their response under the claim that the file on the bodies was presented to a committee “of different levels,” and therefore required more time “to discuss and respond to the court.”In March, the court had held a session to discuss an appeal presented by the families of the five slain Palestinians. At the time, the court decided to give the prosecution 45 days to respond to the file, while simultaneously rejecting a petition by the prosecution that requested that the Palestinians be buried in Israel’s “cemetery of numbers,” a series of mass graves comprised of marked and unmarked plots of mostly Palestinians killed by Israeli forces over the past 60 years….
PA forces assault activists at demonstration in support of prisoner hunger strike
TULKAREM (Ma‘an) 15 May — After local activists in ‘Anabta in the northern occupied West Bank district of Tulkarem blockaded the main street of the village on Monday, activists clashed with Palestinian forces who arrived several minutes later to reopen the road, leaving a number of the activists bruised and suffering from tear gas inhalation. The activists had blockaded the road with trucks, large rocks, and rubber tires as an act of protest in solidarity with hundreds of Palestinian prisoners who entered their 29th day on hunger strike on Monday, as Palestinians also commemorated the 69th anniversary of the Nakba. A group of activists also blocked off commuter roads leading to the central occupied West Bank city of Ramallah for the past two days for the same reason.
Locals sources said that several activists in ‘Anabta were left badly bruised after being assaulted by Palestinian security forces. The Palestinian Red Crescent told Ma‘an three people were also treated for tear gas inhalation at the scene. A Palestinian security official defended the crackdown, saying that the inconvenience to commuters “required immediate intervention by security forces who attempted to reopen the street.” The road, the official said, “is one of the most important streets in the Tulkarem district, as it connects Nablus to Ramallah. Keeping it closed will obstruct people’s lives.”
Israeli forces raid former prisoner’s home in Dura, demolish interior walls
IMEMC 17 May — Israeli forces surrounded the home of former Palestinian prisoner Rizq al-Rujoub in the southern occupied West Bank town of Dura west of Hebron on Wednesday, before searching the house and tearing down some of its interior walls. Locals said that Israeli forces raided the Karisseh area of Dura city and prevented people from approaching al-Rujoub’s house, as Israeli soldiers ransacked the home, upending his belongings, and demolished the walls.
Sources added that Israeli soldiers also prevented an ambulance from reaching the area to evacuate a woman to the hospital after she went into labor.
One night’s arrests:
Israeli soldiers abduct 17 Palestinians in the West Bank
IMEMC 16 May — Israeli soldiers abducted, on Tuesday at dawn, at least seventeen Palestinians from various parts of the occupied West Bank, and confiscated large sums of cash. The army said it also confiscated a weapon from one of the invaded homes. In the Hebron governorate, in the southern part of the West Bank, violently searched many homes, causing damage, and abducted four Palestinians. The soldiers invaded homes, in addition to the Industrial Zone and ‘Aseeda area, in Beit Ummar town, north of Hebron, and abducted two Palestinians identified as Aziz Mahmoud Ekhlayyel, 26, and Mohammad Mitleq Za’aqeeq, 23. The soldiers also summoned for interrogation a former political prisoner, identified as Mohammad Zoheir Al-‘Allami, 22, who was released from prison a month ago. In addition, the soldiers invaded and ransacked many homes in Yatta town, south of Hebron, and abducted a woman identified as Suzan Abu Qbeita, in addition to a man identified as Mustafa al-Jondi, who was taken prisoner even though the soldiers weren’t looking for him, but were trying to find and abduct his brother. The army claimed it also located and confiscated an M-18 automatic rifle and several magazines, during the search. Furthermore, the soldiers invaded a home, owned by Abdul-Fattah Abu Tabeekh, in Sammoa‘ [or Samu‘] town, south of Hebron, confiscated 10.000 Shekels from his home, and summoned him for interrogation in Etzion military base and security center, north of Hebron.
In Nablus governorate, in the northern part of the West Bank, at least fifteen armored jeeps invaded Tal village, south of Nablus city, before the soldiers broke into and searched many homes, interrogated several Palestinians and abducted two. The abducted Palestinians have been identified as Hamza Ahmad Ramadan, 26, and Samir Taleb Silwadi, 21.
In Qalqilia, also in the northern part of the West Bank, the soldiers searched several homes and abducted four Palestinians, including one child. The abducted Palestinians have been identified as Nidal Safwan Saleem, 15, Karim Omran Hussein, Farid Abdul-Aziz Hussein and Omran Abdullah Hussein, 40.
In occupied Jerusalem, the soldiers abducted Odai Abu Tayeh, from his home in Silwan town, south of the Al-Aqsa Mosque, and took him to an interrogation facility. Furthermore, the soldiers abducted Ezz Misbah Abu Sbeih, after stopping him at Hizma roadblock, northeast of Jerusalem.
On its part, the army said its soldiers arrested two Palestinians in ‘Aseera ash-Shemaliyya and Tal towns, in Nablus governorate, one in ‘Azzoun town in Qalqilia, one in Ni‘lin village, two in ‘al-Mazra‘a al-Qibleyya, one in Birzeit city, one in Kufur Hareth, two in Deir Abu Mashal and one in Qarawat Bani Zeid, in the Ramallah and al-Biereh governorate, one in ‘Aida refugee camp in Bethlehem, in addition to two in Beit Ummar and one in Doura in the Hebron governorate.
Land, property theft & destruction / Ethnic cleansing / Settlements
Israel aims new Nakba-style weapon at Arab citizens
+972 Blog 15 May by Myssana Morany — A new law paves the way for a fresh wave of home demolitions in Palestinian towns and villages throughout Israel. Its passage is proof that the land grab begun by Israel in 1948 never ended — What Jewish Israelis call their War of Independence, Palestinians refer to as the Nakba, or “catastrophe” in Arabic. During the 1948 war and its aftermath, Israel depopulated and destroyed 600 Palestinian villages and expelled more than 700,000 Palestinians from the newly-established state in order to open up their land for Jewish settlement. But the Israeli campaign to control land has never stopped. As Israel celebrates the 69th anniversary of its establishment — Palestinians commemorate the Nakba annually on May 15 — it is also brandishing its latest weapon against its remaining Arab citizens, designed to corral them into an ever-shrinking living space. According to Israel, the new so-called Kaminitz Law, which was enacted in April 2017, is intended to consolidate and streamline state powers in enforcing planning and building regulations. But in practice, this law allows the Israeli government to carry out a new wave of mass home demolitions in hemmed-in Arab villages and towns already hard hit by severe housing shortages and a history of discriminatory state policies. According to official state statistics, 97 percent of the demolition orders issued between 2012 and 2014 were against homes in Arab communities in Israel….
Israeli forces demolish Bedouin village of al-Araqib for 113th time
NEGEV (Ma‘an) 17 May — Israeli forces demolished the Bedouin village of al-‘Araqib in the Negev region of southern Israel for the 113th time since 2010 on Wednesday morning, and for the fifth time this year. The head of the local council, Aziz al-Turi, told Ma‘an that Israeli bulldozers accompanied by police forces raided the village and demolished the steel-structure makeshift homes “without any consideration for their residents.” “All demolition crimes will not scare us or stop us from rebuilding our homes and holding on to our lands,” al-‘Araqib resident Sayyah al-Turi told Ma‘an. “We will stay here despite the injustice and criminal demolitions, we will not submit to their plans of uprooting and displacing us.” The last time Israeli forces razed homes in al-Araqib was only weeks ago, on April 25. Al-‘Araqib is one of 35 Bedouin villages considered “unrecognized” by the Israeli state. According to the Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI), more than half of the approximately 160,000 Negev Bedouins reside in unrecognized villages….
Plan to build new homes in Israeli settlement in West Bank put into motion
Haaretz 15 May by Yotam Berger — A regional council in the West Bank has begun soliciting bids to build over 200 apartments in a Jewish settlement under its authority. The news comes a week ahead of U.S. President Donald Trump’s visit to Israel and the Palestinian Authority. The Mateh Binyamin Regional Council is looking to build 209 apartments in Tel Zion, the ultra-Orthodox section of the settlement of Kochav Yaakov in the center of the West Bank. The settlement is east of the separation barrier and not part of the generally accepted settlement blocs. The plan for homes was approved long ago, during the 1980s, and now the regional council wants to bring it to fruition….
Israeli settlers set up new outpost in the Jordan Valley
JORDAN VALLEY (WAFA) 16 May – Israeli settlers set up tents and residential structures in Khirbet al-Sweidah in the northern Jordan Valley, Aref Daraghmeh, who monitors settlers’ violations, told WAFA on Tuesday. He said settlers are in the process of setting up a new settlement outpost in Khirbet al-Sweidah after they brought construction material to set up mobile homes, dug a pool and put up solar panels on the site. Khirbet al-Sweidah is one of the Jordan Valley villages where Palestinians used to reside. However; Israel forced them out of the area to make place for Israeli settlers, who have begun to seize lands and build settlement outposts. Israeli violations in the Jordan Valley have latterly intensified….
Israeli bulldozers level Hebron-area lands to build military watchtower
HEBRON (Ma‘an) 15 May — Israeli forces on Monday began leveling lands in a Palestinian village in the southern occupied West Bank district of Hebron, in preparation for the construction of a new military watchtower in the area. Locals from Wadi al-Shanja told Ma’an that Israeli forces escorted bulldozers onto lands owned by the Abu Arqoub and Abu Sheikha families of the village, who had previously had their lands confiscated by Israeli forces. The bulldozers leveled approximately 1,200 square meters of land, which according to locals, are to be used for a new military watchtower in order to “protect Israeli settlers passing by” on a nearby route.
Israel dismantles irrigation pipes in Jordan Valley
RAMALLAH (Gulf News) 15 May by Nasouh Nazzal — Israeli occupation forces have dismantled all the water pipelines Palestinian farmers use to irrigate their land in the northern areas of the Jordan Valley, leaving tens of dunums of land without a water supply. Moataz Bisharat, a Palestinian official who oversees colonial activities in the governorate of Tubas and Northern Jordan Valley areas, has warned that the farmers, mainly in the village of Bardala, will suffer major losses as the land dries out. He said they may be forced to abandon their previously fertile land, which would hit the entire agricultural economy in the West Bank, which depends on the Jordan Valley and is known in the Palestinian territories as the food basket of the Occupied West Bank. Occupation forces dismantled the pipelines, connected to underground wells, on the pretext that they had not been licensed. The Jordan Valley areas are all located in Area C, which is under sole Israeli administrative and security control. They strictly prevent Palestinians from carrying out infrastructural projects Israel has demanded full sovereignty over Jordan Valley areas under any future political settlement. The Palestinian government considers the Jordan Valley a central component of a future Palestinian state and rejects Israel’s demand….
Israel seizes water pumps belonging to Palestinians in Jordan Valley
JORDAN VALLEY (WAFA) 16 May– Israeli forces Tuesday stormed a Palestinian locale in the northern Jordan Valley and seized two water pumps, according to a local official. Motaz Bsharat, who monitors developments in the Jordan Valley, said staff from the Israeli planning and building committee, backed by an army force, stormed Khirbet al-Dir and seized two water pumps used to draw water for drinking and irrigation. Forces further dismantled a fence surrounding land that belongs to a local resident to the east of nearby Tayaser even though the landowner had appealed the case at the Israeli Supreme Court, which has not yet ruled on the case. Earlier Tuesday, Israeli forces destroyed a water hole in Bardala village, in the northern Jordan Valley, under the pretext that it was constructed without a permit.