VIDEO: Israeli settler passes out candy to celebrate killing of Palestinian in Nablus
NABLUS (Ma‘an) 18 May — Following a deadly shooting carried out by an Israeli settler near the Huwwara village in the occupied West Bank district of Nablus, an Israeli settler distributed candy to passing Israeli vehicles south of Nablus on Thursday in celebration of the settler killing a 23-year-old Palestinian earlier in the day. An Israeli settler killed Muataz Hussein Hilal Bani Shamsa and injured Palestinian journalist Majdi Eshtayya after exiting his car and indiscriminately shooting live ammunition on a crowd of Palestinians during clashes that erupted with Israeli forces following a march held in solidarity with a mass Palestinian hunger strike currently on its 32nd day in Israeli prisons.
In the video, the Israeli settler, who also appears to be protected by Israeli army forces, was distributing candy to Israeli settlers in celebration of the killing. He can also be seen sarcastically offering the candy to Palestinians standing near the road, while verbally provoking them. “You wanted to support Marwan Barghouthi,” the settler said, referring to the imprisoned Fatah leader who is leading some 1,300 Palestinians on the hunger strike. “And we killed a Palestinian vandal today. I am distributing candy to celebrate the killing. I want to congratulate the Israeli people for the vandal’s death.”…
Located adjacent to the village of Huwwara, where the shooting and incident shown in the video took place, is the illegal Yitzhar settlement, which is known to house a group of notoriously violent extremist settlers, who regularly attack Palestinian civilians in the area. Over the past month, several attacks have been carried out in villages near to the Yitzhar settlement.
Israeli settler who killed Palestinian in Nablus not being investigated as criminal suspect
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 18 May — The Israeli settler who shot and killed one Palestinian and injured another on Thursday near the Huwwara village, south of Nablus in the northern occupied West Bank, is not being investigated by Israeli police as a criminal suspect, according to Israeli news daily Haaretz.
Haaretz identified the settler, who shot and killed 23-year-old Muataz Hussein Hilal Bani Shamsa during clashes on a shared Palestinian-Israeli settler road in Huwwara, as a resident of the nearby illegal Itamar settlement.
After the settler shot and killed Shamsa, injured Palestinian journalist Majdi Eshtayya with live ammunition, and injured three other Palestinians when he rammed his car into a Palestinian Red Crescent ambulance, the settler went to Israeli police and filed a complaint against the crowd of Palestinians he opened fire on, claiming they were attempting to “lynch” him. “An Israeli citizen was brutally attacked by a group of Palestinian assailants who threw rocks at his car and tried to murder him, my inquiries suggest,” Israel’s Education Minister and chairman of the extreme right-wing Jewish Home party Naftali Bennett said in response to the incident. Haaretz quoted Bennett as saying that the settler acted “in order to prevent a lynching, he fired at his attackers and killed one of them,” adding that “rocks kill,” referring to the clashes that were occurring around the settler at the time of the shooting, in which Israeli forces fired tear gas at Palestinian protesters who were throwing rocks.
Palestinian ministry demands prosecution of Israeli settler who carried out deadly shooting
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 20 May — Photo: A Palestinian grieves next to the body of 23-year-old Muataz Hussein Hilal Bani Shamsa — The Palestinian Ministry of Information urged international legal organizations to intervene and prosecute the Israeli settler who shot and killed 23-year-old Muataz Bani Shamsa in the northern occupied West Bank district of Nablus on Thursday and another settler who distributed candy following the incident, according to a statement released on Friday. The ministry said in the statement that the Israeli settler’s behavior distributing candy in celebration of the killing was “proof of the racism, hatred, and extremism of the Israeli people,” adding that the incident represented a “loud cry” for the UN to provide protection to the Palestinian people.
The ministry added that what happened in Huwwara was a “double crime” which began with the killing of Shamsa in “cold blood” and proceeded with the “targeting” of a Palestinian journalist with a live bullet…
While Palestinian leaders have often demanded international protection from the UN against Israeli forces and settlers, scores of Palestinian villages around illegal Israeli settlements have resorted to self-organizing community patrols to protect villages from settler attacks, as Palestinian authorities have failed to provide any protection to the residents. Following the deadly shooting on Thursday, UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process Nickolay Mladenov released a statement, saying he condemned the attack, and that “this deplorable incident must be promptly and thoroughly investigated and all suspected of being involved must be prosecuted.”
Thousands march in funeral of Palestinian slain by Israeli settler
[photos] NABLUS (Ma‘an) 18 May — Thousands of Palestinians marched in the funeral of 23-year-old Muataz Bani Shamsa, hours after he was shot and killed by an Israeli Israeli settler during a solidarity march in the village of Huwwara, south of Nablus in the northern occupied West Bank. Mourners marched from the main square in the village of Beita, Shamsa’s hometown, towards the village’s cemetery, waved Palestinian flags and chanted slogans glorifying Shamsa, while demanding revenge against Israeli settlers. National Work Factions — a group of several Palestinian factions from across the political spectrum — gave speeches at the funeral, saying that Shamsa was a “martyr of freedom,” while stressing the importance of national unity “to support prisoners in their strike against occupation.” The factions highlighted that 80 Palestinian prisoners being held in Israeli prisons are from Beita, 30 of whom are participating in the mass “Freedom and Dignity” hunger strike, which entered its 32nd day on Thursday.
Israeli settler kills Palestinian after opening fire on solidarity march in Nablus
[VIDEO, photos] NABLUS (Ma‘an) 18 May — One Palestinian was killed and another was injured after an Israeli settler stepped out of his car and opened live ammunition on a group of Palestinian protesters near the village of Huwwara in the northern occupied West Bank district of Nablus on Thursday afternoon. The Palestinian Ministry of Health confirmed that Muataz Hussein Hilal Bani Shamsa, 23, from the Nablus-area village of Beita succumbed to his wounds shortly after he was shot during clashes that broke out after a march that was being held in solidarity with hunger-striking Palestinian prisoners. The march was being held on the main street near Huwaara, which is shared by local Palestinians and Israeli settlers, residing in the West Bank illegally according to international law. Witnesses told Ma‘an that an Israeli settler opened live ammunition on the crowd of Palestinian protesters, shooting Shamsa in the head and killing him. Palestinian journalist Majdi Eshtayya, who Israeli news daily Haaretz reported was an AP photographer, was also injured with live ammunition shot by the settler and was transferred to Rafidiya Hospital where medical sources described his injuries as moderate.
Head of the ambulance and emergency department of the Palestinian Red Crescent Ahmad Jibreel confirmed to Ma‘an that an Israeli settler stepped out of his vehicle and opened fire at Palestinians “in a random manner,” noting that the settler had opened live ammunition on the protesters at the same time that clashes were ongoing with Israeli forces, who were shooting tear gas canisters at the demonstrators. Jibreel added that the settler had hit a Red Crescent ambulance with his car following the shooting, as the ambulance was on its way to the location where Shamsa was shot. The settler hit three Palestinians during the vehicular incident, Jibreel said, adding that the three had sustained minor injuries from the settler’s car …
Shamsa was the 23rd Palestinian to be killed by Israeli forces and settlers since the start of 2017. Seven Israelis were killed by Palestinians during the same time frame.
Settler defends killing of Palestinian: They almost lynched me
[Videos, photos] Haaretz 18 May by Yotam Berger, Jack Khoury & Gili Cohen — An Israeli man who shot Palestinian protesters who threw rocks at his car in the West Bank on Thursday, killing one man and wounding another, said he was forced to fire his gun because his life was in danger. The Israeli army said that around 200 Palestinians were demonstrated in the area and confirmed that some of them threw rocks. Soldiers who were brought to the area after the shooting were using crowd control measures to disperse the protest. An eyewitness told Haaretz that a number of young Palestinian men blocked the road near Hawwara. He said that a settler who had been driving by pulled out a gun and fired at them. The Palestinian Ministry of Health gave the name of the man who was killed as Muataz Hussein Hilal Bani Shamsa, 23, from the Nablus-area village of Beita. The eyewitness added that an Associated Press photographer was in moderate condition after being shot by the settler. The Health Ministry confirmed that the photographer was shot in the arm.
The shooter, a social worker and a father of eight who lives in the Itamar settlement with his family, filed a police complaint against his presumed attackers. “I was returning from shopping at [a supermarket], the bags were in the car, a violent demonstration broke out in the center of Hawwara,” the man said in a videotaped deposition that was distributed to the media. Hawwara is a Palestinian town in the Nablus area. The police stressed that the shooter is not a criminal suspect at this stage of the investigation, and that his deposition was for the criminal complaint that he lodged. “Praise God, fortunately I managed to get away after looking death in the face. They almost lynched me. I managed to get home in one piece and I bless God for the great miracle,” the shooter said. He refused to answer additional questions….
Despite dangerous route through Hawara, Itamar residents won’t use safer bypass
HAWWARA, West Bank (Times of Israel) 20 May by Jacob Magid — The main road running through the town of Hawwara is virtually the sole meeting-point for Israeli and Palestinian civilians in the northern West Bank. Part of Route 60, it is the north-south artery linking six major Palestinian cities as well as four Israeli settlements in the Samaria regional council: Yitzhar, Har Bracha, Elon Moreh and Itamar. Israelis wishing to travel from those settlements to Tel Aviv or Jerusalem have little choice but to take Route 60 through the Palestinian town. There is a bypass route. But that would require an extra 30 minutes — time few people are willing to sacrifice on a daily basis. After the past week’s events, however, some might consider waking up half-an-hour earlier a habit worth getting used to. On Thursday, an Israeli settler driving on Route 60 to his home in Itamar was met in Hawara by dozens of Palestinian rioters demonstrating in solidarity with security prisoners currently hunger-striking in Israeli jails … However that incident, as well as two similar ones that unfolded this past week, have far from convinced Itamar residents to reroute. “Statistically speaking, the majority of travel goes by fine,” said Pinchas Michaeli, the settlement’s spokesperson … According to Michaeli, roughly 90% of the men in Itamar carry a weapon. He too had one tucked into his waistband….
‘Mom, please don’t be angry’ — A Palestinian girl’s suicide by Israeli cop
Haaretz 19 May by Gideon Levy & Alex Levac — Fatima Hajiji, 16, who was shot at least 10 times in East Jerusalem while brandishing a knife, wanted to be a martyr. Witnesses say she wasn’t endangering anyone — This week they found two pages that had been torn out of her notebook, hidden among the textbooks in her schoolbag. In large, tempestuous and somewhat childish handwriting, with a red marker, she had written on one piece of paper: “Mom, please don’t be angry.” And on the other: “Pray for me to be a shahida [martyr].” Afterward, she smeared a black stain around the edges of one of the notes, apparently as a sign of mourning. It’s not clear when Fatima Hajiji wrote this note, but it was found with her things on Sunday, exactly a week after she was killed. That’s how the short and stressful life of the girl who dreamed of being a shahida and fulfilled her dream, came to an end – the girl whose family tried for months to prevent her from carrying out her death wish. The policemen fired 10-20 bullets at the girl in the green-and-white striped school uniform, on the steps leading to Damascus Gate in Jerusalem’s Old City, after she brandished a knife. Those 10-20 bullets put an end to the life of Fatima, 16, a 10th-grader who participated in a special class for gifted children. Ever since the boy from Jerusalem, Mohammed Abu Khdeir – whom she didn’t know – was burned to death, three years ago, she was agitated, and sought revenge. In her home, in the village of Qarawat Bani Zeid in the central West Bank, sits her father Afif, a short and skinny 42-year-old construction worker, his sunburned and wrinkled face expressing profound sorrow. Afif barely speaks, as though he hasn’t digested the news yet. Her uncles, who work in the Palestinian security services, are giving him emotional support. They had invested considerable effort in trying to prevent this tragedy. Fatima was the eldest of five children. She was also the closest to her disabled sister, Bara, 12, caring more for the girl paralyzed at birth than their other siblings. A few years ago their father sold the family’s land in order to pay for medical treatment for his daughter in Switzerland. Fatima was active on Facebook. After the murder of Abu Khdeir, she wrote an angry post that worried her parents as well as the Palestinian security services, who summoned her for questioning. From then on, her uncles tried hard to keep an eye on her. Once they found her next to the Qalandiyah checkpoint, north of Jerusalem, under circumstances that seemed suspicious. Apparently relatives who work in the security services had been following her and brought her home on a few such occasions … On the day of her death, May 7, Fatima returned from school as usual, at about 1 P.M. Her father had seen her for the last time at 7 A.M. when, together with her mother, Dareen, she was helping her three younger sisters and brother get ready for school and have breakfast. Her father was about to go to work. He says that nothing in her behavior revealed her intentions for that black day … In the photo of the body that the Shin Bet showed her father, her face was clean and her body was bloodied. This week the family had not yet received her body, as is typical of Israel’s wheeling and dealing in such cases. For his part, Afif, was detained and manacled hand and foot just hours after his daughter’s death. He was informed of her death at about 7 P.M. He had returned from work and gone to visit a cousin, when a relative phoned to ask him if Fatima was home. Afif hurried home and discovered that the teenager wasn’t there. “In that case,” said the relative, “she was killed in Jerusalem.”….
Israeli forces detain, injure Palestinians in clashes across West Bank, Gaza
[photos] BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 19 May — At least 12 Palestinians were detained, while numerous Palestinians were injured on Friday, as clashes between Palestinians and Israeli forces erupted across the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip, with Israeli forces wounding several Palestinians with live ammunition. Palestinians across the West Bank have launched several marches and protests in recent days in solidarity with some 1,300 hunger-striking Palestinian prisoners, who entered their 33rd day of a mass strike on Friday. Meanwhile, tens of Palestinians were also injured during clashes with Israeli forces in several districts of the West Bank on Thursday, with many injured by live ammunition after protests erupted following the killing of a 23-year-old Palestinian who was shot in the head by an Israeli settler earlier on Thursday during clashes that erupted in the Nablus-area village of Huwwara following a solidarity march in the area. An Israeli army spokesperson told Ma’an regarding protests in the West Bank on Friday that “a number of violent riots took place in Judea and Samaria,” using the Israeli term for the West Bank, when “hundreds of Palestinians lit tires on fire, threw firebombs and rocks” at Israeli forces. She added that Israeli forces responded with “crowd control means in order to disperse the riots.” She could not confirm to Ma‘an that Israeli forces had used live ammunition on the Palestinian protesters. [following are reports from various Palestinian districts, such as Hebron, Bethlehem, Salfit…
Israeli forces injure Palestinian with live fire during Ramallah- area clashes
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 18 May — Israeli forces injured a Palestinian with live fire and wounded several others with rubber-coated steel bullets after clashes erupted between Palestinians and Israeli forces in the occupied West Bank districts of Ramallah and Qalqiliya on Thursday. In the Ramallah-area village of Silwad, located in the central occupied West Bank, Israeli forces injured one Palestinian with live ammunition and detained two others, after Israeli forces raided the village, causing clashes to erupt between locals and armed Israeli forces. Locals told Ma‘an that Israeli forces raided the village and began firing tear gas canisters, rubber-coated steel bullets, and live ammunition at Palestinians who threw rocks and empty bottles at Israeli forces. The condition of the injured Palestinian remained unknown, while locals reported that one of the two detained was a “youth” while the other was a minor.
Meanwhile, in the northern West Bank district of Qalqiliya, a Palestinian was injured with a rubber-coated steel bullet and two others suffered from tear gas inhalation after a march, launched in solidarity with a mass hunger strike in Israeli prisons, erupted into clashes with Israeli forces at the eastern entrance of Qalqiliya city. The Palestinian Red Crescent confirmed the injuries and said that the three injured Palestinians were transferred to Darwish Nazzal hospital. An Israeli army spokesperson told Ma‘an that the Israeli army was not present during the clashes in Qalqiliya and that only Israeli border police were there….
Infant in serious condition after inhaling gas fired by Israeli soldiers near Ramallah
IMEMC 20 May — The Palestinian Health Ministry confirmed, Friday, that an infant, only 18 months of age, is currently in a serious condition after inhaling tear gas fired by Israeli soldiers at homes in ‘Aboud village, west of Ramallah, in the occupied West Bank. It stated that local medics resuscitated the infant’s heart and lungs, before moving him to a hospital in Ramallah. The infant, identified as Abdul-Rahman Mohammad Barghouthi, was later transferred to Hadassah Israeli medical center, in occupied Jerusalem, due to the seriousness of his condition. It is worth mentioning that the soldiers prevented the Palestinian ambulance from reaching the family home of the wounded infant, an issue that forced the medics to run to the property and carry the child back to their ambulance. The infant was wounded after several Israeli army jeeps invaded the village and clashed with youngsters, who hurled stones on the armored vehicles, while the soldiers fired dozens of gas bombs and rubber-coated steel bullets. The soldiers also shot and injured five Palestinians with live rounds, one with rubber-coated steel bullets, and caused dozens of suffer the severe effects of teargas inhalation. The attack took place after dozens of Palestinians held a nonviolent protest, in solidarity with the Palestinian detainees, ongoing with the hunger strike since April 17th.
Settlers set bulldozer on fire in Burin town
NABLUS (PIC) 19 May — A horde of Jewish settlers at dawn Friday set fire to a Palestinian bulldozer in Burin town, south of Nablus in the occupied West Bank. The bulldozer belongs to Abdul-Azim Idris, who lives a few meters away from the main entrance to Burin town and owns a business there for selling construction materials. Eyewitnesses told the Palestinian Information Center (PIC) that several settlers stormed the area aboard a car, poured a flammable material on the bulldozer and set it ablaze. They added that the entire bulldozer became quickly engulfed in flames before a fire brigade arrived and extinguished the blaze. The settlers also spray-painted insulting slogans on a stack of concrete blocks at the same site.
Israeli media announces the arrest of resistance cell in the West Bank
NAZARETH (PIC) 17 May — Israeli channel seven announced on Wednesday that Israeli forces along with the Israeli Shin Bet arrested four Palestinians from the New ‘Askar refugee camp east of Nablus city over the past weeks. The arrested four were charged with the intention to carry out anti-occupation attacks near Alon Moreh settlement east of Nablus. The Shin Bet claimed that the detained Palestinians admitted the charges brought against them and confessed planning to plant an explosive device and carry out shooting attacks before being arrested near Alon Moreh settlement. They also reportedly confessed other operations including shooting and manufacturing of explosives. “The detained Palestinians handed over tools and other materials used in making explosives”, the Shin Bet said. Indictments will be submitted against them, it added.
‘Freedom and Dignity’ mass hunger strike
‘Death is the only thing that will stop this’: Prisoners enter 33rd day of hunger strike
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 19 May — Palestinians have continued to be transferred between Israeli prisons and to prison field clinics as the health conditions of some 1,300 hunger-striking Palestinian prisoners have continued to deteriorate as they entered the 33rd day of the mass strike on Friday, while clashes have erupted with Israeli forces across the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip in support of the hunger strikers. The media committee formed to support the hunger strike reported that Israel Prison Service (IPS) has continued transferring Palestinian hunger strikers between Israeli prisons, with many hunger strikers being transferred from prisons located in southern Israel to the north…
According to the committee, tens more Palestinian hunger strikers have been transferred to the prison field clinics, joining scores of other hunger strikers whose health conditions have deteriorated. The committee confirmed that imprisoned Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) leader Ahmad Saadat and PFLP-affiliated journalist Muhammad al-Qiq have also been transferred to prison field clinics. The committee stated on Thursday that Israeli doctors at the field clinics have reportedly offered medical care to the prisoners only in exchange for them ending their hunger strikes — an offer the prisoners have continued to refuse…
In a separate statement on Friday, the committee reported that the committee’s lawyer Mutaz Shqirat was able to visit hunger striker Mansour Shrem on Thursday evening. Shrem has been held in solitary confinement in Israel’s Petah Tikva prison. Shqirat said that IPS officials have treated lawyers visiting the hunger strikers in a “humiliating manner,” and have imposed numerous procedures on the lawyers while only allowing them to meet with the prisoners for a short time. Shqirat confirmed that he was only able to meet with Shrem for a few minutes after going through numerous procedures before the meeting.
What happens to the body on hunger strike?
JERUSALEM (AFP) 17 May — …AFP spoke to Zeratzion Hishal from the International Committee for the Red Cross (ICRC), one of the few foreigners granted access to the striking prisoners as part of the organisation’s monitoring of conditions in Israeli jails. The Eritrean-Dutch doctor has visited a number of previous strikers and explained what happens physiologically to people consuming only water and some salt. His version was verified to AFP by another doctor specialised in the topic. What happens to the body? Strikers only actually feel intense hunger for two to three days, Hishal said. During those days, the body desperately searches for food, leading to sharp stomach pains. “But after three days there is no food coming in. The stomach says there is no food and the brain accepts it,” he explained to AFP. “Most of the time (the stomach pain) would go because it is expecting nothing.” Instead of searching for new food, the body begins eating reserves of fat inside itself. After more than a month, having consumed all fat reserves, the body starts eating its own proteins — meaning muscle and later even organs. The body tries to spare the brain, liver, kidney and heart. “On a hunger strike, you eat yourself,” Hishal said. How do their conditions evolve? In the first two weeks, hormonal changes can make strikers strangely serene, even happy, Hishal said. “Usually the people are euphoric, happy, because of the hormonal changes when you talk to them they are in good spirits. “They don’t feel a lot of pain. That comes later.” After two weeks, strikers start to experience dizziness, joint pain across the body and headaches. Their hormonal imbalances shift again and they become quieter and sullen. In the third or fourth week, strikers typically vomit uncontrollably several times a day for three to four days, due in large part to their body’s natural balance deteriorating … When do you die? After around 50 days the risks become acute. Strikers feel intense dizziness, suffer from uncontrolled eye movement, and their hreatbeats can slow. Urine can be deep brown, or in some cases stop altogether indicating potential kidney failure. Strikers will typically around 30 percent of their body weight. Muscle erosion is so acute they can no longer support their skeletons, making standing impossible. “From then on we expect serious complications such as organ failure and even death,” Hishal explained. Death is usually the result of cardiac arrest, but the exact timing is impossible to predict.Ten Irish Republican hunger strikers, led by Bobby Sands, starved themselves to death in British jails in 1981, with their deaths ranging from 46 to 73 days. “Bobby Sands’ (group) shows how different our bodies are physiologically,” Hishal said. “But as the days increase the serious complications increase exponentially and death is expected at some point.”
Palestinian youths block officials from entering Jerusalem in solidarity protest
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 18 May — Palestinian youths prevented diplomatic vehicles, United Nations (UN) employees, and a minister from passing a road towards the al-Jib Israeli military checkpoint in the central occupied West Bank’s Jerusalem district on Thursday, in protest of what the youth said was the officials’ failure to support the some 1,300 Palestinians currently on hunger strike in Israeli prisons. The youths prevented the passage of all UN vehicles, the vehicle of the Palestinian Minister of Finance Shukri Bishara, and those of diplomatic representatives from approaching the al-Jib village circle towards the checkpoint, which is used by political and international officials to pass into occupied East Jerusalem.
Abla Saadat slams Abbas for ignoring hunger strikers
SAKHNIN (PIC) 19 May — Abla Saadat, the wife of Secretary-General of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine Ahmed Saadat, slammed the Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas for his tours abroad while Palestinian hunger strikers are suffering in Israeli jails. She accused him of failure to follow up the issue of the hunger striking captives. During a solidarity sit-in with the hunger strikers in Sakhnin city in 1948 Occupied Palestine, Arab48.com website quoted Saadat as calling on Palestinian masses to take action in order to defend the hunger strikers. Hundreds of Palestinians in 1948 Occupied Palestine participated in the solidarity event that was held on Thursday in Sakhnin city in solidarity with the hunger strikers who have been fasting since April 17.
Other prisoner news / Court actions
Israel sentences Palestinian youth to 25 years in prison over 2015 stabbing
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 17 May — A young Palestinian man was sentenced to 25 years in prison for a 2015 stabbing attack, Israeli media reported on Wednesday. According to Israeli news outlet Ynet, Imad Tarda was also sentenced to pay 220,000 shekels ($60,865) in damages and a 15,000-shekel ($4,150) fine for injuring four Israeli civilians at a bus station in the town of Rishon Lezion south of Tel Aviv on Nov. 2, 2015. At the time of the attack, the Israeli army identified Tarda as a 19-year-old from the Hebron district in the southern occupied West Bank. Weeks after Tarda was detained, Israeli forces raided his hometown of Taffuh and took measurements of his family’s home, likely in preparation for punitive demolition — a contested policy which Israel has claimed serves to deter future attacks, but which rights groups have said amounts to collective punishment.
Palestinian intellectual Dr. Ahmed Qatamesh ordered to three months in administrative detention
Samidoun 17 May — Palestinian writer, thinker and previous long-term administrative detainee Dr. Ahmed Qatamesh was ordered on Wednesday, 17 May to three months in administrative detention, imprisonment without charge or trial, only three days after he was seized from his family home in el-Bireh by Israeli occupation forces. Qatamesh, 63, was last released from administrative detention nearly 4 years ago; at the time, he had been imprisoned without charge or trial for two and one-half years. Between 1992 and 1998, he was the longest-held Palestinian prisoner in administrative detention; his detention was renewed every six months for nearly six years. Since his release, he has been banned from leaving Palestine and traveling by Israeli occupation military orders. He has been arrested repeatedly by Israeli occupation forces over the years, including in 1969 and again in 1972, when he was jailed for 4 years. He lived “underground” evading capture by occupation forces for 17 years. His memoir, I Shall Not Wear Your Tarboush, recalls his time in prison as well as the 100 days of torture he underwent during interrogation in 1992. Since his release in 1998, he has become a prominent Palestinian intellectual, writer and teacher; he is the founder of the Munif Barghouthi Research Center….
Watch: Yitzhar settler ordered away from West Bank for 4 months
Times of Israel 17 May by Jacob Magid — Police issued a restraining order to Elkana Pikar of the hardline Yitzhar settlement early Tuesday morning that requires him to stay away from the West Bank for four months. “The restraining order against Elkana Pikar was given due to his direct involvement in recent acts of violence [committed] in the Yitzhar area against Palestinians and [Israeli] security forces,” said the Shin Bet, which handed down the order. During its delivery, which took place at 4 a.m. on Tuesday, Pikar told officers from the Judea and Samaria division, “You are a country of Sodom,” referring to one of the Biblical sinner cities. He also told police officers that they were trying to “divide” between “all the good Jews.” The exchange was recorded on video. Pikar is seen by Israeli security forces as a leader of young right-wing Jewish extremists known as the hilltop youth. He has admitted to hosting members of the group in his home, but denies any connection to acts of violence or vandalism … Beyond the four-month West Bank ban, Pikar, 32, will be prohibited from meeting with a list of activists provided by the Shin Bet for six months. The father of six will also be required to report weekly to the Ma’ale Adumim police station. Menashe Yado, Pikar’s attorney from the right-wing Honenu organization, called the order “a severe civil rights violation” adding that his group intended on filing “an urgent request against the order to delay execution.” Protests have been held over the past several weeks across West Bank settlements in opposition to the reported issuing of the restraining order. His face has been plastered on bus stops, with the phrase “We are all Elkana Pikar.” The Association for Civil Rights in Israel, considered a left-wing organization, also condemned the ruling, calling administrative restraining orders “improper, offensive, and draconian.” The ACRI statement added that it opposes such measures against both Israelis and Palestinians. “If there is evidence against a person, he must be brought before the court and allowed to defend himself in fair proceedings.”
Israel releases Gaza merchant after 10 months of detention
GAZA (Ma‘an) 18 May — Israeli authorities released a Palestinian merchant on Wednesday after 10 months of detention after he was detained by Israeli forces at the Erez crossing between the besieged Gaza Strip and Israel, according to the Palestinian liaison. The Palestinian liaison said that Israeli authorities released Ibrahim Abu Labad from the al-Zayton neighborhood in Gaza after detaining him 10 months ago at the Erez crossing. No further details were provided.
Erez is the only land crossing between Gaza and Israel, although travel is heavily restricted by Israeli authorities as part of a crippling blockade on the coastal enclave in place since 2007. Palestinians detained at Erez are often interrogated for several hours, sometimes for days, before they are either allowed into Israel or sent back to Gaza….
Hamas winds up trial of military leader’s alleged killers
GAZA CITY, Palestinian Territories (AFP) — A military court in Gaza on Thursday concluded the trial of three men accused of assassinating a Hamas military leader and will deliver its verdict at the weekend, an official said. The trial of the alleged killers of Mazen Faqha opened on Monday and the court held its fourth and final session on Thursday. The chief suspect, Ashraf Abu Leila, 38, and two accomplices are charged with shooting dead Faqha, a senior Hamas official, next to his home on March 24.The verdict will be delivered on Sunday,” Hamas-run interior ministry spokesman Iyad al-Bozum told AFP. “It will be final and under Palestinian law the accused have no right of appeal.” “The sentence will be the death penalty and execution will be carried out as quickly as possible,” said a source close to the military court system. Hamas has accused the men of colluding with Israel to set up and commit the murder. In the wake of the killing it launched a large-scale campaign against all “collaborators” in which it said it made 45 arrests….
Dangerous escape from Gaza’s despair
EI 19 May by Hamza Abu Eltarabesh — The boundary between the occupied Gaza Strip and Israel is clearly perilous. In March, Yousif Abu Athra, 15, was killed by Israeli artillery fire near Gaza’s southern boundary with Israel. Two more Palestinian youths, both 19, were nearly killed that same month when they lost their way near the boundary and were fired upon by the Israeli military. Yet despite such injuries and deaths – and the shoot-to-kill policy Israeli soldiers appear to be operating under in Gaza’s boundary areas – some youngsters are undeterred. Muhammad Ukasha, 24, is one. Ukasha is determined to cross the boundary to find work. And his is not an uncommon attitude in Gaza, where after five decades of Israeli military occupation, 10 years of economic blockade and repeated military offensives, unemployment has reached 42 percent – 58 percent among young people – and nearly 80 percent of the population receives humanitarian aid. No airport, no seaport, and with Gaza’s southern border crossing closed by Egypt since October 2014 and opened with only rare exception, young people in the territory have few alternatives to the dismal situation. According to Israel, there was a 25 percent increase in the number of Palestinians apprehended each month trying to cross over from Gaza in the months after the most recent military offensive in the summer of 2014. In total, 170 people were caught in similar attempts during the year. Most of those incidents occurred between September and December. A Palestinian internal security source based in Gaza, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told The Electronic Intifada those numbers have stayed high. The source noted that authorities in Gaza counted 280 attempts – mostly by those under the age of 30 – to cross the boundary in the last three months of 2016. Seventy percent of those attempting to cross, according to the source, were apprehended on the Palestinian side by Palestinian security forces. Ukasha’s calculation is simple: his needs to overcome any hesitation he might have about risking his life. He lives in the Jabaliya refugee camp in a tin-roofed, two-room house with nine relatives. The family lives in severe poverty, with his diabetic father unable to work. They survive through the charity of neighbors and occasional food parcels distributed by relief institutions … Ukasha is confident he’ll find a way to get to Israel; he did it once before. He was arrested then, nearly three years ago, and imprisoned for nine months. But he considered it a success since he was not classified as a security prisoner and worked as a painter inside prison, managing to save some money.
Hamas bans dog walking in Gaza ‘to protect women and children’
GAZA CITY 18 May by Raf Sanchez — When Yasmin Shath, a 28-year-old bank clerk, saw the notice on Facebook she froze. Hamas, the Islamist militant group that controls the Gaza strip, had announced they were banning dog walking. Ms Shath’s thoughts immediately turned to Raed, her family’s lumbering two-year-old German Shepherd who lives in the garage of their home in Gaza City. “I couldn’t believe it,” she said. “Everyone tagged me in the notice on Facebook because they know I am a dog lover. I thought: this can’t be true.” But it was. And in the three weeks since Hamas announced the ban dog owners in Gaza have been forced to keep their pets indoors, often in small apartments with no air conditioning amid the rising summer heat. Ayman al-Batniji, a Hamas police spokesman, said the ban had been introduced because women and children were frightened of the animals. “In recent weeks, the phenomenon of young men walking with their dogs in the streets has widely spread. It is neither of our culture nor of our traditions. Children and women feel scared when they see dogs,” he told The Telegraph. “Our duty is to maintain the safety of citizens.” Mr al-Batniji said the ban only applied to populated areas like city streets, beaches and markets and said people could take their dogs into the fields to walk them there. For many people without cars, however, a drive into the countryside is not an option … Ms Shath and her family have not taken Raed – meaning “thunder” in Arabic – out of their house for the last three weeks because of the ban. The dog, who was born a month after the 2014 Gaza war, had become less friendly and playful and they worried about his health, they said….
Open-air soccer game screenings come to Gaza City
GAZA CITY (Al-Monitor) 18 May by Entsar Abu Jahal — In a first-of-its-kind initiative, Al-Majd Advertising Solutions set up a giant screen operated by a power generator in al-Qutaibah Square in southern Gaza City last month to show the UEFA Europa League matches. After the end of the soccer league and with the start of the holy month of Ramadan in late May, organizers plan on screening religious and historical films and documentaries. This initiative aims to provide free entertainment for citizens in an attempt to ease the electricity crisis in the Gaza Strip, following the bombing of the only power plant in 2006, and to alleviate the suffering of Gazans under the Israeli blockade for more than a decade … Ismail Ahmed, who watches the matches at al-Qutaibah Square, told Al-Monitor, “This idea saved us the money that we would have paid in cafes to watch the soccer matches in light of the ongoing power outages. I pay about $30 each time I go out to watch a soccer match with my friends at a cafe, where we are not allowed to sit without ordering from the menu.” He added, “This giant screen is set up in a public and open-air location with no specific requirements. Everyone can watch the matches in an atmosphere of enthusiasm and sportsmanship,” he said, noting that he has taken his children with him since this activity is free. Yassin Madi, a street vendor who sells corn nuts, told Al-Monitor that many people visit al-Qutaibah Square on the weekends and the turnout during the matches shown on the giant screen was spectacular. “Now I sell more at lower prices and I get to watch the soccer matches while working,” he said.
Gaza’s first English library one step closer to reality
The National 18 May by Laura Mackenzie — A 25-year-old book-lover from Gaza is one step closer to opening the Palestinian territory’s first English-language library after raising more than US$15,000 (Dh55,093) on a crowdfunding website. Mosab Abu Toha, an English language teacher from the northern town of Beit Lahiya, set his target as $15,000 when he launched the campaign on Indiegogo in March. But he was surprised when the campaign actually surpassed that amount last month. “Maybe I didn’t expect to get the whole sum of money, maybe I expected to get $7,000, $8,000 maximum,” he told The National. After receiving backing from some high-profile supporters, including the American writer Katha Pollitt and American academic Noam Chomsky, Mr Abu Toha said more people began donating … He later set up a Facebook page and website, asking strangers from around the world to donate new and used volumes for the library. Books of all stripes began coming in – novels, collections of poetry, children’s books, and non-fiction books on everything from philosophy to Palestine. Deliveries have been severely delayed by the Israeli blockade; Mr Abu Toha said books that donors say should not take longer than 14 days to arrive, can take more than seven weeks to reach him. And for several months last year, Israel completely suspended the postal service to Gaza, meaning that no books could get through at all. But despite this he has so far received more than 800 books … But, for him, the written word is an important cause. If Gazans are able to write their own books in English then they can teach the world outside about the situation in the territory, he said. “Writing and fighting with pencils is better than fighting with the guns,” he added. “It’s better than taking a life.”
Land, property theft & destruction / Ethnic cleansing / Settlements
Police arrest Israelis suspected of forging West Bank deeds to steal land
Haaretz 18 May by Yotam Berger — The police on Tuesday arrested four Israelis suspected of forging documents enabling the theft of Palestinian land – the suspects are residents of the largely Arab towns of Tira and Jaljulya. The investigation, opened about two months ago following complaints by the defense establishment’s Civil Administration, involves forged documents from a series of West Bank land deals. The police suspect that the four men forged documents to transfer the title of the deeds in question. One of the suspects is a lawyer, a source familiar with the case told Haaretz. “Lawyers and brokers had the sides sign the land deals without proof of legal ownership of the land,” the Israel Police in the West Bank said. A source familiar with the affair said the investigation was opened after the suspects asked the Civil Administration to transfer title of land they had tried to sell in their name. It was then discovered that the properties belonged to West Bank Palestinians rather than to the suspects, who allegedly forged the deeds in order to sell the properties to other Israelis….
Palestinians face biggest expulsion in years by settlers in Jerusalem
EI 187 May by Charlotte Silver — A private settler organization is planning “the most extensive expulsion scheme in recent years,” in the Batan al-Hawa area of Silwan in occupied East Jerusalem, the Israeli human rights group B’Tselem is warning. The settler group, Ateret Cohanim, claims to own about an acre of land in the densely populated neighborhood near the al-Aqsa mosque. The group has filed eviction claims against the 81 Palestinian families who live there. B’Tselem says this concentration of evictions represents 45 percent of all Palestinians facing “dispossession on the basis of ethnicity” in East Jerusalem.
“Where will we go?” The families are fighting the eviction claims in court, but resident Zuheir al-Rajabi tells B’Tselem that Ateret Cohanim is on a “vigorous offensive.” Six buildings have already been taken over by the organization, emptying them of the Palestinian families who lived there. The Israeli settlers who have moved in are reinforced by private and municipal security guards, who regularly harass Palestinians, especially youngsters. Najah al-Rajabi, 62, has lived in fear for the last 12 years, ever since settlers took over the building next to her. “Now I’m afraid to go outside at night to pray,” she says in the video produced by B’Tselem at the top of this article. B’Tselem has created an interactive website and a series of new videos to highlight the living conditions of Palestinians in Batan al-Hawa. Najah’s home is tiny, with only one bedroom. She stores most of her belongings on a porch with a view of Silwan’s Kidron Valley. It also looks over her heavily guarded settler neighbors. She is now waiting with anxiety, along with the dozens of other Palestinian families in Batan al-Hawa under threat of forced displacement, for the day she is forced to leave. “Where will we go? They’re expelling us. It’s expulsion. Plain and simple.”
“Like we’re under house arrest” Not all residents face their evictions with such fear. Zuheir al-Rajabi, who lives with his wife and four children in Batan al-Hawa, and serves on the neighborhood’s council, speaks with confidence that Ateret Cohanim will not succeed. “I was born in this house. And I’ll go on living in this house. And I’ll die in this house. And I’ll leave it to my children, who will also stay in it as long as they live,” al-Rajabi tells B’Tselem in a video….
Weekly report on Israeli human rights violations in the occupied Palestinian territory (11-17 May 2017)
PCHR-Gaza 18 May — Israeli forces continue systematic crimes in the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt) — Israeli forces killed a Palestinian civilian in al-Nabi Saleh village weekly protest and another Jordanian in occupied Jerusalem. A Palestinian fisherman was killed and his cousin was wounded in the Gaza Sea. 40 Palestinian civilians, including 13 children and 2 women, were wounded in the West Bank. 3 ambulances were directly targeted and sustained damage. Israeli forces conducted 62 incursions into Palestinian communities in the West Bank and 2 limited ones in the Gaza Strip. 79 civilians, including 9 children and 2 women, were arrested in the West Bank. Thirteen of them, including 3 children a woman, were arrested in occupied Jerusalem. Israeli forces continued to target the Palestinian fishermen in the Gaza Strip Sea. 6 fishermen, including 2 children, were arrested. A fishing boat was confiscated and another one was damaged. Israeli forces turned the West Bank into cantons and continued to impose the illegal closure on the Gaza Strip for the10th year. Dozens of temporary checkpoints were established in the West Bank and others were re-established to obstruct the movement of Palestinian civilians. 3 civilians were arrested at military checkpoints in the West Bank. A patient was arrested at Beit Hanoun “Erez” crossing, north of the Gaza Strip. [Details follow]
Palestinians alone in FIFA face-off against settlement teams
Al-Monitor 16 May by Akiva Eldar — “We are not looking for suspension or expulsion of Israel, we want full recognition of our rights,” thundered Jibril Rajoub, the dedicated president of the Palestinian Football Association, at a May 11 conference of FIFA, the international soccer federation, in Bahrain. Specifically, Rajoub demanded that FIFA ban Israeli clubs from playing on Palestinian territory, by which he meant the soccer fields of six Israeli settlements on the occupied West Bank: … Rajoub forgot to mention that among the Israeli soccer clubs playing on Palestinian territory, when hosted by one of the six settlement clubs, are dozens of teams consisting of his own people, such as those from the Arab Israeli towns and villages of Kfar Kassem, Jaffa, Rahat, Qalansawe and elsewhere. Not only that, but half a dozen Palestinian Arabs play for the settlement soccer teams on the occupied Palestinian territory to which Rajoub referred. Thus, when the managers and players of the Arab Israeli Shimshon Kfar Kassem team arrive for a match at the soccer pitch in the settlement of Ariel, they know they will not be confronting players from the adjacent Palestinian villages on the West Bank. They will also not be seeing their elderly Palestinian aunt who lives in one of those villages sitting in the bleachers. According to Israeli regulations, only Palestinians working in Israeli settlements or providing services to the Israelis living in them are allowed to enter their territory. The Palestinian leadership is well-aware of the tricky situation in which Israel’s Arab minority has put Rajoub and his friends from the Palestinian Authority. After all, what moral right do the West Bank Palestinians have to demand that Israelis boycott sports teams, when some of the teams have Arabs on their rosters and play in the settlements? A well-known Arab member of the Knesset who asked not to be identified told Al-Monitor that a proposal has been discussed in internal forums to issue the Israel Football Association with an ultimatum: Unless the home games of the settlement clubs are moved from the West Bank to the sovereign territory of the State of Israel, all 60 Arab Israeli teams would withdraw from the Israeli soccer leagues. Such a move would invariably result in the collapse of several of the lower leagues….
800 Likud activists sign petition calling for West Bank annexation
Times of Israel 17 May by Jacob Magid — Some 800 members of the ruling Likud party’s top decision-making body, its Central Committee, signed a petition Wednesday calling for a vote within 30 days on support for annexing the West Bank. Even if it succeeds, such a vote by the members of the Central Committee (which numbers over 3,000 in all) would be little more than a declaration of principles. It would not have any legal influence over government policy. Even so, the move is seen in the party as an attempt to pressure Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to resist a new peace effort by the Trump administration that is expected to be launched during the US president’s upcoming visit to Israel on Monday. “On the 50th anniversary of the liberation of Judea and Samaria, including the eternal capital Jerusalem, the Likud Central Committee calls upon the Likud’s elected representatives to act to allow unfettered construction [of Israeli homes] and to apply Israeli law and sovereignty over all areas of the liberated land in Judea and Samaria,” the petition reads….
Israeli group to appeal Facebook Palestinian violence case
JERUSALEM (AP) 18 May by Ian Deitch — An Israeli rights group suing Facebook on behalf of families of victims killed by Palestinian attackers said on Thursday that it will appeal after the case was dismissed by a New York court. Nitsana Darshan-Leitner said the court dismissed the lawsuit on grounds of immunity, according to the communications decency act. She said her group Shurat Hadin will appeal the decision. The group claims the social network is providing a platform for militants to spread incitement and violence. “We believe there is a fatal mistake in their ruling because the court totally did not address the issue of aiding and abetting terrorism,” she said. “It did not address the fact that Facebook provides support and sort of services to a terror organization to Hamas, which is a violation of the anti-terrorism act and therefore Facebook cannot be immune from this,” she said….