Two babies die in Gaza after Palestinian Authority denies treatment in Israel
Haaretz 27 June by Jack Khoury — Inter-Palestinian conflict prevents infants born with life-threatening conditions from receiving the necessary treatment in Israel — Two babies born with life-threatening conditions died in Gaza this week after they didn’t receive permission from the Palestinian Authority to get medical treatment in Israel, the Health Ministry in Gaza said. The PA did not respond to the report, but did not deny it either. Mus‘ab Balal al-Ara‘eer, a week-old infant, died in Shifa Hospital, Gaza City, on Monday. He was born with heart problems and other disabilities. Dr. Allam Abu Hamda, head of the neonatal care unit at Shifa, said that because of his many problems, Ara‘eer needed to be transferred immediately to a hospital in Israel. The infant’s family filed a request with the PA Health Ministry in Ramallah, in order to receive the financial commitment required for such treatment, but never received an answer. Abu Hamda said he did not know to what extent it was possible to save Ara‘eer but that, given his condition, no medical center in Gaza or the West Bank would have been able to treat such a severe and complex case …
On Tuesday morning, another week-old baby died in Shifa Hospital. Bara Mohammad Raban was born with a heart defect and also needed treatment in an Israeli hospital. Abu Hamda warned that other infants who need immediate medical treatment are also at risk. “What is going on is a crime according to all the parameters, and the international community and human rights organizations must intervene immediately to stop this behavior,” he said. Dr. Ashraf al-Qudra, a spokesman for the Health Ministry in Gaza, released a statement Monday saying there were a number of urgent medical cases that required treatment in hospitals outside of the Gaza Strip. Since the beginning of 2017, nine patients have died in Gaza, including three children, because of delays in receiving permission for treatment from the PA in Ramallah, Qudra said.
Residents of Gaza say the PA has recently prevented patients from leaving the Strip for treatment in Israel, the West Bank and Jordan, as part of its dispute with the Hamas government in Gaza. Data from the nongovernmental organization Physicians for Human Rights support those claims.
3 babies pronounced dead in Gaza in 24 hours, Abbas held accountable
GAZA (PIC) 27 June – (UPDATE) – Three Palestinian toddlers were pronounced dead in Gaza in no more than 24 hours, after the Palestinian Authority (PA), chaired by Mahmoud Abbas, denied them urgent treatment. The Palestinian Health Ministry spokesperson, Ashraf al-Qudra, said nine-month-old Ibrahim Samir Tbeil breathed his last at the intensive care unit in al-Rentisi Hospital. Al-Qudra warned that 3,000 to 4,000 babies in Gaza are in need of urgent treatment outside the besieged coastal enclave. A few hours earlier, a toddler with cardiovascular disorders was pronounced dead at al-Shifa Medical Center in Gaza after he was prevented by the PA from receiving treatment outside Gaza. The baby was identified as Baraa Ghaban. Sometime earlier, al-Qudra warned that the toddler was on the verge of death due to a severe heart disease. He was pronounced dead three hours later. On Monday afternoon, a third baby—Mus‘ab Bilal al-Areir— died in the coastal enclave. Al-Qudra and human rights activists held the PA and the Israeli occupation accountable for the death of the three Gazan toddlers, warning that more deaths might be recorded in the next few hours if urgent steps are not taken. Head of the nursery department at al-Shifa hospital in Gaza, Abu Hamda, appealed to all human rights organizations and medical institutions to take urgent action and work on saving Gaza’s newborns before it is too late. Abu Hamda said other babies have been diagnosed with deadly symptoms and risk to die at any possible moment if they do not receive urgent treatment somewhere outside of Gaza’s underequipped hospitals. According to the Palestinian Health Ministry, the reluctance maintained by the PA has claimed the lives of nine patients, among whom three babies, since the start of 2017.
Report: PA blocking patients in Gaza from exiting territory for medical treatment
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 27 June — As the humanitarian situation in the besieged Gaza Strip continues to raise alarms, reports emerged on Monday that the occupied West Bank-based Palestinian Authority (PA) has been preventing Palestinians in the coastal enclave from leaving the territory for medical treatment. Palestinians in Gaza have provided testimonies to Israeli daily Haaretz reporting “unexplained delays” in receiving permits from the PA for medical treatment in Israel, Jordan, and the West Bank.
The reports came at the same time as patients in Gaza have been forced to apply for permits to exit the territory for treatment owing to the lack of medicine and equipment after the PA cut its funding to the medical sector in the besieged enclave. Data provided to Haaretz from Physicians for Human Rights-Israel (PHRI) has added to claims that the PA has halted its assistance to sick patients in Gaza. According to the data, the PA has delayed and dramatically reduced its issuance of payment vouchers to more than 1,600 Palestinians in Gaza necessitating medical treatment, some of whom must exit the territory to receive the treatment. More than 90 percent of patients in Gaza who have requested such vouchers over the past month have not received a reply from the PA, while only 10 of the some 120 daily requests submitted to the PA have been getting approved. Haaretz pointed out that the number represents a dramatic reduction in the PA’s issuance of vouchers to patients in Gaza….
Leaked document says Muhammad Dahlan to become leader in Gaza Strip
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 26 June — Amid an escalating conflict between Hamas and the Fatah-ruled Palestinian Authority (PA), a leaked and unconfirmed document obtained by Ma‘an has noted that discharged Fatah leader and President Mahmoud Abbas’ political rival Muhammad Dahlan could be appointed head of Gaza’s government as a result of talks between Hamas officials and Dahlan in Cairo. The document, titled “A National Consensus Document for Trust-Building” details an agreement allegedly made between the Hamas movement, led by Hamas leader in Gaza Yahya Sinwar, and Dahlan during Egyptian-sponsored talks when Palestinian officials established a political front to challenge the PA in coordination with Dahlan. Dahlan, being a fierce former opponent of Hamas’ rule in Gaza following its success in the 2006 elections that threw Fatah and Hamas in a protracted internal conflict, seemed like an unlikely political ally for Hamas. Nevertheless, analysts have pointed out that the new relationship between the former enemies represents Dahlan and Hamas’ mutual rejection of the PA, led by Abbas in the occupied West Bank.
The document contains 15 articles focused on ending the issues of Palestinian reconciliation, including articles aiming to resolve issues of revenge or compensation that have arisen during Hamas and Fatah’s more than a decade-long feud. According to the document, the talks agreed that Dahlan would be head of the government in the Gaza Strip, while Hamas would control Gaza’s Ministry of Interior. The reports have not been confirmed by Hamas or Dahlan….
Israel won’t initiate military action in Gaza, Syria, Defense Minister says
Haaretz 26 June by Jonathan Lis — Despite predictions that Israel could be facing a military conflict this summer, Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman told a Knesset committee that he will not launch attacks in the Gaza Strip or in Syria in the near future. “We have a lot of prophets here predicting a hot summer and war in the north and the south,” he told the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee. “I want to make clear that we have no intention to initiate any military action in either the north or the south, but we will not ignore anything.” Lieberman, however, noted that recent cross-border fire from Syria into the Golan Heights, “either by chance or not, will be met with a powerful response. Anyone who thinks about turning Syria into another base for Hezbollah and the Iranians should think again.”….
Hamas accuses Israel of fabricating rocket claim to justify airstrikes in Gaza
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 27 June — The Israeli air force launched at least two airstrikes on the besieged Gaza Strip early Tuesday, with the Israeli army saying the attacks targeted two Hamas military infrastructures and were in response to a rocket fired from Gaza late Monday, which allegedly landed in an open area in Israel’s Shaar Hanegev Regional Council that borders northeastern Gaza, causing no injuries or damages. No injuries were reported as a result of the airstrikes.
Palestinian news agency Wafa cited local sources in Gaza, saying that strikes hit multiple locations across the small Palestinian territory, including northwest of Gaza City, east of the Gaza Valley area, and Nasr neighborhood in the southern Gaza Strip city of Rafah. The strikes left material damages to a number of homes, the report said.
Separately, Wafa reported that the Israeli army attacked agricultural land east of the Gaza Valley with artillery missiles and another agricultural area east of Deir al-Balah in the central Gaza Strip, reporting no injuries.
“Since the terror organization Hamas is the ruler of the Gaza Strip, it is responsible for any attempt to harm the State of Israel,” the Israeli army said in a statement following the early morning aerial attack. However, in a statement, the Hamas movement accused Israel of fabricating claims of rocket fire to justify the attack. “The Israeli claim of a rocket being fired from Gaza and issuing a statement on behalf of ISIS to justify the escalation and an attack of resistance positions are part of a dangerous and transparent Israeli game.”
The statement referred to reports in Israeli media that claimed a Salafist group in Gaza affiliated to the so-called Islamic State claimed responsibility for the alleged rocket fire. Hamas has not claimed responsibility for any rocket attacks since a ceasefire was declared after the 2014 war, and the movement has attempted to clamp down on armed activity by smaller political groups that do launch rockets from the territory. Israeli officials have nonetheless accused Hamas of “preparing” for another war with Israel and have threatened retaliatory measures against the Gaza Strip as a whole.
Opinion: Palestinians also to blame for Gaza electricity crisis / Amira Hass
Haaretz 26 June — Don’t give a pass to the two rival Palestinian leaderships, who cynically clash with each other at the expense of their people in the Gaza Strip — We must discuss the responsibility of the two Palestinian “governments” for leaving the Gaza Strip in the dark. This article is not meant to absolve Israel of responsibility for the crisis and the chain of catastrophic, horrific disasters it is now creating and will create in the future. Israel is the de facto ruler in the Strip. The siege Israel is imposing on Gaza has led to unprecedented levels of poverty in the coastal enclave. Israel bombed and destroyed the power plant’s transformers and fuel tanks, and it restricts the entry of construction and other raw materials that are required for the speedy rehabilitation and repair of the electricity infrastructure, including the power station. But we must not absolve the two rival Palestinian leaderships, who are clashing with each other cynically and brutally, at the expense of their people in Gaza. In this repulsive spat, electricity is a particularly complex issue. Here are some of the main problems:
Collection of accounts: Gaza owes the Palestinian Finance Ministry in Ramallah a fortune for unpaid electricity bills. The Israeli siege has left most Gazan residents impoverished, with about 80 percent of them dependent on aid. Many simply cannot pay. But there are others who jump on the bandwagon and don’t pay: official (Hamas) institutions; municipalities; mosques; and probably some businesses that have survived the siege…
Taxation: The Palestinian Authority is supposed to transfer the diesel fuel needed to operate the private power plant in Gaza, but it doesn’t grant a full tax exemption on the fuel, as it previously promised. Gazans say the poverty there justifies a full tax exemption. The Hamas authorities claim the revenues go to the treasury in Ramallah…
Transparency: Neither side provides accurate and reliable data on the amount of taxes and payments they collect, even though independent observers from Palestinian civil society have repeatedly asked for this…
Swords instead of light: Hamas has money (from Iran) for arms but not for electricity. Just like Israel has money for settlements and submarines, but not for the health system and decent allowances for the disabled and the elderly….
Voucher assistance in Palestine: more than just food for food insecure Palestinians
European Commission/ World Food Programme 26 June — Repeated conflict and ten years of a crippling blockade have created persistent food insecurity in the Gaza Strip, where 46 percent of the households are food insecure, with nearly one in three at a severe level. Families are barely able to recover from previous shocks before new setbacks drive them more deeply into poverty. Unemployment hits almost one in every two people, increasing to two in three people among young people. Badria, who used to receive in-kind food assistance from WFP from 2008 until 2011, now uses WFP’s electronic food voucher which takes the form of a debit card where money is credited on a weekly basis. With this card, she can purchase and choose between 15 different nutritious locally-produced food items in one of WFP’s 75 participating shops in Gaza, several of which are located just a few metres from her house. “I received dry food entitlements a few years ago. I had to line up to collect the food and pay transportation costs to bring it home, in the plain sight of my neighbours and relatives. Now that I receive vouchers, I no longer have to face this embarrassment and I can shop just like everybody else in the local shop,” she proudly emphasised. Badria receives around €9 credited onto her voucher every month. The voucher is insufficient to cover her full monthly food needs, but she manages to cope by skipping breakfast, or taking part in family meals. Sometimes, she can even rely on the slim financial support of her two sons, when available….
Gaza becoming unexpected destination for Egyptian jobseekers
GAZA CITY (Al-Monitor) 25 June by Amjad Yaghi — Egyptian construction workers often do not earn enough to cover the basic expenses for themselves and their families, such as food, medicine and clothing. The value of the Egyptian pound fell in half following the government’s decision to float the Egyptian currency in November and stands at about 18 Egyptian pounds to the US dollar. This has forced many construction workers to work extra hours; some of them even sought to migrate or obtain a work visa abroad. Strangely, however, some found jobs in the Gaza Strip, which is reeling under its own massive unemployment and harsh economic conditions due to the Israeli siege. Since the beginning of the year, some employers, including contractors, in the Gaza Strip have noticed that Egyptian construction workers have been applying for jobs there. At first this seemed quite odd. Many wondered how these Egyptian men crossed into Gaza and started searching for jobs there. In order to be allowed to enter Gaza through the Rafah crossing, these Egyptian workers usually invoke their kinship relationship to Egyptian women who are living in Gaza and married to a Palestinian national. Egyptians, however, have to be first- or second-degree relatives of these women in Gaza to get a tourist visa to Palestine. After getting the visa, these Egyptians are forced to wait for long periods to enter Gaza, in light of the repeated closure of the Rafah Crossing. Once in Gaza, they start their job hunt through their relatives and Egyptian connections there. Al-Monitor met with four Egyptians working in different areas in the Gaza Strip….
Violence / Detentions — West Bank / Jerusalem
7 Palestinians detained, 8 hospitalized in violent Israeli military raids
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 27 June — Israeli forces detained at least seven Palestinians in predawn raids in the occupied West Bank on Tuesday, with three aggressive raids sparking clashes, as Israeli forces targeted local youth with live fire and launched tear gas canisters at homes. During a violent raid into al-Duheisha refugee camp in the southern occupied West Bank district of Bethlehem, at least eight Palestinians were injured, including six who were shot with live fire in the legs — one of whom was an on-duty paramedic whose brother was detained, and a youth who was run over by an Israeli military vehicle. Locals said that several Israeli military vehicles raided the refugee camp around dawn time, surrounded it from multiple areas, as snipers deployed on the rooftops of houses. Clashes erupted between Israeli soldiers and local youth at the entrances of the camp, with Israeli forces firing rubber-coated steel bullets, live bullets, and tear-gas bombs. Alaa al-Balaawi, a paramedic with the Palestinian Medical Relief Society was in uniform, treating residents who were suffering from tear gas inhalation, when he was shot in the leg. Israeli forces then raided al-Balaawi’s family house, searched it, assaulted his father, and detained his brother Shahrayar, locals told Ma‘an. Five other Palestinians were shot in the legs with live fire and another was injured with a rubber-coated steel bullet in the head. One resident, who was described by locals as a “youth” not identified further, was injured after he was run over by an Israeli military vehicle.
The eight wounded were all evacuated to local hospitals for treatment…
Meanwhile, Israeli forces raided the town of Beit Ummar in the southern occupied West Bank district of Hebron to detain three young Palestinians, including one minor, sparking clashes that left several locals suffering from tear gas inhalation and the window of a house blasted by a tear gas bomb. Local activist Muhammad Ayyad Awad identified the detainees as 21-year-old Muhye Falah Hamdi Abu Maria, 18-year-old Wajih Fathi Younis Sabarneh, and 17-year-old Rashed Bashar Issa Zaaqiq, who were detained after Israeli forces broke into and searched their homes. As Israeli forces withdrew from the town, soldiers opened live fire and shot tear-gas canisters at youth who threw rocks and Molotov cocktails at soldiers. Several youths and locals suffered from tear-gas inhalation. A tear gas bomb fired at a house belonging to Shihdeh Sabarneh broke through a window, forcing residents to flee from the house…
In the town of Abu Dis in the central occupied West Bank district of Jerusalem, Israeli forces detained a former prisoner, 22-year-old Mahmoud Nafeth Jaffal, as well as 18-year-old Muhammad Ziad Jaffal, locals said. Israeli intelligence and army forces raided and searched the former prisoner’s house, confiscated his mobile phone and ID card, before detaining him in a military jeep and transferring him to the the Shin Bet, Israel’s internal security agency. Locals highlighted that Jaffal had previously been detained several times, having spent two years in Israeli prison before being released in 2015. During the raid in Abu Dis, Israeli soldiers fired rubber-coated steel bullets, stun grenades, and tear-gas canisters into the town before withdrawing to a nearby Israeli military post.
Meanwhile, locals in Beit Awwa west of Hebron in the southern West Bank reported that Israeli forces stormed the town and detained Bakr Rajeh Masalmeh after raiding and searching his house.
Israeli soldiers invade Sebastia, remove a Palestinian flag
IMEMC 27 June — Israeli soldiers invaded, Tuesday, the town of Sebastia, north of the northern West Bank city of Nablus, and removed a Palestinian flag that was raised on a pole at an archeological site in the town. Mohammad Azem, the mayor of Sebastia, said the soldiers invaded the archeological area, removed the flag and detonated the pole and its concrete ground several times. Azem added that the attack was provoked by illegal Israeli colonists, who also visit the area under heavy military deployment, and repeatedly complain to the military, demanding the removal of the Palestinian flag. He also stated that Israel has plans to pave a new road, to be solely used by the army and the colonist settlers, in addition to planning to reconstruct and maintain the archeological area, in violation of UNESCO regulations.
Settlers throw rocks at Israeli forces who take down illegal building in Yitzhar
Haaretz 25 June by Yotam Berger & Jack Khoury — Three Jewish settlers were arrested on Sunday in the West Bank settlement of Yitzhar after several residents threw rocks at Israeli security personnel who dismantled an illegally built structure in the community. No one was injured in the incident, in the course of which the settlers also blocked the road to security vehicles. The incident came a few hours after some two dozen olive trees belonging to residents of Burin, a nearby Palestinian town, were found hacked. The Hebrew word for “revenge” had been painted on a rock near the trees, and Israeli military forces are investigating the incident as a possible hate crime against Palestinians. Photographs from the scene of the rock-throwing show a group of about eight soldiers dismantling a temporary structure that was put up without a permit. Afterward, rocks were thrown at members of the security forces, who included soldiers, Border Police officers and employees of the Civil Administration. As the security forces left Yitzhar, settlers again threw rocks at them. The forces fired percussion grenades to disperse the perpetrators. In a statement, the office of the army spokesman confirmed the arrests and the details of the rock-throwing incident, adding that the perpetrators also used verbal violence against the security forces. The statement said the Israel Police will handle the incident … Over the past few weeks, at least 12 violent attacks by settlers against Palestinians, left-wing activists and soldiers in the West Bank have been reported. One of the two centers of the violence is in the area around Yitzhar.
Israeli settlers storm Jenin-area town and shout racist epithets at Palestinians
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 26 June — Dozens of Israeli settlers under the protections of Israeli soldiers reportedly raided an area near the village of Sanur in the northern occupied West Bank district of Jenin on Sunday and shouted racist and anti-Arab epithets at locals, according to Palestinian news agency Wafa. The report said that the group of settlers broke into the site of an illegal Israeli outpost called Tarsla that has since been evicted, and “performed religious rituals,” as Israeli forces restricted the movement of Palestinians in the area. The Israeli army had intensified its presence to the south of Jenin and the surrounding villages, stopping Palestinians in their vehicles and checking IDs, though no detentions were reported, according to Wafa.
Israeli forces detain 6 Palestinians in overnight raids on eve of Eid al-Fitr
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 25 June — Israeli forces detained at least six Palestinians in predawn raids across the occupied West Bank before dawn on Sunday, which coincided with the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Fitr that marks the end of the holy month of Ramadan.
An Israeli army spokesperson told Ma‘an that three Palestinians were detained in the village of al-Mughayyir in the central occupied West Bank district of Ramallah, while in the southern Bethlehem district, one Palestinian was detained in the town of Tuqu‘ and two were detained in Beit Fajjar.
The raids came as Muslims in the occupied Palestinian territory celebrated Eid al-Fitr. The Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, Mohammad Hussein, congratulated all Muslims and the Palestinian people, inside the Palestinian territory and in the diaspora, in a statement Saturday night, expressing hope that by the next Eid all the Palestinian wishes of freedom and independence will be achieved.
Meanwhile, as the detention raids were being conducted, the Israeli army spokesperson’s office published a video on its Twitter page describing “how the holiest time in the Islamic year is celebrated in the IDF,” with one interviewee saying in a voiceover that “The IDF respects all Muslim soldiers and provides all those who need with meals during the Ramadan fast.” The Israeli army spokesman for Arab media Avichay Adraee also Tweeted out a video wishing Muslims a happy Eid, as did the spokesperson for COGAT, the agency responsible for enforcing Israeli policies in the occupied territory, saying: “Wishing Muslims across Judea and Samaria, the Gaza Strip, and around the world a happy and peaceful #EidAlFitr #EidMubarak.”
Ramadan this year was marked by continuing nightly detention raids across the occupied Palestinian territory, ongoing restrictions on freedom of movement for Palestinians, and an ever-worsening humanitarian crisis in the Gaza Strip, after Israel drastically cut electricity supplies to the besieged coastal enclave, leaving Palestinians there with just two hours of power a day. According to Ma‘an estimates, Israeli forces detained some 250 Palestinians in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem over the course of Ramadan, including dozens of minors, former hunger strikers Muhammad Allan and Anas Shadid, a former minister, and a blind man….
Prisoners / Court actions
NGO: Israel practices ‘systematic torture’ on Palestinian detainees
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 26 June — Palestinian prisoners’ rights group Addameer released a statement on Monday, the International Day to Support Victims of Torture, highlighting Israel’s use of “torture and ill-treatment” on Palestinian detainees, which has led to the death of 73 Palestinians since 1967. According to Addameer, Israeli authorities’ practice of torture, which it said has been carried out in a “systematic manner,” contravenes numerous international laws and conventions prohibiting the use of torture, and that Israeli prison officials are rarely held accountable for the abuse of Palestinian prisoners.
Since 1967, when Israel occupied the Palestinian territory, including the West Bank, East Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip, 73 Palestinian detainees have died in Israeli custody as a result of torture during interrogations, the group reported, the latest of whom was 30-year-old Arafat Jaradat who is believed to have been tortured to death in Israel’s Megiddo prison in 2013…
Like Jaradat, many other Palestinians have been subjected to “psychological and physical torture” during Israeli interrogations, the group noted, as interrogations can last up to 75 days and lawyers can be denied access to the detainees for the first 60 days of the interrogation.
The group highlighted certain torture techniques used by Israeli authorities on Palestinians during interrogations, including “prolonged isolation from the outside world; inhuman detention conditions; excessive use of blindfolds and handcuffs; slapping and kicking; sleep deprivation; denial of food and water for extended periods of time; denial of access to toilets; denial of access to showers or change of clothes for days or weeks; exposure to extreme cold or heat; position abuse; yelling and exposure to loud noises; insults and cursing; arresting family members or alleging that family members have been arrested; sexual abuse; slaps, kicks and blows; and violent shaking.”
Any confessions collected during these episodes of torture are then admissible in Israeli courts, according to Addameer. The group went on to underscore the routine practice of physical violence practiced by Israeli forces on Palestinians during detentions….
5 Palestinian teens indicted for allegedly throwing fireworks at Israeli police
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 26 June — Israeli authorities have filed charges against five Palestinian youths from the occupied East Jerusalem neighborhood of ‘Issawiya for allegedly attacking Israeli police officers with rocks and fireworks two weeks ago. Israeli police spokesperson Micky Rosenfeld said in a statement that the five suspects were each between 15 and 19 years old, and had thrown fireworks at Israeli forces, “endangering them.” His statement said that several days after an investigation was launched into the incident, police forces searched Issawiya and detained the five teenagers, touting that the raid was “based on a search warrant.” “All five suspects are under arrest and will be charged with attacking police officers,” he said, and attached a video purporting to show footage of the detainees caught in the act.
Closures / Restriction of movement
Photos: After Ramadan, back to your regularly scheduled occupation
Activestills 25 June Text by Ahmad al-Bazz — During the month of Ramadan, Palestinians were more freely able to pass between the West Bank and Jerusalem. Now it’s back to the old rules of military occupation. The final Friday of Ramadan was also the final day in which Israel temporarily “relaxed” its restrictions on Palestinian movement in the West Bank….
Israel refuses entry to UNESCO group expected to visit Hebron’s Old City
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 26 June — Israeli authorities have refused to grant entry visas for a United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) investigative team scheduled to conduct a field visit to the Old City in the southern occupied West Bank district of Hebron in advance of an upcoming vote next month to consider the area an endangered world heritage site, Israeli media reported on Sunday. While Palestinian authorities had planned to introduce the site for consideration on UNESCO’s World Heritage List for 2018, they decided to fast track the site’s application owing to routine Israeli violence in the Old City, which Palestinians have claimed threatens the integrity of the site, and instead propose the area as an endangered site. A Palestinian delegation to UNESCO had reportedly expressed the “alarming details about the Israeli violations in Al-Khalil/ Hebron, including the continuous acts of vandalism, property damage, and other attacks,” in a letter to the World Heritage Center. The UNESCO team’s visit is aimed at assessing whether or not the Old City of Hebron is actually endangered, and would submit these findings to the International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS), a body that provides recommendations to UNESCO involving sites that could be considered on the World Heritage in Danger list.
Land, property theft & destruction / Ethnic cleansing / Settlements / Apartheid
Israel approves budget for controversial apartheid road in West Bank
MEMO 27 June — Israel has reportedly approved a budget for the construction of the so-called Eastern Ring Road in the occupied West Bank, known by activists and rights groups as the “Apartheid road.” The road, part of Israel’s plans of developing the controversial E1 corridor, has been denounced as an attempt to further expand illegal Israeli settlement construction in the occupied Palestinian territory, while deepening the separation between Palestinian communities on opposite sides of Israel’s separation wall. According to a statement released by Israeli rights group Ir Amim on Monday, the development of the road is “one of several developments necessary for preparing the ground for E1.” The reports emerged from Israeli media outlet Israel Hayom, which stated that the road is expected to be opened to Israeli traffic in the next 10 months. According to rights groups, settlement construction in E1 would effectively divide the West Bank and make the creation of a contiguous Palestinian state – as envisaged by the internationally backed two-state solution to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict – almost impossible. Israeli activity in E1 has attracted widespread international condemnation, and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has in the past said that “E1 is a red line that cannot be crossed.” However, the Eastern Ring Road was proposed by former Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon as a plan to apparently solve the issue of bifurcating the West Bank, by facilitating “navigation from Ramallah to Bethlehem for Palestinians but without any access to Jerusalem.” … A map released by Ir Amin shows the expected route of the road….
Israeli authorities deliver demolition orders for Palestinian homes in the West Bank
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 27 June — Israeli forces delivered demolition orders to a number of homes in the occupied West Bank on Tuesday, according to local media reports. An under-construction home in the town of Beit Jala in the southern occupied West Bank district of Bethlehem has been slated for demolition by Israeli authorities, Palestinian news agency Wafa reported Tuesday. According to the report, homeowner Issa Abdullah Hafi was notified by Israeli authorities of their intention to demolish the home he was building, under the pretext that it was built without Israeli permission…
Meanwhile, Jerusalem-based outlet al-Quds news reported that Israeli forces raided the town of al-Mughayyir in the central occupied West Bank district of Ramallah and delivered an unspecified number of demolition orders to homes there, sparking clashes between locals and Israeli soldiers. [IMEMC: The soldiers fired many rubber-coated steel bullets, wounding a young man, and abducted another Palestinian before moving him to an unknown destination. The army also declared the village a closed military zone from six in the evening, Tuesday, until one after midnight.]
Claims of Israeli settlement freeze an ‘attempt to fool the public’
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 26 June — After reports emerged Friday that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu promised the United States government to stop marketing new settlement units for the rest of 2017, a representative from settlement watchdog Peace Now called the alleged promise “another spin of the Netanyahu government trying to fool the public.” Israeli newspaper The Jerusalem Post had reported that the alleged freeze was discovered when settlers from the illegal Beit El settlement in the central occupied West Bank discovered that plans for 300 new settler homes — promised to the settlers by Netanyahu in exchange for a peaceful evacuation of the illegal Ulpana outpost — were halted. Netanyahu then reportedly met with the settlement’s regional council head Shai Alon and ensured him that the homes promised to the settlers would be excluded from the temporary settlement freeze, adding that the 300 settler homes would be advanced in September. In response to the reports, Hagit Ofran, the spokesperson for the settlement watch team of the Israeli NGO Peace Now, told Ma’an that “The alleged promise by Netanyahu, if it truly happened, is another spin of the Netanyahu government trying to fool the public.”….
Other news, opinion
PA suppresses sit-in in Ramallah held by former political prisoners of Israel
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 26 June — Palestinian security forces forcibly suppressed a sit-in Sunday, which was organized more than a week ago, in front of the Palestinian Ministers’ Council in the central occupied West Bank city of Ramallah by former political prisoners of Israel in protest of having not received their paychecks this month. Security forces tore down and seized the demonstrators’ sit-in tents — as well as mattresses and picket signs, forcibly evacuated the area, and declared the surroundings of the council’s headquarters “a closed military zone,” demonstrators said at a press conference held later at Yasser Arafat Square in Ramallah. One protester, Abdullah Abu Shalbak, told Jerusalem-based outlet al-Quds News that security forces in civilian clothes raided the area at around 1:30 a.m. Sunday morning, pressuring former prisoners and their supporters to evacuate the area.
After the plainclothes officers failed to disperse the action, police and special forces arrived, escorted by an official who claimed to be from the Palestinian Ministry of Finance and refused to identify himself. According to Abu Shalbak, the alleged finance ministry representative told protesters that an agreement had been made to cut the salaries of the former prisoners, but would not provide details of the agreement. Abu Shalbak, who said he has spent 21 years in Israeli prisons, was quoted as saying: “today we are here, but tomorrow we might be inside (Palestinian) jails on criminal charges for bounced checks or defaulted loans that we cannot pay because our salaries were cut off.”….
Palestinians wary of talk that Gaza may be declared ‘rebel district’
GAZA CITY (Al-Monitor) 27 June by Ahmed el-Komi — The poor living conditions and security situation of Palestinians in the Gaza Strip could further deteriorate if Palesinian President Mahmoud Abbas declares Gaza a “rebel district.” — Recent reports that Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas is pondering drastic measures against Hamas has heightened fears in Gaza. On June 15, the daily Israel Hayom quoted an unnamed senior Palestinian official as saying that Abbas is considering declaring the coastal enclave a “rebel district” soon. The official, a close associate of Abbas, said that president is using the move against Hamas in the internal Palestinian conflict to pressure the movement to hand control of Gaza over to the Palestinian Authority (PA).The newspaper said the move is a “doomsday weapon” and that “implementing the plan would mean immediately declaring a state of emergency throughout Gaza while simultaneously issuing emergency orders designating certain groups and movements as ‘rebels.’ In such an event, Hamas would be outlawed and all its assets — including institutions, funds and bank accounts — will be frozen. In addition, arrest warrants will be issued against the heads of the organization.” The official said that a team of Palestinian Justice Ministry legal experts has been established to review how to implement the plan legally, both in terms of Palestinian law and international law….
Hamas, Israel reportedly in ‘advanced talks’ over prisoners exchange deal
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 27 June — Israel and Hamas have reportedly been engaged in “intensive indirect” talks recently over possible deal to release a number of Palestinian political prisoners held by Israel in exchange for Israelis held by Hamas in the besieged Gaza Strip, Israel’s Channel 1 reported Monday. The report, according to a translation by Times of Israel, said that the talks were being mediated by an unnamed third party, and gathered momentum over the past two weeks after Hamas leader in Gaza Yahya Sinwar returned from a diplomatic visit to Cairo earlier this month, when Sinwar notably met with discharged Fatah leader Muhammad Dahlan. Egypt has previously been named in reports as the country mediating between the two sides.
In February, Hamas confirmed that it had been engaged in talks through third-party mediators over a possible prisoners’ exchange agreement, but said a deal had been rejected for not meeting its minimum demands. Hamas spokesperson Hazem Qasim said at the time that the Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades, the armed wing of Hamas and the body responsible for prisoners exchange negotiations with Israel, said what Israel was offering did not “meet even the minimum demands made by the resistance.”
“Statements of Israeli leaders are just part of their lies directed at the families of the imprisoned Israeli soldiers to convince them they are putting in efforts to bring them back,” he said.
The remarks followed Israeli media reports that Israel was seeking to reach a deal with Hamas to secure the release of three Israeli men who crossed into the besieged coastal enclave of their own accord: Avraham Mengistu and Hisham al-Sayed, as well as Juma Ibrahim Abu Ghanima, whose presence in Gaza is unconfirmed, according to Israeli media … Hamas also claims to hold the bodies of two Israeli soldiers, Oron Shaul and Hadar Goldin, who were pronounced dead by Israel during the 2014 war in Gaza, though Hamas has never explicitly said whether the two Israeli soldiers were alive or dead. Hamas has repeatedly insisted that Israel must release all prisoners who were freed as part of the 2011 Gilad Shalit deal who have since been redetained before starting talks of a new prisoner swap deal.
Candidate for Israel’s Labor Party calls for end to humanitarian crisis in Gaza
i224NEWS 25 June — Ultra-Orthodox candidate Dina Dayan tells i24NEWS the religious Zionist movement has co-opted Judaism — Ultra-Orthodox candidate for Israel’s Labor party, Dina Dayan, called for an end to the humanitarian crisis in Gaza in an exclusive interview with i24NEWS on Sunday. “I can’t accept it, as a Jew,” Dayan said on Ami Kaufman’s the Spin Room. “I can’t accept it Because you know, these are people, these are children, these are old people, hospitals. This is unacceptable for me, what happens now in Gaza. They should bring electricity 24 hours a day. Of course, of course, this is basic. I don’t understand it. For me, it was very hard to hear it.” … Dayan, a firebrand feminist who is running for Labor Party leadership against 8 other men, asserted that the religious Zionist movement in Israel has co-opted Judaism and, in her view, does not represent the true intentions of the religion. “For me, the Bayit Yehudi, the Jewish Home, took Judaism to fascism. Because as I know Judaism, it’s totally different. I would say, Mizrah Judaism is very open, open to other people,” Dayan told For Dayan, Judaism means coexistence with Arabs and a plurality of voices being heard. “My grandmother and her mother before her, we always lived with Arabs, “Dayan said. “So, for me, the hatred and the nationalism and the ultra-nationalism is not Judaism… I feel sometimes when I hear some of the extremists in this party, yes, the messages are not Jewish messages.”….
NGO calls investigation of Breaking the Silence spokesman ‘ideological persecution’
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 27 June — The Israel-based Rabbis for Human Rights released a statement on Tuesday, stating that Israeli leaders’ calls to prosecute the spokesperson for Israeli NGO Breaking the Silence was a move that “smacks of ideological persecution,” amid an ongoing Israeli investigation over an assault he carried out on a Palestinian protester during his service in the army, which he provided as testimony to the group. Dean Issacharoff came under investigation after a video was released when the former soldier is heard admitting to beating an unarmed Palestinian protester in the southern occupied West Bank district of Hebron. Breaking the Silence provides anonymous testimonies from Israeli soldiers and veterans recounting their experiences serving in the occupied Palestinian territory in order to shed light on human rights abuses committed by the Israeli army and the need to end the half-century occupation of the West Bank.
Rabbis for Human Rights said that the investigation was “a cynical move that smacks of ideological persecution.” The group highlighted the irony of the investigation, as Issacharoff had admitted to guilt and expressed remorse for his actions, which is typical for any former soldier involved in Breaking the Silence, while the Israeli army routinely closes cases of abuse committed by Israeli soldiers on Palestinians despite clear evidence of violence or excessive use of force. After the video went viral and several Israeli soldiers who claimed to have been with Issacharoff during the incident accused him of lying in his testimony, Israel’s ultra right Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked demanded that the police open up a probe on the incident. Issacharoff’s commander during his Israeli army service has also set out to defame him, and reportedly said that the assault incident “never happened.”
Rabbis for Human Rights noted that the investigation was meant to convey to other Israeli soldiers that “they will pay dearly for public confessions of any wrongdoing committed in the framework of their military service.” “The eager interrogation of Issacharoff sharply contrasts with so many other incidents, many of which ended not in a few blows but in the death of a Palestinian, which were never properly investigated or brought to trial,” the group added. In response to the investigation, Breaking the Silence released a Facebook statement on Sunday.
Bennett: Palestinian refugees cannot return en masse to the West Bank
JPost 25 June by Tovah Lazaroff — Providing the Palestinians with autonomy, instead of statehood, in the West Bank, would prohibit such an option, says Education minister — Palestinian refugees can not be allowed to return to the West Bank en masse, Education Minister Naftali Bennett told Army Radio on Sunday morning. He warned that such a move would endanger the State of Israel. “Anyone who allows millions of [Palestinian] refugees into Kalkilya [Qalqiliya] and Tulkarm will turn Route 6 into a large refugee camp,” Bennett said, referring to the major highway that lies adjacent to the two Palestinian cities. Kfar Saba is just three minutes from Kalkilya said Bennett, as he spoke of the area in the center of the country. “I want to see a resident of Kfar Saba who would agree to see [in their backyard] thousands of buildings filled with refugees from Syria and Lebanon,” he said. Bennett said part of his opposition to the creation of a Palestinian state stems from the issue of Palestinian refugees, who would be allowed the right-of-return to such a state. Providing the Palestinians with autonomy instead of statehood in the West Bank would prohibit such an option, he said. Bennett linked the issue of the return of Palestinian refugees to a future state in the West Bank, to his opposition to an approved plan to expand Kalkilya by 14,000 new homes by 2035….
Opinion: Why the Jewish Right is foolish to celebrate the empty Palestinian history ‘book’ / Joshua Shanes
Haaretz 25 June — The 132 blank pages intending to undermine Palestinian claims to nationhood aren’t just snark or bad history. They provide the fodder for an unending, bloody conflict — In an incisive moment of Arthur Koestler’s classic Zionist novel Thieves in the Night, the lead character Joseph, a committed Zionist, has an epiphany: “Nationalism,” he realizes, “is only comic in others – like being seasick or in love.” I chose this quote as the epigraph of my book on how the Jews became a “nation” at the turn of the twentieth century because it captured an inherent paradox of nationalism and nationhood. Nationalists often recognize the modernity and “constructedness” of nations in general, but equally often insist that their own case is the exception to the rule. You are invented; we are ancient, deeply rooted and eternal. This week, social media is abuzz about a new “book” entitled A History of the Palestinian People: From Ancient Times to the Modern Era that promised to be a “comprehensive and extensive review of some 3,000 years of Palestinian history, with emphasis on the Palestinian people’s unique contribution to the world and to humanity.” The book is blank. [It has since been removed from sale on the site, whether by the publisher or Amazon itself]. In gleeful mockery, hundreds of reviewers on Amazon praised its “insight” while countless others have spread the link on Facebook and Twitter. Opponents are raising the alarm either at its celebration of ignorance – there is in fact a lot of good, dispassionate scholarship on Palestinian history – or at its combative dismissal of the existence of an entire people. Of course, Palestinian national identity does not go back 3000 years. But this book’s celebrants seem to misunderstand that no nation – as we currently understand and use the term – dates to antiquity, not even the Jews … Nations are products of modernity, requiring among other things mass literacy and a vibrant print media, industrial transportation, and the secular disruption of pre-modern, largely religious (often local) identities. Notions of nationhood born in the French Revolution, and developed by philosophers like Johann Fichte and Johann Herder, spread in the nineteenth century through Central and then Eastern Europe, and eventually the world. Only in the twentieth century did the world understand itself as divided up into linguistic national communities that deserved, ideally, national self-determination….
Haley promises to block any appointment of Palestinian official to senior UN post
Times of Israel/Agencies 28 June — US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley indicated she would block any appointment of a Palestinian official to a senior role at the UN because Washington “does not recognize Palestine” as an independent state. Speaking on Tuesday before the House Appropriations State and Foreign Operations Subcommittee, Haley was asked about the move by the US in February to oppose the appointment of former Palestinian Authority prime minister Salam Fayyad to be the new world body envoy to Libya. “Ron Dermer, Israel’s Ambassador to the US, called Mr. Fayyad a peace partner,” Representative David Price (D-NC) was quoted by the Jewish Insider as saying during the hearing. “Was Mr. Fayyad denied simply because of his nationality? Would any Palestinian have been blocked? As you know, this isn’t a state representative.” Haley said that while Fayyad was while Fayyad was “very well qualified and is a good, decent person,” the decision was based on the fact “that the US does not recognize Palestine… and because that is how he was presented, we did oppose that position.”….
This ruling allows councils to boycott Israel. It’s a crucial victory
The Guardian 26 June by Ben Jamal — The Palestine Solidarity Campaign’s judicial review is a win for the rule of law, meaning action can be taken against Israel for its violations of international law — Two weeks ago I found myself in a sweaty room in the Royal Courts of Justice, packed with fellow Palestine activists, listening to detailed and sometimes arcane legal arguments about pension law. The journey that ended in that courtroom began in September last year when the government announced new guidance intended to prohibit local government pension schemes from pursuing “divestment and sanctions against foreign nations and UK defence industries … other than where formal legal sanctions, embargoes and restrictions have been put in place by the government”. The key target of these new rules was made clear in the government press release about the decision. This was the government acting to place a ban on boycotting Israel. The regulations were introduced in November 2016 despite a public consultation indicating that 98% of respondents thought this was the wrong thing to do, and a wider public outcry. The Palestine Solidarity Campaign, of which I’m the director, decided to take the government on. We launched a judicial review supported with witness statements from War on Want, Campaign Against the Arms Trade and the Quakers. Finally, on 22 June, we got the verdict – we won!….
Palestinian event in London faces ban over Hamas links
The Guardian 25 June by Ewen MacAskill — One of the biggest Palestinian events in Europe scheduled to start in less than a fortnight is in doubt after intervention by the British government. Palestinian Expo, which includes political discussions, concerts, comedy acts, workshops, a food court and other events, is scheduled to run at the QE2 centre in London on the weekend of 8 and 9 July. The organisers are expecting the event to attract about 10,000 people. But the Department for Communities and Local Government, which is responsible for the QE2 Centre, wrote to the organisers on 14 June saying the secretary of state, Sajid Javid, was minded to terminate the contract. The letter cited “concerns that your organisation and those connected with it have expressed public support for a proscribed organisation, namely Hamas, and that you have supported events at which Hamas and Hizballah – also proscribed – have been praised”. The organisers, Friends of Al-Aqsa, wrote to the department complaining about the proposed ban. The department promised a decision by Friday. But on Friday, with just a fortnight to the opening, the department expressed regret that a decision had not yet been made….