Billionaire Haim Saban, major Democratic donor, backs bill slashing funds to Palestinian Authority
WASHINGTON (JTA) 20 June by Ron Kampeas — Haim Saban, a major donor to the Democratic Party, is backing a bill that would slash funding to the Palestinian Authority unless it stops payments to Palestinians jailed for attacks on Israelis. The participation of the Israeli-American entertainment mogul in the initiative of the lobbying affiliate of the Israeli-American Council is significant because Democrats until now have been reluctant to back the bill as it stands. A statement Monday evening from the Israeli-American Coalition for Action said the campaign to pass the Taylor Force Act will draw on a “nationwide grassroots network of activists” and on the IAC’s “relationships with prominent Israeli-Americans and Jewish-Americans, including Sheldon Adelson, Shawn Evenhaim, Haim Saban and Adam Milstein — who have advocated for the legislation with lawmakers on both sides of the aisle.” Taylor Force was an American killed last year in a stabbing attack in Tel Aviv. Two bills, in the Senate and the U.S. House of Representatives, until recently have had almost solely Republican backing. However, Democrats in Congress have suggested in recent days that they may back the measure … The bill would cut all U.S. funding to the Palestinian Authority except that earmarked for the Palestinian police, some $60 million in 2013, a fraction of the approximately $500 million Palestinians have received annually from the United States….
Other news and opinion
Dutch-Palestinian begins civil proceedings against ex-IDF chief of staff over Gaza family’s death
Haaretz 21 June by Amira Hass — Ismail Ziada lost six relatives when Israeli jets bombed family home, claiming that it was serving as an active command and control center for Hamas — …A preliminary notice of liability was sent Tuesday to the commander of the air force, Amir Eshel, and the chief of staff at the time, Benny Gantz. The notice, notified the officers of the intention of Ismail Ziada, a Dutch citizen, sue over the deaths of his mother Muftiah, 70, three of his siblings – Jamil, Yousef and Omar, Jamil’s wife Bayan and their 12 year old son Shaban, when a bomb struck their house in the al-Bureij refugee camp on July 20, 2014. The notice was sent by email to the Defense Ministry and by courier to the Israeli embassy in the Hague. The proceedings were also reported in an investigative television program on public Dutch broadcasting, which aired a segment on the Ziada family … Financial compensation is not the goal here, Zegveld told Haaretz, but the law requires a material expression of damage for a law suit to be filed. Their working assumption, she said, is that neither officer will acknowledge their responsibility. The next stage will be to summon them to appear before a civilian court in the Netherlands. The writ of summons will be accompanied by a description of the case, more detailed than that of the notice of reliability. It will also address and challenge the announcement of the Military Advocate General (MAG) about closing the case of the bomb raid in which the Ziada family was killed….
Abbas dispels rumors of stroke in rare West Bank meet-greet
RAMALLAH, Palestinian Territory (AP) 21 June — Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has mingled with ordinary Palestinians in a rare trip outside his West Bank headquarters in an apparent attempt to dispel rumours that he suffered a stroke. The 82-year-old walked in the centre of the city of Ramallah from 11:30 p.m. Tuesday until after midnight, greeting passers-by, holding a baby and sitting in a cafe. The outing was broadcast live on Palestine TV. Earlier Tuesday, persistent rumours had circulated about Abbas having suffered a stroke. The Palestinian leader, a smoker, has suffered heart problems in the past, but his doctors have said he is fine. Abbas frequently travels abroad to win support for the Palestinian quest for statehood, but rarely ventures out of his Ramallah compound when he is in the West Bank.
Abbas spokesman joins top Fatah committee
Al-Monitor 21 June by Daoud Kuttab — Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat insisted on a quota system for Christians, and the Palestinian leadership has gone out of its way to ensure that this community is represented at all levels of Palestinian society and on the political scene — The appointment of Nabil Abu Rudeineh in a unanimous vote June 19 as a member of the ruling Fatah Central Committee is the latest sign of the unique relationship between Fatah and Palestinian Christians. Abu Rudeineh, a Christian Palestinian from Bethlehem, has been the official spokesman for the Palestinian presidency since the days of President Yasser Arafat. Afif Safieh, a member of the Fatah Revolutionary Council since 2009 and a former ambassador to Moscow, London, Washington and the Holy See, told Al-Monitor that President Mahmoud Abbas has followed in the steps of Arafat on this issue. “Since the days of Arafat, the Fatah movement was always keen to ensure a significant and visible Christian Palestinian participation in all levels of society.” Safieh, a Palestinian Christian from Jerusalem, was very supportive of the decision. “It was an obvious choice and I fully endorse it,” he said. Safieh noted that there were always at least two Christians in the Executive Committee of the PLO, always at least two Christians in all the successive Palestinian governments and a minimum quota representation in the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC). An elected member of the Revolutionary Council since 2009, Safieh said that Fatah congresses elected four and five Christian members respectively for the movement’s Revolutionary Council in 2009 and 2016, while 10% of ambassadors are Christians — Arafat took the bold decision that all cities and villages that had a Christian significance presence will have a Christian mayor in spite of the demographic changes that have occurred in recent decades….
Complementary local elections will be held in 15 West Bank localities out of 70
RAMALLAH (WAFA) 20 June – The Central Elections Commission (CEC) said Tuesday that the preliminary register of electoral lists and candidates for the upcoming complementary local elections showed that elections will take place in only 15 West Bank localities out of 70 that had failed to participate in the May 13 local council elections. It said that the 15 localities had more than one nominated list and therefore they will hold elections set for July 29. Electoral lists in 18 other localities are expected to win by acclamation due to having only one nominated list in each, said the CEC. Elections, meanwhile, will not take place in 36 localities since no lists were nominated and in another locality for incomplete nomination, it added. As a result, the government is expected to appoint councils to run these localities….
Number of Palestinian refugees multiplied by six times after 70 years of dispersion — statistics
RAMALLAH (WAFA) 20 June – Almost 70 years since the Nakba, the Palestinian uprooting and forceful expulsion from their home and country following the creation of Israel, the number of displaced Palestinians who became refugees has increased by six times, the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics (PCBS) said in a report published Tuesday on the occasion of the International Day of Refugees. It said that the 1948 Nakba (catastrophe) has led to the expulsion and displacement of about 957,000 Palestinian Arabs, representing 66.0% of the total Palestinians who were living in historic Palestine on the eve of the 1948 war. The United Nations gave two different estimates on the number of refugees, one released in 1949 and put the number at 726,000 and the second released in 1950 and put the number at 957,000 refugees.
Latest figures by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) indicated that by 2016, almost 70 years since the Nakba, the number of registered Palestinian refugees amounted up to about 5.9 million and these figures represented the minimum number of Palestinian refugees, said the PCBS. Palestinian refugees in the West Bank who are registered with UNRWA as of 2016 accounted up to 17% of the total refugees registered with UNRWA against 24.5% in Gaza Strip.
At the level of the Arab countries, the percentage of Palestinian refugees registered with UNRWA in Jordan, amounted to 39.1% of the total Palestinian refugees while the percentage of Palestinian refugees registered with UNRWA in Lebanon and Syria reached 8.8% and 10.6% respectively.
According to the date, the percentage of the population of refugees in State of Palestine in 2016 is estimated at 41.5% of the total Palestinian population living in State of Palestine, and data indicated that 26.2% of the population in the West Bank are refugees, while the percentage of refugees in Gaza Strip is 65.3%…
The total fertility rate for the period (2008-2009) in State of Palestine amounted 4.4 births, broken down into 4.4 births among refugee women while these rates among non-refugee reached 4.3 births….
Space to play: Summer in Jenin Refugee Camp
IMEMC/Agencies 21 June — As summer begins in Jenin refugee camp, 15-year-old Maiysa Zawaydeh is wary of the coming months. “Unfortunately, there is no safe place to play in the camp,” Maiysa told Defense for Children International – Palestine. With no public gardens and only one playground, Maiysa says, “I spend most of my time in the house trying as much as possible to distract myself.” The 15-year-old twists a watch around her wrist, soft-spoken as she details her life in the camp. Born in 2002 amid the turmoil of the second Intifada, or uprising, Maiysa is part of the third generation to grow up in what was intended to be a temporary emergency living space nearly seven decades ago. She has spent most of her life in a two-bedroom home crowded with six children and three adults, all descendants of her grandparents who were forcibly displaced from the town of Ramle during the establishment of Israel in 1948. Their hometown has been under Israeli sovereignty since, less than 65 miles southwest of where Maiysa lives today. Israeli law prevents her family from returning. The absence of a political solution to their displacement packs them alongside an estimated 14,000 refugees who now live within a 0.42 square kilometer (0.16 square mile) plot of land in the northern West Bank. The camp was initially established in 1953 to accommodate Palestinians expelled from more than 50 villages, numbering 8,450 before March 1967, according to the United Nations Relief and Work Agency (UNWRA). In 1967, Israel seized the West Bank, including Jenin refugee camp and East Jerusalem, adding frequent Israeli military raids to the camp’s troubles. Overcrowding and fifty years of Israeli military occupation, as well as the now-frequent Palestinian security forces’ raids, have negatively impacted the available spaces for play. When schools let out for the summer, children spend their time between camp spaces that are either too cramped or too dangerous for play. With one of the highest unemployment rates in the West Bank, indoor spaces in the summer often include unemployed adults sharing small quarters with out-of-school children and youths … Farha Abu Hijja, who runs a center for refugee women and children, told DCIP that a lack of safe public play spaces for children has detrimental impacts on their ability to cope with trauma induced by Israel’s military presence in the camp. “The situation is exacerbated by the night raids carried out by the Israeli occupation army, which includes shootings and blowing up doors, causing great fear among children,” Abu Hijja told DCIP….
Listen: Tribute to Palestinian mothers
EI 21 June by Haidar Eid — In May 2005, Amna Abdulla Eid passed away. She was Ummi, my mother. May is the month when all Palestinians, in Palestine and in the diaspora, commemorate the Nakba – the ethnic cleansing of Palestine. Amna, known as Um Marwan, became a refugee in 1948, after being forcibly removed with the rest of the ethnically cleansed population from the village of Zarnouqa, in Palestine’s Ramla District. My father took her in a lorry, along with the rest of the Eid clan, to Deir al Balah, in Gaza, for what they thought would be a short while. In 1949 they moved to Gaza City, then from 1950-52 to Nuseirat refugee camp where I was born, then back to Gaza City in 1969, then to Nuseirat again in 1994 where they both died four months apart in 2005. I was not there with them in their last years, nor was I able to attend their funerals. Israeli occupation forces were in control of the Rafah crossing on the border with Egypt, the only access point Gaza has to the external world. Israel had no intention of allowing Gazans working abroad to return, not even for a funeral. So when Hafez Eid, my father, died in January 2005, I could not go to Gaza to say a last goodbye. My mother Amna, being the ever loyal wife, could not let him, her zalameh (man), return alone to Zarnouqa. She decided to follow him in May 2005, and again I was not allowed to say a final goodbye … Amna Abdulla Eid is temporarily buried in Gaza until we finally return to Zarnouqa. This song is a tribute to her and to all Palestinian mothers enduring Israeli occupation, apartheid and colonization. Listen to it in the player above. Lyrics by Abdurrahman Al-Abnudi, performed by Haidar Eid.
Palestinian courts take a break from divorce during Ramadan
RAMALLAH (Al-Monitor) 18 June by Aziza Nofal — Iman Basel, 25, is waiting for Ramadan to be over so she can file for divorce at an Islamic court in Nablus. Basel, who requested that Al-Monitor not use her real name, has not been able to file for divorce since a Palestinian judge banned such proceedings from taking place during Ramadan. On May 28, the head of Palestinian Islamic courts, Mahmoud al-Habash, told judges in the West Bank not to grant divorces over Ramadan unless necessary. The order did not apply to judges in the Gaza Strip due to the divided state of the Palestinian government. In urgent cases, Habash asked judges to base their decisions on the reports of the Department of Family Counseling and Reform. Habash based his order on experiences from previous years, during which he said the divorce rate increased over Ramadan due to hasty decisions made by individuals who were fasting and not thinking clearly. No official statistics of divorce rates in Palestine during Ramadan exist. Basel’s family in Nablus had hoped that the month of Ramadan would provide a sufficient amount of time for the couple to reconsider their decision to divorce … Dozens of other families in the West Bank were surprised to find out that they couldn’t file for divorce during Ramadan. Mohannad Abu Rumi, a judge in a Hebron court, told Al-Monitor that several married couples have been given second chances to assess their decisions and protect their families from disintegration. According to Abu Rumi, Muslims undergo harsh psychological and physical conditions during the month of Ramadan. They fast for long periods, sleep fewer hours, and this can increase marital disputes, possibly prompting many to rashly opt for a divorce. “In Islamic courts, we believe that families should be maintained and protected from the hastiness of fasting people,” Abu Rumi said….
Meet the female Arab DJs setting the West Bank free
Haaretz 20 June by Shakked Auerback & Bar Peleg — Palestinian policemen and woofers that shook the parking lot greeted us at the entrance to Solomon’s Pools, in the town of Al-Khader, near Bethlehem. Hundreds of people had gathered at the West Bank archaeological site to see the “Best DJ in Palestine” contest. Eight DJs – seven men and one woman – were competing for the title on that Friday night in April. A bar covered in blinking lights sold Palestinian beer for five shekels ($1.40) and there was a particularly long line of people waiting for a draft of Shepherds, brewed in Ramallah. At one point excited American tourists burst into a surprising breakdance, to laughter and cheers in Arabic from the crowd. For our part, we maintained our anonymity; those around us didn’t know we were Israelis. Each contestant represented a city: Bethlehem, Jerusalem, Haifa, Ramallah, Nazareth, Nablus. The Green Line is apparently irrelevant when it comes to some aspects of Palestinian cultural life. “Vote contractors” worked the crowd, trying to persuade people to vote for their preferred contestant. One of our friends, Mousa, from the town of Husan outside Bethlehem, insisted that we vote for Yasmine Eve Kheshiboun, “the only female DJ in Palestine.” Kheshiboun’s efforts and the outpouring of love she got from the audience did not prevail, however; the winner was the first contestant, Mike Massad. But Kheshiboun attracted our attention in a way the others didn’t. The 27-year-old DJ, who’s just starting her career, is a native of Nazareth, where she owns the Tree House bar. Over the last year, Tree House has attracted a number of young DJs who come to practice their art in front of an audience. Kheshiboun, who lived in Florida from age 13 to 23, shuns self-definitions, refusing to be locked into the community to which she ostensibly belongs. “If someone asks me, I’m first of all a human being,” she said during an interview at her bar, a week after the competition. “My mother is American; my father was born in Kafr Kana [in the Galilee] and was educated in Nazareth, which is ultimately an Arab Palestinian city … Contrary to what some of those at the DJ competition told us, Kheshiboun isn’t the only female Palestinian DJ in Israel. The first woman to break into the limelight was Sana Jammelieh, one of the stars of the recent film “In Between,” by director Maysaloun Hamoud. Jammelieh, 30, played a DJ in the movie, portraying for the first time on the silver screen the multilayered character of a Palestinian lesbian….
Economy minister postpones relief measures for Palestinians
Ynet 21 June by Itamar Eichner — Economy Minister Eli Cohen has decided to postpone a series of relief measures to the Palestinians because the Palestinian Authority failed to officially condemn a terror attack Friday that claimed the life of Border Policewoman Hadas Malka. Cohen also decided to cancel a meeting scheduled for Tuesday with his counterpart, Palestinian Economy Minister Abeer Odeh, which would have been the first meeting between the two. Cohen’s meeting with Odeh was to follow up on talks started by Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon with his Palestinian counterpart, PA Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah and several other Palestinian ministers. During the meeting with Odeh, Cohen planned to announce to the Palestinian minister a series of relief measures, including: increasing import quotas, easing the process of standards approval with the Standards Institution of Israel, easing the import and export of goods at the ports, and more.
Israeli soldiers harass students on US campus
EI 16 June by Charlotte Silver — A video still shows a man wearing a Palestinian scarf and a T-shirt with Arabic. He was part of a group of Israeli soldiers harassing students at UC Irvine in May — University of California, Irvine is once again investigating the school’s Students for Justice in Palestine group after a protest of an event featuring Israeli soldiers last month. But members of Students for Justice in Palestine say they are the ones who endured days of harassment and intimidation by Israeli soldiers invited to campus to give a panel discussion about the Israeli army. The SJP students say they were subjected to days of racial and sexual slurs in what they believe was an attempt to provoke a reaction. UC Irvine has been a focal point for Israel advocacy groups seeking to categorize support for Palestinian rights as anti-Semitic …Six people, including at least five soldiers from Reservists on Duty first appeared on the UC Irvine campus on 8 May, the kick-off day of Anti-Zionism Week … On the first day, two of the soldiers carried Israeli flags and wore shirts identifying their support for the Israeli army, while the others disguised their intent: at least one person wore a traditional Palestinian checkered scarf, while others claimed to be from Palestinian cities and attempted to speak with the students in Arabic. Some feigned naivety about the issue, while secretly recording responses. This tactic is reminiscent of Israeli soldiers who dress up as Palestinians – so-called mistaravim – in order to act as provocateurs at demonstrations or to carry out extrajudicial executions in the occupied West Bank … Dean of students Rameen Talesh was one of the administrators present during the week’s activities, according to Carnie and Alazzah. Carnie told The Electronic Intifada that students asked Talesh to stop Reservists on Duty from harassing them, but Talesh said there was nothing he could do. But advocates for the students say that the accumulation of racist speech and harassing behavior created an environment of intimidation that was grounds for the school to intervene. “Here, there was overwhelming evidence that foreign military agents engaged in sustained harassment of Palestinian students, and other students of color perceived to be allies of Palestinian students,” Palestine Legal’s Jackson wrote to Chancellor Gillman. Jackson alleges that the school violated its obligations under Title VI of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, as well as its own policies, by standing by passively: “Administrators cannot act with deliberate indifference to a hostile climate of severe or pervasive harassment targeting students based on their race or national origin.”….
Book Review: Writers detail Israeli occupation of West Bank in new book
JERUSALEM (AP) 21 June by Ilan Ban Zion — A group of renowned authors has published a collection of essays about Israel’s occupation of the West Bank, hoping their grim firsthand perspectives will draw attention to what they say is an unsustainable situation that is harmful to Israelis and Palestinians alike. Through the eyes of novelists and nonfiction writers, “Kingdom of Olives and Ash” highlights the day-to-day struggles of Palestinians living under Israeli control and the collective trauma inflicted upon both peoples. The 26 authors involved in the project include Pulitzer Prize-winners Michael Chabon and Geraldine Brooks, celebrated Irish writer Colm Tóibín and Peruvian Nobel Prize laureate Mario Vargas Llosa. Chabon and his wife, American-Israeli author Ayelet Waldman, also edited the volume. The writers visited the West Bank and the Gaza Strip last year to bear witness “in vivid and clear language” to the reality for Palestinians after 50 years of Israeli occupation. Gaza, from where Israel withdrew its settlers and troops in 2005, is now controlled by Hamas militants. The essays describe the segregated city of Hebron, the vibrant nightlife in Gaza City, the hardships of businessmen in Ramallah, and the frustration of young Palestinians who carried out a stabbing attack that wounded two Israelis in 2015. “They came with relatively few preconceptions,” Chabon said. “They saw for themselves and they got to talk to people on the ground.” … Chabon, in his essay “Giant in a Cage,” describes traveling from Ramallah to the northern West Bank city of Nablus with a Palestinian-American businessman. He talks of witnessing firsthand the seemingly arbitrary nature of Israel’s military control over Palestinian lives — from checkpoints and permits to resource allocation and settlement construction. “I was embarrassed and ashamed, both by my ignorance before seeing it and also that such things are being done with my money as an American taxpayer and in my name as a Jew,” he said….
Opinion: Only Israelis, not Palestinians, are entitled to mourn their dead / Gideon Levy
Haaretz 22 June — …A single line passes between the death and bereavement ritual for the Israeli dead and the display of indifference, inhumanity and gloating over the other nation’s dead – a line of dehumanization. Israel, which collectively grieves for a slain border policewoman, ignores, curses or rejoices in view of the no-less-brutal killing of a Palestinian teenager wielding a screwdriver. Nobody expects Israel to mourn the death of a Palestinian like the death of one of its own people. It’s only human to feel closest to your own. What isn’t human is the unthinkable gap between the radical death ritual over slain Israelis and the radical insensitivity regarding slain Palestinians.
Opinion: What really happens in the world’s most moral army / Eyal Harel
Haaretz 19 June — As a proud Israeli leftist who believes in the two-state solution, I should have been a compassionate soldier in Gaza and the West Bank. But this is a story about the corrupting effect of limitless power — …I got my slap in the face from the most innocent place. It was a night ambush near the settlement of Efrat, on the bend of a dark and pretty scary road. Without signaling and without warning, we four cowboys, armed to the teeth, jumped on the next victim. It was a battered yellow Fiat 500 traveling to the nearby village. The passengers were a father, mother and two small children, all of them terrified. They had good reason to be scared. I could have slapped them. I could have punched them. I could have told them to run to the turn and come back. I could have detained them for hours in the middle of the night. I could have shot them. No one would have questioned my judgment. I had the ultimate power. And it felt great. It felt like a computer game in which I couldn’t lose. And then, as the family was standing aside, trembling with fear, waiting for us to take their car apart, my attention was caught by the little girl. She was probably 5, the same age my youngest son is now. She was pulling her father’s pants leg and trying to tell him something, but he wasn’t listening. He was clearly terrified … It turned out she needed to pee. She wanted her father to take her to pee, but he was too scared to move or even say anything. This was the exact moment when reality bit me hard. For the first time in my adult life as a proud Zionist, reserve officer, one who voted for the left and supported a Palestinian state, I realized that in that place, in that second, the fate of an entire family that was only trying to get home safely was in my hands; that I could show them mercy or the whip. Me. And I was frightened. Suddenly, I realized the unlimited power I had. There were no checks, no balances, no controls. I could do as I pleased.…
Violence / Detentions — West Bank / Jerusalem
Family rejects Israeli narrative of Palestinian killed at checkpoint as father is detained
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 21 June — Hours after a 23-year-old Palestinian man was shot dead near Israel’s Qalandiya military crossing in the central occupied West Bank early Tuesday evening, Israeli forces raided his hometown and detained his father, with the family rejecting the Israeli claim that their son was attempting to stab Israeli soldiers when he was killed. The Israeli army said at the time of Bahaa Imad Samir al-Hirbawi’s killing that he was attempting to carry out a knife attack on Israeli forces who were conducting out a “routine check” at the Jabaa military checkpoint. “In response to the immediate threat, forces fired towards the attacker and a hit was confirmed,” the spokesperson told Ma’an, and acknowledged, after being asked for clarification, that the man was in fact killed. No Israelis were injured.
Later Tuesday evening, 10 Israeli military vehicles raided Bahaa’s home town of al-Eizariya, surrounded the area around his house, and detained his father Imad al-Hirbawi. taking him for interrogation at the illegal Israeli settlement Maale Adummim, spokesperson of the local popular resistance committees in Hani Halabiya said … Members of the family said that Bahaa left home Tuesday afternoon after getting off of work, and said he was going to Ramallah city to shop and visit his brother who lives in there. They told Ma‘an they were “shocked” by the news of Bahaa’s killing and denounced Israel’s version of events as “false claims.” Relatives cited eyewitness accounts as saying that Israeli forces stopped Bahaa at the Jabaa checkpoint on his way back home from Ramallah and surrounded him. After that, “nobody knows what happened,” they said. The family said they first heard of Bahaa’s death through social media posts and were officially informed by the Palestinian liaison sometime later. Bahaa was the oldest sibling of ten. He worked with his father as a plumber, and was the second primary supporter of the family. Family members said Bahaa had never been detained before for any reason and had no political affiliation.
Al-Hirbawi was the 34th Palestinian to have been killed by Israelis since the beginning of the year, according to Ma’an documentation. In the same time, eight Israelis have been killed by Palestinians.
Israeli forces detain mother of 18-year-old Palestinian slain in Jerusalem
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 21 June — As Israeli forces continued to enforce a fierce security crackdown following a deadly attack in occupied East Jerusalem last week that saw three Palestinian assailants shot dead at the scene, Israeli forces detained the mother of one of the slain Palestinians as well as a man suspected of transporting the three young men that day.
After it was revealed that the three alleged assailants — Baraa Ibrahim Saleh, 18, Adel Hassan Ahmad Ankoush, 18, and Usama Ahmad Ata, 19 — were from the occupied West Bank village of Deir Abu Mashaal, the town was subsequently placed under lockdown, and has been subjected to multiple military raids since. The initial military raid sparked clashes that saw Israeli soldiers shoot and injure two locals, as Israeli forces took measurements of the homes of the three slain Palestinians to prepare to punitively demolish them. According to the Palestinian Center for Human Rights, a total of 22 people, the three men’s family members, will be left homeless by the punitive demolitions in spite of not having been charged with any wrongdoing.
However, Israeli police have now claimed that Adel Anoush’s mother Zeinab “is suspected to be a supporter of a terrorist group and suspected for planning to conduct a crime,” according to police spokeswoman Luba al-Samri … Muhammad Mahmoud, an attorney from the Palestinian Committee of Prisoners’ Affairs, said that Israeli forces detained Zeinab Ankoush after raiding her home in Deir Abu Mashaal and transferred her for interrogation at the Russian compound detention center in Jerusalem … Al-Samri said that Israeli police had also “recently” detained a Palestinian from the occupied East Jerusalem neighborhood of al-‘Issawiya, “who is suspected to have transferred the terrorists to the area.” “Investigations are still ongoing to uncover if he knew (the assailants’) intentions and if he did, why he did not prevented them (from carrying out the attack),” she said. The two suspects, Zeinab and the unidentified driver, will be brought before an Israeli court where police will request to extend their detention, she added.
Israeli army vehicle torched during clashes in Hebron-area village
HEBRON (Ma‘an) 20 June — Clashes erupted between Israeli forces and Palestinian residents in the village of Sair in the southern occupied West Bank district of Hebron on Monday night, during which an Israeli military vehicle was set on fire. Locals told Ma‘an that the clashes broke out when Israeli troops carried out a raid in the neighborhood of al-Duwara, although no detentions were reported.
Round up: Israeli forces detain 17 Palestinians in West Bank raids
RAMALLAH (WAFA) 20 June – Israeli forces Tuesday detained 17 Palestinians, including a teenager, during military raids into various West Bank districts, said the Palestinian Prisoner’s Society (PPS). PPS said forces detained four Palestinians in the village of Jiftlik, in Jericho, in addition to four others, including a teenager and an ex-detainee, in Tulkarem governorate. Three Palestinians, including two aged 19, were detained after forces raided and searched their family homes in the Hebron area. In the Jenin area, Israeli soldiers detained a 22-year-old youth after raiding and searching his family home in the town of Kufr Ra‘i to the south of Jenin. Forces also detained three Palestinians from the Jenin area at a number of military checkpoints erected by the Israeli army. In Bethlehem, the army detained two youths after raiding and searching their family homes in the town of al-Khader, to the south, and the village of Husan to the west.
Israeli forces detain 16 Palestinians in West Bank raids
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 21 June — Israeli forces detained at least 16 Palestinians in raids across the occupied Palestinian territory between Tuesday night and Wednesday morning, notably targeting the parents of Palestinian men killed by Israeli forces this week in two separate incidents. According to a statement from the Palestinian Prisoner’s Society (PPS), in the southernmost occupied West Bank district of Hebron, Israeli forces detained 20-year-old Muhammad Ashraf Alqam and Samir Zuheir Ikhlayyil. An Israeli army spokesperson confirmed the detentions and said they were carried out in the town of Beit Ummar. According to Israeli media, the raid into Beit Ummar sparked clashes with locals, and an Israeli soldier was lightly injured by a thrown rock.
In the southern Bethlehem district, Israeli forces detained Ahmad Ata al-Hreimi, Ayyub Yaqub al-Asa, and Ayyub Ibrahim Hamamrah. An Israeli army spokesperson confirmed three Bethlehem-area detentions, saying one was made in Bethlehem city, one in al-‘Ubeidiya, and another in the village of Husan.
PPS said that five Palestinians were detained in the central occupied West Bank district of Ramallah. Zeinab Ankoush, 46, was detained in the village of Deir Abu Mashaal. Ankoush is the mother of one of three Palestinians who were shot dead last week after carrying out a deadly attack in occupied East Jerusalem. Israeli police spokeswoman Luba al-Samri claimed that Zeinab “is suspected to be a supporter of a terrorist group and suspected for planning to conduct a crime.” Meanwhile, in Ramallah area village of Silwad, PPS said that four Palestinians were detained, identified as Khalid Muhammad Ata, Ibrahim Rasim Faris, Abd al-Aziz Muhammad Hammad, and Jihad Samir Hammad. Israeli army spokesperson made no mention of detentions in Silwad, but said that one Palestinian was detained in al-Mughayyir in the eastern outskirts of the Ramallah district.
The Israeli army also said two Palestinians were detained in the central West Bank city of Salfit, identified by PPS as as Humam Aziz Fattash and Osama Riziq Fattash. Israeli forces also raided the Jerusalem district town of al-‘Eizariya and detained Imad al-Hirbawi, hours after his 23-year-old son Bahaa al-Hirbawi was shot dead near Israel’s Qalandiya military crossing, when the Israeli army claimed he was attempting to stab Israeli soldiers.
In the northern occupied West Bank, PPS said that Israeli forces detained 46-year-old Said Hussein Ishteiwi in Tulkarem and 24-year-old Bilal Fawwaz Yadak in Nablus.
Israeli police arrest Israeli man for ‘racially motivated’ assault of Palestinian
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 21 June — Israeli police are investigating an assault by an Israeli against a Palestinian resident of the Wadi Qaddum neighborhood of occupied East Jerusalem that took place last weekend, Israeli police spokeswoman Luba al-Samri said in a statement Wednesday. According to al-Samri, the attack took place on an unspecified date over the weekend at a gas station in southern Jerusalem city. Police were alerted to a scuffle between two young men, and when they arrived, found the Palestinian with minor wounds, while the Israeli suspect had fled the scene. “Investigations have so far revealed that the Palestinian, aged 25, was at the gas station with a 19-year-old Jewish girl when a Jewish young man stopped his car and approached him asking if he was Arab,” al-Samri’s statement said. When the Palestinian answered “yes,” the Israeli man started to violently beat the Palestinian, bruising him and causing other unspecified minor injuries. Israeli police arrested the Israeli suspect on June 18, along with another suspect who was with him the day of the attack. Police are still investigating to what extent the second suspect was involved in the assault, al-Samri said. Al-Samri added that the main suspect is being charged with committing a “racially motivated” attack. While it remains to be seen if the suspect will be indicted for the assault, Israeli authorities have long been accused of fostering a “culture of impunity” for Israelis committing violent acts against Palestinians.
3 Israeli extremists arrested for intention to carry out ‘price tag’ attacks on Palestinians
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 21 June — An Israeli magistrate’s court in Jerusalem has extended the remand of an 18-year-old Israeli who was arrested on Sunday for being suspected of attempting to carry out a “price tag” attack — a term used by right-wing extremist settlers to refer to the attacks they carry out on Palestinians and their property. Israeli police spokeswoman Luba al-Samri said in a statement in Arabic on Wednesday that the 18-year-old was arrested along with two other “extreme right-wing activists,” aged 16 and 17, on Bar Lev street in Jerusalem, wearing hats and head covers “that they seemingly planned to use as masks.” The three, residents of the illegal Israeli Binyamin settlement and the Jerusalem area, also had spray-paint canisters and a “sharp tool” in their possession. “It seems they were planning to puncture car tires and spray paint hate slogans,” on Palestinian property, al-Samri said. On Wednesday, in addition to extending the remand of the 18-year-old suspect, Israel’s Jerusalem district attorney “submitted a statement in preparation to indict him.” The other two suspects were released and sentenced to house arrest for an unspecified time period, on account that they are minors, according to al-Samri. By contrast, Palestinian minors are routinely detained, tried, and sentenced as adults for offenses such as throwing rocks.
Report: Israeli army accelerating extensive surveillance network across West Bank
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 19 June — Israeli news daily Haaretz published a report Sunday night, detailing the extensive network of surveillance cameras and “other monitoring devices” that the Israeli army has set up across the occupied Palestinian territory, boasting of the network’s effectiveness in “deterring attacks” on Israeli citizens and Israeli forces. According to Haaretz, the army accelerated the program over the past year, with more than 1,700 surveillance cameras already installed on roads, intersections, and in illegal settlements across the West Bank. “The army believes more cameras deter terror attacks and can aid in gathering intelligence that can help to capture perpetrators,” Haaretz said, adding that “the improved signals intelligence capabilities of the Shin Bet security service and Military Intelligence were an important component in Israel’s response to attacks by terror cells affiliated with Hamas, Fatah, and Islamic Jihad,” during the Second Intifada. “Today’s challenges, however, are different. Most terror attacks are carried out by ‘lone wolves,’ acting without the backing of an organization, or by small, independent local cells. This development has made visual intelligence technology a more significant part of the Israeli defense program,” Haaretz — generally considered Israel’s most left-leaning newspaper — said … At sites where several attacks have occurred, like the Gush Etzion junction in the southern West Bank district of Bethlehem, cameras have been installed that provide 360-degree coverage. Along Route 443 from Jerusalem to the central Israeli city of Modiin, “an operations room has been set up that collects data from many cameras in an effort to reduce the number of stone-throwing and firebomb attacks on this major artery,” Haaretz said, adding that the army has boasted a drop in the number of “attacks” along the road in recent months….
Prisoners / Court actions
Lawyer: Eid holidays especially difficult time for Palestinian mothers in Israeli prison
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 21 June — Fifty-four Palestinian women are currently held as prisoners in Israeli jails, according to a statement from a lawyer from the Palestinian Committee of Prisoner’s Affairs. Lawyer Hanan al-Khatib said on Wednesday that the 56 prisoners — 13 of whom are mothers and 10 who are minors — “are going through very difficult living, humanitarian and health conditions.” Al-Khatib said that their suffering “increases as holidays come and go, with mother prisoners still behind Israeli bars away from their children,” referring to the upcoming Ead al-Fitr holiday, marking the end of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.
Al-Khatib highlighted the case of Sabah Muhammad Faroun, from the al-Eizariya town of the central occupied West Bank district of Jerusalem, who has entered her second year in administrative detention – Israel’s widely condemned policy of internment without charge or trial — for alleged incitement over social media. Faroun was supposed to be released on Friday June 22nd, however, Israeli authorities renewed her administrative detention for another three months, keeping her away from her four children for another holiday. As of May, 6,200 Palestinians were being held in Israeli prison, 490 of whom are being held under administrative detention.
Israeli Supreme Court sets date to rule on plea deal for Nadim Nuwara’s killer
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 19 June — Relatives of a Palestinian teenager shot and killed by an Israeli border police officer in 2014 said on Sunday that an Israeli Supreme Court hearing date was set to appeal the sentence levied against the officer in the case. A plea deal reached in December saw border police unit commander Ben Dery admit to “mistakenly” firing a live bullet at 17-year-old Nadim Siyam Nuwara during a rally marking the 66th anniversary of the Nakba in May 2014 outside of the Ofer detention center in the central occupied West Bank, hitting Nadim in the back and killing him. Another teenager, 15-year-old Muhammad Odeh Abu al-Thahir, was also killed during the same 2014 protest. Both Nuwara and Abu al-Thahir’s deaths were captured on video, showing that they did not constitute a threat at the time of their deaths.
As a result of the plea deal, Dery was only convicted of negligent death and aggravated assault, as part of a new indictment in which Dery’s lawyers, who work with the Honenu organization providing legal protection to Israeli right-wing extremists, argued that a live bullet accidentally fell in Dery’s firearm’s magazine instead of a rubber-coated steel bullet. Nadim’s father, Siyam Nuwara, said that the Israeli Supreme Court would issue a final ruling on the case on Sept. 27, after the Nuwara family appealed the plea deal. Nuwara has repeatedly denounced the agreement between the prosecution and the defense, rejecting the claim that Dery accidentally shot his son with a live bullet, and accusing Dery of covering up his actions … According to Defense for Children International – Palestine (DCIP), Dery’s trial, which has dragged on for more than two years, witnessed around 50 delayed and cancelled hearings.
Border Policewoman convicted of assaulting Palestinian detainee
Ynet 21 June by Yael Friedson — A Border Policewoman was convicted Wednesday of assaulting a 15-year-old Palestinian detainee from east Jerusalem in February. However, the officer, Yasmin Kontenta, was acquitted of charges of abuse, fraud and breach of trust. According to the indictment, the young Palestinian woman was brought to the police station handcuffed and blindfolded. Kontenta tried to take a selfie photo with her—unlawfully and without the detainee’s consent—but was stopped by one of the other police officers at the station. Afterwards, Kontenta allegedly ordered the young Palestinian woman to get up, and when the detainee had difficulties doing so because she was restricted in movement by the handcuffs, the Border Policewoman pulled on her hair forcefully. Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court Judge Yaron Mientkavich determined this action did not constitute abuse. “Two pulls on the hair and an attempt at taking a photo, all done in a short period of time, do not constitute a continuous series of actions and do not constitute unusual cruelty,” the judge wrote in his decision. “I did not find these actions amount to abuse.”
Some 300,000 Muslims attend overnight prayers at Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem
JERUSALEM (WAFA) 22 June – Some 300,000 Muslims from the West Bank, Jerusalem, the 1948 territory and abroad prayed overnight Wednesday-Thursday at Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa Mosque to mark Laylat al-Qadr, one of Ramadan’s holiest nights. The Jordan-run Islamic Waqf department said among the hundreds of thousands of worshipers at the mosque were visitors from a variety of countries, including Malaysia, Turkey, South Africa, France, Russia, the United Kingdom, Jordan, and Indonesia. Addressing the worshipers at the holy site, Sheikh Omar Kiswani, the mosque’s director, said the masses of worshipers who attended the overnight prayers at al-Aqsa Mosque confirms to the entire world that “they [worshipers] came here to reaffirm the Islamic nature of this mosque and defend it.” Earlier the day, the Israeli occupation authorities banned worshipers from the West Bank below the age of 40 from entering Jerusalem to attend overnight prayers at al-Aqsa Mosque. Worshipers between 30 and 40 of age were only allowed entry with a special permit issued by the Israeli authorities.Sheikh Azzam al-Khateib, director of the Jerusalem office of the Islamic Waqf, condemned the Israeli measures and entry restrictions on Palestinian worshipers from the West Bank. He said all Muslim worshipers should have the right to access the holy site throughout the year and with no restrictions. Laylat al-Qadr (Night of Power) is usually observed on the 27th day of Ramadan. Prayer on the holy night is said to be better than 1,000 months of prayers, due to the abundance of mercy and blessings shown by Allah during a time when the Qur’an was first revealed to Prophet Muhammad.
Israeli forces briefly detain, interrogate Al-Aqsa guard
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 21 June — Israeli intelligence forces temporarily detained a Palestinian guard employed at the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound in occupied East Jerusalem’s Old City on Tuesday evening and also summoned three other guards to appear for interrogation. Firas al-Dibs, spokesperson for the Islamic Endowment (Waqf) that manages the holy site, said that Tariq Abu Sbeih was detained at the Herod’s Gate entrance to the compound, as Maher Abu Sneineh, Fadi Elayyan, and Salim Badr were summoned for questioning. Abu Sbeih was released after four hours of interrogation.
The incident came days after Israeli forces raided the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound and assaulted Muslim worshipers, as extremist Jewish Israelis were allowed to tour the holy site. At least three Palestinians were injured from the Israeli police beating, several others suffered from pepper spray and tear gas inhalation, and two Palestinians were also detained from the compound.
Gaza crisis: Israel slashes electricity supplies for 3rd day as Egypt provides fuel
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 21 June — Israeli authorities implemented a third round of electricity supply cuts to the Gaza Strip on Wednesday — honoring a request from the Palestinian Authority (PA) that announced last month it would drastically reduce its payments to fund the Hamas-run territory’s electricity bill — as the Egypt government started to deliver diesel fuel to operate Gaza’s only power plant. Spokesperson for the Gaza Electricity Distribution Corporation Muhammad Thabet said Wednesday morning that Israeli authorities reduced the output of the al-Shaaf grid, which feeds the Gaza City district, from 12 to 6 megawatts. The output of Line 8, which feeds the Khan Yunis district in the southern Gaza Strip, was also reduced from 12 to 6 megawatts. The 12-megawatt cuts came after output was reduced by 6 megawatts on Monday and 12 additional megawatts on Tuesday, meaning that the total output of Israeli electricity grids feeding the small Palestinian territory has been reduced from 120 to 88 megawatts in the last three days — representing about a 30 percent reduction in energy prior to the current crisis. According to Thabet, Gaza’s some 2 million residents face just two to three hours of electricity every 24 hours as a result of the cuts.
Meanwhile, the Egyptian government have started to provide industrial-use diesel fuel to run the Gaza’s sole power plant, which shut down in April, when Gaza’s electricity officials said they could not afford a PA-imposed tax on diesel that doubled the price of operating the plant … Witnesses in Gaza told Ma‘an they saw fuel tankers entering via Egypt’s Rafah border crossing, which was opened on an exceptional basis Wednesday morning to deliver the fuel. Gaza’s Finance Minister Salim al-Kayyali told Ma‘an that 11 fuel trucks carrying approximately 500,000 liters of diesel were delivered from Egypt to the power plant, adding that a million additional liters would be shipped on Wednesday evening or Thursday morning. Undersecretary of the Hamas-run Interior Ministry in Gaza Tawfiq Abu Naim said at a news conference at the Rafah crossing that the Egyptians “promised to open the crossing and introduce additional facilitations,” though it remained unclear if he was referring to the additional entry of fuel, or to possible opening of Rafah to allow Palestinians trapped on either side of the border to cross….
Private solar power systems catch on in Gaza
GAZA CITY (Al-Monitor) 21 June by Entsar Anu Jahal — The National Economy Ministry in Gaza announced on May 27 that it was lifting all fees, import taxes and customs duties on equipment for generating electricity, including solar power systems. This decision comes as the electricity crisis in the enclave reaches a new plateau, with Gaza’s only power station unable to operate at full capacity amid the political dispute between the Palestinian Authority (PA) in Ramallah and Hamas in Gaza … Some private companies have begun turning to solar energy systems, but few residents are able to use them in their homes because of the high cost of installation, which starts at around $1,500 for a 0.5 kilowatt solar system. Tarek Labad, a spokesman for the National Economy Ministry in Gaza, told Al-Monitor that it had become necessary to lift the equipment fees to help empower residents to install equipment for solar power systems at prices in line with their financial abilities given Gaza’s long-running economic crises in addition to the electricity crisis….
Opinion: Israel’s plague of darkness for Gaza is an act of terrorism / Bradley Burston
Haaretz 21 June — It’s the worst thing Israel’s done all year. It’s a punishment which targets huge numbers of people who have committed no crime — When I was small and the Passover Seder hit the ten plagues, I remember exactly the feeling that came over me. It was throat-fist dread. I remember thinking about kids in Egypt then. Asking why this night was different from all other nights, because they couldn’t drink the water anymore. And as the plagues got successively worse, as the punishments got serially more terrifying, there was no changing how it would turn out. It got dark everywhere. And then children began to die.
Last week, discussing what Benjamin Netanyahu called an “internal Palestinian matter” – a request by the Palestinian Authority, part of the PA’s campaign to erode Hamas rule in Gaza – the prime minister’s security cabinet voted to cut significantly the amount of vital electric power that Israel supplies to the people of the Gaza Strip. The cabinet did so knowing that the step was liable to spur escalation toward war with Hamas. It did so knowing that even if escalation did not occur, the Gaza Electricity Authority had warned that reducing the power supply to the Strip any further would likely lead to a humanitarian disaster. On Monday, Israel hit the kill switch. On the longest days of the year, in the choking heat of the Gaza summer, with days still to go on the sunrise-to-sundown fast of Ramadan, with the power supply in the Strip already severely compromised, with hospital wards and drinking-water desalination plants already closed down for lack of power, with raw sewage running in the streets and between houses, the cuts on Monday meant that Gazans, who were already somehow making do with only four hours of electricity every 24 hours, would have their power shut down for an additional 45 minutes a day. It was the worst thing Israel’s done all year. On Tuesday it got worse…
For its part, Israel sloughs blame over the cuts onto the Palestinian Authority. The PA says Hamas is responsible. But everyone knows this: Israel made its own choice. It could have said no to the PA. Israel said yes. The IDF’s top generals have noted that the decision could spark escalation (Hamas actually used the term “an explosion”), but, as an Israeli official was quoted as saying, the army recommended against leniency toward Hamas. In any case, senior cabinet minister Yisrael Katz said last week with regard to the power cuts, “First and foremost the Israeli interest should be protected.” So there we are. This is how this government views its own base: people who prize cruelty for its own sake….
Qatar’s charity funding in Gaza dries up as Gulf crisis continues
GAZA CITY (Al-Monitor) 21 June by Moath al-Amoudi — Palestinians in the Gaza Strip worry about how the Gulf decision to cut ties with Qatar will affect the critical Qatar-funded relief and development projects in Gaza — Mohammad Tuman sat by the door of his unfinished house in Gaza’s Khan Yunis camp contemplating when the second phase of his home’s restoration will be completed. The reconstruction is part of a Qatari project called Maskan Kareem (A Decent House) that restores old houses located in densely populated camps. Several other families are similarly waiting for their house restoration work to be completed … Four associations and charities in Gaza operate under Qatari supervision. The Qatar Charity specializes in social development and economic projects, the Qatar Red Crescent offers medical aid, Al-Fakhoora Dynamics Futures Programme provides educational empowerment and scholarships, and the Qatari Gaza Reconstruction Committee focuses on repairing what Israel has destroyed in Gaza. The Qatari Gaza Reconstruction Committee, which began its work in October 2012, is one of the largest donor associations in the Gaza Strip. The Qatari grant provided for the funding of several projects in Gaza amounting to $407 million. The committee has carried out major projects in the Gaza Strip, including $160 million worth of reconstruction and housing projects, namely the Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani residential city, which includes more than 3,000 residential units and is located in Khan Yunis, and the Salahuddin main street rehabilitation project worth $155 million.
Al-Monitor tried to contact Youssef Ghreiz, the adviser to the head of the Qatari Gaza Reconstruction Committee, and Mohammad Haloub, the director of the Qatar Charity, to ask them about the impact of the boycott decision on the Qatari projects in Gaza. They both said they were prohibited from making any statements to any media outlet. However, an official source in one of these institutions told Al-Monitor on condition of anonymity that the financial support provided to the Qatari institutions in Gaza was suspended 10 months ago and that these institutions have a zero balance in the Bank of Palestine. Meanwhile, the source added, the companies in charge of the construction and reconstruction projects are waiting for the necessary funding….
Turkish aid ship carrying tons of supplies for blockaded Gaza Strip arrived in Israel
ASHDOD, Israel (Andalou Agency) 21 June — Aqua Stella, a Turkish aid ship carrying 10,000 tons of supplies to the blockaded Gaza Strip, arrived at Israel’s Ashdod port Wednesday amid Turkey’s efforts to maintain a lifeline to Palestinians suffering from a crippled economy. Officials say Turkey will continue supporting Palestinians, hinting at future aid deliveries to the Palestinian territories. The ship is carrying 50,000 food packages, 5,000 tons of flour and 100 tons of biscuits, chocolates and cakes. The vessel is also carrying 50,000 items of clothing, 18,100 toys, 32,000 sets of stationery and over 1,000 bicycles as presents for Eid al-Fitr (the Muslim holiday marking the end of the fasting month of Ramadan) for Palestinian children in the coastal enclave. The aid ship was dispatched by the state-run Disaster and Emergency Management Authority (AFAD) and made an approximately 40-hour journey before docking at the Ashdod port, north of Gaza … On Tuesday, the Turkish Red Crescent delivered food aid to 15,000 households in the Gaza Strip. Red Crescent head Kerem Kınık, who was in the Gaza Strip for aid delivery, told AA that they were also delivering cash aid to needy families, noting that they pay the rent for families whose houses were damaged in Israel’s 2014 attacks in eastern Gaza’s Shujaiyya neighborhood. Kınık said they were building the “largest” aid storage area in Gaza and is scheduled to open next year.
Video: Despair drives increased suicide rate in Gaza
TRT World 21 June –– The rising cases of suicide in Gaza are having a devastating impact on hundreds of families — One of the saddest aspects of life in the Gaza Strip despite close family ties and the traditional influence of Islam is the increasing number of suicides. Despair is increasing as the Israeli blockade affects most people both socially and economically. Hana Nassar’s late husband Naif was an unemployed accountant. He re-trained as a nurse before switching to a taxi driver. But couldn’t find work or provide for his family. In despair, he set himself on fire in the family bathroom. “It’s very hard. I stay away from people and don’t visit anyone. I refuse to go out,” Hana says. “I don’t go, in case I see his relatives and I’m asked about what happened, and why it happened. It’s painful and annoying, and that’s why I haven’t visited anyone. I’ve become abnormally introverted.” TRT World ’s Iolo ap Dafydd reports with more from Gaza.
Video: Meet the youngest documentary filmmaker in the Gaza Strip
Gaza (PNN) 21 June — Rawan Abu Asad is the youngest documentary filmmaker in the Gaza Strip. The 23 year-old woman discusses her dreams, her work and what the #occupationis to her, as well as how it has impacted her life. Rawan says that the occupation has stolen her rights and turned them into dreams. But she is certain that the occupation cannot defeat her because she does not give up.
Vocational education: a neglected solution in Gaza
GAZA STRIP (Al-Fanar Media) — Ahmed Khalid, 27, graduated five years ago from university with a bachelor’s degree, prepared to work as a teacher. But Khalid’s career has taken a left turn: He is now a plumber. “I have lost the hope of becoming a teacher at a school in Gaza, whether at public or private schools, or even in those of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees,” said Khaled. “I could not wait anymore. I chose plumbing to make my living.” Khalid, who lives in Khan Yunis in southern Gaza Strip, earns at least $500 a month as a plumber, while his monthly salary as a private school teacher would not exceed $300.
He is one of thousands of university graduates in Gaza who face great difficulties in finding jobs as the economic situation continues to deteriorate due to the Israeli embargo, the closure of the crossings into Israel, the restrictions on imports and exports, and the escalating electricity crisis. This has raised the poverty rate and made more than 80 percent of the population dependent on international aid to survive, according to UN reports. Last year, the unemployment rate in Gaza hit 41.7 percent, which is the highest in the world, according to a previous World Bank report; 60 percent of the unemployed were university graduates. (See the related article: Palestinian University Graduates Face Harsh Futures.)….
Former UN envoy draws parallel between Gaza Strip and a concentration camp
NEW YORK (JPost) 20 June by Danielle Ziri — During his briefing to the Security Council on Tuesday, former UN special envoy to Syria Lakhdar Brahimi quoted a Palestinian woman describing Gaza as a concentration camp, causing a reaction from Israel’s Ambassador Danny Danon. Brahimi, who was invited to brief the council in his capacity as a member of the peace advocacy group The Elders, made the comments as he was describing his trip to the Gaza Strip in 2010. “The misery in that unhappy strip of land is difficult to describe and more difficult to endure,” he said. “A young woman stood and told us: ‘Israel put us in a concentration camp. Those who call themselves our leaders are taking away the air we breathe.’” Brahimi added: “Since 1967, Palestinians have endured grave acts of oppression, violence and collective punishment. Here, another dismal landmark, the tenth anniversary of the imposition of the blockade, which amounts to the collective punishment of 1.7 million people of Gaza, will be marked this year.” Brahimi also stressed to the council members that “the Palestinian population is extremely vulnerable and desperately needs protection from the international community.” Danon reacted harshly to the statement and accused the Security Council of providing a platform for “antisemitic comments and vicious blood libels….
Life in a septic tank
EI 20 June by Sarah Algherbawi — Hiba al-Ashi has to keep the windows of her apartment closed. It is the only way to avoid the foul odors from the polluted sea. “Life has become unbearable,” said the 36-year-old mother, whose Gaza City home overlooks the Mediterranean. Every day, 100,000 cubic meters of raw sewage are discharged into the sea around Gaza. The Gaza Strip’s environmental problems have worsened in recent years … Gaza’s power plant shut down entirely in April this year, and Israel further reduced electricity supply to Gaza this week – a violation of international humanitarian law, according to human rights groups. Electricity is currently available fewer than three hours per day. One of the results – among others profoundly affecting daily life in Gaza – is that there is not enough power to run sewage treatment facilities in the territory. Desalination plants, which provide most of Gaza’s drinking water, are also operating at significantly reduced capacity.
‘Unprecedented’ Visiting the beach used to be one of the only possibilities for enjoyment and relaxations for Palestinians living under siege in Gaza. Pollution has narrowed such possibilities. Around 50 percent of Gaza’s beaches are unfit for swimming, according to the local Environment Quality Authority. A number of beaches have been closed to the public. “The pollution rate of the sea water and beaches this year is unprecedented,” said Ahmad Helles, a representative of that authority. “This indicates that there is a real environmental disaster.” According to Helles, both the sand and water are contaminated. The sand, he said, “carries a lot of microbes which may be harmful and cause illnesses in humans.” …
‘Living in a septic tank’ Taysir Abu Saada has lived in Beach refugee camp, part of Gaza City, for 18 years. He is trying to save money so that he can rent an apartment elsewhere. He wants to “take my family away from this unhealthy atmosphere,” he said. “I feel like we are living in a septic tank, not a real house,” said his 19-year-old daughter Shaima. Wisam Lubad, a 22-year-old student, used to enjoy walking on the beach. Now she has to hold her nose when she ventures towards the shore. “Nothing is well in Gaza,” she said. “That includes the sea – our only escape.” One recent day, a local family decided to eat a grilled lunch on the beach in Gaza City. The family found the experience so unpleasant that it abandoned the lunch after a short while…
ANERA video 20 June
This #WorldRefugeeDay, meet a resilient family who fled from #Syria to escape the horrors of one war — only to come face to face with more atrocities in Gaza. “I learned strength from the people of Gaza,” says mother Suad.
Restriction of movement
VIDEO: Ramadan at an Israeli military checkpoint
EI 20 June Video by Ahmad Al-Bazz/Activestills — Every year during Ramadan, tens of thousands of Palestinians in the occupied West Bank take advantage of a temporary relaxation of Israeli movement restrictions in order to attend Friday prayers at al-Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem, which they are normally prevented from entering. Israel uses the Qalandiya military checkpoint to control Palestinian movement between the West Bank cities of Ramallah and Jerusalem. Men over the age of 40, children under 12 and women of all ages are allowed to cross Qalandiya checkpoint and enter Jerusalem without military permits on Fridays during the month of Ramadan only.
Land, property theft & destruction / Ethnic cleansing / Settlements / Judaization
Reports show construction plans for Palestinians in Area C an ‘exaggeration’
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 20 June — Amid an Israeli media firestorm and outrage from ultra right-wing Israeli politicians in recent days over plans to allow the construction of thousands of housing units for Palestinians in Area C, new reports have emerged, revealing that the plans would allow for far less construction than previously thought, and would not begin for nearly two decades. Israeli news daily Haaretz reported on Tuesday that previous reports saying 14,000 housing units would be built in Area C — the more than 60 percent of the West Bank under full Israeli control — was an “exaggeration,” and that in reality, “an examination of the relevant documents shows that the plan calls for building only some 5,000 homes over the next 18 years.”… Haaretz, along with several other Israeli media websites including Ynet and the Times of Israel, pointed out that while documents on the Planning Administration website do in fact refer to 14,000 housing units, “this number is defined as ‘the nominal potential capacity’ of the master plan’s area if only high-rise housing was built, with no low-rise homes or public areas at all.” The same documents, Haaretz said, say that the “realistic capacity” of the plan — the number of homes the area will actually contain by 2035 — is less than half that number, at 6,187 units. Additionally, of the 6,187 units, 1,000 have already been built without Israeli permission and will be legalized retroactively, Haaretz reported, meaning only around 5,000 new housing units will actually be built….
5 East Jerusalem cultural institutions threatened with closure, PLO warns
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 21 June — At least five social, cultural, and educational organizations operating in occupied East Jerusalem have been ordered by Israeli authorities to close their bank accounts, with the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) saying the move was “part of the Israeli government’s racist ethnic cleansing policies” targeting Palestinians in the city. The PLO’s Jerusalem Affairs Department said in a statement Tuesday that a number of organizations received the notices, and that the orders said that the institutions would be issued checks equivalent to the money deposited when closing the accounts. The department condemned Israeli authorities, without specifying which government entity issued the orders, for the “strange measures” taken against the cultural, social, and educational institutions. The statement said that the Israeli government’s “racist ethnic cleansing policies” were aimed at “increasing the suffering of Jerusalemites by exiling them from Jerusalem.” The PLO department insisted that the organizations were all “working in accordance with law,” paid their annual fees to the relevant authorities, and employed both Israelis and Palestinians. Head of the Jerusalem Center for Social and Economic Rights Ziad al-Hamouri highlighted to Ma‘an that, since having an Israeli bank account is a precondition to operate an organization in Jerusalem, the five affected institutions’ operating permits may be revoked and could be forced to shut down.Al-Hamouri said that the organizations have filed a complaint to the “competent authorities” to appeal the decision….
Israel starts work on new settlement amid US peace push
AFP 20 June — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced the start of work Tuesday on a new settlement in the occupied West Bank as US envoys prepared to discuss a new peace push. “Today, the work on the ground has begun, as I promised, to establish a new settlement for the Amona settlers,” Netanyahu tweeted over a picture of a small bulldozer and a digger working on a rocky hill overlooking a vineyard. The Amichai settlement, in the northern West Bank, is earmarked for some 40 families evicted from the wildcat outpost of Amona in February under a high court order which ruled their homes had been built illegally on private Palestinian land. It is the first new Jewish settlement in the West Bank in some 25 years. The extensive construction in the meantime has focused on expanding existing settlements. “After dozens of years, I have the privilege to be the prime minister building a new settlement in Judaea and Samaria,” Netanyahu tweeted, using the Hebrew biblical term for the West Bank.” … Tuesday’s ground-clearing work was in preparation for the installation of dozens of mobile homes for the families evicted from Amona, a spokesman for the main settler organisation, the Yesha Council, said. The settlers would live in the temporary accommodation while work continues on building more permanent homes, the spokesman added.
UN: Israel did not comply with UN call to stop settlements
UNITED NATIONS (AP) 20 June — The U.N. Mideast envoy says Israel has taken no steps to comply with a Security Council call to stop all settlement activities and instead has substantially increased announcements of settlement building. Nickolay Mladenov stressed that the United Nations considers settlement activities illegal under international law. He told the Security Council that since March 24 Israel has announced plans for nearly 4,000 housing units and issued 2,000 tenders, which is an increase from the previous three-month period. Mladenov was delivering the second report on implementation of the resolution adopted by the council in December condemning Israeli settlements as a “flagrant violation” of international law. The resolution marked a striking rupture with past practice by President Barack Obama who had the U.S. abstain rather than veto the measure as president-elect Donald Trump demanded.
Israeli settlement building soars, official data shows
JERUSALEM (AFP) 19 June – Building starts on settler homes in the Israeli-occupied West Bank soared by 70 percent in the year to March 2017, data released by the Central Bureau of Statistics showed Monday. Since April 2016, work began on 2,758 dwellings, compared to 1,619 during the previous 12 months. The figures do not include Israeli-annexed east Jerusalem which the Jewish state considers an integral part of its ‘indivisible capital’. Settlement watchdog Peace Now said the settlement boom coincided with a 2.5-percent drop in construction starts inside Israel. “Instead of working to solve the Israeli housing crisis, the government prioritises a radical minority living beyond the boundaries of the state,” it said. “Such construction continues to distance us from the only way to end the Israeli Palestinian conflict – a two-state solution.”
Government to back bill expanding administrative courts’ jurisdiction to West Bank settlements
Haaretz 18 June by Jonathan Lis — The bill is one of several efforts by right-wing lawmakers to advance laws that in practice impose Israeli sovereignty on the settlements — The government will support a draft law that would allow the country’s administrative affairs courts to rule on conflicts between Israelis living in settlements and state authorities operating in the territories. The Ministerial Committee on Legislation voted on Sunday to give official government backing to the bill. The Administrative Affairs Courts Law of 2000 authorized Israel’s district courts to hear complaints by private individuals against government agencies, as a way of reducing the workload of the Supreme Court. An additional goal was to increase citizens’ access to legal recourse in these matters and to provide an additional forum for appeals. These courts are not, however, authorized to hear cases involving disputes with a ruling by the Civil Administration or other state authorities operating in the territories by a resident of a settlement. These cases can only be heard in the Supreme Court. Right-wing MKs are behind the bill, led by Bezalel Smotrich (Habayit Hayehudi).
Report: Jerusalem building freeze halting plans for 6,000 housing units
JPost 19 June by Daniel K. Eisenbud — Neither the Jerusalem Municipality nor the Housing Ministry confirmed or denied an Army Radio report on Monday that claimed the government has ordered a de facto construction freeze for 6,000 housing units in the capital. According to Army Radio, 2,200 units will be halted in the neighborhoods of Gilo, several thousand in Har Homa, and hundreds more in Pisgat Ze’ev, over the Green Line. The report comes less than two months after Construction Minister Yoav Gallant announced plans to construct 25,000 homes in the capital, with 15,000 beyond the Green Line, including in Ramot Shlomo, Gilo, Pisgat Ze’ev, Neve Yaakov and Atarot.
Defeated in court, Lifta’s last families to leave their Jerusalem-area homes
Haaretz 22 June by Nir Hasson — The last of the [Jewish] families living in the Lifta neighborhood at the entrance to Jerusalem will leave their homes this week. The evacuation will allow the construction of a new, expanded western entrance to the capital. After a long legal battle, the families have agreed to leave voluntarily. The government acknowledged they were not squatters but instead were resettled in Lifta by the appropriate authorities, and they are receiving compensation for giving up their homes. The agreement between residents and the Finance Ministry was signed three months ago. It was the first recognition of responsibility by the government for settling Mizrahi immigrants who came to Israel in the 1950s in houses abandoned by Palestinians in 1948. Residents of Lifta, most of whom were Kurdish immigrants, were housed there on the instructions of the Jewish Agency in 1951 …
At the same time, the battle continues over the development plan for the center of the old village of Lifta, which is located down in the valley, below the houses that are being evacuated. This part of the village is considered to be the most complete remnant of the [Palestinian] villages abandoned in 1948 and never resettled. The Lands Administration’s plan for the heart of the old village, which will preserve the historic buildings, includes a new luxury neighborhood and a tourist complex. The courts ordered the government to carry out a thorough conservation and archaeological survey before approving the plan, and six months ago, the Antiquities Authority completed it. While documenting all the layers of the old village, the survey found a great deal of previously unknown information about the village, including that its core was much older than previously thought. The survey also uncovered the existence of many unknown underground spaces. Opponents of the construction believe that the archaeological survey has not been officially published yet because the authorities do not want to have to reopen the development plan. They say the developers want to include the survey results only as an appendix to the construction plan, which would endanger the historic structures and the fabric of the village. The Antiquities Authority did wonderful work, but it seems no one wants to hear what they found, said Ilan Shtayer, one of the leaders fighting to preserve Lifta.
Settlement tours: a new front line in Israel’s ideological conflict
HEBRON (Reuters) 19 June by Yuval Ben-David — The heart of the old city of Hebron is divided, with Israeli military checkpoints, mechanical turnstiles and closed-circuit cameras controlling the movement of Palestinians in and out of an area inhabited by some 800 Jewish settlers. Inside the secured zone stand two ancient shrines, side-by-side – the Tomb of the Patriarchs revered by Jews, and the Ibrahimi Mosque revered by Muslims, ensuring Hebron’s position as a source of religious friction for centuries. But as well as the conflict over land, settlements and religion, there is another battle in the largest city in the Israeli-occupied West Bank: an ideological conflict between left- and right-wing Israeli NGOs over how to explain Hebron to outsiders. On one side stands Breaking the Silence, a leftist group of former Israeli soldiers opposed to the occupation, which for years has led tours of Hebron for foreign visitors, highlighting the restrictions routinely faced by its 200,000 Palestinians. On the other stands Im Tirtzu, a right-wing NGO that over the last year has run a handful of tours denouncing Breaking the Silence, accusing it of deepening ethnic faultlines and fueling anti-Semitism with its criticism of Israel’s actions. “You have to understand, there’s a war of narratives here,” said Yishai Fleisher, a spokesman for the Jewish community of Hebron, as he led a recent Im Tirtzu tour down Shuhada Street, once a busy market road but now mostly closed off to Palestinians and renamed “King David Street” by the city’s Jews….
Glossary of terms: Settlements and outposts in the West Bank
Yesh Din 20 June — The Israeli settlements and outposts in the West Bank are a source of severe and multi-dimensional violations of the human rights of Palestinian residents living in the occupied territories. International Humanitarian Law prohibits the occupying power from establishing civilian settlements in occupied territory. Despite this prohibition, Israel began establishing settlements in the West Bank almost immediately after occupying it in 1967, through a massive takeover of land spanning tens of thousands of acres of Palestinian territory. This glossary of terms explains and elucidates the basic terminology regarding Israeli settlement in the West Bank. Private Palestinian Land: Land ownership registration (Tabu) in the West Bank began during Ottoman rule and continued throughout the British Mandate and Jordanian rule. Shortly after the occupation of the West Bank in June 1967, Israel halted the land registration process. By then, 30 percent of land in the West Bank was registered in the land registry. This means that there are currently two categories of private Palestinian land: private land registered under a Palestinian name in the land registry operated by the Israeli military in the occupied territory; and unregistered private land – private land held and farmed by Palestinians, but whose ownership has not been registered in the land registry….