Gaza braces for ‘collapse’ after Israel approves reduction of electricity supply
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 12 June — The Israeli security cabinet has approved a 40 percent reduction in Israel’s electricity supply to the besieged Gaza Strip, where Palestinians are already coping with a crippling power crisis and daily, hours-long blackouts, according to Israeli media reports. While Gaza’s electricity company said it had not received an official order regarding the impending power cut, it called upon Palestinians in Gaza to prepare for the worst, while human rights groups urged Israel to reconsider the move — expected to have immediate and disastrous effects on the medical sector in particular. The approval came after Israeli authorities announced plans to make the cuts last month, upon request of the Palestinian Authority (PA) in occupied West Bank, which foots Gaza’s monthly electricity bill from Israel, by subtracting from taxes collected by Israel on behalf of the PA. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas had reportedly informed Israel that the PA only intended to pay 60 percent of the 40 million shekel ($11.19 million) monthly bill, as Hamas, the de facto ruling party in Gaza, and the Fatah-led PA continued to blame each other for a deepening crisis in Gaza. Meanwhile, the Gaza electricity company said on Monday that it had been informed by Egypt’s power company that it could cut off power lines feeding Gaza at any time, without providing further details.
Both Israel and the PA have accused Hamas of collecting millions of shekels in taxes from Gazans every month without transferring the money to the PA, and instead “using (the money) to dig tunnels and for the advantage of Hamas,” as the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) put it. Last week, the Palestinian Energy and Natural Resources Authority blamed Hamas for obstructing the PA’s plan with Israel to solve the electricity crisis by not transferring electricity payments to the PA, rejecting statements by Gaza’s power authority saying that it had met all of the PA’s stipulations to end the electricity crisis, but that the governing body in the occupied West Bank had yet to respond …
However, critics have said the PA has attempted to use the electricity crisis to exert pressure on the Hamas government to release control of the small Palestinian territory. Some two million Palestinians in the besieged coastal enclave have had to make do with just three to four hours of electricity a day since April, and according to Israeli outlet The Jerusalem Post, the new electricity cuts will keep the power on for just two to three hours a day….
Analysis: In choosing to cut power to Gaza, Israel bets on Abbas and hopes to avoid a war / Amos Harel
Haaretz 13 June — The inner cabinet’s decision on Sunday night to reduce the supply of electricity to the Gaza Strip appears contradictory. Its members were briefed by senior intelligence officers about the worsening humanitarian crisis in the Hamas-run Gaza Strip, which will be greatly exacerbated by the Palestinian Authority’s decision to stop paying Israel for the power it sells to Gaza. But they nevertheless chose, with defense establishment support, to go along with the PA and cut the power supply, rather than trying to find an alternative funding source. Humanitarian organizations say the additional cut will reduce Gaza’s power supply to three hours a day or less, and Hamas warned of an impending war with Israel … The security cabinet had several reasons for its decision. First, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government can’t afford to be seen by its right-wing voters as capitulating to Palestinian threats and agreeing to finance Hamas’ activity. Second, it doesn’t want to be seen as siding with Hamas in the latter’s conflict with the PA. Third, most of Israel’s intelligence assessments argue that Hamas would be hard-pressed to start a war now, when it is more isolated than ever in the Arab world and now even fears the possibility of losing Qatar’s support. Fourth, the ministers still believe that Maj. Gen. Yoav Mordechai, the coordinator of government activities in the territories, will once more save the day, rounding up outside funding for Gaza and restraining the PA in order to reduce pressure on Hamas and avert a military escalation. But all these reasons add up to a gamble: Israel is going along with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’ aggressive new approach and hoping for the best….
Gazans being held hostage by Israeli, PA gamesmanship
+972mag 12 June by Orly Noy — The Israeli cabinet decided to accept Mahmoud Abbas’ request that the electricity supply to Gaza be cut. The army has warned against doing so, but it seems that for Israel, Abbas’ interests are more important than people’s lives — …Since mid-April, Gaza’s sole power station has been out of commission, after a deal by Turkey and Qatar to supply the it with fuel came to an end. The situation has created an energy crisis in the Strip — and the consequences are dire. Hospitals, for example, have ceased providing necessary treatments and are relying exclusively on ramshackle generators. This means that water purification systems aren’t functioning, while untreated sewage finds its way to the sea in enormous quantities. Water filters cannot be used, and it is nearly impossible to rely on pumps to clear the sewage from the neighborhoods. All these create real life-threatening situations. The humanitarian disaster we keep hearing about has already taken its toll on Gaza. Even the Israeli army understands this.
Under these circumstances, it is even possible to imagine the repercussions of additional drastic cuts in the electricity supply to Gaza at the height of summer? Gisha emphasizes that Gaza’s energy ministry has no way to ration out resources to, say, hospitals at the expense of other places. In other words, the cuts will certainly have an impact on everything and everyone in the Strip. In an urgent letter sent to Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman on Sunday, Gisha said that “cutting electricity is a red line that must not be crossed. This option must be taken out of consideration, and Israel must strive to make sure the infrastructure in the Gaza Strip meets the needs of its residents.”
So what is actually going on here? Does Israel not understand the significance of the ongoing catastrophe in Gaza? Or perhaps it understands but does not care? Or maybe it understands it well, and has no qualms about it? On the one hand Education Minister Naftali Bennett said on Monday that “we must learn lessons from Gaza 2014. The humanitarian situation there is worsening. We must work to prevent another round of fighting,” just hours after he sat at a cabinet meeting, where it was decided to cut electricity to Gaza, thus rendering another round of fighting inevitable. On the other hand, Intelligence Affairs Minister said on Monday that “Israel has no policy for Gaza, only decisions.” It is possible that Israel has no clear policy vis-a-vis Gaza, but it seems that when it comes to Abbas, there is certainly no lack of policy. As long as he is suppressing the political rivals of the man who is often called “the subcontractor of the occupation,” Israel is happy to help….
Hamas denies it built tunnel under UN schools in Gaza
AFP 10 June — Palestinian Islamist movement Hamas has denied that it or any other militant group built a tunnel under two UN schools in Gaza after its discovery drew a strong UN protest. Over the years, Gaza’s Hamas rulers have built a labyrinth of tunnels, some passing under the border into Israel which they used to launch attacks during their last conflict in 2014. On June 1, the UN agency for Palestinian refugees (UNRWA) found “part of a tunnel that passes under two adjacent agency schools in the Maghazi camp” during construction work, spokesman Christopher Gunness said on Friday. Hamas late Friday “strongly condemned” the UNRWA statement, saying it would be exploited by Israel to “justify its crimes”. Hamas had clarified the issue “with all factions and resistance forces, who clearly stated they had no actions related to the resistance in the said location,” the movement s aid, adding that it respected UNRWA’s work. Gunness said that the tunnel “has no entry or exit points on the premises nor is it connected to the schools or other buildings in any way”. “UNRWA condemns the existence of such tunnels in the strongest possible terms. It is unacceptable that students and staff are placed at risk in such a way,” he said. Gunness said the agency had “robustly intervened and protested to Hamas in Gaza”. He said UNRWA will seal the tunnel, which was discovered while the schools were empty during the summer holiday….
Israeli navy opens fire on Palestinian fishermen and farmers in Gaza
IMEMC 11 June — Israeli navy ships attacked, Sunday, many Palestinian fishing boats, and farmers, in the northern and southern parts of the besieged Gaza Strip, causing damage. Media sources in Gaza said the navy fired dozens of live rounds at the fishing boats, close to the shore in northern Gaza, forcing the fishermen back to the shore in fear of further Israeli assaults and escalation.
In addition, soldiers stationed in military towers across the border fence, east of Khan Younis in the southern part of the Gaza Strip, fired many live rounds at Palestinian farmers, working on their own lands, close to the border fence. The attacks are part of constant Israeli violations against the Palestinians in the improvised coastal region.
Israeli forces level lands inside southern Gaza
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 12 June — Israeli military vehicles stormed the Palestinian side of the border between the besieged Gaza Strip and Israel on Monday morning, according to eyewitnesses. Witnesses told Ma‘an that they saw six bulldozers leveling lands under Israeli military protection near the border fence, east of the v illage of al-Qarara in southeastern Gaza. No gunfire was reported.
Liberman: Israel has no interest in conquering Gaza in ‘next war’
Times of Israel 11 June — Defense minister says IDF would ‘destroy all Hamas terror infrastructure’ but then leave Palestinian enclave — The Israeli army is not planning to conquer the Gaza Strip if another war were to break out with Hamas, Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman said this week, in an apparent turnaround from his repeated insistence in previous years that reoccupying the territory was the only way to stop rocket fire. Speaking to Channel 2 News in an interview broadcast Saturday night, Liberman said he had “absolutely no interest in conquering Gaza,” in the event of a serious flare-up on Israel’s southern border. At the same time, if Israel is forced into another war with the Palestinian terrorist group Hamas, which controls the Strip, it will be Hamas’s last war, Liberman warned. “We go in and destroy all their terror infrastructure,” he said, but added that once the job is complete, “we will come out.” …despite a number of small-scale incidents with Hamas, Liberman was emphatic that Israel has “enjoyed a year of quiet and calm in regards to security. The quietest year since 1967.” In terms of turning that quiet into long-term tranquility, Liberman said that Israel was “closer than ever” to an agreement with the Palestinians and that the opportunity for full relations with Arab states would sway the Netanyahu government to accept a deal….
Opinion: Why is Hamas refusing to lay down arms? / Adnan Abu Amer
Al Jazeera 12 June — In a few days, Hamas will be marking the third anniversary of the 2014 Israeli war on Gaza, which lasted more than 50 days, causing thousands of Palestinian deaths, and injuries on both sides. As this memory is being marked, events are heating up in Gaza as human suffering increases and the siege continues. The siege is affecting many aspects of people’s lives including their standard of living, the economy, and concern over debates in Israel about whether or not Gaza will export its internal crisis outside its borders by launching a new war against Israel. Regardless of the accuracy of this Israeli analysis, there have been a number of recent statements by Hamas officials referring to the unbearable conditions Palestinians are living under and the possibility of an imminent explosion. This opens up debate on the armed resistance against Israel declared by Hamas along a number of axes.
Motives behind the military option More than 25 years have passed since the launch of the 1991 peace process between the Palestinians and Israelis at the Madrid Conference, and today Hamas does not feel that the Palestinians were able to preserve the meagre concessions and achievements that they secured there. They see the reason for this to be their lack of military strength on the ground, which would have prevented Israel from taking their lands and destroying their institutions and impeding their mission of liberation … Hamas does not hide the fact that the military confrontations with Israel have depleted its resources and have taken a heavy toll, causing the deaths of thousands of its fighters. In spite of that, Hamas is committed to the military option and continues to prepare for it, a fact that raises questions about the reason for this dedication especially in light of the fact that there are voices within Hamas urging a less costly path.
Hamas sees that the balance of power between it and Israel is tilted in favour of the latter and it may not be logical to compete with them in a purely operational sense. However, for Hamas, accepting this hypothesis as fact would encourage Israel to invade Gaza periodically and grab its lands with impunity at any time, as it does in the West Bank. That is why the movement is continuing to stockpile its military capabilities as far as its resources will allow, turning Gaza into a fortress that Israel would have difficulty breaching. Hamas has turned Gaza into its de facto centre of authority and does not want to be compelled to hand it to Israel because of an imbalance of power, so it is in a race against the clock to increase what capabilities it has. This effort exerted by Hamas to build its military capabilities to face Israel has led it to the point where it now controls what can be termed a regular army. This army is based on the Qassam Brigades and comprises 27,000 troops, according to Israeli estimates. These are distributed among six regional divisions, 25 battalions, 106 companies, and 2500 fighters in an elite unit, approximately one-third of whom are trained and prepared to carry out operations inside Israel….
As it announced in its new charter in May this year, Hamas may not object to a new framework for its relations with Israel, such as negotiating a long-term ceasefire that could last a number of years or even become permanent. At the same time, Hamas has been expressing rising doubts about the real motive behind reaching a long-term (possibly multi-year) ceasefire with Israel in light of Israeli insistence that such a ceasefire should include stripping Hamas of its weapons and transforming Gaza into a demilitarised zone….
Gaza security forces arrest reporter for Palestinian Authority-owned news outlet
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 10 June — A Palestinian journalist was arrested by the internal security services of the Hamas-run Gaza Strip on Friday, members of his family told Ma‘an. According to his family, Fouad Jaradeh, a reporter for the Palestinian Authority’s official television channel Palestine TV, was arrested Friday afternoon and was still being detained as of midday Saturday.
Forces who identified themselves as members of internal security services had raided the Jaradeh family house, arrested Fouad, and confiscated his personal computer and mobile phone. The arrest came a week after a group of Palestinian activists in the Gaza Strip rallied to demand the release of Abdullah Abu Sharikh, a 54-year-old Palestinian writer who was detained by security forces, allegedly for remarks he made in Facebook posts, according to his family. Meanwhile, Palestine TV journalist Taghrid Abu Tir spent 10 days in Hamas custody in April.…
ICRC: Still no news on Palestinians missing since 2014 Gaza war
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 10 June — The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has not received any answers from Israel regarding Palestinians who have been missing since the Israeli offensive on the besieged Gaza Strip in 2014, a Gaza-based spokeswoman for the group said on Saturday. The 51-day offensive in 2014 left more than 2,000 Palestinians dead, including at least 1,462 civilians, a third of whom were children, according to the United Nations. Human rights groups reported that numerous Palestinians went missing during the war. Some were later found, either alive or dead, although the fate of 19 others has remained unknown. Spokesperson for the ICRC in Gaza Suheir Zakkout said in a statement that the ICRC had made efforts since 2014 to try and find the location of the missing Palestinians; however, the organization has not received any responses from Israel.
“As a nonpartisan mediator, the ICRC offered to help the Palestinian families identify the missing persons, but so far, the ICRC hasn’t received answers from Israeli authorities,” Zakkout said. Last year, a brother of one of those missing Palestinians told Ma‘an that “it’s likely that the issue of missing persons, including my brother, is tied to the issue of Israeli soldiers held in Gaza,” referring to the Israeli soldiers who disappeared during the war, and have been held as a bargaining chip between Hamas and the Israeli government….
Photos: Ramadan fun in Gaza
MEMO 12 June by Mohammed Asad — Several youth groups in Gaza have organised festivals and trips for the families of prisoners during the holy month of Ramadan. Ahmad Al-Afifi, a member of these youth groups, said: “We volunteer during this holy month in order to show people that this is the month of tolerance, brotherhood and social cohesion. We take them from their homes to open spaces and organise a number of activities for these families. Such activities include various games, entertainment and iftars funded by the donations we receive.” “Our team is made up of a number of youth activists who want to give all they can during this month to please their people,” he added.
4 Palestinians banned from Jerusalem, Israel over rock-throwing at Al-Aqsa
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 12 June — Israeli authorities have banned four Palestinians from entering occupied East Jerusalem and Israel, after the four were detained, interrogated, and released without charge for allegedly throwing rocks inside the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound in Jerusalem’s Old City on Sunday. Israeli forces had imposed a brief lockdown at the compound, denying entry or exit to Muslim worshipers, after one rock was allegedly thrown at a group of some 60 extremist Israelis who were touring the holy site early Sunday morning. Israeli police spokesperson Luba al-Samri wrote in a statement Monday that after two Palestinians from Nablus in the occupied West Bank were detained Sunday afternoon and accused of the rock throwing, two Palestinians from the central occupied West Bank city of Ramallah were later detained while inside the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound for their alleged involvement in the same incident. She said that “all suspects were interrogated at Qishla police station in the Old City before they were released on condition that they will be banned from entering Jerusalem. In addition, the suspects will not be allowed to enter Israeli territories at all in future.”
9 teens arrested in police raid of Jerusalem ‘home’ for Hilltop Youth
Ynet 12 June by Elisha Ben-Kimon — Settler Elkana Pickar, who has been barred from entering the West Bank, is hosting Jewish teens with similar bans at his home; security establishment worried he’s inciting them to violence against Palestinians — Police raided on Monday a “home” in Jerusalem for Jewish teenagers barred from entering the West Bank, arresting nine of the teens. A gag order has been placed on the entire investigation, including the suspicions against the teens. Attorney Itamar Ben-Gvir, who represents some of the suspects, called on the Israel Police and the Shin Bet to “stop the persecution to calm the tensions.” “The police abuse the Hilltop Youth (nickname for Jewish settler youth who set up illegal outposts across the West Bank), persecute them and are being cruel to them. In a situation like that, the responsibility for ‘price tag’ incidents rests the police’s shoulders alone,” Ben-Gvir claimed. “When you persecute young people to complete destruction and push them up against the wall, it is no wonder some of them react and can’t sit idly by.” … The Shin Bet presented the court with a photo of Pickar from March in which he is seen masked and claimed he was involved in two violent incidents that took place in recent months. Pickar’s lawyer, Menashe Yado from the Honenu organization, claimed the photo was taken during a Palestinian riot in which IDF troops used tear gas to disperse the crowd, which was why his client was masked. The judge shortened the length of Pickar’s ban from four months to two, but at the same time determined there was real concern Pickar was inciting the teens staying at his home to violence….
2 Israeli Arabs, Palestinian suspected of being ISIS sympathizers
Ynet 12 June by Itay Blumenthal — Two 17-year-old Israeli Arabs and a Palestinian from Barta‘a, which sits on the Green Line, have been arrested by the Shin Bet on suspicion they built a makeshift explosive and that they are sympathizers of the Islamic State group (ISIS), it was cleared for publication on Monday. In his questioning, one of the suspects allegedly admitted to speaking to ISIS agents about the possibility of joining the organization’s ranks. According to the Shin Bet, the three participated in religious lessons, during which they were exposed to extremist content relating to ISIS. They also watched online videos about ISIS and discussed how life would be like under the terror organization’s rule. The suspects also swore allegiance to ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.
Israeli forces detain 13 Palestinians, including 6 minors, in West Bank raids
HEBRON (Ma‘an) 11 June — Israeli forces detained at least 20 Palestinians during raids in the southern occupied West Bank between Saturday night and Sunday morning. According to a statement from the Palestinian Prisoner’s Society (PPS), Israeli forces detained four Palestinian men from al-‘Arrub refugee camp in the Hebron district, identified as Fathi al-Badawi, 26, his 23-year-old brother Tariq al-Badawi, Ammar Hanayin Jawabra, 28, and Ali Ribhi al-Badawi, 38. Local sources told Ma‘an that during the raid into the camp, two 15-year-old boys, Muhammad Jawabra and Qusay Wael al-Badawi, were also detained. Witnesses said that Israeli forces were stationed on rooftops of several homes in al-‘Arrub throughout the raid, and that clashes broke between locals and Israeli soldiers who fired tear gas and rubber-coated steel bullets at residents.
Local sources said that Israeli forces also raided a number of homes in the Hebron-area town of Surif and detained Khalid Ahmad Arar and Omar Muhammad Ghneimat. Israeli forces also raided Hebron’s Old City on Saturday and detained 14-year-old Hani Dana, after his family house was raided, locals reported.
An Israeli army spokesperson told Ma‘an that four additional Palestinians were detained in the Bethlehem area during overnight raids, and said she was looking into reports of detentions in the Hebron district.
Meanwhile, official Palestinian Authority news agency Wafa reported an additional detention in the Qalqiliya-district village of Jayyus, as well as the detention of three minors in the Jerusalem-area Shu‘fat refugee camp for allegedly throwing rocks at Israeli soldiers. Wafa added that three Palestinians from al-Jalazun refugee camp were also detained overnight after trying to enter occupied East Jerusalem without Israeli-issued permits.
Israeli forces detain 16 Palestinians, including former minister
JENIN (Ma‘an) 12 June — Israeli forces detained former Palestinian minister Wasfi Qabaha and 15 other Palestinians between Sunday night and Monday morning across the occupied Palestinian territory, Palestinian and Israeli sources said. Qabaha, the former Palestinian Minister of Prisoners’ Affairs and affiliated to the Hamas movement, was detained from his home in the al-Basatin neighborhood of Jenin in the northern West Bank on Monday morning, locals told Ma‘an. According to a Hamas statement, Qabaha had only been released from Israeli custody on April 20, 2017, after having been detained in May 2016. He has been detained at least 11 times over the years — spending a total of around 15 years in Israeli prisons…
In the Nablus district, the Palestinian Prisoner’s Society (PPS) said two teenagers, whom it identified as 17-year-old Muhammad Amjad Uweis and 16-year-old Mustafa Mansour Uweis, were detained while attempting to head to Jerusalem.
In the Ramallah district, Israeli forces detained Saeb Abu Salim and Suhaib al-Sheikh from the village of Rantis, according to PPS. The army spokesperson confirmed the detention of two Palestinians in Rantis, claiming that they were Hamas members, and another detention in the Ramallah-area village of Beit Ur al-Tahta.
PPS said that Khalil al-Muati, 58, was detained in the Bethlehem district, without giving more precise information on the area where the detention took place.
In the southernmost West Bank district of Hebron, local activist Muhammad Ayyad Awwad said that two Palestinians were detained in the village of Beit Ummar overnight, identifying them as Muhammad Yousif Bahar, 22, and Muhannad Issa Bahar, 17. Awwad added that Israeli soldiers broke into several houses, a dental clinic, and a medical center during the Beit Ummar raid. Clashes broke out during the raid, with Israeli forces firing tear gas at Palestinian youth who were throwing stones. PPS also reported the detention of Amjad Azzam Abu Sneineh elsewhere in the Hebron district, and added that an unidentified young man was detained on Sunday evening near the Ibrahimi Mosque in Hebron city Israeli news outlet Ynet reported on Sunday that a Palestinian man was detained near the mosque after refusing to show his identity documents to Israeli border police and shoving an officer.
In occupied East Jerusalem, PPS reported that Israeli police detained Majd Saidah, Sam Auri, Adnan al-Rajabi, Khader al-Ajlouni, and Yahya al-Ajlouni.
Land, property theft & destruction / Ethnic cleansing / Settlements
For a Palestinian father, Six-Day War led to a divided life
KASU 10 June by Daniel Estrin — When Israel captured the West Bank in 1967, Omar Omar was stuck. He was 16 years old, going to a high school in Jordan, while his parents were back home in the West Bank, a few hours’ drive away. Israel and neighboring Arab states had gone to war, and in six days, Israel won. It occupied the West Bank, and does so to this day. Like most other Palestinians who were away from home or who fled during the war, Omar couldn’t get Israeli permission to move home afterward. A few months after the June 1967 war, Israel took a census of Palestinians in the West Bank. The majority of those who were not present at the time were not allowed to resettle in the West Bank, according to historians. “Many times, I tried,” said Omar, now 66. “If you weren’t counted during war, you are not from here anymore. You are not Palestinian. Despite your father, your mother, your family – no. They consider you not from here.” According to Israeli historian Neve Gordon, about 200,000 Palestinians fled or were expelled from the West Bank during the war, and Israel ultimately allowed only about 17,000 of them to return. But Palestinians who were abroad when the war broke out — like Omar — were not allowed to return to the West Bank after the war ended. For those who were in the West Bank after the war, life was gradually met with restrictions. Since 1967, as hundreds of thousands of Israelis have settled in the Israel-controlled West Bank, Palestinians have faced life under military occupation. Over time, that has meant living with army checkpoints, road closures, nighttime arrests, and clashes with soldiers that can be deadly. In 1983, after more than a decade living in Jordan, Omar decided to head toward better fortunes — in America. Many enterprising Palestinians, both inside and outside the West Bank, sought opportunities in Jordan, the Gulf countries and in the West. Once he became a U.S. citizen, he could finally return to the West Bank a few times a year – as an American tourist. Now, after decades in the U.S., whenever Omar visits the West Bank, he sees it with the eyes of an outsider. This is the story of how Omar’s life became divided….
I’m a 90-year-old woman who has lived in Israel for 50 years — here’s what I think about Israeli settlements
The Independent 12 June by Ruth Kedar — Since I witnessed their beginnings half a century ago, the settlements have only got worse. The size and scale is something I can’t get over — It took decades for the immorality of occupation to sink in. In 1967, my husband was a military man. We were posted abroad when the war was won and the fabric of the still-infant Israel changed, perhaps irreversibly. When we came home in 1968, the mood was victorious and we thought it was marvelous. We were truly blind to what was happening … My children first helped me realise what was happening. I had three sons in the army during the first Lebanon war and then later as reservists in the West Bank. Through their stories I began to see the truth … First, I stood at checkpoints with other women to monitor what was happening there. It was here we started to see the other side and we were shocked. When we went to the villages in the West Bank, I was flabbergasted. We met a Palestinian called Ibrahim, who said, “Things are happening here. They won’t let me go on my land. They are beating us.” After several years of simply bearing witness, Ibrahim made us realise that exposing the injustices of occupation was not enough. More needed to be done. We were just a handful of naive women and, with nothing but chutzpah, we founded Yesh Din …
Since I witnessed its beginnings half a century ago, the occupation has only got worse. The size and scale of settlements is something I can’t get over. I know every little road and every little village of the West Bank and it is frightening to see them swallowed up piece by piece by indistinguishable rows of red roofs that multiply across Palestinian land. It is robbery that is devoid of shame. If only all Israelis could see what I have seen. I know that when life is good people are indifferent and blind to the suffering of others. In the bustle and beaches of Tel Aviv it is almost impossible to think about the scale of poverty and abuse of rights happening just 20 miles away. Settlers live in cheap housing with wonderful views of the mountains. No one thinks of the injustice that lies among those hills….
Israel plans most settlement homes since 1992: minister
Al Jazeera 12 June — Israel has so far this year advanced its highest number of settlement projects since 1992, the defence minister said, despite warnings such plans make a two-state solution impossible. Minister of Defense Avigdor Lieberman made the comments on Sunday as Israel’s government faced mounting pressure from leaders of the settlement movement, who wield heavy influence in Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s right-wing coalition. Netanyahu has found himself seeking to balance the competing demands of the settlers and US President Donald Trump, who has asked him to hold back on such projects for now as he seeks a way to restart negotiations with the Palestinian Authority. Lieberman told journalists and ministers at the start of a cabinet meeting that, so far this year, plans had been advanced for 8,345 homes in the occupied West Bank, including 3,066 slated for “immediate construction”. Settlement projects pass through a list of planning stages before final approval. “The numbers for the first half of 2017 are the highest since 1992,” Lieberman said. The figures were similar to those published by settlement watchdog Peace Now last week. Counting plans and tenders, Peace Now said 7,721 units had been advanced this year, almost triple the number for all of 2016, which amounted to 2,699. Peace Now could not immediately say whether it agreed that this year’s figures were the highest since 1992, AFP news agency reported….
Opinion: Between a rock and a hard place in the West Bank / Andrew Friedman
Ynet 10 June — Analysis: Settler leaders are frustrated with the prime minister, and they recently unleashed six month of pent-up anger; they say they were promised unlimited building under Trump and that Netanyahu isn’t meeting his assurances — If the looks on the faces of West Bank [settlement] mayors, regional council heads and residents of the settlements didn’t tell enough of a story of frustration when they left their meeting with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu Wednesday, it only took until Thursday morning for settlement leaders to unleash six months of pent-up anger at the prime minister … By Thursday, however, some leaders had dropped their figurative gloves. Samaria Regional Council head Yossi Dagan told Army Radio that it is “no secret” that the settlers are very disappointed with the fact that Netanyahu has not reversed building policy in the West Bank, especially after all the prime minister’s talk about “after Obama.” “The prime minister promised us a rush of building after Obama left office, but he hasn’t kept his promises,” Dagan fumed. “We will no longer accept a situation in which a half-million Jews in Judea and Samaria, alongside 400,000 Jews and Israeli citizens in Jerusalem are treated as fourth-class citizens.” ….
Israeli forces issue stop-work order for Palestinian home in Jordan Valley
JERICHO (Ma‘an) 11 June — Israeli forces reportedly delivered a stop-work order to a Palestinian resident of the Humsa area in the northern Jordan Valley region in the occupied West Bank on Sunday. State-run Palestinian news agency Wafa quoted the mayor of the nearby village of al-Malih, Arif Daraghma, as saying that Mahmoud Bisharat was told to halt construction work on a makeshift home he was building until July 17, after Israeli forces demolished and dismantled tents he was using as shelter. A spokesperson for COGAT, the Israeli agency responsible for implementing Israeli policies in the occupied Palestinian territory, told Ma‘an, however, that “a stop-work order was issued against a building that was built without the approval of the competent authorities” in Humsa, adding that the owner of the building was told they “must evacuate it within three weeks.”
The demolition orders were the latest amid a spate of incidents targeting Palestinians in the northern Jordan Valley, including settler attacks and multiple home demolitions since the beginning of the year. The Jordan Valley forms a third of the occupied West Bank, with 88 percent of its land classified as Area C — under full Israeli military control.
Jewish settlers burn Palestinian crops in occupied West Bank
MEMO 10 June — Extremist Jewish settlers burned Palestinian crops on Friday in the north of the occupied West Bank, Anadolu has reported. The arson attack took place in ‘Asira to the south of Nablus. According to the Director of field operations for an Israeli rights group, Zakaria Al-Saddah, fruit trees and ripe crops were destroyed in the attack. In the wake of the arson, he explained, clashes erupted between Palestinian youths and the Israeli occupation forces, which stepped in to protect the illegal settlers. No casualties were reported.
Restriction of movement / Closures
Israel blocks road to Bedouin village, preventing 100 children from going to school
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 12 June — A recently installed guardrail on an Israeli highway has isolated a Bedouin community in southern Israel for days, preventing 100 Bedouin children from attending school, NGO Adalah reported on Sunday. According to the group, which focuses on the rights of Palestinian citizens of Israel, Israeli authorities effectively sealed off Umm Bidoun, a Bedouin community in the Negev desert unrecognized by Israel, by blocking off the only dirt road connecting the village to Highway 31 with a guardrail. The road surface markings on the highway near other passage out of Umm Bidoun have also recently been changed, making it illegal for vehicles to cross the road, Adalah added. The recent changes have effectively prevented any vehicles, including school buses, from accessing the village, Adalah said.
As a result, the legal NGO stated that, due to the absence of schools in Umm Bidoun, 100 children who study in the village of al-Furaa 15 kilometers away have been unable to go to school for days. Adalah said on Sunday it had contacted officials from the Israeli Education Ministry, the al-Qasoum regional council, and Netivei Israel, the national roads authority, to demand that the obstacles to freedom of movement for the residents of Umm Bidoun be lifted. Adalah field researcher Marwan Abu Freih told Ma’an on Monday that Netivei had told the organization that it was examining the issue … “It is inconceivable that some 100 students can — in such a sudden and arbitrary manner — be prevented from attending school without any advance notice to or consultation with parents,” Abu Freih said on Sunday. “Adalah and the families demand that the Education Ministry act immediately to correct this situation.”
VIDEO: Ayan and her family are Palestinian refugees who are isolated in the Seam Zone
UNRWA 8 June — Ayan and her family are Palestine refugees, who are isolated in the ‘Seam Zone’ (areas between the Green Line and the Barrier). A gate near their house, controlled remotely by the Israeli soldiers, is their only route to the outside world.
Allenby Bridge crossing to operate 24 hours a day, 5 days a week
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 10 June — The Israeli-controlled Allenby Bridge border crossing between the occupied West Bank and Jordan is set to be opened 24 hours, five days a week starting June 20, the Karama International Campaign for the Movement of Palestinians said Saturday, corroborating earlier reports of the planned measure. In response to a request for comment, a spokesperson for COGAT, the Israeli agency responsible for implementing Israeli policies in the occupied Palestinian territory, confirmed that between June 20 and Sept. 10, the crossing would be open 24 hours Sunday through Thursday, and that on Friday and Saturday it would be open until 5 p.m. “The decision is intended to be permanent and will serve the residents during the summer months during which there is a rise in the number of crossings,” they said, adding that the “relevant officials on both sides of the crossing are prepared and ready for the changes and expected amount of crossings.
The border crossing, known as the al-Karama crossing in Arabic, serves hundreds of Palestinians daily, as Palestinians living in the occupied territory are unable to use Tel Aviv’s Ben Gurion Airport — with the exception of a few special permit holders — and therefore must cross through the Allenby Bridge to access the Amman airport in order to travel abroad. Representative of the Karama campaign Talaat Elwi lauded the achievement as the result of “major” efforts undertaken by the Palestinian Authority’s borders and crossings department, the Palestinian prime minister, and other members of the Palestinian political echelon toward improving travel procedures, “after decades of complicated bureaucratic procedures” at the notoriously crowded and severely restricted border crossing … Elwi also said that the crossing would continue with this schedule “at least” until Sept. 10, highlighting that June, July, and August were the busiest time of the year at Allenby, because of the summer holiday, Muslim pilgrimage season, and religious holidays….
Palestinian refugees – Lebanon
Palestinian man killed in Lebanon’s Ain al-Hilweh refugee camp
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 1 June — A Palestinian man was shot dead in unclear circumstances in the Palestinian refugee camp of Ain al-Hilweh in Lebanon on Saturday. Lebanon’s National News Agency (NNA) reported that the man, who was only identified as “A.M.,” was shot in the head “by mistake” while he was inside of his shop in the refugee camp. He was evacuated to a hospital, where he succumbed to his wounds. Separately, a Lebanese security source said that unidentified assailants set off an explosive device in Ain al-Hilweh near to where the joint Palestinian security force were stationed on Saturday. No casualties were reported, but a nearby house sustained damages.
The incidents came a day after Fatah officer Samer Ghali was killed and another camp resident was injured when Ghali attempted to put an end to a personal dispute, reportedly about a vegetable market stall, according to Lebanese news outlet The Daily Star.
Ghali had attempted to intervene in the dispute between Abed Kenaan and Muhammad Talal al-Maqdah on Friday, which escalated into a shootout, leaving Ghali killed and bystander Abdullah Bliebel injured. NNA reported on Saturday that the joint Palestinian forces later turned over the accused killer, identified as Mahmoud Kenaan, to Lebanese authorities. Investigations were said to be ongoing to find suspects involved in the killing. The Daily Star quoted anonymous Palestinian sources as saying that the Friday incident indicated that the newly deployed joint security force “is unable to probe itself on the security scene.” “It has even become like the UNIFIL, in that it simply monitors the situation, reports incidents, and refers reports” the sources told The Daily Star, referring to the UN-mandated peacekeeping forces in southern Lebanon.
Former prisoner of Israel detained by PA, reportedly for criticizing Fatah on Facebook
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 11 June — A former prisoner of Israel, 23-year-old Nassar Jaradat, has been detained by the Palestinian Authority (PA) over Facebook posts critical of the Palestinian Authority’s ruling Fatah party, according to local media reports and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), as both Palestinian and Israeli authorities continue to crack down on dissident voices in the occupied territory. A Palestinian court in the central occupied West Bank city of Ramallah ordered to extend Jaradat’s remand by 15 days on Saturday, three days after he was arrested, accord to reports.
Jaradat was reportedly arrested for writing statements critical of Fatah Central Committee member Jibril Rujoub, who recently said in an interview with Israel’s Channel 2 that the Western Wall in occupied East Jerusalem’s Old City should “remain under Jewish sovereignty.” Jaradat was also reportedly accused of criticizing Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. In a public Facebook post last Sunday, Jaradat slammed Rujoub for “giving away to the unworthy what you don’t own personally”….
PA detains 4 Palestinians amid mounting criticism of security coordination
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 12 June — The Hamas movement said in a statement that Palestinian forces in the occupied West Bank detained four Palestinians on Monday, including two lawyers and a former “political prisoner,” and accused the Palestinian Authority (PA) of continuing to detained “tens” of others on charges of a political background — including a university student who was reportedly arrested for criticizing Fatah on Facebook. In the village of Rantis in the central occupied West Bank, PA forces detained Muath al-Khatib, and a lawyer identified as Ibrahim Abu Salim, during home raids that coincided with an Israeli army raid in the town that same morning, in which Saeb Abu Salim and Suhaib al-Sheikh were detained. Hamas said that PA forces also detained former “political detainee” Izz al-Din Frihat, just two months after he was released from Palestinian prison — where he reportedly launched a hunger strike in protest of his 40-day detention without charge. PA forces also detained Frihat’s father Yousif during the Monday morning raid, according to the statement. In the northern occupied West Bank district of Tubas, PA forces ordered Wasim Sawafta to appear for interrogation this coming Thursday, Hamas said….
Palestinian injured after unidentified gunmen open fire in Jenin refugee camp
JENIN (Ma‘an) 11 June – Unidentified gunmen shot and injured a young Palestinian man in Jenin refugee camp in the northern occupied West Bank on Saturday night, according to Palestinian police. A police spokesperson said that Nidal Abu Khurj was shot in the leg in the al-Jabriyat neighborhood of the camp, and was taken to the public hospital in Jenin city for treatment. The statement added that Jenin district police opened a probe into the case. According to UNRWA, the United Nations agency for Palestinian refugees, Jenin refugee camp “has been the scene of significant suffering” over the years, where one of the highest rates of unemployment and poverty are recorded among the 19 refugee camps in the occupied West Bank.
Birzeit University ranked in top 3 percent of world’s universities
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 12 June — For the first time in its history, Birzeit University in the central occupied West Bank district of Ramallah, has been listed in the 14th edition of the QS World University Rankings 2018. From a pool of 26,000 universities worldwide, Birzeit was in the top three percent — about 950 universities — of the best universities in the world, according to a statement from the university. Birzeit was the only Palestinian university to enter the QS World University Ranking this year. Birzeit University President Abdellatif Abuhijleh expressed his pride in the unprecedented achievement, saying “despite the political thwarts imposed by the Israeli occupation, and the fact that we are facing many obstacles due to our financial crisis, the university will never stop its efforts to empower its academic excellence, develop new programs, and enhance its educational and research infrastructure.”….
Dairy factory turned into eco-power plant in power-starved West Bank
Daily Sabah 10 June — Jihad al-Jebrini has found a solution for West Bank’s electricity shortage by turning the Al-Jebrini Dairy Products Factory into an ecological power plant. Al-Jebrini, who owns one of the largest cattle farms in the West Bank, decided to meet his own electricity requirements with cattle manure due to power outages that crippled his business in the Yatta district where his factory is located. CEO al-Jebrini told reporters from the Anadolu Agency that when the factory was founded in 2009, he had tried using a diesel generator. As disposing of the cattle manure is already a big effort on such a large farm, he decided to put it to better use. Around 1,000 cattle on the farm produce tons of manure every day, al-Jebrini explains, saying, “We did research for a long time on finding a different solution, and that research led us to produce electricity from the methane gas produced by processing animal waste.” The excess electricity from the factory is directed into the local power system, helping to relieve the shortages that are a common problem in the West Bank. An expert in sustainable energy at Hebron’s Palestine Polytechnic University said that the manure system produces 380 kilowatts of energy an hour, with only 20 kilowatts going to the factory itself and the remainder going into the area’s energy grid … Al-Jebrini’s factory alone outputs enough electricity to meet the energy needs of one-third of the 100,000 population of Yatta district. By collecting organic waste, such as fruit and vegetables, al-Jebrini plans to increase the factory’s power output to as much as 7 megawatts, which they hope will solve the shortage in the Hebron region….
West Bank water theft drains Israelis and Palestinians dry
Times of Israel 9 June by Jacob Magid — Israel’s Water Authority shut off the Shiloh pipeline, saying illegal Palestinian drilling is wreaking havoc on the supply. Now everyone is suffering — …To be heard above the din of the water tanker, Migdalim Director Yael Hashash had to raise her voice considerably. “The year is 2017, and we are forced to receive water under these conditions. It’s unbelievable!” she said, throwing her hands up in frustration. As the summer heat engulfs the country, this settlement northeast of Shiloh in the northern West Bank has been riding out a water crisis for the fourth consecutive year … I am constantly calling Mekorot to confirm that the tanker is coming on time in order to fill our water tower,” she said. As to who was causing the problem, Hashash did not mince her words: “Arabs from the surrounding villages, such as Kusra, steal the water by drilling dozens of holes into the pipeline to reroute it all for themselves.”... Still, she sought to clarify that she was not blaming entire Palestinian villages, such as neighboring Kusra. “They are not my enemies. Many of our residents do their shopping there. My repairman is from Kusra,” Hashash pointed out. “They are suffering from this problem as well.”
It only took a ten minute walk down Migdalim to the Palestinian village of Kusra for Hashash’s words to fully register. The super market at the entrance was stocked with six packs of one-and-a-half liter water bottles and nearly a dozen residents were waiting in line to purchase. The grocery’s owner Muhammad said the water had been shut off a few days earlier. But unlike in Migdalim, there was no water tanker shuttling to the village multiple times a day. Kusra’s Mayor Abed Al-Adeem Wada was adamant that none of his residents was responsible for the water theft. “There is some theft, but only in Jalud,” he said referring to another Palestinian village located between Shiloh and Migdalim. “And that is only because they are not connected to the water grid and are forced to steal in order to have enough to drink.” Wada laughed off Hashash’s assertion that Palestinian villagers steal the water for their olive tree groves. “Olive trees barely need any water in order to grow,” he pointed out. Wada claimed it was nearby settlers who were illegally drilling holes in the pipeline to reroute extra water for their vineyards.
… Amit Gilutz, of the Israeli human rights group B’Tselem, noted that according to the 1995 Oslo agreement that established the JWC, “80% of water extracted from joint Israeli-Palestinian sources was allotted for Israeli use, while the remaining 20% went to Palestinians.” Even though the allocation to the Palestinians has increased, he said, it is still considerably less than what the Israelis receive, he said. “While most of the settlements enjoy a full supply of water, Palestinians only get a fixed quota and they are required to pay more for it,” Gilutz claimed….
UN defends Palestinian aid agency after Israeli criticism
AFP 12 June — The United Nations on Monday defended the UN agency that provides aid to Palestinians, after Israel’s prime minister called for it to be shut down. UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres “is concerned about recent public criticism of UNRWA and the integrity of its operations,” spokesman Farhan Haq said, referring to the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine refugees in the Near East. “He wishes to express his support for UNRWA and his admiration for the role it plays in delivering essential services and protecting the rights of millions of Palestine refugees across the Middle East.” Guterres also “calls on all member states to continue their support to the agency in order for UNRWA to be in a position to fulfill impartially and efficiently its essential role,” Haq added. His remarks came after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called for UNRWA to be dismantled on Sunday, accusing it of incitement against the Jewish state. Netanyahu said he raised the issue during a recent visit by Washington’s UN envoy Nicky Haley, who has accused the United Nations of bias against Israel.
Israel, Palestinians have failed to prosecute war crimes: UN
GENEVA (Reuters) 12 June by Stephanie Nebehay — Both Israel and the Palestinians have failed to bring perpetrators of alleged war crimes – including killings – to justice, the United Nations said in a report published on Monday. Compiled by the office of U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra‘ad al-Hussein, it evaluates compliance with 64 reports and 929 recommendations from the Council, the U.N. Secretary General and U.N. rights investigators from 2009-2016. “The High Commissioner notes the repeated failure to comply with the calls for accountability made by the entire human rights system and urges Israel to conduct prompt, impartial and independent investigations of all alleged violations of international human rights law and all allegations of international crimes,” the report said. Zeid’s report also noted “the State of Palestine’s non-compliance with the calls for accountability and urges the State of Palestine to conduct prompt, impartial and independent investigations of all alleged violations of international human rights law and all allegations of international crimes.”….
Israeli forces suppress ‘Resist with your Prayer’ event in Hebron
HEBRON (Ma‘an) 11 June — Israeli forces suppressed an event in the southern occupied West Bank city of Hebron on Saturday, organized to commemorate the 1994 Ibrahimi Mosque massacre, when American-born Israeli settler Baruch Goldstein opened fire on Muslim worshipers at the mosque, killing 29 and injuring more than 120 …
Hundreds of Palestinians marched toward the mosque on Saturday, which came after Palestinians commemorated the 15th anniversary of the massacre in February. The group of worshipers, dressed in black, organized the event to coincide with the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, under the slogan “Resist with your prayer.” Abd al-Rahim Abu Hadid, head the local Sharek Community Center, said that the action has been organized every year during Ramadan assert the holy site’s Muslim identity and to “resist the Israeli occupation’s attempts to suppress this identity and Judaize the mosque, by implementing checkpoints and preventing Palestinians from entering for prayer.” He said Israeli forces prevented Palestinians from entering the Ibrahimi mosque, forcing them to perform prayers at the Israeli military checkpoint installed outside of the mosque’s compound. Abu Hadid denounced the restrictions as “an extreme violation of religious freedoms and the right to worship.”
Israel MK calls performance of Darwish poem a ‘provocation’
MEMO 12 June — Israeli Minister of Culture, Miri Regev, yesterday expressed opposition to the recitation of a poem by renowned Palestinian author Mahmoud Darwish at an Israeli cultural event, calling it a “provocation” and requesting that the performance be cancelled, according to a Hebrew website. According to news site Maariv, Mira Awwad, a famous Palestinian singer and actress with Israeli citizenship, is set to perform a Darwish poem during an award ceremony of the Society of Authors, Composers and Music Publishers in Israel (ACUM) today, where she is to receive a prize. Darwish, who died in 2008, is known as Palestine’s national poet, and stands as one of the most prominent figures of modern Palestinian literature. He has long been criticised by Israeli political figures for his stance against the occupation. Regev, who walked out of an Israeli movie award ceremony in September over the reading of a Darwish poem, has previously called the Palestinian writer the “leader of the Palestinian industry of lies” and objected to the performance of his works in Israel. Regev reportedly asked ACUM to cancel Awwad’s performance, although the artists’ group rejected her request. Responding to Regev’s opposition, Awwad said in a radio interview yesterday that she didn’t “understand why Miri Regev does not want to listen to Mahmoud Darwish’s poems. She hasn’t read his poems, and so she is quoting him completely wrong.”….
Israel moves forward bill to cut tax transfer to PA over prisoners compensation program
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 11 June — An Israeli governmental committee advanced a bill on Sunday which would see the Israeli government cease to transfer an estimated 1 billion shekels ($280 million) per year to the Palestinian Authority (PA) over the controversial “martyrs” compensation program that provides financial allowances to Palestinians imprisoned by Israel and their families. According to the Jerusalem Post, the Ministerial Committee on Legislation voted for the bill to move to the Knesset, Israel’s parliament, where legislators are expected to cast a vote on the measure on Wednesday.
The bill targets a social program managed by the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) that provides financial allowances to Palestinians imprisoned in Israel and their families, those injured by Israeli forces, and families of Palestinian “martyrs” — those killed by Israeli forces, whether amid attacks against Israelis or in situations void of wrongdoing.
“The Palestinian Authority not only rewards murder but encourages it, and encourages murder over [just] causing injury, and encourages many victims rather than just a few,” MK Elazar Stern, who authored the bill, was quoted by The Times of Israel as saying. “That is something that must stop, not only because it isn’t moral but because it is a barrier to peace.”
The Israeli newspaper also cited Palestinian Prisoner’s Society (PPS) head Qaddura Fares, who said the bill was trying to “stigmatize the Palestinian struggle with terrorism and to conflate the issues of the so-called war on terror with the Palestinian martyrs and prisoners who fought for freedom.”
Ahmad Tibi, a member of the Knesset in the Joint List political bloc — representing parties led by Palestinian citizens of Israel — told Ma‘an in April that the bill was part of a campaign that Israel was launching against Palestinian prisoners while attempting to exert pressure on Palestinian governmental institutions’ already shaky financial status. The PLO is responsible for providing financial assistance to families of those slain, injured, or imprisoned by Israeli forces. In 2016, this included 112 Palestinians who were killed by Israeli forces and nearly 4,000 Palestinians wounded by Israeli forces mostly during clashes, according to UN documentation. [part of a long article on this vexed subject]
Palestinian man donates recovery room to Haifa hospital
Ynet 11 June by Ilana Messika/TPS — A Palestinian man donated tens of thousands of shekels to the Rambam Health Care Campus in Haifa to improve treatment of childhood cancers and Israeli-Palestinian medical cooperation after he himself underwent cancer treatment at the Israeli hospital. After being diagnosed with cancer, a senior Palestinian official was directed to Rambam for further medical examinations and treatment. While hospitalized in the Joseph Fishman Oncology Center, he met with several families of patients from the Palestinian Authority and Gaza, and showed a particular interest in the needs of hospitalized children, both Israeli and foreign. “When I arrived at Rambam (Hospital), I saw a medical team caring for patients, but I also saw the suffering of the sick children,” recalled M. in a statement (Rambam Medical Center spokespeople said they were not at liberty to reveal the man’s identity). “Palestinian, Israeli, Syrian and children from other countries receive treatment in the hospital for a variety of serious illnesses and need all the help they can get. I decided to contribute as much as I could, both a humanitarian act and a symbol of solidarity.”
Human rights groups brief US Congress on Palestinian children after 50 years under occupation
IMEMC/Agencies 11 June — Over 60 attendees, including staff from at least 36 congressional offices, joined human rights advocates on Capitol Hill on Thursday, for a briefing to mark 50 years since the Israeli military occupied the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip. Representatives of Human Rights Watch, Defense for Children International – Palestine, the Adalah Justice Project, and more examined how daily violence and systemic discrimination affect the lives of Palestinian children. The briefing was sponsored by Defense for Children International – Palestine and the American Friends Service Committee as part of the No Way to Treat a Child campaign. “Another generation of Palestinian children are growing up under the shadow of military detention, repeated military offensives, and systemic discrimination,” said Brad Parker, Staff Attorney and International Advocacy Officer for Defense for Children International – Palestine. “It’s up to our members of Congress who value human rights and want to guarantee a safe and just future for all children in the region to demand Israeli authorities respect international law and be held accountable for ongoing violations against Palestinian children.”….
Britain elects its very first MP of Palestinian heritage
MEMO 9 June — Britain elected its first MP of Palestinian heritage in yesterday’s general election. Layla Moran overturned a Conservative majority of almost 10,000 votes to win the Oxford West and Abingdon. Moran won the closely contested election by only 816, gaining 26,252 votes. Moran was the only MP to overturn a seat in her county; the county’s other five seats remained as they were. Before the election, Moran spoke about her Palestinian origin saying: “My Palestinian background has made me interested at a global level. Politics was always at the dinner table, it primed me to engage.” Moran is born to a British father and a Palestinian mother from Jerusalem, a fact which fills her with pride. “De facto, I will be a representative of our community in parliament, and it will be a great honour which I take humbly,” she told The New Arab. In her interview with the Arab news agency, she said that her international upbringing has had a profound influence on her politics … Moran’s great-grandfather, Wasif Jawhariyyeh, wrote extensive memoirs about Palestinian life under Ottoman and British rule, before fleeing after the State of Israel was created.
Al-Jazeera a target in Gulf confrontation with Qatar
DOHA, Qatar (AP) 9 June by Malak Harb & Aya Batrawy — The Arabic news network Al-Jazeera has been thrust into the center of the story as Qatar came under virtual siege by its Gulf neighbors, pressuring it to shut down the channel that has infuriated them with its coverage for 20 years. Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt severed ties with Qatar this week over allegations it supports terrorism and, more specifically, that it uses Al-Jazeera as a mouthpiece to destabilize the region. The Qatar-based network, one of the most widely seen Arabic channels in the world, had long angered Mideast governments, since at its start it was one the few that presented alternative viewpoints. Critics say it has in past years turned to promoting Islamist movements as a tool of Qatar’s foreign policy. The region’s rulers see many of these movements, including the Muslim Brotherhood, as threats. Qatar and the station deny the accusations. Qatar’s foreign minister told The Associated Press there was no way the country would silence Al-Jazeera, which says its channels reach 100 countries and 310 million homes worldwide. “If anyone thinks they are going to impose anything on my internal affairs or my internal issues, this is not going to happen. We are an independent country with our own sovereignty,” said Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani. He said the allegations are based on “false and fabricated news.” But as Qatar became more isolated this week, so too did Al-Jazeera. Qatar’s opponents shut down access to the channel and its affiliate websites in their territories two weeks ago. On Monday, they blocked airspace to Qatari flights; Saudi Arabia sealed Qatar’s only land border; and it and Jordan closed Al-Jazeera offices on their soil. Qatar’s opponents reportedly demand a slate of actions, including shutting down or dramatically changing the tone of the network….
Netanyahu considers closing down Al Jazeera offices in Israel
Ynet 13 June by Itamar Eichner — After Jordan and Saudi Arabia shut down the Qatari network’s offices in their countries, Israel is examining a similar move; Al Jazeera is expected to petition the Supreme Court against such a move … The prime minister held an initial discussion on the topic on Monday, and the Government Press Office (GPO), the Foreign Ministry, the Shin Bet and the rest of the security establishment have all begun studying the issue.
Arab world tweets: Hamas is resistance, not terrorism
Al Jazeera 12 June — Following recent statements by the Saudi foreign minister calling on Qatar to end its support of Hamas, social media users in the Arab world reacted in support of the Palestinian resistance movement and to counter the minister’s statements which characterised Hamas as a “terrorist organisation”. Adel al-Jubeir’s remarks came as part of the rift between Qatar, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain. On June 5, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and Bahrain announced they were cutting diplomatic ties with Qatar for its support for “terrorism”, an allegation that Qatar has repeatedly denied. The hashtag translating as “Hamas is resistance, not terrorism” (#حماس_مقاومة_مش_إرهاب), took off on Thursday. Figures showed that the tweet was most used in Palestine, and was one of the active tweets used in Qatar, Jordan, Egypt, Algeria, Qatar, Oman and Libya. Thousands of social media users stressed that resistance is the right of the Palestinian people in order to obtain freedom from the Israeli occupation. They also said that speaking about Hamas as a “terrorist movement” is doing a service to Israel and echoes the statements of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. They also said Hamas’ position as a resistance movement is not a matter to be disputed in the Arab world.
Opinion: Watching ‘Wonder Woman’ in Gaza / Hamid Dabashi
Al Jazeera 10 June — …”Wonder Woman’ banned in Lebanon,” read the headline, “because lead actress is Israeli.” There we go again. To be sure, in the United States, Wonder Woman was not only not banned, in fact, it is loudly loved and widely admired as a groundbreaking feminist film, opening to such record sale that would make a Hollywood executive summersault even higher than Wonder Woman herself. Was Princess of Themyscira a settler colonialist, too? When you finally sit down to watch the film, you recall how Wonder Woman (now portrayed by Officer Gal Gadot) is none other than Diana, the warrior princess of the Amazons, born and raised on a sheltered island paradise, just like Israel, or “a villa in the jungle” as one of their warlords once put it. She meets an American pilot (played by Chris Pine), just as they do in their regular joint military exercises, who lures her into the real world where war and misery abound and where the Themysciran princess saves the world and finds her true destiny. Five minutes into the film, the metaphoric resemblance of the chief protagonist of the film to an Israeli warrior princess and an American fighter pilot who are coming romantically together to save the world with their militarised prowess gushes out of the screen, leaving you nowhere to hide … That cinematic allegory brings us back to the lead actress, Gal Gadot, a settler colonialist who did not just serve in the Israeli army, as any other adult in Israel must (except of course those brave souls who refuse to do so), but actually cheered on her comrades-in-arms when they were slaughtering Palestinian woman and children in Gaza….