Land, property theft & destruction / Ethnic cleansing / Settlements
A massive donation and a Sheldon Adelson medical school: Israeli West Bank university to double in size
Haaretz 18 June by Lior Dattel & Ronny Linder-Ganz — Ariel University is to double in size within the next five years, according to a plan now being promoted by Education Minister Naftali Bennett. Ten or twelve new buildings are to be added for new faculties in research and teaching at the university, located in the West Bank settlement of Ariel, as well as a new medical school, to be named after U.S. billionaire businessman Sheldon Adelson and his wife Miriam. The subcommittee on funding of the Council for Higher Education in Israel recently approved the plan, which will also lead to a major increase in the student body from its current figure of 11,000. The funding subcommittee estimated the cost of the expansion at about 400 million shekels ($113 million). Funding is to come from the university’s state-funded budget, from its income from tuition and from donations. In recent years the state increased funding to Ariel University after its controversial upgrade from a college in 2012. This year, the university’s budget is about 260 million shekels … Approximately 47,000 square meters are expected to be added to the campus, bringing its total built area to 104,000 square meters….
Jericho school served with demolition notice
IMEMC/Agencies 17 June — Israeli forces have issued a new demolition notice to Mahmood Al-Jarmi, the head teacher of a Bedouin school near the city of Jericho, north of the West Bank, which is attended by children from various Bedouin communities located in Area C. The Israeli army has previously threatened to demolish the school under the pretext that it does not have a permit. According to the PNN, Al-Jarmi has appealed to governmental, international and civil institutions and the local community to stand by them in the face of Israeli aggression. He has also called on the media to expose Israeli brutality. Al-Jarmi stressed that the parents and the faculty are standing strong in the face of Israeli occupation.
Israel to permit 5 Palestinian cities in the West Bank to expand into Area C
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 17 June — Israeli authorities notified the Palestinian Authority (PA) that five Palestinian cities — Ramallah, Hebron, Tulkarem, Jenin, and Qalqiliya — will be permitted to expand into Area C — the more than 60 percent of the occupied West Bank under full Israeli control, Israeli media reported on Friday. According to The Jerusalem Post, Palestinian citizen of Israel and member of the Knesset, Israel’s Parliament, Ahmad Tibi said Thursday night that the cities, all considered Area A of the West Bank — under full PA control — would be permitted to expand into Area C, which is under full Israeli military control according to the Oslo Accords. A spokesperson for COGAT, the Israeli agency responsible for implementing Israeli policies in the occupied Palestinian territory, was not immediately available to comment on the new plans. The reported plans to expand Palestinian development in Area C stemmed from an agreement made between the Palestinian Authority (PA) and Israeli officials, reportedly as a result of US President Donald Trump’s visit to the region last month, to rescind some of Israel’s control in Area C, as one of several steps aimed at easing the economic situation for Palestinians in the occupied West Bank. On Wednesday, reports emerged that the Israeli army has intended to expand the municipal boundaries of Qalqiliya city, which would see 14,000 new homes planned for Palestinians in Area C. However, the new measures, seen as a slight easing of repressive policies that have restricted Palestinian development for some two decades following the Oslo Accords, were denounced by settlers and right-wing Israeli politicians….
Cabinet reopens debate on expanding Palestinian city
Times of Israel 18 June by Jacob Magid/Staff — Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced Sunday that the cabinet would hold another debate on whether to allow the Palestinian Authority to greatly expand the city of Qalqilya in the West Bank, after right-wing ministers denounced the scheme and claimed it had not been reviewed properly in a previous cabinet session. The plan would see 14,000 new apartments built in the Israeli-controlled Area C surrounding the city, potentially more than doubling the city’s population, from 50,000 to 110,000. Netanyahu said during the weekly cabinet meeting in Jerusalem that he “doesn’t remember the cabinet decision on expanding Qalqilya,” Channel 2 reported, an apparent reference to claims by ministers that the plan had not previously been given the proper attention. Education Minister Naftali Bennett, who leads the settlement-supporting Jewish Home party, lauded the decision to reconsider the plan, tweeting that “in light of the Palestinian incitement [to commit terror attacks] we should not give them a prize of 14,000 homes along Route 6. I hope that this time everyone will join us in our position.” Qalqilya is mostly surrounded by Israel’s security barrier and lies opposite the country’s central region only a few kilometers from the Tel Aviv suburb of Kfar Saba. The trans-Israel highway, Route 6, passes close to the city. The Yesha Council, an umbrella organization for Jewish settlements in the West Bank, said in a statement that it backs the government in the decision to debate the plan before going through with it. “It is inconceivable for the Palestinian Authority to build houses in Area C with government approval,” the council said. “We call on the the cabinet members to cancel the plan and to continue construction in Judea, Samaria, and the Jordan Valley.”….
Violence / Detentions — West Bank / Jerusalem
3 Palestinians shot dead after Israeli officer fatally stabbed in Jerusalem
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 17 June — Israeli police reported on Friday evening that an attack took place on Sultan Suleiman street outside the Damascus Gate entrance to the Old City of occupied East Jerusalem, saying that one Israeli police officer was critically injured and later succumbed to her wounds, while the three attackers — who police spokesperson Micky Rosenfeld referred to as “Arab terrorists” — were shot dead. All three Palestinians were shot dead by Israeli police at the scene. Israeli police spokeswoman Luba al-Samri said that the Israeli police officer, a 23-year old woman named Hadas Malka, succumbed to her wounds after being stabbed by one of the attackers, while a number of others were injured in the attack. The Palestinian Ministry of Health identified the slain Palestinians as Adel Hasan Ahmad Ankoush,18, Baraa Ibrahim Salih Taha, 18, and Osama Ahmad Dahdouh, 19, all from the central occupied West Bank village of Deir Abu Mashaal.
Israeli news daily Haaretz reported that the attack was carried out at two scenes near Damascus Gate; two of the Palestinians were shot and killed after reportedly assaulting Israeli police officers with knives and guns, while the third attacker was shot dead after fatally stabbing the border policewoman as she attempted to reach for her gun. A second Israeli officer was reportedly lightly wounded in the attack, and evacuated to Israel’s Hadassah hospital in Jerusalem where Malka was also evacuated and eventually succumbed to her wounds.
Two Palestinian bystanders, including a 30-year-old from the southern occupied West Bank city of Hebron, were also hospitalized for light to medium injuries sustained by being caught in the shoot-out, according to Israeli police, though it remained unclear if they came under fire from Israeli forces or from one of three assailants.
Witnesses later told Ma‘an that several Palestinians were injured by shrapnel from bullets shot by Israeli forces, who shot “haphazardly” in every direction during the attack.
Israel rescinds permits, puts Ramallah-area village under lockdown following deadly attack
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 17 June — Following a deadly attack in occupied East Jerusalem on Friday, Israeli authorities have revoked permits issued to Palestinians to enter Jerusalem and Israel, while Israeli forces raided and put the occupied West Bank village of Deir Abu Mashaal, the home of the three Palestinian attackers, under complete lockdown — sparking clashes that left at least three Palestinians shot and injured. Meanwhile, reports have emerged that a number of Palestinians were injured, assaulted, and detained by Israeli forces immediately following the attack…
Israeli police spokesperson Luba al-Samri said in a statement on Friday night that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had approved a decision to rescind all permits issued for Palestinians during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan and Eid al-Fitr, a Muslim holiday following Ramadan, in response to the attack…
The mayor of Deir Abu Mashal Imad Zahran told Ma‘an on Saturday that Israeli forces raided the homes of the three slain Palestinian youths and took measurements, while Israeli soldiers informed the families that their homes would be demolished soon — an Israeli policy used against family members of Palestinian attacks, which rights groups have deemed a form of “collective punishment.”…
Zahran confirmed that “fierce clashes” broke out in the village during the raid, adding that two Palestinians were shot with live ammunition in the legs and another Palestinian was struck with a live bullet. Dozens of Palestinians, he added, suffered from tear gas inhalation during the clashes. The Israeli army statement noted that one young Palestinian “suspect” was detained during the raids, while Israeli news site Ynet quoted a military sources as confirming that at least four Palestinians were shot in their lower extremities.
Zahran said that Israeli forces withdrew from the village on Saturday, but remained stationed behind an iron gate installed at the village’s only entrance. Israeli forces had also distributed fliers in Arabic to residents, notifying them of upcoming military activities in the village, Zahran said. Zahran also mentioned that Palestinian high school students who were scheduled to take the Tawjihi exams — important examinations students must undergo in the Palestinian territory — were permitted to leave for the nearby villages of Shuqba and Kharbath to sit for the exams after interventions by the Palestinian liaison and the Palestinian committee of civil affairs…
As reports have continued to emerge regarding the deadly attack, Palestinians told Ma’an that a number of bystanders were injured and some 10 Palestinians were detained by Israeli forces around the Old City following the attack. Several Palestinians were injured by shrapnel from bullets shot by Israeli forces, who witnesses said shot “haphazardly” in every direction during the attack. Among the injured was a young man from Jerusalem who was shot in the spine and kidney, according to witnesses…
Israeli forces had detained three Palestinian bystanders near Herod’s Gate in the Old City after allegedly assaulting them, according to witnesses. Israeli forces also fired stun grenades to disperse bystanders and passersby who were exiting through the gate after finishing prayers at Al-Aqsa Mosque.
Three other Palestinian bystanders were detained in Musrara neighborhood and on Nablus street in East Jerusalem where Israeli forces had also fired stun grenades at Palestinians in the area.
Meanwhile, all shop owners in Musrara and Sultan Solomon streets near the site of the attack were forced to close their shops following the incident…
[comprehensive article – these paragraphs are only a sampling]
2 Palestinians shot, 3 detained as Israeli forces continue to besiege Deir Abu Mashaal
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 18 June — Israeli forces shot and injured three Palestinians and detained two others during a raid Sunday into the central occupied West Bank village of Deir Abu Mashaal, which remained under lockdown after three men from the village were shot dead while carrying out an attack in Jerusalem on Friday that left an Israeli border policewoman killed. Locals told Ma‘an that Israeli troops stormed the village for the third consecutive day after the attack, sparking clashes with residents.
A young man was shot in the leg with a live bullet and another was shot in the hand. They were both evacuated to the Palestinian Medical Complex in Ramallah for treatment.
Witnesses said Israeli forces detained two men and a woman during the clashes. The woman was identified by the Palestinian Prisoner’s Society as 42-year-old Inaya Atta, the wife of Palestinian prisoner Saleh Atta, who is serving a 21-year sentence in Israeli prison. Locals added that Israeli soldiers also raided her home and seized her jewelry before she was detained.
Residents in the village highlighted that Israeli forces continued to blockade the village for the third day as of Sunday, and that the village’s two main entrances remained blockaded by large rocks and dirt berms, while the third entrance was secured by an iron gate and a military checkpoint.
Israeli blockade of Ramallah-area village continues for fourth day
RAMALLAH (WAFA) 19 June – Israel continued Monday and for the fourth day in a row to collectively punish all residents of the village of Deir Abu Mishaal, northwest of Ramallah, following Friday’s stabbing to death of an Israeli policewoman by three young residents of the village, according to local sources. They told WAFA that Israeli soldiers have imposed a tight blockade on the village, barring entry and exit of vehicles, and only allowing residents over 25 years of age to enter or leave it on foot. The Israeli army has reportedly barred members of the Atta family, to which two of the three young attackers came from, from leaving the village. The army placed Friday night a metal gate at the entrance to the village, which remained closed since then. Soldiers also nightly raid homes and terrorize residents, said the sources. The Israeli army is still holding the corpses of the three attackers, refusing to turn them over to their families for burial.
Palestinians dismiss IS claim of Israeli policewoman killing
New Arab/Agencies 18 June — Palestinian factions dismissed a claim by the Islamic State group that it was behind the fatal stabbing of an Israeli policewoman in Jerusalem, instead saying that the assailants came from their ranks, officials confirmed on Saturday. Hamas, the Palestinian Islamist group that runs the Gaza Strip, dismissed the claim, confirming the attackers had come from among its own ranks and those of the leftist Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP). Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said the IS claim was an attempt to “muddy the waters”, adding that the attack was carried out by “two Palestinians from the PFLP and a third from Hamas”. The killing was “a natural response to the crimes of the occupier,” he said … But the Israeli security services also raised doubts about the veracity of the IS claim – its first for an attack in Jerusalem or inside Israel – which came as the militants face defeat in their Iraq and Syria bastions. A spokesman for Israel’s Shin Bet internal security agency told AFP it was “impossible to corroborate (the IS claim) at this point”. “A preliminary army intelligence evaluation found no evidence of them belonging to any group,” an army spokeswoman said.
Palestinians subjected to ‘collective punishment’ in Jerusalem following attack
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 18 June — Israeli authorities continued to enforce a strict crackdown on occupied East Jerusalem on Sunday following a deadly attack at the entrance of the Old City on Friday night, with Palestinians saying they have been subjected to “collective punishment” through road closures, arbitrary searches, and mass detentions. Witnesses told Ma‘an that Israeli police have been conducting physical searches on Palestinians, including women and children, and forcing holders of West Bank IDs to board special buses, which have been deployed across Jerusalem since the early hours of Saturday morning. Over the course of Saturday, 350 Palestinians with West Bank IDs were rounded up, detained, and sent back the occupied West Bank on the police-marked buses, according to Israeli police spokeswoman Luba al-Samri.
The “deportations” followed a decision from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to revoke family visitation permits issued to Palestinians to enter Jerusalem and Israel for Ramadan, as a punitive reaction to the attack, in which three Palestinian assailants were shot dead and one Israeli policewoman was fatally stabbed. According to Israeli news site Haaretz, 250,000 Palestinians had their permits revoked.
“I am from Bethlehem. An Israeli soldier stopped me while I was passing by Damascus Gate, searched me, and held me in the area until a bus came. I was forced to get on the bus and leave the city,” a Palestinian youth told Ma‘an on Saturday.
Al-Samri said the justification for rescinding the permits was that the three slain Palestinian assailants were from the occupied West Bank district of Ramallah, but said they had entered Jerusalem “illegally” — without having such permits.
Streets around the Old City, namely al-Misrara street, Salah al-Din street, and Sultan Suleiman street — where the combined shooting and stabbing attack occurred — were also closed to traffic, with both private vehicles and public transit being denied entry.
The security measures are expected to remain in force until the end of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan at the end of June [actually 25 June, first day of the Muslim holiday Eid-al-Fitr], according to al-Samri.
Israeli forces storm Jenin-area villages, raid Palestinian homes
JENIN (Ma‘an) 17 June — Israeli forces raided a number of Palestinian villages in the northern occupied West Bank district of Jenin on Friday evening, declaring the areas “closed military zones,” according to locals. Local sources told Ma‘an that sirens had sounded from Israel’s Salem military base near Jenin, before Israeli forces stormed the villages of Rummana, Zububa, and al–Taybeh in western Jenin and declared the areas “closed military zones.” Israeli forces ransacked several Palestinian homes and questioned residents of the village on the streets, according to locals. No detentions or clashes were reported … It was unclear if the military operations were connected to a deadly attack carried out in occupied East Jerusalem Friday evening by three Palestinians from the Hebron area, as Israeli authorities implemented heightened security measures across the occupied West Bank following the incident.
Palestinian attempts to stab Israeli in West Bank
Haaretz 17 June by Gili Cohen — A Palestinian attempted to stab an Israeli near the West Bank settlement of Alon Shvut early on Saturday, the IDF said. The two skirmished and the Israeli was very lightly injured. The Israeli was armed and took out his weapon but managed to subdue to assailant without firing. The Israeli, who was attacked while walking to Alon Shvut, refused to be taken to a hospital. Security forces arrived on the scene and detained the Palestinian, a 24-year-old from Bethlehem.
IDF cleared out Baladim, right-wing extremist outpost
Haaretz 19 June by Yotam Berger — The army this month removed the residents of Baladim, a settlement outpost in the West Bank, near Kokhav Hashahar. The Israel Defense Forces confirmed that the head of the Central Command had signed an order in early June ordering the removal of dozens of lone settlers who were living in the community, located near the settlement of Kokhav Hashahar. Baladim was considered the headquarters of the most extreme Jewish settlers in the West Bank. Its mobile homes housed dozens of people at any given time. In recent weeks there had been incidents of serious violence in the area against left-wing activists and against soldiers at Baladim. Two violent incidents in April, one an attack on leftists and the other an attack on a soldier in a military jeep, presumably led to the decision to evacuate the outpost. Sources told Haaretz that when the outpost was to be evacuated, a senior Central Command officer summoned leaders from the settlement of Yitzhar, near Nablus, and warned them that the clearing of the Baladim outpost was liable to bring a group of extremist youths to Yitzhar. According to a source, the settlers sought to understand what exactly the commander wanted them to do, and they were told, “as far as the army is concerned,” the settlement could expel them. The settlers responded that they couldn’t take responsibility for an extreme and violent group. Sources in the settlement who spoke to Haaretz were critical of the army, saying it was shirking their responsibility. Indeed, according to a number of sources in Yitzhar, a small group of extremists has been staying in the settlement. It was they, the sources said, who threw rocks Saturday night at a military ambulance. The residents of Yitzhar renounced these extremists and even disseminated a type of code of ethics among the settlement’s young people aimed at preventing such incidents….
Army ambulance called to Yitzhar stoned by settlers
Times of Israel 18 June by Jacob Magid/Staff — An army ambulance called to the West Bank settlement of Yitzhar was stoned by area residents Saturday night, in an incident the military said crossed a “red line.” The attack was the second anti-army incident at the hardline settlement south of Nablus in as many days, after residents laid spikes in a road leading to the settlement to stop military vehicles on Friday, a spokesperson for the Israel Defense Forces said. On Saturday night, an army ambulance was summoned to Yitzhar to treat a woman complaining of dehydration. As it left the settlement, area residents stoned the vehicle, damaging its windshield, the army said. There were no injuries reported. The army said in a statement it would not be deterred from operating in the area, though no arrests were reported. “The IDF views these incidents as crossing a red line and emphasizes the severity of an attack of any type on security forces carrying out their duties and protecting area residents,” the army said in a statement. A spokesperson for the settlement called the stoning “terrible” and said Yitzhar was “totally opposed to it.”
Security chiefs ask settler rabbis to ‘calm’ hilltop youth
Times of Israel 19 June by Sue Surkes — Security chiefs urged far-right rabbis on Sunday to help restrain radical members of the so-called “hilltop youth” after a string of anti-Arab hate crimes over recent weeks. The unusual meeting was initiated by the Jewish division in the Shin Bet internal security services, Channel 2 News reported. Following an arson attack — apparently by Jewish extremists — on a home in the Palestinian village of Duma, south of Nablus, in July 2015, which killed an 18-month-old child and his parents — security forces, fearful of further attacks on Palestinians, issued dozens of restraining orders intended to keep radicals away from the West Bank. The activists are known as hilltop youth for their practice of erecting illegal outposts on hilltops in the West Bank. The recent uptick in anti-Arab hate attacks has mainly been recorded within Israeli territory, and has been linked to protests by youngsters who are still under order to keep away from the West Bank. A week ago, police arrested nine young men suspected of defying restraining orders on entering the West Bank and from meeting one another….
IDF nabs Palestinians suspected of terrorizing West Bank highway
Times of Israel 16 June by Judah Ari Gross — Troops from the IDF’s religious Netzah Yehuda battalion busted a group of Palestinian men on Friday morning who are suspected of terrorizing a West Bank roadway with firebombings and rock-throwing attacks over the past three weeks, the unit’s commander said. Having tracked the group’s activities and understood its modus operandi, the Netzah Yehuda battalion, sometimes known as the Nahal Haredi, laid a trap for the suspected terrorists along Route 458 in the central West Bank in the early hours of Friday morning, Lt. Col. Itamar Deshel told The Times of Israel over the phone. Every Friday morning since the start of Ramadan in late May, between three and six suspects, traveling in one or two cars, attacked cars on the highway near the Kochav Hashachar settlement with “everything but firearms,” Deshel said. To make the cars easier targets for their rocks, Molotov cocktails and burning tires, the terrorists put large rocks or strips of nails on the road, Deshel said. These early morning attacks did not result in any physical injuries to people — “thank God,” Deshel added — but they did cause significant damage to cars traveling along the road. Both Israelis and Palestinians travel along the 458 highway and both were therefore affected by the attacks, though the terrorists did apparently target vehicles with Israeli license plates, Deshel said. Windshields were smashed, cars were dented and scorched … On Friday at around 4:30 a.m., the six suspects pulled up to the 458 highway in two cars — the same vehicles they’d been using over the past three weeks — and started getting ready to attack vehicles on the road, Deshel said. But unknown to the suspects, an IDF ambush team was lying in wait and their only route of escape was closed off … The suspects were all between the ages of 18 to 21, from the nearby village of Malik. The village is small, but, according to Deshel, has a reputation of being violent with a “culture of opposition.” They did not have any known connection to terrorist groups…
Israeli forces detain 2 B’Tselem field researchers in Hebron
HEBRON (Ma‘an) 18 June — Israeli forces detained two field workers for Israeli human rights group B’Tselem in the city of Hebron in the southern occupied West Bank on Sunday, the group reported, adding that one of them had since been released while the other remained in Israeli custody. According to a Hebrew-language statement by the organization, Manal al-Jaabari and Moussa Abu Hashhash, two field researchers for B’Tselem, were detained at a military checkpoint near the Ibrahimi Mosque in Hebron’s Old City while filming “severe restrictions on Palestinian movement” in the area, the NGO said. Al-Jaabari was initially detained by Israeli border police and taken to an Israeli police station in the nearby illegal settlement of Kiryat Arba, B’Tselem said, adding that she was interrogated over suspicions of “disturbing a police officer carrying out their duties.” B’Tselem added that Abu Hashhash arrived at the Ibrahimi Mosque checkpoint later in the afternoon to document Israeli restrictions on Palestinians in the area, and was detained on the scene for 40 minutes without being interrogated before Israeli forces released him. The human rights NGO added that both al-Jaabari and Abu Hashhash were prevented from contacting B’Tselem during their detention.
Israeli forces detain 18 Palestinians in West Bank, East Jerusalem raids
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 18 June — Israeli forces detained at least 18 Palestinians in military raids across the occupied territory between Saturday night and midday Sunday. The Israeli army told Ma‘an that three Palestinians were detained in an overnight raid in the village of al-Mughayyir, east of Ramallah in the central occupied West Bank. A statement from the Palestinian Prisoner’s Society (PPS) identified two of the detainees as Bahaa Usama Abu Alia and Amir Atif Abu Alia.
The army spokesperson also said that one Palestinian was detained in the town of Abu Dis in the central Jerusalem district, identified by PPS as Muataz Jafal.
In village of Husan in the southern Bethlehem district, the Israeli army said it detained three Palestinians, two of whom were identified by PPS 24-year-old Uday Atif Taamra and 19-year-old Muhannad Atiyeh Taamra.
The PPS statement also highlighted that Israeli police forces detained at least six Palestinians in occupied East Jerusalem before dawn, saying that most of them were minors. Israeli police spokesperson Luba al-Samri said that Israeli forces raided a number of Palestinian houses in Jerusalem’s Old City overnight, confirming that six Palestinians were detained, five of them under the age of 18. She said the six detainees were suspected of “nationally motivated crimes,” including arson attacks, as well as throwing stones, fireworks, and Molotov cocktails at “a Jewish house” in the Muslim neighborhood of the Old City, and other similar incidents over the past few weeks. According to al-Samri, the attacks — “apparently” conducted to coerce the inhabitants of the house to leave — caused material damages, but no injuries…
Israeli police spokesperson Micky Rosenfeld also released a statement Sunday, saying that widespread campaigns were conducted over the weekend, when Palestinian vehicles were searched at checkpoints as “police looked for suspects involved in terrorist activity,” resulting in the detention of two Palestinians from Ramallah for alleged possession of an illegal weapon.
Israeli soldiers abduct nineteen Palestinians in the West Bank
IMEMC 19 June — Israeli soldiers abducted, on Monday at dawn, nineteen Palestinians, including a blind man, in addition to a father and his two sons, in different parts of the occupied West Bank, during extensive and violent searches of homes. The Palestinian Prisoners’ Society (PPS) has reported that the soldiers invaded several areas in the West Bank governorate of Bethlehem, searched and ransacked many homes and abducted seven Palestinians, including a father and two of his sons. The abducted Palestinians have been identified as Anwar Abdul-Hamid Adawy, 60, his sons Midhat, 26, and Ibrahim, 22, in addition to Mohammad Sameeh Hamamra, 22, Mohammad Hasan Hamamra, Bakr Mohammad Shousha, and Mohammad Ibrahim Abu Freiha, 22.
In the northern West Bank governorate of Nablus, the soldiers searched homes and abducted six Palestinians, identified as Samir Abdul-Karim Hashash, 25, Fathi Zaher al-‘Aarda, 25, Abdul-Rahman Shehada, Fawzi Mohammad Awwad, Jihad Ata Oweiss, and a blind man, who also suffers from various health issues, identified as Mohammad Sayel Eshteyya, 24.
In Qalqilia and Jenin governorates, in northern West Bank, the soldiers abducted two Palestinians, identified as Mohammad Amin Sheikh, 18, and Adam Waleed Sharqawi.
In the Ramallah and al-Biereh governorate, in central West Bank, the soldiers abducted two Palestinians identified as Mohammad Abu Awwad and Younes Hawamda.
The soldiers also invaded Shu‘fat refugee camp, north of the occupied East Jerusalem, searched homes and abducted a young man, identified as Daoud al-‘Amour. The soldiers also ambushed a Palestinian in a courtyard of the Al-Aqsa Mosque, and abducted him before moving him to an interrogation center in the city.
Israeli forces denounced for ‘fascist’ assault on Palestinian worshipers at Al-Aqsa
[with videos] JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 18 June — Israeli forces raided the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound in occupied East Jerusalem on Sunday morning and assaulted Muslim worshipers, as extremist Jewish Israelis were allowed to tour the holy site, with a Fatah official condemning the incident as “an extension of Israel’s fascist and aggressive policies against Palestinian people.” 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.
The incident came as Palestinians in occupied East Jerusalem were being subjected to “collective punishment” measures following a deadly attack in front of the Old City two days ago, in which three Palestinians were shot dead after conducting an attack that left on Israeli policewoman killed.
Director of the Al-Aqsa Mosque Sheikh Omar Kiswani told Ma‘an that some 250 Israeli soldiers had stormed the compound through the Moroccans’ Gate entrance and allowed “Israeli settlers” to enter. Israeli forces stationed at the doors of the compound’s main mosque, the al-Qibli mosque, started to prevent Muslim worshipers from leaving the building, and subsequently began violently beating them and also fired rubber-coated steel bullets and tear gas.
Kiswani said that the Israeli special forces detained two Palestinians, who he described as “youths,” adding that several suffered from being pepper sprayed, and three Palestinians were badly bruised after being beaten with batons. Kiswani said he held the Israeli government responsible for the escalation of violence amid the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, by allowing the extremist Israelis to conduct the provocative tour around the mosque. Azzam Khatib, the director of the Islamic endowment (Waqf) that manages Al-Aqsa, told Ma‘an that Israeli police had suddenly decided on Saturday night to allow Israeli settlers and tourists to tour the site, noting that Israeli police usually close the gate for the last ten days of Ramadan, as the days are particularly sacred to Muslims. However, this time last year, Israeli authorities also permitted access for Israelis and foreigners to the site, causing clashes to erupt almost daily….
Re-arrested Palestinian lawyer Muhammad Allan isolated on tenth day of hunger strike
Samidoun 17 June — Re-arrested former Palestinian prisoner and long-term hunger striker Muhammad Allan was transferred to isolation in Megiddo prison on his tenth day of hunger strike, Saturday, 17 June. The Palestinian lawyer from the village of Einabus launched the strike on 8 June following his seizure by Israeli occupation forces during a pre-dawn raid on his family home. Mohja al-Quds reported that he had been held in the Jalameh/Kishon interrogation center since that time before being moved into isolation. Allan’s detention was extended on Thursday, 15 June by an Israeli military court; Ma‘an News reported that he is now being accused of “incitement” for posting his political opinions on Facebook. Hundreds of Palestinians have been arrested and charged by Israeli occupation forces with “incitement” for posting their political opinions or honoring Palestinians killed by Israeli occupation forces. He was last released from Israeli prison in November 2015 following a 66-day hunger strike in which he secured an end to his year-long administrative detention, imprisonment without charge or trial.
Circus performer’s imprisonment without charge or trial extended; Palestinian intellectual’s administrative detention confirmed by military court
Samidoun 17 June — The imprisonment without charge or trial of Palestinian circus performer Mohammed Abu Sakha was extended for three months by Israeli occupation forces. Abu Sakha, who trains Palestinian children in circus performance at the Palestinian Circus School, has performed around the world with Festiclown and PCS, with which he has been affiliated since 2007. He has been imprisoned by Israeli occupation forces since December 2015, held without charge or trial under administrative detention. Abu Sakha has received global widespread support from artists, circus groups, human rights advocates and Palestine organizers. His detention order expired on 11 June 2017; his lawyers from Addameer Prisoner Support and Human Rights Association had obtained an order limiting the renewal of his detention to a three-month period.
In addition, the three-month administrative detention order against Palestinian intellectual Ahmad Qatamesh was confirmed by an Israeli occupation military court on 13 June. Qatamesh, 67, who has spent years in Israeli prison, including imprisoned without charge or trial under administrative detention, was seized by Israeli occupation forces on 14 May; the order was issued against him three days later.
Gaza faced with 2 to 3 hours of power a day after Israel begins electricity cuts
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 19 June — Israel started to reduce electricity supplies to the besieged Gaza Strip on Monday, despite being urged by humanitarian organizations not to implement the decision, which came at the request of the Palestinian Authority (PA).
Gaza’s electricity company, the Gaza Electricity Distribution Corporation, said in a statement Monday that the Israeli grids supplying the Gaza Strip reduced their output from 120 to 112 megawatts. The statement explained that the reduction affected two grids — one known as the Baghdad Line that feeds the Gaza City district and Grid 11 that feeds Khan Yunis in southern Gaza — which had previously produced a combined 24 megawatts of power, and were now producing just 16 megawatts. Electricity company spokesman Muhammad Thabet said the reduction meant power would be provided for only two to three hours a day….
Hamas leader confirms alliance with Muhammad Dahlan against PA
BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) — Hamas politburo deputy chairman in the besieged Gaza Strip Khalil al-Hayya called on Sunday for the establishment of a “national rescue front” to challenge the Palestinian Authority (PA), confirming the Islamist movement’s collaboration with discharged Fatah leader Muhammad Dahlan. Al-Hayya, who was elected to the position in February, slammed the Fatah-led PA for its recent decision to request that Israel reduce its supply of electricity to the Gaza Strip, expected to have disastrous effects on Gaza’s two million inhabitants and endanger the medical sector in particular. “We won’t stand idly by as these practices lead to deprivation of medicine,” al-Hayya said in a statement. “This policy unites us all in Gaza and consolidates our belief that our plight is being hijacked by (PA President) Mahmoud Abbas.”…
Al-Hayya added that Hamas had agreed to cooperate with longtime Abbas rival Dahlan in order “to work together on social interests after Abbas crippled those interests.” “I am not revealing a secret” in disclosing that meetings with Dahlan have been ongoing, al-Hayya said, adding that “we agreed on a clear and specific way to go on with our relationship to complete humanitarian and joint responsibility works we started years ago.”
Dahlan, who was Fatah’s leading figure in the Gaza Strip before 2007, was excluded from Fatah in 2011 over allegations of being involved in the death of Palestinian President Yasser Arafat and of engaging in high-level corruption, for which he was sentenced to three years in prison by a court in the occupied West Bank in December…
Al-Hayya also said on Sunday that the departure of a number of Hamas leaders from Qatar was not due to them being expelled from the small Gulf state following several regional powers severing ties with Qatar, Hamas’ major backer, earlier this month. Instead, al-Hayya claimed that their departure was part of a redeployment plan following the election of Gaza-based Ismail Haniyeh as Hamas politburo head in May, adding that “Hamas’ main headquarters is Gaza, and Hamas chief Ismail Haniyeh won’t leave Gaza except for foreign visits.”
[What a difference 8 years make – see this Hamas video on the Hamas ‘lion’ vs. Fatah ‘rats’ – with Dahlan as chief rat.]
Amid warming ties with Egypt, Hamas downplays likelihood of war with Israel
Reuters 18 June — Hamas played down on Sunday the possibility that the energy crisis in the Gaza Strip would lead to renewed hostilities with Israel and said relations between the Islamist group and Egypt were improving. “We in Hamas do not initiate wars and we do not expect one, this is our political assessment,” Khalil al-Hayya, Hamas’s deputy leader in the Gaza Strip, told reporters. The two adversaries have fought three wars, most recently in 2014. “We do not expect war because we are not interested and the occupation also say they are not interested,” he said, using the group’s term for Israel. Tensions over power supplies in recent weeks have led to speculation there could be a new conflict between the two sides. Israel said last week it would reduce electricity supplies to the Gaza Strip after the Palestinian Authority, which is pressing Hamas to relinquish control of the enclave seized in 2007, limited how much it pays for power to the area.
Separately, a Palestinian official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said on Sunday that Cairo had agreed in talks last week with a Hamas delegation to sell the group fuel to get the Gaza Strip’s sole power station back online. Fuel for the small plant ran out two months ago, and a resumption of operations could give Gazans power for eight hours a day. There was no immediate word from Egyptian officials on whether a deal had been struck, and Hayya declined to confirm any agreement….
Family of man held by Hamas receive tape of him crossing into Gaza
i24NEWS 18 June — The family of Avera Mengistu, who is believed to have been held in captivity by Hamas since September 7, 2014, was given a tape on Saturday of the Israeli man of Ethiopian origin, crossing the border from Israel to the Gaza Strip. His situation was only made public in 2015, ten months after he was last seen alive. Israel’s security establishment has maintained that Mengistu independently crossed the security fence into Gaza, where he was presumably then taken prisoner by the militant Hamas group. The family, who say that Mengistu is mentally ill, originally requested in January that Israeli authorities release the tape of him crossing the border. It was reported in July 2016 by Israel’s Ynet news website that Hamas was seeking a “Shalit Deal 2,” in which Palestinian prisoners would be released in return for Israelis held by Hamas as well as the bodies of soldiers Hadar Goldin and Oren Shaul who were killed in the coastal enclave in 2014’s Operation Protective Edge. The Islamist militant organization is also believed to be holding Juma Ibrahim Abu Anima, who also crossed into Gaza of his own volition, and Hisham al-Syed, an Arab-Israeli of Bedouin origin whose family reported him missing on April 20, 2015. … The case of Mengistu has exposed divisions within Israeli society, with suggestions that the situation would have been handled differently by the defense establishment and politicians if he were not of Ethiopian origin….
Israeli forces level lands on the Palestinian side of Gaza border
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 19 June — Israeli military bulldozers stormed the Palestinian side of the border between the besieged Gaza Strip and Israel on two separate occasions Monday morning, eyewitnesses told Ma‘an. Witnesses said they saw four bulldozers leveling lands under Israeli military protection near the border fence, near what was once the Sofa crossing northeast of Rafah city in the southern Gaza Strip. No gunfire was reported. Separately, Israeli bulldozers and military vehicles leveled lands near the Erez crossing in Beit Hanoun in the northern Gaza Strip.
Israeli navy opens fire at Palestinian fishermen in Gaza
GAZA (WAFA) 18 June – Israeli navy Sunday opened fire towards Palestinian fishermen and their fishing boats that were sailing off al-Sudaniya area, north of the Gaza Strip, local source said. Fishermen had to leave the area in fear of getting shot. No injuries were reported.
Israeli forces kill Gaza fisherman at sea
Human Rights Watch 18 June by Abeer Almasri — It is difficult to imagine the pain the Bakr family must have felt in July 2014, when an Israel Defense Force (IDF) missile killed four of their children, cousins Ismail, 9; Ahed, 10; Zakariya, 10; and Mohammad, 11, as they played football on the beach in Gaza. Today, they grieve again, after IDF forces fatally shot another family member, Mohammad Bakr, 25 years old and the father of two, while he fished with two brothers, Omran and Fadi, and a cousin on May 15 … Omran told Human Rights Watch that an Israeli naval boat approached their small fishing boat as they sailed in the permitted fishing zone, about 1.3 nautical miles south of the northern maritime border and 3.5 nautical miles from the western boundary. To avoid arrest or damage to their equipment they turned on their engine and headed southeast toward the Gaza harbor, Omran said. Within two minutes, the Israeli patrol came beside them and soldiers fired live and rubber bullets at the boat. Mohammad clutched the engine, hoping to keep the Israelis from firing on it, Omran said. A bullet struck Mohammad in the chest. He died later that day. At the time, an IDF spokesman told reporters the boat had “deviated from the designated fishing zone” and that forces fired on it after fishermen ignored warning shots and advanced further out to sea. International human rights law, applicable in policing situations, permits the intentional use of lethal force only when strictly necessary to protect against an imminent threat to life. Even accepting the IDF narrative, this standard was not met….
I left Gaza, but it failed to leave me
+972 blog 16 June by Abeer Ayyoub — I feel guilty for living in a safe country while my family does not. But I want a future, and to start a family with children who don’t know what an F-16 is — It has been almost an entire year since I left Gaza, although to me it feels as if it was only yesterday. I was lost in Europe — between working, studying, and comparing every single aspect of my life here to Gaza. I left Gaza, but it failed to leave me. I still care about and think of all the loved ones I left behind because I felt that Gaza was too small for my dreams. Many of my friends left before and after me, and many others are still waiting either for Egypt to open up the Rafah border crossing, or for an Israeli officer to grant them a permit. One of my best friends, who has been contemplating leaving Gaza for the past year, finally decided to do so last week after he reached the conclusion that Gaza is not getting any better. He wrote me a long message saying the following: “Abeer, when I left Gaza, it felt hard to leave family and friends, and even harder when I had to say goodbye to most of them. I cried all of the way to Jordan, cursing Fatah and Hamas for pushing us to make this decision. Did you feel the same when you left?” “No, I was very happy when I left, I felt I was reborn, starting a new life far from injustice and violence. I cried a little when I saw my parents crying. ‘God knows when we will meet again,’ they said…”
Mental help: the story of Gaza’s trauma unit
Open Democracy 16 June by Alex Delmar-Morgan — Palestine has the highest rate of mental health disorders in the MENA region. Even though resources are limited, there are incredible people fighting for mental health in Gaza — … According to a study published earlier this year by Raghid Charara of the American University of Beirut, some 54 percent of Palestinian boys and 46.5 percent of girls aged 6 – 12 years are thought to have behavioral and emotional disorders. Frequent exposure to violence and trauma since the 2007 blockade thanks to three Israeli military campaigns in six years between 2008 and 2014 has exacerbated the mental health crisis in Gaza. A report after the 2008-2009 offensive by Medical Aid for Palestinians (MAP) found that 30 percent of adolescents met the criteria for PTSD Living under siege, the feeling of physical entrapment is common. Some 95 percent of Gazans said they felt imprisoned, a survey by GCMHP said. Mass unemployment, triggering a feeling of powerlessness and uselessness also contributes. With Gaza’s well-documented shortage of resources and equipment, help for those suffering from poor mental health is in short supply. The PTC employs thirty staff; a mix of psychiatrists, psychologists, psychotherapists and counselors. There are eighteen full-time psychiatrists all trained in Gaza, while visiting professionals come from Europe and the US to provide training to local doctors. There are many, obviously, who don’t get the specialist treatment they need or deserve. Many don’t know about the centre or can’t afford to travel into Gaza City from neighbouring towns. “We can’t reach everyone and a lot of them cannot come to the centre because they don’t have money for transportation. We try to do the best we can,” said Qandeel. So they have never turned patients away? “No, no, no”, says Qandeel firmly, “they need our help”. So much for turning people away, some may not come in the first place. With mass unemployment in Gaza, it is particularly difficult for men in Arab culture, traditionally powerful family figures, to come to terms with not being able to look after their wives and children, she says. Pride, and a reluctance to confront psychological issues, means many are unwilling to come forward and seek help. That said, the PTC aren’t short of patients. Three new cases, on average, arrive every week, putting staff under constant pressure….
Gaza youth prescribe laughter to ailing society
GAZA (Gulf News) 18 June by Ahmed Alhaouq — Palestinians living in Gaza endure an array of hardships ranging from crippling unemployment, poverty and power outages. Amid the grim situation, more people have turned to comedy to vent their frustrations. One comedy show called ‘Bas Ya Zalama’ has started to gain regional recognition after the small enterprise launched by five friends has attracted a loyal following. The show, which translated into English means ‘Stop it, man!’ began in 2012, tackles the hardships of life in Gaza from a position of humor. “We chose this name Bas Ya Zalama because it is a common phrase in the Strip, used when people want to get attention of the others,” Mahmoud, one of the group members, tells Gulf News. Their videos range from mocking some Palestinian slang expressions to people’s excessive habit of taking of selfies. Sometimes their videos extend to the political sphere to address the ongoing blockade on Gaza. “The series’ objective is to raise awareness of social problems in a simplified comical way,” Hesham, another member, says.“Because our youth see their dreams slipping away, our show aims to turn tears of despair into tears of laughter,” he says, adding that he hoped laughter could evoke feelings of hope … After the success of their first pilot, which was uploaded to YouTube, people began asking for more. Then in 2014, Palestine TV broadcasted 30 episodes of their show during Ramadan. Five years after their first pilot, their videos have more than one million views, and their Facebook page has more than 300,000 followers…
In Gaza, Qatayef tradition thrives during Ramadan
GAZA (Gulf News) 16 June by Ahmed Alnaouq — Walking down the streets of Gaza you can see families behind their stands, flipping small, perfectly scooped circles of dough over a hotplate with a fire under it. Eyad Shokry Abus Shanab, 39, is one of these street vendors who sells Qatayef, a sweet fried dessert. “My father started this profession 60 years ago, before I was born. He cultivated the recipe over time and taught it to me,” Eyad told Gulf News. Eyad is a college graduate and has a full-time job, but says he enjoys making the dessert with his brothers during Ramadan to earn some extra money. Eating Qatayef during Ramadan is considered a sacred tradition by many. “There is a plate of Qatayef at every table for iftar and suhoor,” he says. The history of the Qatayef dates back to the Abbasi Caliphate, 566-653 CE. The Calipha or ruler had asked for the sweetest dessert for Ramadan and so the Qatayef came into being. It has had a special place in the heart’s of Arabs ever since. It’s not easy to make, however, and takes a lot of practice to perfect. It is made out of fried batter stuffed with a mixture of nuts, yoghurt, white cheese, dates, sugar and cinnamon, then refried in vegetable oil and coated with sugar sauce. It is eaten by the poor and the rich alike. Due to the blockade and the shortage of job opportunities, hundreds of Palestinians make Qatayef during the holy month of Ramadan….
PA blocks websites in West Bank linked to Hamas and Mohammad Dahlan
MEMO 15 June — At least eleven Palestinian news websites appear to have been blocked in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, local sources said Thursday. “We were informed this morning of a decision by the Palestinian public prosecutor [affiliated with the Palestinian government in Ramallah] to block 11 Palestinian websites,” an employee at a Ramallah-based internet service provider told Anadolu Agency. According to the same source, who insisted on anonymity, all targeted websites are based outside the West Bank, which is administratively controlled by the Ramallah government. Blocked websites, the same source asserted, include the Palestinian Information Center and the Shehab News Agency (affiliated with Palestinian resistance group Hamas) and the Voice of Fatah website (known to be close to Mohammed Dahlan, a controversial Palestinian MP expelled from Fatah in 2011). On Thursday, Iyad al-Qarra, editor of “Palestine”, a newspaper close to Hamas, confirmed that the newspaper’s website had been blocked in the West Bank. “As part of an ongoing policy of suppressing Palestinian media freedom, the newspaper’s website was recently blocked,” al-Qarra said via Facebook. “Unfortunately, local ISPs responded [to the public prosecutor’s directive] by swiftly blocking the targeted websites,” he added. “Our colleagues with technical expertise are currently trying to undo the move, as our newspaper — through its website — has tens of thousands of readers across the West Bank,” al-Qarra said.
Al-Resalah: Abbas plans to dissolve Palestinian Committee of Prisoners’ Affairs
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 19 June — A Hamas-affiliated news site reported Sunday that the Palestinian Authority (PA) was considering dissolving the Palestinian Committee of Prisoners’ Affairs, amid mounting pressure on the PA by Israel and the United States to suspend the controversial “martyrs” compensation program that provides financial allowances to Palestinians imprisoned by Israel and their families. Al-Resalah, a Gaza-based news site affiliated to Hamas — the Gaza Strip’s de facto ruling party and a rival of the Fatah-led PA — cited “trustworthy” Palestinian sources as saying that the Palestinian president was officially considering dissolving the committee and “merging it with one of the main branches or offices of the occupied West Bank-based Interior Ministry.” …
The report had said that “President Abbas did not oppose the plans of (Prime Minister Rami) Hamdallah’s government to dissolve the Prisoners’ Affairs Committee,” quoting anonymous sources that said they “expect the decision was made in agreement with the US administration as a goodwill gestures by the PA to American political interests in the region.” The sources also speculated that the decision to dissolve the committee was part of ongoing PA efforts to revive the decades old Israeli-Palestinian peace process. Head of the Prisoners’ Affairs Committee Issa Qaraqe reacted to the report and said he has not been notified about any such plans to dissolve the committee. “We have not been notified that the president or other members of the (Palestinian) leadership are considering freezing the Committee of Prisoners’ Affairs,” Qaraqe told Ma‘an via telephone Sunday evening, without providing further details.
Palestinian pilgrims to fly from Israel to Saudi Arabia
Ynet 18 June by Itamar Eichner — The United States, the Palestinian Authority, Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Israel have recently been conducting secret negotiations to coordinate the first flight of Palestinian pilgrims from Ben Gurion airport to Saudi Arabia, with a short layover on the way, probably in Jordan. Yedioth Ahronoth, Ynet’s sister print publication, learned of the intention to organize a special plane in which only Palestinian passengers between Israel and Saudi Arabia will be able to fly. Since there are no open relations between the two countries, the plane will have to land briefly in Amman. The Americans initiated the matter as a result of President Trump’s visit to Saudi Arabia and Israel. A senior Israeli source said the talks are already in advanced stages. He said the flight would be carried out through a foreign company that is neither Israeli nor Saudi. The Palestinians will be able to make pilgrimages to the holy places in Mecca and Medina. This is the closest to a direct flight that has yet to be offered. Air Force One was actually the first plane to fly directly from Riyadh to Ben Gurion Airport, when President Donald Trump came on his first foreign trip….
Palestinian mosques proposed as heritage sites
RAMALLAH (Gulf News) 18 June by Nasouh Nazzal — To counter the move, Israel would have to mobilise at least one-third of the voting countries in its favour — The Palestinian National Authority (PNA) will ask the Unesco World Heritage Committee to declare Al Ebrahimi [Ibrahimi] Mosque and the entire Old City of Hebron, south of the West Bank, as an international heritage site, which would put massive pressure on Israel to transfer control of the area to the Palestinians. The PNA is scheduled to raise the issue at the UN committee’s annual meeting on July 1st in Krakow, Poland. Hifzi Abu Snainah, who heads Al Ebrahimi Mosque, predicts the move could bring the area to the forefront of the international agenda. The PNA plans to take advantage of a clause in Unesco regulations to fast-track the process on the grounds that the sites are endangered. Abu Snainah says the mosque and the Old City of Hebron are facing destruction by the Israeli occupying force, which has been implementing systematic plans to take over the mosque and seize the city. He said Al Ebrahimi Mosque was a purely Muslim property that should be under undisputed Palestinian Muslim control. The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization’s Heritage Committee has 21 member countries including Finland, Poland, Portugal, Croatia, Turkey, Azerbaijan, Indonesia, Philippines, Korea, Vietnam, Kazakhstan, Tunisia, Kuwait, Lebanon, Burkina Faso, Zimbabwe, Angola and Tanzania. According to the Israeli Ynet news site, the committee’s composition is problematic for Israel … In 2012 and 2014, the PNA received tremendous support from Arab and Muslim country members of the Unesco Heritage Committee, when it declared the Church of the Nativity and the Battir terraces in Bethlehem as world heritage sites….
Ashrawi: Netanyahu’s call to dismantle UNRWA ‘epitome of arrogance’
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 16 June — Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) Executive Committee Member Dr. Hanan Ashrawi released a statement Thursday evening strongly condemning recent calls by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to shut down the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA). Earlier this week, Netanyahu called for the dismantlement of the organization, which is responsible for providing services to more than five million Palestinian refugees across the occupied Palestinian territory and the Middle East, saying “UNRWA, to a large degree, by its very existence, perpetuates — and does not solve — the Palestinian refugee problem.” Netanyahu also accused UNRWA of “considerable incitement against Israel.” Ashrawi called Netanyahu’s statements “the epitome of arrogance, particularly since Israel itself is responsible for creating the Palestinian refugee problem.” “Israel should not be allowed to dictate how to change the legal system and to persist with its unlawful unilateralism,” Ashrawi said, adding that the Israeli government “bears a moral and legal responsibility for Palestinian refugees and the serious injustices of the past.” Ashrawi highlighted that UNRWA “remains a lifeline” for millions of Palestinian refugees residing in Occupied Palestine, Jordan, Lebanon, and Syria, providing them with essential services, assistance and opportunities for work, growth and development. “UNRWA has also given the refugees a sense of hope and contributed effectively to regional stability. Any developments that endanger the existence of UNRWA and its mandate threaten to destabilize the whole region,” the statement said….
Book Review: A defiant remembrance of Kafr Qasem’s dead
EI 15 June by Sarah Irving — Drawing the Kafr Qasem Massacre, Samia Halaby, Schilt Publishing (2016) — For more than 20 years, Palestinian artist Samia Halaby has been researching, interviewing and traveling to assemble material and create art based on the Kafr Qasem massacre of 1956. The killings in the village of Kafr Qasem – close to the boundary between Israel and the West Bank, then ruled by Jordan – were one of many committed by Israeli troops after the 1948 ethnic cleansing of Palestine … on 29 October 1956, 49 people were killed and dozens more wounded at Kafr Qasem. Many were women and children; most were agricultural laborers coming home from the fields. They were either not told of the curfew, or did not have sufficient time to reach safety. Hundreds more Palestinians were also massacred by Israeli troops in the towns and refugee camps of Khan Younis and Rafah in the Gaza Strip in the following days. Halaby’s encounters with survivors of the Kafr Qasem massacre and their descendants inspired her to create a huge body of written, drawn and painted work. -Powerful and demanding memorial- To commemorate the 50th anniversary of the massacre, some of Halaby’s images, along with notes and other fruits of her research, were launched as an online exhibition in 2006. Now, in conjunction with a touring exhibition – including the Birzeit University Museum in the West Bank and the Ayyam Gallery in Dubai – Halaby’s drawings and paintings, along with her artist’s notes, writings and raw materials such as photographs and news reports, are brought together in a lavish volume. Comprising almost 300 pages, the book includes a foreword by Palestinian author Raja Shehadeh and historical background by the tireless chronicler of the Palestinian people’s struggle for their land, Salman Abu Sitta.
It’s not an easy book to peruse and read….
Multifaith iftar meals bring settlers, Palestinians together
Ynet (from Tazpit Press Service) 16 June — Jewish settlers in Gush Etzion have taken to hosting nightly break-fast meals for Muslim celebrating Ramadan, taking the opportunity to talk about co-existence and build relationships with their Arab neighbors — An early June evening, Gush Etzion, south of Jerusalem. Approximately 60 people sit on a garden patio under an awning, waiting for the sun to disappear over the western mountains before breaking the day-long Ramadan fast with dates and water, to be followed by a larger meal of chicken and rice. In-and-of-itself, the scene is unremarkable. The nightly break-fast meal, known in Arabic as iftar, is a central feature of the Muslim holy month, a time for families and friends to gather together, pray and share quality time, often outside in the temperate evening climate. But this gathering is not quite your traditional iftar, in at least one significant detail: Approximately half the attendees are Israeli residents of the Gush Etzion settlement bloc communities of Efrat, Alon Shvut, Kfar Etzion, Bat Ayin, Tekoa and others, who have come to celebrate the end of the fast, talk about co-existence and build relationships. The evening, hosted by the Shorashim/Judur organization, a local NGO that calls itself a “grassroots movement of understanding, nonviolence, and transformation among Israelis and Palestinians,” is second of four break-fasts the organization will be hosting in June and just one of dozens of interfaith programs throughout the month … “Most Palestinians associate settlers with violence, roadblocks, IDF soldiers are constantly searching our houses and arresting people and more,” said one Palestinian participant. “And then there are political pressures from the PA not to “normalize” relations with settlers. “But it is absurd, when you think about it. So many Palestinians already talk to settlers – we build their houses, we clean them, we tend their gardens. So ‘boycotting’ them in social terms only means taking the humiliating side of that relationship, without seeing them as individuals who are deeply connected to this land, and to show them the same side of Palestinians. Iftar is a terrific opportunity for people to meet as equals,” the person said. In addition to the cultural aspects of iftar, for religiously minded Jews, the opportunity to eat together presents an opportunity to discuss spiritual similarities and differences between the two faiths. The Islamic themes of Ramadan – tauba (repentance), zakat (charity) and tarawih (penitential prayers) are parallel to the religious themes of Elul, the Hebrew month of repentance leading up to Rosh Hashana. In addition, Muslims and Orthodox Jews share many cultural norms that fly in the face of aspects of modern society….
What Northern Ireland can teach us about Israel-Palestine
+972 blog 16 June by Liel Meghen & Eran Tsidkyahu — Imagine if Jerusalem had an Israeli mayor from the Likud party, and a Palestinian deputy mayor from Fatah. It’s not so far-fetched — the equivalent is already in place in Belfast — Walking around Belfast’s various neighborhoods can remind one of the situation in Jerusalem. It’s not just the wall that divides residents of the same city — it’s also the graffiti of Israeli flags on one side of the street and statements in support of Palestinian prisoner Marwan Barghouti on the other. As a group of Jerusalemites, we couldn’t help but compare the reality in our home city to that in Belfast, and the situation in our country to what’s going on in Northern Ireland. But in contrast to Jerusalem, where the conflict is far from over, Northern Ireland is deeply engaged in a reconciliation process that began at the end of the ‘90s. So we sought to try and learn from Northern Ireland’s recent history how to put a stop to the cycle of violence in Jerusalem. We visited Belfast as part of a group of Israeli and Palestinian Jerusalemites who work on Jewish-Arab political and cultural issues. Our trip was a collaboration between the joint Israeli-Palestinian NGO IPCRI and the Irish Embassy, and involved studying, over several days, how a national conflict expresses itself in shared urban spaces….