Electricity shortages in Gaza lead to beach pollution just over the border in Israel
Haaretz 6 July by Almog Ben Zikri — Beaches in southern Israel were closed to swimmers on Wednesday due to pollution, after power shortages in nearby Gaza led a sewage treatment plant there to shut down. The electricity shortages in the Gaza Strip appear to have caused untreated sewage to flow just over the border into Israel’s Mediterranean waters. The Health Ministry banned swimming on the beaches at Zikim and Ashkelon National Park after sewage was detected in the water. Officials suspect that the pollution is sewage that was left untreated after the plant was shuttered due to severe electricity shortages in Gaza, and that it drifted north onto Israeli beaches. There is no forecast as to when the beaches will reopen.
Three years after the war: Thousands of displaced in Gaza await return to their homes
PALESTINE (Norwegian Refugee Council) 6 July — Three years after the war in 2014, Gaza citizens continue to live in displacement. Of 11,000 homes totally destroyed during the war, a little over one third have been rebuilt. Many families continue to live in tents. “I built a tent and stayed in it for three years, while waiting for Gaza to be rebuilt. We’re still living in it (…) We are alive now because death hasn’t bothered to take us yet. It will be way better for us to die, as we won’t face problems anymore,” Thaer Al Sheesh, a father of four living in Gaza, told NRC. On 8 July 2014, the conflict between Israel and Hamas evolved into a full-scale war which cost 1492 Palestinian and 6 Israeli civilian lives. In addition to the 11,000 homes totally destroyed, 160,000 homes were damaged during the seven weeks of war. “Palestinians in Gaza are still waiting for their homes to be rebuilt. 6,300 families remain displaced with no home to return to, in the absence of funding” NRC´s Country Director in Jerusalem, Hanibal Abiy Worku, says….
Haniyeh reaffirms commitment to resistance in speech as new head of Hamas
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 5 July — In his first speech at the new Head of the Hamas politburo, Ismail Haniyeh stressed that the Palestinian right of return, the liberation of Palestinian lands and holy sites, and the establishment of an independent Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital were non-negotiable rights. Formerly the deputy head of Hamas’ politburo, Haniyeh was elected to replace Khalid Meshaal in the highest position in the Hamas movement in May. Haniyeh said that Hamas would stand against any diplomatic deals that did not guarantee the historical rights of Palestinians. He added that Hamas rejected terrorism, calling Islam the religion of coexistence and peace, and adding that the Palestinian resistance would fight “real terrorism” — the Israeli occupation.
Haniyeh cited Hamas’ new charter, stressing that Hamas was willing to work with all Palestinian political factions to carry out a political and resistance strategy in both internal and diplomatic Palestinian affairs. He went on to stress the importance standing united to protect Palestinians without compromising their rights to freedom, independence, and return. As part of this proclaimed desire to work on Palestinian unity, Haniyeh referred to a recent meeting between Hamas and discharged Fatah member Muhammad Dahlan in Cairo, which he said would have a positive impact on Palestinians.
With Haniyeh’s appointment as head of Hamas, the movement’s leadership has become concentrated in Gaza, leaving the political party dependent on the goodwill of the Egyptian government to maintain its leaders’ freedom of movement through their shared border, where Cairo has enforced the decade-long crippling Israeli siege. Hamas’ strengthened relationship with Egypt comes amid a growing alliance with Dahlan — with whom Hamas has confirmed an alliance to challenge the Ramallah-based Palestinian Authority (PA)….
Hamas follows up on security developments at Gaza’s Egyptian border
GAZA (Ma‘an) 6 July — A Hamas delegation toured the southern border between the besieged Gaza Strip and Egypt on Thursday morning to check on recent developments implemented by Gaza’s Ministry of Interior in order to strengthen national security amid growing ties between Hamas leaders and the Egyptian government. The delegation included Head of Gaza’s administrative committee Abd al-Salam Siyam, head of the Hamas movement in Gaza Yahya Sinwar, head of national security and Deputy Interior Minister Tawfiq Abu Naim, General of Gaza’s public security forces Hussein Abu Athara, and General Director of Gaza’s borders and crossing committee Muhammad Abu Zayed. Gaza’s Ministry of Interior said in a statement that the tour was conducted in order to follow up on developments conducted in accordance with previous security agreements formulated between Hamas and the Egyptian government….
Israeli military vehicles raid northern Gaza, level lands
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 6 July — Israeli military vehicles raided the northern besieged Gaza Strip on Thursday morning, leveling lands in the area. Witnesses told Ma‘an that seven army vehicles — four bulldozers and three tanks — coming from the Nahal Oz military base entered the border area of Gaza east of the Gaza City neighborhood of Shujaaiya as drones flew overhead. Meanwhile, four Israeli military vehicles were also reported to have raided an area east of the town of Jabaliya, as Israeli forces opened fire in the area while the vehicles were leveling lands. No injuries were reported in either incident.
Oppressive heat wave in Gaza amid electricity crisis
IMEMC/Agencies 6 July — During the current heatwave, Gaza residents, who do not have electricity to cool themselves off, due to Israeli siege, are struggling to survive. Sami, a medical intern in the Gaza Strip, is struggling to sleep, due to the heatwave, which is roasting the region, and where temperatures have been soaring to 37°C (98°F). The heat in his room is overpowering, and the mosquitoes do not help, either. But, due to the ongoing electricity crisis, he cannot cool himself off, or even plug in the device that wards off the biting insects. “Sometimes, I go around flipping on different sides of my bed for an hour before I can fall asleep. It is humiliating,” Sami told an Israeli newspaper. According to Days of Palestine, Gaza residents refer the reason for the devastating power crisis in the Gaza Strip to the strict Israeli-Egyptian and internationally backed siege, which turns basic goods, services and actions into luxuries. The normal strategies for cooling off in the summer heat — including showers, swimming, air conditioning and electric fans — have all but disappeared. Even drinking water is an increasingly rare commodity….
Senior Qatari official visits PA and Gaza
Ynet 6 July by Roi Kais & Elior Levy — The head of the Qatari Committee for Reconstruction of Gaza, Mohammed El Emadi, arrived in the Palestinian territories on Thursday evening and is expected to meet with officials from the Palestinian Authority and the Gaza Strip as part of the ongoing efforts to rehabilitate Gaza. Qatar confirmed El Emadi will arrive in the Gaza Strip Friday for a trip expected to last several days while he visits projects being financed by Qatar. This is El Emadi’s first visit to the area since the diplomatic crisis between Qatar and Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates. Progress with Qatar’s rehabilitation projects has been slow, but it remains among the only two countries, alongside Turkey, keeping the Gazans’ head above water, thus helping Hamas maintain its rule. While the crisis in the Gulf is worsening, Qatar is acutely aware that Egypt—one of the primary sponsors of the Arab boycott against it—is growing closer to Hamas. According to reports from Arab media, leadership in Cairo is making certain that diesel fuel arrives in Gaza in an attempt to ease the electricity crisis in the strip.
What happened when I needed minor surgery in Gaza?
MEMO 5 July by Motasem A. Dalloul — On Tuesday 30 May I had a sudden severe pain in my left ear. It could not sleep as I felt the pain spread all over my body. I contacted the doctor at around 11pm and told him, he told me to take painkillers and told me to come in for a medical examination the next morning at Al-Shifa Hospital. In the morning, after confirming the appointment, I headed to the ENT clinic at Gaza’s largest hospital. The doctor found that I had a sever inflammation in my eardrum because of a buildup of pus. After getting a second opinion, the doctor decided urgent treatment was needed to clear the pus before it causes more damage. The doctors went to collect medical kits; I could tell that one of the doctors, a friend of mine, was shy to bring out used kits. Disposable medical kits are regularly reused in Gaza due to a shortage in supplies. The doctors left the room for a while and returned with a small number of instruments which they placed in a steriliser before declaring themselves ready to start. As the doctors approached me to begin the treatment, I turned to ask if they planned to carry out the surgery without anaesthetic, to which both doctors said yes. The limited amount of nitrous oxide gas in Gaza means doctors can only use it for major surgeries, they explained. They assured me that my treatment would not hurt too much. I agreed to go ahead. As one doctor tried to hold my head still, the other worked to clear my inflamed eardrum. The pain was unbearable, I kept trying to get away and eventually I had to stand up and stop the treatment. I didn’t want to go ahead any more. One doctor told me to have some painkillers and antibiotics to ease the pain, adding that it would continue for a few more days. The treatment would need to be completed, however, as the pus could damage my hearing. To date I have been unable to go back to the hospital for treatment as the pain was too great to bear and stocks of anaesthetics are not being replenished….
Palestinian president forces Gaza workers into retirement
RAMALLAH, West Bank (AP) 4 July — Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has dismissed more than 6,000 of his employees in the Gaza Strip, in a new move aimed at pressuring the territory’s Hamas rulers. Government spokesman Yousif al-Mahmoud said on Tuesday that the employees – working in health, education and other public sectors – were being sent into early retirement. He says the step could be reversed if Hamas hands over power to Abbas’ government … A frustrated Abbas has recently tried to step up pressure on Hamas by cutting the salaries of idle former workers in Gaza, reducing payments to Israel for electricity delivered to the coastal strip and limiting some medical services.
Materials for building Turkish hospital reached Ashdod, will soon arrive in Gaza, Haniyeh says
ISTANBUL (Daily Sabah) 5 July — One of the senior leaders of the Palestinian resistance movement Hamas, Ismail Haniyeh said late Wednesday that a ship carrying construction materials needed for building a Turkish hospital in Gaza has reached Israel’s Ashdod port and will soon arrive in the Israeli-blockaded Gaza Strip. Funded by the Turkish International Cooperation and Development Agency (TIKA), the Palestine-Turkey Friendship Hospital will be Gaza’s largest when it becomes operational. The hospital to be built by TİKA will be one of the biggest in the region.
Violence / Detentions — West Bank / Jerusalem
Palestinian motorcyclist dies, reportedly after being run over by Israeli settler
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 7 July — A 37-year-old Palestinian man was killed early Friday morning, reportedly after being run over by an Israeli settler west of Bethlehem city in the southern occupied West Bank. Locals later identified the victim as Omar Ahmad Issa from the Bethlehem-area town of al-Khader, with Palestinian security sources saying he was run over at around 4 a.m. while riding his motorcycle near the “tunnels” checkpoint on Route 60 west of Bethlehem that leads to occupied East Jerusalem. Sources said that Issa sold coffee and tea on Route 60 for a living. In a statement, Israeli police spokesperson Luba Samri described the incident as a “road accident” between a private vehicle and a Palestinian motorbike, in which Issa was critically injured and pronounced dead at the hospital. She said Issa was 33 years old and from Beit Sahour, not al-Khader. Sources at the Palestinian Red Crescent told Ma‘an that “he was believed to be run over by an Israeli settler,” though the reports could not be confirmed. Some reports in local media said that Red Crescent ambulances had refused to receive Issa’s body after arriving to the scene, because they were unclear on the circumstances surrounding the incident and would not be able to inform the family the cause of death. As a result, Issa’s remains were evacuated by Israel’s emergency medical services Magen David Adom to Israel’s Shaare Zedek Hospital in Jerusalem. Local sources said that the hospital requested an autopsy of Issa, but his family refused. More details to come.
A Palestinian killed, 2 injured in unidentified explosion in southern West Bank
HEBRON (Ma‘an) 5 July — A Palestinian was killed and two others were critically injured in an explosion of an unidentified nature in southwestern Hebron in the southern occupied West Bank on Wednesday. Palestinian police spokesman Luay Irzeiqat said in a statement that a Palestinian died and two others were injured when an explosion occurred on empty land in the area of Luza, adding that Palestinian police and security services had opened an investigation into the case. Palestinian Red Crescent sources said that ambulances rushed to the area to transfer the injured to hospitals for treatment.
Israeli settlers assault Palestinian in Hebron’s Old City as Israeli forces watch
HEBRON (Ma‘an) 5 July — A group of Israeli settlers “violently beat” a Palestinian on al-Shuhada street in the Old City of Hebron in the southern occupied West Bank Tuesday night, according to a local activist. Palestinian activist Badi Dweik, a member of Human Rights Defenders, said that a group of Israeli settlers violently attacked and beat 22-year-old Hisham Raghib Abu Isha on al-Shuhada street, while Israeli forces stood by watching. Dweik added that after a while of watching the assault take place, Israeli forces tied Abu Isha up, placed him in a military jeep, and transferred him to an unknown location.
Israeli forces reportedly beat, pepper-spray Palestinians in Silwan raids
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 6 July — Israeli forces assaulted Palestinian residents during a raid in the occupied East Jerusalem neighborhood of Silwan on Wednesday evening, as two Palestinians were detained. The Wadi Hilweh Information Center reported that six Palestinians sustained bruises and suffered from excessive tear gas inhalation during a raid targeting the home of one Muhammad al-Abbasi in the area of Ein al-Luza, during which residents said they were assaulted by Israeli police officers. The center added that no reason was given for the raid in the al-Abbasi home, during which Israeli forces pushed and pepper-sprayed women, children, and elderly Palestinians, pointing their weapons at youths. The al-Abbasi family said that Israeli forces beat and shoved 65-year-old Amin al-Abbasi, while Muhammad al-Abbasi’s 55-year-old mother, young men Imad, Ayman, and Muhammad al-Abbasi, and an infant, Jude, suffered from excessive tear-gas inhalation. Clashes erupted in the neighborhood following the home raid, during which Israeli forces reportedly fired rubber-coated steel bullets and stun grenades in a haphazard fashion, before detaining Muhammad Ibrahim Ruweidi, 20, and Muhammad Imad Taha, 19.
Army invades Doha town, confiscates a lathe machine
IMEMC 6 July — Israeli soldiers invaded, on Thursday at dawn, the town of Doha, west of the West Bank city of Bethlehem, broke into a lathe workshop and confiscated one machine. The invasion was carried out by several army jeeps and a truck, before the soldiers stormed a lathe workshop, owned by members of Abu Tarboush family, violently searched the property and confiscated a lathe machine. The soldiers also invaded ‘Aida refugee camp, north of Bethlehem, searched many homes, causing damage, and withdrew later without conducting any arrests. In related news, soldiers invaded Shweika area, in the northern West Bank city of Tulkarem, searched homes, and car repair workshops, violently searched them and abducted three Palestinians.
Israeli soldiers force a mother and her toddler out of their home in Shu‘fat
IMEMC 5 July — Israeli soldiers invaded, Wednesday, Shu‘fat refugee camp, north of occupied East Jerusalem, and broke into a home before forcing a mother and her toddler out of their property … Media sources in the refugee camp said dozens of soldiers invaded it, before many soldiers broke into a home belonging to the Houshiyya family, and forced a mother and her toddler out of their property. The soldiers kept the mother and her toddler under the sun, without even allowing them access to water, or a change of clothing for the child, while searching their property for ninety minutes. The soldiers did not abduct or detain any Palestinian during the invasion, and gave no reason for invading the Palestinian home, and forcing the mother and her toddler out.
Palestinian ‘attacks’ Israeli officer after refusing stop-and-frisk search in Jerusalem
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 6 July — A Palestinian in occupied East Jerusalem allegedly “attacked” an Israeli police officer near Damascus Gate on Thursday after refusing to allow Israeli forces to search him. Israeli police spokesperson Luba al-Samri said that Israeli forces stationed at Damascus Gate in the Old City had stopped a Palestinian and demanded to carry out a stop-and-frisk search. However, the Palestinian rejected to the search and “attacked” the Israeli border officer, causing the officer to sustain injuries that necessitated a trip to the hospital, according to al-Samri. She added that the Palestinian was detained and would undergo interrogations with Israeli authorities. Al-Samri did not provide further details on how the Palestinian had “attacked” the Israeli officer or what kind of injuries had been sustained.
Palestinians allegedly commit drive-by shooting on Israeli checkpoint in Ramallah
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 5 July — A group of unidentified armed Palestinians allegedly carried out a drive-by shooting on Wednesday at dawn on an Israeli military checkpoint installed at the entrance of the village of Nabi Saleh in the central occupied West Bank district of Ramallah. According to local witnesses, Israeli forces began to open fire at the vehicle, which quickly drove away from the scene. Israeli authorities have not declared any injuries among Israeli forces from the incident. Israeli forces deployed a large number of soldiers to the area and installed a flying checkpoint on many streets and entrances of nearby villages, initiating an army search campaign for the alleged shooters, witnesses told Ma‘an.
Army abducts six Palestinians near Bethlehem
IMEMC 4 July — Israeli soldiers abducted, Tuesday, six Palestinians from Nablus, after stopping them at a military roadblock east of Bethlehem in the occupied West Bank, after reportedly locating Molotov cocktails, concussion grenades and knives in their car. The army said the soldiers stopped and searched the car, and arrested six Palestinians who did not carry identification documents, and located a bag containing knives, concussion grenades and Molotov cocktails. Explosives’ experts were called to the scene, and safely removed the bag, while the six Palestinians were moved to an interrogation facility, where, according to the army, they “admitted planning an attack in Jerusalem.”
Israeli forces detain 30 Palestinians in East Jerusalem, West Bank raids
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 4 July — Israeli forces detained at least 30 Palestinians in overnight raids between Monday night and Tuesday morning in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem, according to Palestinian and Israeli sources.
Israeli forces raided the Suwwana neighborhood in occupied East Jerusalem’s Old City and detained seven young Palestinian men from their homes, identified by locals as Majdi Abu Ghazala, Fadi al-Kilani, Mahmoud Mshasha, Muhammad Abu Lafi, Asaad al-Ashab, Ahmad al-Ashab, and Kamal al-Imam. Family members of the detainees said they believed their relatives were targeted for participating in the funeral for 24-year-old Ali Abu Gharbiyeh on Sunday, which devolved into clashes with Israeli forces, who injured at least 35 mourners with crowd control measures and detained at least one person. According to a statement from the Palestinian Prisoner’s Society (PPS) three additional Palestinians were also detained in Jerusalem, identified as Sufian Mahmoud, Ahmad al-Julani, and Marwan Salim. It remained unclear if the three were also detained in Suwwana and if their arrest was also related to Abu Gharbiyeh’s funeral…
Meanwhile, the Israeli army carried out multiple predawn detention raids across the occupied West Bank. In the southern Hebron district, Israeli forces raided the town of Deir Samit and detained 37-year-old Jawad al-Hroub, whose father Issa — previously identified as Omar — was shot dead in 2015 after allegedly attempting to carry out a car ramming attack on Israeli forces, according to local sources and PPS … Israeli news sites also said that Israeli confiscated an unspecified sum of money and a car during the raid, as the Israeli army claimed that al-Hroub “obtained them from Hamas.” Local sources in Hebron city said that Israeli forces detained Khairi Abu Hadid and his four sons Fahd, Muhammad, Amir, and Nimr after raiding their home in the city, which was confirmed in the PPS statement…
In the town of Beit Ummar north of Hebron, local activist Muhammad Ayyad Awwad and PPS reported that Israeli forces detained 21-year-old Ahmad Hussein Sabarneh after raiding his family home. An Israeli army spokesperson confirmed one detention in Beit Ummar. In the Hebron-area town of Surif, local sources and PPS said that Mujahid al-Hur was detained from his home. The Israeli army claimed he was a “Hamas operative.” Elsewhere in the Hebron district, Israeli forces detained one person in the town of Tarqumiya, according to the army spokesperson.
In the northern occupied West Bank district of Tulkarem, PPS said that Israeli forces detained Waad Ghassan Salim, 24, Ahmad Abu Neimah, 32, Adham Azim, Wahdi Muhammad Jirmi, 25, and Yahya Jamal Swayy. The Israeli army only confirmed three detentions in the district, saying that two were detained in Tulkarem city and one in Tulkarem refugee camp.
The Israeli army said that two Palestinians were detained in the village of Zabuba in the Jenin district, identified by PPS as Muhammad Fouad Jaradat, 21, and Mahmoud Majid Abu al-Hassan, 21.
In the Nablus district, PPS said that Israeli forces detained Wahid Ghassan Jibarah, 27, and Rafi Turki in the village of Salim. However, according to the Israeli army spokesperson, three Palestinians were detained in Salim.
The PPS statement highlighted that Israeli forces also briefly detained a 30-year-old woman from Kafr Qalil in the Nablus district, identified as Rima Mansour.
Israeli forces detain 18 Palestinians in West Bank raid
NABLUS (WAFA) 5 July – Israeli forces Wednesday detained at least 18 Palestinians in multiple overnight raids across a number of West Bank districts, said security sources and a local activist. Israeli forces detained two Palestinians after storming and ransacking their family homes in Balata refugee camp, east of Nablus. During the raid, forces stormed and searched a local studio, a pharmacy and several homes, causing damage to their contents. Forces also detained a Palestinians during a raid into Beit Iba village, northwest of Nablus. Another Palestinian was detained by Israeli troops as he was passing through the Huwwara military checkpoint, south of Nablus. The detainee reportedly is a resident of ‘Askar refugee camp. Troops also detained three other Palestinians after stopping their vehicle at the northern West Bank checkpoint purportedly for having a hunting rifle in their possession.
Elsewhere in the northern West Bank, troops detained a Palestinian and his son during a predawn raid into ‘Aqaba, north of Tubas. Troops conducted similar raids in Jenin city as well as the Jenin-district town of Meithalun and village of Bir al-Basha, where they detained two Palestinians. Another Palestinian was detained as he was passing through the Salem military checkpoint, west of Jenin.
In the southern West Bank, Israeli military vehicles raided Qalandia refugee camp, north of Jerusalem and the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Kufr ‘Aqab as a chopper was flying over the area. During the raid, forces and intelligence officers broke into many homes, thoroughly searching them and spreading panic among residents, especially children, and triggering violent clashes. Youths protested the raid, hurling stones and empty bottles at the force, which opened fire at protestors. No injuries were reported.
In Hebron district, forces detained two Palestinians and stormed a number of homes in Beit Ummar, north of Hebron.
Israeli commander killed while pretending to be Palestinian assailant
EI 6 July by Maureen Clare Murphy — An Israeli army commander was pretending to be a Palestinian assailant during a training exercise when he was shot dead by a subordinate in the occupied West Bank city of Hebron on Tuesday. The commander, David Golovenchik, 22, was training two of his soldiers to respond to an attack, but had apparently not instructed them to unload their weapons during the simulation. “Golovenchik took off his protective gear, went to the [army] post and played the part of a Palestinian undergoing a security check by the soldiers,” the Israeli daily Haaretz reported. “He turned the table at the post over them and simulated a stabbing attack. Apparently one of the soldiers cocked his gun and shot his commander.” Imad Abu Shamsiyeh, coordinator of the Human Rights Defenders group in Hebron, recorded video showing the commander lying motionless on the ground at the post in the Tel Rumeida neighborhood…
The training simulation that left an Israeli commander dead on Tuesday tragically mirrored the pattern of killings that have left scores of Palestinians dead in recent years. In many cases, lethal force was used against alleged assailants when they posed no immediate danger to life. Amnesty International has called for several such cases to be investigated as extrajudicial executions. Earlier this year, Israeli police were shown on video demonstrating to a crowd of primary school children how they confirm a kill, concluding with the mock assailant lying lifeless on the ground. The Israeli rights group B’Tselem has called for figures at the senior level of the Israeli government and military to be held to account for an open-fire policy which “conveys profound disregard for the lives of Palestinians.”….
Apartheid illustrated: Israeli soldier shoots another soldier in Hebron
HEBRON, Occupied Palestine (ISM al-Khalil Team) 6 July — On Tuesday, 4th July 2017, Israeli forces were conducting a ‘military training’ in a civilian Palestinian neighborhood near Gilbert checkpoint in Tel Rumeida in occupied al-Khalil (Hebron). The result of this ‘military training’ was a fatal shot by one Israeli soldier to the other. The injured commander was immediately evacuated to hospital by an Israeli ambulance, and was later confirmed dead. The Israeli forces immediately closed the whole area to Palestinians by closing all the checkpoints, collectively punishing the civilian Palestinian population. The army, after the incident, announced that these ‘military trainings’ will be suspended in al-Khalil. The whole incident, though, needs to be contextualized: an occupying army conducted a ‘military training’ near a checkpoint installed for the control and humiliation of the occupied population, in a civilian residential neighborhood. Immediate medical assistance to the injured occupying soldier, with an ambulance that, without any problems, was granted immediate access to the injured.
Military trainings, under international humanitarian law, are prohibited in civilian areas. The Israeli occupying army in al-Khalil, and all over the occupied territories, though, conducts trainings in civilian areas. This serves two functions: for one, it is more ‘real’, a training in the area where the perceived ‘enemy population’ is living, and second, the intimidation of the population. Israeli forces in al-Khalil are sometimes seen ‘practicing’ the ‘neutralization’, as it is called in Israeli rhetoric, of Palestinians at checkpoints. In those cases, a Palestinian that allegedly carries a knife is seen as a threat to the life of the heavily armed and armored occupation forces – and thus has to be shot and, as documented in so many cases, left to bleed to death on the ground without any medical assistance. The idea is always to shoot to kill….
Israel releases 2 Hamas-affiliated Palestinian MPs after 4 months in prison
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 6 July – Israeli authorities released two Hamas-affiliated Palestinian parliamentarians detained four months prior, a Palestinian official said. First deputy of the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC) Ahmad Bahr, who is also a member of Hamas, said that he had congratulated Anwar Zboun and Khalid Tafish on their release, wishing them a “calm, peaceful life empty of the occupation’s aggression.” Zboun and Tafish, who are members of the PLC’s Change and Reform bloc, were detained in the southern occupied West Bank city of Bethlehem on March 6 during an overnight raid. Bahr said that the two MPs informed him of the incarceration conditions for Palestinians imprisoned by Israel, highlighting that they nonetheless had high spirits and remained hopeful for freedom despite arbitrary Israeli procedures. Bahr said that the PLC would continue to work to release all parliamentarians held by Israel, as well as all Palestinian prisoners, calling upon West Bank-based MPs to fulfill their political duties to address Israel’s suppressive occupation there.
Following Zboun and Tafish’s release, at least 12 Palestinian parliamentarians still remain incarcerated by Israel — including Fatah leading figure Marwan Barghouthi and Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) Secretary-General Ahmad Saadat.
The latest Palestinian MP to have been detained was PFLP member Khalida Jarrar, who was incarcerated on Sunday just over a year after her previous release from prison.
Israel has particularly targeted Hamas-affiliated legislators in 2017, detaining half a dozen of them in the span of several months.
Israel considers the majority of Palestinian political parties to be “terrorist organizations.” As a result, most Palestinians who participate in the political arena in the occupied Palestinian territory risk being imprisoned by Israeli authorities.
Israel continues to pay Israeli detainee who killed Palestinian workers
IMEMC/Agencies 4 July — While demanding that the Palestinian Authority stop paying the monthly salaries of Palestinian political detainees for Israel, the Israeli government continues to pay a regular monthly salaries to Israeli prisoners who murdered Palestinian civilians, providing them and their families with social care and legal follow-up. Head of the Palestinian Prisoners’ Commission, Issa Qaraqe’ said, according to the PNN, that the government of Israel is paying a regular monthly salary to the Israeli murderer Ami Popper who committed a bloody massacre where he killed seven Palestinian workers from Gaza on May 20, 1990, in the Rishon Lezion area, near Tel Aviv. The victims were waiting for their employers on the construction site when Ami Popper approached them wearing the Israeli army uniform. After he checked their IDs to make sure they were all Palestinians, he opened fire towards them, killing seven and injuring 20 others. “Popper’s sentence, which was a life imprisonment, was reduced and he will be released next month, Qaraqe’ said. “Despite being in prison, he lives in luxury: He got married on the anniversary of the massacre (20 May 2013) and had kids while he was in prison. In addition, he was allowed to visit his house several times.”….
Israel releases mother of slain Palestinian after 2 weeks in prison
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 5 July — Israeli authorities freed on Thursday the mother of a Palestinian killed by Israeli forces, two days after ordering that she be released from Israeli custody. Zeinab Ankoush was detained on June 21 in the wake of a deadly stabbing and shooting attack in occupied East Jerusalem carried out by three Palestinians from the village of Deir Abu Mashaal in the central occupied West Bank — all of whom were shot dead by Israeli forces, including Ankoush’s 18-year-old son, Adel Ankoush.
Adel Ankoush’s father Hassan was also detained during an overnight raid on June 29. According to Israeli police, Zeinab Ankoush was detained over suspicions of “supporting a terrorist organization and planning to conduct an attack,” and for “inciting violence and terrorism” after speaking out about Adel’s death. The Ofer military court ruled on Tuesday to release Ankoush on a 6,000-shekel ($1,700) bail, on the condition that a third party sign a 20,000-shekel ($5,660) bond to guarantee that Ankoush attend future court sessions.
Israel sentences Palestinian to 18 years in prison for throwing Molotov at Israeli vehicle
BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) — An Israeli military court sentenced a Palestinian to 18 years in prison on Tuesday for allegedly throwing a Molotov cocktail at an Israeli settler’s car in 2014, which injured two Israelis, including an 11-year-old girl. Muhammad Badwan was among 14 Palestinians who were detained from the village of ‘Azzun in the northern occupied West Bank district of Qalqiliya in December 2014 following the incident, which occurred in the illegal Israeli settlement of Maale Shomeron just north of the village.
Badwan was sentenced to 18 years in prison and was ordered to pay a fine of 50,000 shekels ($14,220) for allegedly throwing the Molotov cocktail that had hit the Israeli settler car.
Palestinian minor held by Israel without charge denied family visits
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 2 July — Israeli authorities have prevented a 15-year-old Palestinian boy from receiving family visits since he was detained more than two months ago, his father said Monday. Since Abd al-Nasser Lahham, from al-Duheisha refugee camp in the southern occupied West Bank district of Bethlehem, was detained on April 26, six sessions have been held at Israeli military courts for his case, during which the prosecution has demanded the boy be sentenced to 15 months in prison, his father Muhammad Lahham, a journalist at Ma‘an, said. The court has yet to approve the sentence. A representative of the International Committee of the Red Cross, the body that facilitates family visits for Palestinians in the occupied territory to Israeli prisons, told Lahham that Israeli authorities were depriving the 15-year-old boy from receiving visits “for unknown reasons.”
Jewish terrorists get special treatment from Israel
EI 6 July by Charlotte Silver — Israel’s high court has backed the government’s policy of demolishing the family homes of those accused of perpetrating acts Israel defines as terrorism, while shielding the families of Jewish perpetrators from the same fate. Human rights monitors denounce such punitive demolitions as collective punishment, which is a war crime under international law. The ruling came as Israeli authorities began implementing a new wave of collective punishments against the families of prisoners and slain Palestinians.
On 4 July, the high court rejected a petition by the parents of Muhammad Abu Khudair to demolish the homes of the three Israelis convicted of killing their teenage son. But while rejecting the Abu Khudair petition, the court reaffirmed the state’s right to demolish the homes of Palestinians accused of attacks, reinforcing a glaring double standard.
In July 2014, three Israelis grabbed the 16-year-old Muhammad Abu Khudair from near his home in occupied East Jerusalem, took him to a forest and bludgeoned and burned him alive. Muhannad Jibara, the Abu Khudair family’s lawyer, told media that his clients did not expect the high court to rule in their favor. He said their goal had been to “expose the illegal different treatment between how security forces treat Palestinian attackers by destroying their houses, compared to the tolerance for Jewish attackers.” Jibara also said the family hopes that the court will now reconsider ruling in favor of demolishing a Palestinian’s home. But Muhammad’s father, Hussein Abu Khudair, said the court’s decision “encourages (others) to continue hurting us, under the auspices of the state.” “We’ll turn to an international court so we could get a decision that could punish the terrorists,” he added. Court justifies discrimination The Israeli government opposed the Abu Khudairs’ petition, arguing that home demolitions were necessary to deter Palestinian attacks, which supposedly require “special forms of deterrence,” The Jerusalem Post reported. Israeli authorities claimed that Palestinian and Jewish “terrorists” should be treated differently, because Palestinians commit more attacks than Jews. This reasoning obviously overlooks the fact that the overwhelming majority of conflict-related deaths have been Palestinian civilians killed by Israeli occupation forces, slayings that are carried out with systematic impunity. The court accepted the government’s argument, ruling that demolishing a Palestinian’s home functions as deterrence, whereas demolishing the home of a Jewish Israeli would be punishment…
Israeli soldiers hand out demolition orders targeting four homes in Ramallah
IMEMC 4 July — Israeli soldiers invaded, on Tuesday at dawn, the towns of Deir Abu Mashaal and Silwad, north and east of the central West Bank city of Ramallah, and handed out demolition orders targeting the homes of three Palestinians who were killed in June after killing an Israeli officer, and a similar order against the home of a detainee from Silwad, who was taken prisoner after the army claimed he deliberately rammed soldiers with his car, killing one. The soldiers invaded Deir Abu Mashaal town, after surrounding it, and broke into the family homes of Bara’ Ibrahim Saleh, 18, Adel Hasan Ankoush, 18, and Osama Ahmad Ata, 19, who were killed in June, after killing an Israeli soldier and wounding several others. The soldiers then handed the three families demolition orders targeting their homes.
The soldiers also invaded the family home of Malek Ahmad Hamed, who was taken prisoner in April after killing an Israeli soldier, in what the army claimed “a deliberate car ramming attack,” and handed the family a demolition order against their home. Hamed is from Silwad town, east of Ramallah.
The four families were granted 48 hours to appeal against the demolition orders with the Civil Administration Office, run by the Israeli military in the occupied West Bank.
Israeli forces revoke permits for relatives of former Palestinian hunger strikers
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 4 July — Israeli authorities revoked the Israeli entry permits for 37 family members of Palestinians imprisoned by Israel on Monday morning, which a family member told Ma‘an was a punitive measure against imprisoned Palestinians who joined a mass 40-day hunger strike earlier this year. Shahinaz Dadou, 47, whose husband Muhammad is serving a four-year, seven-month sentence in Israeli prison, told Ma‘an that two International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) buses left Bethlehem in southern occupied West Bank for Israel’s Nafha prison at around 4 a.m. on Monday. While ICRC officials warned the passengers that anyone whose imprisoned relatives had joined the mass hunger strike might be denied entry at the checkpoint to enter Israel, Dadou and the other relatives decided to try their luck anyway, Dadou said. However, when the buses arrived at the Israeli checkpoint near the city of al-Dhahiriyya in the southern part of Hebron, Israeli forces revoked the entry permits for 37 people whose relatives had joined the mass hunger strike, forcing them to return to Bethlehem. Dadou told Ma‘an that she had a one-year permit, enabling her to enter Israel twice a month for prison visitations….
Land, property theft & destruction / Ethnic cleansing / Settlements
No one actually knows where Israel ends and the Palestinian Territories begin
Haaretz 6 July by Shakked Auerbach — Israel has worked hard since 1967 to erase the Green Line from public consciousness, even as the invisible border became increasingly impenetrable to Palestinians — Hidden amid the pines and the olive trees on the hills that surround the Palestinian town of Beit Sira, which lies just across the Green Line opposite the Israeli city of Modi’in, is a row of rusting iron posts jutting out of stone. The grooves in the stone gather moisture and are exploited as a habitat by moss and white-leaved savory. The rods have been here for nearly 60 years, dating from the period before Israel was trying to erase the memory of the Green Line, and the 1949 cease-fire line with Jordan was marked using the meager means available. Today, though, there is no real way to know where the route of the Green Line lies. “After the Green Line was demarcated on the maps, the Jordanians declined to mark it on the ground,” says Gideon Biger, professor emeritus of geography from Tel Aviv University. “We marked the line in the 1950s,” he notes, “but in order not to clash with the Jordanians we used old barrels, iron rods and all kinds of other objects.” Israel placed the markers a few dozen meters inside its territory, he notes, adding, “The Jordanians observed us and watched to ensure that we didn’t place anything in a place they thought was theirs. If so, they warned us with the aid of gunfire.”
The Green Line was set as the cease-fire line between Israel and Jordan in the 1949 Rhodes armistice agreements. Subsequently, it became the invisible boundary between Israel and the territories that Israel conquered in the 1967 Six-Day War. It’s transparent for most Israelis, thanks to their governments’ efforts to erase it from the consciousness of the country’s citizens. But for the Palestinians, it’s as impassable as a border made of concrete, both as a structure of consciousness and in the form of the actual separation barrier that Israel built in recent years…
Israel and Jordan never bothered to mark the Green Line with exactitude, because they believed it would be temporary. According to Biger, the maps used by the UN for the Rhodes agreement dated from the start of World War II. In addition, the scale of the maps, at 1:20,000, was not very precise. “Each side thought it was temporary and would ultimately be modified as an orderly boundary line, so they weren’t all that careful about marking it,” Biger explains. “They also used a green grease pencil two to three millimeters thick, which represents 60 meters on the map, and begins to be a problem.” In addition to which, new foliage and soil erosion have altered the terrain since the cease-fire lines were marked 68 years ago…. [long article explaining the many intricacies of the situation; not behind the paywall]
UNESCO panel okays softened text blasting Israel over Jerusalem activity
Times of Israel 4 July by Raphael Ahren — Israel slams surprise vote by World Heritage Committee condemning ‘illegal’ Old City digs, urges delegates in Poland to stand in silence for Holocaust victims — The United Nations Educational, Scientific, Cultural Organization’s World Heritage Council on Tuesday evening passed a resolution denouncing Israeli activity in the Old City of Jerusalem. Ten countries voted in favor of the text, which was significantly softer than previous resolutions. Only three member states — Jamaica, the Philippines and Burkina Faso — opposed the resolution, while eight abstained. The Jordanian-sponsored resolution on the “Old City of Jerusalem and its Walls” called Israel “the occupying power,” and reaffirmed previous UN resolutions denying the country’s claims to East Jerusalem. Israel’s annexation of East Jerusalem has never been recognized by the international community. The body “regrets the failure of the Israeli occupying authorities to cease the persistent excavations, tunneling, works, projects and other illegal practices in East Jerusalem, particularly in and around the Old City of Jerusalem, which are illegal under international law,” the measure read. However, Decision 41 COM 7A.36 stressed “the importance of the Old City of Jerusalem and its Walls for the three monotheistic religions,” language not found in last year’s text. It also did not refer to the Temple Mount compound solely by its Muslim names, “Al-Aqsa Mosque/Al-Haram Al-Sharif,” as the 2016 resolution did, defining it instead as “a Muslim holy site of worship.” Despite the text lacking the bite of previous resolutions passed by the body, it was still met with angry denunciations by Israeli officials. “Nothing is more disgraceful than UNESCO declaring the world’s only Jewish state the ‘occupier’ of the Western Wall and Jerusalem’s Old City,” Israel’s Ambassador to the United Nations, Danny Danon, said in a statement released minutes after the vote.”
Army demolishes a home and a stable, uproots farmland, in Jerusalem
IMEMC 4 July — Israeli soldiers demolished, Tuesday, a Palestinian home in Beit Hanina neighborhood, north of occupied East Jerusalem, a stable for horses in Silwan town, and bulldozed a farmland in Za‘im [or Az Za‘ayyem] town, east of Jerusalem. Dozens of soldiers, accompanied by bulldozers, invaded Beit Hanina neighborhood, after surrounding and isolating it, and demolished a home, reportedly for being “built without a permit.” The soldiers also invaded Wadi Yasoul neighborhood in Silwan town, south of the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem, and demolished a stable for horses. Furthermore, the soldiers bulldozed and uprooted farmland owned by Tareq Abu Sbeitan, in Za‘im town, east of Jerusalem, without a warrant or even an explanation.
Israel confiscates Palestinian shepherds’ home solar-power units
Haaretz 6 July by Amira Hass — Israel confiscated Wednesday two home solar power units that had been contributed by the European Union to a small sheep-herding community in the north of the Jordan Valley. The confiscated units, which were installed some three months ago, consist of eight solar panels, four batteries and two transformers. They were intended to operate refrigerators, used to store cheeses – on which the family’s livelihood depends – and medicines for the sheep and the family. The Civil Administration, which carried out the seizure, came to Khirbet Tall al-Himma, home of the 25-strong Hlat Hamad community, at 8 A.M. Wednesday with two military jeeps carrying 10 soldiers, four of them women, two cars with laborers and a truck. The soldiers left with the seized property an hour and a half later, B’Tselem researcher A’araf Drarma, who witnessed the incident, told Haaretz … Last week the Civil Administration confiscated a hybrid energy system (solar panels and a diesel engine) set up by Comet-Me, an Israeli-Palestinian NGO, some nine months ago in the Palestinian village Jubbet Adh-Dhib, east of Bethlehem. Here too no orders to stop operating the system were presented before the confiscation.
Netherlands says it will continue projects for Palestinians even without Israel’s okay
Haaretz 7 July by Amira Hass — The Netherlands will continue to finance humanitarian projects in the occupied Palestinian territories even if they have received no permit from Israel, Dutch Foreign Minister Bert Koenders told his country’s parliament on Tuesday. His speech provided a glimpse into The Netherlands’ efforts, as well as those of other countries, to persuade Israel to allow humanitarian aid in Area C, which makes up about 60 percent of the West Bank. The discussion began with questions posed to Koenders by several parliamentarians about an ecological electricity system The Netherlands had financed in the West Bank village of Jubbet adh-Dhib. The system’s solar panels and other vital parts had been confiscated by Israel’s Civil Administration in the West Bank the previous Wednesday. Koenders said this issue has been raised at “the highest level”: Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte protested the confiscations to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu when they met last weekend (apparently at former German Chancellor Helmut Kohl’s funeral), and Netanyahu promised to look into the matter. Moreover, Koenders said, the Dutch Embassy in Israel issued a stiffly worded protest about the confiscations, and the Dutch government has engaged Israeli authorities “at all levels” to have equipment returned. Koenders reiterated several times that Israel’s conduct on this issue was unacceptable and said the Dutch government had made this “unequivocally” clear….
Settler leader used state resources to fund illegal outpost, while Israel turned blind eye
Haaretz 7 July — Scheme involves mortgaging West Bank land obtained from the state to divert funds to outpost, with the help of a Canadian lawyer and the Civil Administration — At the end of a winding road leading from the settlement of Karnei Shomron lies a new, steadily growing community with a row of single-family homes. This is no ordinary settlement, but an illegal outpost named Alonei Shilo. The government never approved its construction, at least not officially. Yet, houses are rising there one after another thanks to a complex scheme that involved the state and its official representative in the West Bank, the Civil Administration; settlement movement leader Zeev Hever, popularly nicknamed Zambis; a wealthy Canadian lawyer and outpost residents. This scheme took place over an almost 20-year span. .It began with an illegal deal between the state and Hever – the CEO of Amana, a company that builds in West Bank settlements – in which the state gave him rights to build near the settlement of Ma’aleh Efraim. It continued with a surprising permit to mortgage those rights that Zambish received from the Civil Administration. In the next act, the Canadian attorney entered the picture. In exchange for the building rights, he provided a loan to a company Zambish headed. Then, in the final stage, Zambish used that money to build houses in the north West Bank outpost of Alonei Shilo – houses against which the Civil Administration itself has issued demolition orders….
Survey: Half of Arabs in Israeli universities suffer racism
Haaretz 5 July by Yarden Zur — Some 40 percent of Arab students said they suffer racism from faculty; 60 percent said they had forged ties with Jewish students unconnected to their studies — About half of all Arab university students reported experiencing racism and discrimination in the academic setting, and some 40 percent say racist comments come from the faculty, according to a new survey presented Tuesday at the Knesset. The survey, which polled more than 1,300 Arab students at various institutions, revealed the difficulties Arab students have in integrating into academic studies and in receiving scholarships, and a sense of being unrepresented on campus in terms of language and culture. According to the survey, which was conducted by New Wave Research and commissioned by the National Student Union and the Abraham Fund, universities do not make it easier for Arab students to integrate, for example, by taking holidays and fast days into consideration. In addition, 30 percent said they were unable to apply for scholarships because they had not served in the army. About 60 percent said they were the first person in their family to attend university….
Israeli activists seek to have far-right Jewish gang outlawed
Haaretz 7 July by Nir Hasson — Petition claims that Lehava has become a hate organization that spreads racism and violence against Arabs and Christians — The Reform movement, Jewish activist groups and the Palestinian victim of a lynching have petitioned the High Court of Justice, calling on the state and the attorney general to indict the leader of the far-right, anti-assimilationist group Lehava for incitement to racism and incitement to violence, and to declare the organization a criminal organization. The petition describes the development of the Lehava organization headed by Ben-Zion Gopstein, its activity and the impotence of the police and State Prosecutor’s Office with regard to the organization. The first petitioner is Jamal Julani from Jerusalem, who as a 17-year-old in 2012 was attacked by young Jews in central Jerusalem after they identified him as Arab. The other petitioners are the Israel Religious Action Center, the Tag Meir Forum, the Association for Civil Rights in Israel and the Coalition Against Racism. The petition claims that Lehava, which was established in 2009, has become a hate organization that spreads racism and violence against Arabs and Christians by means of posters, newsletters, conferences, demonstrations and social media. The petitioners see a link between this activity and violent attacks against Arabs in Jerusalem and elsewhere….
Weekly report on Israeli human rights violations in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (22 June-5 July)
PCHR-GAZA 6 July — Israeli forces continue systematic crimes in the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt) — Israeli forces killed a Palestinian civilian in Hebron. 18 Palestinian civilians, including 8 children, were wounded in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Israeli forces continued to target the border area along the Gaza Strip. No casualties were reported. Israeli forces raided a site of al-Qassam Brigades, south of the Gaza Strip, but no casualties were reported. Israeli forces conducted 97 incursions into Palestinian communities in the West Bank and 2 limited ones in the Gaza Strip. 108 civilians, including 14 children and 3 women, were arrested in the West Bank. 33 of them, including 5 children, were arrested in Jerusalem. Among the arrested were 2 members of the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC) Bader and Jarrar, in addition to head of the Palestinian Women Committees’ Union. Israeli forces continued practicing the collective punishment policy. 4 families of attackers were notified of house demolition in Deir Abu Meshaal and Silwad villages. Israeli forces continued efforts to create Jewish majority in occupied Palestinian Jerusalem. 3 houses in Beit Hanina, north of the city, were demolished. 2 agricultural dunums and a livestock barrack were demolished and 120 trees were cut off in al-Za’yem village. A civilian was obliged to self-demolish his house and another was obliged to demolish 2 houses. Israeli forces continued to target the Palestinian fishermen in the sea. Israeli forces turned the West Bank into cantons and continued to impose the illegal closure on the Gaza Strip for the 10th year Dozens of temporary checkpoints were established in the West Bank and others were re-established to obstruct the movement of Palestinian civilians. 3 civilians were arrested at military checkpoints in the West Bank.
Abbas to meet al-Sissi in Cairo under shadow of rift with Hamas
Haaretz 5 July by Jack Khoury — Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah al-Sissi will meet on Sunday. The two leaders will discuss regional developments, including stepped up settlement activity by Israel in the West Bank, according to a Palestinian news agency. But for Abbas, the real issue of the day is warming relations between Egypt, Hamas and political rival Mohammed Dahlan. The meeting will take place in the shadow of a worsening crisis between Hamas‘ leadership in Gaza and the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank. According to a senior Palestinian official, Abbas will warn about the possible implications of opening the Rafah crossing between Egypt and Gaza without coordinating it first within the PA. Egypt has the right to protect its national security, the source said, but it should not make moves that could distance the West Bank and the Strip.
The myth of a ‘Palestinian economy’
Al Jazeera 6 July by Nur Arafeh — Though it is rumoured that US President Donald Trump may withdraw from Israeli-Palestinian peace talks after White House Senior Adviser Jared Kushner’s fruitless meetings in Jerusalem and Ramallah, certain policies touted by Trump are likely to continue regardless. For instance, Trump recently declared that he welcomed measures to “unlock the Palestinian economy“. These measures, approved by Israel, include facilitating the travel of Palestinians between Jordan and the West Bank; zoning Israeli-occupied land in the West Bank for Palestinian residential, agricultural, and industrial use; developing two industrial zones; and expanding hours of operation at checkpoints between the West Bank and Israel to ease movement for Palestinians. In the meantime, Israel continues to place the Gaza Strip in an economic stranglehold. It is currently suffering from a debilitating electricity crisis. Such economic measures, at least in regard to the West Bank, are based on the assumption that a lack of Palestinian prosperity is the main cause of the conflict. The claim goes that economic success and joint economic projects between Israelis and Palestinians will improve the lives of Palestinians and pave the way for peace. Since the 1970s, Israeli officials, as well as US and other world leaders that have led negotiations, have favoured such an “economic peace” approach. Benjamin Netanyahu, then in opposition as leader of the Likud party, strongly advocated for it in 2008, and since then, the international community has increasingly promoted the notion that there is an economic antidote to the impasse.
But viewing economic development as the horse and a just peace as the cart only exacerbates the political deadlock, since the symptom – economic deprivation – is mistaken for the cause: Israel’s occupation and military rule. Moreover, this approach disconnects the economy from its historical context and obscures the fact that the “Palestinian economy” is a political construct embedded in Israel’s occupation policies, which aim to expropriate Palestinian land and expand a Jewish state – while dominating the “Palestinian economy” in the process….
UNESCO declares Cave of the Patriarchs as Palestinian World Heritage Site
Ynet 7 July by Itamar Eichner — The Heritage Committee of the UN’s Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) adopted on Friday a Palestinian request to declare Hebron’s Old City — and with it the Cave of the Patriarchs [also known as the Ibrahimi Mosque] — as a Palestinian World Heritage Site, raising ire in Israel. Israel’s efforts to foil the resolution failed after 12 member states voted in favor of the resolution, three voted against it, and six abstained. By the same decision, Hebron’s Old City was also put on UNESCO’s list of world heritage in danger … The Israeli ambassador also said a phone call he had just received from his plumber was more important than the “disgraceful” decision UNESCO made. “I’m sure the Israeli government will consider how to respond, including sticks and carrots to the relevant bodies, to ensure Jewish life and heritage in Hebron will not only not suffer, but prosper,” he added. Meanwhile, Rula Maayah, the Palestinian Minister of Tourism, said in a statement the decision was a “historical development because it stressed that Hebron” and its historic mosque “historically belong to the Palestinian people.”
US rabbis just got a close-up look at occupation in the West Bank – and it’s not a pretty sight
Haaretz 5 July by Judy Maltz — Rabbi Stanley Kessler first visited Hebron in 1967, just after the Six-Day War. He returned for a second visit in 1973. This week, at age 94, he came back for his third trip and hardly recognized the city. “I have difficulty seeing what I’m seeing,” he says, pausing for a moment of reflection after a stroll, on a sweltering day, through what used to be the bustling center of this West Bank city. “On my previous trips, the streets were swarming with people. And now, I didn’t even see one single person.” “Where has everyone gone?” wonders Kessler, who served for 40 years as rabbi of a large Conservative congregation in Hartford, Connecticut, and had studied under Abraham Joshua Heschel, one of America’s most revered rabbis. Kessler has been around, as they say. During World War II, he served as an aerial gunner and radio operator in the U.S. Air Force, flying 18 missions over Europe. In 1963, he was one of 18 rabbis who marched for black civil rights with the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. in Birmingham, Alabama. In the late 1960s, he was active in the anti-Vietnam War movement. But something about this most recent trip to Hebron – a city where the entire story of the Israeli occupation plays out in a nutshell – has shaken him deeply. Perhaps because the last time he visited here, before Israeli settlers had set up a base in the city, he saw Palestinians moving around freely and businesses that were thriving. Perhaps because the last time he visited here, checkpoints manned by the Israel Defense Forces were not stationed at every corner. Perhaps because the last time he visited here, no streets or neighborhoods were declared off-limits to Palestinians. Or perhaps because during those visits, he was not greeted by rows upon rows of empty shops sealed shut by military order. “I am terribly sad,” he says. “And now, after hearing the stories of soldiers who served here, I am also infuriated.”…
Kessler was one of a group of about a dozen American rabbis visiting Hebron Sunday on a tour jointly sponsored by T’ruah, a U.S.-based organization of rabbis active in promoting human rights, and Breaking the Silence, a group of former IDF soldiers dedicated to fighting the Israeli occupation, who collect and publish personal testimonies about their military service in locations like Hebron. Several of these testimonies were read out during the tour…
Before heading into Hebron, the bus makes a short detour to the nearby settlement of Kiryat Arba. By way of introduction, Bubis points out two sites that speak volumes about the mindset of the local settler population: a park named after Meir Kahane, the racist American-born rabbi whose political party was outlawed in Israel, and the burial place of Baruch Goldstein, a Jewish-American physician who lived in town and who, on the Jewish holiday of Purim in 1994, shot dead 29 Palestinians praying in the nearby Tomb of the Patriarchs. The rabbis can hardly conceal their shock at the words inscribed on his tombstone: “His hands are clean and his heart is pure.”….
Bonanza for Palestinian businesses as Ramadan travel permits canceled
Al-Monitor 4 July by Daoud Kuttab — The June 16 stabbing attack in Jerusalem that led to the death of an Israeli soldier caused an angry Israeli response. Three Palestinian youths carried out two simultaneous knife attacks in Jerusalem that killed an Israeli female soldier. The three Palestinians were shot dead by Israeli soldiers. In addition to the issuing of orders to demolish the West Bank homes of the youths following the attack, the Israeli army canceled June 18 the permits of some 200,000 Palestinians to visit Jerusalem and Israel. The permits issued for the holy month of Ramadan canceled the trips of many West Bank Palestinians to the shores of the Mediterranean, the Sea of Galilee and other tourist spots in Israel. But the collective punishment levied on Palestinians was a blessing in disguise for others. West Bank shops, malls, hotels, restaurants and entertainment sites recorded full capacity during Eid al-Fitr on June 25-28, marking the end of the month of fasting. Travel outside of the West Bank to Jordan, Sharm el-Sheikh in Egypt, and Turkish resorts also set record numbers late in June … Although not expected or planned, the change in Palestinian plans due to the Israeli cancellation of the travel permits reveals a long-standing claim that the permits are issued during holidays to benefit Israeli businesses and resorts. Freelance political analyst Abdel Majed Swelem argues that the permit system allows the occupiers to control who travels and when from the occupied territories to Israel. “They want to show that Palestinians have no problem with Israel and that given an opportunity they aspire to engage Israelis,” he told a reporter of the local Palestinian Amin website in November 2012….
The Cash-for-Work programme that helped Mohammed establish a grocery for a secure income
UNRWA 4 July — Mohammed Yaghi, a Palestine refugee, cheerfully arranges vegetables in his new grocery and poultry shop in Fawwar refugee camp in the West Bank. This small shop, established with income Mohammed earned through his participation in the Cash-for-Work (CfW) programme, provides his family of six with a secure source of income and a sustainable livelihood. Having previously struggled to secure employment and a steady income, Mohammed was offered four three-month contracts in a span of four years working as a janitor in one of the UNRWA schools in the camp. He utilized the money he received through CfW to rehabilitate his house and establish his small shop. “CfW is a means of assisting the poor in a dignified way. My small shop will help me to achieve self-reliance,” says Mohammed. Mohammed’s wife Abeer says, “we were very happy when my husband got opportunities through CfW since the money we received improved our economic situation and lessened our financial load.” She adds that the children are also happy to be living in a good house and look forward to receiving a good education because the better living conditions will allow them to perform better in school, enabling a decent life for themselves. The unemployment rate in the West Bank is extremely high: 17.8 per cent among non-refugees and 19.17 per cent among refugees. The rate of unemployment among refugees in camps is even higher at 21.8 per cent. Under these circumstances, UNRWA emergency assistance is essential, mitigating the effects of poverty and improving unemployment rates….
Speed Sisters: Palestine’s all-female racing car team
Al Jazeera Witness 6 July with Amber Fares, filmmaker — Despite a tangle of roadblocks and checkpoints, a thriving street car racing scene has emerged in the occupied West Bank. Held at improvised tracks, the races offer a release from the pressures and uncertainties of life under military occupation. Brought together by a common desire to live life on their own terms, the Speed Sisters have joined the ranks of dozens of male drivers competing against each other for the title, for bragging rights for their hometown, and to prove that women can go head-to-head with the guys. Weaving together their lives on and off the track, Speed Sisters sheds light on the rivalries within the team, the pressures the women feel from their communities, and their drive to go further and faster than anyone thought they could.
FILMMAKER’S VIEW By Amber Fares …In 2002, I packed my bags and went to Lebanon for four months to work with Palestinian refugees. This started my fascination with the Middle East and my desire to use film as a way to humanise one of today’s most talked-about, yet misrepresented “others” in the media. After some years, I found myself in Palestine, where I had been introduced to some female racing car drivers. We became friends and they invited me to join them at a race in Jenin. I had never been to Jenin before, but I did know that it had a reputation for being a tough place with a lot of tough guys who were proud of their fierce “freedom fighters” during the First and Second Intifadas. Following one of the women around as she searched for a car to race with, I eventually found myself on a side street in Jenin. While she was test-driving a car by pulling doughnuts in the middle of the street with several dozen young men watching her and cheering her on, I was struck by both the fact that there are women racing car drivers in Palestine and by the amount of support they were receiving … The head of the federation created a space for the women to race, the other male racers were incredibly supportive and helped their female counterparts whenever they could – and Marah’s father was as supportive as anyone could be. By making their support a part of the story and sharing these men’s perspectives, I hoped to provide some counterbalance to the Western narrative of the Arab male, as well as providing positive role models for gender attitudes for other men.
US envoy Haley leads anti-Palestinian ‘crusade’: PLO
Al Jazeera 6 July — A senior Palestinian official has blasted US President Donald Trump‘s UN envoy, accusing her of carrying out a “crusade” against the Palestinian people. Hanan Ashrawi, a senior member of the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO), said on Wednesday that Nikki Haley was leading a “one-woman crusade … against Palestine and the Palestinian people individually and collectively”. “Through an obsessive and targeted campaign of intimidation and threats, Miss Haley’s crusade does not miss an opportunity to put pressure on anyone that seeks to challenge Israeli impunity,” she added. Ashrawi said Haley was echoing remarks by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Israeli foreign ministry spokesman Emmanuel Nahshon defended Haley’s work. “Small wonder Hanan Ashrawi is unhappy – @nikkihaley fights for a fair treatment of #Israel, exactly what the #Palestinians don’t want…,” he wrote on Twitter. Palestinian officials have privately expressed increasing alarm at the Trump administration’s pro-Israel stance as the US president seeks to restart peace negotiations. However, until Wednesday they had publicly refrained from criticising senior US officials….
Mennonite Church to divest in protest of Israeli policies
ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) 6 July — The Mennonite Church USA plans to sell its holdings in companies that profit from the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories. A national Mennonite convention in Orlando, Florida, approved the move with a vote Thursday. The economic impact is expected to be minimal. But such votes are closely watched as a measure of views on Israel and the Palestinians from within the U.S., the Jewish state’s closest and most important ally. The resolution directs managers of the $3 billion Everence church fund to regularly screen holdings to avoid any economic support for Israeli policies in the occupied territories. Other Christian groups that have taken similar steps toward divestment include the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) and the United Church of Christ. Israeli officials condemn divestment as an attempt to delegitimize the Jewish state.
Irked by snub on Israel visit, Palestinians call on India’s Modi to be more like Gandhi
Haaretz 6 July by Matthew Kalman — Critics say a voice for peace that would end the occupation should visit both sides — Palestinian frustration at being excluded from the first visit to the region by an Indian prime minister burst onto the streets Wednesday with a small but vocal demonstration outside the Indian Representative Office near Ramallah. Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s decision not to include Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in the schedule of his three-day visit has disappointed Palestinians and prompted some criticism back home. “We expected him to visit both Israel and Palestine,” Palestinian Deputy Foreign Minister Tasir Jaradat told Al Jazeera, adding that to “play an important role between the two sides and to be able to spread the message of peace, one should visit both.” Modi and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu signed a series of economic agreements Wednesday, signaling an expansion of defense ties into a broader trade and technology relationship in areas such as water conservation, space and agriculture … Wednesday’s protest, organized by a loose coalition of local political groups under the banner of the National and Islamic Forces, was called to denounce rumors that Narendra was considering moving India’s embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, and to object to the deepening economic and strategic ties between India and Israel. “We in the Palestinian revolution and the PLO are keen on building special ties with India,” Essam Abu Baker, coordinator of the National and Islamic Forces, told the crowd. “President Abbas recently made a successful visit to India. However, this apparent shift in India’s position is huge and dangerous. We call on the Indian government to revise its policies. It is inconceivable to reward the occupation for its crimes against the Palestinians by establishing economic and trade ties with it. We are worried about the growing economic and trade ties between India and Israel.”
New guideline permits Israel to deny entry to visitors over ‘BDS activity’
Haaretz 6 July by Ilan Lior — The Population, Immigration and Border Authority last month issued a directive implementing the recently-passed law that blocks entry to Israel of visitors because of “BDS activity.” The regulation, entitled “Handling entries at Israel’s international border crossings,” lists 28 reasons for refusing someone entry to Israel, and constitutes the first time such a policy has been set down in writing. “BDS activity” is specifically listed. The regulation follows the passing of a law this past March that forbids the issuance of a visa or other entry permit to foreign citizens who have called for a boycott of Israel or the settlements … The regulation makes it clear that this is not a definitive list and that border guards are permitted to refuse entry for other reasons as well. Over the past year, at the instruction of Interior Minister Arye Dery and Strategic Affairs Minister Gilad Erdan, Israel has blocked the entry of a few people known to support the BDS movement, which calls for boycotting, divesting from and sanctioning Israel to pressure it to end the occupation, at the very least. In December, entry was denied to Dr. Isabel Phiri, a Malawi citizen who lives in Switzerland and is a senior official in the World Council of Churches….
South African ruling party wants to downgrade embassy in Israel
Times of Israel 6 July by Raphael Ahren — South Africa’s ruling party this week announced its intention of downgrading its embassy in Israel to an “interest office.” At a major policy conference in Johannesburg, the African National Congress’s international relations committee decided on a number of recommendations to be adopted as official party policy later this year. “The commission called for the downgrading of the South African embassy in Israel to send a strong message about Israel’s continued illegal occupation of Palestine and the continued human rights abuses against the peoples of Palestine,” the commission’s chairperson announced Tuesday. Anti-Israel activists celebrated the move, while Israeli officials shrugged it off as a political policy recommendation that may never actually be implemented by the government….
1,500 Jerusalem homeowners up in arms over secret sale of church land
Times of Israel 5 July by Sue Surkes — Some 1,500 owners of properties in Jerusalem’s wealthiest neighborhoods have discovered that the land on which their homes sit has been sold, in secret, to private real estate companies. They fear that when their leases end — some of them as soon as in 18 years’ time — they will face the choice of either paying high sums to renew their leaseholds or having to sell and move. With their homes already down 30 percent in value because of the approaching end of the leases, they also dread a scenario in which the developers buy their buildings for rock-bottom prices, then raze and rebuild them or add stories and resell them, together with the land, for huge profits. In a Byzantine tale that weaves together real estate, property, mysterious offshore bank accounts, religion and politics, it has emerged that the Greek Orthodox Church has sold key real estate in the capital to private investors. The deals were reportedly made not only behind the backs of the homeowners, but also without the knowledge of the Jewish National Fund — to which the church originally leased the land for 99 years — and the state. The Greek Orthodox Church — the second biggest owner of land in Israel after the Israel Lands Authority — acquired some 4,500 dunams (1,110 acres) of real estate in the center of Jerusalem during the 19th century, primarily for agriculture. In the 1950s, just after Israel’s independence, it agreed to lease its land to the JNF for 99 years — with an option to extend. Even Israel’s parliament, the Knesset, is built on Greek Orthodox-owned land … Church insiders explain that all the deals are aimed at generating cash to buy back properties that they claim were sold illegally by the former patriarch Irineos — a claim Irineos denies. These included land in the Old City, near the Jaffa Gate, which Palestinians hope will one day form part of a future state, as well as the monastery of Mar Elias, on the way to Bethlehem.