State Department says settlements, ‘lack of hope’ drive Palestinian violence
WASHINGTON (Times of Israel) 21 July by Eric Cortellessa — A new US State Department report says a myriad of Israeli policies — such as continued settlement building and aggressive military operations in the West Bank — are driving Palestinian terrorism, while the Palestinian Authority is making substantial efforts to halt such violence. The report, an annual assessment of worldwide terrorism published this month, detailed a number Palestinian attacks against Israelis in 2016, including through rockets launched from Gaza, gunmen opening fire on civilians in Tel Aviv and numerous stabbing attacks. “Israel again faced terrorist threats from Palestinian terrorists from Gaza and the West Bank,” said the report, titled Country Reports on Terrorism 2016. “Since 2015, a series of lone-offender attacks by Palestinians in Israel, Gaza and the West Bank has increased tensions between Israel and the Palestinians.” But it also said that Israel was, in part, spurring these attacks through actions that create a “lack of hope” for Palestinians and motivates them to carry out acts of terror. “Continued drivers of violence included a lack of hope in achieving Palestinian statehood, Israeli settlement construction in the West Bank, settler violence against Palestinians in the West Bank, the perception that the Israeli government was changing the status quo on the Haram Al Sharif/Temple Mount, and IDF tactics that the Palestinians considered overly aggressive,” the report said … The State Department’s report also gave PA President Mahmoud Abbas high credit for alleviating tensions in the West Bank, cooperating with Israeli security forces and tamping down on incitement….
America’s BDS law is an attack on far more than free speech
+972 mag 21 July by Michael Schaeffer Omer-Man — The world long ago made clear to the Palestinians that violence is not a legitimate path for seeking independence. Now Congress is trying to criminalize one of the few nonviolent tools left — A pair of laws currently making their way through the United States Congress would impose criminal sanctions on Americans who support an economic boycott of Israel or its illegal West Bank settlements. The bill follows in the footsteps of, and in some was surpasses the dozens of American states that have passed their own anti-boycott laws in recent years … But the efforts to stymie boycott efforts in the United States and elsewhere — similar legislation has popped up in Europe — are far more sinister than just restricting the free speech and political expression of American and other supporters of Palestinians. Its true purpose is to block one of the few remaining legitimate, nonviolent tactics Palestinians have for achieving national self-determination and individual rights. When the Israeli government and its supporters (the Senate bill is being promoted by AIPAC) attempt to delegitimize the Palestinian-led boycott — a political and economic pressure tactic well within the normative democratic toolbox — they are actually saying that Palestinians do not have the same political rights as others with regards to individual political expression, but more importantly, the right to national self-determination … So how is a people without any democratic recourse supposed to seek and achieve independence and national self-determination — or even plain-old equality and basic rights? The world long ago made clear to the Palestinians that violence is not a legitimate path for them. That leaves civil disobedience, international solidarity, and economic influence as the primary means of leverage available….
Democrats in Congress rethink anti-boycott bill in light of ACLU warning
WASHINGTON (Haaretz) 24 July by Amir Tibon — Democrats on Capitol Hill are reexamining their support for a bipartisan bill intended to fight boycotts against Israel and the settlements after the American Civil Liberties Union warned U.S. senators last week that it endangers free speech in the United States and could lead to citizens’ going to prison simply for expressing a political opinion. Two Democratic staffers who are involved in discussions over the legislation told Haaretz that over a dozen Democrats in both houses of Congress have already began to reconsider their positions in light of the letter the ACLU sent to U.S. senators. One of the first members of the House of Representatives to publicly announce such a review is Rep. Joe Kennedy III, a Democrat representing Massachusetts. Kennedy, a grandson of the late Sen. Robert F. Kennedy, is considered a rising political star in the Democratic Party and is one of 240 co-sponsors of the bill in the House. The controversial Israel Anti-Boycott Act was proposed in the both the Senate and the House in March, but it only garnered national attention after the ACLU issued the letter last week expressing strong opposition to it. The leading civil rights organization warned that under the bill’s current language, U.S. citizens could face fines of hundreds of thousands of dollars, and potentially even go to prison for up to 20 years, simply for expressing support for boycotts.…
Jordan seeks to question Israeli guard over embassy shooting
AFP 24 July — Jordan said Monday it was looking to question an Israeli security guard who killed two Jordanians at the Amman embassy compound, as Israel insisted he had diplomatic immunity. A Jordanian government source said Israel was “still examining the request” to quiz the guard involved in Sunday’s incident at an annex building in the Israeli embassy compound. Amman says two Jordanians, one of them a teenager, were killed in a shooting and an Israeli stabbed and wounded. “The first Jordanian, 17-year-old Mohammed Jawawdeh, succumbed to his injuries at the scene,” a Jordanian security source said. “The second, Bashar Hamarneh, a doctor who was in the residential quarter of the embassy at the time of the incident… died of his injuries after midnight in hospital,” the source added. He was apparently shot by accident. The injured Israeli is “deputy director of security at the Israeli embassy and is still receiving treatment in hospital”, said the source. Israel’s foreign ministry said that Jawawdeh, who had gone to the compound to install furniture, had stabbed the security guard in the back with a screwdriver …
Jawawdeh’s father, Zakariya Jawawdah, told AFP he wanted “the truth”, urging authorities to view CCTV footage from security cameras at the embassy. “My son has no interest in politics. He does not follow any extremist ideology,” he said. The government spokesman said an initial investigation indicated that Jawawdeh and the security guard “fell out over some dispute which led to a stabbing and a shooting”. Israel and Jordan are bound by a 1994 peace treaty. But tensions have been high in recent days after Israel put in place security measures at the highly sensitive Al-Haram Al-Sharif mosque compound in east Jerusalem, known to Jews as Temple Mount. Israel installed metal detectors at entrances to the site following an attack nearby on July 14 that killed two of its policemen. Palestinians view the move as Israel asserting further control over the compound, home to Al-Aqsa mosque and Dome of the Rock, and considered Islam’s third holiest site. Jordan is the official custodian of Muslim holy sites in Jerusalem. Israeli measures at the flashpoint site sparked angry demonstrations in Amman on Friday, when thousands took to the streets in a protest called by Islamist movements and leftist parties.
Golan residents renounce Israeli plan to hold local elections
RAMALLAH (Al-Monitor) 23 July by Ahmad Melhem — Israel is proposing to hold elections in the Golan Heights for the first time in its 50-year occupation, but since almost none of the locals are eligible to run for office, they want nothing to do with the idea — The people of the occupied Syrian Golan Heights have rejected the Israeli government’s decision to hold local elections next year in four Golan villages: Majdal Shams, Bukata, Masada and Ein Qinya. To allow such elections, they said, would be to recognize the occupation. Israeli Interior Minister Aryeh Deri notified local Golan authorities July 6 of the decision to hold elections on Oct. 30, 2018. The elections would be the first under Israeli law since the Golan Heights was occupied in 1967. Israel has been accustomed to appointing local council heads and members in the Golan Heights, where nearly 23,000 people live. To many of those residents, there’s a big symbolic difference between appointed and elected leaders. After a general meeting July 11, the Golanese issued a statement that said, “The Israeli goal behind the elections is to have the Golanese recognize the occupation as legitimate.” They said, “Israel has no right to impose its laws on the Syrian population and force it to give up its national identity.” Majd Abu Saleh, a lawyer opposing the Israeli decision, told Al-Monitor that under Israeli election laws, eligible candidates for local elections should have Israeli citizenship, which applies to only 5% of the Golanese. The rest carry Israeli IDs indicating permanent residency — but they are not entitled to run for office. That negates any democratic principle of the elections, Abu Saleh said….
Israel removes metal detectors from Al-Aqsa compound
EAST JERUSALEM (Al Jazeera) 25 July — Palestinians continue to protest as mosque official says move does not fulfill Muslims’ demands to remove CCTV cameras — Israel has decided to remove metal detectors it had placed at the entrance to al-Aqsa Mosque compound in the occupied East Jerusalem and replace them with more advanced surveillance cameras. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s cabinet voted to remove the metal detector gates after a meeting lasting several hours convening for a second time on Monday. Sheikh Najeh Bakirat, the director of al-Aqsa Mosque, said overnight on Tuesday that the move does not fulfil the demands of the Muslim worshipers, as the security cameras are being kept. Sheikh Raed Saleh, an al-Aqsa official, said that the Palestinians will “never accept the current status, unless everything that was added after July 14 was removed.” “The picture until this moment is not clear, they are doing it in the middle of night, in the cover of darkness, like bats. God knows what we are going to wake up [to] the next morning.”…
Al Jazeera’s Imran Khan, reporting from occupied East Jerusalem, said that as the metal detectors were being removed, hundreds of Palestinians protested against the security cameras that remained in place. He said that bulldozers were laying cables for new cameras with advanced face recognition software. The cabinet statement added that it had allocated 100 million shekels (about $28 million) for the equipment and for additional police officers. “Israeli forces fired rubber-coated steel bullets, stun grenades at the protesters, and more security forces were placed at the Lions’ gate of the mosque,” our correspondent said. “There’s a huge amount of anger, Palestinians say they will never accept any security measures at the al-Aqsa mosque compound,” he said. “I do not think Palestinians will accept the security cameras.”…
Khaled el-Gindy, Fellow at Brookings Institution, said that “those who say this is only about security issues, reducing it to a relatively minor technical issues, really miss the narrative here.” “… giving in to metal detectors would in a way be seen as conceding to Israel’s assertion of its sovereignty over the holy site and by extension to whole of Jerusalem,” he said from San Diego in California. “It is an extremely politically loaded as well as practical matter for the Palestinians.”….
UN envoy: Al-Aqsa crisis must be resolved by Friday
EAST JERUSALEM (Al Jazeera) 24 July — The United Nation’s Middle East envoy has said a solution is needed by Friday to the al-Aqsa Mosque compound crisis in Jerusalem, which threatens to have “potential catastrophic costs well beyond the walls of the Old City.” “It is extremely important that a solution to the current crisis be found by Friday,” Nickolay Mladenov told reporters on Monday after briefing the UN Security Council behind closed doors. “The dangers on the ground will escalate if we go through another cycle of Friday prayer without a resolution to this current crisis.” Also on Monday, the UK’s ambassador to the UN has called on “all parties to denounce violence.” Matthew Rycroft told reporters at the UN headquarters in New York City that it was important that the full Security Council “stands together to do what we can to help bring peace to the Middle East.” The Middle East Quartet of Russia, the United States, the European Union and the UN in a statement encouraged Israel and Jordan to work together for de-escalation, noting the special role of Jordan as recognised in its peace treaty with Tel Aviv. Meanwhile, Jordan’s Royal Court issued a statement on Monday saying that King Abdullah II discussed the crisis with Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, stressing the need to remove the security measures taken by the Israeli security forces. He also highlighted the importance of agreeing on the measures in the future to prevent the recurrence of such escalations and to ensure respect for the historical and legal situation in the holy site, the statement said….
OIC slams Israel, decries Israeli violations against al-Aqsa Mosque
ISTANBUL (Daily Sabah) 25 July — The Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) held an emergency meeting in the Saudi city of Jeddah yesterday to discuss Israeli violations against Jerusalem’s flashpoint Al-Aqsa mosque. In a statement released after the meeting, the OIC decried Israel’s closure of the holy site and installation of metal detectors at the mosque gates. “Israel, as an occupying force, does not have any legal authority on Jerusalem and Islamic and Christian sites [in the city],” it said. Yesterday’s meeting was held at the level of the permanent delegates of the OIC member-states. The OIC said it will hold another emergency meeting at the level of foreign ministers early in August to discuss developments in Jerusalem….
How the world missed a week of Palestinian civil disobedience
+972 mag 24 July by Edo Konrad — The violence of the past week, and the media’s coverage of the bloodletting, erased a central aspect of the story: Palestinian mass civil disobedience — For many Israelis, the violence over the past few weeks around the Temple Mount/Haram al-Sharif is little more than a result of Muslim intransigence in the face of legitimate Israeli security concerns. This, after all, has been the major talking point among both the Israeli leadership as well as the media. For Palestinians, on the other hand, the metal detectors erected last week by Israeli authorities at the entrance to the Al-Aqsa compound sparked outrage and protests…
What do the events of the past week look like from the Palestinian side? Every Palestinian knows what it feels like when Israeli security measures restrict their freedoms and violate their rights — often for no reason. From random checks in the middle of the street to checkpoints to shutting down entire neighborhoods. The metal detectors were installed after two days in which Palestinians were barred from entering the Old City, all while Jews and tourists were free to enter and exit. Most Israelis cannot comprehend that what they view as legitimate “security measures” is in the eyes of Palestinians a form of collective punishment … a central component of the protests was practicing nonviolence on a daily basis, all while bravely standing up to armed security forces that could use violence at any point.
What is this ‘status quo’ that we keep hearing so much about? Since 1967, the Waqf has been in charge of overseeing entry to the Temple Mount/Haram al-Sharif. The metal detectors manned by Israeli security personnel takes that authority away from the Waqf, which is effectively a change in the status quo. Until 2000, when the Second Intifada broke out, the Waqf decided who could or couldn’t enter the Temple Mount/Haram al-Sharif. In 2003, when Israel began re-allowing non-Muslim access to the site, after it was halted with the eruption of the Intifada, it took away the Waqf’s authority over the Mughrabi Gate, through which non-Muslims enter the site. Since then, and especially since the rise in clashes between security forces and Palestinians over the past few years — usually as a response to Jews ascending the Mount — members of the Waqf have repeatedly demanded that the authority be returned to them, even going so far as to propose alleviating entry conditions for Jews. With the metal detectors, the Waqf believes the police have further stifled its control over the entry to the Mount….
Violence / Detentions — West Bank / Jerusalem
Palestinian shot dead in Al-Eizariya as clashes erupt in Jerusalem, West Bank
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 22 July — A day after widespread violence in the occupied Palestinian territory left three Palestinians killed, hundreds of others injured, as well as three Israeli settlers killed by a Palestinian, clashes continued in certain areas in occupied East Jerusalem and the West Bank on Saturday, leaving one Palestinian shot dead by Israeli fire and dozens more wounded. Israeli forces shot at least two Palestinians with live bullets, critically injuring one, in the town of al-Eizariya in the central occupied West Bank district of Jerusalem during clashes there Saturday evening, a spokesperson for the Palestinian Red Crescent told Ma‘an. The seriously wounded Palestinian succumbed to his wounds a short time later, the Palestinian Ministry of Health confirmed in a statement. He was first evacuated to a hospital in Jericho with shrapnel wounds all over his body in a serious condition, and later taken to the Palestinian Medical Complex in Ramallah, where he was declared dead, according to the statement. The victim was identified as 23-year-old Yousif Kashur from the town of Abu Dis, just south of al-Eizariya.
Kashur’s killing raised the number of Palestinians killed by Israelis since the beginning of the year to 50, 15 of whom were killed in the month of July alone; 13 Israelis have been killed by Palestinians in the same time frame…
Later Saturday night, thousands of mourners took part in the funeral march for Kashur in Abu Dis. Popular Resistance Committees’ spokesperson Hani Halabiya said that thousands of Palestinians performed the funeral prayer, paid their final farewells, and laid the young man to rest in the town’s cemetery. Some mourners waved flags for the leftist Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) faction the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP). Halabiya said that violent clashes erupted anew in at the entrance to the town and inside its center between Palestinian youths taking part in the funeral and Israeli forces. The slain 23-year-old was the son of Abbas Kashur, who was imprisoned in 1980, spending more than a decade in Israeli prison before being released in 1985 in a prisoners exchange deal with Israel….[long article detailing clashes in Jerusalem and other places]
Ministry: Palestinian teen killed by exploded landmine left over by Israeli army
TUBAS (Ma‘an) 23 July — The Palestinian Ministry of Health said that a 17-year-old Palestinian was killed Saturday night, after an old landmine left over by the Israeli army exploded in the northern occupied West Bank district of Tubas. The Palestinian Red Crescent had evacuated Uday Aziz Khalil Nawajaa to the Turkish Hospital in Tubas suffering from critical injuries as a result of the explosion, and he was later declared dead in the hospital.
Palestinian shot in the head by Israeli forces during clashes in Hizma in critical condition
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 24 July — A Palestinian was shot and seriously injured in the head with live fire by Israeli forces during clashes that erupted Monday evening in the town of Hizma, northeast of Jerusalem in the central occupied West Bank. The Palestinian Ministry of Health said in a statement that the Palestinian male, whose identity remained unknown, was transferred to the Palestine Medical Complex in Ramallah, where he was undergoing surgery and reported to be in critical condition.
PRCS: 1,090 Palestinians injured by Israeli forces over course of 10 days
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 24 July — The Palestinian Red Crescent Society (PRCS) released a statement Monday detailing the casualties of the past 10 days, ever since Palestinians in occupied East Jerusalem launched a civil disobedience campaign in the city in protest of increased Israeli security measures at the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound. Hundreds of Palestinians have been injured over the past week during violent clashes and demonstrations against new Israeli security measures at the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound….
According to the group, approximately 1,090 Palestinians had been injured since Israeli authorities installed metal detectors, turnstiles, and additional security cameras in the compound following a deadly shooting attack at Al-Aqsa on July 14.
Statistics from the group showed that 29 Palestinians were injured, some seriously, with live bullets, 374 were injured with rubber-coated steel bullets, 471 suffered from tear gas inhalation — including 34 who were hospitalized — 216 were “physically assaulted, burned and run over” during clashes with Israeli forces.
376 of the injuries documented occurred in Jerusalem, with one Jerusalemite injured with live fire, 193 Jerusalemites injured with rubber-coated steel bullets, 14 Jerusalemites suffered from severe tear gas inhalation, and 168 Jerusalemites who were “assaulted and run over. “
According to Ma‘an documentation, seven Palestinians have died since July 14, with four killed during clashes with Israeli forces
Palestinian hospitals stretched with influx of wounded
Al Jazeera 24 July — More than 900 Palestinians have been injured in confrontations with Israeli forces in the last 10 days over the al-Aqsa Mosque compound, according to the Palestinian Red Crescent. Palestinian hospitals, already overstretched, fear a large influx of injured if tensions, which erupted on July 14 after Israel closed the sensitive site in occupied East Jerusalem, continue. They also highlighted that most of the injuries inflicted by the Israeli forces were from rubber-coated steel bullets. International human rights groups have long condemned Israel’s use of such bullets.
39-year-old Mohammed Ismeal, currently being treated at Al Maqassid hospital in East Jerusalem, was apparently shot with a stun grenade in the head, which left him drifting in and out of consciousness. “He wasn’t disabled. But now look at him. He can’t recognise anyone. It’s like he’s lost his memory,” Muataz Ismeal, the patient’s brother, told Al Jazeera. Suleiman Turukman, the doctor in charge of Mohammed’s case, said he feared for his patient’s life. “His condition was serious. He was about to die. He is now improving slowly. But is disoriented and cannot recognise his family due to the trauma.”
Yet again, Al-Makassed Hospital subject to frequent Israeli invasions, violations
[with VIDEOS] IMEMC 24 July by Saed Bannoura — “We, in Jerusalem, feel like we are completely on our own, facing ongoing Israeli violations, while some Arab government are competing with each other on who is better in normalizing with Israel, while its soldiers are invading surgery rooms, attacking staff and patients, and are attempting to abduct wounded Palestinians, and even the corpses of those who were killed by the army.” This was a statement issued by the al-Maqassed hospital, in occupied East Jerusalem, after Israeli soldiers, once again, invaded the medical center, on Friday, before attacking patients and medical staff, in addition to breaking into patient’s rooms and even surgery wards.
The administration of al-Maqassed said the latest attack was the ugliest, and most violent, since the beginning of the first Intifada in 1987. “The soldiers resorted to the excessive use of force against the physicians, nurses, staffers and even patients, in a direct violation of all international laws and human rights agreements,” it said, “On Friday alone, and by 4:30 in the afternoon, were provided medical care to more than 100 wounded Palestinians, and fifty others on Thursday. Many of the inured suffered serious injuries to the head, chest and abdomen, and we had to perform urgent surgeries to all of them.”
“There is also a large number of wounded Palestinians who could not make it into the hospital because of the extensive Israeli siege around it, and the heavy military deployment in its various wards.” The hospital administration also denounced an invasion carried out by more than fifty Israeli soldiers who broke into the urgent care units, blood bank, and various wards in the medical center, looking for wounded Palestinians to abduct them. The soldiers even assaulted Palestinians who came to donate blood, before kicking them and the medical staff out of the blood bank unit.”
Celebration tent turned into mourning tent after high school graduate slain in protests
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 22 July — The same tent that was set up for Muhammad Sharaf to host friends and family congratulating him on obtaining his high school completion certificate has now been transformed into a mourning tent for his family to receive condolences, his bereaved mother told Ma‘an on Saturday. Just a week after he obtained the highly anticipated certificate, known in Arabic as the tawjihi, the 18-year-old joined a mass prayer demonstration on Friday in occupied East Jerusalem against new Israeli security measures at the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound. Israeli forces attacked the peaceful demonstration, sparking violent clashes across the city. While walking back home to Silwan after attending prayers in the Old City among thousands of others amid the tear gas, rubber bullets, and sound bombs, Muhammad was shot and killed with live ammunition by an Israeli settler in the Ras al-Amud area of the city, his bereaved mother said, corroborating earlier witness reports….
“Thank God that Muhammad, within one week, obtained the shahadah and was blessed again with shahadah,” the mother said, evoking a dark pun, as the Arabic word “shahadah” means both certificate and martyrdom. Muhammad had also just celebrated his 18th birthday seven days prior to his killing. “He used to perform Friday prayers at Al-Aqsa every week. He wanted to pray in God’s house, but restrictions and metal detectors have prevented access to Al-Aqsa, so he prayed in the street. On his way home, he and a group of young men were targeted and shot at by a settler,” Umm Muhammad said….
Jerusalemites observe strike in mourning for slain Palestinian demonstrators
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 22 July — Palestinians in occupied East Jerusalem observed a commercial strike on Saturday, after three young men from the area were shot dead the previous day while taking part in mass demonstrations against Israeli security measures at the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound. Silwan resident 18-year-old Muhammad Sharaf was shot and killed during clashes in the Ras al-Amoud area, with witnesses saying that the young man was shot in the neck by an Israeli settler who opened fire on protesters. Muhammad Abu Ghannam, 20, succumbed to his wounds in al-Maqassed hospital east of the Old City after being shot by Israeli police forces during clashes in the al-Tur neighborhood, where he was from. Muhammad Lafi, 17, also referred to as Muhammad Khalaf, succumbed to his wounds in a hospital in Ramallah after having been shot in the chest by Israeli army forces during a demonstration in the village of Abu Dis in the Jerusalem district of the West Bank.
Palestinians had rushed to bury their bodies and held the funerals immediately. Young men were filmed hauling Abu Ghannam’s body over a wall to avoid Israeli forces confiscating it, as Israeli authorities commonly seize and withhold the remains of slain Palestinians and prevent their families from burying them to use the bodies as bargaining chips. While a partial strike was observed in Jerusalem and the Old City, Palestinians in al-Tur and Silwan held a comprehensive strike in honor of Sharaf and Abu Ghannam.
Israeli police detain grieving father, cousin of Palestinian slain in Jerusalem
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 24 July — As the family of 20-year-old Muhammad Abu Ghannam continued to grieve his death at the hands of Israeli forces during violent clashes around the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound on Friday, Israeli police have detained his father and cousin … Israeli forces raided the occupied East Jerusalem neighborhood of al-Tur around dawn on Monday and detained Abu Ghannam’s father Hassan and his cousin Ismail, head of the neighborhood’s follow-up committee Mufid Abu Ghannam told Ma‘an.
The two were taken to a police station for interrogation. However, an Israeli police spokesperson told Ma‘an that he was not aware of the detentions, or of any detentions being carried out in Jerusalem on Monday. The raid came hours after Hassan and his wife Suzan, Abu Ghannam’s mother, gave an interview to Ma‘an recounting the day they learned their son had died … “It is not a pity to die in sacrifice for Al-Aqsa — We are all ready to die for Al-Aqsa,” the bereaved mother said, but she regretted not being able to say goodbye to her son or hug him one last time. “I wish so badly I could have held him, but the occupation was trying to detain his body, so people were forced to hide the body and bury him immediately.”….
Parents of Palestinian triple murderer grieve over son, demolished home
Haaretz 23 July by Amira Hass — Omar al-Obed’s mother on Israeli army raid: ‘They bound us, beat my children in front of me, threw Korans into the bathroom.’ — Only the walls are left now of the al-Obed family home near the entrance to the village of Kobar. All the furniture and clothing have been removed, the door frames and doors ripped out, along with the tiles, marble slabs and faucets in the kitchen and bathroom. Abd el-Jalil and Abtisam al-Obed knew they had to prepare for their house’s demolition and save what they could as soon as it became known that their son, Omar al-Obed, had murdered three Israelis in the settlement of Halamish. Now everything is scattered among the extended family. “At any rate we have trouble sleeping since Friday night,” Abtisam, the mother, said Sunday morning. “We sat in the yard and waited for them, for the army, and a drone flew over us constantly.” The mother is staying with her married daughter, and women from the village come to her in the yard to strengthen her in this difficult time. The men are sitting in the yards of the two nearby houses, the one to be demolished and the house that belongs to Omar al-Obed’s brother.
Omar al-Obed had studied administration at the Al-Quds open university. From time to time he plowed fields to support himself. The family has a small plot of land with olive trees. A month ago he began working at the A-Ram quarry. He would leave the house at 5:30 A.M. and come back at 6 P.M. He could afford to join a gym about two weeks ago, where he lifted weights. “On Thursday he didn’t go to the gym. Later I realized he wanted to save his strength for Friday, when he walked through the mountains for about two hours, to the settlement,” the mother said.
At this point I shared with Abtisam and her sisters the difficulty of a journalist: “I’ll doubt everything you say. If you say you were against the act, I’ll think it’s because you’re being interviewed for an Israeli newspaper or you’re afraid you’ll be harmed further. If you say you support it, I’ll think you’re under social pressure and that you don’t want to distance yourselves from Omar now.”
One of the women said, “I don’t accept this,” but added: “Did they punish the entire family of Elor Azaria?” she asked, referring to the soldier convicted of killing a wounded and incapacitated Palestinian terrorist. “Did they destroy the house? Did they close off his neighborhood the way they closed off our village? In Jerusalem mounted police injured a boy. If it were a Palestinian on the horse, they would have killed him, no?” Another woman said, “No mother would accept such a thing. Mothers close their children up at home so they don’t go throwing stones at the army. But there is a distance between being proud of your son, who went to sacrifice himself, and the fact that if you knew, you would do everything possible to stop him.”….
Israeli forces shoot, injure 4 Palestinian protesters near Ramallah
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 24 July — Israeli forces shot and injured at least four Palestinian university students with live bullets when a march north of Ramallah in the central occupied West Bank sparked clashes on Monday, official Palestinian news agency Wafa said, quoting a Palestinian Ministry of Health statement. The march was reportedly launched by students from Birzeit University to protest against the killing of fellow student Muhammad Abu Ghannam at the hands of Israeli forces during violent clashes in occupied East Jerusalem on Friday. Ma‘an also witnessed Israeli forces spraying demonstrators with skunk water as large number of Israeli soldiers and jeeps deployed in the area. Demonstrators headed to an Israeli military checkpoint outside the illegal Beit El settlement, when Israeli soldiers attacked protesters with live fire, rubber-coated steel bullets, and tear gas canisters, according to the Health Ministry, which said four protesters sustained live bullet wounds in their lower extremities. They were evacuated to the Palestine Medical Complex in Ramallah, where they were reported to be in a stable condition.
Settlers terrorize Jenin village families
IMEMC/Agencies 24 July — Dozens of Israeli settlers broke into the [Bedouin] village of Dhahr al-Maaleh, to the west of Jenin in the West Bank, and terrorized residents, according to local sources. Head of Dhahr al-Maaleh village council, Omar al-Khatib, told WAFA news agency that extremist settlers, armed with rifles, forced their way into the village and opened gunfire in the air in the yard of one house, causing panic among the local residents. They knocked on the doors of houses in the village and chanted racist and anti-Arab slogans. The Palestinian Military Liaison office said that it was able to coordinate with the Israeli military to pull out the attacking settlers from the village.
Meanwhile, extremist settlers assaulted Palestinian vehicles at Nablus-Qalqilia road.
Settlers also marched at Beit Enon junction, east of Hebron in southern West Bank, and outside the nearby town of Samu‘, where they pelted Palestinian vehicles with stones. There were no reports of casualties in the three incidents.
Photo Essay: Major clashes in Hebron as thousands take to the streets
HEBRON 24 July by ISM al-Khalil Team — Thousands of Palestinians took to the streets of al-Khalil this Friday to protest Israel’s tightening of access restrictions to Jerusalem’s al-Aqsa mosque. The protest was suppressed violently by scores of Israeli soldiers and police, who fired live ammunition indiscriminately into crowds of young men and boys. At least 10 Palestinians were wounded with live ammunition, including one young man shot in the stomach, and another near the heart. Many more were wounded by rubber-coated steel bullets and tear gas, with hospitals and ambulances struggling to hope. The situation was made worse by Israeli forces storming the nearby hospital once, and twice occupying its entrances. The demonstration followed the closure of Hebron’s mosques in solidarity with those unable to worship at al-Aqsa. Instead, worshipers prayed at Hussein Bin Ali stadium before marching down Ain Sarah street towards Bab al-Zawiye. Once the march reached the market, some children began throwing stones and fireworks at the gate of Checkpoint 56, which separates Palestinians from Shuhada street. Soldiers responded by storming out of the checkpoint, firing tear gas and throwing sound grenades. Hundreds of demonstrators retreated back up Ain Sarah street as soldiers regrouped in the square with various armoured vehicles. The soldiers then pushed up towards al-Manarah roundabout, meeting a crowd of young men and boys. Soldiers responded to stones with live ammunition, immediately hitting a 20-year old man in the leg. Meanwhile, a similar confrontation was occurring on the neighbouring Ain Sarah street, with snipers shooting a 20-year old man in the foot and a 17-year old boy in the leg….
Israeli forces detain Palestinian girl at entrance to Hebron-area village
HEBRON (Ma‘an) 22 July — Israeli forces detained a Palestinian, who locals identified as “a girl,” at the entrance to the village of Bani Naim in the southern occupied West Bank district of Hebron on Saturday morning. Locals identified the girl as Safaa Abdullah Manasra, but did not specify how old she was.The girl was inside a vehicle with her mother leaving Bani Naim when Israeli forces deployed at the entrance of the town stopped the vehicle and made Manasra step outside after checking the ID cards of the passengers. She was detained and taken to an unknown location, locals said, adding that Israeli soldiers refused to allow Mansara’s mother to escort her.
Israeli solders abduct an elderly Palestinian author in Hebron
IMEMC 24 July — Israeli soldiers abducted, on Sunday evening, an elderly Palestinian author, intellectual and political leader of the leftist Palestinian People’s Party (PPS) from Halhoul town, north of Hebron, in the southern part of the occupied West Bank. The abducted Palestinian figure, Mohammad Sa‘id Medhya, 83, was taken prisoner after a number of fanatic Israeli colonists assaulted him and members of the Land Defense Committee, before the soldiers abducted him, instead of removing the assailing colonists. The soldiers took him to an interrogation facility in Kiryat Arba illegal colony, built on Palestinian lands, east of Hebron city. Medhya was imprisoned by Israeli twice before, in addition to being deported to Jordan from 1970-1994. He was elected as a member of the Administrative Committee of the General Union of Palestinian Writers, from 1996-2004. He also wrote many books and novels, in addition to research documents, about the Palestinian culture and struggle, Zionism, sociobiology, democracy and various other subjects.
Israeli forces detain 16 Palestinians in East Jerusalem, West Bank raids
BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) 24 July — Israeli forces detained at least 16 Palestinians in raids overnight Monday across the occupied Palestinian territory, according to Palestinian and Israeli sources … Five unidentified Palestinians were detained in the southern occupied West Bank district of Bethlehem, PPS said. The five detainees were reportedly from al-Khader, Tuqu‘, Husan, and al-Duheishe refugee camp … Official Palestinian news agency Wafa said the detentions followed clashes in al-Khader between Israeli soldiers and locals protesting against Israeli measures at the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound in occupied east Jerusalem …
Israeli forces also raided Haris in the central Salfit district and detained a 17-year-old minor, according to PPS and confirmed by the Israeli army. Two other Palestinians, including a 22-year-old woman, were detained in separate raids into the Ramallah-district towns of Jifna and Turmusayya, according to PPS. An Israeli army spokesperson also said an alleged “Hamas operative” was detained in the Ramallah area town of Rantis, while one Palestinian was detained in the village of Beit Duqqu in the central Jerusalem district. According to PPS, Israeli forces also raided Nablus city in the northern occupied West Bank where they detained a 50-year-old Palestinian woman and her son. Local media identified her as Hanan Abu Sirriya and her son as Khamis … Elsewhere in the northern West Bank, forces detained a Palestinian who was waiting outside Israel’s Salem detention center, west of Jenin city, for the release of a relative being detained there. Soldiers also seized his motorcycle, according to PPS.
Restriction of movement
US interfaith delegation barred from boarding flight to Israel ‘over BDS activism’
JTA 25 July — Three of the members were from Jewish Voice for Peace, including a rabbi: ‘I’m heartbroken and outraged’ — Five members of an interfaith delegation to Israel were prevented from boarding their flight from Washington, D.C., reportedly due to their activism on behalf of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement. The Jewish Voice for Peace organization said in a statement Monday that the delegation tried to check into its Lufthansa flight at Dulles International Airport, only to be told that the Israeli government had ordered the airline not to let the five passengers aboard. In March, the Knesset amended the Law of Entry to prevent leaders of the BDS movement from being allowed into Israel. The amendment applies to organizations that take consistent and significant action against Israel through BDS, as well as the leadership and senior activists of those groups … Three of the activists were from JVP, including a rabbi. The other two delegation members prevented from boarding the flight were Rick Ufford Chase of the Presbyterian Peace Fellowship in Rockland County, New York, and Shakeel Syed, a national board member with American Muslims for Palestine in Los Angeles. The other 18 participants with the Interfaith Network for Justice in Palestine delegation arrived Monday morning in Israel and were allowed to enter after several hours of detention and questioning, according to JVP. JVP states on its website that it supports boycott, divestment and sanctions against Israel. “Israel denied me the ability to travel there because of my work for justice for Palestinians, even though I’m Jewish and a rabbi,” Rabbi Alissa Wise said in the JVP statement. “I’m heartbroken and outraged. This is yet another demonstration that democracy and tolerance in Israel only extends to those who fall in line with its increasingly repressive policies against Palestinians….
Israel strikes Hamas position in response to Gaza rocket fire
Haaretz 24 July by Gili Cohen — A rocket fired from the Gaza strip landed in an open field in Israel’s southern Eshkol Regional Council on Sunday night. There were no casualties and no damage was caused. In response, the IDF attacked a Hamas position in the southern Gaza Strip. This is the second rocket firing from the Gaza Strip in 24 hours. Earlier Sunday a rocket that was fired from the Gaza Strip exploded mid-air. No damage was caused in this attack either. IDF Chief of Staff Gadi Eizenkot said on Monday that the situation in the area is volatile, adding that though since operation Protective Edge in 2014 the security situation in the Gaza Strip has been quiet, it remains complex. According to Eizenkot, hostilities could escalate quickly. The IDF estimated that the security escalation in the West Bank and Jerusalem following the Temple Mount crisis could lead to an escalation in the Gaza Strip….
Israel strikes Gaza Strip after missile crosses border
ISTANBUL (Daily Sabah) 24 July — Israel struck a Hamas position in Gaza on Monday, the military said, hours after a missile was fired across the border from the Palestinian enclave. “An [Israeli] tank targeted a post belonging to the Hamas terror organization in the southern Gaza Strip” in the early hours of the morning, the military said in a statement. A Hamas security source told Agence France-Presse (AFP) on condition of anonymity that five strikes hit an observation post of the group’s military wing near Khan Younis in southern Gaza. The source said separate strikes hit farming land in central Gaza, with no injuries reported in either incident. The Israeli strike came hours after a “projectile fired from the Gaza Strip” hit an open area inside Israel without causing any injuries, the military said.
Gaza Situation Report 202
UNRWA 22 July — The Gaza Strip is suffering from a humanitarian crisis, epitomized by cyclic violence and destruction, the chronic fuel and water crises and the glaring absence of any sustainable socio-economic improvements to the distressed economy. The blockade on Gaza entered its 11th year in June 2017. The United Nations has repeatedly highlighted the illegality of the blockade, which continues to hamper freedom of movement of people and goods, as a form of collective punishment and called for its full lifting. During June 2017, 7,227 truckloads entered Gaza. The volume of goods that entered this month was 29% below the monthly average recorded since the beginning of 2017, 35% below the monthly average in the first half of 2007 (before the blockade) and the lowest volume recorded since July 2015.
According to United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), in June 2017, 113 truckloads exited Gaza. The volume of truckloads that exited was 20% below the equivalent figure in June of 2016 and 88% below the monthly average in the first half of 2007, before the imposition of the blockade. The vast majority of exports consist of agricultural produce. Yet robust recovery of the agricultural sector in Gaza continues to be hindered by stringent quotas on the quantity and variety of produce allowed for export, severe restrictions on imports of relevant raw materials and goods classified by Israel as ‘dual use’-items, such as fertilizers, wood panels and steel pipes. In addition, any produce allowed to exit Gaza faces long delays due to prolonged inspections….
Shujayea families remain haunted by loss
SHUJAYEA, Gaza City (Al Jazeera) 22 July by Mersiha Gadzo — With shells falling every few seconds, the streets of Shujayea were packed with dead bodies as residents attempted to escape the massacre on the evening of July 19, 2014. Israeli F-16s, tanks and mortar fire attacked the neighbourhood while dozens of one-tonne bombs razed the area until late afternoon the next day. It has been estimated that 72 Palestinians were killed. The massacre was part of the Israeli army’s 2014 military offensive on the Gaza Strip, which killed more than 2,000 Palestinians and injured thousands more. Shujayea, one of the most densely populated areas of Gaza, was hit especially hard. A United Nations commission concluded in 2015 that the Israeli army deliberately targeted civilians in their homes, with “strong indications” of a war crime. However, according to the Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Monitor, “three years after the 51-day war on Gaza, no measures have been taken by the United Nations or other bodies to hold the government of Israel to account”. Al Jazeera spoke with three families who lost family members in the Shujayea massacre, discussing what they witnessed in the summer of 2014 and how they have tried to rebuild their lives in the ensuing years.
An ongoing quest for justice “I only have one demand: I want to meet the killer,” Amina Shamaly said, sighing heavily in the living room of her rebuilt home. “I want to meet with the killer who shot my son to ask him … Why? Why did you kill him? Don’t you have a mother, a father, a brother? Why did you kill him? You shot him once in the leg; why did you finish him? He didn’t make an attempt to harm you, didn’t shoot you; he was an innocent civilian, walking. So why did you do that?” It has been three years since Khalil and Amina Shamaly found out through a viral YouTube video that their 22-year-old unarmed son, Salem, had been shot dead by an Israeli sniper during a ceasefire – but the pain has not eased one bit for the family … During the ceasefire in the afternoon of July 20, Salem returned to his destroyed neighbourhood in Shujayea, searching for his missing cousins. He knew they had not evacuated the area and was worried they might have been killed. A group of international activists met Salem along the way and accompanied him. They later disseminated the video of his killing. “Muhammad, Munir, Mazen!” Salem shouted, calling out his cousins’ names as he made his way through the pile of rubble. In the process, he unknowingly stepped across an imaginary red line drawn by the Israeli army and into a kill-free zone, according to testimonies by Israeli soldiers collected by Israeli military researcher Eran Efrati. “Under the pretext of the so-called ‘security threat’ soldiers were directed to carry out a preplanned attack of revenge on Palestinian civilians” for losing their fellow soldiers, Efrati wrote. In the video, a sniper shot is heard, and Salem falls to the ground, shot in the leg. As he struggles to get up, he is shot again in the chest. The third shot to his neck kills him….
Dahlan reveals controversial Hamas deal on Gaza
GAZA (Al Jazeera) 24 July — Power-sharing accord with Gaza ruler to see Egypt border open and power outages ease, says exiled Palestinian official — An exiled Palestinian politician, Mohammed Dahlan, has for the first time discussed the details of a power-sharing deal with former rival Hamas movement for governing Gaza. Dahlan, a former Gaza security chief, said in a phone interview with the AP news agency published on Sunday that he expected the quietly negotiated agreement to lead to opening the blockaded Palestinian territory’s border with Egypt in late August and an easing of crippling power outages. Funding has been secured from the UAE for a $100m power plant to be built on the Egyptian side of the border, said Dahlan from the United Arab Emirates. Several dozen of Dahlan’s lieutenants and key supporters are expected to return from exile as part of the arrangements. But he said he will remain in exile. “It’s better for Gaza that I stay in the diaspora and approach everyone who can extend a helping hand to Gaza,” Dahlan said. The 55-year-old said his chemistry with Gaza’s newly-elected Hamas chief, Yehiyeh Sinwar, helped forge the once-unthinkable alliance backed by Egypt and the UAE. The two grew up in the streets of southern Gaza’s Khan Younis refugee camp before joining rival camps, Hamas and the mainstream Fatah movement, respectively. “We both realised it’s time to find a way out” for Gaza, Dahlan said in an hour-long conversation on Saturday … Dahlan dismissed concerns that his deal with Hamas will gradually turn Gaza into a separate entity. “We are patriots, not separatists,” he said, adding that he would do everything in his power to prevent a further drifting apart of the Palestinian territories. The multi-millionaire with far-flung business interests in the region and close ties to leaders of Egypt and the UAE said he no longer aspires to replace Abbas. “I have no ambitions to be president,” he said. “Maybe that was the case when I was younger, but now I see the situation: 70 percent of the land is in the hands of the Israelis, and they have no intentions to give us a state.” Azzam al-Ahmed, an Abbas aide who negotiated with Hamas in the past, said on Sunday that the Dahlan-Hamas understandings “are going nowhere”….
Power-sharing deal between former foes taking shape in Gaza
GAZA CITY (AP) 20 July by Fares Akram & Mohammed Daraghmeh — A power-sharing deal between two former arch foes is slowly taking shape in Gaza and could lead to big changes in the Hamas-ruled territory, including an easing of a decade-long border blockade. In the latest sign that the Egypt-backed understandings are moving forward, Hamas permitted more than 2,000 supporters of its former nemesis, Mohammed Dahlan, to stage a rally in Gaza City on Thursday. They held up banners with large photos of the ex-Gaza strongman and signs reading, “Thank you, Dahlan.” Dahlan backers also opened an office in Gaza last month as a springboard for political activity and began disbursing $2 million in Dahlan-procured aid from the United Arab Emirates to Gaza’s poor. All involved appear to benefit from the new deal for Gaza, described in detail by key players.
— Egypt, which is battling Islamic extremist insurgents in the Sinai Peninsula next to Gaza, hopes to contain the Islamic militant Hamas through new security arrangements.
— Dahlan, forced into exile after falling out with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in 2010, is poised to launch a comeback and advance his Palestinian leadership ambitions.
— Hamas gets a chance to prolong its rule with a promised easing of Gaza’s stifling border blockade. Egypt and Israel had imposed the closure after Hamas seized Gaza in a violent 2007 takeover that included battles with forces loyal to Dahlan.
The three-way agreement aims to revive Gaza’s battered economy and restore a sense of normalcy for 2 million Gazans, who have largely been barred from travel and trade for the past decade and have endured rolling power cuts, most recently of up to 20 hours a day. Yet a stable Palestinian “mini-state” in Gaza could undermine long-standing Palestinian ambitions to set up an entity that is also meant to include the West Bank and east Jerusalem. Israel, which captured those territories in the 1967 Mideast war, withdrew from Gaza in 2005, but keeps a tight grip on the rest….
Is Gaza-Sinai state a possibility for Palestinians? / Jonathan Cook
Al Jazeera 24 July — The long-discussed plan could see most of Gaza’s population end up in Sinai, alongside millions of Palestinian refugees — Gaza has been the focus of intense talks behind closed doors in recent weeks as disquiet has risen among Arab states at the humanitarian crisis unfolding in the coastal enclave. Palestinians there are enduring a scorching summer with barely a few hours of power a day, after Mahmoud Abbas‘ Palestinian Authority (PA) has refused to finance essential services. Abbas is trying to weaken his Hamas rivals who rule Gaza and assert his own authority. In the background, an ominous deadline is rapidly approaching. Gaza is expected to be “uninhabitable” within a few years, according to United Nations forecasts. Its economy has been broken by years of Israeli military attacks and a joint Israeli-Egyptian blockade, its population is mostly destitute, and its aquifers are increasingly polluted with sea water. Gaza’s rapidly growing population of two million is already suffocating in a tiny patch of territory. In May, the International Committee of the Red Cross warned that Gaza was on the brink of “systemic collapse“.
Israel has good reason to fear the future. Another round of fighting with Hamas, and heavy casualties among ordinary Palestinians, will further damage its image. And sooner or later, ordinary Palestinians are likely to rise up and tear down the security fences that imprison them. For that reason, Israel and its patrons in Washington – as well as the Arab states – are desperately in search of a remedy. It is in this context that Palestinians have been pondering the significance of a series of recent secret meetings between Egypt, Hamas and Mohammed Dahlan, an exiled Fatah leader and enemy of Abbas. Are they paving the way to a permanent solution for Gaza – and one that will be largely on Israel’s terms? One possibility – known to be much-favoured by Israel – would be to engineer the creation of a Palestinian state in Gaza and then pressure Egypt to allow it to expand into the neighbouring territory of northern Sinai. According to this plan, not only would most of Gaza’s population end up in Sinai, but so too would potentially millions of Palestinian refugees.
Atef Eisa, a journalist in Gaza City, told Al Jazeera that the meetings between Egypt, Hamas and Dahlan were the main topic of discussions in the enclave: “People understand that Israel wants Gaza permanently separated from the West Bank. They wonder whether Sinai might be a way to achieve it.” Suspicions of a Gaza-Sinai state are not new. In fact, there is strong evidence that Israel has been pushing aggressively, along with the United States, to create a Palestinian state in Sinai since it withdrew its soldiers and settlers from the Gaza Strip more than a decade ago. Now rumours are circulating that the Sinai plan is being revived….
A Palestinian lawmaker is in detention without trial, and Israel doesn’t say why
Haaretz 19 July by Gideon Levy & Alex Levac — Dozens of Israeli troops marched into Khalida Jarrar’s Ramallah home in the dark of night, beating up her daughter and seizing her husband’s work hard drives before making the arrest; her family fears she will stay in jail indefinitely — On April 2, 2015, the phone rang in the home of Suha Jarrar, in Ottawa, Canada. It was nighttime back home in Ramallah, and Suha was frightened. Either her mother had been arrested or her cat had died, she thought. “They took Mother,” her father told her. That was the beginning of a 15-month prison term for Khalida Jarrar, a member of the Palestinian Legislative Council, the parliament of the Palestinian Authority. She was charged on a dozen ridiculous and preposterous counts, which included having paid a condolence call and visiting a book fair. A little over two years passed when Suha Jarrar woke up in a fright in her parents’ home in Ramallah to find that armed, female Israel Defense Forces soldiers were standing next to her bed, with rifles aimed at her. It was 4:15 A.M. on Sunday, July 2, less than three weeks ago. A few dozen armed soldiers, some of them masked, swooped down on the family’s house. Khalida Jarrar was again abducted from her home. A nighttime arrest in Area A, which is supposedly under Palestinian security control, parliamentary immunity trampled into the dust, arrest without trial. A few days later, the Israeli military commander of the region would sentence Khalida to six months of “administrative detention” – incarceration without trial and without charges. An attempt had been made to place her in administrative detention on the previous occasion, too, but perhaps because of the international outcry, the military authorities were forced to try her on mostly untenable charges; she served out her entire sentence of 15 months. Jarrar, a legislator who was elected democratically to represent her people, is again languishing in an Israeli prison, despite the international protests generated by her previous detention, which was no less political than this one. And, as in 2015, the present imprisonment has not elicited any protests or manifestations of solidarity in Israel from Jewish MKs, male or female. People here are occupied with other things.…