NGO: Laptop ban for Palestinians at Gaza crossing
JPost 6 Aug by Tovah Lazaroff — “This new directive just makes life a little more difficult for Gaza residents and it’s hard to understand for what purpose.” — Palestinians can no longer carry laptops and certain other electronics through the pedestrian Erez crossing from Gaza into Israel, according to the leftwing NGO Gisha – Legal Center for Freedom of Movement. The ban, which has been imposed on Palestinians entering Israel or transiting through Israel to Jordan via the Allenby crossing, includes electronics such as shavers, but mobile phones are permitted. Food and toiletries are also forbidden, except for those Gazans heading to Israel for medical treatment. Gisha said Friday it learned of the ban by Office of the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories a day earlier from the Gaza Coordination and Liaison Administration. The new restrictions apply only to Palestinians, including Palestinian employees of international organizations who need their laptops for work, Gisha said. “This new directive just makes life a little more difficult for Gaza residents and it’s hard to understand for what purpose.” Israel doesn’t “appreciate that students and businesspeople from Gaza also need to travel with laptops like anyone else in the world. It can happen because Israel doesn’t pay a price for inconveniencing Gaza residents, and just like that, from one day to the next, not even a sandwich can get through the Erez crossing,” Gisha said … Last month, Gisha reported that the number of Palestinians leaving Gaza through Erez had dropped 55% in the first half of 2017….
IT disruption panics Gaza’s new Internet entrepreneurs
GAZA STRIP (EI) 4 Aug by Mousa Tawfiq — No Internet? Hussain Mahdi, 24, looked shocked. “Our lives would be paralyzed,” the young T-shirt designer said. He has cause for concern. On 11 July, the Palestine Telecommunications Company, Paltel, announced that its main generator had broken down because of high loads and long power cuts. Tens of thousands of landline customers and some 8,000 Internet subscribers lost service because, as the company explained on its Facebook page, it was not able to import parts for its backup generators or bring in new, better ones. Large areas of the Gaza Strip were left without IT services for 90 minutes before Gaza’s electricity company – which manages severely limited fuel availability through rolling blackouts – intervened to supply Paltel with electricity off-schedule. On 13 July, Paltel announced that the relevant Israeli authorities granted permission for a new generator to enter Gaza, but it remains a stop-gap solution. According to the company, “dozens” of backup generators are still awaiting similar authorization without which more service disruptions are likely. For impoverished Gaza – cut off from the rest of the world as a result of a now decade-old blockade imposed by Israel – such disruption could spell further disaster. Many Palestinians in Gaza rely on the Internet for their livelihood … Even with Internet, Mahdi is forced to work out of the Gaza Sky Geeks offices because of rolling electricity blackouts, leaving him without power at home for up to 20 hours a day. The disruption on 11 July was therefore a heartstopper….
Israeli forces detain Palestinian after he crosses into Israeli from Gaza Strip
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 6 Aug — A Palestinian man was detained on Sunday morning after crossing into Israel from the besieged Gaza Strip. The unidentified man was found in the northern part of Gaza on the Israeli side of the border. An Israeli army spokesperson said that the man had “infiltrated” Israel from Gaza. The spokesperson added that the Palestinian was detained and transferred to interrogations with Israeli security forces. There are regular reports of residents of the Gaza Strip — which marked its tenth anniversary under a crippling Israeli blockade this year — attempting to cross into Israel.
Navy fires on homes and fishermen in Gaza
IMEMC/Agencies 6 Aug — The Israeli navy, Sunday morning, fired at Palestinian fishermen in their boats, as they were sailing off al-Sudaniya shore, north of the Gaza Strip, local sources said. According to WAFA correspondence, the attack caused damage to the boats, but no casualties were reported among the fishermen, who fled the sea in fear of arrest or harm. Despite the signed agreements with Israel, which allow fishermen to sail as far as 12 nautical miles, Israeli navy targets Gaza’s fishermen on daily basis, and doesn’t allow them to go further than three nautical miles, which is not enough as fish are not dense. PNN further reports that, according to local sources in Gaza, Israeli naval boats fired both shells and heavy machine-gun fire at the boats…
Soldiers also opened heavy machine gun fire towards farmers’ lands and residential homes in the area. No injuries were reported.
Gazans demonstrate against ‘terrorism’ in Egypt
GAZA (Ma‘an) 6 Aug — Thousands of Palestinians participated in a demonstration on Saturday evening in the besieged Gaza Strip to denounce “terrorism” in Egypt. Participants gathered in al-Saraya Square in Gaza City, waving Palestinian and Egyptian flags and chanting slogans expressing love for the Egyptian people and for Palestinian unity. The general commissioner of the Higher Committee for Tribal Affairs in Gaza, Akef al-Masri, said that Palestinians and Egyptians were one people and that Palestinians stood in support of Egypt “in its confrontation with terrorism and conspiracies.” A Hamas leader echoed similar sentiments. “Egypt is our security and the safety of Egypt is our own safety,” Ismail Radwan said. “We are happy with the strong brotherly relations with Egypt, and we remain very committed to developing these relations.” “Gaza will never forget the sacrifices of the Egyptian army in Palestinian lands,” Radwan said, presumably referring to the participation of Egyptian forces in conflicts against Israel from 1948 to the 1970s. Hamas has increased efforts to improve ties with Cairo, which has long accused Gaza’s de facto ruling party of aiding an insurgency in the northern Sinai Peninsula, which has been met with a harsh ‘counterterrorism’ crackdown by Egyptian authorities. In June, the Hamas-run government announced the establishment of a 100-meter-wide “buffer zone” along the border between Gaza and Egypt in order to “increase control and enhance security.”….
Abbas pledges to ramp up Gaza sanctions
AFP 6 Aug — Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas has pledged to increase sanctions on the Gaza Strip, drawing a fresh attack from its Hamas rulers. Abbas, the leader of the internationally-recognised Palestinian government based in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, has been seeking to weaken Islamists Hamas by cutting power supplies to crowded Gaza. On Saturday, he said he would continue with sanctions on the coastal strip, despite UN concerns that it amounts to collective punishment of its two million residents. “We will continue the gradual stopping of financial allocations to the Gaza Strip until Hamas commits to reconciliation” with the Abbas administration, the president said. “Since the coup, we have paid a billion and a half dollars to the Gaza Strip,” Abbas said, referring to the 2007 overthrow of his Fatah movement by Hamas in Gaza. “We will not allow this to continue,” the WAFA official Palestinian news agency reported him as saying in Arabic. “Either things will go as they are meant to be, or we will continue to reduce these funds,” he said, accusing Hamas of stealing some of the funds. The Islamist group responded late Saturday in a statement: “Attacking Hamas and threatening the people of Gaza with more sanctions is a blow to reconciliation efforts.” It accused Abbas’s Palestinian Authority of working with Israel to isolate Gaza and bring suffering to its people….
Video: Growing food insecurity in Gaza
4 Aug — People in Gaza continue to suffer from the ordeal caused by Israel’s decade-long siege on the coastal territory. The blockade has led to the deterioration of the residents’ living conditions and has brought food insecurity in Gaza to an alarming level. Press TV correspondent Ashraf Shannon has more details in the following story from Gaza.
Hamas fighter accidentally drowns off Gaza coast
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 5 Aug — A member of the Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades — the Hamas movement’s military wing — drowned off the coast of the southern besieged Gaza Strip on Saturday morning. The group released a statement announcing the death of 23-year-old Muhammad Abd al-Hamid Shubeir, who they said had drowned off the coast of Khan Yunis during a family outing.
Beached ship restaurant fuels Gazans’ longing for the sea
GAZA (Reuters) 4 Aug by Nidal al-Mughrabi — For decades, Palestinians have dreamed of having their own port on the Mediterranean, from where they could sail the world. Instead, they are making do with a wooden ship run aground on a Gaza beach, which has become a popular restaurant. The “Lolo Rose” may not look like much, but its eight tables are in heavy demand, with Gazans queuing for a chance to eat fish in an unusual spot where they can hear the waves crashing on the sides, even if they can’t make it out to sea. “It is a nice idea but it is a standstill, it does not move,” said Manar Shaqoura, 19, a law student who managed to snag a table at the front of the vessel. “We wish the ship could sail and take us to Turkey.” https://www.mysalaam.com/en/story/beached-ship-restaurant-fuels-gazans-longing-for-the-sea/SALAAM04082017080509
Restriction of movement / Closures
‘It’s about revenge’: Court revokes Israeli citizenship of alleged Palestinian attacker
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 6 Aug — In an unprecedented move, an Israeli court in Haifa revoked the Israeli citizenship of Palestinian Alaa Zayud, 23, from the Palestinian-majority town of Umm al-Fahm in northern Israel, over his involvement in an alleged 2015 vehicular attack. In June 2016, Zayud was sentenced to 25 years in prison, after being accused of hitting and injuring two Israeli soldiers with his car near the city of Hadera, before proceeding to stab two more Israelis. Reports emerged on Sunday that the court had decided to revoke Zayud’s Israeli citizenship — a measure expected to come into effect in October — and replace it with a temporary Israeli permit to be periodically renewed. “This is a dangerous act,” Sawsan Zaher, an attorney for Israeli rights group Adalah told Ma‘an, adding that the decision was an example of discriminatory policies targeting Palestinian citizens of Israel.
“Jewish Israelis have also committed similar acts. But no one demands that their citizenship be revoked,” Zaher added. “This decision sets a precedent that (Israeli) courts can revoke the citizenship of any Arab who commits a criminal act.”
During the hearing, Zayud denied involvement in the attack and claimed he had lost control of his car, stating “I did nothing. They want to turn me into a terrorist. I don’t know what they want from me. I am not a terrorist.” Israeli Interior Minister Aryeh Deri said last year that he had begun the process of revoking Zayud’s Israeli citizenship immediately following the attack. Deri also said that he had planned to reject the permit renewal of Zayud’s father, who is married to an Israeli citizen, but is not a citizen himself.
Zaher told Ma‘an that it was the first time that an Israeli court had ruled to revoke the citizenship of a Palestinian citizen of Israel for “breach of loyalty” — referring to Article 11 of Israel’s nationality law that allows for citizenship to be withdrawn should an Israeli citizen commit an act considered to be a “breach of loyalty” to the state. The only other time an Israeli citizen faced possible citizenship revocation was in the case of Yigal Amir [a Jew], who assassinated Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin in 1995, Zaher said. However, the Israeli Supreme Court ruled against the decision at the time, maintaining that citizenship was “one of the most basic fundamental rights.”
“The court hasn’t even provided an in-depth argument to justify the revocation of Zayud’s citizenship,” Zaher told Ma‘an. “They are just confirming that this is just about getting revenge. None of it is rational.”
The move is also a clear violation of international law, Zaher said, which prohibits a state leaving a person without any citizenship, rendering the person stateless.
Opinion: So ordered the Israeli Army: The trumpeter and violinist can’t leave Gaza for the West Bank / Amira Hass
Haaretz 7 Aug — Israel’s High Court agreed to prevent the two 16-year-old musicians with Russian citizenship from leaving: ‘It should be noted that the musical development is not necessarily dependent on location’ — The youth orchestra was invited to give several concerts at home and abroad, in addition to its participation in an international enrichment workshop. Think about the children’s excitement in anticipation of the trip, and the opportunity to enrich their experience and to learn. Think about the parents bursting with pride. The problem is that the above-mentioned youth orchestra is Palestinian. In fact, there’s no problem at all. It’s entirely natural for Palestinian children to play and sing and perform in concerts. Music education centers are flourishing on the West Bank and in Gaza. One of them is the Edward Said National Conservatory of Music, which has branches in the West Bank (including East Jerusalem) and Gaza. And now its youth orchestra was invited to a study workshop in Jordan, and is also scheduled to play in Amman, Ramallah and Nablus. Two of the players, a violinist and a trumpeter, are from Gaza. They’re 16 years old. Incidentally, both have Russian citizenship, because their mothers are Russian. So where’s the problem? Let’s try to put it delicately. A cohort of people, control addicts enamored of their power, are sitting in the offices in the Kirya Defense Ministry compound in Tel Aviv (the office of the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories, COGAT), and at the Erez checkpoint (the Coordination and Liaison Administration, CLA). This cohort decided that letting a trumpeter and violinist, both 16, to leave the Gaza Strip does not meet the criteria that were handed down on Mount Sinai – excuse me, that were drawn up by COGAT (because thus the Lord commanded: “No Gazans are allowed to leave”) … Part of the power of these Lord’s deputies is to permit an exit one day and deny it another day. Even to the same person. For example, the trumpeter recently got an exit permit from Gaza for the Christian holidays. He and the violinist were also permitted in the past to play with their conservatory on the West Bank and abroad…
Attorney Liron Hopfeld, first assistant in the state prosecution’s High Court division, has done the copy-and-paste from innumerable other government responses, and wrote in hers: “The starting point for our discussion is that the petitioners, residents of the Gaza Strip, like any foreign national, have no legal right to enter Israel for any purpose.” Note: These “foreign nationals,” like the other Palestinians in the Gaza Strip and West Bank, are obligated to register in the Population Registry of Israel’s Interior Ministry. That is how it has been since 1967. Their ID cards are almost identical to those of an Israeli. Is there another case where people exist, bureaucratically speaking, only if the officials of a “neighboring foreign country” approve the details of their identity?….
Israel reopens Ramallah-area DCO checkpoint after a nearly week-long closure
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 5 Aug — Israeli authorities reopened the DCO checkpoint at the northern entrance of al-Bireh city in the Ramallah district in the central occupied West Bank on Friday, after nearly a week of closure. Israel had closed the checkpoint following clashes in the area during two weeks of unrest that erupted across the occupied Palestinian territory after Israeli authorities had installed metal detectors and surveillance cameras at the gates of Al-Aqsa following a nearly three-day closure of the holy site after a deadly shooting in the area … The DCO checkpoint is only used by international diplomats, members of international organizations, and government officials.
Israeli soldiers isolate Al-‘Arroub refugee camp
IMEMC 7 Aug — Israeli soldiers isolated, on Sunday at night, the al-‘Arroub refugee camp, north of the southern west Bank city of Hebron. Local sources said the soldiers closed the three entrances of the refugee camp with iron gates, and prevented all cars from entering or leaving it. The soldiers also interrogated many Palestinians, especially young men and teenagers, while inspecting their ID cards. The army claims that stones were hurled at a car driven by an Israeli settler, near the main entrance of the refugee camp.
Violence / Detentions — West Bank, Jerusalem
Israeli soldiers attack and abduct eleven Palestinians near Al-Aqsa in Jerusalem
IMEMC 7 Aug — Israeli soldiers assaulted, Sunday, several young Palestinian men and women near the Al-Aqsa Mosque, especially at the Council Gate and the Chain Gate of the holy site, and abducted twelve of them, but released one later. Eyewitnesses said the soldiers assaulted many worshippers, especially youngsters, as they were heading to the mosque, and leaving it, during a recreational activity for hundreds of children, dubbed as the “human train.” They added that dozens of soldiers were deployed in the area, before abducting a young woman, identified as Mayyada Shawamra, in addition to abducting two young men after assaulting them. The soldiers also sprayed many Palestinians, including guards of the Al-Aqsa Mosque, with pepper spray, and assaulted them before briefly detaining a guard, identified as Omar Rajabi, at a nearby police station. Furthermore, the soldiers abducted Ala’ Haddad, Moayyad Edrees, Moath Edrees, Ahmad Edrees, Abdullah Badran and Atef Badran. In addition, the soldiers abducted a young man, identified as Tareq Moayyad Abu Mayyala, near the Council Gate, as he was trying to enter the mosque for evening prayers.
Late on Sunday evening, several Israeli army jeeps invaded Ein al-Louza neighborhood, in Silwan town, near Al-Aqsa Mosque, and fired dozens of rubber-coated steel bullets and concussion grenades, after the soldiers claimed that a car belonging to settlements’ guards was burnt, after Palestinian youngsters hurled a Molotov cocktail at it.
Israeli soldiers injure two Palestinians in Nablus, abduct two in Salfit
IMEMC 7 Aug — The Palestinian Prisoners’ Society (PPS) has reported that Israeli soldiers shot and injured, on Monday at dawn, two young Palestinian men in Nablus, and abducted two others in Salfit. Media sources in Nablus said clashes took place after dozens of soldiers, accompanied by Israeli settlers’ buses and cars, invaded the eastern area of the city, heading to towards Joseph’s Tomb area. The added that the soldiers fired many gas bombs and rubber-coated steel bullets, wounding two Palestinians, identified as Amin Mohammad Beitar, 26, and Nidal Jabr Abu Keshek, 24, with rubber-coated steel bullets in the lower back, and chest. Medics provided the wounded Palestinians with the needed medical attention, and moved them to Rafidia hospital.
In Salfit governorate, in northeastern West Bank, the soldiers invaded Kifl Hares, north of Salfit city, searched several homes and abducted two Palestinians, identified as Nour Abdul-Aziz al-As’ad and Mohammad Abdullah Mousa.
VIDEO: Israeli occupation forces attack peaceful sit-in demonstration in Khursa near Dura village
HEBRON, Occupied Palestine (ISM Al-Khalil Team) 4 Aug — On Friday 4th of August in the village of Khursa [Arabic كرزه Kurza] in occupied Al-Khalil (Hebron), the residents gathered for a peaceful sit-in demonstration and Friday prayer against the new Israeli military watchtower. After the prayer, tensions were high and Israeli forces started firing stun grenades, tear gas, skunk water as well as rubber-coated steel bullets at demonstrators. Around 1 pm in the afternoon, the villagers of Khursa gathered to pray and demonstrate peacefully against the new Israeli watchtower installed earlier this week. Meanwhile, the soldiers gathered around the demonstrators and on the border of the recently declared closed military zone. After the prayer, the Israeli forces tried to push back the peaceful demonstrators using stun grenades and tear gas. Soon after, they brought in more soldiers in jeeps and a skunk truck. The demonstrators were forced to flee and the press was denied access to film near the area. Furthermore, the Israeli occupation forces barricaded the roads trapping Palestinians inside the area and refused to allow an ambulance to arrive at the scene. The Israeli aggression went on until 6 pm, during which the Israeli forces repeatedly attacked with tear gas, rubber-coated steel bullets and putrid-smelling skunk water. The Israeli forces deliberately and repeatedly aimed the chemically treated skunk water at private property as well as at international observers. The soldiers were seen laughing afterwards….
VIDEO: Settler attack towards Palestinians in occupied al-Khalil (Hebron)
HEBRON, Occupied Palestine (ISM al-Khalil Team) 4 Aug — Friday 4th of August after the Shabbat prayers (Kabbalat Shabbat), approximately 40/50 settlers attacked Palestinians on Prayer Road by using verbal violence and throwing stones, 3 Palestinians were injured due to the stones thrown by the settlers. The Israeli forces forcefully dispersed the crowd by throwing stun grenades at the Palestinians. Around 8.20 PM, tensions got high when a group of settlers returning from the Shabbat prayers started to intimidate and physically and verbally harass a group of Palestinians. The Israeli Occupation Forces tried to separate the two groups, without attempting to disperse the settlers. The settlers were aggressive and continuously attempted to get at the Palestinians but were held back by the Israeli soldiers. The settlers began throwing rocks at the Palestinians, injuring 3. In self-defense, the Palestinians threw rocks back, injuring one settler. The soldiers pushed back the Palestinians and threw several stun grenades into the crowd, dispersing it. The settlers were escorted back to the settlement. None of the settlers were arrested. The soldiers remained at the site as more arrived. The Palestinians attempted to show the soldiers their injuries caused by the settler attack but were ignored. Large amounts of military vehicles and soldiers remained in the area, limiting the free movement of Palestinians on their way home. After two hours, the soldiers began to leave the area.
Due to the tense situation in al-Khalil, with settlements placed close to the Palestinian neighborhoods, Palestinians are often harassed and attacked by the settlers. Every Friday settlers from the illegal settlements of Qiryat Arba and Beit Shalom pass through a Palestinian neighborhood on their way to Shabbat prayer, often leading to verbal and physical violence towards Palestinians in the area.
Israeli forces repress Friday demonstration in Kafr Qaddum
[photos] Kafr Qaddum, Occupied Palestine (ISM Huwwara Team) 6 Aug — On Friday 4th of August residents of Kafr Quaddum held their weekly demonstration against the closure of a road, once the main transport route from the community to Nablus. The weekly Friday demonstrations began on 1st July 2011. The closing of the road was justified as a security measure for the nearby illegal settlement of Kedumim, and has led to residents of Kafr Quaddum having to use a significantly longer route to Nablus, and the surrounding area. Last Friday’s demonstration started around 1 PM, with local residents, joined by Israeli and International activists, marching through the village.They were met by Israeli soldiers who used tear gas, sound bombs and rubber-coated steel bullets to suppress the crowd. The demonstration was pushed back from several directions, with Israeli forces raiding the house of local resident Jamal Jumaa, and using it as a strategic point from which to disperse the protesters. Despite the use of excessive violence by Israeli forces, no one was injured during the three hour demonstration. Drones were also deployed in order to surveil residents participating in the protest, so as to identify targets for arrest.In the six years since the weekly demonstrations began, locals report that 85 Palestinians have been shot with live ammunition, with a further 170 people arrested.
Israeli settlers attack Hebron neighborhood, injure 4 Palestinians
HEBRON (Ma‘an) 5 Aug — A group of Israeli settlers injured four Palestinians in Hebron city overnight on Friday as they raided the Wadi al-Hassin neighborhood, located directly beside Israel’s illegal Kiryat Arba settlement. The Palestinians sustained light to moderate wounds in the attack, according to locals. Palestinian Red Crescent sources said that two Palestinians were transferred to a hospital for treatment, one of whom sustained an arm fracture and the other suffered from a head injury.
Locals said that Israeli settlers had attacked Palestinian houses in the neighborhood. Several residents told Ma‘an that they had reported the incident to the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and Israeli police. Local sources added that Israeli forces were present in the area at the time and had witnessed the assaults, without intervening…
Israeli new outlet Ynet reported that a Jewish Israeli and two Palestinians had been injured during a “stone-throwing” incident between Israeli settlers and Palestinians in Hebron. Ynet said that the Israeli and Palestinians were evacuated from the scene for medical treatment after the Israeli army “separated both sides,” contradicting local testimonies that Israeli authorities in fact had done nothing to prevent the attack on the Palestinian neighborhood and shot stun grenades at Palestinians in the area.
Pro-Palestinian activist group International Solidarity Movement released a video of the incident, purportedly showing Israeli settlers throwing stones at Palestinians on their way back from Shabbat prayers.
Israeli settlers hurl rocks at Palestinian homes in Hebron’s Old City
HEBRON (Ma‘an) 6 Aug — A group of Israeli settlers hurled rocks at Palestinian homes on Saturday night in the Jaber neighborhood of Hebron’s Old City in the southern occupied West Bank. Local sources told Ma‘an that a group of Israeli settlers, escorted by Israeli forces, threw rocks at Palestinian homes near the Ibrahimi Mosque and shouted curses at the Palestinian residents. No injuries were reported by the sources.
70 hiking Israelis enter Palestinian village, get pelted with rocksh
Times of Israel 4 Aug by Judah Ari Gross — IDF uses tear gas on attackers, rescues hikers; no injuries reported; tour group reportedly asked for army’s OK for trip, were denied, and went anyway — A group of approximately 70 Israelis hiked into a small Palestinian village in the central West Bank on Friday and quickly found themselves pelted with rocks by local residents, the army said. According to Channel 10 news, some of the hikers fired shots into the air with their handguns, before IDF troops arrived on the scene. This could not be immediately confirmed by the military. Once the soldiers arrived, they drove back the rock throwers with tear gas and other non-lethal dispersal measures, and brought the hikers out of the area. There were no reports of injuries among the Israelis or Palestinians. Palestinian media reported that one person from the nearby village of Kobar was arrested in connection with the incident. The hikers came from the Halamish settlement, where last month a Palestinian terrorist stabbed to death three members of the Salomon family. The incident took place in Jibya, a small village on the outskirts of the village of Kobar, the hometown of the Palestinian terrorist.
Israel detains 4 Palestinians for alleged drive-by shooting at illegal settlement
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 6 Aug — Israeli forces detained four Palestinians from al-Jalazun refugee camp in the central occupied West Bank district of Ramallah on Sunday after they allegedly carried out a drive-by shooting at the entrance of Israel’s illegal Beit El settlement, also located in Ramallah. The Israeli army said in a statement that the four Palestinians — three of whom were identified by locals as Ibrahim Abu Kharma, Muhammad Ramadan Elayyan, and Karam Makhlouf Nakhla — had shot live fire with a Carl Gustav submachine gun while driving past an Israeli army post at the entrance of the Israeli settlement of Beit El on Saturday night. No injuries were reported in the incident. Hebrew media reported that the entrance to Beit El was closed following the incident. The Israeli army subsequently raided the al-Jalazun refugee camp during dawn hours on Sunday to detain the four alleged shooters, causing clashes to break out between Palestinians and Israeli forces, according to locals. The Israeli army described the detainees as a Palestinian “cell.”
Israeli army arrests Hamas lawmaker in West Bank
AFP 4 Aug — The Israeli army arrested a Hamas member of the Palestinian parliament at his home in the occupied West Bank overnight, the Palestinian Prisoners’ Club said on Friday. Mohammed Abu Tir, 65, was arrested in a raid on his home near Ramallah, the group said, only two months after he was released from a 17-month prison sentence. Abu Tir is from East Jerusalem, which he represents on the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC). Israel’s Shin Bet internal security agency described Abu Tir as one of the most senior Hamas operatives in the West Bank, noting that he had spent more than 33 years in Israeli prisons for “military and administrative terror activity”. He was arrested this time because of his “activity in Hamas operations and terror financing,” a Shin Bet statement said. His arrest brings to 13 the number of legislators from the 132-member PLC currently jailed by Israel, according to the Palestinian rights group Addameer.
Israeli forces detain 12 Palestinians during raids in West Bank, East Jerusalem
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 6 Aug — Israeli forces detained at least 12 Palestinians, including a minor, during overnight raids between Saturday and Sunday across the occupied West Bank, including East Jerusalem. In the northern West Bank, Israeli forces detained Amina al-Ghalban, 24, the wife of Palestinian prisoner Abed al-Ghalban, from the Qalqiliya district, according to the Palestinian Prisoner’s Society (PPS). Her husband was detained several weeks ago from their home in Qalqiliya city, local sources said…
PPS reported that Said Najim and Abdullah Najim were detain in the Wadi al-Joz neighborhood in occupied East Jerusalem.
Further south, in the Bethlehem district, three Palestinians were detained. Local sources reported that Ahmad Ali Issa, 15, was detained from the village of al-Khader, while Muhammad Mousa Ghayatha, 25, was detained in Nahhalin. An Israeli army spokesperson confirmed the detention in al-Khader, and noted an additional detention in the village of Tuqu‘.
In the Hebron district, local sources reported that Alaa Anwar al-Balawi, 22, was detained from the village of Beit Ummar. While al-Balawi is from al-Duheisha refugee camp near the city of Bethlehem, he was visiting his grandparent’s house in Beit Ummar at the time, locals said. Hebrew media noted that al-Balawi was detained over allegations of “incitement” against the Israeli state.
An Israeli army spokesperson confirmed the detention in Beit Ummar, and added that another Palestinian was detained in the Hebron-area village of Sa‘ir.
Israeli raids in Palestinian towns, villages, and refugee camps are a daily occurrence in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, with a biweekly average of 95 search and detention raids carried out over the course of 2016, according to UN documentation.
Prisoners’ rights group Addameer estimated that 6,128 Palestinians were held in Israeli prisons as of July, including 450 without charge or trial and 320 minors.
West Bank priests stress nonviolence as youths protest Israeli occupation
JERUSALEM (Catholic News Service) 4 Aug by Judith Sudilovsky — With tensions still high in the Old City following weeks of violence, Fr. Firas Aridah completed his work at the Latin Patriarchate early so he could leave Jerusalem for his West Bank parish before any possible violence began. “There were many (Israeli) police and soldiers, closing many roads,” Aridah told Catholic News Service in a phone interview once he was back in Jifna’s St. Joseph Parish July 28. Friday afternoon prayer in Muslim tradition is considered especially significant and is required of all Muslim men. Often during volatile periods, prayers at the contested Al-Aqsa Mosque compound have been followed by demonstrations. Sometimes the tensions spread to other sections of Jerusalem, or even to the West Bank. For Aridah and other parish priests in the West Bank, the challenge is to emphasize the Christian tradition of nonviolence while supporting their young parishioners’ desire to oppose the Israeli occupation. Aridah said he counsels young people not even to throw stones at the young Israeli soldiers who sometimes come near their village on patrols or in search of men wanted by the army….
Convicted Israeli soldier says dropping appeal, going to jail
JERUSALEM (AFP) 3 Aug — An Israeli soldier convicted of the manslaughter of a prone Palestinian assailant said Thursday he had decided to go straight to prison and not further appeal his 18-month sentence. A military court on Sunday rejected an appeal by Elor Azaria, leaving open the possibility that he would take his case to Israel’s Supreme Court. But in an online video statement, his first public address since the March 2016 shooting in the occupied West Bank city of Hebron, he said he had resigned himself to accepting the judgment. “I believe that I could have been found innocent, but my family and I have suffered terribly for the past year and a half,” he said in Hebrew. “The ordeal cost my parents their health. I want to return to routine as soon as possible.” “I shall go to prison to serve out the punishment I was given, and I shall not appeal to the Supreme Court,” he said. He is expected to report to a military prison south of the northern Israeli city of Haifa on August 9. He will be hoping to earn the customary one-third remission for good conduct and perhaps win an even shorter spell behind bars.
Land, property theft & destruction / Ethnic cleansing / Settlements
Palestinian family faces Jerusalem eviction after half century
JERUSALEM (AFP) 5 Aug by Shatha Yaish — Fahamiya Shamasneh, a 75-year-old Palestinian woman, refuses to pack her things despite a looming deadline for evacuating the home she has lived in for more than 50 years. Israel’s Supreme Court has ruled the family have until Wednesday to vacate the house in annexed east Jerusalem. The family’s supporters have no doubt the house will be handed over to Jewish Israelis, as part of a wider plan to boost Jewish settlements in the predominantly Palestinian neighbourhood of Sheikh Jarrah. It will be the first eviction in the neighbourhood since 2009, according to Israeli anti-occupation group Peace Now, and has become part of a fight over the disputed status of Jerusalem. Israel sees the city as its undivided capital, while the Palestinians want the eastern sector as their future capital.
Fahamiya, her sick husband Ayoub, 84, their son and his family have until August 9 to voluntarily leave the cramped,50-square-metre (540-sq-foot) basement of their building or be forced out. “Fifty-three years here means leaving is not easy — it is a lifetime. I was a young girl when I came to this house,” said Fahamiya. “The police are threatening us. We don’t know what to do,” she said, adding they had not found anywhere else to go.
Under a decades-old Israeli law, if Jews can prove their families lived in east Jerusalem homes before the 1948 war that led to the creation of Israel, they can demand that Israel’s general custodian office release the property and return their “ownership rights.” During the war, thousands of Jews fled Jerusalem as Jordanian-led Arab forces seized the city, while hundreds of thousands of Palestinians fled from land that was later to become Israel. No such law exists for Palestinians who lost their land….
Israel’s High Court temporarily bars removal of trailers from illegal West Bank outpost
Haaretz 4 Aug — The High Court of Justice issued a temporary order Wednesday barring the state from removing or confiscating four trailers that were illegally placed near the unauthorized outpost of Sde Boaz. In announcing the ruling, in response to a petition filed by residents of the Gush Etzion outpost, Justice Uri Shoham said the order would remain in place until the court issues a further ruling on the matter. The petition was filed after the residents learned that the Israeli Civil Administration in the West Bank intended to confiscate the trailers. A law enforcement source confirmed that the Civil Administration had planned to remove the trailers Wednesday. Although the immediate threat of the removal of the trailers has been lifted, last month the court ordered that they not be used as dwellings and that no further work be carried out hooking them up to utilities in light of a petition by Palestinians who claim they own the land on which the trailers have been placed. But inspectors from the Civil Administration who visited the site were reportedly told that people had already taken up residence in the trailers and that the trailers had already been hooked up to utilities. The trailers are several hundred meters away from the Sde Boaz outpost itself, adjacent to the settlement of Neveh Daniel. They were placed there in July at a location that has not been designated as state land and which is currently deemed land whose ownership is being examined. The trailers were put there without a permit and in violation of the law….
Demolition orders strike al-Walaja as separation wall stretches through Hebron
IMEMC/Agencies 6 Aug — On Thursday August 3rd Israeli Authorities issued thirteen military demolition orders for Palestinian properties in the village of al-Walaja, in the western part of the Bethlehem district. The orders target nine houses and four residential buildings, all of which are located on the Ain Al Jawaizeh site, which Israel illegally annexed to the Jerusalem municipality in the 1980s while its Palestinian residents remained West Bank residents. Similar policies were also implemented elsewhere, such as in ‘Al Khas’ and ‘Al Noaman’, located to the East and South of Bethlehem respectively. Due to the fact that Israel has considered this land as part of the Jerusalem Municipality while maintaining the status of the residents as West-Bankers, those who live in these areas cannot not get permits, which leads to very low development despite continuing population growth. By restricting their freedom of movement, these developments have affected – and continue to affect – every aspect of Palestinians’ lives, economically, socially and educationally. al-Walaja has faced dozens of house demolitions in the past decades. The current orders could leave hundreds of residents homeless and lead to the confiscation of more land. According to Israeli plans for the area, the separation wall will continue to be built there, in addition to many more settlement projects….
Netanyahu: ‘No other government did as much for settlement’
AFP 3 Aug — PM lays the foundation stone for a new neighborhood in West Bank’s biggest settlement — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Thursday that his government had done more than all its predecessors to boost Jewish settlement, prompting the Palestinian presidency to denounce Israeli “provocations”. He spoke as he laid the foundation stone for a new neighborhood in Beitar Illit, the West Bank’s biggest settlement with a population of 50,000 ultra-Orthodox Jews. “No other government has done as much for settlement in the land of Israel as the government which I lead,” he said, referring to the biblical Holy Land which many believers see as belonging to the Jews by divine right. Settlements in the West Bank and Israeli-annexed east Jerusalem are illegal under international law and are seen as one of the greatest obstacles to peace between Israel and the Palestinians. The spokesman of the Palestinian presidency, Nabil Abu Rudeina, accused the Israeli government of “provocations” and called for “immediate international intervention”, the Wafa news agency reported…
He also pledged to act speedily to construct new homes for the roughly 40 families evicted from the wildcat outpost of Amona in February after Israel’s Supreme Court ruled their homes had been built illegally on private Palestinian land. The new development, named Amichai, will be the first government-sanctioned Jewish settlement built in the Palestinian territories in some 25 years..
Netanyahu alarms Palestinians with talk of land swap
UMM AL-FAHM, Palestine (MEE) 5 Aug by Jonathan Cook — Israel’s crackdown on access to Al-Aqsa Mosque compound after two Israeli policemen were killed there last month provoked an eruption of fury among Palestinians in occupied Jerusalem and rocked Israel’s relations with the Arab world. Three weeks on, the metal detectors and security cameras have gone and, for now at least, Jerusalem is calmer. But the shockwaves are still reverberating and are being felt most keenly far away in northern Israel, in the town of Umm al-Fahm. The three young men who carried out the shootings were from the town’s large Jabareen clan. They were killed on the spot by police. Umm al-Fahm, one of the largest communities of Israel’s 1.7 million Palestinian citizens, a fifth of the population, had already gained a reputation among the Jewish majority for political and religious extremism and anti-Israel sentiment. In large part, that reflected its status as the home of the northern branch of the Islamic Movement, led by Sheikh Raed Salah … Nevertheless, the three youths’ attack at Al-Aqsa last month has served to bolster suspicions that Umm al-Fahm is a hotbed of radicalism and potential terrorism. That impression was reinforced last week when the Israeli authorities belatedly handed over the three bodies, at judicial insistence, for burial. Although Israel wanted the funerals as low-key as possible, thousands attended the burials. Moshe Arens, a former minister from Netanyahu’s Likud party, expressed a common sentiment this week: “The gunmen evidently had the support of many in Umm al-Fahm, and others seem prepared to follow in their footsteps.” Yousef Jabareen, a member of the Israeli parliament who is himself from Umm al-Fahm, said such accusations were unfair. “People in the town were angry that the bodies had been kept from burial in violation of Muslim custom for two weeks,” he told Middle East Eye. “There are just a few extended families here, so many people wanted to show solidarity with their relatives, even though they reject the use [of] violence in our struggle for our civil rights.”
Nonetheless, the backlash from Netanyahu was not long in coming. In a leak to Israeli television, his office said he had proposed to the Donald Trump administration in Washington ridding Israel of a region known as the “Triangle,” which includes some 300,000 Palestinians citizens. Umm al-Fahm is its main city. The Triangle is a sliver of Israeli territory, densely packed with Palestinian citizens of Israel, bordering the north-west corner of the occupied West Bank. As part of a future peace deal, Netanyahu reportedly told the Americans during a meeting in late June, Umm al-Fahm and its neighbouring communities would be transferred to a future Palestinian state. In effect, Netanyahu was making public his adoption of the long-standing and highly controversial plan of his far-right defence minister, Avigdor Lieberman. This would see borders redrawn to allow Israel to annex coveted settlements in the West Bank in exchange for stripping hundreds of thousands of Palestinians of their Israeli citizenship and reassigning their communities to a highly circumscribed Palestinian state….
Mandela’s grandson urges Israeli envoy’s expulsion from S Africa, cutting off of all ties
Press TV 6 Aug — The grandson of South African anti-apartheid revolutionary and politician, Nelson Mandela, has called on South Africa’s government to expel the Israeli ambassador to Pretoria and sever all diplomatic and business relations with the Tel Aviv regime — On Sunday, Mandla Mandela, who is a member of parliament for the ruling African National Congress (ANC), urged ANC caucus in legislature to pressure the government to send Arthur Lenk out of the country, and recall South Africa’s Ambassador to Israel Sisa Ngombane, and cut all ties, Turkey’s official Anadolu news agency reported. “History calls upon us to take similar measures to those taken by freedom, justice and peace loving communities that supported the global anti-apartheid movement against the brutal and illegitimate South African regime,” he said. Mandela also praised the decision made by a group of ANC lawmakers to turn down an Israeli delegation’s request to meet. “Parliament has stayed true to Nelson Mandela’s commitment to stand by the Palestinian cause until Palestine is free,’’ he said in a statement. The Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) also welcomed the measure….
Mexican politician slams BDS during West Bank visit, lauds ties with Israel
JNS 1 Aug — During a visit to the West Bank on Sunday, Mexican politician Hugo Eric Flores Cervantes asserted there should be no boycotts of products made in the disputed territories. “Those who consider that the factories here are not producing products made on Israeli territory are mistaken. There is no territory that is more Israeli than here,” said Cervantes, a member of the Mexican Congress, the Jerusalem Post reported. “Products should be exported from here to any place in the globe in the most open way possible,” he said. “Trade between nations must and should be free…I am in favor of accelerating the trade agreement between Mexico and Israel as well as accelerating the marketing of products produced in Judea and Samaria to Mexico.” Cervantes is an evangelical Christian and the founder of the Social Encounter Party [3.3% of the vote for the Chamber of Deputies in 2015]. During his visit, he discussed methods for improving ties between Mexico and Israeli communities in the West Bank….
Weekly report on Israeli human rights violations in the occupied Palestinian territory (27 July-02 Aug)
PCHR-Gaza 3 Aug — Israeli forces killed 2 Palestinian civilians, including a child, in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. A civilian succumbed to his wounds in Hezma village, northeast of occupied Jerusalem. 38 Palestinian civilians, including 6 children, a paramedic and a photojournalist, were wounded in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. 16 civilians were wounded in Jerusalem and its suburbs; 12 were wounded in the West Bank and 10 others were wounded in the Gaza Strip. Israeli forces conducted 66 incursions into Palestinian communities in the West Bank and 7 ones in occupied Jerusalem. 83 civilians, including 13 children, were arrested. Forty-two of them, including 11 children, were arrested in Jerusalem Among those arrested was a Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC) Member, Hosni al-Borini. Palmedia Media Services’ head office in Ramallah was raided. Israeli forces continued efforts to create Jewish majority in occupied Palestinian Jerusalem. Israeli forces continue to escalate their arbitrary measures against al-Aqsa Mosque. 123 civilians, who were present inside al-Aqsa Mosque, were arrested and taken to al-Masqoubiya interrogation facility. 13 demolition notices were issued against buildings in Ein al-Juwaiza neighbourhood in al-Walaja village that is located within the boundaries of the Israeli municipality. Hundreds of settlers stormed al-Aqsa Mosque in the anniversary of the so-called “Temple Destruction”. Israeli forces continued settlement activities in the West Bank. A 500-square-meter plot of land in Mothallath Kharsa, south of Doura, was leveled to establish a military watchtower. Israeli forces continued to target the Palestinian fishermen in the Gaza Strip Sea. Israeli navy forces opened fire 7 times at fishing boats in the northern Gaza Strip. Neither casualties nor material damage were reported. 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. [details follow]
Fatah denies reports that Abbas ‘thwarted’ Egyptian initiative to end dispute with Hamas
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 6 Aug — Fatah, the ruling party of the Palestinian Authority (PA), denied on Sunday reports by London-based al-Hayat newspaper alleging that PA President Mahmoud Abbas and Egyptian President Abd al-Fattah al-Sisi had discussed a plan to reconcile the West Bank-based PA with Hamas, the de facto ruling party in the besieged Gaza Strip. Al-Hayat had quoted unidentified Palestinian sources as saying that Abbas had “thwarted” a new initiative by the Egyptian head of state to broker a reconciliation agreement ending the decade-long rivalry between Hamas and the PA. “Both Hamas and President Abbas agreed to al-Sisi’s initiative, before Abbas proposed another initiative of his own, which Hamas rejected,” the anonymous sources told the newspaper.
Azzam al-Ahmad, who serves as the Fatah commissioner for nationalistic relations, told official PA news agency Wafa that al-Sisi had only brought up the issue of intra-Palestinian reconciliation in a general manner, “as usual,” during a meeting with Abbas last month. Al-Ahmad added that while Abbas and al-Sisi had discussed in detail efforts to end the political conflict between Hamas and Fatah, they had not brought up any specific new initiatives by Egypt to help broker a new reconciliation agreement. Al-Ahmad said the al-Hayat report included “details fitted together from the imagination of unknown sources who gave the information to (the newspaper’s) reporter in Gaza.” Al-Ahmad added that after the Cairo meeting between Abbas and al-Sisi, there were contacts and meetings between Hamas and Fatah officials in which he “personally was involved,” before adding that nothing newsworthy emerged from those meetings.
However, a senior Hamas official said earlier on Sunday that the al-Hayat report was true, and that Hamas had responded positively when it was notified of a new Egyptian initiative….
Jordan’s monarch says no breakthrough in peace process without US commitment
AMMAN (WAFA) 7 Aug – King Abdullah of Jordan said Sunday that there will be no breakthrough in the peace process if there is no American commitment to supporting a solution to the Palestinian issue, as reported by the Jordanian Petra new agency. Addressing Jordanian legislators in Amman, Abdullah warned that the future of the Palestinian issue is at stake and reaching a solution is becoming even more difficult, calling for more efforts and intensive work with the US Administration to make the necessary progress in the coming period. Speaking on the critical situation in Jerusalem and particularly at Al-Aqsa Mosque when Israel attempted to control the Muslim holy site three weeks ago, King Abdullah said that had it not been for the fact that Jordan is the custodian over the holy places in Jerusalem and without the steadfastness of the Palestinian people in occupied Jerusalem, the holy places would have been lost many years ago. “Without the Hashemite custodianship and the steadfastness of the Jerusalemites, the holy sites would have been lost many years ago,” Petra quoted him as saying. “Our success requires one stand with the Palestinian brothers, so that our cause wouldn’t be weakened and our rights would be maintained.”
The Jordanian monarch is expected in Ramallah at noon on Monday for talks with President Mahmoud Abbas. His last visit to Ramallah was in 2012.
PA: Palestinian internet facing ‘fierce’ cyber attack
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 5 Aug — Over the past two days, internet access in the occupied Palestinian territory has been under the “fiercest” cyber attack since 2012, the Palestinian Ministry of Telecommunications and Information Technology said on Saturday. In a statement, the ministry said that the ongoing cyber attack was targeting internet providers in Palestine by flooding their servers with millions of messages, paralyzing the servers and slowing down access across to users across the Palestinian territory.
Palestinian Authority computers have meanwhile been on the receiving end of cyber attacks coming from Europe and East Asia, the statement added, while assuring that governmental databases were protected and not under threat by the large-scale attack.
The ministry said that it had created a crisis management team working with internet providers and telecommunications company Paltel to try to control the attacks. The ministry also contacted cyber security experts for help with technical procedures which could contain the crisis and stop its negative impact on internet users in Palestine.
Disappeared Palestinian-Syrian software developer reportedly executed
EI 3 Aug by Maureen Clare Murphy — The disappeared Palestinian-Syrian software developer and open Internet advocate Bassel Khartabil, also known as Bassel Safadi, was executed in late 2015, his wife Noura Ghazi announced on Facebook on Tuesday. Khartabil was arrested in Damascus in March 2012, one year into the uprising in the country, and held in incommunicado detention. “He was originally taken, interrogated and tortured in secret in a facility controlled by the country’s General Intelligence Directorate,” the Electronic Frontier Foundation’s international director Danny O’Brien stated on Tuesday. “After a worldwide campaign by international human rights groups, together with Bassel’s many colleagues in the open Internet and free culture communities, he was moved to Adra’s civilian prison, from where he was able to communicate with his family and friends,” O’Brien added. He remained there until October 2015, when he was transferred to an unknown location. Khartabil’s family lost contact with him after that time.
It is now believed that Khartabil was executed shortly after his transfer from Adra prison. According to Amnesty International, Khartabil’s family has received “information that he was killed in 2015 after allegedly being ‘tried’ and ‘sentenced to death’ by the military field court in al-Qaboun, Damascus, in a secret hearing.” … Khartabil was the Syria project head for Creative Commons, a nonprofit group which promotes a license that allows creative works to be more widely shared. He led negotiations held in Doha in late 2010 that resulted in a common language for discussing fair use and copyright in Arabic. “Creative Commons, and the global commons of art, history and knowledge, are stronger because of Bassel’s contributions, and our community is better because of his work and his friendship,” the group stated. “His death is a terrible reminder of what many individuals and families risk in order to make a better society.” Khartabil co-founded Syria’s first hackerspace in 2010 and wrote the code to make Mozilla’s Firefox browser work in Arabic. He worked with the Electronic Frontier Foundation to show how the Syrian government censors the Internet….
Abbas: Jerusalem al-Quds is Palestine’s eternal capital
Press TV 6 Aug — The president of the Palestinian Authority calls Jerusalem al-Quds “the eternal capital of the state of Palestine and nothing else.” Mahmoud Abbas made the remarks on Saturday, addressing hundreds of the city’s Palestinians, the authority’s official Wafa news agency reported. Israel likewise lays claims to the entire city as its so-called capital. Palestinians usually assert such right to its eastern part, which the regime occupied in 1967 and later annexed. The international community has never recognized either the occupation or the annexation. Abbas also hailed Palestinians for the “courage and strength,” which they displayed in the form of nearly two straight weeks of protests after Israel fully closed the compound of al-Aqsa Mosque — Islam’s third holiest site — last month. Tel Aviv ordered the move following a shootout on July 14 near the site, which left two Israeli soldiers and three Palestinians dead. The move drew sweeping international condemnation besides sparking massive demonstrations by Palestinians, during which more than a dozen of them died, forcing Tel Aviv to reopen the site … Elsewhere in his remarks, Abbas said, “We should preserve the victory achieved in al-Quds to gain another victory or to take another step forward.” Abbas added that Tel Aviv would not be allowed to repeat “the mistakes of 1948.” The year saw the regime seizing vast expanses of Palestinian territories in Western-backed military operations and forcing hundreds of thousands of Palestinians from their homeland….
Donald Trump: Two huge murals by Australian artist Lushsux appear on West Bank barrier
ABC 5 Aug — Two murals believed to be by Australian graffiti artist Lushsux — the artist behind a controversial mural in Melbourne of a sexed-up Hillary Clinton — showing an oversized US President Donald Trump have appeared on Israel’s West Bank separation barrier. The new drawings popped up on the edge of Bethlehem, the Palestinian city where the barrier largely consists of a wall of towering slabs of concrete. In one scene, Mr Trump is shown hugging and kissing a real Israeli army watchtower built into the wall, as his left arm reaches around the tower — and little pink hearts flutter from Mr Trump’s mouth. In another drawing, he is depicted wearing a Jewish skullcap and placing a hand on a wall — a scene taken from the President’s May visit to Jerusalem’s Western Wall, the holiest site where Jews can pray. A cartoon thought bubble next to him reads, “I’m going to build you a brother”, a possible reference to Trump’s plans to build a wall between the US and Mexico. The murals were signed “lushsux”, and the artist has shared photos from the mural site on social media. Several media outlets earlier speculated the murals may have been the work of Banksy — they are just metres from where the elusive artist decorated a hotel earlier this year….
Gaza soccer team wins Palestine Cup despite Israeli restrictions
HEBRON, West Bank (AFP) 4 Aug — Shabab Rafah became the first Gazan team to win soccer’s Palestine Cup in more than a decade Friday, despite Israeli restrictions keeping 10 of its players off the pitch. Rafah and Ahly al-Khalil from the West Bank city of Hebron which hosted the game ended the second leg in a 0-0 tie, but Rafah’s 2-0 first leg lead meant it took the title. The Gazan club had to field a weakened side, with only 15 of its 25 members of the playing squad given Israeli permits to travel to the West Bank from the Gaza Strip. Rafah director Khaled Kweik told AFP it was the first time the team had ever won the cup, calling it a “historic” victory. “We were harassed as we entered the West Bank and the Israelis banned 10 players from entering,” he said after the final whistle. “But the rest of the players were able to protect the draw and take the title.”
Waze consults Israeli army to prevent misdirected drivers in West Bank
Haaretz 2 Aug by Gili Cohen — After a series of wrong turns, the Israel Defense Forces and navigation app Waze are recalculating their route. Israeli army officers in the West Bank are giving representatives of the company a field tour so that Waze can update its driving directions. The IDF’s Judea and Samaria Division is working with the developers of the popular app to better warn drivers in the West Bank against entering Palestinian cities and villages in Area A, which is under complete Palestinian control. There have been a number of instances in the past year where civilians and soldiers have gotten confused on the road and erroneously entered Palestinian areas. In these cases, the Israeli Civil Administration in the West Bank coordinates with Palestinian security forces to get the Israelis back to Israel. According to the army’s data, in 2015 the Palestinians returned 13 soldiers and some 550 civilians to Israel after they entered Area A by mistake. In the past the IDF has been critical of soldiers who relied on Waze, and for a time even forbade the app. Senior army officers of all West Bank brigades recently completed a series of meetings with Waze employees. The officers took company representatives on tours of the area, focusing on place where Israelis would often get confused and enter Area A by mistake. The result of these expeditions is that the app has been updated. Now, when drivers approach any confusing points from which they could easily enter Area A, the navigation system will issue a warning that the driver is entering a dangerous area. These spots include the entrances to Nablus and Jenin, the Qalandiyah area, the parts of Gush Etzion bloc near the towns of Sa‘ir and Beit Fajjar, and the Tulkarm region. This is not the only step the army has taken. It has added speed bumps and notched lines in areas where drivers, particularly those using navigation apps, are likely to err in order to slow them down. The IDF hopes that drivers will have more time to pay attention to their surroundings and notice, for example, the warning signs that appear at the entrances to Area A, where entrance to Israelis is forbidden by the order of the Central Command.
Reign of sewage in biblical valley may be coming to an end
JERUSALEM (Reuters) 7 Aug by Ari Rabinovitch — There is a foul smell coming from the biblical Kidron Valley. It’s so bad that King David and Jesus, who are said to have walked there thousands of years ago, would today need to take a detour to reach Jerusalem. For decades now a quarter of Jerusalem’s sewage has flowed openly in the Kidron valley, meandering down the city’s foothills and through the Judean desert to the east. At its worst, the pollution leaks into the Dead Sea. The stream runs back and forth between land under Israeli and Palestinian administration, making a fix hard to find. But finally it seems a solution has been reached. Authorities on both sides have agreed to drain the valley of sewage. According to the plan, a pipeline will be constructed carrying the wastewater directly to new treatment facilities. Each side will fund and build the section that runs through its territory. Until that happens, however, about 12 million cubic meters of sewage continue to flow through the valley each year. “Of course it’s damaging the environment and the ecological system,” said Shony Goldberger, director of the Jerusalem district in Israel’s Environmental Protection Ministry. “It’s dangerous and hazardous to the health of the people in many ways.” Added to Jerusalem’s sewage along the stream’s 30 km (19 mile) descent through the occupied West Bank is effluent from Bethlehem and nearby Arab villages. Plants grow anomalously in what should be a dry wadi, animals come to drink, and mounds of baby wipes flushed down thousands of toilets sporadically coagulate along the banks. Sewage seeps into the earth, risking contamination of ground water….
Feature: Now you see it, now you don’t: A young Palestinian magician’s march to fame
Wafa 7 Aug by Khaled Tayeh — Ammar Faqih may be just 17 years old, but he can do tricks magicians have spent many years trying to master. One day, Faqih entered a clothing store in his Tulkarm hometown, north of the West Bank, and challenged the shop owners that he can change clothes in just three seconds. To the surprise of the owners, he did, and the video posted on social media of this trick had 3.3 million views and over 2000 comments, all saying they were impressed by his act. Faqih started doing magic tricks at a young age as a hobby to impress his family and friends. But now, he is performing in local events to people of all ages. He hopes that one day, and soon, he can reach wider audiences around the world. The young and promising Palestinian magician has always had passion for fame. He tried out several talents and skills in order to stand out. Eventually he found interest in doing magic tricks….
Israel moves to close Al Jazeera, ban its journalists
Al Jazeera 7 Aug — Israel plans to revoke media credentials of Al Jazeera journalists and close the network’s office in Jerusalem, the country’s communication minister has announced. Ayoub Kara made the announcement on Sunday during a press conference in Jerusalem, where Al Jazeera was barred from attending. “We have based our decision on the move by Sunni Arab states to close the Al Jazeera offices and prohibiting their work,” Kara said, adding that the channel is being used by groups to “incite” violence – an accusation the network has denied. Kara said he expects Israel’s parliament, the Knesset, to consider his request in the next session. “I will go through the [legislatorial] mechanism to create the authority in which I can act freely. We will try to end it as quickly as possible.”
Al Jazeera denounces measures In a statement, the Doha-based media network denounced the measures from a country it says claims to be “the only democracy in the Middle East”. “Al Jazeera stresses that it will closely watch the developments that may result from the Israeli decision, and will take the necessary legal measures towards it,” the statement read. Al Jazeera also denied the charges its coverage of al-Aqsa Mosque unrest was unprofessional. READ MORE: Al Jazeera statement on Israel’s plan to ban network
“Al Jazeera will continue to cover the events of the occupied Palestinian territories professionally and accurately, according to the standards set by international agencies, such as the UK Office of Communications (Ofcom).” The pan-Arab network’s offices in the Palestinian territories of Gaza and the occupied West Bank city of Ramallah would not be affected by the current Israeli move. The Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel, also known as Adalah, challenged the plan, saying it would be subject to scrutiny before the Supreme Court, adding that “it would fail the test of legality”. Al Jazeera’s Scott Heidler, reporting from Jerusalem on Sunday, said that the request to revoke the credentials covers all the network’s journalists in both the Arabic and English channels. It was unclear when the government will act on the request….
Jordanian father wants son’s killer to face justice
Al Jazeera 6 Aug — The father of 17-year-old Jordanian Mohammed al-Jawawdeh, who was fatally shot by an Israeli embassy guard in Amman on July 23, says he wants his son’s killer to face justice. Zakariya al-Jawawdeh was reacting on Saturday to the Israeli government’s announcement that it would conduct a preliminary investigation into the shooting to death of two Jordanians by the guard who the kingdom says should face criminal prosecution. The embassy guard, later identified as “Ziv”, shot and killed Mohammed and Dr Bashar Hamarneh, the owner of a property rented out to the Israeli embassy in Amman. The Jordanian government established a security zone around the Israeli embassy, which included Hamarneh’s property. As it was a closed security zone, Hamarneh, like others from the area, had no other reasonable choice but to rent their properties to the Israeli embassy. The Hamarneh family issued a statement “strongly denouncing the crime committed by the Zionists” against Dr Hamaraneh and al-Jawawdeh. The statement also called on the Jordanian government “to take all measures to stand up and punish the criminals and defend the national honor”.
Israel opens investigation into deadly shooting at Israeli embassy in Amman
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 6 Aug — Israel’s Ministry of Justice has reportedly opened an investigation into a deadly incident at the Israeli embassy in the Jordanian capital of Amman last month, during which an Israeli security guard killed two Jordanian citizens, amid repeated calls by Jordanian officials to prosecute the Israeli guard. According to Jordanian news outlet al-Ghad, the ministry announced that Israeli authorities had launched a preliminary investigation into the incident in order to decide if the ordeal could be considered criminal. Jordan and Israel have sparred over whether the security guard should be handed over to Jordanian custody.
Staff members of the Israeli embassy to Jordan, including the security guard referred to only as Ziv — who killed Jordanian citizens Muhammad Zakariya al-Jawawdeh, 17, and Bashar Hamarneh — returned to Israel on July 24, after a day of high tensions following the shooting incident. Jordanian King Abdullah criticized Netanyahu’s welcoming home of the guard as “a political showoff,” saying it was “provocative and destabilizes security and encourages extremism in the region.” Israel had refused to allow Jordanian authorities to question the injured Israeli security guard, citing his immunity under the Vienna Conventions — a body of international law which Israel has been accused of regularly violating. Meanwhile, al-Ghad reported that the passports of some 200 Jordanians were being withheld from their owners at the Israeli embassy in Amman after they had applied for Israeli tourist visas….
New poll shows 2/3 of Jewish Israelis want death penalty for Palestinian attackers
Mondoweiss 3 Aug by Jonathan Ofir — There’s a big noise in Israel these days – once again, the discussion of the death penalty for Palestinian ‘terrorists’ has come to the fore. One has to put that word, ‘terrorists’, in quotation marks, because the Israeli Peace Index survey published yesterday, asked the question not only concerning applying the death penalty for Palestinians killing civilians, but also, specifically, concerning Palestinian killings of Israeli soldiers. The rate of Jewish Israelis supporting the former was 70%, the latter nearly the same: 66%. Indeed, this result betrays the view adopted by most Israeli Jews – as the survey itself notes: “[I]n the view of a majority of the Jewish public, it makes no difference whether the victims of terror attacks are civilians or soldiers.” This view is also reflected by the courts. As I noted in my analysis of the Elor Azarya ‘manslaughter’ case (both of conviction and verdict) , the court unequivocally and unquestioningly referred to the Palestinian Abdel Fattah Al Sharif (who was shot in the head at close range by Azarya) as “the terrorist Al-Sharif” – even though he was, (allegedly and disputably, as I noted here), attacking an armed occupation soldier as an occupied person in occupied territory. The right to resist occupation, even and particularly through armed struggle, is internationally recognized, as in United Nations General Assembly Resolution A/RES/33/24 of 29 November 1978: “2. Reaffirms the legitimacy of the struggle of peoples for independence, territorial integrity, national unity and liberation from colonial and foreign domination and foreign occupation by all available means, particularly armed struggle;” So, what this is saying is, that about 2/3 of the Israeli public sees Palestinian resistance as criminal, deserving of death.
Fuck it, wipe out Gaza.’ says spokesman for new EU campaign
EI 3 Aug by Ali Abunimah & Dena Shunra — The European Union has hired an Israeli who advocates genocidal violence against Palestinians as the face of a new promotional campaign. Avishai Ivri appears in a video the EU embassy in Tel Aviv posted on its Facebook page last month. “The European Union. You think it’s anti-Israel, right?” Ivri begins. “Let me surprise you.” Ivri then rattles off trade and tourism statistics meant to convince Israeli viewers of just how much the European Union benefits Israel. He also boasts that the EU is a customer for Israel’s weapons industry, particularly drones. The EU “are the best neighbors we have,” Ivri concludes.
Supporting genocide Ivri was a writer for Latma, a defunct Israeli sketch show that reflected extreme right-wing and racist views, such as depicting migrants and refugees from African states as apes. But that’s only the tip of the iceberg. During Israel’s November 2012 attack on Gaza that killed 174 Palestinians, Ivri advocated even more extreme violence. “Here’s a strategy that hasn’t been tried out yet: 1,000 Arabs killed for each one of our people killed,” he tweeted. “I think they owe us 5,000 from last week.” “Fuck it, wipe out Gaza,” Ivri urged during the same attack. Ivri is a strong supporter of a one-state solution, but not one where Palestinians and Israelis would have equal rights. Rather, he supports eliminating the Palestinians as a people altogether – a goal that fits the international legal definition of ethnic cleansing and probably outright genocide….
In US wilderness, Palestinian and Israeli girls camp for coexistence
SANTA FE, New Mexico (AFP) 6 Aug by Frankie Taggart — As a young girl during the worst days of the Second Intifada, Liza Masri feared the soldiers patrolling her neighborhood in the West Bank city of Nablus. But it wasn’t until after the violence of 2000-2005 — in which Palestinian suicide bombers killed hundreds of Israeli civilians in a relentless onslaught — that she felt her anxiety most clearly vindicated, when she witnessed Israeli troops shoot dead her Palestinian neighbor as he smoked a cigarette on his balcony. “It’s flashbacks I can remember… the ambulance, the way they took him down the building,” the 21-year-old said, as if the intervening decade has suddenly melted away. “We weren’t allowed into the streets. We were afraid they would kill us. It’s something I will always remember — it’s so painful.” Some years later, her neighbor’s bereaved daughter introduced Masri to “Creativity for Peace,” an organization in Santa Fe, New Mexico, that brings together Palestinian and Jewish Israeli girls in a bid to bridge the emotional fault lines created by 70 years of conflict. Half a world away from the streets of Nablus, they get together at a ranch in the timbered foothills of the southern Rocky Mountains to hear for the first time the stories of enemies they have grown up learning to hate….
US advances bill to cut funding to PA over ‘martyrs social program’
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 5 Aug — The United States Senate advanced the bill known as the Taylor Force Act, aimed at completely cutting funding to the Palestinian Authority (PA) over its so-called “martyrs” compensation program, on Thursday, on the same day that European Union (EU) announced that it had approved a 20-million-euro donation to the PA. The US has threatened to completely revoke its funding to the PA, after the Taylor Force Act passed a critical committee vote in the Senate on Thursday, which will advance the bill to a full vote on the senate floor. If passed, the US will be obligated to cut its funding to the PA unless it halts a program providing funds to families of slain Palestinians and prisoners. The US move came as the EU announced that it would contribute 20 million euros ($23.5 million) to the PA in order to assist in paying July salaries and pensions for 57,500 Palestinian civil servants and pensioners. It is the third year that the EU has provided direct financial support to the PA. The Taylor Force Act was initially introduced by Republican Senator Lindsey Graham (South Carolina) during a Congress session last year. However, it has now received bipartisan support….
Secret cables reveal US efforts to prevent 1007 Hamas takeover of West Bank
JPost 1 Aug by Seth J. Frantzman — It has been just over 10 years since Hamas took over the Gaza Strip. The Office of the US Security Coordinator (USSC), established in 2005, played a key role in preventing the chaos there from spreading, yet key aspects of how it achieved that have gone unreported. A look at secret US diplomatic cables, published by Wikileaks, sheds some light on what happened and why it still matters today….
Book Review — Salt Houses: A story of Palestinians without Palestine
Al Jazeera 4 Aug by Zahra Hankir — Hala Alyan’s debut novel Salt Houses has shaken up the literary world. The Palestinian-American poet and psychologist’s book is a family drama about displacement that traverses conflicts, countries and continents. The novel explores the experiences of eight members of a Palestinian family spanning six generations. Readers meet them in 1967 Nablus, Palestine, at the start of the Six-Day War and travel with them through the Israel-Lebanon War in 2006 and beyond. Salt Houses is punctuated by a never-ending search for home, from Nablus to Kuwait City, Amman, Paris and Boston. At times, the family members are uprooted by war, and at other times by choice or chance. Born of a short story, the novel delves into the inter-generational trauma accompanying exile. It is a particularly personal book for Alyan, whose own family has experienced displacement. Al Jazeera spoke with Alyan about the novel’s timeliness, her transition from poetry to prose and the role novelists can play in shaping narratives on the Arab world….