Armed groups in Gaza vow to respond to Israeli attack on tunnel

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7 Palestinians killed, 12 wounded in Israeli bombing of Gaza tunnel
GAZA (Ma‘an) 31 Oct — At least seven Palestinians were killed, and 12 others were wounded after Israeli forces blew up an underground tunnel between the southern Gaza Strip and Israel on Monday, according to Palestinian and Israeli sources. The Palestinian Ministry of Health officially declared the death of seven Palestinians, all fighters in the armed wings of the Hamas and Islamic Jihad movements in Gaza. The killed fighters were identified as Hussam Abdullah al-Sumairi, 32, Muhammad Marwan Al-Agha, 22, Ahmad Khalil Abu Armaneh, 25, Omar Nassar al-Falit, 27, Hassan Aaba Hassanein, Mesbah Fayek Shbeir, and Arafat Abu Morshed. The Palestinian Civil Defense forces told Ma‘an that rescue teams had saved a number of fighters who were trapped in the tunnel after the explosion, while the ministry of health said at the time that the number of wounded was around 12.
Following the explosion, Israeli media reported that the Israeli army staged a “controlled detonation” in the area around the Gaza Strip, saying the activity was pre-planned. Despite killing seven and wounding more than a dozen others, the Israeli army spokesperson reportedly said that the army had “no intention of escalating matters,” and that the tunnel had yet to become operational when forces blew it up, according to Ynet news. … Israeli officials have accused Hamas of “preparing” for another war with Israel and have threatened retaliatory measures against the Gaza Strip as a whole. However, despite Hamas’ inflammatory rhetoric against Israel, the movement has not officially claimed responsibility for any military action from Gaza against Israel since the 2014 war. While the tunnels in Gaza are used by Hamas as a source of tax revenue and inflow of weapons, they also supply highly demanded necessities for Gazans — who have been trapped under Israeli siege for a decade — including food, medicine, and much-needed infrastructure materials….
http://www.maannews.com/Content.aspx?id=779414

Gaza vows to respond to Israeli air raids
Al Jazeera 31 Oct — Palestinian armed groups have vowed to respond to Israel’s attack  on a tunnel in a southern town of the Gaza Strip late on Monday that left at least seven people dead and nine others wounded. “We will exercise our right to respond – this is our duty,” Daoud Shehab, a leader in the Islamic Jihad movement, told Al Jazeera, adding that it is a legitimate right of resistance groups to respond. Palestinian media said that the tunnel in Khan Younis had been hit by the Israeli air force. “Reports said Israel fired five missiles at the tunnel that was being dug east of Khan Younis and which Israel claims was leading to its territory,” Palestinian news agency Wafa said. Israeli officials said that the tunnel near the border wall, which was in the process of being built, was destroyed after being monitored for some time. The Ministry of Health in Gaza officially identified five of those killed as members of the al-Quds Brigades, the military wing of the Islamic Jihad movement and two others as members of Hamas’ Izz Eddine al-Qassam Brigades. Hamas decried the attack as the “latest Zionist crime”. “Resisting the occupation in all its forms is a natural right guaranteed for our people,” the movement said in a statement. Meanwhile, Fatah, the West Bank-based political party of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, called for dialogue between Palestinians to discuss the best response to the Israeli bombardment. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu hailed what he called “breakthrough technology” in dealing with tunnel threats….
http://www.aljazeera.com/news/2017/10/gaza-vows-respond-israeli-air-strikes-171031051951560.html

Tensions rise after Israel blows up tunnel from Gaza
[with map] GAZA CITY, Palestinian Territories (AFP) 31 Oct by Sakher Abou El Oun — Tensions rose Tuesday after an Israeli operation to blow up a tunnel from the Gaza Strip killed seven Palestinian militants in one of the deadliest incidents since a devastating 2014 war. The seven men, from the armed wings of Gaza’s rulers Hamas and allied group Islamic Jihad, were killed Monday when Israel blew up the tunnel it said had crossed into its territory and was intended for attacks. They were buried Tuesday in their respective Gaza Strip neighbourhoods. Hamas leader Ismail Haniya appeared at a funeral in central Gaza attended by a few thousand people, witnesses said, while senior Hamas figure Khalil al-Hayya spoke at one in the southern part of the strip. “(Hamas) knows how to manage the conflict with the enemy and how to get revenge and strike at the time and place that hurts the enemy,” Hayya said, according to a statement.
Hamas and Israel have fought three wars since 2008, and the last conflict in 2014 was waged in part over tunnels from Gaza that were used to launch attacks. Israel said it had been monitoring the digging of the tunnel for an unspecified length of time and was forced to act after “the grave and unacceptable violation of Israeli sovereignty”. It said the operation was carried out on the Israeli side of the border and stressed it was not seeking a further escalation. No tunnel opening had been found on the Israeli side. The tunnel ran from the vicinity of the city of Khan Younis in the Gaza Strip, Israeli’s military said …
Both Haniya and Palestinian prime minister Rami Hamdallah spoke of ensuring the reconciliation pact remains on track. “The response to this massacre… is to move forward towards the restoration of national unity because the enemy realises our strength is our unity,” Haniya said … An army spokesman said Monday Israel used advanced technology to locate the tunnel, but declined to elaborate.
https://www.yahoo.com/news/tensions-rise-israel-blows-tunnel-gaza-112525692.html

Violence / Detentions — West Bank / Jerusalem

Israeli forces shoot Palestinian siblings, killing 1, near West Bank settlement
BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) 31 Oct — Israeli forces on Tuesday shot two Palestinian siblings near the illegal Israeli settlement of Halamish, northwest of Ramallah in the northern occupied West Bank, killing the brother and wounding the sister. The Palestinian Ministry of Health confirmed that Muhammad Abdullah Moussa, 26, from the village of Deir Ballout, west of Salfit, died on his way to an Israeli hospital after soldiers opened fire at his car. His sister, Latifa, 33, was injured in the shoulder and was reported to be in moderate condition.The Israeli army claimed that the soldiers opened fire at a “suspicious” car near the settlement.
http://www.maannews.com/Content.aspx?id=779415

PA Foreign Ministry condemns ‘extrajudicial killing’ of Palestinian
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 31 Oct — Following the deadly shooting of a Palestinian and the injury of his sister on Tuesday, The Palestinian Foreign Ministry condemned Israeli forces for what they called an “extrajudicial execution” and demanded an immediate investigation into the shooting. Israeli forces opened fire on two Palestinian siblings while they were driving along a road parallel to the illegal settlement of Halamish, northwest of Ramallah, killing the driver and wounding his sister. The victims were identified as Muhammad Musa, 26, and his sister, Latifa, 33, from Salfit-district village of Deir Ballout. According to official Palestinian Authority (PA) Wafa news agency, Muhammad was left to bleed at the scene before being taken to an Israeli hospital, where he was pronounced dead. His sister Latifa was taken to a Palestinian hospital in Ramallah.
Following the shooting, the Israeli military reportedly said they opened fire on a “suspect” vehicle that approached the soldiers in a “suspicious manner.” The ministry released a statement condemning the “extrajudicial execution” and the “deliberate medical negligence” practiced by the Israeli military against Palestinians. The statement said that while the victims were “on their way as usual” to Ramallah, “all of a sudden they were shot at by Israeli forces without any reason and without posing any threat to the soldiers.” “This reaffirms that Israeli soldiers have come to serve as machines for killing Palestinians following the Israeli government’s decisions and military instructions, turning the occupied Palestinian territories and checkpoints into a killing training field,” the ministry said. The statement called on human rights organizations to document this “heinous crime,” which the ministry said should be prosecuted in international courts. It also condemned the international community’s “inaction” and called upon the United Nations to “investigate this crime and hold the murderers and those who cover up the crime accountable.”….
http://www.maannews.com/Content.aspx?id=779416

Soldiers injure a Palestinian, abduct two others, in Jenin
IMEMC 30 Oct — Israeli soldiers and undercover officers invaded, earlier Monday, the northern West Bank city of Jenin, and Jenin refugee camp, shot and injured a Palestinian driver, and abducted two young men from their homes. The head of the Emergency Department of the Red Crescent in Jenin, Mahmoud Sa‘adi, said the undercover Israeli soldiers opened fire at a Palestinian who was driving a garbage collection truck, and wounded him in the leg, in addition to causing damage to the vehicle. He added that Red Crescent medics rushed to the scene, and provided the wounded man with the urgently needed treatment, before moving him to a hospital in Jenin.
Furthermore, many soldiers invaded Jenin refugee camp, before breaking into and searching many homes, and abducted two young men, identified as Yousef Abu as-Seba’ and Ahmad Fadel Qassem, in their twenties. Many Palestinians protested the invasion, and the abductions, while the military fired many live rounds and rubber-coated steel bullets.
On Sunday evening, soldiers and police officers invaded the al-‘Isawiya town, in the center of occupied Jerusalem, and photographed several homes and buildings, an act which precedes the issuing of demolition orders.
http://imemc.org/article/soldiers-injure-a-palestinian-abduct-two-others-in-jenin/

Israeli colonists open fire on Palestinian farmers near Hebron
IMEMC 30 Oct —  Several extremist Israeli colonists opened fire, on Monday morning, at many Palestinians picking their olive orchards, in the Masafer Yatta area, south of Hebron, in the southern part of the occupied West Bank. Rateb Jabour, a nonviolent activist against Israeli colonies in Hebron, said the colonists came from Ma’on illegal colony, which was installed on private Palestinian lands. Jabour added that the assailants fired several live rounds at Palestinians picking their olive trees, in their own lands, in the al-Hamra area, near the at-Tiwani Palestinian village, close to the illegal colony. He also said that, although the Israeli attack did not lead to any physical injuries, it caused anxiety attacks among the Palestinians who feared further violations.
http://imemc.org/article/israeli-colonists-open-fire-on-palestinians-farmers-near-hebron/

Clashes erupt as hundreds of settlers pray at Nablus-area holy site
NABLUS (Ma‘an) 1 Nov — Dozens of Palestinians suffered from severe tear gas inhalation while several others were injured with rubber-coated steel bullets in the predawn hours of Wednesday, after clashes erupted between Palestinians and Israeli forces in the northern occupied West Bank city of Nablus. Hundreds of Israeli settlers raided Joseph’s Tomb, near the Balata refugee camp in eastern Nablus, on Wednesday before dawn to perform religious rituals, under protection of Israeli army forces. Sources at the Palestinian Red Crescent told Ma‘an that their medical teams aided 25 Palestinians suffering from tear-gas suffocation and two “youths” who were injured with rubber-coated steel bullets. The two injured youths were transferred to the Rafidiya Governmental Hospital in Nablus for treatment. Security sources added that Israeli forces detained a Palestinian, identified as Wael al-Hashash, during the raid….
Israeli settlers frequently visit Joseph’s Tomb under the protection of Israeli forces. During the visits, Israeli forces regularly raid Palestinian villages in the area and fire tear gas canisters into the nearby Balata refugee camp. Joseph’s Tomb is revered by Jews, Muslims, Christians, and Samaritans alike. The Israeli military allows Jews to visit as part of organized pilgrimages, despite the site being located in Area A where the Palestinian Authority (PA) has full control, and prohibits Muslims from worshiping at the site.
Ultra-orthodox and nationalist Jews regularly try to visit the shrine without approval, as many Jews believe the tomb to be the final resting place of the biblical figure in the Old Testament. Palestinians believe that Joseph’s Tomb is the funerary monument to Sheikh Yousif Dweikat, a local religious figure.
http://www.maannews.com/Content.aspx?id=779418

Israeli forces suppress protests marking Balfour Declaration centenary
[with photos] BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 1 Nov — Clashes erupted between Palestinians and Israeli forces in Bethlehem city on Wednesday following a march commemorating the 100th anniversary of the Balfour Declaration, the 1917 document which supported establishing a Jewish state on what would become British Mandate Palestine, and paved the what for the to the establishment of Israel. Palestinian protesters marched from the southern to northern ends of the city, until they reached Israel’s separation wall. Protesters set up an effigy of Arthur Balfour, the author of the declaration, beating and throwing shoes at the figure while burning a copy of the declaration. Members of various Palestinian political factions had called for the march in protest of the 100 year anniversary of the declaration, and of recent comments by British Prime Minister Theresa May celebrating the centenary of the declaration. Israeli forces quickly suppressed the protest, using live ammunition, rubber-coated steel bullets and tear gas, injuring one with a rubber-coated steel bullet in the foot, while several others suffered from severe tear gas inhalation.
[See more about reactions to the Balfour Declaration under Other News below]
http://www.maannews.com/Content.aspx?id=779422

Israeli soldiers abduct two children near Bethlehem
IMEMC 31 Oct –Israeli soldiers invaded, Tuesday, the al-Khader town, south of the northern West Bank city of Bethlehem, and abducted two children. Mohammad Salah, the coordinator of the Popular Committee against the Annexation Wall and Colonies in al-Khader, said dozens of soldiers invaded the Old City, especially around the schools’ area, and fired many gas bombs and concussion grenades. The soldiers also abducted two children, identified as Ali Mohammad Issa, 13, and Ramzi Ayman Sobeh, 13, near their homes.
http://imemc.org/article/israeli-soldiers-abduct-two-children-near-bethlehem/

Soldiers invade many homes, stores, abduct on Palestinian and injure six children in Shu‘fat
IMEMC 2 Nov — Dozens of Israeli soldiers invaded, Wednesday, many Palestinian homes and stores in Ras Shehada Area, adjacent to Shu‘fat refugee camp, in occupied East Jerusalem, searched them and abducted a Palestinian after destroying his furniture, in addition to wounding six children. Media sources in Jerusalem said the soldiers stormed and ransacked many homes in the refugee camp, and abducted Fuad Khatib, after causing damage to his furniture and belongings. The sources added that the soldiers also invaded several stores, including a photography shop, and confiscated computers. Following the invasion and the violent searches, many youngsters hurled stones at the army, while the soldiers fired many gas bombs and rubber-coated steel bullets. Medical sources said six children were shot with rubber-coated steel bullets, and were moved to local clinics.
http://imemc.org/article/soldiers-invade-many-homes-stores-abduct-one-palestinian-and-injure-six-children-in-shufat/

One night’s arrests:
Israeli forces detain 26 Palestinians in overnight raids
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 30 Oct — Israeli forces detained at least 26 Palestinians during predawn raids Monday in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem, according to Israeli and Palestinian sources. The Palestinian Prisoner’s Society (PPS) said in a statement on Monday that 23 Palestinians were detained from the West Bank and East Jerusalem, while an Israeli army spokesperson told Ma‘an that 26 Palestinians were detained from the West Bank. According to United Nations documentation, Israeli forces conducted 196 search and arrest operations across the West Bank, including nine children, between October 10 and October 23.
Northern West Bank — According to PPS, Israeli forces arrested nine Palestinians from the northern West Bank Tulkarem district. Local sources told Ma‘an that the detainees were identified as Mahfouth Abu Aisha, Mutasem al-Muhr Abu Laila, Mumen Daameh, Muhammad Nidal Aref, Asaad Safuri, Muntaser al-Badda, Munther Mershid Mhanna, Ihab al-Ajuz and Ali Shihadeh.
Israeli forces reportedly detained a minor in the Nablus district, according to PPS. Locals told Ma‘an that Muhannad al-Shilleh from the Ras al-Ein area in Nablus City. PPS added that two Palestinians were detained from the Jenin district.
Central West Bank & East Jerusalem —
According to PPS, two Palestinians were detained from the Ramallah district. Locals told Ma‘an that three Palestinians were detained from the Salfit district, and identified them as brothers Adham and Ahmad Haitham Suboh and Suhaib Ibrahim Bakr from the al-Zawiyeh town. In East Jerusalem, PPS said that Israeli forces detained Amal Abu Sneineh, 40, and that no reason was given for her detention. Forces also detained two Palestinians from the Old City of East Jerusalem.
Southern West Bank — Daoud Salameh al-Jawarish was detained by Israeli forces from the town of Beit Jala in the Bethlehem district. PPS reported that four university students were detained from the Hebron district. Local sources identified them as Bilal Jihad Amr from the Dura town, Ghazi Farouq al-Masalmeh from Beit ‘Awwa, Udayy Saadi Ikhlayyil from Beit Ummar, and Muhammad Abu Salameh from Dura.
http://www.maannews.com/Content.aspx?id=779407

Prisoners / Indictments

Palestinian prisoner gets ’10 minutes’ to see dying son
Al Jazeera 31 Oct by Zena Tahhan —  A Palestinian political prisoner was given “10 minutes” to visit his terminally ill teenage son, according to his family. The visit between Rajab Tahhan, who is serving a life sentence, and his son, Majd, who suffers from leukaemia, took place on Monday morning at the Hadassah hospital in Jerusalem. The family said that the Israeli court handling the case placed difficult conditions on them for the visit to happen. “They said that no one is allowed in the same room as Majd when his dad walks in,” Bassem Tahhan, the boy’s uncle, told Al Jazeera. “This was very difficult because Majd cannot be left alone for a second. He must have an attendant with him 24 hours a day due to his condition.” Rajab’s story caught media attention when his son’s health began to severely deteriorate earlier this month. In his 19 years, Majd has spent only two years and eight months in total with his father, who has been repeatedly imprisoned by Israel. According to the family, the father did not recognise his son, whose physical features had changed drastically due to the cancer. “It was a shock for him to see his son like that. He kept asking Majd who his grandfather, uncle, and other family members were to make sure that it was him,” said Bassem. “When the visit was over, Majd started shouting in joy, ‘I saw my dad! I saw my dad.'”….
http://www.aljazeera.com/news/2017/10/palestinian-prisoner-10-minutes-dying-son-171031063121905.html

Four Palestinian detainees on hunger strike for freedom
IMEMC/Agencies 31 Oct — Several Palestinian prisoners are continuing their hunger strikes for freedom as of Monday, 30 October. Hassan Shokeh, 29, of Bethlehem, has been on hunger strike for 20 days against his imprisonment without charge or trial under Israeli administrative detention. Shokeh was detained by occupation forces on 29 September, less than a month after he was released from his prior imprisonment on 31 August. He has spent several years in Israeli prison under administrative detention and on charges of membership in Islamic Jihad. Bilal Diab, 32, from Kafr Ra‘i near Jenin, has been on hunger strike for 14 days against his own administrative detention without charge or trial. Jailed since 14 July, Diab has been repeatedly seized by the Israeli occupation. He conducted a 78-day hunger strike alongside fellow detainee Thaer Halahleh in 2012 to win his freedom. His strike was sparked after his appeal for his freedom was denied on 17 October; the next hearing in his case is scheduled on 30 November.
In addition, reports were released in the past day that a third prisoner has also been on hunger strike for 14 days, Hamza Marwan Bouzia, 27, of Kifl Hares near Salfit. A former prisoner who served over seven years in Israeli prisons, he has also been subject to re-arrest by occupation forces and ordered to administrative detention without charge or trial. Also joining the hunger strike is Mosab Said, 28, from Bir Zeit, on hunger strike demanding his return to Megiddo prison after he was transferred; he launched a hunger strike five days ago, after Israeli occupation authorities violated an agreement to transfer him. He has been detained since 12 March and is a journalist and media activist as well as a former prisoner….
http://imemc.org/article/four-palestinian-detainees-on-hunger-strike-for-freedom/

Israel charges two West Bank Palestinians for murder of 70-year-old Jew
Haaretz 29 Oct by Revital Hovel et al. — The prosecutor’s office filed an indictment on Sunday against two West Bank Palestinians arrested by the Shin Bet for the suspected murder of Reuven Shmerling. Shmerling, a 70- year-old resident of the settlement of Elkana was murdered on Sukkot, and his body was found in the Israeli Arab town of Kafr Qasem on October 4 in a warehouse belonging to his son. On Sunday, it was revealed that the two Palestinians murdered Shmerling in revenge for the death of their friend, Ahmed Abu Al-Roub, who was killed while attempting to carry out a stabbing attack, and in connection to tensions during the Temple Mount crisis. Suspects Yusef Khaled Mustafa Kamil, 20, and Mohammed Ziyad Abu al-Roub, 19, from the northern West Bank village of Qabatiyah, were arrested in the beginning of October by the Shin Bet, the IDF and the police special anti-terror unit. The Shin Bet spokesperson said that investigations showed that the two planned to perpetrate a stabbing attack in order to kill Jews, with nationalist motivations, in revenge for the death of their friend. The IDF spokesperson said that as part of the operation in their village of Qabatiyah, their houses were identified and a demolition order has been placed on one of them…..
https://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/.premium-1.819669

Gaza

IDF using Facebook to threaten to destroy Gaza family’s home
+972 mag 30 Oct by Edo Konrad — The army says Hamas built a tunnel under a six-story apartment building that houses the Hammad family, threatening to destroy it. Most of the family has already fled — On August 10, Yoav Mordechai, commander of the IDF’s Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT), announced on the unit’s Arabic Facebook page that the IDF had discovered two tunnels built by Hamas, which has ruled the Strip since 2006, under both an apartment building and a nearby mosque in the town of Beit Lahiya, in the northern Gaza Strip. In his post, Mordechai warned the residents living in and around the six-story apartment building — home to 21 members of the Hammad family, including four women and 12 children — that Hamas was using them as “human shields,” and thus their lives are now in danger due to a potential Israeli military strike on the area. According to Adalah—The Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel, some of the family members fled the building in response to the threats. The less fortunate ones, who had nowhere to go, stayed behind. That same day, Israel’s Channel 10 published aerial imagery of the building along with remarks made by Israel’s Southern Command Chief Eyal Zamir, who reiterated the claim that Hamas had been digging tunnels under the home, without providing any evidence. Several days later, Omar Hammad, the owner of the building, received a phone call from an individual who identified himself as a member of Israeli military intelligence, who proceeded to inform Hammad that he and his family’s lives were in danger … Adalah and the Gaza-based Al Mezan Center for Human Rights have both called on the IDF to immediately halt its threats against the family and other civilians in Gaza, which they say violate international law….
https://972mag.com/idf-using-facebook-to-threaten-to-destroy-gaza-familys-home/130443/

Israeli forces wound 5 civilians, including 3 children, in northern Gaza Strip
PCHR 30 Oct — Israeli forces stationed inside military watchtowers east of Jabalia in the northern Gaza Strip opened fire and wounded 5 Palestinian civilians, including 3 children, when the soldiers targeted dozens of civilians who were about 200 meters away from the border fence without posing any threat to the Israeli forces. This indicates that Israeli forces continue to use excessive force against Palestinian civilians. According to the Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR’s) investigations, at approximately 16:30 on Friday, 27 October 2017, Israeli forces stationed in the watchtowers, east of al-Shuhadaa’ Cemetery, east of Jabalia in the northern Gaza Strip, fired live and rubber-coated metal bullet and tear gas canisters at dozens of civilians, who were near the border fence and threw stones at the Israeli soldiers in protest against the Israeli closure imposed on the Gaza Strip. Clashes continued until approximately 18:30 on the same day. As a result, 5 civilians, including 3 children, were directly hit with tear gas canisters. The wounded civilians were identified as: ….
http://imemc.org/article/israeli-forces-wound-5-civilians-including-3-children-in-northern-gaza-strip/

In key step, Hamas gives up control of Gaza border crossings
GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip (AP) 1 Nov by Fares Akram — The Islamic militant group Hamas on Wednesday handed over control of Gaza’s border crossings with Israel and Egypt to the internationally recognized Palestinian Authority, taking the first tangible step toward implementing a reconciliation deal with the rival Fatah movement. After a decade of Hamas rule, the group’s security forces and border control agents were seen pulling away from the crossings that facilitate the movement of cargo and people in and out of Gaza. Representatives of the Fatah-dominated Palestinian Authority quickly took up positions. “From now on, we have no relationship with crossings and our employees are not present inside them,” Mohammed Abu Zaid, the Hamas-appointed director of crossing points, told reporters…
In Israel, Maj. Gen. Yoav Mordechai, who heads COGAT, the defense body responsible for Palestinian civilian matters, instructed senior officers to meet with Palestinian Authority representatives to discuss the changes at the border crossings. “The meeting will define the joint working processes, the Israeli security demands and criteria for the crossings with an emphasis on having no presence of any Hamas official and anyone on its behalf operating the crossings or be adjacent to them,” his office said.
Even so, changes on the ground were quickly visible. Just outside the Erez crossing at the Israeli border, a large Hamas checkpoint, where people were inspected and interrogated when traveling in and out of Israel, was closed. Hamas officers loaded the furniture and equipment onto pickup trucks that rolled away. Other Hamas workers dismantled trailers used as offices. Palestinian Authority representatives quickly moved into the area. At the Kerem Shalom cargo crossing, trucks loaded with construction materials, fruits and consumer goods started trickling into Gaza. Raed Fatouh, a Palestinian Authority official, said tariffs and taxes were now being collected by his government, without additional fees Hamas had imposed. Kerem Shalom has been the prime financial lifeline for Hamas in recent years, generating millions of dollars in revenue each month that it used to pay its employees.
One of the biggest tests will be whether the Palestinians successfully reopen the Rafah border crossing with Egypt, the main gateway for Gaza’s 2 million people to travel abroad. Egypt has shuttered the crossing for most of the past 10 years. At the crossing, huge posters of Egyptian President Abdel-Fatah el-Sissi and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas hung outside the departure hall, beside a giant Egyptian flag. Hamas withdrew all of its officers from the crossing, and Palestinian officials and Egyptian intelligence officials stood as the national anthems played. Azzam al-Ahmad, a senior Fatah official, said Rafah will reopen in two weeks. The hope is that a European monitoring team will be posted on the crossing, reviving an internationally backed arrangement approved in 2005….
https://www.washingtonpost.com/national/in-key-step-hamas-gives-up-control-of-gaza-border-crossings/2017/11/01/96654962-beec-11e7-9294-705f80164f6e_story.html

Egyptian army destroys cross-border tunnels with Gaza
CAIRO (Anadolu Agency) 31 Oct by Aydogan Kalabalik — The Egyptian army has destroyed three cross-border tunnels linking Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula to the blockaded Gaza Strip, a military spokesman said Tuesday. In a statement posted on Facebook, Army Colonel Tamer al-Rifai said the army had demolished three tunnels found under Egypt’s border with the Hamas-run coastal enclave. Due to a decade-long blockade imposed by both Israel and Egypt, the Gaza Strip’s roughly 2 million inhabitants have come to rely on a sophisticated network of cross-border tunnels to import basic commodities, including food, fuel and medicine….
http://aa.com.tr/en/middle-east/egyptian-army-destroys-cross-border-tunnels-with-gaza/952848

VIDEO: Gaza still faces electricity crisis despite reconciliation
Al Jazeera 30 Oct — Many Palestinians in Gaza were hopeful that life conditions would improve after a reconciliation agreement between rival groups Hamas, Gaza’s rulers, and Fatah, which governs the West Bank. But electricity in Gaza is still being rationed to four hours per day, three weeks after the deal. It had originally been cut on the orders of the Palestinian Authority’s President Mahmoud Abbas to force Hamas to the negotiating table. The Palestinian Authority says the electricity supply will improve but are yet to say when, bringing normal life to a standstill. Al Jazeera’s Bernard Smith reports from Gaza.
http://www.aljazeera.com/news/2017/10/gaza-faces-electricity-crisis-reconciliation-171030163230616.html

Injured in airstrike, 12-year-old Gaza girl finds help, hope in Georgia
ATLANTA (Fox) 30 Oct — We’am Al Astal may be 6,500 miles from her home in Gaza, but the 12-year-old seems right at home with her Atlanta host family, drawing pictures and reading stories. Lina Shehadeh, We’am’s host mother, says you’d never know from looking at her, how much We’am has endured in the last 3 years. “She keeps a permanent smile on her face,”  Lina Shehadeh says.  “She’s very easygoing, very loving.  Very well behaved, and I’m so lucky to have her in my family.” Speaking through a translator, We’am says she remembers the day that changed her life, July 21st, 2014 very clearly.  She was 9, running an errand with her dad. “My dad had bought a new television set, and while we were on our way home, while I was walking, I was struck by an airstrike,” she says. “And, it was me and my dad and my four cousins.” The explosion injured We’am’s left leg so shattered, it had to be amputated. Her right leg was injured, too. But, she’s made peace with being an amputee. “It’s what God wanted,” Al Astal says.  “It’s what he meant for me to happen.” “When I see her walking, it just breaks my heart,” her host mother Lina Shehadeh says. That’s because the very basic prosthetic leg We’am was given back in Gaza hasn’t been easy to use, especially for a child. “It’s not very functional; it’s very long,” Shehadedh says. “I feel it’s very uncomfortable and very heavy to walk with.” We’am Al Astal agrees.That’s why the Palestine Children’s Relief Fund teamed up with Childspring International to bring We’am Al Astal to Georgia … Georgia Prosthetics has volunteered to create a new artificial leg for We’am, at no cost to her family….
http://www.foxla.com/health/injured-in-airstrike-12-year-old-gaza-girl-finds-help-hope-in-georgia

WFP and Spain join forces to assist poor Palestinians in Gaza with food vouchers
JERUSALEM (WAFA) 31 Oct — A contribution of €300,000 from Spain has enabled the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) to provide much-needed food and nutrition assistance to nearly 23,000 vulnerable Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, most of them women and children, said a WFP press release. The support has improved their dietary diversity and helped them cope with one of the worst energy crises there of the past decade, said the release. Since April, daily electricity outages of 18 to 20 hours have severely affected the availability of essential services such as health, water and sanitation, and undermined Gaza’s fragile economy. They have also impacted employment opportunities and the livelihoods of Gaza’s two million residents. The contribution has also enabled WFP to hold nutrition and health awareness sessions for 5,700 people, including 3,200 women, who have been taught best cooking and hygiene practices….
http://english.wafa.ps/page.aspx?id=tddBPWa92311475223atddBPW

Land, property theft & destruction / Ethnic cleansing / Settlements

Opinion: A yawn – that’s how Israelis respond to land theft / Amira Hass
Haaretz 1 Nov — What would have happened had unidentified individuals in Iran, France or Venezuela attacked Jewish shopkeepers and forced them to close their shops? What apologies and expressions of shock our diplomats would have demanded from the European Union, the United Nations and who knows who else. And with what glee various researchers would have drawn a graph of global hatred and been interviewed at length, with grave expressions, about the worrisome anti-Semitic characteristics – so reminiscent of a dark past – of robbing Jews of their livelihood and destroying their property. But for we Israelis, this rhetorical question has lost its power to educate, embarrass and shame. The fact that so many Israelis are involved in robbing so many Palestinians of their livelihood doesn’t even register on our seismographs … According to complementary reports by the UN’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs and two nongovernmental organizations, Rabbis for Human Rights and Yesh Din, over the past few weeks, unidentified individuals have stolen olives from more than 1,000 trees in 11 Palestinian villages in the West Bank – ‘Azmut, ‘Awarta, Yanun, Burin, Qaryut, Far‘ata, Jit, Sinjil, Al-Magheir, Al-Jinya, Al-Khader. Moreover, unidentified individuals, who looked like Jews, assaulted harvesters from the villages of Deir al-Khattab, Burin, As-Sawiya and Kafr Kalil and drove them from their orchards. Aside from in Burin, where the army located some of the Jewish thieves and returned the harvest to its owners, these thefts meant that an investment of time, money and effort had gone down the drain….
https://www.haaretz.com/opinion/.premium-1.820274

Israeli settlers steal Palestinian olive harvest in Nablus area
NABLUS (Ma‘an) 1 Nov — Israeli settlers reportedly stole the harvest of hundreds of Palestinian olive trees in the northern occupied West Bank, local sources told Ma‘an on Wednesday. Ghassan Daghlas, an official who monitors settlement activity in the northern West Bank, told Ma‘an that Israeli settlers stole olives off 280 trees on Palestinian lands near the illegal Israeli settlement of Shave Shomron. Daghlas said that the lands belonged to Salim Daoud Abu Safat (45 trees), Sabri Hamad Abu Safat (70 trees), Abd al-Jabbar Amin Mustafa (60 trees), Fahmi Marie (50 trees) and Bashir Salim (55 trees). Several reports of Israeli settlers stealing olive pickings from Palestinian lands have emerged since the beginning of the harvest season, with NGO Rabbis for Human Rights reporting on a “massive wave” of thefts, which they described as “hate crimes.” The Palestinian government has no jurisdiction over Israelis in the West Bank, and acts carried out by Israeli settlers often occur in the presence of Israeli military forces who rarely act to protect Palestinian residents.
http://www.maannews.com/Content.aspx?id=779421

Israeli soldiers demolish four sheds, car repair facility, near Jenin
IMEMC 31 Oct — On Tuesday, several Israeli army jeeps, and bulldozers, invaded Barta‘a town, south of the northern West Bank city of Jenin, and demolished four sheds and a car repair facility, allegedly for being built out of the town’s zoning area. Media sources in Jenin said the demolished the sheds are owned by Tha’er Jaradat, Mustafa Saba’na and Khaled Waked, while the car repair facility is jointly owned by Mohammad Omar Kabaha and Hasan Ahmad Kabaha. The Israeli military said the demolished buildings did not receive permits from the “Civil Administration Office, which runs the military occupation in the occupied West Bank, and that they are located “outside the town’s zoning area.” The village is isolated by the Annexation Wall, while the military controls its only gate and frequently closes it, or delays traffic, forcing the Palestinians to wait, in many cases, for hours just to be allowed to pass.
http://imemc.org/article/israeli-soldiers-demolish-four-sheds-car-repair-facility-near-jenin/

Palestinian ‘Pompeii’ in Jerusalem could face destruction
JERUSALEM (AP) 31 Oct by Areej Hazboun and Ilan Ben Zion — A 10-minute walk from the bustle of Jerusalem’s central bus station, Lifta‘s crumbling remains are a sanctuary of silence. Residents of the former Palestinian village on the western edge of the city fled during the war surrounding Israel’s independence in 1948, and today it is one of the few depopulated Palestinian villages that was neither demolished nor re-inhabited. Now, the overgrown skeletons of buildings face a new threat: luxury apartments. Opponents want to preserve the town as an historic site. Until 1948, Lifta was an affluent Muslim Palestinian village of around 2,500 abutting the main road connecting Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. Fighting between Jewish and Palestinian militias took place in and around Lifta in December 1947, including an attack on a cafe that left seven dead, prompting its residents to flee, according to historical accounts. After the war, the village was incorporated into the state of Israel, and the residents were not allowed to return. Mohammed Abu Eleil, 78, grew up in Lifta, though his family moved elsewhere in Jerusalem a year before hostilities broke out. As he wandered through the remnants of his home village with his 55-year-old son Nasir on a recent day, he recalled the “peaceful and good life” in the Lifta of his childhood. “Nothing is more precious for the Arab man than his house,” Abu Eleil said. “It is true that death is a disaster, but leaving or being expelled from your house is the biggest calamity for the Arab man.” … The Abu Eleils are involved with “Save Lifta,” a coalition of Israeli and Palestinian environmentalists, political activists and researchers that has battled the development plan in Israeli courts for the past several years. Ilan Shtayer, the organization’s coordinator, likened Lifta to Pompeii — “frozen in time.”….
https://www.usnews.com/news/world/articles/2017-10-31/palestinian-pompeii-in-jerusalem-could-face-demolition

BDS / Solidarity

Citing BDS, Israel bars entry to Amnesty staffer
EI 31 Oct by Ali Abunimah —  Israel has retaliated against Amnesty International over its call for a global ban on settlement goods by denying entry to one of its staffers. The human rights group said that Raed Jarrar, Amnesty USA advocacy director for the Middle East, was stopped at the Allenby Bridge crossing on Monday as he tried to enter the occupied West Bank from Jordan for a family visit following the recent death of his father. “He was interrogated by Israeli officials about the reasons for his visit, his family in the [occupied Palestinian territories], his work with Amnesty International and in particular the organization’s work denouncing Israeli settlements in the West Bank, before being denied entry and returned back to Jordan,” the group said on Tuesday. In June, Amnesty called on governments around the world to “ban Israeli settlement products to help end half a century of violations against Palestinians.” Israel’s interior ministry confirmed to media that Jarrar had been barred due to “his [boycott, divestment and sanctions] activities.” … Israeli authorities cited similar reasons last year when they denied entry to Isabel Apawo Phiri, the associate general secretary of the World Council of Churches. Phiri, a national of Malawi, was the only African traveling with her delegation, and the only person singled out and denied entry. Similarly, Jarrar, who is of Palestinian descent, was traveling with an Amnesty colleague, Alli McCracken, who was not denied entry. “Prior to joining Amnesty International, Raed Jarrar had visited Israel and the [occupied Palestinian territories] four times and had never been denied entry,” Amnesty said. “Alli McCracken had been to the West Bank six times before and has taken part in solidarity events such as the annual olive harvest.”….
https://electronicintifada.net/blogs/ali-abunimah/citing-bds-israel-bars-entry-amnesty-staffer

Award-winning filmmakers donate film screening proceeds to BDS movement
IMEMC/Agencies 31 Oct — Award-winning British filmmakers Ken Loach, Rebecca O’Brien and Paul Laverty of Sixteen Films have donated all proceeds from screenings of their latest film in Israeli venues to the Palestinian BDS National Committee (BNC), as a gesture of support for the Palestinian struggle for freedom, justice and equality. Vincent Maraval, from the sales company Wildbunch, was also instrumental in making this happen. The team’s film “I, Daniel Blake” was screened in Israel against their wishes. Inspired by the cultural boycott of apartheid South Africa, the BDS movement appeals to conscientious artists to refrain from performing in Israel and to refuse participation in events sponsored by the Israeli government or entities complicit in Israel’s egregious human rights violations, until Israel meets its obligations under international law. The BDS movement does not expect artists who heed the Palestinian call for cultural boycott to do anything beyond their control to isolate Israel’s regime of oppression. This team at Sixteen Films creates films that bear witness to grave injustices and brim with integrity, love and human solidarity. They look at the brutality of power head on, and never lose hope in the capacity of decent people acting together to transform the world, to make it kinder and more beautiful….
http://imemc.org/article/award-winning-filmmakers-donate-film-screening-proceeds-to-bds-movement/

Canadian sues over wines labeled ‘Product of Israel’
Al Jazeera 31 Oct by Dalia Hatuqa —  A Canadian university lecturer and radio broadcaster has filed a suit in federal court challenging the inaccurate labeling of wines made in illegal Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank and exported to Canada as a “Product of Israel”. David Kattenburg, a 62-year-old Winnipeg resident and son of Holocaust survivors, had previously submitted a complaint in late March to the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) about its labeling procedures, indicating that the grapes used were grown in the occupied West Bank and processed in wineries outside of Israel’s formal borders. “These falsely labeled products trouble me as a consumer,” Kattenburg said in July after he filed the original complaint. “Canadians have a right to know that [a product] is made in Israel, if it’s made in some other place. This is a matter of concern. They have the right to truthful labeling.” Canadian food inspectors initially agreed with Kattenburg’s reasoning and issued a directive to liquor stores on July 11 to stop selling wines made in the occupied West Bank. But within hours, the agency backtracked, saying it “regrets” the directive it had issued, noting that the Canada-Israel Free Trade Agreement (CIFTA) overrode domestic consumer protection laws … The bilateral trade agreement’s provision that the agency references identifies Israel as “the territory where its customs laws are applied,” and not its internationally recognised border. Trade between Israel and Canada has tripled to $1.6bn since the agreement was expanded in 2014….
http://www.aljazeera.com/news/2017/10/canadian-sues-wines-labelled-product-israel-171031110612575.html

After 98 days in prison, IDF releases conscientious objector
+972 Blog 30 Oct — Israeli conscientious objector Noa Gur Golan was released from military prison Sunday after 98 days behind bars for refusing to serve in the occupation. She was granted an exemption for what the IDF termed “serious misconduct.” Gur Golan, 19, from Netanya, refused to serve in the IDF due to her pacifist beliefs, and because she believes that she must actively work to reduce violence and bring about peace. She has previously stood before a conscientious objector committee, which rejected her request for exemption. Despite her pacifist ideology, Gur Golan, demanded to be recognized as a conscientious objector (who are less easily granted exemption from the conscientious objector committee than pacifists). Like other conscientious objectors, she was supported by Mesarvot—Refusing to Serve the Occupation, a grassroots network that brings together individuals and groups who refuse to enlist in the IDF in protest at the occupation. “After 98 days in military jail, I am leaving with my head held high, proud of my ‘serious misconduct’….
https://972mag.com/after-98-days-in-prison-idf-releases-conscientious-objector/130439/

Other news

A century on, UK’s Jewish homeland declaration stirs celebration and mourning in Middle East
LONDON/JERUSALEM (Reuters) 1 Nov by William James & Jeffrey Heller — In a 67-word statement composed 100 years ago, Britain endorsed the establishment of a Jewish homeland in the Middle East, triggering a process that would culminate in the creation of Israel – and with it one of the world’s most intractable conflicts. On Thursday British and Israeli leaders will commemorate the centenary of that statement, known as the Balfour Declaration after the foreign minister who penned it, with a banquet in the gilded halls of London’s Lancaster House mansion. But as Prime Minister Theresa May and Israel’s Benjamin Netanyahu dine, protesters in London and the Palestinian Territories will gather to demand that Britain acknowledge the suffering they say the declaration has caused to Palestinian people, and recognize their claim to statehood. “The reason it is getting so much attention is because the conflict which it launched … is still very much in existence and there is a sense, particularly on the Palestinian side, of continuing injustice,” said Ian Black, an academic at the London School of Economics. “It really is an issue which is alive and toxic and bitterly divisive.” While Israel reveres Arthur Balfour, naming streets and a Tel Aviv school after him, Palestinians decry his declaration as a promise by Britain to hand over land it did not own. The contested declaration is at the root of the Israeli-Palestinian territorial conflict which, after several wars and decades of international diplomacy, remains unsettled. According to advanced excerpts of her speech, May will say at the banquet: “I believe it (the declaration) demands of us today a renewed resolve to support a lasting peace that is in the interests of both Israelis and Palestinians – and in the interests of us all.”….
http://www.reuters.com/article/us-britain-israel/a-century-on-uks-jewish-homeland-declaration-stirs-celebration-and-mourning-in-middle-east-idUSKBN1D2008

VIDEO: Banksy holds Balfour apology party for Palestinians
AFP 1 Nov – Secretive British street artist Banksy held a special event Wednesday to apologise for the 100th anniversary of the Balfour Declaration outside his hotel in the occupied West Bank
http://www.gettyimages.nl/detail/video/secretive-british-street-artist-banksy-held-a-special-nieuwsfootage/869371088

Banksy holds Balfour ‘apology party’ for Palestinians
BETHLEHEM, Palestinian Territories (AFP) 1 Nov by Shatha Yaish — Secretive British street artist Banksy held a special event Wednesday to apologise for the 100th anniversary of the Balfour Declaration outside his hotel in the occupied West Bank. The typically surreal event involved 50 children hosted by an actor dressed as Queen Elizabeth II for a British-style tea party. Their party hats were bullet-riddled helmets with British flags on them, while tattered Union Jacks were flown. The queen revealed a plaque carved in concrete saying “Er, Sorry,” playing on the common initials for Elizabeth Regina. The apology was etched into Israel’s controversial separation wall, which in many areas cuts through Palestinian territory. The children were descendants of Palestinians forced to flee their land in the 1948 war surrounding the creation of Israel. Thursday marks the 100th anniversary of the Balfour Declaration, when the British government said it viewed “with favour the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people”. Palestinians see the document as giving away their homeland, while Israelis see it as helping pave the way to the founding of their country at a time when Jews were facing persecution elsewhere. “This conflict has brought so much suffering to people on all sides. It didn’t feel appropriate to ‘celebrate’ the British role in it,” Banksy said in a statement.”The British didn’t handle things well here — when you organise a wedding, it’s best to make sure the bride isn’t already married.” Gemma Bell, a British woman among a group who walked part of the way from London to Jerusalem to apologise for their government’s role in Balfour, hailed the work. “It’s what we should expect from Banksy — brilliant, unpredictable, dramatic and really getting that message home.” The British government has said it will mark Thursday’s anniversary “with pride”, with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to attend a dinner in London with his British counterpart Theresa May.
https://www.yahoo.com/news/banksy-holds-balfour-apology-party-palestinians-115156725.html

Palestinian students slam Balfour celebration to PM May
Al Jazeera 2 Nov — Thousands of Palestinian students have written letters to British Prime Minister Theresa May decrying the Israeli occupation, on the occasion of the Balfour Declaration centenary.Their messages will be submitted at the British consulate in Jerusalem on Thursday, November 2, 2017, exactly 100 years after Britain promised help in creating a “national home” for the Jewish people in Palestine. “The main goal is to give these high school students a chance to express themselves about the Balfour Declaration,” Sadeq al-Khaddoor, Palestinian Authority ministry of education spokesman, told Al Jazeera. “We want to show that we are able to express our views in a peaceful way, despite the injustice that has happened to our people.” In the correspondence, some children question why that injustice has persisted and say they cannot live in peace like other children across the world. Some ask why the UK does not recognise a Palestinian state, and demand answers as to why the UK will not go back on its declaration. The students also express gratitude to Britons who have demonstrated solidarity with the Palestinian people. One girl from Tubas wrote that her dying grandfather’s only wish was that Britain take back its promise.
http://www.aljazeera.com/news/2017/11/palestinian-students-slam-balfour-celebration-pm-171101231131231.html

Israeli and Palestinian ministers meet in Trump peace push
JERUSALEM (AFP) 31 Oct — Israel and Palestinian officials held a rare high-level meeting in Ramallah as the United States seeks to kickstart stalled peace efforts, officials said on Monday. President Donald Trump’s special envoy for international negotiations, Jason Greenblatt, wrote on Twitter that the meeting on Sunday night in the West Bank city of Ramallah was attended by Palestinian prime minister Rami Hamdallah, Israeli Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon and senior Israeli defense ministry official Yoav Mordechai. “Important progress last night between Israeli & Palestinian sides,” Greenblatt tweeted. “Meaningful steps forward on key economic issues — revenues, customs, and investment — that help support the search for peace,” he added. Mordechai’s office confirmed his participation in the talks but said no more. Official Palestinian news agency WAFA said that Palestinian finance minister Shukri Bishara also took part as well as head of intelligence Majid Faraj. WAFA said the meeting covered Israeli settlement building in the occupied West Bank, its blockade of the Gaza Strip and joint economic projects. WAFA said the talks dealt with a number of issues, “foremost of which is the settlement campaign, lifting of the siege of the Gaza Strip and financial issues related to the financial entitlements of the Palestinian National Authority.” Israeli newspaper Haaretz said the gathering was the second by the same participants in the past six months. It said that one project on the table was for an industrial zone adjacent to the southern West Bank village of Tarkumia which would employ local Palestinians and Israeli settlers. Greenblatt and Trump’s Middle East envoy and son-in-law Jared Kushner have been ferrying between Israeli and Palestinian leaders for months….
http://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2017/10/31/Israeli-and-Palestinian-ministers-meet-in-Trump-peace-push.html

Palestinian presidency rejects Haaretz report
Al Jazeera 30 Oct — The Palestinian presidency has refuted a report quoting Israeli politicians as saying that Mahmoud Abbas told them he would not appoint Hamas figures to his cabinet if they did not publicly recognise Israel. Abbas’ alleged comments were made in a meeting with 12 ex-Israeli members of parliament who visited him on Sunday in the occupied West Bank city of Ramallah, the Israeli daily Haaretz said in an article published on Monday. In response, Abbas’ Fatah party later in the day issued a short statement on its social media platforms, which noted: “The presidency denies the remarks attributed to the president by ‘Haaretz'”. The statement by Fatah also pointed to reporting by al-Mayadeen news channel, which quoted sources in the Palestinian presidency as saying that Abbas assured the delegation that “the Palestinian government is abiding by international agreements” … Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said that his government would refuse any diplomatic talks with the unity government if Hamas had any role in it … But Fatah spokesman Osama Qawasmeh told Al Jazeera that the agreement is an “internal Palestinian matter” that will help bring peace. “The deal that we signed with Hamas talks about building a Palestinian state on the June 4, 1967, borders – which is in line with international law,” Qawasmeh said when asked the comments made by Jason Greenblatt, the US president’s special representative for international negotiations. “Israel is trying through its allies to pressure the Palestinian leadership. We declare that our decision is a Palestinian, independent, national decision, and we will not go back to division,” he added.
http://www.aljazeera.com/news/2017/10/palestinian-presidency-rejects-haaretz-report-171030124327009.html

Birthright orders trip providers to end meet-ups with Israeli Arabs
Haaretz 2 Nov by Judy Maltz — Birthright, the organization that brings young Jewish adults on free, 10-day visits to Israel, has instructed its trip providers to stop including meetings with Israeli Arabs on their itineraries … Two years ago, Birthright launched a new program aimed at fostering connections with Israeli Arabs. The idea was to provide participants with a more comprehensive picture of Israeli society. Prior to that, the organization would often come under criticism for not including meetings with non-Jews on its trips and for providing participants with a largely one-sided view of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Birthright mandates that all of its trips include meetings with Israeli soldiers. Known as “mifgashim,” Hebrew for “encounters,” the sessions are considered a hallmark of the trips. Typically, the soldiers who participate spend five days on the bus with their respective Birthright groups. Sources familiar with the decision-making process at Birthright speculated that the decision to drop meetings with Arab-Israelis from the itineraries might have been prompted by feedback from the soldiers, who sometimes feel uncomfortable during these encounters. It was also likely, they suggested, that the new directive reflected the wishes of Birthright’s donors. Birthright’s single largest donor today is casino-magnate Sheldon Adelson, a major supporter of the Republican Party and of Israel’s right-wing government. Adelson and his associates have long insisted, however, that he does not intervene in any way in Birthright’s itineraries … Birthright, which was established in 1999, has already brought more than 500,000 young Jews on trips to Israel, and is expecting a record 48,000 participants this year. It is considered one of the most successful Jewish projects of all times….
https://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/.premium-1.820506

Opinion: In Ramallah, vibrant arts, culture and literature build Palestinian sanctuary / Amira Hass
Haaretz 24 Oct — Despite awareness of the Israeli barbed wire, cultural activity builds the illusion of sovereignty or independence. From the spirited city, Palestine is almost whole — The plethora of cultural events in Ramallah last Saturday evening created quite a dilemma. Should you go to Khalil Sakakini’s cultural center to watch short international films, part of the annual Days of Cinema festival, or watch the short films at the municipal theater competing for the festival’s top prize? Should you go to the opening of the “Metamorphosis” exhibition, displaying the work of Umm al-Fahm artist Karim Abu Shakra at the Zawiyah Gallery in El Bireh, or the launching of the book “Ottoman Ramallah, 1515-1918” by Samih Hamuda (a Birzeit University lecturer born in Bethlehem) and published by the Institute for Palestine Studies? Discussing the book were the author and the always fascinating researchers Nazmi Al Jubeh and Salim Tamari. This event took place at the entrance level of the municipality building at the same time the art exhibition was opening. Adding to your frustration, at the same time the Barenboim-Said Institute was holding a concert at the Edward Said Auditorium in the building of the Palestinian Medical Relief Society. Wherever people live, there is art and creativity and people seeking to enrich themselves in this way. In Ramallah, as anywhere else, creativity is also an expression of the continuity of society’s existence, even when the subject matter is expulsion and disintegration….
https://www.haaretz.com/opinion/.premium-1.818911

Time Out Tel Aviv examines Palestinian culture amid hardship
RAMALLAH/TEL AVIV (Reuters) 30 Oct by Hamouda Hassan & Elana Ringler — Instead of its usual artsy or humorous front page, this week’s special edition of Time Out Tel Aviv sports an image of an Israeli security barrier so high it blots out the horizon. It also has a different name: Time Out Ramallah. The issue marks 50 years since Israel’s occupation of the Gaza Strip and the West Bank and its content also drastically departs from Time Out Tel Aviv’s normal fare of arts and entertainment in Israel’s cultural hub. Stories provided by freelance Palestinian reporters and photographers shed light on the hardships of life and culture in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. A Gazan correspondent tells of soirees timed around daily power cuts; in the West Bank, a rare woman DJ awaits an elusive permit to perform in Israel. “Most of the readers and a lot of Israelis don’t know what is happening now in Ramallah and Hebron and Bethlehem,” editor Nof Nathansohn said at her office. All three West Bank cities are within 130 km (80 miles) of Tel Aviv, Israel’s free-wheeling metropolis on the Mediterranean.“They don’t know how the art scene looks, music, city life. And we want to expose our readers to life under occupation that is just half an hour drive from here in Tel Aviv,” Nathansohn told Reuters. “I hope that knowing the other side … will help create a change and make Israeli people think about it more.” But as evidenced by the lack of ads – Time Out Tel Aviv’s source of income, allowing the weekly to be distributed for free – this edition is a political display, not a commercial crowd-pleaser. “We won’t make money, but we truly believe this is the right thing to do,” Nathanson said … Just getting the Palestinian journalists past checkpoints to meet their Israeli counterparts was a challenge, Nathanson said. Internal Palestinian politics also pressured some of the freelancers, who published articles without bylines lest they be accused at home of “collaborating” with Israel … In Tel Aviv, one of the most socially and politically liberal places in Israel, the issue was getting a positive response….
https://in.reuters.com/article/us-palestinians-israel-magazine/time-out-tel-aviv-examines-palestinian-culture-amid-hardship-idINKBN1CZ1KC

Women rule the stage at DC’s Palestinian film and arts festival
+972 Blog 31 Oct by Christa Blackmon — For the first time in its seven-year run, the annual DC Palestinian Film and Arts Festival brings live performances to the stage, highlighting the role of women in storytelling In an age of increased reliance on digital media, and when diaspora identities are being formed through the lenses of cameras, live oral performances remain a vital tool of cultural transmission. Perhaps that is why the DC Palestinian Film and Arts Festival, as it entered its seventh year this past month, added a new addition to its schedule: live performances. While the majority of the festival’s agenda has traditionally been made up of films and talks with filmmakers, this was the first year the DCPFAF team was invited to stage a live revue at the Kennedy Center’s Millennium Stage, which included a theatrical monologue penned by DCPFAF co-founder and Palestinian-American legal scholar Noura Erakat, in addition to another live storytelling event put on by Palestinians Podcast. Every year, the festival seeks to include Palestinian-Americans from all geographic origins. Erakat and the Palestinians Podcast founder Nadia Abuelezam are both originally from the Bay Area in California, while storyteller Andrew Kadi grew up in Brooklyn, and storyteller Samar A. Najia immigrated to Virginia from Lebanon. “So much of the program wasn’t turath,” says Erakat. “These are iterations of being Palestinian-American.” The word turath, Arabic for heritage, is meant to reference an established cultural tradition of relating Palestinian stories. That is not to say that Palestinian-Americans are not honoring older traditions, but rather they are creating new ones for their particular time and place. These performances, after all, are done in the same physical space as the audience — they are literally live….
https://972mag.com/women-rule-the-stage-at-dcs-palestinian-film-and-arts-festival/130456/

Trump taps head of anti-Palestinian group as top civil rights enforcer
EI 27 Oct by Nora Barrows-Friedman —  In a troubling move for students and Palestine rights activists, the Trump administration has tapped Kenneth Marcus as the top civil rights enforcer at the US Department of Education. He will lead the department’s Office for Civil Rights. Marcus is the head of the Brandeis Center for Human Rights, an Israel advocacy group that has for years worked to smear Palestine solidarity activism as anti-Semitism. It has no affiliation with the better known Brandeis University. Since 2010, Marcus’ key strategy has been to file civil rights complaints with the Office of Civil Rights claiming that universities were failing to protect Jewish students by not cracking down on the Palestine solidarity movement, especially the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement for Palestinian rights. The tactic was unsuccessful. But now, Marcus himself will be in charge of investigating such complaints.
https://electronicintifada.net/blogs/nora-barrows-friedman/trump-taps-head-anti-palestinian-group-top-civil-rights-enforcer

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About Kate

American; political science major, M.A.; former ISM volunteer in the West Bank

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