Netanyahu spreads fake news to incite against Palestinian citizens
MEMO 30 Apr — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has been accused of spreading “fake news” in order to incite against Palestinian citizens, after the premier shared a widely-debunked story on Facebook. According to the Times of Israel, Netanyahu posted to his Facebook page a news story from a right-wing news site, which claimed fans of Bnei Sakhnin “whistled and booed” during a minute of silence held before a league match Saturday in memory of ten teenagers killed in a hiking accident. “An utter disgrace,” Netanyahu wrote yesterday along with a link to the article. “I expect that all public leaders, Jews and non-Jews, to forcefully condemn this embarrassing behaviour.” However, the team – which hails from a Palestinian town in the Galilee – angrily hit back at the report, saying no such thing happened. “It is very worrying that the prime minister rushed to respond to lies and to respond to those who are seeking to spread abuse and lies,” a club spokesperson said in a statement, accusing Netanyahu of “trampl[ing] on the difficult pain of the families for the purpose of dividing Israeli society.” In addition, both the Israeli football league and soccer league and members of the opposing team “all maintained that there had been no disruption” by fans….
Palestinian forum convenes after 22 years, beset by division
RAMALLAH (Reuters) 30 Apr by Ali Sawafta et al. — A powerful but rarely convened assembly that calls itself the Palestinian “supreme authority” met for the first time in 22 years on Monday, with boycotts and rifts suggesting it will struggle to achieve its stated goal of unity. In a two-hour opening address to the Palestinian National Council (PNC) President Mahmoud Abbas criticised U.S. President Donald Trump’s decisions last year to recognise Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, and to move the U.S. Embassy to the city … U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo suggested on Monday he was open to a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian dispute, saying a “two-party solution” was likely in his first extensive comments on peace efforts since taking the job last week … Abbas is expected to use the four-day meeting of the PNC to renew his legitimacy and to install loyalists in powerful positions to begin shaping his legacy. The 82-year-old leader told the 600 PNC members present that the council – powerful but little-known outside Palestinian political circles – was “very important because it protects the Palestinian dream.” However his handling of the meeting has met with widespread criticism – about the location of the session, its timing and who is and is not attending. Islamist groups have boycotted it, and earlier on Monday Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh dismissed the session as a “clapping party” for Abbas. “Is it logical that the PLO be the sole representative of the Palestinian people when it does not include Hamas and Islamic Jihad?” asked Haniyeh. Hamas defeated Abbas’s western-backed Fatah in parliamentary elections in 2006 and has been locked in rivalry with it since….
Abbas warns of unspecified ‘tough steps’ against Israeli, US
RAMALLAH, West Bank (AP) by Mohammed Daraghmeh— Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on Monday told the PLO parliament, which was meeting for its first full session since the 1990s, that he plans to take unspecified “tough steps” soon against Israel and the United States. Abbas told hundreds of delegates that he is sticking to his rejection of any U.S. proposals for an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal following the Trump administration’s recognition in December of contested Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and a decision to move the U.S. Embassy there in mid-May. “This is completely unacceptable,” he told the Palestinian National Council members during the opening of their four-day meeting in the West Bank. “We will not accept this deal, and we will not accept the U.S. as the sole broker.” Abbas appeared to dismiss media reports quoting Saudi Arabia’s powerful crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman, as saying the Palestinians should stop complaining and accept what they are being offered by the Trump administration. Abbas did not refer to those reports specifically, but said he has been assured that Saudi Arabia remains supportive of the Palestinian positions. “We hear lots of rumors,” he told the delegates. “Don’t believe them.” The 83-year-old Abbas warned that he might “take tough steps in the near future in our relationship with our neighbors (Israel) and the Americans.” He did not elaborate, but said they would be important and far-reaching. In rambling comments bound to trigger a backlash in Israel, Abbas also spoke about his views of history, portraying the creation of Israel as a European colonial project. “The truth is that this project is a colonial project aimed at planting foreign bodies in the region,” he said. “But this does not mean we should uproot them. We should co-exist with them on the basis of a two-state solution.”
Palestine: Democratic Front to take part in PNC meeting
MEMO 30 Apr — The Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (DFLP) announced yesterday that it is taking part in the Palestinian National Council (PNC) meeting being held in the occupied West Bank city of Ramallah today, the Palestinian Information Centre reported. In a press conference, the DFLP stressed the importance of reviving the Palestinian Liberation Organisation (PLO) and reactivate its role, ending the Palestinian Authority’s control of it. The DFLP announced that its only nominee for the PLO Executive Committee is Tayseer Khalil, who has “accumulated expertise in this regard”. Meanwhile, it stressed the importance of holding PNC meetings regularly.
Hamas: PNC meeting ‘blatantly violates the unity of our people’
MEMO 30 Apr — Holding the Palestine National Council meeting “does not convey unity in a practical way”, the head of Hamas’ political bureau, Ismail Haniyeh, said today. The PNC, he continued, “does not reflect the nation as a whole, but rather blatantly violates the unity of our people and the legitimacy of the organisation and questions its ability to represent our people.” In a speech delivered today, Haniyeh said that “what [Palestinian Authority President] Abu Mazen is doing confirms the exclusion of the active forces in the Palestinian arena.” He pointed out that most of the active Palestinian forces and factions boycotted this council, hence reflecting the division. “The real aim behind holding the conference reflects the poor plots which are made and that our people have rejected,” Haniyeh added….
Hamas accuses PA over bomb attempt on its own premier
GAZA CITY (AFP) 28 Apr — Gaza’s Islamist leaders Hamas on Saturday publicly accused the rival Palestinian Authority (PA) of planning an assassination attempt against the head of its own government. PA prime minister Rami Hamdallah was unhurt when a roadside bomb hit his convoy during a rare visit to Hamas-controlled Gaza last month. Hamdallah heads the PA’s West Bank-based government under the presidency of Mahmud Abbas. The explosion put an end to an already faltering reconciliation agreement between Hamas and secularists Fatah, which dominates the PA. Afterwards Abbas accused Hamas of carrying out the bombing. But on Saturday a spokesman for the Hamas interior ministry in Gaza accused senior PA security officials of orchestrating the attack to destabilise the coastal territory. “Investigations have shown that senior figures in the General Intelligence Service in Ramallah are the engine of subversive cells that are working to undermine security in the Gaza Strip,” spokesman Iyad Buzum told a press conference….
On Labor Day, 400,000 Palestinians are unemployed, says labor chief
BETHLEHEM (WAFA) 1 May by Anan Shehadeh – As the world marks on Tuesday the International Labor Day – May 1, at least 400,000 Palestinians are unemployed, most of them new graduates, and 320,000 Palestinian families live below the poverty line, according to the secretary general of the General Federation of Palestinian Labor Unions Shaher Saad. He told WAFA that 45% of young Palestinians have not had a chance to work and 95% of the Palestinian industries in the West Bank and Gaza lack real operational capabilities. Saad said workers in Palestine are spread between the private and public sectors and a good number of them work in Israel and in Israeli settlements. He said 150,000 Palestinians work in the public sector and are protected under Palestinian law, and 200,000 work in the private sector, many of them facing problems and getting unfair wages below the minimum wage set by the government. In addition, 150,000 Palestinians work in Israel and its West Bank settlements, with only 66,000 of them are legal with work permits and they are concentrated in the construction, industry, agriculture and services sectors. Some 35,000 Palestinians work illegally in Israel without any rights and are often swindled and forced to work long hours….
Palestinian-American wins unified world kickboxing title
PHILADELPHIA, May 1, 2018 (WAFA) – Rami Zaidan Ibrahim, an American of Palestinian origin, became on Sunday the only American and the only Palestinian to ever win a unified USKA/WKA kickboxing world title fight after defeating New Zealand champion Quade Taranaki in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. “Tonight I became the only UNIFIED WORLD CHAMPION in America. All praise and glory due to God,” Ibrahim wrote in his Instagram page, where he also announced his retirement from the game. “I came into this fight with a mission, a mission to please my mom, because as a Muslim, Islam teaches me that the doors of heaven is (sic) at the footsteps of our mothers. For 27 years my mother has seen me fight, traveled with me around the world, for over 2 decades I’ve given her high blood pressure from being so worried and scared for me. For years now she’s been begging me to retire,” he wrote. Ibrahim, who was born in Kuwait in 1982 and then immigrated to the United States in 1990 after the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait, got his first title in the world of kickboxing in 1994 before participating in tournaments in the US and around the world….
Bin Salman to Palestinians: Accept US deal or ‘shut up’
MEMO 30 Apr — Saudi Crown Prince Mohamed Bin Salman has rebuked Palestinians once again by telling a US-based Jewish group that “it is about time the Palestinians take the proposals and agree to come to the negotiations table or shut up and stop complaining.” The remarks are said to have been made during a closed door meeting with heads of Jewish organisations in New York last month where Bin Salman is reported to have sharply criticised Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, according to Israeli sources who cited an Israeli foreign ministry cable sent by a diplomat from the Israeli consulate in New York, as well three sources — Israeli and American — who were briefed about the meeting. Bin Salman repeated a common narrative, usually used to justify ongoing colonisation of Palestine which places the blame for failed negotiations squarely on the shoulders of the Palestinian leadership as opposed to the continued occupation, settlement construction and the opposition to a Palestinian state by large sections of the current Israeli coalition led by Benjamin Netanyahu. The Israeli prime minister himself is one of many rejectionists that staunchly oppose the international formula for peace based on international law. “In the last several decades the Palestinian leadership has missed one opportunity after the other and rejected all the peace proposals it was given. It is about time the Palestinians take the proposals and agree to come to the negotiations table or shut up and stop complaining,” Bin Salman is reported to have said by Axios. According to the Israeli paper, Bin Salman made two other points on the Palestinian issue during the meeting. He made clear the Palestinian issue was not a top priority for the Saudi government or Saudi public opinion and secondly he said that for Saudi Arabia and other Gulf countries to normalise relations with Israel there will have to be significant progress on the Israeli-Palestinian peace process….
Ex-Egypt official: Israel did ask for land swap for peace with Palestinians
MEMO 30 Apr — Former Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul-Gheit has for the first time confirmed that Israel has on numerous times requested land swaps in an effort to resolve the Palestine-Israel conflict, Arabi21 reported yesterday. Aboul-Gheit, who is currently the secretary of the Arab League, revealed he witnessed the land swap request that was repeated four times. He did not say who else requested the land swap. “There were some illusions between 2003 and 2006,” he said, while giving a speech for the Egyptian army marking the liberation of Sinai. “I was a witness to these requests when I was a foreign minister. They said: Let’s exchange lands with you.” Several times Israeli officials, analysts and Arab researchers and writers have spoken about land exchange between Israel and Egypt as part of the peace process to resolve the Israel-Palestine issue. Israel has never officially confirmed this and Egypt has never recognised it. The revelation comes at a time when the US is putting the final touches on its “deal of the century” to resolve the 70-year-old conflict. It is expected that the transfer of Palestinians to Sinai will be one of the terms of America’s peace deal.
Jordan, Israel, Palestinians in rare Japan-hosted meeting
AMMAN, Jordan (AP) 29 Apr — The Japanese foreign minister has presided over a rare meeting of Israeli, Palestinian and Jordanian officials to push ahead with an agro-industrial park intended to enhance cross-border trade and cooperation. Taro Kono, the Japanese minister, acknowledged late Sunday that it “has not been easy for the four parties to get together under current circumstances.” Israel and Jordan only recently patched up relations after a months-long diplomatic crisis. Officials from Israel and the Palestinian self-rule government in the West Bank meet only intermittently because of ongoing deadlock in peace efforts. Sunday’s meeting focused on the Japan-backed Jericho Agro-Industrial Park in the West Bank, near an Israeli-controlled border with Jordan. Twelve companies operate at the park, launched more than a decade ago. Kono says he hopes more will join, including Japanese firms.
Three Palestinians who were killed by the army Sunday identified
IMEMC 1 May — The al-Mezan Center for Human Rights has reported that the three Palestinians who were killed by Israeli army fire Sunday have been identified, and added that the soldiers also abducted three other Palestinians a day earlier.
The slain Palestinians have been identified as Atiya Mohammad al-‘Ammawi, 20, Yousef Ahmad al-‘Ammawi, 18, from Khan Younis, and Yousef Jasser Abu Jazar, 16, from Rafah, in the southern part of the Gaza Strip. The Israeli army is holding their corpses and is refusing to transfer them back to the Palestinian side.
[The AP version of these events: “Israeli troops fatally shot two Palestinians who infiltrated the country from Gaza and attacked soldiers with explosives Sunday night, and in a separate incident killed another Palestinian who tried to breach the border, the military said. Another Palestinian was detained in the latter incident, and two more were caught trying to cross the border in a third case, the military said.” It’s rather difficult to sort out the various events.]
In addition, three Palestinians, identified as Ahmad Sami al-‘Ammawi, 26, Salim Younis Abu Thaher, 21, and Ibrahim Nabil Abu ‘Eid, were taken prisoner by the soldiers on Saturday after they reportedly crossed the border fence.
In related news, the soldiers shot on Monday evening a young Palestinian man with live fire in Khuza‘a town, east of Khan Younis, and another young man east of the al-Boreij refugee camp in central Gaza, and two others east of Gaza City.
Gaza wounded to be moved to West Bank hospital
RAMALLAH (WAFA) 29 Apr – Israel Sunday approved the transfer of a wounded Palestinian from the Gaza Strip to the West Bank to receive necessary medical treatment. According to the General Authority for Civil Affairs, Yusef Qatrawi was shot by the Israeli army forces during the protests along the Gaza borders. The bullets hit the thigh area and he might require amputation to save his life if he remains in the Gaza Strip. Qatrawi is scheduled to be moved Sunday night after extensive efforts were exerted from the Palestinian side to obtain approval for him to be moved to receive the appropriate medical care.
Israel has wounded 30 Palestinian athletes in Gaza
MEMO 30 Apr — Israeli occupation forces have shot and wounded 30 Palestinian athletes in the besieged Gaza Strip since the start of the “Great March of Return” on 30 March, the Palestinian Ministry of Youth and Sport revealed yesterday. Several were shot in the head and were in a critical condition, the ministry added. “A number of the wounded had their lower limbs amputated such as Alaa Al-Dali who was preparing to represent Palestinian in the Asia tournament.” In addition, he said that the footballer Mohamed Obaid was shot in both of his feet and is suffering severe damage in one of his knees.
Israeli forces target Palestinian farmers at Gaza border
GAZA (WAFA) 29 Apr – Israeli forces on Sunday opened machine gunfire on Palestinian farmers to the east of Gaza city, according to local sources. The forces opened fire at farmers while they were working in their farms near the border fence east of Gaza. No injuries were reported.
Meanwhile, the forces detained a Palestinian man from Gaza after he reportedly crossed the border fence on Gaza’s border with Israel.
Gunfire attacks by Israeli forces on Palestinian farmers are regular. Farmers are prevented from accessing their lands if located within 300 meters from the border between Gaza and Israel, which Israel has unilaterally declared as a buffer zone off to Palestinians.
Israeli navy targets fishermen offshore northern Gaza
GAZA (WAFA) 30 Apr — Israeli naval boats early Monday opened fire towards Palestinian fishermen offshore the northern besieged Gaza Strip, according to local sources. Israeli naval boats opened its machine gunfire towards Palestinian fishermen sailing within the four nautical miles fishing zone unilaterally imposed by Israel offshore the northern coastal enclave. No injuries were reported though.
Meanwhile, Israeli forces opened fire towards a group of people and farmers east of Khan Yunis in the southern Gaza Strip. No human casualties were reported though.
IDF claims most Gazan casualties were ‘accidental’
Mondoweiss 30 Apr by Yossi Gurvitz — A “senior officer” told Haaretz reporter ‘Amos Harel that most Gazans killed by the IDF since March 30th were killed accidentally, claiming that IDF snipers were aiming to wound them but that the protesters either bent down just as the sniper was pulling the trigger or were killed by shrapnel from the ground. This claim directly contradicts IDF’s official statement of 31st March, in which the army claimed that “nothing was carried out uncontrolled, everything was accurate and measured, and we know where every bullet landed.” The IDF later deleted the statement, presumably because of the legal culpability it carries, but a screen capture was taken in time. It’s worth noting that this is a usual practice by the IDF Spokesman: making an official claim and then having a “senior officer” giving another version, this time anonymously, so that it cannot be attributed to the IDF – and the army can hold both positions … The “senior officer’s” claim also takes Israelis on a trip down memory lane: the claim that Palestinians bent down just as they were shot and as a result were killed was common in the 1980s. I cannot recall when the claim was last made by an official with a straight face….
Israel’s open-fire rules on Gaza border challenged in court
JERUSALEM (AFP) 30 Apr — Israeli and Palestinian rights groups went to Israel’s Supreme Court on Monday in a bid to stop the army’s use of lethal force against Palestinians during protests and clashes on the Gaza border. Forty-eight Palestinians have been killed by Israeli fire on the frontier since the start of protests that organisers have dubbed the Great March of Return on March 30, with more than 1,500 wounded. No Israelis have been hurt. Five Israeli NGOs and the Gaza-based Al Mezan Centre for Human Rights argued that international law bars the use of lethal fire against unarmed demonstrators.
The Israeli government’s written response to the petitions says the Gaza protests are not peaceful civilian demonstrations but “part of the armed conflict between the state of Israel and the Hamas terrorist organisation.” It adds that live fire is only used as a last resort after non-lethal means have failed to stop actions it considers “a real danger” to Israeli troops and civilians living near the border with Gaza. Speaking in the packed Jerusalem courtroom Monday, attorney Suhad Bishara, representing Israeli rights group Adalah, said the facts indicated otherwise. “The great majority of those shot were at a distance from the (border) fence,” she said. “There is systematic use of lethal fire with no justification.” …
The judges gave each side until May 6 to submit written precedents in support of their arguments, after which it will deliver its ruling. The European Union and UN chief Antonio Guterres have called for an independent investigation into the deaths, but the Jewish state has rejected the idea. The United States, Israel’s strongest backer, has blocked moves for a probe at the United Nations.
Amnesty renews calls for arms embargo against Israel
MEMO 30 Apr — Amnesty International has renewed its call for an arms embargo to be imposed on Israel after soldiers responded violently to unarmed protesters on the Gaza border. Some 45 Palestinians have been killed in the past five weeks of demonstrations as part of the Great March or Return, three of whom died in separate incidents yesterday as they continued to protest at different areas of the border. Some 5,511 others, including at least 592 children have been wounded in what Amnesty called a “disproportionate response” to Gazans calling for their collective right to return to their homeland. “The time for symbolic statements of condemnation is now over. The international community must act concretely and stop the delivery of arms and military equipment to Israel,” Magdalena Mughrabi, Amnesty’s deputy regional director for the Middle East and North Africa, said in a statement. The international NGO detailed evidence of several cases where Israel has shot at Palestinians from behind, citing video footage of the deaths of 19-year-old Abdul-Fattah Abdul-Nabi and 14-year-old Mohammad Ayyoub, both of whom were shot in the back of the head as they ran away from the fence. Amnesty also noted the severity of many of the injuries caused by Israeli forces….
Organisers of Great March reply to US claims
MEMO 29 Apr — The international spokesperson for the Great March of Return, Dr Asad Abu Sharkh, on Saturday rejected claims by US ambassador to the UN, Nikki Haley, that the Islamic Resistance Movement – Hamas – has been using children as human shields. In a press statement released yesterday, the official accused Haley of unashamedly peddling the propaganda of the Israeli occupation army; “Haley keeps using such cheap propaganda to encourage the Israeli occupation to commit more crimes against the Palestinian people, including children.” While Israeli journalists like Gideon Levy have strongly condemned the occupation forces for its massacres, Abu Sharkh pointed out that the US ambassador has been justifying their crimes after they were “ordered to shoot to kill and maim.” The noble goal of this Great March of Return, the statement explained, “is to peacefully and nonviolently implement our right of return to the homes and property from which we were uprooted.” The Palestinian people “have been waiting for justice for the last seventy years and can wait no longer”, said Abu Sharkh.
Abbas says children should be kept away from Gaza border clashes
RAMALLAH (AFP) 30 Apr — President Mahmud Abbas called on Monday for Palestinians to keep their children from protests along the border between Israel and Gaza, warning of a “handicapped” generation. “Keep the young men from the border, move the children away, we do not want to become handicapped people,” he said in a speech in the West Bank city of Ramallah. Forty-eight Palestinians have been killed and hundreds injured by Israeli fire since regular protests and clashes broke out along the Gaza border on March 30. At least six of the dead have been aged 18 or younger. Speaking at the opening of a rare meeting of the Palestinian National Council, Abbas said he supported “peaceful” protests along the border, but wanted to “protect the next generation”. The deaths have led to criticism of Israel’s use of live ammunition. After a 15-year-old was killed, United Nations special coordinator for the Middle East peace process Nickolay Mladenov wrote on Twitter: “It is OUTRAGEOUS to shoot at children… #Children must be protected from #violence, not exposed to it.”
Opinion: Why I march in Gaza / Fadi Abu Shammalah
KHAN YOUNIS, Gaza Strip (NY Times) 27 Apr — … “Why are you going if you might get killed?” [my son] Ali pressed me. His question stayed with me as I went to the border encampment in eastern Khan Younis, the southern Gaza town where I live. It remained with me on the following Fridays as I continued to participate in the march activities, and it lingers with me now. I cherish my life. I am the father of three precious children (Ali has a 4-year-old brother, Karam, and a newborn baby brother, Adam), and I’m married to a woman I consider my soul mate. And my fears were borne out: 39 protesters have been killed since the march began, many by sniper fire, including a 15-year-old last week and two other children on April 6…
So why am I willing to risk my life by joining the Great Return March? There are multiple answers to Ali’s question. I fully believe in the march’s tactics of unarmed, direct, civilian-led mass action. I have also been inspired by how the action has unified the Palestinian people in the politically fractured Gaza Strip. And the march is an effective way to highlight the unbearable living conditions facing residents of the Gaza Strip: four hours of electricity a day, the indignity of having our economy and borders under siege, the fear of having our homes shelled. But the core reason I am participating is that years from now, I want to be able to look Ali, Karam and Adam in the eye and tell them, “Your father was part of this historic, nonviolent struggle for our homeland.”
Western media’s coverage of the Great Return March has focused on the images of young people hurling stones and burning tires. The Israeli military portrays the action as a violent provocation by Hamas, a claim that many analysts have blindly accepted. Those depictions are in direct contradiction with my experiences on the ground….
We were tense, we were fearful — indeed, I’ve been in the proximity of people getting shot and tear-gassed — but we were joyful. The singing, the dancing, the storytelling, the flags, the kites and the food are more than symbols of cultural heritage. They demonstrate — clearly, loudly, vibrantly and peacefully — that we exist, we will remain, we are humans deserving of dignity, and we have the right to return to our homes. I long to sleep under the olive trees of Bayt Daras, my native village. I want to show Ali, Karam and Adam the mosque that my grandfather prayed in. I want to live peacefully in my historic home with all my neighbors, be they Muslim, Christian, Jewish or atheist….
For Gaza protesters, living or dying is ‘the same thing’
GAZA CITY (NY Times) 29 Apr by Iyad Abuheweila & David M. Halbfinger — …Say what you will about root causes and immediate ones — about incitement and militancy, about siege and control, about who did what first to whom — one thing is clear. More than a decade of deprivation and desperation, with little hope of relief, has led thousands of young Gazans to throw themselves into a protest that few, if any, think can actually achieve its stated goal: a return to the homes in what is now Israel that their forebears left behind in 1948. In five weeks of protests, 46 people have been killed, and hundreds more have been badly wounded, according to the Gaza health ministry. With its 64 percent unemployment rate among the young, Gaza, under a blockade maintained by Israel and Egypt for years, presents countless men like Mr. Gerim with the grimmest of options. They can seek an education in preparation for lives and careers that now seem out of reach, and hope for a chance to eventually emigrate. They can join groups like Hamas or Islamic Jihad, devoting themselves to armed conflict with Israel in return for a livelihood and a sense of purpose and belonging. Or they can stay home, staving off boredom by smoking shisha, a tobacco-molasses mix, or stronger stuff, and wait for things to change … “It doesn’t matter to me if they shoot me or not,” he said in a quiet moment inside his family’s tent. “Death or life — it’s the same thing.” The protests, with an outdoor festival’s schedule of fun and games, performances and creative programming — and carnage every Friday — is meant to build to a climax on May 15, the day Palestinians mark the Nakba, or catastrophe, of their flight and expulsion when Israel was established 70 years ago … [The protest] has been a success in one important respect: It has cast a light onto the unsolved problem that is Gaza, and reminded a world that had seemed to move on to more urgent crises that its two million people, deprived of clean water, freedom of movement and a steady supply of electricity, are sliding steadily into despair….
Opinion: Obedience is the ultimate patriotism / Amira Hass
Haaretz 1 May — Thousands of requests for exit permits from Gaza are gathering dust in the Israeli offices, because the rule is that the Gaza Strip is a camp for life prisoners — Reports are written in invisible ink, too, and for the price of one you receive two: You think it is X and then – with a slight heating up of the newspaper, the hidden article flashes between the lines: about the Israeli’s splendid immersion in the military orders. The unconcealed report will tell the story of a licensed pharmacist working in a hospital since 2000. She is 41 years old, a mother of four. Since 2015 she has been studying for the American Pharmacists Association’s exam in clinical pharmacology. This official certification will allow her to be much more involved in providing the proper treatment for patients, as well as being able to recommend alternatives in case of a shortage of medicines. The exam will be held Wednesday in Ramat Gan. Force majeure prevented her from taking the exam last October. You guessed right: The pharmacist is a Palestinian, and from Gaza of all places: Samaher Amira. The force majeure is the soldier/clerks in the Israeli District Coordination Office at the Erez Checkpoint. They did not even answer her first request for an exit permit to come to Israel to take the exam … Amira did not give up. She submitted her second request on February 12 this year, for Wednesday’s exam. When the soldier/clerks did not respond to this request, either, the NGO Gisha wrote on April 22 to the commander of the DCO, Col. Iyad Sarhan. Gisha’s letter mentions that each registration for the pharmacology exam costs $700, and is nonrefundable. This time an answer actually arrived, two days later, signed by 1st Lt. Roni Vaknin, a DCO public inquiries officer. “The authorized bodies decided to refuse [the request] because it does not meet the criteria,” went the reply….
Opinion: Why did the beautiful boy not reach 20? / Gideon Levy
Haaretz 29 Apr — No Israeli remained unmoved by the deaths of 10 teenagers from the Bnei Zion pre-military academy – nine young women and one young man – in a flash flood Thursday. Some societies react to this type of disaster with restraint. Israel responded with effusive outpourings of grief combined with the sacralization of death, as is its wont. Fair enough. The media, expert picking up on its consumers’ emotions and also at fanning them, performed its role, supplying expanded coverage with dozens of pages and pictures and giant headlines meant to tug the heartstrings: “In the flower of youth,” “Salt of the earth,” “How will we explain?,” “River of death,” “Deadly hike,” “Why?” and of course the life stories of the dead, all of them outstanding students, amazing children, the most beautiful flowers. Nor did the politicians pass up the opportunity: Their hearts were broken, they tweeted. There is something touching about a society that expresses such solidarity with its mourners, and perhaps it’s perfectly okay for media outlets to briefly fan the flames of these emotions.
But one could expect a society that so sanctifies and eulogizes its dead, uniting in the face of disaster, that glorifies the victims and laments their deaths, to be able to spare some empathy for the deaths of other people from this land, who die in sickening numbers by its hand … It sometimes seems as if Israel expresses grief for its dead in portions so great that they leave no room in its heart for a pinch of human feeling for the death of the other nation – its own handiwork. In the past several weeks, dozens of people around the same age as the teens who died in the Tsafit River have been killed. They too died on the sandy soil of the south; a two-hour drive is all that separated the two death sites. In the Tsafit River, young people died in a natural disaster; at the Gazan border, they die by human hand. Force majeure in a raging river, the force majeure of the ruling state at the border. The Gazan dead, too, were pure and innocent – how could a 15-year-old boy like Azzam Oweida, who died Saturday after being shot in the head Friday, not be pure and innocent – and they too could be called salt of the earth, salt of their earth and their people … And they too are mourned by an entire nation. Can Israelis at least understand and accept this? They too had parents, relatives and friends whose world fell apart, in their case when an army sniper shot them and stopped their heart….
Revocation of residency / Restriction of movement
Jerusalem residency revoked for three Palestinian MPs, one former minister
IMEMC/Agencies 1 May — Israeli occupation authorities decided, on Sunday, to strip four Jerusalemite MPs of their permanent residency, under the pretext of not being loyal to Israel. Lawyer Fadi al-Qawasmi said that Israeli Interior Minister Aryeh Deri decided to revoke the residency of MPs Mohammed Abu Tir, Ahmad Attoun, and Mohammed Toutah, as well as that of the former Minister of Jerusalem Affairs, Khaled abu-Arafa. In a statement, Al-Qawasmi said that the decision came after the Knesset approved a new bill, earlier in March, that allows the interior minister to strip any Jerusalemite of their residency rights if they are involved in “terrorism” or “anti-Israel acts”. According to al-Qawasmi, the Israeli Supreme Court, in mid-September of 2017, overturned a decision to revoke the residency of the Jerusalemite MPs. However, it decided to give the Israeli government a time limit to enact a law that gives the interior ministry the power to strip any Jerusalemite of residency. The Palestinian lawyer described the bill as “unfair” and “illegal,” adding that it was applied retroactively. He affirmed that he will return to Israeli courts, to oppose the decision….
For Palestinians, Israeli permits a complex tool of control
ETZION MILITARY BASE, West Bank (AP) 30 Apr by Karin Laub & Mohammed Daraghmeh — More than 300 Palestinians showed up at an Israeli military base in the West Bank recently, hoping they could win the lifting of security bans that prevent them for entering Israel. But they were also anxious. Talking in small groups, they recounted past experiences where some had been asked to spy on their neighbors in exchange for a permit — a gut-wrenching choice. Permits mean freedom of movement and higher-paying jobs in Israel, but those suspected of being informers are shunned or attacked by their communities. Those waiting outside the Etzion base had seized the offer of security ban reviews as a rare chance to access a secretive system. But they also feared that the roving “clearance campaign,” in which the military announces on Facebook which town is next, makes it more convenient for Israel’s Shin Bet security service to gather information about them. “They control the lives of the people, deciding who can come and who can go,” said Majed Ghayada, 35, one of those at the gate who learned of his security block last fall when his permit request was rejected, without explanation. Security bans are the hidden centerpiece of a permit system that Palestinians consider the ultimate tool of control in Israel’s half-century-old military occupation. The restrictions on Palestinians’ movements are well known. But the impact of the permit system reverberates in numerous ways, directly or indirectly affecting the lives of nearly all the 4.5 million Palestinians living in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Having a permit can determine where Palestinians work or study, whether they can visit relatives or afford to get married, even whom they marry….
Violence / Detentions — West Bank / Jerusalem
Shin Bet, police flailing as settler vandals run wild
[with map of villages affected] Haaretz 1 May by Yotam Berger — Thirteen cases of vandalism have been reported inside a month – and there’s only one arrest — The Toyota that entered the settlement of Yitzhar in the Nablus area last week attracted no attention, at first. The woman sitting in front wore a headscarf and the man wore a kippa, and the car’s bumper stickers displayed an affinity for the extreme right, such as one saying, “No Arabs, no terror attacks.” After driving a few hundred meters into the settlement, the car halted. Two police officers in civilian dress got out from the back, seized A., 15, who was walking around, and drove off. A. was taken for questioning. Undercover police officers disguised as settlers are a rare sight. The people of Yitzhar couldn’t recall an arrest like that … A.’s arrest provides a look at how the Shin Bet and police are trying to overcome the recent wave of “price-tag” attacks engulfing the West Bank. Over the past two weeks it seems the security forces have simply lost control. Since the arson attempt on a mosque after Holocaust Remembrance Day, Palestinians have been waking up almost daily to “price-tag” incidents and reporting them. In some cases, such as the ones after the teen’s arrest, the name of the settler “victim” was even spray-painted on a Palestinian car. Right-wing activists spray-painted the word “regards,” and also vandalized property, mainly vehicles and olive trees. The security forces seem to be having trouble pinpointing exactly what led to these incidents, which are happening at a rate not seen in years. They are occurring one after the other throughout the West Bank, but seem to be connected. The words used (the boy’s name and threats) are identical. Tires are always slashed. No one is ever apprehended. In some cases the perpetrators are seen on closed-circuit cameras, but their faces are masked and they can’t be identified. The security forces surmise that one reason for the wave of attacks is that new activists, very young, are joining the extreme right-wing bastions in the West Bank. According to a Shin Bet source, some are as young as 14 or 15, and have not been previously involved in violence … “There are two possibilities,” an extreme right-wing source very familiar with the actions of the “hilltop youth” told Haaretz. “Either the Shin Bet doesn’t want to catch them, or someone there knows what he’s doing.” Fifteen-year-olds, he said, are not capable of such actions throughout the West Bank every night without getting caught….
Israeli soldiers seriously injure a Palestinian man in Kufur Qaddoum
IMEMC 29 Apr — Israel soldiers shot and seriously injured a Palestinian man, Saturday, after the army attacked the weekly procession in Kufur Qaddoum village, east of Qalqilia, in the northern part of the occupied West Bank. Medical sources said the man, Waleed Barham, 55, was shot with a rubber-coated steel bullet in the head, while on his land. They added that the bullet fractured his skull, causing a serious injury, especially since the soldiers shot him from a close range. The man was rushed to a hospital in Nablus, also in northern West Bank, and was instantly admitted to surgery. The Popular Committee in Kufur Qaddoum said the soldiers invaded the village and resorted to the excessive use of force against local protesters, before chasing them in the olive orchards. On Friday, the soldiers attacked the protesters in Kufur Qaddoum, and fired live rounds, rubber-coated steel bullets and gas bombs.
Israeli army arrests 16 Palestinians in West Bank
RAMALLAH (WAFA) 29 Apr – Israeli forces arrested 16 Palestinians during predawn raids across the occupied West Bank on early Sunday morning, according to the Palestinian Prisoner’s Society (PPS). PPS said Israeli army arrested six Palestinians in Bethlehem district, three others from Salfit, three from Ramallah area, and two each from Qalqilia and Tubas districts.
Israeli soldiers abduct 22 Palestinians in the West Bank
IMEMC 30 Apr — The Palestinian Prisoners Society (PPS) has reported that Israeli soldiers abducted, Monday, twenty-two Palestinians from several parts of the occupied West Bank. The PPS said the soldiers invaded and violently searched many homes in various governorates [Ramallah, Nablus, Hebron, Qalqilia, Bethlehem, Jerusalem, Jenin] of the West Bank, before abducting twenty-two Palestinians, including two former political prisoners. One of the abducted Palestinians is a high-school student, identified as Karim Jamal Khader, from the Sawiya village, south of Nablus, and was taken prisoner while leaving the educational facility on Monday afternoon. The abducted Palestinians have been identified as: …
In addition, the soldiers abducted Khaled az-Zeer from Bab ar-Rahma historic graveyard, in the eastern side of the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem, after he and several Palestinians managed to enter the cemetery despite the closure and siege around it, as it has been subject to frequent Israeli violations. The graveyard, 23 dunams, includes historic Islamic graves, many dating back 1400 years, but Israel is planning to confiscate large areas of the site for its “National Gardens” project.
Land, property theft & destruction / Ethnic cleansing / Settlements
Israelis desecrate Muslim cemetery in Jerusalem in spite of objections
JERUSALEM (WAFA) 1 May — For the third day in a row, staff from the Israeli nature authority protected by police continued on Tuesday to desecrate an ancient Muslim cemetery [Bab ar-Rahma] just outside Jerusalem’s Old City wall, despite objections by relatives of people buried there, mainly from the nearby Silwan neighborhood, and Muslim Waqf officials who are in charge of the cemetery. WAFA correspondent in Jerusalem said an Israeli police force provided protection to staff from the nature authority as they proceeded to dig up graves and land in the cemetery in preparation to take over an area of the ancient cemetery where centuries-old graves of Muslim leaders are found. The correspondent said the Israelis brought a fence to place along the area they intend to cut off from the cemetery in order to build a supposedly national park at the expense of the Muslim graves. The Silwan-based Wadi Hilweh Information Center said residents of the Palestinian neighborhood and Waqf officials confronted on Monday the Israeli staff to prevent them from desecrating the cemetery. Police nevertheless pushed the residents away and arrested one of them who was severely beaten and required hospitalization after he was released and ordered to stay away from the cemetery for two weeks.
Israeli soldiers demolish a Palestinian building in Jerusalem
[with video] IMEMC 1 May — Israeli soldiers demolished, on Tuesday morning, a Palestinian building in the al-‘Isawiya town in occupied East Jerusalem, after forcing the inhabitants out and emptying its apartments and stores. Mohammad Abu al-Hummus, a member of the Follow-Up Committee in al-‘Isawiya, said dozens of soldiers and police officers, accompanied by bulldozers, invaded the town, and surrounded the building after declaring the area a closed military zone. He added that the soldiers demolished the building, owned by Jamal Ata ‘Oleyyan and his family, allegedly for being built without a permit. He stated that the soldiers forced the families from the apartment building, adding that the families were granted a very short time to remove their furniture and belongings, but the time was insufficient for them to empty the building. The building consisted of three floors, containing two flats, inhabited by more than 15 members of Abu ‘Oleyyan family, and also included stores on the ground level. The family has been living in the building for more than ten years, and said it never received an official and final decision regarding the demolition of their property.
Army uproots trees, levels land in Jordan Valley
JORDAN VALLEY (WAFA) 29 Apr — Israeli army bulldozers uprooted on Sunday scores of olive trees and leveled lands in the village of Bardala, in the Jordan Valley region in the West Bank, according to local sources. Aref Daraghmeh, a local rights activist, told WAFA that Israeli army bulldozers broke into the village and embarked on uprooting olive trees planted by Palestinians and international activists to make up for trees uprooted by Israeli bulldozers last week. Last week, the army uprooted 320 olive trees belonging to a Palestinian citizen from the village.
The Jordan Valley makes up 33% of the occupied West Bank, with 88 percent of its land classified as Area C – under full Israeli military control. Demolitions of Palestinian infrastructure and uprooting of trees by Israeli army and settlers occur frequently in Area C, with the Jordan Valley’s Bedouin and herding communities being particularly vulnerable to such policies.
Israeli forces seize bulldozer working on road opening near Hebron
HEBRON (WAFA) 29 Apr – Israeli forces Sunday confiscated a bulldozer owned by the Palestinian Ministry of Agriculture as it was working on opening an agricultural road to the west of the town of Dura, in the south of the southern West Bank district of Hebron, said WAFA correspondent. Israeli forces stormed an area in the town of Dura and seized a bulldozer owned by the Palestinian Ministry of Agriculture while it was working on opening an agricultural road that would connect the town of Dura with its western suburbs through land threatened with seizure by the Israeli authorities. Mayor of Dura, Ahmad Salhab, said the municipality was working on the construction of an agricultural road to facilitate Palestinian residents’ access to their land and to protect the land from settlement expansion in the area.
Israel to confiscate lands near Bethlehem
BETHLEHEM (WAFA) 28 Apr – Israeli authorities handed out notifications on Saturday to confiscate 42 dunums of land in the village of al-Khader, to the south of Bethlehem in the occupied West Bank, a local activist said. Ahmad Salah, coordinator of the Anti-Settlement Committee in the village, told WAFA that Israeli forces notified Palestinians from the village about their intention to confiscate the 42 dunums for security reasons. The forces also notified a villager from al-Khader about their intention to demolish a retaining wall he had built in the village. According to the Israeli anti-settlement group, Peace Now, “Over the years, Israel has used a number of legal and bureaucratic procedures in order to appropriate West Bank lands, with the primary objective of establishing settlements and providing land reserves for them.”….
Cops and robbers
Kerem Navot April — Distribution of Israel Police stations throughout the West Bank — On June 14, 1967, a week after the onset of the occupation of the West Bank, Uzi Narkiss, former IDF commander of the Central Command, signed an order allowing the Israel Police to operate in the West Bank, despite the fact that it was not part of the sovereign territory of the State of Israel. As such, the Israel Police were not authorized to operate there to begin with. This report we’re releasing today is devoted to surveying the geographical distribution of dozens of police stations, all of which are located within settlements or areas subject to full Israeli control in Area C. There is no need to elaborate on the disgraceful paradoxical fact that several police stations in the West Bank are illegally located on private Palestinian-owned land … Throughout the survey, we examined a total of 38 police stations known to us in the West Bank … Over the past five decades since this order was signed, the Israel Police have established dozens of police stations throughout the West Bank. These stations are part of an extensive police system, which has been defined as the “Judea and Samaria District,” since 1994. In addition to police stations, a system of Border Police bases were established throughout the
West Bank. The Border Police are, in fact, military forces in every respect, primarily deployed to suppress the Palestinian population, hardly contending with the enforcement of civil law….
Palestinian refugees – Syria
Syrian army tightens noose around Palestinian camp
AMMAN (Reuters) 29 Apr by Suleiman Al-Khalidi — Syrian troops tightened the noose on Sunday around a Palestinian refugee camp held by Islamic State militants in southern Damascus where hundreds of civilians face an uncertain future, state media, witnesses and residents said. Nearly two weeks into a campaign to capture the last area near the capital outside government control that has left many parts of the once-teeming Yarmouk camp in ruins, state media said that the al Qadm neighborhood next to the camp was retaken. Opposition sources said the army was now engaged in fierce fighting with militants on the outskirts of Yarmouk camp where an estimated 1,500 to 2,000 militants are encircled…
The fate of hundreds of Palestinians, mostly sick and elderly women and children still in the camp that was once the largest in Syria, is uncertain. UNRWA, the U.N body responsible for Palestinian refugees, has called on warring parties to spare civilians. “There are some families that have been buried under the rubble and no one is able to retrieve their bodies,” said Abu Osama, a resident who fled the camp two days ago to nearby Yalda, joining thousands of others seeking relative safety there since the start of the latest offensive. “The regime is just burning and destroying … and then trying to advance on several fronts,” said Rami al Sayed, a former resident of Yarmouk who is now on its outskirts. The camp, which has been under siege by the army since rebels captured it in 2012, was home to some 160,000 Palestinians before the Syrian conflict began in 2011, refugees from the 1948 Arab-Israeli war and their descendents.