and other news from Today in Palestine:
Video: Awarta 27-4-11
[in Arabic, but the pictures tell the story; a few subtitles. The beauty of this valley is amazing…] Wheels of Justice — Two Palestinians from Awarta were killed for coming within 500 meters of the fortified fencing of this colony. This is one of the many reasons why we are very convinced that the whole story about the killing of a settler family by two teenagers from the village of Awarta is a lie. But the killing of these settlers set stage for a ransacking of the village by the colonizing army of the state of Israel. Beating people, massive destruction, torture and more was inflicted on the village of 6000 people as collective punishment. It is hard to describe what we saw and heard. The video just reveals a glimpse of it … I was particularly shocked to hear from Um Adam, a 77 year old grandmother (14 living children, over 75 grandchildren). One of her children still held by the Israelis is the volunteer head of the municipal council. Another child is the only doctor in town. The homes of these two children, her home, and many other homes were ransacked and heavily damaged (the fascist soldiers had clearly come to destroy as an act of collective punishment). The doctor’s room and his medical books and supplies were not spared.
Gaza civilians wounded in Israeli attack
AJ 29 Apr — At least four people, including children, have been injured in Israeli tank fire in central Gaza, Israeli and Palestinian sources said. Witnesses said the Israeli army fired at least three rounds at an area east of the Al-Bureij refugee camp, wounding several Palestinians. Hamas officials said Israeli forces fired in the direction of a home after darkness fell on Thursday. Medical workers said four people including a woman and two children had been taken to a hospital with slight injuries.The Israeli military confirmed the incident, saying it targeted fighters “identified as planting an explosive near a border security fence” and that “uninvolved civilians were apparently injured in this incident”.
Medics: 3 teens injured by Israeli fire in Bil‘in
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 29 Apr — Three [one more than reported last yesterday] Palestinians were injured Thursday when Israeli troops raided the Bil‘in village in the West Bank, locals said. One Palestinian sustained critical injuries when soldiers fired bullets and stun grenades during clashes around noon, medics said. Jamal Al-Khatib, 15, was injured in the mouth by a rubber-coated bullet. A 16-year-old, Nashmi Abu Rahma, was also hurt by a rubber-coated bullet that struck his foot, and Jaser Yasin, 14, was shot in the leg, medics said … An Israeli army spokeswoman said there was no use of force and no injuries were reported.
B’Tselem demands IDF cease using attack dogs on undocumented Palestinian workers
28 Apr — Calling the IDF practice of siccing K-9 attack dogs on undocumented Palestinian workers (Hebrew) a “terror policy,” the Israeli NGO B’Tselem is appealing against its use to the army senior command. It should be noted that the victims are not security suspects, but rather day laborers seeking to enter Israel to find work and who do not have the proper permits to do so (which are practically non-existent anyway).
PCHR weekly report on Israeli human rights violations in the occupied Palestinian territory Apr 21-27
-A Palestinian worker from Hebron was wounded and arrested by IOF while trying to have access to Israel for work. -IOF continued to target Palestinian workers, farmers and fishermen in border areas in the Gaza Strip -IOF continued to use force against peaceful protests in the West Bank. -IOF conducted 25 incursions into Palestinian communities in the West Bank and two incursions into the Gaza Strip … During the reporting period, IOF wounded eight civilians, including a child, in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. Five of the wounded, including a child and a Spanish human rights defender, were wounded in peaceful protests in the West Bank and a Palestinian worker was wounded in the far southwest of Hebron while trying to have access to Israel for work. In the Gaza Strip, a Palestinian farmer was wounded when IOF fired at Palestinian farmers in the northern Gaza Strip.
Land theft / Ethnic cleansing / Settlers
Videos: Arab in Israel: Two stories from Lod
28 Apr — These snapshots are excerpts from a reporter’s notebook — scenes encountered on the ground in their most raw form. 1) Resident Yousef Altory, 41, paints the scene in the video below of how raw sewage seeps into the streets — right outside the only school in the neighborhood for all the kids, aged five through 18. 2) When a Palestinian house is demolished, the bill is sent to the family whose home was turned to rubble. The only problem is, there’s no longer any address to which that letter can be sent.
Thousands visit Tomb of Joshua
Ynet 29 Apr — Thousands of Jewish worshippers visited the Tomb of Joshua in the Palestinian village of Kifl Hares near Ariel on Friday. The pilgrimage, marking the anniversary to Joshua’s death, was organized by the Shomron Regional Council and coordinated with the Israel Defense Forces, unlike the infiltration to Joseph’s Tomb earlier this week which resulted in the death of Yosef Ben Livnat … Local Palestinian residents were allowed to move freely and some even opened their shops for the worshipers to enjoy … A haredi man who purchased a water pipe in one of the Palestinian shops aroused angry responses by some of the worshipers who shouted “don’t buy in Arab shops.”
Stormy control in the entrance of Al Hadidiya
JVS 29 Apr — The sky is grey, cloudy, two volunteers from the Jordan Valley Solidarity Campaign, one Palestinian, the other French, are on their way to visit one of the members in Al Hadidiya community. They have programme to meet at the entrance to the area. The French volunteer decided to use the time to record some images of the surroundings. However, as soon as they got out of the car, two colonists from the Ro’i colony arrived in another vehicle and blocked the access door preventing the taxi from moving away. The colonists approached the two visitors and ordered them to stop filming. One of them, the older one, asked for their IDs and telephoned the Israeli authorities.
Gaza govt welcomes new Rafah border measures
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 29 Apr — Gaza government spokesman Taher An-Nunu welcomed Friday the Egyptian foreign minister’s announcement that the Rafah crossing between the Strip and Egypt would be opened permanently [for people, not goods], saying it was for the best of the Palestinians. Reports emerged Thursday that Egypt was planning to open the crossing within ten days
Rafah smuggling tunnels to continue operating
Ynet 29 Apr — Egypt will open the Rafah crossing in 10 days for the first time since 2007 and will effectively end its siege of Gaza. But Palestinians are also hoping that the passage of goods between Gaza and Egypt will reopen as well. “We prefer trading with Arab and Islamic states rather than with Israel,” a source at the Gaza borders authority said. However, Rafah smuggling tunnels will continue to serve as the main route for the passage of goods into the Strip.
Gaza sole crossing closed
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 29 Apr — The sole goods crossing into Gaza was closed on Friday for two days, Israeli authorities informed Palestinian officials. Kerem Shalom … will be shut by Israeli authorities on Friday and Saturday, reopening Sunday
Video: Gazans suffering from frequent power cuts
Press TV 28 Apr — Blackouts of up to twelve hours have once again become part of life in Gaza since Tuesday night, as Israel doesn’t allow power lines to be repaired. Residents have access to electricity for only six hours before a twelve-hour power outage. This has disrupted life in the coastal enclave in a big way. Blackouts of twelve hours a day in many parts of the impoverished territory, are affecting the provision of essential services, including water supplies, medical treatment and even sewage disposal. In residential buildings, electrical water pumps cannot provide enough water, so people have no choice but to buy water from vendors. Israel says the presence of repair crews poses a security risk. Human rights groups have dismissed the claim as a lame excuse.
Video: Life or Death – medical referrals from Gaza
MAP 11 Mar 2010 — The strict closure of the Gaza Strip has impoverished and restricted medical services in Gaza. This increases the need to refer patients for treatment outside Gaza. The process of obtaining a referral document is not easy, and when a patient manages to obtain it, he or she then has to wait for a hospital appointment to come through, before applying to the Israeli Authorities for permission to leave Gaza. [the whole inhumane system that critically ill people have to go through – delays while their disease progresses beyond hope, very sick children forced to go without their parents, etc., patients only allowed through if they agree to become informers, etc.]
Israel prevents return of Gazan to Gaza — Shabak punishing a collaborator who said ‘no’? / Richard Silverstein
Haaretz [Hebrew] reports on the strange case of a mystery Gazan who the Shabak [Shin Bet] has prohibited from returning to his home there. The man has a permit to visit Israel and normally travels back and forth from Gaza to Israel. However, all of a sudden the secret police determined that it would endanger the man for him to return to Gaza. They’re doing two things here: one, they’re substituting their own judgment about his safety for his own which is quite infantilizing; second, they’re implying that he’s an informer so he will definitely be killed if he returns. So much for the kinder, gentler Shabak. The fact that the man has brought a case to the Supreme Court demanding that he be allowed to return to Gaza is a clear repudiation of the stupidity of Shabak’s claim that he is in danger if he returns.
Security officials: Egypt soldier killed by smugglers
EL-ARISH, Egypt (Ma‘an) 29 Apr — An Egyptian soldier was killed Friday during a gun battle between forces and smugglers near the Gaza border, officials and medics said. Egyptian security sources and medics told Ma‘an that border guard Muhammad Reda, 22, was shot in the chest during clashes with Egyptian and Palestinian smugglers. Egyptian authorities are investigating the incident, security sources told Ma‘an.
Masha‘al, Abbas to sign unity deal
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 29 Apr — Hamas chief Khaled Masha‘al will meet President and Fatah leader Mahmoud Abbas in Cairo on Thursday to sign a unity deal, said representative of independent politicians Yaser Wadeiyah. Fatah official Azzam Al-Ahmad said the signing ceremony would take place at the Arab League headquarters, and that Palestinian factions would also be present.
Haniyeh calls on PLO to withdraw Israel recognition
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 29 Apr — Gaza Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh on Friday called on the Palestinian Liberation Organization to withdraw its recognition of Israel. On Wednesday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu responded to the announcement of a reconciliation deal between Hamas and Fatah by saying the Palestinian Authority must “choose between peace with Israel or peace with Hamas.” Presidential spokesman Nabil Abu Rudeina said Netanyahu “must choose between peace and settlements.” Speaking after the Friday prayer in Gaza City, Haniyeh said that the PLO should not only demand that Israel choose between settlements and peace, but should also withdraw its recognition of the state.
Netanyahu presses for US action over Fatah-Hamas deal
Haaretz 29 Apr — Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu hinted Thursday in discussions with a visiting delegation of U.S. Congress members that the United States should consider stopping economic aid to the Palestinian Authority if a Hamas-Fatah unity government did not recognize Israel and renounce terror. Netanyahu also told the seven U.S. lawmakers that Israel would not recognize a Palestinian unity government if it did not meet these conditions. “Israel would not recognize any government in the world that included members from Al-Qa‘ida,” Netanyahu said.
Should the US stop funding the Palestinians?
Yahoo.com New York 29 Apr — The rapprochement between Hamas, which the U.S. and Israel consider a terrorist group, and Fatah is imperiling Washington’s aid to the Palestinian Authority — The reconciliation deal reached by Fatah and Hamas this week could prove costly for the Palestinian Authority. Powerful members of Congress are threatening to cut off the $400 million in annual aid America sends the Palestinians if they form a new government that includes Hamas, which the U.S. considers a terrorist organization. “U.S. taxpayer funds should not and must not be used to support those who threaten U.S. security, our interests, and our vital ally, Israel,” says Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.), who chairs the House Foreign Affairs Committee. Is cutting off aid the right thing to do? As things stand, the U.S. has no choice: “There really isn’t much wiggle room here,” says Jennifer Rubin at The Washington Post. Congress can’t legally send a dime to any government that doesn’t recognize Israel’s right to exist, something Hamas refuses to do.
PA: New unity government to prepare elections and rehabilitate Gaza
Haaretz 29 Apr — Abbas tells delegation representing a group promoting an Israeli peace initiative that Fatah would be in charge of policy and that he would not allow violence.
Zahar: Israeli intelligence ‘worthless’
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 29 Apr — Hamas leader Mahmoud Zahar said Thursday that the Palestinian reconciliation deal signed in Cairo a day earlier came as a total surprise to Israeli intelligence, which he called “worthless.”
IDF, PA forces still coordinating despite Fatah-Hamas pact
Haaretz 29 Apr — No decisions have been made by the Israel Defense Forces regarding any changes in security cooperation with Palestinian Authority security forces in the West Bank following the announcement of a reconciliation between Fatah and Hamas. Contacts between IDF officers on the ground and their West Bank Palestinian counterparts are projecting business as usual.
Video: Cairo press conference
Press TV 28 Apr 8:19PM — Following a series of meetings mediated by Egyptian hosts, Palestinian factions Hamas and Fatah have reached an “understanding” to set up a transitional unity government and hold elections. with Mousa Abu Marzook, Izzat al-Rishq (Hamas), Azzam Al-Ahmad (Fatah)
Detention / Court action
Israel extends detention of Palestinian writer
RAMALLAH (Ma’an) 29 Apr — Palestinian human rights group Addameer on Thursday condemned the extension of Palestinian writer and intellectual Ahmad Qatamish’s detention by Israeli authorities. Israel’s Ofer military court told Qatamish on Thursday that he would remain behind bars for a further 6 days, after the military judge rejected a request by the police for an 11-day extension, a statement from the rights organization said. The judge said that the evidence was not sufficient to justify the longer period, but he would be held for further investigation, according to Addameer.
Court allows 5 years for Cast Lead claims
Ynet 28 Apr — The High Court of Justice rejected on Thursday a petition by the Palestinian Center for Human Rights, which represents more than 1,000 residents of the Gaza Strip who demanded compensation for damages exacted by Israel during Operation Cast Lead … Claims for compensation over damage done by security forces in the West Bank and Gaza must be filed within two years, whereas other damages claims can be filed seven years after the fact.
Activism / Solidarity / BDS
Three injured, three arrested as troops attack West Bank anti-Wall protests
Ramallah (PNN) 29 Apr — Two children and a youth were injured, three Israeli activists arrested on Friday as Israeli troops attacked the weekly anti-wall protests taking place in Bil‘in, Ni‘lin, al-Nabi Salleh, central West Bank, as well as al-Ma‘ssara village in the south. This week protesters welcomed the National Unity deal signed by Palestinian factions in Cairo on Wednesday.
Dr. Cornel West’s letter to the University of Arizona
TUCSON AZ (April 28) — In a stunning public move that may draw much criticism, Dr. Cornel West — probably the most well-known and renowned U.S. public intellectual — has called on the University of Arizona (UA) to divest from corporations profiting from Israel’s illegal settlement and occupation of Palestine as well as from the racist practices — particularly attacks on Ethnic Studies — against immigrant and indigenous peoples in AZ and nationwide.
Racism / Discrimination / Attacks on Palestinian identity/history
Safed rabbi boasts that anti-Arab edict worked
Haaretz 29 Apr — Safed Rabbi Shmuel Eliyahu yesterday boasted that his edict calling for people not to rent apartments to non-Jews was working, while a minster praised his efforts to maintain the Jewish nature of Israel. “The Jewish law is clear,” Eliyahu said at a conference organized by the rightist religious movement Komemiyut. “In Safed the halakhic ruling worked, people don’t sell land or rent or sell apartments to non-Jews.”
Rattling the cage: Beware of flying Arabs! / Larry Derfner
JPost 27 Apr — The whole world has gone crazy with fear of terror in the air, but Israel stands out for its treatment of Arabs at the airport.
Palestinian identity under attack in Israel / Mya Guarnieri
Ma‘an 29 Apr — Earlier in April, the Israeli Ministry of Education decided to add a question about the Holocaust to the matriculation exam of Arab students. Because the state has banned any study of the Nakba– going so far as to strike the word from the textbooks– the move has drawn sharp criticism in Israel’s Palestinian community. The decision to add a question about the Holocaust comes in the wake of the “Nakba Law,” which was passed by the Knesset last month. The new legislation states that municipalities, public institutions, or organizations that receive public funds will be fined for marking the Nakba or expressing feelings of mourning about Israel’s establishment … Both the Nakba Law and the change to the matriculation exam come just months after a principal of a public school in Yafo, the historically Arab city that was annexed by the Tel Aviv municipality in 1950, forbade students from speaking Arabic. About half of the school’s students are Palestinian citizens of Israel. While all classes are taught in Hebrew, the principal’s decision forbade Palestinian students from speaking Arabic amongst themselves. Russian-speaking students, however, are allowed to use their mother tongue.
Defiance, not denial / Amnon Be’eri Sulitzeanu
Are there any serious educators who believe that by means of a question on an exam it will be possible to arouse identification with the Jews and empathy for them among young Arabs? — In advance of the coming school year, the Education Ministry has decided that the matriculation exam in history in the Arabic-language school system will include a mandatory question about the Holocaust, and that it will be worth 24 points — almost a quarter of the maximum score … In a correct reading of the situation of Arab citizens, the ‘denial’ of the Holocaust should not be understood as a lack of knowledge of the subject or as a failure to recognize its importance for the Jewish people, but as simple defiance: “If you don’t recognize us and our pain, we will retaliate by not recognizing your pain.”
Israel’s Egypt gas problem
Pal. Mon. 29 Apr — While leaders in Egypt, Syria, Israel, the EU, the US and Palestine react to the unification of Palestine’s political movements, Egyptians have demanded that their government stop piping natural gas to Israel for its occupation of Palestine. Israel gets nearly 40 percent of its natural gas from Egypt, at bargain prices … Israel’s infrastructure minister Uzi Landau, proponent of Operation Cast Lead II, said the attack was proof the country needed to find alternatives to Egyptian gas – like the gigantic Tamar natural gas field or disputed reserves offshore of Haifa, Tel Aviv and Gaza.
Abu Shabak seeks political asylum in Belgium
RAMALLAH, (PIC) 28 Apr — Rashid Abu Shabak and Sami Abu Samhadana, two chief figures in the security forces of Mohammed Dahlan, have submitted requests for political asylum in Belgium. The men are wanted by the Palestinian Authority for involvement in a large-scale corruption ring.
Bee-keepers graduate in Hebron
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 29 Apr — The Japanese Representative to the Palestinian Authority gave out awards to women trained under a beekeeping project in Hebron on Thursday, a statement said. The project, funded by the Government of Japan in September 2010, gave one year’s training in beekeeping skills to 120 women without an independent income, in three Hebron villages … the Japanese government gave a total of $1,068,288 for 11 projects in the West Bank and Gaza Strip in the Japanese fiscal year 2010.
Israel’s wildlife face extinction as open spaces disappear
Haaretz 29 Apr — A new study on Israeli nature has found that almost 60% of mammals in the country are at risk of extinction, with over 80% of amphibians facing a similar threat. Of the 206 species of birds that nest in Israel, over 20% are also in danger of extinction … Israel has 250 nature reserves and 76 national parks. When combined with forests in the country, 30% of Israel’s total area constitutes protected open space. However, 90% of the area under protection is concentrated in the south, and half of that expanse is used for military exercises
The belated battle to revive the dying Dead Sea
Haaretz 28 Apr — Forty years of wandering from bad decisions to neglect have done terrible damage to the lowest place on earth.
Analysis / Opinion
The legal tsunami is on its way / Michael Sfard
Haaretz 29 Apr — Israel’s cautious foreign policy on legal matters over the past 44 years is likely to collapse in September. The mechanisms of legal defense that it built since the occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip, to combat the ‘danger’ of international jurisdiction about its conduct toward millions of people who are under its control, are likely to turn into dust at the stroke of the diplomatic moves. If indeed the international community recognizes a Palestinian state, the question whether officers in the Israel Defense Forces who are involved in assassinations, shooting at unarmed demonstrators and using phosphorus bombs will be interrogated and brought to trial at the International Criminal Court in The Hague and the question of whether international human rights treaties (and other treaties) will obligate Israel during action in the territories, will no longer be decided in the government offices in Jerusalem but rather in the corridors of the Muqata‘a in Ramallah.
Unprincipled demands: time to treat Hamas and Likud equally / Yousef Munayyer
28 Apr — …I’m not a fan of Hamas’ charter, and I think it has ultimately done them more harm than good, but I also fully understand their reluctance to accept the principles their PLO counterparts accepted at the beginning of the Oslo process which has proved to be a complete failure. What are these three magic principles anyway? 1. Accepting Israel’s right to exist. 2. Renouncing Violence 3. Endorsing Prior Agreements with Israel … But shouldn’t all players at the table have to play by the same rules? While the talking heads will quote you the Hamas Charter, they don’t want you to see the Likud Charter.The Likud is Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s party. In fact, the Likud charter does not comply with any of the principles. Instead of recognizing Palestine’s right to exist, the Likud Charter states that the party “flatly rejects the establishment of a Palestinian Arab state west of the Jordan river.” West of the Jordan river includes the West Bank and Gaza. In fact, when Likud and Netanyahu talk about a “two-state” solution, their charter indicates they are taking about a Palestinian state in Jordan.
Video: Saree Makdisi interviewed about new Fatah and Hamas unity deal
IMEU 29 Apr — For an analysis on the deal and media coverage, Democracy Now! interviews Saree Makdisi, Professor of English and Comparative Literature at UCLA and the author of several books including “Palestine Inside Out: An Everyday Occupation.”
The other shoe? Egypt moves to ease Gaza siege / Karl Vick
TIME blog 29 Apr — Egypt’s announcement that it will open its border crossing with the Gaza Strip — loosening the siege of the Palestinian enclave Egypt has helped Israel carry out — has the sound of the other shoe dropping. Coming one day after word that the post-Mubarak government had brokered a tentative unity accord between rival Palestinian factions Hamas and Fatah, the announcement was difficult not to read as a reward to Hamas for signing on the dotted line. In fact the agreement Hamas officials initialed on Wednesday turns out to be the same one Fatah signed two years ago. In its decision to finally join its rival, Hamas surely found strong incentive in the inferno engulfing Syria, the nation that for years has given the organization’s top officials refuge from Israeli surveillance and drones (as well common ground for meeting Hamas’ Iranian sponsors). Opening the crossing at Rafah, the poor and dusty town where Gaza abuts Egypt, sweetened the deal while also shoring up the Egyptians’ populist credentials.
In the absence of leaders, it’s up to Israelis to make peace / Akiva Eldar
Haaretz 29 Apr …the major obstacle [to peace] has been, and remains, Netanyahu’s refusal to utter the words “the borders of June 4, 1967, as a basis for a peace agreement” — wording which leaves open the possibility of exchanges of territory in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. Whoever does not accept this principle by September will probably instead get the recognition, by more than 100 countries, of a Palestinian state within the 1967 borders whose capital will be East Jerusalem. Without “on the basis of” and without “settlement blocs,” and without special arrangements in the Holy Basin. There is no third way. The “peace process” as a cover for gradual annexation of the territories is over … Netanyahu’s demand that Fatah concede its peace with Hamas in favor of peace with its neighbor is an indication mainly of hysteria.
Thursday: 39 Iraqis killed, 51 wounded
At least 39 Iraqis were killed and 51 more were wounded across the country. Seventeen of the dead, however, were from a recently discovered mass grave. A U.S. soldier was also killed. U.S. Major General Bernard Champoux, who is a division commander, confirmed that less than 20,000 employees will continue to work at the U.S. embassy in Baghdad, and more Iraqi workers will be hired, after the Dec. 31 withdrawal of troops deadline. Those employees include security officials and diplomats. In Diyala province, meanwhile, a Kurdistan Alliance official has asked U.S. troops remain there. The province is still one of the deadliest in Iraq, and parts of it are contested due to a large number of Kurdish residents.