and other news from Today in Palestine:
Land, property, resources theft & destruction / Ethnic cleansing / Settlers
Mayor: Settlement activity in Jerusalem will continue
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 31 May — Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barakat on Tuesday said the municipality would continue to build Jewish-only housing in the occupied city. Barakat told Israel Radio that all construction plans would be completed regardless of “political issues.”
Solidarity protest on Jerusalem Day, Wednesday 6 June
SJS 30 May — In the past few weeks we have witnessed the attempts of the Israeli Government to annex East Jerusalem, being intensified. These growing attempts are seriously jeopardizing any possibility for future agreement … As if this is not enough, Jerusalem Municipal authority, together with Jerusalem’s police and the settlers, decided to move, for the first time, the traditional Jerusalem day’s march of the settlers to the East part of the city. The March will take part mostly in Sheikh Jarrah. Tens of thousands of settlers will arrive, this Wednesday to the Palestinian neighborhood — an act of pure provocation. We will be there standing in protest — ‘Solidarity’ activists and residents of East Jerusalem — as we did in Ras El-Amud!
Israeli national parks policy used to dispossess Palestinians
MEMO 31 May — An Israeli organization has warned against the dangerous repercussions of the implementation of a new Israeli plan to establish a national garden in the East Jerusalem towns of Issawiya and Al Tur. The Sheikh Jarrah Solidarity Movement has said that if the plan to establish the Mount Scopus Slopes National Park is implemented, it will cause great damage to land reserves intended for the future development of Issawiya and Al Tur and their 30,000 residents. In a press release from the Movement, it stated that the town of Issawiya which is fenced in by Israeli settlements and institutions from most directions, “is able to develop only southward, onto the land approved for the national park. Without this important land, Issawiya will be forced to build inward and onto itself until it becomes another poverty-stricken slum…
IOF tears down 13 structures in Jordan Valley
JENIN, (PIC) 31 May — The Israeli occupation forces (IOF) led military bulldozers into the Al-Farisiyya and Al-Meita areas in the Salt Valley in the northern Jordan Valley, and destroyed 13 structures owned by Arab Bedouins. The force crushed eight homes in Al-Meita in the upper Salt Valley where Bedouins have been residing for many years, although the homes were remote from Israeli military camps. It destroyed six more buildings in neighboring Al-Farisiyya … Locals say Israeli forces seek to restrict shepherds in the area in order to curtail their usage of the land for grazing and it also seeks to push them out. The Salt Valley is characterized by warm and plentiful water resources. It is also an agricultural and pastoral area valuable to many farmers in the provinces of Tubas and Tamoun. There are five Bedouin hamlets and communities that live there.
Prayer, politics collide on midnight pilgrimage
NABLUS, West Bank (AP) 31 May — A modest stone building holy to Jews in the midst of this Arab city is becoming an increasingly volatile friction point, drawing growing numbers of pilgrims on nighttime prayer visits, unnerving Palestinian residents and putting Israel’s military into conflict with some of the worshippers it is meant to protect … Organizers, members of the hard core of Israel’s settlement movement, see the visits to the traditional gravesite of the biblical Joseph as a mix of religious duty, assertion of ownership and show of force … Palestinians view them as a provocation and an attempt by Israeli extremists to create a political foothold inside their city, which is one of the main autonomous zones established by the interim peace accords of the 1990s … To secure the Jewish worshippers, the military takes up positions in nearby buildings. Sahar Mussa, 38, lives on the top floor of an apartment building overlooking the tomb, making it both a potential threat to the worshippers and a useful position for troops, who typically take it over before the buses come in, she said. The soldiers usually arrive before midnight, move Mussa, her husband and her children into one room and take up posts at the windows until the last worshippers leave, she said.
VIDEO — Going back to Lifta: a Palestinian exile returns / Mat Heywood
Guardian 30 May — Yacoub Odeh, a Palestinian who fled from Lifta, west Jerusalem in 1948, shows film-maker Mat Heywood around his deserted home village, now under threat from Israeli plans to build a luxury resort
East Jerusalem residents face police violence: study
JERUSALEM (AFP) 31 May — An Israeli rights group on Tuesday called on Jerusalem’s new police chief to “fundamentally change” what it said was his officers’ violent treatment towards the city’s Palestinian residents. In a report timed to coincide with the anniversary of Israel’s 1967 occupation of east Jerusalem, the Association for Civil Rights in Israel said that over the past two years it had received a rising number of complaints and mounting evidence of abuses suffered by Palestinian residents … It called on police chief Nisso Shaham, appointed in April, to curb what it called “excessive” riot-control methods, to scrupulously observe regulations on the treatment of minors and to protect Palestinians from Jewish settlers.
Israeli forces raid village near Tulkarem
TULKAREM (Ma‘an) 31 May — Israeli forces raided Tuesday the Kafr Al-Labad village in Tulkarem. Forces toured the village and raided a school that is still under construction. There were no reports of clashes or arrests.
Israeli tanks invade central Gaza Strip
Gaza Strip, (Pal Telegraph) 31 May — Israeli military vehicles invaded Tuesday morning limited areas in the east of al-Buriage refugee camp in central Gaza Strip. No causalities were reported. According to SAFA News agency, eight Israeli bulldozers accompanied by three tanks stationed at the east of al-Buriage refugee camp and started razing operation to the agricultural lands, terrifying many citizens in fear of being hurt by Israeli fire.Gaza borders regularly witnessed brutal attacks since Israel targets every moving object got near the border fence, causing great damage to several farmlands that supported hundreds of families.
Soldiers play loud music, porn to disturb Palestinians
PSP 31 May — During the day of Wednesday, May 25, Israeli forces stationed at the entrance of Beit Ommar played music and audio from pornographic media over speakers at high volumes. The audio assault was intended to disturb and repulse Palestinian villagers.
Gaza – under siege for 1448 days
OPT: Freedom of movement in Gaza gets a boost
RAFAH, 31 May 2011 (IRIN) – The opening of Rafah on 28 May, the only official border crossing between the Gaza Strip and Egypt, has created a lifeline for Palestinians living in Gaza, but some, mostly refugees, will still be restricted to their localities because they lack identification papers … There are also hundreds of Palestinians in Gaza, mostly refugees, without identification documents who cannot leave. While it officially withdrew from the Gaza Strip in 2005, Israel retains control of its maritime, air and most of its land borders. It also retains control of its population registry, including the issuance of Palestinian ID numbers without which it is impossible to travel. Sana Easa, 39, has not seen her family in Cairo since she moved to Gaza to marry her husband Salah 12 years ago. Both need medical treatment unavailable in Gaza’s hospitals, but even with the new policy at Rafah, they are stuck. Sana is a Palestinian but was born in Cairo and lived there most of her life. Her parents left Gaza as refugees in 1967. Her Egyptian passport expired in April 2004 but in order to renew it, she must go to Cairo in person. She is still waiting for the Palestinian ID number she applied for 12 years ago.
Hamas urges Gazans not to jeopardize Rafah reopening
GAZA CITY (AFP) 31 May — …Ismail Haniyeh welcomed Egypt’s decision to fully reopen the crossing last week, and warned Palestinians “to refrain from any breach of Egypt’s security.” “Don’t do anything that could compromise the reopening of the terminal,” he said. “We assure our Egyptian brothers: ‘Your security is ours and your stability is ours.'”
All quiet in Rafah: Egypt’s Gaza border opens not with a bang but a whisper
TIME 31 May — …opening day marked one of the slowest business days that Rafah Crossing had seen in years. Egyptian officials reported that roughly 400 people crossed into Egypt at Rafah on Saturday, and 153 into Gaza … Indeed, the atmosphere inside the arrivals terminal was mysteriously subdued for much of the day … And only several dozen travellers seemed to populate the hall at any given time … others suggested: not a whole lot has changed. A huge proportion of Gaza’s population (those men ages 18 to 40) are still largely banned from travel … At Rafah, at least thirty angry men were turned away on Saturday, deposited on buses and sent back to Gaza after their names showed up on an Egyptian security blacklist. It’s a blacklist that dates to well before Mubarak’s departure … Indeed, much to Palestinians’ dismay – and perhaps, to Israel’s comfort – Egypt’s feared intelligence service, the mukhabarat, continues to wield control over the border terminal, just as it always has.
Health ministry says Gaza hospitals still suffering from lack of medicine
GAZA, (PIC) 31 May — The Gaza health ministry said Monday that hospitals in the besieged Gaza Strip are still suffering from lack of medicines and medical supplies as 310 medicines and consumables are completely out of stock …It pointed out that the Norwegian health mission recently made a four-day visit to Gaza and was briefed on the severe medical deficit and subsequently released a report about it in the Lancet health magazine distributed worldwide. The mission called the situation in the Gaza Strip heart-breaking and called on the world community to help supply the region with its medical needs.
Israel allows 280 trucks into Gaza
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 31 May — Israel on Tuesday allowed 280 trucks of goods and aid into Gaza through the sole operating supplies terminal Kerem Shalom, Palestinian officials said.
Flotilla Gaza-bound again, as anniversary is remembered / Roee Ruttenberg
972mag 31 May — Tuesday marks the one year anniversary of an Israeli raid on a group of ships in the Mediterranean that left nine Turkish nationals dead. The ships, known as the Freedom Flotilla, were bound for Gaza and said to be containing $20 million dollars worth of aid for the Palestinian territory. But with Gaza’s shores blocked by Israel, many predicted – correctly – that a confrontation was inevitable. On this one year anniversary, organizers say they are still determined to break what they call an illegal blockade … and they have more ships are ready to set sail.
Hamas opens memorial to dead flotilla activists
GAZA CITY (AP) 31 May — The Islamic militant group Hamas has unveiled a memorial for nine activists killed last year in an Israeli raid on an international flotilla seeking to break a blockade of the Gaza Strip. The memorial at Gaza’s harbor includes nine 12-yard-(meter)-high metal statues shaped as sails, and a new public park. Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh said Tuesday the memorial commemorates “the heroes who drew the world’s attention to the siege of Gaza.”
Israeli prepping to block next Gaza flotilla
Haaretz 31 May — While Israel says it prefers a diplomatic move to thwart the flotilla, Netanyahu has indicated that, if necessary, force would be used against anyone who tries to disobey the navy orders.
Activism / Solidarity
Palestinian youth movement plans 5 June march on Jerusalem
AIC 31 May — Next week, on the 5th of June, the Palestinian people commemorate the 44th anniversary of the Naksa, the beginning of the 1967 Israeli occupation of the West Bank, Gaza Strip, East Jerusalem and Syrian Golan. The Palestinian youth movement is organising a large demonstration in the village of Qalandiya, located between Ramallah and Jerusalem, after which thousands of Palestinians, Muslims and Christians, will pray together at the Qalandiya checkpoint before heading toward Jerusalem. Since the first demonstration for Palestinian unity on 15 March, the Palestinian youth movement has grown and become increasingly organized on a grassroots level.
Refugees to march from Lebanon on June 5
LEBANON (Ma‘an) — Palestinian refugees in Lebanon will march toward borders between Lebanon and the occupied territories on Sunday commemorating the mass dispossession of Palestinians in 1967. In Lebanon, two rallies will be held in Maron Ar-Ras and Naqoura near the country’s borders with Israel, a top Fatah official said. Muneer Maqdah, a Fatah leader in Ein El-Hilweh refugee camp in Lebanon, said over 50,000 people would join the “return” rally. Refugees will try to erect tents along the borders and barricade themselves there until they can return to Palestine, Maqdah said. The march is being described as a follow-up to the May 15 protest, Maqdah added. He said “the flame which was created will get brighter and brighter until return is achieved.”
Israeli army targets Islamic Jihad in Jenin raids
JENIN (Ma‘an) 31 May — Israeli forces detained 12 Islamic Jihad supporters overnight Sunday during raids on six villages around Jenin in the northern West Bank, Palestinian security sources said. The Israeli military said 12 “senior activists” in the movement were detained … Palestinian security officials said ‘Arraba, Kafr Ra‘i, Jaba‘, Az-Zababida, ‘Anin and Silat Al-Harithiya villages were raided between 3 a.m. and 4.30 a.m. The officials said Israeli forces also stormed Kufeirit, west of Jenin, and erected a checkpoint in the center of the village ransacking several homes. No detentions were reported.
Palestinian security officials said Israeli forces sealed off a charitable society known as “The Muslim girl,” run by Muna Qi‘dan who was detained in Arraba. They said soldiers broke the main gate and confiscated the society’s documents and computers. Qi‘dan is a lecturer at Al-Quds University in Jenin and has been detained several times by Israeli forces. The Israeli military said Qi‘dan’s association, also known as El Bara’a, or Honesty, was closed and its property was taken because of “its associations with the Palestinian Islamic Jihad and the Gaza-based organization ‘The Soul of Jerusalem.'”
Lawmakers held at West Bank checkpoint
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 31 May — Israeli forces stopped a car carrying four Palestinian lawmakers Tuesday in the occupied West Bank. Aziz Dweik, Nizar Ramadan, Bassem Zaareer, and Anwar Zboun were held at a checkpoint near Bethlehem, Hamas officials said. Nizar Ramadan was taken to an undisclosed location and Dweik was freed, Hamas officials and the Israeli military said. All four lawmakers represent Hamas in the Palestinian parliament.
Qalqiliya man released after 7-year detention
QALQILIYA (Ma‘an) 31 May — Israel on Monday released Shadi Abu Shareb after detaining him for seven years. Abu Shareb, from Qaliqilya, was held at the Negev desert prison in southern Israel. He was accused of affiliation to Fatah’s armed wing, the Al-Aqsa Brigades.
Crowds of Palestinians and Fatah representatives waited at the entrance to Qalqiliya to congratulate Abu Shareb on his release.
Meanwhile, 22-year-old Abdullah Ameer was released from Israel’s Ramon prison. Ameer, from from Bal‘a village in Tulkarem, completed a five-year sentence two weeks ago, but Israel’s prison administration kept postponing his release.
Detainee marks 21 years in prison
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 30 May — The Detainees Center in Gaza City marked the 21st year in prison for a local man accused of stabbing an Israeli man in East Jerusalem. According to the center, 41-year-old Yasser Daoud 41 from Jerusalem, serving a 60-year sentence, has been held in isolation for the past eight months, and has repeatedly reported being questioned and tortured.
Racism / Discrimination
Israeli Arab town claims discrimination behind severed phone access
Haaretz 31 May — Hundreds of homes in Tira have not had landline telephone and Internet service since early April, when Bezeq trunk lines were damaged in a traffic accident. Residents of the Arab city in the center of the country accuse the telecommunications company of discrimination, and some say they are considering legal action. Bezeq has said that city authorities were hindering its repair of the problem. “If this was [the nearby Jewish communities of] Kfar Sava or Kochav Yair, they would have fixed the lines immediately. They wouldn’t have fobbed off the residents with evasive and wrong answers, either,” Mayor Mamon Abd al-Hay said yesterday.
A female general without female soldiers
Haaretz 31 May — The exclusion of women from field units serves the interests of conservative forces within the army who see the integration of women as a threat to the army’s capabilities … It should be stated clearly that the status of women in the IDF has been in retreat in recent years.
Court orders Filipina mom and baby out of airport jail
Haaretz 31 May — The Central District Court last week ordered a Filipino woman and her 7-month-old son released from the lock-up at Ben-Gurion International Airport, on grounds she was being deported under a policy that was declared illegal last month by the High Court of Justice. Flordeliza Barganta, a nursing care worker, had been arrested by the Interior Ministry’s Oz unit workers last week and told she was being deported. Barganta had lost her work visa upon giving birth, in accordance with a previous Interior Ministry policy under which a foreign worker who gave birth lost her visa for 90 days, during which she was meant to leave the country and could only return without her child.
Politics / Diplomacy / International
Fayyad: State will be on 1967 borders
HEBRON (Ma‘an) 31 May — Ramallah Prime Minister Salam Fayyad said Monday that the Palestinian state would be established on all territories occupied in 1967. “On 1967 territories, there are no disputed areas. There is no A, B, or C area, nor are there H1 or H2 zones. It is all Palestinian territory that has been occupied since 1967,” Fayyad said. “The independent Palestinian state will be on all these territories including the West Bank, the Gaza Strip, and Jerusalem, the eternal capital of Palestine.”
Palestinians plan to approach UN Security Council about statehood in July
Haaretz 31 May — The Palestinian Authority plans to approach the United Nations Security Council in July to begin the process of getting Palestine recognized as a full member of the United Nations and to assure a vote on the matter by the General Assembly in September, Haaretz has learned. The UN General Assembly is authorized to accept Palestine as a member state, but can do so only after it receives a recommendation to this effect from the Security Council.
Abbas in Egypt for talks with military leader
CAIRO (AFP) 30 May — Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas was in Egypt on Monday for talks with the country’s de facto head of state on efforts to seek UN recognition for a Palestinian state, a military source said. Abbas briefed Field Marshall Hussein Tantawi — who heads the military council in power since president Hosni Mubarak was ousted in February — on his recent trip to Doha.
Promised donor aid not arriving: Palestinian PM
RAMALLAH, Palestinian Territories (AFP) 31 May — The Palestinian Authority is facing a financial crisis because funds pledged by donor nations are not arriving on time, Palestinian prime minister Salam Fayyad said Tuesday.
Majority of both Israelis and Palestinians expect new intifada / Harriet Sherwood
Guardian 31 May — Polls show around 70% foresee uprising among Palestinians if no progress in peace talks and following declaration of state
Knesset speaker working to boost recognition of Armenian genocide
Haaretz 31 May — Reuven Rivlin says it is his duty as a Jew and Israeli to recognize the ‘tragedies of other peoples.” [no comment]
Analysis / Opinion
Israel’s PR victory shames news broadcasters
Guardian 31 May — Our latest analysis of news bulletins reveals how Israel continues to spin images of war — The propaganda battle over the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has reached a new level of intensity. In 2004 the Glasgow University Media Group published a major study on TV coverage of the Second Intifada and its impact on public understanding. We analysed about 200 programmes and questioned more than 800 people. Our conclusion: reporting was dominated by Israeli accounts. Since then we have been contacted by many journalists, especially from the BBC, and told of the intense pressures they are under that limit criticism of Israel. They asked us to raise the issue in public because they can’t. They speak of “waiting in fear for the phone call from the Israelis” (meaning the embassy or higher), of the BBC’s Jerusalem bureau having been “leant on by the Americans”, of being “guilty of self-censorship” and of “urgently needing an external arbiter”. Yet the public response of the BBC is to avoid reporting our latest findings. Those in control have the power to say what is not going to be the news.For their part, the Israelis have increased their PR effort … In 2010, when Israel attacked the Gaza aid flotilla, it issued edited footage with its own captions about what was supposed to have happened. This highly contested account was nonetheless largely swallowed by TV news programmes. A UN-sponsored report, which later refuted the account, was barely covered.
Poll: US Social media users favor Israel
Washington (Ynet) 31 May – A recent survey of numerous blogs, Facebook posts and Twitter tweets, conducted in the week following US President Barack Obama’s Mideast policy speech, revealed overwhelming support for Israel. The Pew Research Center for the People and the Press found that every anti-Israel post in the social media world in the US was trumped by an average of three pro-Israel posts. [hasbara posts? or the result of hasbara?]
Cultural dimensions of the Palestinian right of return / Marta Fortunato
AIC 31 May — On 15 May, thousands of Palestinian refugees attempted to return to Palestine. What pushed thousands of young Palestinians, born and raised as refugees outside of Palestine, to such actions? What does being a Palestinian refugee mean? What does the right of return mean for refugees both inside and outside of Palestine? … The Palestinian right of return is not simply a problem of Palestinian refugees but is a wider political, human and global issue. Every day in Palestine there are new refugees, Palestinians expelled from their homes, their villages, due to construction of the Separation Wall and expansion of the settlements. The right of return is also a human and international issue because Palestinians are the population with the largest number of refugees, some 7.5 million scattered throughout the world.
Obama is letting Netanyahu off the hook / Akiva Eldar
Haaretz 30 May — …The prime minister is no longer the man Ehud Barak designated “Mr. No.” We are now dealing with a new leader, a much more sophisticated and dangerous one. Meet “Bibi I’ll Have It Both Ways.” … When there is a leader in the White House who is willing to take political risks and makes it clear that there is a cost to trying to have it both ways, Israelis know to distinguish between the good and the bad. But Obama enabled Netanyahu to return home from Washington without paying any political price for trying to have it both ways. Moreover, he allowed the prime minister to laugh all the way to Jerusalem over the statement that the 1967 borders, with agreed territorial exchange, should serve as the basis for negotiations.
Video: Song – Freedom for Palestine / OneWorld