and other news from Today in Palestine:
Land, property, resources theft & destruction / Ethnic cleansing / Settlers
Jerusalem neighborhoods to get Hebrew names
Ynet 30 May — New bill aims to Hebraize names of Jewish, Arab neighborhoods in Israel’s capital — The next time you visit Jerusalem you might not be able to walk around Mamilla, Talbiya or Holyland – but rather in the Hagoshrim, Komemiyut or Eretz HaTzvi. A new bill is aiming to refer to neighborhoods in the capital by Hebrew names only. MK Tzipi Hotovely (Likud) initiated the bill, which has been endorsed by many other Knesset members from both the coalition and opposition. … The new bill is expected to anger the residents of Arab neighborhoods, as it will also apply to them. The Palestinian town of Abu Dis, for example, will become Kidmat Zion, while Abu Tor will turn into Givat Hananya.
Netanyahu’s controversial plan to divide the Negev
Ynet 29 May — Government scheduled to vote on Negev land reform which will see Bedouins getting ownership of extensive lands next week … The source added that the plan is not feasible. “The State is giving the Bedouins false hope and can never fulfill its plans.” He questioned the possibility that the Bedouins will give their consent. “To endorse the plan involves signing away claims from the State. I, as a Jew, would not sign such a thing, why should a Bedouin?!”
Palestinians thirsty for justice / Francesc Cabré Sánchez
AIC 30 May — Israel controls most of the water resources of the occupied Palestinian territory and seriously hampers the access of Palestinians to this vital liquid. The Thirst for Justice campaign aims to put the issue on the global agenda. Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank have shared problems despite the lack of a territorial link between the two areas. One of the most serious is the obstacle in fulfilling their water needs. It is no coincidence that numerous Palestinian buildings have tanks on their roofs to collect rainwater – this is a must for survival. Water supply problems are caused by Israeli policy, which harms the Palestinians for the benefit of Jewish citizens and violates international law.
Israelis, soldiers clash in Nablus
Ynet 30 May 08:42 — Some 200 worshipers sneak into West Bank city, Joseph’s Tomb, despite IDF allowing orderly entry of hundreds; clash with security forces. IDF: Reckless behavior endangered worshipers, soldiers … Military sources denounced what they called the infiltrators’ reckless behavior, which forced the soldiers to operate in the Palestinian city in broad daylight: “The irresponsible behavior of this group of civilians endangered both them and the security forces.” … The IDF was eventually able to escort all of the Israelis out of Nablus. Security forces documented the infiltrators and intent to prosecute them to the full extent of the law.
[Price-tag] Settlers torch farmland south of Nablus
NABLUS (Ma‘an) 30 May 20:35 — Villagers south of Nablus reported seeing dozens of settlers Monday evening, and watched as they set fire to plots of agricultural lands near Madama, an official said. Settlement monitoring official with Fatah, Ghassan Doughlus, told Ma‘an that Madama residents believed the settlers were from the nearby illegal residential community of Yitzhar, a known violent settlement. Village official Ihab Al-Qett said Palestinian fire crews were able to access the area and put out fires before significant damage was done. The vandalism comes hours after a conflict between Israeli forces and settlers in the Nablus area, during a settler visit to an area believed by some Jewish groups to be Joseph’s Tomb.
Israeli forces demolish Qalqiliya shop
QALQILIYA (Ma’an) 30 May — Israeli forces on Monday demolished a building supplies shop in the northern West Bank village of Jinsafut east of Qalqiliya. The store’s owner Yousif Abu Sukkar said he was in his shop when an Israeli bulldozers and military jeeps arrived. Abu Sukkar said forces gave him ten minutes to clear the shop’s contents before they began to demolish the building. “The store is made of steel bars and tin. It does not endanger Israel’s security but they always use that as a pretext,” he added.
Breaking news: Home demolition in the Palestinian Jordan Valley
JVS 30 May — Today, the colonialist army destroyed many Palestinian structures in the Northern Jordan Valley. Seven vegetable stands were demolished in Marj El Najeh, along the Road 90. A family camp in Farsiya was destroyed. One tent house was demolished in El Meiteh, in Al Maleh area.
Israeli forces demolish home, barn near Qalqiliya
QALQILIYA (Ma‘an) 30 May — Israeli forces on Monday demolished a home and a barn in the Bedouin village Arab Abu Farda south of Qalqiliya, locals said. The home and barn of Abdul Qader Farda were leveled to the ground, village council president Salem Abu Farda told Ma‘an. The local official said officers from Israel’s Civil Administration claimed to have notified Qader Farda that his home would be demolished. But he never received any notices, the council president said. Abu Farda said Israeli authorities were trying to force the local population from the area to expand the nearby Jewish-only Alfe Menashe settlement.
Existence is resistance
[photos] PalMon 29 May — In the Jordan Valley, Palestinians are struggling just to remain on the land as the predatory settlements and occupation authority make everyday life an uphill battle. On 29 May, a group of Palestinians, internationals and Israeli activists joined the Jordan Valley Solidarity Project to help build a school out of mud bricks. Nearly the entire Jordan Valley is under Israeli control (categorized under Area C). Lacking permission to even build a rainwater collection device, most communities suffer from a constant threat of home demolition. The day of action was about supporting Palestinians in the Jordan Valley to continue their steadfast resistance in the land. The Jordan Valley represents nearly 30% of the West Bank, and therefore is crucial to a future Palestinians state.
Family self-demolishes home in al-Rasasi district
[photos, more info than 28 May WAFA story] Silwan, Jerusalem (SILWANIC) 30 May — A Palestinian family has been forced to demolish their own home in Al-Rasasi district of East Jerusalem, between the Old City and Mount of Olives. The house’s owner, Mahmoud Aramin, decided to destroyed it himself in order to avoid a Municipality demolition, which would have incurred a large fine to cover the cost of demolition and possibly put Aramin at risk of a 6-month prison sentence … Aramin’s mother wept as she reflected on the harsh situation, having developed high blood pressure and diabetes – possibly due to stress – throughout the battle to keep their home. “Where are we to go?” she said. “The authorities say we are not the owners of our home and refuse to give us the necessary license to stay. We’ve lived through the British Mandate and Jordanian rule in wooden houses, which were demolished too. My brother, whose life they took, was buried here. Finally we have built a home to call our own, and how we must destroy it ourselves.”
2 injured in clashes with army near Nablus
NABLUS (Ma‘an) 30 May — Two Palestinians were injured Monday in clashes with Israeli forces near Nablus in the northern West Bank, medics said. Palestinian Authority settlement affairs official Ghassan Doughlas said Israeli soldiers raided ‘Iraq Burin at midday and imposed a curfew. Local youth threw stones at the troops, and forces fired rubber-coated steel bullets and tear-gas canisters at villagers. Medics said 17-year-old Amir Arif Qadous was hit in the head by a rubber-coated bullet. He was taken to the Rafedia Hospital in Nablus.
Heavy military training today in the valley
JVS 30 May — Today JVS volunteers have witnessed an increase in heavy military training in the north and central Jordan Valley. All day Israeli military war planes have been flying very low in the sky, tanks as well as buses carrying military personnel have been gathering, in what looks like preparations for a large military training exercise, particularly near the Palestinian village of Samra. Army flags have also been placed on the roadside in this area … The army uses the Jordan Valley as its training area, and Palestinians are regularly held for long periods of time at the check points however today the JVS volunteers have witnessed an unusually high level of military activity by the Israeli colonialist army. Tonight the army is even more present. Hundreds of soldiers, along with jeeps, bulldozers and tanks, are surrounding communities such as Frush Beddajan and Al Hadidiya.
Hamas official urges Egypt to let Malaysian aid into Gaza
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 30 May –Senior Hamas official Muhammad Shebab on Monday appealed to Egypt to allow aid from a Malaysian ship into the Gaza Strip. The Malaysian vessel had tried to break Israel’s naval blockade and deliver aid to Gaza’s port. But Israeli forces fired warning shots toward the ship, and it was forced to dock in Egypt’s El-Arish port. Twelve activists on board the boat have been waiting in the Egyptian city for 10 days, hoping Egypt will allow them to take 30 tons of aid into Gaza through the Rafah crossing, Shebab said.
Israel allows 240 trucks into Gaza through sole goods crossing
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 30 May — Israeli authorities decided to allow around 240 truckloads of goods enter Gaza on Monday, Palestinian officials said … Egypt on Saturday reopened its Rafah border with Gaza, allowing the free movement of people in and out of the coastal enclave for the first time in four years. The terminal is not equipped for the transfer of goods [American: freight]. Israel retains control over all other crossings.
Activism / Solidarity
Flotilla crew ‘welcomes’ UN concern, will still sail
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 29 May — A statement from The Free Gaza movement welcomed Sunday a call from UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon urging Israel to end its blockade on Gaza, but responded to his call on world nations to stop aid ships by insisting the mission would go ahead as planned. “We are not engaged in illegal activity in the in the Mediterranean; it is Israel’s blockade of 1.5 million Palestinians that is illegal,” a statement from organizers read.
Canada warns citizens: Avoid Gaza flotilla
AFP 30 May — Country’s top diplomat warned against Canadian involvement in a new aid flotilla that organizers say will leave in June for the blockaded Gaza Strip, calling the unauthorized efforts “provocative.”
Turkish group: Israel won’t dare attack us
Reuters 30 May — IHH spokesman predicts Israel won’t attack new pro-Palestinian flotilla to Gaza, will not ‘repeat big mistake.’ Turkish foreign minister says democratic countries cannot stop ships from heading to Strip
Refuse to get used to hatred: Solidarity activist Yael Kenan remarks on the Ras al-Amud demonstration, 27 May
SJS 28 May…And perhaps worse than all of this, worse than the shoving and the violence, worse than the dragging and the physical pain, worse than all of this was a short conversation I had with the Border Policewoman who was standing over me and guarding (guarding a well-fortified building while holding a gun and a nightstick, guarding it against me, a student armed with an overdeveloped sense of justice at best, and even that only arguably). A protester suddenly identified one of the Border Policeman who went to high school with him and called out to him ‘hey bro’. The policewoman sneered at us and said ‘Do you really think he’s your brother?’ Yes, I told her. We’re all brothers, we’re all one people and look what’s happening here. ‘You’re not my brothers.’ she blurted out nonchalantly, without giving it a second thought. You’re not my brothers. ‘And the settlers?’ I asked her. ‘They’re my blood brothers, in my veins,’ she answered in a sentence so simple, frightening, intimidating, clarifying the picture completely. You’re not my brothers. So simple and so terrible. When did this happen? When did this division between us and them happen, among my people?
In NY harbor, Ahmet Dogan tells the wrenching story of the murder of his son, freedom rider Furkan Dogan / Susan Johnson
Mondo 30 May — Since Furkan’s murder Dr. Dougan has tried to get information about Israel’s attack on the Mavi Marmara. He has turned to the American Embassy, which has offered absolutely no help. The US provides over three billion dollars in military aid to Israel each year.The US shares responsibility with Israel for the attack and murders on the Mavi Marmara and the attacks and boarding of other ships in the flotilla.The US must have reports about the incidents but will not respond to Mr Dogan’s requests even though his son was a US citizen. Is this how the US treats its citizens?
Check out this Palestinian company’s documentary on the Gaza ‘conflict’ – The Story of a War / Annie
Mondo 30 May – I stumbled upon this stunning 48 minute documentary of the Gaza massacre today quite accidentally while poking around the web visiting one of my favorite Gazan bloggers … Media Town is the first Palestinian company specializing in producing documentary films. They posted this documentary on their You Tube page on May 18th. Amazingly it had only 557 views when I encountered it 2 hours ago. The cinematography, narrations and interviews are superb. This is a must see, it takes my breath away.
Israeli forces arrest youth on their way home from work
Silwan, Jerusalem (SILWANIC) 30 May — Israeli forces arrested two youth in Silwan last night as they returned home from work. Abasya Fares Alzeer, 22, and Nasim Alzeer, 21, were arrested in the street on their way home from work, with Israeli police stating they had orders to arrest anyone from the Alzeer family home. An eyewitness described the arrest as “unusual”, considering the quiet state of the neighborhood. Fares was detained overnight, to face charges of stone-throwing in the Magistrates Court today, despite having been at work when the event was alleged to have taken place.
Israeli troops detain Salfit teen
SALFIT (Ma‘an) 30 May — Israeli forces entered the home of the Hammad family Sunday night and detained 19-year-old Omar Baker Hammad, his father told Ma’an. The family, from the village of Farkha near Salfit, said the teenager was taken to an unknown destination.
AIC VIDEO: Palestinian women prisoners
uploaded 27 May — Hiba Hamidat and Jehan Dahadha, two of the estimated 10,000 Palestinian women imprisoned by the Israelis since 1967 speak of their imprisonment (16 months for Jehan and 32 months for Hiba). They were arrested for ‘political activities’ – attending demonstrations, visiting the families of Palestinian prisoners, and helping these prisoners get in touch with lawyers.
Al Jazeera video: Palestinian prisoners denied visits
from 11 Sep 2010 — Muslims around the world are celebrating Eid, a holiday that usually brings families together. However, Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails find it difficult to receive visits from their relatives. Human rights organisations say that while Israeli convicts are allowed family and home visits, Palestinians are denied even a phone call. Al Jazeera’s Nour Odeh reports from the West Bank. For the past 7 years, Abdul Latlif Shqeir’s parents Khadija and Ismail have been denied visits with him, although visits with him were previously allowed. The Israelis now claim they are not his parents.
Politics / Diplomacy / International
Turkey latest site of Hamas-Fatah meetings
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 29 May — Just as meetings continue in Cairo and Gaza City, Fatah and Hamas officials met in Turkey’s capital on Saturday, for discussions on establishing an on-the-ground unity in a simultaneous process to the political reunification of the rival parties.
Leader of Palestinian independents announces resignation
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 29 May — Head of the independent political figures in Gaza announced Sunday that he would resign from his post upon the implementation of the unity agreement. Abed Al-Aziz Ash-Sheqaqi issued a statement as Fatah and Hamas officials met in Gaza City, paving the way for the activation of a unity deal signed in Cairo on 4 May
Report: Turkey defers naming new ambassador to Israel
Ynet 30 May — Ankara’s Hurriyet Daily says intended ambassador to Israel was reassigned to Vienna
PM: We can’t stop UN recognition of Palestinian state
Ynet 30 May — “No one can stop the United Nations General Assembly from recognizing the Palestinian state in September,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on said Monday. Speaking before the Knesset’s Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, the prime minister noted that “the UN can also adopt a resolution that the world is flat.”
Spain to recognize Palestinian state before next September
RAMALLAH (WAFA) 30 May — Fatah Central Committee member, Nabil Shaath, Monday said that the Consular General of Spain in East Jerusalem, Alfonso Portable, stressed his country’s intentions to recognize a Palestinian state before next September.
Iran: Zionist ships haven’t docked here
Ynet 30 May — But director of Port Affairs concedes Israeli vessels may have sailed into ports hoisting other flags … A Calcalist report revealed Sunday that at least seven tankers belonging to Sammy Ofer’s Tanker Pacific shipping company had docked in Iran between the years 2004-2010.
US firm seeks restart of Egypt gas flow to Israel
Reuters 30 May — US investors in the East Mediterranean Gas Co (EMG) have taken legal steps against the Egyptian government to ensure gas flow resumes to Israel, an official from a US partner in EMG told Reuters on Monday … Arbitration, which could lead to a ruling that Egypt violated its agreement and force it to pay a large compensation, could take place in Washington within six months, the official said. Israel receives natural gas from Egypt under a 20-year deal signed in 2005
Threat of violence keeps police out of Jerusalem Haredi neighborhood
Haaretz 30 May — Police are reluctant to enter the ultra-Orthodox Jerusalem neighborhood of Mea She’arim because of residents’ violence, a police spokesman said during a recent court hearing over the remand of a neighborhood resident. A police official said in court Thursday that the reason the police had not arrested a wanted man for more than a month, despite knowing where in Mea She’arim he was, was that every time they go into the neighborhood police property is damaged and they do not want unnecessary confrontations.
US: Bikers rally for Shalit’s release
WASHINGON (Ynet) 30 May — Hours before captive soldier Gilad Shalit’s family mark 1,800 days since his abduction, the Rolling Thunder motorcycle rally was on its way Sunday in Washington, DC raising awareness for prisoners of war and soldiers missing in action. A delegation of Israeli bikers took part in the tour of the US capital, waving signs calling for Shalit’s release.
Analysis / Opinion
Manifest destiny and the ‘Wild West Bank’ / Tarak Barkawi
AJ 29 May — US-Israeli ties may be based on the identification of Israel’s settler movement as a reflection of frontier past of US … Judging by reactions to recent speeches by President Obama and Prime Minister Netanyahu, many in the US would prefer to have the Israeli leader directing US foreign policy on the key security questions of the day. It is astonishing that the leader of a foreign country can so publicly and effectively oppose a sitting president in his own capital. Only in the US, and only for Israel. Why is this so? Why is there such resonance between the people of these two countries? … When American Jews leave behind their safe, comfortable suburban lives for the frontier towns of the West Bank, they are enacting the American story. With Glock automatics instead of Colt revolvers, M16s instead of Winchester rifles, they are off to the last frontier to manifest their destiny. Other Americans, who have to settle for carrying their guns into the local Starbucks, wish they could be so lucky, that they too could go to a frontier town to play “Cowboys and Indians” for real.
OPT: Educated, unemployed youth – a recipe for trouble
JERUSALEM (IRIN) 30 May – The lack of job opportunities for young people in the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt) has created an unemployment crisis that could further destabilize the Arab region, experts warn. “The largest generation, which was born in the 1980s, has reached working age … The latest figures from the Palestinian Bureau of Statistics put 21.7% of the population out of work. This breaks down to 30.8% of the population in Gaza and 17.4% in the West Bank. According to the UN, 43.4% of the Palestinian population is under 15, and in the Gaza Strip 63.4% of 15-24 year-olds are unemployed
Are Palestinian children less worthy? / Joseph Massad
AJ 30 May — Although Palestinian children endure lives of suffering, Obama’s love for their Israeli counterparts knows no limit — Later that week, in his speech to the American-Israeli Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) on May 22, Obama expressed sympathy with the hardship colonising Jews experience while appropriating the lands of the Palestinians: “I saw the daily struggle to survive in the eyes of an eight-year old [Jewish] boy who lost his leg to a Hamas rocket.” He averred that the US and Israel, presumably unlike Palestinians or Arabs more generally, “both seek a region where families and their children can live free from the threat of violence”.
Netanyahu’s border war / Shlomo Ben Ami
AJ 30 May — Binyamin Netanyahu’s furious rejection of US President Barack Obama’s proposal to use the 1967 borders as the basis for a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian dispute – frontiers that he called “utterly indefensible” – reflects not only the Israeli prime minister’s poor statesmanship, but also his antiquated military philosophy. In an era of ballistic missiles and other weapons of mass destruction, and in which the planned Palestinian state is supposed to be demilitarised, why is it so vital for Israel to see its army “sit along the Jordan River”? If such a tripwire is really necessary, why shouldn’t a reliable international force carry out that task? And how can hundreds of isolated settlements spread amidst a hostile Palestinian population ever be considered a strategic asset? Netanyahu should, perhaps, have studied the lessons of the 1973 Yom Kippur war on the Golan Heights before denouncing Obama’s idea. When the war started, the first thing the Israeli army command sought was the evacuation of the area’s settlements, which Israel’s generals knew would quickly become an impossible burden, and an obstacle to manoeuvre, for their troops.
The West Bank: When push comes to take / Kieron Monks
AJ 29 May — Israeli leaders and settlers stifle the peace process by asserting their “right to all parts” of the West Bank — On the rare occasion that the Israeli army dismantles an illegal Israeli-built outpost in the West Bank, Palestinians in nearby villages go into lockdown. Normally within a day, there is retaliation from the settlers. Not against the soldiers who demolished their ‘property’, but against the perceived beneficiaries. Violence against the nearest Palestinian community has become a routine reaction – against property and people – in what have become known as ‘price-tag’ actions. Now that Palestinian resistance is growing, and their government has had the temerity to pursue their interests without Israeli approval, history suggests we will see a backlash. These actions, aimed at securing Palestinians’ historic rights, can cost Israel far more than any outpost. The price-tag is on a different scale.