More funding for Jewish museums in the West Bank

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and other news from Today in Palestine:

Land, property theft & destruction / Ethnic cleansing / Apartheid / Restriction of movement

Palestinian envoy’s wife ‘forced back to Jerusalem during cancer treatment’
Guardian 16 Dec — London ambassador says Israeli refusal to renew wife’s residency papers led to trip that hastened her death … Her husband, Manuel Hassassian, the Palestinian envoy to the UK since 2005, said the Israeli government had extended her Jerusalem identity papers in 2010 for a year after she was first diagnosed with breast cancer in late 2009, but refused to grant a second extension this year, although the disease had by then metastasised to her bones and she was several weeks into intensive chemotherapy.

Israeli lawmakers move to annex West Bank, one museum at a time
CSM 16 Dec — Israel’s parliament appears likely to pass a law funding Israeli museums in the West Bank – the latest settler effort to promote a creeping annexation of the disputed territory — Kedumim, West Bank — As Rachel Slonim shows a visitor around the modest, unheated archaeological museum in this West Bank settlement, she becomes animated when she reaches a display case with artifacts from the biblical Israelite period. ”The Israelite period was the most beautiful period in the history of Samaria,” says Ms. Slonim, referring to the 600-year era that she says climaxed with the reign of King Omri, who built his capital near the area where she lives today. ”Settlement is very important in our eyes and the eyes of the Holy One Blessed Be He, who gave us this land.”.

Army demolishes home in Jericho
IMEMC 16 Dec — Israeli troops demolished in the West Bank city of Jericho, on Thursday, a home that belongs to a political leader of the Hamas movement, currently imprisoned by Israel. Local sources reported that the soldiers broke into the home of Shaker Amara, in Aqbat Jabr refugee camp, after hurling concussion grenades and gas bombs at the home to force the family out.
The soldiers then proceeding to demolish the property, and handed Obada, the oldest son of Amara, a military order for interrogation at a nearby Israeli security base.

Demolition orders in Abu al Ajaj
JVS 16 Dec — At 12pm on December 12 2011, Israeli Civil Administration accompanied by two military jeeps served demolition orders on two homes in Abu Al Ajaj. The first was served to Omar Ali Ahmed Salem, Abo Hanya. His wooden house is home to himself, his 6 daughters and his 2 sons. The second was to Ayman Metab Mahmoud Ideas. He lives with his 3 daughters and 1 son in a house built of concrete blocks. Abu al Ajaj is an old farming community in Al Jiftlik. From 1948 to 1967 thousands of Palestinian lived there is a refugee camp.

Jaffa neighborhood undergoes further Judaization
Palestine Monitor 14 Dec — Jaffa’s Ajami neighborhood is home to roughly 20,000 Palestinians, 40 percent of whom live in refugee – or “absentee owner” – property, in the partitioned homes of Jaffa’s pre-1948 elite. The Absentee Property Law was implemented back in 1950 and enshrined in law Israel’s control over this property. The deal struck by the state after 1948 allowed these people – many of them displaced from villages surrounding Jaffa – to live in some of the city’s newly-empty homes as “protected tenants.”… Jaffa’s remaining Palestinians were thus prevented from owning their homes, paying rent to the state for life  … But the authorities paid scant attention to the goings on in Ajami, considered a decrepit backwater of Tel Aviv.  Meanwhile, Jaffa lingered in squalor. Until, that is, a variety of factors combined to create the auspices for offloading the problematic space while making a huge profit. Four years ago the ILA issued 500 eviction orders to residents in Ajami – most of them Palestinian, with a handful of Jewish families.

too quiet
Sheikh Jarrah Night Watch 13 Dec — Tonight is quiet in the neighborhood of 28 houses’ in Sheikh Jarrah – the 28 houses that the Zionists need to connect the major illegal settlements of East Jerusalem, thereby annexing the old city from the West Bank. Just one of the settlers came out to ask us if we love Jews and then he went inside the house again that they occupy from the Al-Kurd family. It is not always like this. We run through the journal of the last two months’ night shifts in the tent outside the house of Al-Kurd’s: …4 December Techno settler party. The settlers came to our tent. A “debate” about Israel and Palestine. Wanted a cigarette. Pushed us and tried to take our cameras away. We notice that the settlers are more and more quiet, especially after the family’s trial. That it’s quiet is not a good thing. Every time the plans take form to evict a family, the neighborhood turns silent. The police stops bothering the Palestinians and the settlers are almost friendly. The silence in Sheikh Jarrah does not mean that we can relax and go home.

IOF troops arrest 4 in Silwan, including two children
OCCUPIED JERUSALEM (PIC) 16 Dec — IOF troops on Friday afternoon arrested Zeid Fatiha (15 years) and Muhammad al-Karaki (15 years) in the Silwan suburb to the south of the Aqsa Mosque. The two were taken to an unknown destination.
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Ah, wilderness! / Yuval Ben Ami
Haaretz 16 Dec — There is one way to prove that the new national park in East Jerusalem is not a bluff: Lace up your walking shoes and hit the road … Earlier this month the Jerusalem District Planning and Building Committee approved the establishment of a national park on the eastern slopes of Mount Scopus ...  It emerges, however, that the park also has opponents: nature-haters, most likely. They claim there are no genuine natural treasures along the eastern slopes of Mount Scopus, that the land belongs to the inhabitants of two villages, A-Tur and Isawiyah, and that the park’s creation is a stratagem to prevent local residents from building on the land without having to expropriate it. .

The Gate of Mercy? / Tamar Fleishman, Machsom Watch
Palestine Chronicle 15 Dec — An hour and twenty minutes is a lot of time when you are at the checkpoint and you advance only by twenty meters, given that it’s not even the rush hour and most people are heading towards Palestine and not out of it. After years of experience you know better than to wonder about that which is beyond you and which you will never understand. Only the soldier in the glassed post, who was driven out of his bubble by boredom, tried to explain: “It’s in accordance to the orders… yes, the checkpoint commanders can see through their plasma screens everything that is going on both inside and outside… it’s probably because the computers crashed…” The soldier also showed some compassion for the parents of an ill baby who kept coughing and suffocating from the cough, they were on their way to get treatment in a hospital and when hearing their cry he opened the bullet proofed window, clenched the fingers of his right hand together and signaled them: just a moment…

Israel ministers to weigh bill meant to legalize West Bank outposts
Haaretz 15 Dec — The Ministerial Committee for Legislation is due to discuss Sunday a bill that would legalize construction on private Palestinian land, Haaretz learned on Thursday. According to the bill, initiated by Habayit Hayehudi MK Zevulun Orlev, Palestinian owners could not demand the clearing of residential construction on their land if they failed to claim it for 4 years since the construction’s conclusion.

Watch: Haaretz interactive map of West Bank outposts
15 Dec — With tensions rising in the West Bank, and with Israeli military and police forces moving to demolish illegal structures, Haaretz is bringing you a map listing the main outposts, their position and legal status.

WATCH: IDF razes 2 structures in Mitzpeh Yitzhar
Ynet 15 Dec — IDF forces razed two structures in the illegal West Bank outpost of Mitzpe Yitzhar in the early hours of Thursday morning.  Hundreds of police officers, IDF soldiers and Civil Administration officers arrived at the outpost and demolished the structures. The razing did not encounter any resistance by the settlers. According to the settlers, stones, nails and spikes were placed on the road leading to the outpost in order to disrupt the forces’ movements, but to no avail. Hundreds of right-wing activists were headed to the outpost overnight with the intent of stopping the buildings’ demolition, but the IDF declared the area between Tapuach Junction and Yitzhar a restricted military zone, stopping the activists in their tracks … Peace Now Director Yariv Oppenheimer said that the razing, as well as the outpost’s pending eviction were “nothing but symbolic steps. The government is reluctant to evacuate any of the significant outposts in the territories and continues its focus on lone structure to maintain the appearance of enforcing the law.,7340,L-4161957,00.html


Jewish extremists burn new West Bank mosque
BURQA, WEST BANK (Globe&Mail) 15 Dec — In a week of attacks by Jewish extremists on Israeli soldiers, Palestinian property and a military zone on the border with Jordan, the lowest blow was struck at the new mosque of this West Bank town east of Ramallah … The Burqa attack took place less than an hour after Israeli soldiers and police stole onto that outpost, removed its handful of residents and tore down two of its four structures. Israeli courts had ordered the demolition as the buildings had been erected on privately owned Palestinian land. “It’s a war between the Israelis,” said Fuad Barakat, 53, who lives near the mosque and came running when the alarm was raised early Thursday. “But it seems they’re going to take it out on us.”

Anger as historic mosque targeted in arson attack
Ramallah (Gulf News) 15 Dec– Israeli right wing colonists set alight a historic mosque in occupied Jerusalem in yet another attack yesterday leaving graffiti spray paintings on the wall. The Nabi Okashah Mosque on Strauss Street of the Mia’t Shaa’reem quarter enjoys great value and the structure is believed to be the burial site of Prophet Mohammad’s [PBUH] companion Okashah Bin Mohsin, sources in occupied East Jerusalem told Gulf News. Israel has banned Muslims from praying at the mosque as is it is located in a colonist neighbourhood. Israel however allowed the colonists to turn the mosque’s garden into a children’s play area. The sources said the mosque has a dome called Al Qimriyah which has historical significance. The Arab residents of occupied East Jerusalem have repeatedly tried to renovate it and make the mosque operative, but their requests have always fallen on deaf ears.

Settlers cut down olive trees south of Nablus
NABLUS (WAFA) 15 Dec – Jewish settlers Thursday vandalized olive fields and cut down more than 15 olive trees in Burin village, south of Nablus in the northern West Bank, according to witnesses. They said the settlers sneaked into one of the fields belonging to a Palestinian and cut down olive trees before retreating to a neighboring settlement.

Settlers and military jump pedestrians in Tel Rumeida
ISM 16 Dec — When my friend and I decided to walk downtown, we didn’t expect that this walk could be dangerous. There was a funeral going on for a settler woman who had been killed by her ex-husband, who in turn committed suicide. First we passed about 3 Israeli military jeeps and a couple of soldiers, and we followed the road in between two graveyards leading down to the Gilbert checkpoint. When we arrived, there were many military cars and about 30 soldiers crowding the area as illegal settler cars and buses were coming and going. Settlers were inciting Palestinians, by aggressively cursing at them and flashing lewd gestures. But Palestinians were calm and did not react A settler spit on a Palestinian man, who also returned the gesture, causing a fight. “After the Palestinian spit back, settlers started to beat all the Palestinian around. All the settlers came down and very angrily started to attack everyone. I saw how they attacked internationals and smashed their cameras, and some Palestinians were bleeding.  Of course soldiers didn’t arrest any of them, they tried to arrest me and some of my friends,” said Issa Amro, a local Palestinian activist who tried to stop settlers from causing clashes.

The daily ordeal of getting to school in Hebron / Ben Lorber
EI 16 Dec — The Qurduba School in the occupied West Bank city of Hebron is once again a target for harassment by Israeli occupation forces, as new restrictions on freedom of movement bring a wave of settler attacks and soldier violence. Established in 1984, the Qurduba School sits surrounded by five Israeli settlements on a hilltop in central Hebron. To get to school every morning, pupils between the ages of 6 and 13 — and their women teachers — must navigate a maze of checkpoints and dangerous settler-inhabited streets … The students and teachers of Qurduba School are no strangers to the travails of occupation. The school sits atop a hill in the middle of downtown Hebron, within ample view of the Beit Hadassah, Tel Rumeida and Admot Yishai settlements, each of which consists of a few buildings and a handful of settler families. Across the street from the entrance to the Qurduba School, a door has long been adorned with graffiti reading “Gas The Arabs! JDL [Jewish Defense League].”

Settlement rabbi: Expel mosque arsonists
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 15 Dec — The head rabbi of an Israeli settlement in the West Bank said Thursday that Jewish extremists who attack Palestinian mosques and property should be expelled from the country. Menachem Froman, the chief rabbi of the Teqoa settlement near Bethlehem, told Ma‘an TV that Jewish groups who attack Islamic holy sites have nothing to do with the Jewish religion. He was speaking after three mosques were torched in the West Bank and Jerusalem in seven days. The 66-year-old said the perpetrators and their families “should be kicked out of the country to the US from where they came,” and deserve to have stones thrown at them. He described the assailants, suspected to be extremist settlers opposed to the Israeli government’s restriction on outposts of the settlements without official approval, as “men of the devil.”

New York charity abets Israeli settler violence 14 Dec — The Brooklyn-based Hebron Fund supports groups attacking Palestinians … Public records in the U.S. and Israel show that the Hebron Fund maintains deep ties to the radical fringe of the Israeli settler movement. Tax documents show that the Hebron Fund sends money directly to its Israeli sister organization whose director and founding officers include two men convicted by the Israeli government for their roles in deadly attacks on Palestinians carried out by the Jewish Underground in the 1980s … According to the Israeli financial filings, the Hebron Fund’s money also reaches a subset of settlers who have repeatedly been documented harassing their Palestinian neighbors. These are the settlers in the Tel Rumeida neighborhood,..

Settlers vs. the Israeli army

IDF soldiers: Problem in the West Bank isn’t Palestinians, it’s Jews
Haaretz 16 Dec — Recent attacks by right-wing extremists on Israel Defense Forces soldiers in the West Bank are just one manifestation of the violence to which many have been subjected during their service in recent years. Both regular and reserve soldiers, including junior officers, spoke about the complicated situation they find themselves in: having to protect the settlers while at the same time being attacked by them. “Our purpose there is to protect the Jews, but they generate many of the problems. It’s very confusing,” said Nadav Bigelman, a combat soldier who was discharged last year. “You understand pretty quickly what is going on, but it’s not so clear what you are supposed to do about it,” he said. “We never received an order telling us what to do when a Jewish boy throws stones at a Palestinian. Are we allowed to detain him or not?

Next time, Jewish extremists will meet a different IDF
Haaretz 16 Dec — After a week of violence by extremist settlers, Defense Minister Ehud Barak and IDF Chief of Staff Benny Gantz conveyed a clear message with their appointment Thursday as GOC Central Command someone who has been the settlers’ number one target for barbs. Brig. Gen. Nitzan Alon’s is eminently qualified for the post, but there is also a special sting in the knowledge that in the current stormy atmosphere, the settler leaders will have to get along with the man whose attitude, they say, is “stacked against the settler movement.”

Settlers irked over new GOC Central Command
Ynet 16 Dec — Brig.-Gen. Nitzan Alon’s nomination for sector chief has right-wing elements furious …  Alon, who until two months ago served as commander of the Judea and Samaria Division, will replace current Major-General Avi Mizrahi in early 2012. Alon is considered somewhat of a “red flag” among the settlers, as he has outspokenly denounced all “price tag” acts. The tense relationship peaked in July when a group of radical settlers attacked him at the Tapuach Junction, stormed his vehicle and called the officer a “traitor.” In a separate incident, a group of settlers arrived at his home, confronted him and called him a “Nazi.”,7340,L-4162561,00.html

Religious teens denounce violence against IDF
Ynet 15 Dec — West Bank yeshiva students write letter accusing far-Right activists of ‘disgracing’ religious public by attacking soldiers,7340,L-4162297,00.html

Peres: Right-wing violence a disaster that must be stopped
Haaretz 15 Dec — President Shimon Peres met on Thursday with settler leaders following the escalating violence by right-wing extremists. Among the leaders he met were Danny Dayan, the chairman of the Yesha Council of West Bank settlements, representatives of the pre-army religious program (Mechina) and rabbis … Peres said that the meeting itself is important for the sake national unity, but criticized the actions of the extreme right-wing activists. “What these guys are doing is very serious,” he said. “Israel has always been proud of protecting all of the holy sites. Today, when the Muslim world is where it is, to give them justification to attack Israel is a disaster, it’s crazy and it must stopped.” He added that “we are a moral people; the Ten Commandments are my guide, in politics too.”

‘Measures against rightist rioters a bluff’
Ynet 15 Dec — Former top military prosecutor says majority of steps adopted by Netanyahu against extremist right-wing activists already exist,7340,L-4162187,00.html

Jewish rioters face stiffer penalties in IDF courts
JPost 15 Dec — Trying West Bank Israelis in military courts would be a “huge policy shift,” legal experts say — …“The change in policy reflects a hardening attitude against settlers,” Ben Natan said. Under military law defendants can be held for eight days before being brought before a judge, compared with 24 hours for civilian courts; likewise military law allows security prisoners to be held for 90 days without access to a lawyer, compared with 21 days under civilian courts. The penalty for attempted murder is a life sentence under military law – whose context is security offenses perpetrated by the enemy – compared with just six years under the Israeli penal code, which applies in civilian courts.

Rightists indicted for entering closed military zone, rioting
Ynet 15 Dec — Eight adults, seven teens who illegally entered army area near Jordanian border allegedly threw stones at IDF office; court extends remand of five people suspected of rioting in Jerusalem during arrest of ‘price tag’ perps [includes newscast] — According to the indictment, eight adults and seven teenagers arrived at a closed military zone near the Israeli-Jordanian border. They proceeded to cut through the security fence with wire cutters and enter the area.  The rightists later attacked a deputy battalion commander who was alerted to the scene with stones.  he prosecution said the rightists continued walking towards a monastery despite being warned by an IDF officer that it was forbidden to hike in the area, which he said was strewn with mines.
Some of the rightists had been charged with similar offenses in the past.
Earlier Wednesday, the Jerusalem Magistrates’ Court extended by two days the remand of five people who were arrested in the capital’s Kiryat Moshe neighborhood on suspicion of committing ‘price tag’ acts …   Police claim the suspects assaulted officers during the arrests. All five suspected have been banned from the West Bank.,7340,L-4162325,00.html

IDF nixes security at Ramat Gilad over soldiers’ harassment
Ynet 15 Dec — Military pulls force stationed at illegal West Bank outpost after settlers verbally harass five female soldiers; residents said to be handling security independently,7340,L-4161992,00.html

The Jewish intifada: the conflict turns upside down / Dahlia Scheindlin
972mag 15 Dec The newest chapter of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict – settler-led physical violence and destruction of both Palestinian and Israeli targets, within and beyond the Green Line – has turned regular conflict patterns of political divisions upside-down. Confusion and irony reign … Attacks on mosques, cemeteries and property of Palestinians has accelerated in recent months. A brazen attack on an IDF camp in the West Bank really ignited emotions this week. If there’s one thing you don’t do in Israel, it’s mess with the beloved, almost-holy institution of the army.

Israeli forces

PCHR Weekly Report: 5 Palestinian killed (including a child), 23 wounded this week [8-14 Dec]
IMEMC 16 Dec — …4 Palestinians (two resistance fighters and a man and his child) were killed by Israeli air strikes in the Gaza Strip, and one peaceful protester was killed in the West Bank … Israeli forces conducted 44 incursions into Palestinian communities in the West Bank, during which they abducted 26 Palestinians, including 5 children. The detainees include Dr. Ayman Daraghma, Member of the Palestinian Legislative Council … On 12 December 2011, more than 100 Israeli settlers from “Yizhar” settlement which is established on Palestinian lands in the east of Southern Assira village, south of Nablus, attacked Palestinian houses in Southern Assira village. Palestinian residents, especially children and women, were in intimidated and panicked as a result of the attack. There are 62 people, including 46 children and 7 women, living in the targeted houses….
Full Report

VIDEO: Israeli soldiers raid Hebron homes ‘to stay in shape’
ISM 15 Dec …In the occupied area of Hebron known as H2, soldiers entered a family’s residential building and positioned themselves on the roof where they threw soundbombs and pointed their weapons towards civilians on the street. When ISM was notified soldiers on the street prevented them and other residents in the area from crossing the permanent barrier. One man living in the area referred to the event as an “exercise madness” and raised concern over children living in the area. After entering the homes the soldiers later withdrew into the nearby observation tower but returned back to the house after a short period of time. When internationals from the ISM followed the soldiers tried to block them from reaching into the building. When asked about the reason for the exercise in someone’s private home, the soldiers claimed that they needed “to stay in shape.” Families living inside the apartment had not been notified of the exercise and did not know the reason why their homes were being used as military training camp. In the Old City soldiers entered several families’ homes and continued to move up to the rooftops where they took firing positions towards the street where men, women and children were moving….

Al-Khalil (Hebron): Israeli military and intelligence officers stop Old City shop renovations
Christian Peacemaker Teams 15 Dec — On 12-13 December 2011, three armed officers in plain clothes from an Israeli intelligence organization, accompanied by a squadron of Israeli soldiers, forced workers to stop renovations in approximately thirteen Palestinian shops near the entrance of Hebron’s Old City …  A shopkeeper  who participates in B’tselem video project and was filming the inspection on 13 December told CPTers that that the settlers wanted the construction work to stop and particularly did not want HRC to do any renovation; they want to do it themselves “after they take them over or buy them.”  At the end of the inspection on 13 December, the soldiers ordered the newly re-opened shops and those in the process of renovation closed.  Many of the people present expressed a great deal of distress when they learned of the closure, because they had been working on the renovations for a month.


Navy opens fire at fishing boat off Gaza coast; man injured
Ynet 16 Dec – Medical sources in the Gaza Strip reported that the IDF Navy opened fire at a fishing boat sailing off the coast of Gaza. According to the sources, a fisherman was injured in his leg from the shots and was taken to Shifa Hospital in Gaza City. The IDF stated that the boat was sailing north, toward a restricted maritime zone near Israel, and was warned to turn around. However, after the fisherman did not heed the calls, the force opened fire at the boat’s engine.,7340,L-4162610,00.html

Witnesses: Artillery strikes Gaza, no injuries
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 16 Dec — Israeli artillery fire struck the Gaza Strip on Friday, witnesses said. No injuries were reported after the incident near Gaza City. The shells landed near the eastern cemetery in the Shjaiya neighborhood, onlookers said.

Brazil announces $7.5m donation to UNRWA
GAZA (WAFA) 16 Dec – Brazil has announced a new pledge of $7.5 million to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), an unprecedented contribution from the Latin American country to the Agency, an UNRWA press release said Friday.

Korea funds computers in Gaza schools
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 16 Dec — Korea has donated $400,000 to the UN agency for Palestinian refugees to upgrade schools in Gaza with new computers. Korean representative in Ramallah Lee Sangback signed an agreement Thursday with the UN Relief and Works Agency to provide funding for 721 personal computers to 29 schools in the Gaza Strip, UNRWA said in a statement.

Analysis: Revisiting the rules of war in Israel/oPt
TEL AVIV (IRIN) 16 Dec — In the wake of increased violence between the Israeli army and militants in the Gaza Strip, Israeli threats of a second large-scale attack on the occupied Palestinian territory raise pressing questions of international humanitarian law (IHL): How can civilians be better protected during urban warfare? And does IHL need to be amended given the increasingly blurred line between civilians and combatants, especially in places like Gaza?

mornings in Palestine
[photos] In Gaza 16 Dec — I’ve been waking up by 7 or earlier lately, mostly because I’ve had a number of early morning appointments in Gaza City but also because if I wake before the power cuts I can charge the laptop whose battery, like all my laptops, is almost useless. Most mornings are quiet, just bird calls, rooster crows, and footsteps of children leaving for the 7 am school start. Often, Emad’s father is already awake and fiddling with the series of pumps (and generators if the power is already out) that bring town water to the various tanks that supply the 50-some people in this home. And on any given day the aggravating buzz of Israeli drones or hum (or rush, depending on whether they low-fly) of Israeli warplanes is the elevator music background that all of us wish would just end already.

Music school sets different rhythm for Gaza’s children

AFP 15 Dec — A room in Gaza’s only music school fills with the sound of the qanun, a traditional Middle Eastern instrument, transporting listeners far from the impoverished territory. Seven-year-old Zeina al-Hamamra confidently picks out a melody on the instrument, a kind of zither, leaning forward to pluck the farthest strings with tiny fingers strapped with silver picks.

Detention / Prisoner swap

Israeli jails ‘refilled’ after prisoner swap
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 15 Dec — Israel has detained nearly the same number of Palestinians they freed in the first stage of a prisoner exchange deal in the two months since the swap, a prisoners group said on Thursday. Israeli forces detained nearly 470 Palestinians since the Oct. 18 release of 477 prisoners from Israeli jail in exchange for captured Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, Ramallah-based rights group Addameer said.

High Court OKs 2nd phase of Shalit deal
Ynet 16 Dec — Judges reject petition asking to postpone release of 550 security prisoners, say ‘government must honor commitment it made to Hamas’ — Supreme Court Justice Dorit Beinish and judges Asher Grunis and Elyakim Rubinstein rejected a petition filed by Shurat HaDin organization and two bereaved families asking to postpone the execution of the second phase of the Shalit deal, The petitioners claimed that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu should had the government approve a clear list of criteria for the selection of the prisoners slated for release … The prosecution, in its response, claimed that the list does not include prisoners that have blood on their hands, except for two names, and does not include members of Hamas or Islamic Jihad. More than 400 of the 550 prisoners, the prosecution also noted, have already completed two thirds of their prison sentences.,7340,L-4162634,00.html

Gaza official: 6 women, 55 children set for release
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 16 Dec — Riyad al-Ashqar, media director in Gaza’s Ministry of Prisoners, said of the 550 expected to be freed this week, 506 are from the West Bank, 40 are from Gaza, and two are from Jerusalem. Two Jordanian nationals, Saleh Aref and Wael Hurani, will also be freed, he said. The six women to be released is just a portion of the 11 females detainees currently imprisoned by Israel, al-Ashqar said. Fifty-five under-18s are due for release, out of 164 Palestinian children in Israeli jails, according to recent figures from the UN agency UNICEF.

Anger over second phase of swap deal
Ramallah (Gulf News) 16 Dec — Palestinian officials want a say in who is released — The Palestinian Ministry of Detainees’ Affairs expressed dissatisfaction over the second phase of the Shalit prisoner swap deal and held Hamas negotiators responsible for giving Israel the full right to choose 550 Palestinian prisoners to be released on Sunday.Speaking to Gulf News, Eisa Qaraqei, the Minister of Detainees’ Affairs said that Hamas should not have given Israel the right to choose the Palestinian prisoners to be released in the second stage of the deal.

Activism / Solidarity / BDS

In Photos: The construction of segregation
[click on photo for more than 30 images] ISM 16 Dec — About fifty villagers of Qalandia gathered after the Friday prayer and went to the construction site in a peaceful demonstration. They were not more than halfway before the Israeli occupation forces shot a large number of tear gas canisters towards the demonstrators, most of them minors, and then started to fire rubber bullets straight into the crowd. “You know, they will continue this occupation”, one demonstrator said. “But at least we must be able to say that we did something.”

21 arrested in Nabi Saleh demonstration commemorating the death of Mustafa Tamimi
PSCC 16 Dec — Soldiers attacked the peaceful demonstration, shooting tear-gas projectiles directly at protesters. 21 were arrested in an attempt to block the entrance to Halamish settlement and to reach the village’s confiscated spring … The demonstration held today commenced peacefully from the center of the village towards the spring confiscated by the nearby settlement Halamish. Shortly after arriving to the point where Tamimi was shot last week, the march was attacked by a shower tear-gas, shot by Border Police battalions, in both arch direction and directly towards protesters. Massive amounts of tear-gas were shot continuously for approximately 30 minutes, despite the fact that no stone throwing was taking place. In addition, the “Skunk” truck carrying foul-smelling water was used to spray the entire area including the large crews of press present.

IOF troops raid Beit Kahel, suppress demonstrations in Ma‘sara and Bil‘in
Al-Khalil (PIC) 16 Dec — A number of Palestinians were injured in confrontations with invading IOF troops in the village of Beit Kahel to the north west of al-Khalil … The sources said that the clashes with IOF took place as a result of provocations by the invading IOF troops which raided the village as worshipers were coming out of mosques after the Friday prayers…
In the village of al-Ma‘sara, the IOF also suppressed the weekly anti-wall anti-settlement demonstration which also was dedicated to martyr Mustafa al-Tamimi from the village of Nabi Saleh who was killed by the IOF a couple of days ago.
link to

#NabiSaleh demo honouring #MustafaTamimi immediately attacked – Dec 16, 2011 – Live updates Part 1

EU provides €12m for social protection to families
Jerusalem (WAFA) 16 Dec — The European Union (EU) will make on Monday this year’s fourth and last contribution to the Palestinian Authority’s quarterly payment of social allowances to over 66,600 Palestinian households living in extreme poverty in the West Bank and Gaza, an EU press release said Friday.

AI Cafe 17.12.11: Third National BDS Conference
AIC 15 Dec — Please join us on December 17 for the Boycott Divestment Sanctions Movement’s Third National BDS Conference, to be held in Hebron at the Children’s Happiness Center from 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM.

Politics / Diplomacy

US proposal links Palestinian aid to halting UN push
WASHINGTON (Reuters) 15 Dec — Congress would allow American economic aid to the Palestinians to continue next year so long as Palestine is not admitted as a state to any more United Nations organizations, under a proposal released on Thursday. The measure pending before lawmakers would appear to give the Palestinians a pass on the U.N. organization they have already joined — the United Nations Educational, Scientific and cultural Organization (UNESCO). It also says that the Palestinian mission in Washington can remain open so long as Palestine is not admitted to a single additional United Nations entity.

Iceland formally recognizes Palestinian state within 1967 lines
DPA 15 Dec — Palestinian Foreign Minister says move has ‘great meaning’; declaration comes a little more than 2 weeks after Cyprus said it would establish formal ties with PA.

Israeli racism / sexism

EU paper aims to tackle Israel’s treatment of Arab minority
Haaretz 16 Dec — The European Union should consider Israel’s treatment of its Arab population a “core issue, not second tier to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict,” according to a classified working paper produced by European embassies in Israel, parts of which were obtained by Haaretz. This is an unprecedented document in that it deals with internal Israeli issues. According to European diplomats and senior Foreign Ministry officials, it was written and sent to EU headquarters in Brussels behind the back of the Israeli government.

Police: Probe women’s exclusion from J’lem vote
Ynet 15 Dec — Jerusalem Police chief Nisso Shaham has demanded that votes cast at a polling station in Jerusalem’s Strauss Street be disqualified due to claims that haredi men prevented women from participating in the elections for local community council head…
Thursday evening saw 250 people, mostly women, protest in Herzliya over the exclusion of women in the public sphere. Some protesters carried signs reading ‘From Rambam to Khomeini?’ During the rally, Herzliya Mayor Yael German said, “We are here to light a torch against darkness.” Opposition leader Tzipi Livni said the struggle was important to both genders.,7340,L-4162397,00.html

West Bank rabbi hosts female musicians to protest Israeli women’s exclusion
Haaretz 16 Dec — Rabbi Menachem Froman tells the large audience of men and women at the Tekoa synagogue, he sees humiliation and exclusion of women as ‘darkness.’

Israeli activists to launch protest against segregated buses
Haaretz 14 Dec — On the first day of the New Year, a group of men and women will enter segregated buses designated for ultra-Orthodox Jews, as an act of protest against gender segregation. Over 500 people have already signed up for the event on its Facebook, which is slated to take place on New Year’s Day at several locations in both Jerusalem and central Israel.

Racism as self-harm: Man carves ‘death to Arabs’ into his arm
AIC 16 Dec — A young Israeli man by the name of Yisrael Yehudai (lit: Israel Judean) has decided to express his hatred for Arabs not by a sticker, and not by actually attacking anyone (to my knowledge), but by carving the words “Death to Arabs” into his own arm. He posted this as a profile picture back in July, and the pic recently went viral: … the picture illustrates almost  too perfectly a simple truth: Hateful nationalism is narcissistic (as exemplified both by the carving and the taking and posting of the picture), ineffective (the man’s act scarcely advances the cause of the Jewish people), and, most of all, irredeemably all about self-harm. Pretty much all you need to know about it if you ever go shopping for ideologies.

Other news

In photos: Christmas season arrives in Palestine
15 Dec — The holiday season has officially arrived to Palestine, as a national Christmas tree is lit for the first time in Bethlehem’s Nativity Square, on Thursday, Dec. 15, 2011. After an annual address from the mayor, a tree-lighting ceremony was led by Salam Fayyad, the West Bank-based prime minister.

Israel announces new ‘depth’ command for long-range military operations
Haaretz 15 Dec — The Israel Defense Forces is forming a command to supervise “depth” operations, actions undertaken by the military far from Israel’s borders, the army announced on Thursday. The new authority will be commanded by a military officer at the rank of Major General, and will be headed by the former chief of the elite Sayeret Matkal special forces unit Shai Avital, who will return to military service to fill the position. Onoing concerns with Iran’s contentious nuclear program serve as the backdrop for the IDF’s announcement

Arafat’s widow off the hook in Tunisia as investigating judge withdraws warrant
TUNIS, Tunisia (AP) 16 Dec — The Justice Ministry says Tunisia has lifted a warrant summoning the widow of late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat over a corruption scandal. Ministry spokesman Kadhem Zine El Abidine said Friday that the investigating judge who had issued the warrant against Suha Arafat in October has since reversed that order.

Opinion / Analysis

An intimate portrait / Manal Alafrangi
Gulf News 16 Dec — A new documentary on Yasser Arafat includes his wife Suha Arafat’s poignant recollections of the challenges they faced together — The name Yasser Arafat is synonymous with the Palestinian struggle. Affectionately referred to as Abu Ammar by his people and others, Arafat was a freedom-fighter-turned-revolutionary-leader-turned-politician. From his early days in Egypt as a decorated soldier, people around him knew he would one day become the president of Palestinians. This is according to a new documentary about his life and leadership style, called The Price of Kings — Yasser Arafat, which had its Middle Eastern premiere at this year’s Dubai International Film Festival (DIFF).

Lieberman: Israel’s greatest BDS advocate / Uri Yaacobi Keller
AIC 16 Dec — More than any other Minister for Foreign Affairs in the history of Israel, Avigdor Lieberman very much promotes – unconsciously, of course – the agenda of the campaign for boycott and sanctions on Israel. Lieberman does not let Western politicians treat Israel as a liberal and “normal” country even though they would like to do so. In other words: Avigdor Lieberman is the best Minister Of Foreign Affairs Israel has ever had … It would be wrong, of course, to give Lieberman all the credit for Israel’s current diplomatic woes, and its increasing global isolation, but his great contribution should not be underestimated. Lieberman–with the help of his deputy Danny Danon–has destroyed any chance of reviving the Israel-Turkey relationship and has become practically persona non grata throughout Europe and America.

“With friends like these…” / Uri Avnery
Gush Shalom 17 Dec — My God, what a bizarre lot these Republican aspirants for the US presidency are! … Is this the best a great and proud nation can produce? How frightening the thought that one of them may actually become the most powerful person in the world, with a finger on the biggest nuclear button! But let’s concentrate on the present front-runner ... It’s Newt Gingrich. Remember him?The original Newton discovered the Law of Gravity. Newton Leroy Gingrich has discovered something no less earth-shaking: there is an “invented” people around, referring to the Palestinians .. .From its very beginning, the Zionist movement has denied the existence of the Palestinian people. It’s an article of faith.

Israel’s Reut Institute claims ‘price tag’ attacks on EI, Irvine 11 and Palestine Return Centre / Ali Abunimah
EI 15 Dec — Israel’s Reut Institute, which notoriously called on Israeli government agencies to “sabotage” and “attack” the Palestine solidarity movement – and then tried to conceal it – is claiming credit for “price tag” attacks on The Electronic Intifada, the Palestine Return Centre, the Irvine 11 and others. In an assessment titled, “2011: The Year We Punched Back on the Assault on Israel’s legitimacy,” Reut lauds the emergence of “our network” and gives credit to the Israeli government for helping to set it up: “Critical contributions to this emergence include the Government of Israel (GOI) and the Jewish world’s mobilization against the political assault on Israel, progress in connecting between the hubs and catalysts within our network, and the widening of our network’s base (‘the broad tent approach’).”


US Jewish lawmaker: Palestinians have to prove they deserve a state
Haaretz 16 Dec — House Majority Leader Eric Cantor criticizes Palestinian ‘culture of hate,’ says ‘so-called’ Arab Spring poses risk to Israel’s peace treaties

Holocaust scholar blasts ‘Holocaust-abuse’ by US, Israeli politicians
Haaretz 16 Dec — Deborah Lipstadt lambasts ‘unhealthy and embarrassing’ pandering of Republican presidential candidates; says U.S. envoy Gutman’s comments on Muslim anti-Semitism were ‘stupid.’

Netanyahu for President (of America) / Alan Hart
16 Dec — It’s now clear that the Republican frontrunner in the race for the White House is Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu. Officially the two Republican frontrunners are Newt “the Palestinians are an invented people” Gingrich and Mitt “Obama has pushed Israel under a bus” Romney. Both are political whores locked in a competition of their own as well as with President Obama for Zionist lobby organized campaign funds and American Jewish votes. (In a very close election race the latter could determine who becomes president). The probability is that Romney will emerge as the winner and be the one to take on Obama. So what Romney said in the last debate with the other Republican candidates is of critical importance. He said: “If I was president I’d get on the ‘phone to Bibi and say ‘Would it help if I said this?” He said: In other words, if Romney becomes president, Netanyahu will the one determining American foreign policy for Israel-Palestine.

Netanyahu to ‘New York Times’: Take a hike
JPost 16 Dec — Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu is refusing to pen an op-ed piece for The New York Times, signaling the degree to which he is fed up with the influential newspaper’s editorial policy on Israel. In a letter to the Times obtained by The Jerusalem Post on Thursday, Netanyahu’s senior adviser Ron Dermer – in response to the paper’s request that Netanyahu write an op-ed – wrote that the prime minister would “respectfully decline.” Dermer made clear that this had much to do with the fact that 19 of the paper’s 20 op-ed pieces on Israel since September were negative.

The ‘Israel Firster’ brouhaha / MJ Rosenberg
AJ 15 Dec …By the term “Israel firster”, I do not mean that right-wingers and neocons who advance bellicose Middle East policies are putting the interests of Israel first. Far from it. They are putting the interests of Binyamin Netanyahu and his hardliners first. After all, if they were putting Israel first, they would not be promoting policies (such as war with Iran or the perpetuation of the occupation) that could very easily lead to Israel’s destruction or, at least, to the loss of its Jewish majority. The people I call “Israel firsters” are, in fact, Netanyahu firsters … One might ask: Why are progressives who care deeply about Israel never deemed “Israel firsters”? (Think of people like those in J Street and Americans for Peace Now who devote their lives to achieving peace for Israel.)

Q and A: US targeted killings and international law
Human Rights Watch 16 Dec — …Human Rights Watch calls upon the US government to clarify fully and publicly its legal rationale for conducting targeted killings and the legal limits on such strikes.  To date it has not done so, which raises broader concerns, including among US allies, about the lawfulness of its actions and creates a dangerous model that may be followed by abusive governments … International human rights law permits the use of lethal force outside of armed conflict situations [only] if it is strictly and directly necessary to save human life … How many people have US forces killed in targeted killings in recent years? There is no concrete, verifiable number of deaths from US targeted killings. The New America Foundation, which bases its figures on local and international media accounts, conducted a study of reported US drone strikes in northern Pakistan from 2004 to 2011, and concluded that the attacks killed between 1,680 and 2,634 alleged militants and civilians. (listserv) (archive)

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The Israeli Embassy in London s excuse for not extending the UK Ambassadors wife Samira Hassassians residency rights in Jerusalem so that she could continue a chemotherapy course for cancer are despicable,forcing her to return to Jerusalem or lose them. They refused to answere correspondence and she even went to the Israeli Embassy in person but was not allowed in. She caught an infection on the way back from Jerusalem and died 3 months later.… Read more »

Why does the army demolish homes like that in the WB? Serious question for any of the Zionists here. I want to hear their side of the story. Is demolition an exaggeration? Like did they go in for the son and mess the place up, or actually demolish it? Demolition makes no sense. This isn’t the first time this has happened in the WB nor is it the first time it has happened in Jericho.… Read more »