Video: Israeli soldiers attack hunger striker Samer al-Issawi and his family during court appearance

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Soldiers attack hunger-striking detainee and his family
IMEMC 18 Dec — Israeli soldiers of the Nachshon Brigade attacked hunger-striking detainee, Samer Al-Eesawy, and his family when he tried to salute them as he was being taken into court.  Al-Eesawy has been on hunger strike for 142 days demanding an end to his illegal detention, and is facing a sharply deteriorating health condition. Head of the Legal Unit at the Palestinian Prisoners Society (PPS), Jawad Boulos, stated that Al-Eesawy was brought to court after the prosecution claimed that he “violated a legal order” and “tried to manipulate witnesses”, adding that he was cuffed and his legs were shackled. As he was being dragged to the court room, Al-Eesawy tried to greet his family when Israeli soldiers jumped all over him and attacked him in addition to attacking his family members … The judge held a 30-minute court session before deciding to hold another session on December 27, 2012; he only instructed the soldiers that “Al-essay needs to be seen by a doctor”, and acknowledged that that his health condition is “difficult”. Boulos said that the soldiers also beat Al-Eesawy when he tried to talk to reporters, and threw him onto the ground before dragging him from his arms and feet.

Issawi asks for his funeral prayers to take place at the Aqsa Mosque
OCCUPIED JERUSALEM (PIC) 17 Dec — The Palestinian prisoner in Israeli jails, Samer al-Issawi, who went on hunger strike since 141 days, asked in his will that his funeral prayers be performed at the Aqsa Mosque and to be buried next to his brother Fadi, insisting to continue his hunger strike until his release.

Group: Sister of hunger-striker detained in Jerusalem
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an)18 Dec — The sister of hunger-striker Samer Issawi was arrested from their East Jerusalem home on Tuesday, prisoners rights group Addameer said. Shireen Issawi was detained by Israeli forces in Issawiya after she tried to access her brother’s court hearing earlier in the day, the group said. The family were blocked by Israeli forces at the court when they tried to greet Samer, and later denied access to the court, prisoners groups said.

Ministry: Long-term hunger strikers refuse exile
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 18 Dec — Two hunger-strikers in critical condition in an Israeli prison have refused exile, the Ministry of Prisoner Affairs said Tuesday. Ayman Sharawneh, 36, has been on hunger strike for 171 days and is suffering muscle spasms, memory loss and severe kidney and abdominal pains, the ministry’s lawyer Fadi Abedat said. Samer al-Issawi has refused food for 140 days in Israel’s Ramle prison and was briefly hospitalized when his heart dropped to 36 beats per minute, the lawyer added. Israeli authorities proposed releasing al-Issawi and Sharawneh to exile but both prisoners refused, Abedat said. Israeli prison services spokeswoman Siwan Weizman said both men were still on hunger strike but that they were “both fine.”

Hossam: A crime committed against the prisoner Nahid Aqra
PNN — On Monday 17th December, “Hossam” Association said that Israel’s Prison Service (IPS) has committed an inhumane crime against Palestinian prisoner patient Nahid Aqra from Gaza whom is imprisoned at Ramla prison hospital. The Association stressed that IPS doctors refused to carry out a surgery to amputate his left foot after an urgent need for amputation below his knee after it became a threat to the rest of his body where rotted tissue and penetrated toxins, Further all drugs and painkillers had failed to relief his pain, which requires urgent surgical intervention to save his life.

The manipulation of justice in the occupied Palestinian territories
MEMO 18 Dec by Ramona Wadi — ‘Eyes on Israel’s Military Court’ is Addamer’s latest report about the manipulation of justice in the Occupied Palestinian Territories. The report contains recollections by volunteers who visited Israeli jails between 2009 and 2011 and portrays the vivid difference between Israel’s assumed stance as a state built upon the foundations of human rights, and the reality of an apartheid system whose trials are likened to various abuses committed at Guantanamo …
It is estimated that 99.74% of detainees are found guilty in Israeli courts – plea bargains make up the majority of these convictions. In a court system which thrives upon illegality and human rights abuses, plea bargains aid a system in which confessions signed by prisoners under coercion are written in Hebrew; the right to an interpreter is neglected; and the testimony of an Israeli soldier is considered sufficient to elicit a conviction. Military courts classify offences under five categories: ‘hostile terrorist activity’, ‘disturbance of public order’, ‘classic criminal offences’, ‘illegal presence in Israel’ and ‘traffic offences in the Occupied Palestinian Territories’.
The report notes that the PLO is still considered illegal, despite the fact that Israel engages in negotiations with the organisation. Carrying a Palestinian flag or ‘pouring coffee’ for a member of a so-called illegal organisation is tantamount to an offence according to an Israeli military court.

Report: Israel to shorten pre-trial detention of Palestinian children
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 18 Dec — Israeli authorities on Tuesday decided to shorten the detention period of Palestinian children before they appear in court, Israeli radio reported. Palestinian children aged under 14 will appear in court within 24 hours of arrest, and those aged between 14 and 16 will appear in court within 48 hours, Voice of Israel radio said. Legal procedures for Palestinians aged 17 must be completed within a year, but this period can be extended by three months, according to the report. The decision followed criticism from Israel’s high court over the treatment of Palestinian children in Israeli custody, after the Palestinian Authority Ministry of Prisoner Affairs filed a petition protesting the detention of children.

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

Israel presses on with plans for 6,000 new settler homes
JERUSALEM (Reuters) 18 Dec — Israeli officials said they would press on with plans this week to build 6,000 homes for settlers on Palestinian land, defying criticism from Western powers who fear the move will hit already faint hopes for a peace accord. Stung by the de facto recognition of Palestinian sovereignty in a UN General Assembly vote last month, Israel announced it would expand settlements in the occupied West Bank including East Jerusalem.

US slams Israeli ‘pattern of provocation’
AP/Barak Ravid 18 Dec — The United States has slammed Israel for continuing to announce new settlement construction on land claimed by the Palestinians in an unusually rare and blunt criticism of its top Mideast ally. The State Department accused Israel on Tuesday of engaging in a “pattern of provocative action” that runs counter to statements from Israeli leaders that they are committed to peace.

More than 400 Jewish clergy press Netanyahu on E1
JTA 18 Dec — More than 400 American Jewish clergy asked Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu not to go ahead with new construction in a corridor connecting eastern Jerusalem to the West Bank settlement of Maale Adumim. “We fear that building settlements in E1 would be the final blow to a peaceful solution,” read the letter released Monday and organized by J Street, Americans for Peace Now and Rabbis for Human Rights-North America.–jewish-clergy-press-netanyahu-on-e/

Head of Israeli Knesset says ‘Jerusalem not part of negotiations’
MEMO 18 Dec — The head of the Israeli Knesset, Reuven Rivlin, said on Tuesday that settlement construction in Jerusalem would continue and asserted that Israel would not give-up control over occupied East Jerusalem under any peace agreement with the Palestinians. The prominent member of the Likud Party also told the main Israeli radio station that all E1 areas are non-negotiable;

[Demolition notices in Al-Khalil]
AL-KHALIL (PIC) 18 Dec — …Meanwhile, local sources in the south of al-Khalil said that the occupation forces handed over on Tuesday to a number of citizens in Deir Samet, Beit Awwa and Marah Bakar area demolition notices for five installations, including houses, under the pretext that they have been built without permits. Eyewitnesses told PIC that the Israeli soldiers also raided the areas in the west of al-Khalil where they handed over to the owner of an installation a demolition notice.

Photo Essay: E1 is not a ‘land without a people’
Activestills 18 Dec — A recent New York Times article ran under the misleading headline,
“West Bank Land, Empty but Full of Meaning”, referring to the E1 area where the Israeli government recently announced new settlement building in spite of international opposition. Strangely, the photo appearing in the online edition underneath that headline pictures a Bedouin man who owns land in E1. The Times headline is especially troubling for its resonance with the Israeli national myth that the land was “empty” before the Zionists came and “made the desert bloom.” Such language reinforces decades-old misconceptions to the casual reader, while the disconnect between the headline and the photo illustrates the internal contradictions of Nakba denial and Zionist mythology: there was no one here, and they all need to leave.

Christmas in Gaza: Israeli military to allow some Gaza Christians to leave for holiday
Antiwar 18 Dec by Jason Ditz — 500 Gazans to Be Allowed to Visit Bethlehem — Christmas in Gaza is likely as grim as most other days in Gaza. The situation is improving some with the latest ceasefire, but with the blockade still operating in parts, the tiny strip is a lousy place to spend the holidays. Lousy enough that even the Israeli military appears to have taken notice, and is making a big show of allowing Christians
to leave the strip briefly, just for Christmas, to visit Bethlehem, a city in the occupied West Bank. Only some are getting to leave, however, as the Israeli military is issuing around 500 permits in the strip, where the Christian population is estimated at about 10,000. The military is also said to be planning to decrease operations around Bethlehem to facilitate Christian pilgrims’ visits.

Sinai group threatens to demolish Jewish monuments in Egypt
EL-ARISH, Egypt (Ma‘an) 18 Dec — A Sinai-based group threatened Tuesday to demolish a Jewish tomb if Israeli authorities destroy a Ramallah-area monument for Egyptian fighters killed in fighting with Israel. The Ahrar of Sinai (Free People of Sinai) movement will destroy the Abu Yaakov Abuhatzeira tomb in Beheira and Dayan Rock if Israel demolishes the Egyptian monument, the head of the movement told Ma‘an.

Violence / Incursions / Illegal arrests / Provocations

Soldiers attack funeral of Palestinian child in Hebron
IMEMC 18 Dec — Israeli soldiers attacked, Tuesday, hundreds of Palestinians participating in a funeral of a child [PIC: Mohammed Sabarna] in Beit Ummar town, north of the southern West Bank city of Hebron; at least three residents have been injured. The Popular Committee Against the Wall and Settlements in Beit Ummar reported that the army attacked the funeral procession of a 13-year old child who died of a chronic disease. The Committee added that the army was heavily deployed at the northern entrance of Beit Ummar, and conducted provocative acts against the residents leading to clashes with local youths. The soldiers fired several rounds of live ammunition, rubber-coated metal bullets and gas bombs at local youths; three were hit by rubber-coated metal bullets while dozens were treated for the effects of tear gas inhalation.

Israeli attacks on children escalate
MEMO 18 Dec — An official report has alleged that Israeli attacks against Palestinian children in the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip have escalated in the past two weeks. Issued by the Child Information Department in the Palestinian Ministry of Information on Monday, the report pointed out that Israel’s killing of 17 year-old Mohamed Salaymeh in Hebron brought the number of children martyred since the start of the November offensive against the Gaza Strip to 50.
In addition, children continue to be arrested by the Israeli occupation forces. Twenty-one have been arrested since the beginning of December, including two girls: Tamrlen Al-Sau, aged 15, and Tala Al-Sau, 16, whose house was stormed in the neighbourhood of Qa’a El-Hara in occupied Jerusalem.

Madama attack: Harrowing account from the Nassar family
ISM 18 Dec — Following yesterday’s attack on the village of Madama by Israeli soldiers and settlers, Huda Ibraheem Nassar, the mother of the family who were violently attacked yesterday, recounted to us the harrowing story of what happened. Currently one of her sons who was seized by settlers in what yesterday was thought to be a kidnap is now being held in the Huwwara Military Camp, while the other is recovering from gunshot wounds in his leg. Huda herself and two of her daughters were beaten by Israeli soldiers during the attack on Monday.

Several injuries reported in night invasion near Nablus
IMEMC 18 Dec — Palestinian medical sources reported that several young Palestinian men have been injured on Monday at night, including one who suffered a serious injury, after the army invaded Madama village, south of the northern West Bank city of Nablus. Ehab Al-Qut, head of the Madama Village Council, stated that clashes took place when the Israeli army shot and seriously injured a shepherd herding his flock in Palestinian lands close to the village. Al-Qut added that the shepherd, identified as Ma’moun Nasser, was seriously injured and was kidnapped by the soldiers who took him to an undisclosed location. Furthermore, the army kidnapped one resident, identified as Sami Rif’at, after breaking into his home in the village, and violently searching it, leading to property damage.

Attacks on the citizens and break-ins in Al-Khalil
AL-KHALIL (PIC) 18 Dec — A group of Israeli settlers attacked, on Monday evening, Palestinian farmers near the town al-Rihiya in the south of al-Khalil. Local sources said that settlers from the settlement of “Beit Haggai”, set up on Palestinian land in the south of al-Khalil, attacked Palestinian farmers and citizens, under the protection of the occupation forces, which had prevented the farmers from entering their lands located near the settlement. The sources added that the occupation arrested a Palestinian citizen during the attacks, and transferred him to an unknown destination.

Israeli police arrest Palestinians, raid village north of Jerusalem
JERUSALEM 18 Dec (WAFA) – Israeli police Tuesday at dawn arrested a number of Palestinians after raiding al-Issawiya village, north of Jerusalem, said witnesses. They told WAFA that Israeli police raided the village and broke into the houses, arresting a number of Palestinians who were transferred to the Russian Compound for interrogation. They said that Israeli helicopters are still hovering over the village with security surveillance around the clock.T he village is witnessing daily clashes between the police and the Palestinian residents, who have been protesting in solidarity with [hunger-]striking prisoner Samer Issawi

Israeli army detains 16 in West Bank raids
SALFIT (Ma‘an) 18 Dec — Israeli forces detained 16 Palestinians overnight Monday in raids across the West Bank, the army said.
An Israeli military spokeswoman told Ma‘an that 16 people were detained for “security questioning,” including seven in the Hebron district, four around Nablus and two in Ramallah. Three people were detained in Salfit in the northern West Bank, she said.

IOF breaks into the house of leader Majed Hassan
RAMALLAH (PIC) 18 Dec — Israeli occupation forces (IOF) raided at dawn Tuesday the city of Ramallah in the center of the occupied West Bank, then broke into the house of one of Hamas leaders and summoned him to the Israeli intelligence headquarters. According to private sources, a large force of the occupation army broke into the home of leader Majed Hassan, 50, at dawn and terrorized his kids.

Occupation detains five journalists in Bethlehem
BETHLEHEM (PIC) 18 Dec — The Israeli occupation forces detained on Tuesday afternoon five [Palestinian] journalists in Al-Khader village in Bethlehem during their coverage of one of the Palestinian families suffering due to the Israeli settlers’ repeated attacks against them. The journalist Mamduh Natshe, a reporter for Al-Quds TV,  told PIC that he visited, along with four other journalists, the home of al-Bulbol family who was subjected to frequent attacks by the Israeli settlers and occupation forces, in the area of al-Khader in Bethlehem and Israeli occupation soldier came and arrested them … He said that the occupation forces forced them to stop filming, and held them for more than an hour, claiming that they were in a forbidden zone, and examined the filmed material, and informed them that the area is a military zone.

Israeli police arrest alleged resistance cell in occupied Jerusalem
OCCUPIED JERUSALEM (PIC) 18 Dec — Three Palestinians were recently arrested for allegedly establishing a Hamas-affiliated cell for popular resistance in occupied Jerusalem, the Hebrew radio reported on Monday. It said that the three were captured in Shu‘fat refugee camp, east of Jerusalem, and Ras Khamis suburb in northern Jerusalem. The broadcast said that an indictment list was presented against the three including charges of throwing stones and firebombs on police and border police forces.

Israel [has] kidnapped 173 Palestinians this month
IMEMC 18 Dec — …The center said that most of the arrests took place in Hebron district, in the southern part of the West Bank, as the soldiers kidnapped 45 Palestinians, in addition to 32 in Nablus, 24 in Bethlehem, 22 in Ramallah, 10 in Qalqilia, 9 in Tulkarem, 7 in Tubas and 4 in Jericho … The Prisoners Support and Human Rights Association (Ad-Dameer) reported that by the beginning of this month, the number of Palestinians held by Israel arrived to 4656. Ad-Dameer said that there are 178 detainees, including 7 elected members of parliament, are currently held under illegal Administrative Detention orders without charges

Israeli air force performs manoeuvres over the West Bank
MEMO 18 Dec — Eyewitnesses and field monitors reported on Tuesday that the Israeli air force carried out air exercises over West Bank cities as a part of what is believed to be preparations for a third intifada. According to witness reports, there has been a heavy presence of Israeli military helicopters in groups of two and three over Palestinian cities of the West Bank. Planes are flying across the skies of the West Bank at night, turning off their lights and flying at low altitude, witnesses said. However, those that fly during the day do so at high altitude, take up positions and stop in the sky several times. Similar planes took vital part in targeting and assassinating Palestinian fighters during the Al-Aqsa Intifada, more widely known among Palestinians as the Second Intifada.

Police arrest 3 ‘price-tag’ suspects
Ynet 18 Dec –  Three men were brought before the Jerusalem Magistrates Court Tuesday, for allegedly committing acts of “price tag” vandalism. The men – Aaron Sadigurky (21), Yehiel Lex (22) and Nathanael Kellerman (19) were arrested some two weeks ago for allegedly setting fire to a car in the village of Dhahiriya near Hebron and spraying graffiti on a mosque. According to details revealed in the arraignment, Sadigurky, Lex and Kellerman were the subjects of a lengthy police investigation, as the car with which they were systematically vandalizing property was known to the police. The car, a red Subaru, had given the case the nickname “The Red Japanese,” and is now key evidence in the case.,7340,L-4321686,00.html


Israeli forces break truce and breach Gaza’s borders
MEMO 18 Dec — On Tuesday morning, a number of Israeli military vehicles invaded the eastern part of Khan Younis to the south of the Gaza Strip. Witnesses from Khoza‘a said that the Israeli vehicles, which were accompanied by drones, fired live ammunition at residential houses and farms in the area, but no causalities were reported. According to eyewitness accounts, two Israeli bulldozers began digging in the area and flattening the land to make a passage believed to be for the movement of military vehicles based behind Khoza‘a school. [PIC: This is the third IOF incursion east of Khan Younis since the calm agreement went into effect on 21st November.]

Gaza fisherman jailed for serving Hamas coffee
EI 18 Dec by Eva Bartlett — … According to Mifleh Abu Riyala, a representative of the General Syndicate of Marine Fishermen, the ceasefire has made no difference to Palestinian fishermen. Palestinians are allowed, under the current Israel-Hamas ceasefire, “to fish six miles out,” he said, “but the Israeli gunboats still attack us, whether we are six or three miles out.” … “But there are no fish at six miles, the sea floor is still sandy. It is only after seven miles out that the sea floor becomes rocky and the fish are plentiful,” Abu Riyala said. “It is our sea, in order to live we must be able to access it.” … Mohammed Baker, 70, has been fishing for half a century. He remembers the days when Gaza’s sea was open to Palestinian fishermen, and when there was no fear of being attacked, arrested or killed by the Israeli navy. Two of his sons, Amar, 34, and Omar, 21, were among the 14 fishermen attacked by Israeli gunboats on 1 December … Amar, married with six children, was still being held by Israeli authorities on 5 December when his father, Mohammed, recounted the events of that fateful day … “They told me Amar is forbidden from talking with anyone. He is under interrogation,” Mohammed said. Amar now stands accused of “being part of the Palestinian resistance,” a charge based on his previous job of making coffee and tea for
Hamas officers. “My son was a ‘kitchen boy’. People who work for the government are still civilians,” Mohammed said, echoing the tenets of international humanitarian law.

Gaza diary: From one war to another
Haaretz 18 Dec by Abeer Ayyoub — When they fled the overwhelming violence in Syria, the family didn’t know that they were putting themselves straight into another bitter, life-threatening offensive. M., who preferred to be identified by his initial and refused to be photographed for security reasons, arrived at the Hamas-run enclave of the Gaza  Strip in June 2012, to visit his sister, when the “uprising” in Syria ratcheted up to a higher volume of aggression. By October, he found himself forced to move his wife and two children from Syria to the Gaza Strip. “In the beginning, my children used to phone from Syria and beg me to come back home, but later they asked me to bring them here,”he noted. M. never dreamed he would be bringing his family to another dangerous zone. He was thinking only of how he could reunite with them.

The tragedy of eight-year-old Sarah
MEMO 18 Dec — The eight-day Israeli offensive against the Gaza Strip last month was traumatic for all civilians, not least the students of Hassan Salameh School in northern Gaza. Every student has a dramatic and traumatic incident to relate, but those in the second primary stage, section ‘A’ have an especially exclusive story. While they were talking about their difficulties during the war, 8-year old Wejdan screamed as she stared at the empty chair next to her. “Sarah is not here! Sarah is absent!” Sarah al-Dalou, was killed along with nine members of her family, including her parents, when an Israeli F16 fighter jet attacked her house; she was a student in Hassan Salameh School … According to statistics from the Ministry of Education in Gaza, Sarah was one of 25 school children killed by the Israeli attacks against civilians during the war. More than 300 students were wounded.

Agriculture ministry warns beetles threaten Gaza data harvest
‘an) 18 Dec — Agriculture minister Ali al-Tarshawi on Tuesday warned that beetles are threatening the date harvest in the Gaza Strip. The red palm weevil, a species of beetle, has been spreading in the Gaza Strip since Sept. 2011, al-Tarshawi said at a news conference in Gaza City … The ministry has set up an emergency committee to address the problem and raise awareness of the beetle among farmers, he said, adding that palm trees in southern Gaza were worst affected.

Malaysian Hope delegation arrives in Gaza
GAZA (PIC) 18 Dec — The Malaysian Hope delegation arrived in Gaza on Monday night through the Rafah border terminal carrying with it medical relief material. Terminal sources told the PIC reporter that the 11-member delegation is carrying with it three tons of medicine and other medical supplies.


Ambassador: Palestinian camp in Damascus deserted
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 18 Dec — Over 95 percent of Palestinians in Yarmouk have fled the refugee camp near Damascus under heavy shelling, the Palestinian ambassador to Syria said Tuesday. Mahmud al-Khalidi told Ma‘an that refugees fled to UNRWA schools amid violent clashes between rebels and forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar Assad. Rebel and Palestinian sources said Syrian rebels took full control of Yarmouk camp on Monday after fighting raged for days in the district on the southern edge of Damascus. Al-Khalidi said he had contacted the Syrian Foreign Ministry to request an end to airstrikes on Yarmouk, but Syrian officials insisted rebels must leave the camp first.

For Syria’s Palestinians, fleeing refugee camp easier said than done
Antiwar 18 Dec by Jason Ditz — Residents of the Yarmouk Palestinian refugee camp in Damascus fled the camp en masse over the past two days, as rebels and regime clashed over control of it. The
rebels have the camp, for now, but tens of thousands of refugees have no place to go. Many of them are choosing, like so many others in Syria, to flee across the border as the civil war gets worse. That’s not so easy for the Palestinians, who are refugees in the first place and are struggling to both get permission to leave the country and permission to enter another. Still they’re trying, and over 1,000 of the Palestinians have managed to flee into Lebanon, where they hope to ride the war out in the Ain al-Hilweh refugee camp, the largest in Lebanon.

Palestinian National Council denounces PFLP-GC leader over Syria
AMMAN, Jordan (Ma‘an) — The Palestinian National Council on Tuesday denounced faction leader Ahmad Jibril over his role in involving Palestinians in the conflict in Syria … Jibril, head of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine – General Command, is accused of dragging Palestinians into the conflict despite a decision by the Palestinian leadership that Palestinians must not intervene in internal Syrian affairs.

Political, economic developments

PA ‘hopes to continue basic services’ amid financial crisis
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 18 Dec — The Palestinian Authority on Tuesday urged immediate action to prevent the government’s collapse, and said it hoped to continue providing basic services … The cabinet also called for immediate transferal of the so-called Arab safety net, a monthly payment of $100 million agreed at the Arab League last week to cover the government’s expenses. Ministers noted that the monthly shortfall of the government, which was hit by multiple donor cuts, totals $240 million and said it hoped the Arab League would increase the safety net.

Fayyad calls for emergency Arab summit to rescue PA from financial crisis
MEMO 18 Dec — The Palestinian Prime Minister, Salam Fayyad, yesterday [December 17] called for an emergency Arab summit to rescue the Palestinian Authority from financial distress which he said had left it unable to provide services to the Palestinian people, particularly in terms of its ability to pay the salaries of its employees. In a press meeting held at his offices in Ramallah, Fayyad recalled an initiative proposed by Saudia Arabia’s King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz in 2000 in which he asserted that the Palestinian people were in need of $1 billion and called for an Arab summit to support them. King Abdullah also took the initiative of making a $250 million contribution from Saudi Arabia.

Schools to strike Wednesday, Thursday
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 18 Dec — The Palestinian Authority’s ministry of education is considering heading early to the winter holiday before final exams, a ministry official said. Undersecretary Muhammad Abu Zeid told Ma‘an that “the ministry is following up with the teachers’ strike hour by hour, and is studying a suggestion to go early to the winter holiday in an attempt to save the semester.” According to Abu Zeid, it was suggested that the winter holiday start Sunday, and students would have to sit for final exams at the beginning of the second semester.

Housing ministry employees hold Ramallah sit-in
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 18 Dec — Dozens of employees of the ministry of public works and housing held a sit-in at their Ramallah office on Tuesday, but said they would not take part in a government strike this week. The ministry workers want to make clear that they do not have enough money to cover their transport to work, even though they will won’t strike with other government employees from Tuesday until Thursday, ministry spokesman Salah Haniyeh said.

PA threatens Hamas official to stop preaching or face arrest
RAMALLAH (PIC) 18 Dec — The Palestinian authority ministry of religious affairs in Ramallah city summoned senior Hamas official Jamal Tawil and told him he was banned from giving religious lectures and lessons at the mosques of Ramallah and Al-Bireh cities. His family reported that the ministry told Tawil that the PA intelligence agency had issued an arrest warrant against him and it would be effective if he refused the orders. According to his family, Tawil does not care about such threats which he described as inconsistent with the reconciliation climate in the Palestinian arena

Analysis / Opinion

Destination Palestine: Tourism’s denied potential
PNN 18 Dec — PLO Negotiations Affairs Department issued in a press release the fact sheet entitled “Destination Palestine: Tourism’s Denied Potential” This year, Palestine is celebrating Christmas for the first time as an Observer State at the United Nations (UN) … With all eyes of the world focused on Palestine and Bethlehem during Christmas time, this is an excellent opportunity to shed more light on the many challenges and obstacles facing Palestine as a country and more specifically as a tourism destination. Christmas is a national holiday for Palestinians, who celebrate at three different times according to the Catholic, Greek-Orthodox and Armenian calendars. For Christians, Bethlehem is the place where the singular moment of salvation history took place. For non-Christians, the message of Bethlehem is timeless and goes “beyond borders”. Its message of peace and reconciliation is universal, touching the deepest hopes and dreams of all nations and peoples. For Palestinians, no hope for human dignity, independence or peace is possible until the occupation ends.

A ‘truly’ Jewish democracy
972mag 17 Dec by Tomer Persico — Moshe Feiglin is one of the Likud party’s most extreme members, and one of its most clear and systematic ideologues. He is the head of the party’s ‘Jewish Leadership’ group, and the 23rd name on the Likud-Beitenu list for the next Knesset elections. The following is an attempt by religion researcher Tomer Persico to assess Feiglin’s views on popular sovereignty and democracy … What sort of a democracy serves a specific people, not universal principles? Of course, this is a popular democracy, known in its more mild versions as communal democracy. This version of democracy is principally different from liberal democracy. Feiglin, who is certainly well-read and learned, knows this well, and expressly differentiates between liberal democracy and communal democracy, only the latter of which he supports:

Israel’s newest national project: ridding the country of ‘foreigners’
972mag 18 Dec by ‘Laissez Passer’ — The distortions in Israel’s asylum system ensure a refugee recognition rate of zero. Not only does this place asylum seekers at risk, but it exposes what appears to be a concerted effort to overhaul the system so as to deport as many people as possible.

The Freedom Bus: Taking resistance on tour in the West Bank / Marta Fortunato
972mag 18 Dec — In September, a troupe of performers from the West Bank and Israel held a nine-day tour throughout the West Bank, promoting cultural resistance and staging innovative performance styles in an attempt to unify disparate Palestinian realities … Samir is a shepherd from Al-Hadidiya, an isolated and marginalized Palestinian community in the north part of the Jordan Valley. Less than one hundred meters from the village’s tents and barracks,  is the Israeli settlement of Ro’i, built on confiscated Palestinian lands. Al-Hadidiya was one of the destinations chosen by the Freedom Bus, a new initiative by the
Freedom Theatre. Their troupe is composed of Palestinian actors and musicians from Bethlehem, Ramallah, Tulkarem, Jenin and Nazareth that use interactive theatre and cultural activism to give voice to the suffering and the resistance of the Palestinian people. (listserv) (archive)

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I would like to recommend the following movies about the Palestinian-Israeli issue: 1. The Time that Remains (2009)— Written and directed by Elia Suleiman, a Palestinian from Nazareth. A chronicle (Drama) of events from 1948 until the late 1990s through the eyes of one Palestinian family. 2. Haifa (1996) — Written and directed by Rashid Masharawi, a Palestinian from Gaza. Haifa follows several characters as they go about their daily existence in a Palestinian refugees… Read more »