Land, property theft & destruction / Ethnic cleansing / Apartheid / Restriction of movement
House demolitions: Zionism’s constant background noise
972blog 17 June by Idan Landau, translated from Hebrew by Ofer Neiman — Hardly a day goes by without the State of Israel demolishing an Arab home between the Jordan River and the sea. The hum of bulldozers is the constant background noise of Zionism. Listen to it for a few moments. When people summarize the Zionist project, with the fanfare of victory or the gloom of defeat, one thing will be certain, they will be puzzled over one strange mystery. How could so many people associate Zionism with creation and construction, and not with regression and destruction. After all, in parallel with the endless construction frenzy, especially beyond the green line, the hum of bulldozers has always been audible: beating, breaking, shattering.
Israel informing Palestinians of land confiscation by mail
NABLUS (Ma‘an) 19 June — Israeli authorities have started using registered mail to inform Palestinians of land confiscations, a Palestinian Authority official said Wednesday. Israel’s Civil Administration has sent letters to a number of Nablus residents informing them of decisions to confiscate their land, said Ghassan Daghlas, who monitors settlement activity. Daghlas said the unprecedented move was “dangerous.” Israeli forces usually deliver confiscation decisions and home demolition notices by hand.
Six homes in Sarra threatened with demolition orders
Sarra (ISM) 19 June by Nablus Team — On Monday 10th June Israeli occupation forces in jeeps visited six homes in Sarra and left demolition orders that affect the lives of around fifty people all with young children … The threat of demolition is due to the Israeli belief that the homes fall under the boundary of Area C, but the families involved believed the land to be in Area B and paid costs and were granted permission from the PA. One home owner affected, Mustafa Durabi said ‘If I had known it was Area C I would not have built here. I have other land but here is nice and quiet that is why I build here.’ Although the homes are very close to the border with Area C, some other homes are closer or just as close, but have not been issued with demolition orders. The homes facing demolition house new families, new couples with children at the start of their lives together. The families have invested all their money into the homes, to which a council member from the village says ‘It’s like their dreams are going to be demolished too.’
The families are in deep shock and are challenging the ‘decision’ in court on the 9th of July at Bet El settlement. The village think that the recent demolition orders are in response to plans to resist against an approved construction of an electrical transformer station in the land of Area B of the village.
PA: Israel to demolish 9 homes in Nablus village
NABLUS (Ma‘an) 20 June — Israeli forces handed down warning notices to nine residents to clear their houses of their belongings ahead of demolition in the village of Duma in the northern West Bank district of Nablus, a Palestinian Authority official said. PA settlement affairs chief Ghassan Daghlas said the residents were told their homes were built without a permit. Parts of the village are designated as Area C, over which Israel retains near-exclusive control over zoning, construction and security. According to the UN only 1 percent of the whole of Area C has been allocated for Palestinian construction, forcing Palestinians to “build illegally.”
Israel’s defense minister considering legalizing disputed West Bank outpost
Haaretz 19 June by Chaim Levinson — Moshe Ya’alon is negotiating with settlers to legalize the Havat Gilad outpost in exchange for their voluntary withdrawal from four structures in the West Bank’s Area B … Area B is designated under the Oslo agreements as being under Palestinian civil control and joint Israeli-Palestinian security control. Following two weeks of intense negotiations, the settlers have agreed to evacuate the four Area B structures — which are slated by the state for demolition — within eight days. In exchange for their voluntary withdrawal, Ya’alon (Likud) has agreed to examine the possibility of officially recognizing the Havat Gilad settlement, beginning with an examination of land ownership rights. This is the first time a government source has declared their intention to legalize the Havat Gilad outpost.
Anatomy of land theft
Bethlehem redefined by settlers at Ush Ghrab — IMEMC 19 June by Doris Norrito — Violence came to Bethlehem last May on a quiet Sunday morning. According to a report from the International Middle East Media Center, on 12 May 2013, Israeli soldiers fired concussion grenades at demonstrators who tried to enter Ush Ghrab, a section of the Bethlehem town of Beit Sahour. Owned by generations of Palestinians, Israel wants to use the land at Ush Ghrab for part of a planned Jewish settlement. Attacks by Israeli soldiers on villagers who protest the taking of their land occur regularly throughout the occupied West Bank but until recently, demonstrators at Ush Ghrab had been left alone. Israel straddles a fine line in Bethlehem. Located close to the Church of the Nativity, birthplace of Jesus, the rights to the historically Christian land are being gauged against the avarice of newcomers eager to take it. Less than a mile away from the venerated church, an attack on Ush Ghrab appears as an attack on the Christian values brought by the Prophet of Peace. [history of Israeli encroachment on this area follows]
Israeli assaults al-Aqsa Mosque guard
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 19 June — An Israeli extremist on Wednesday assaulted a guard at the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound after dozens of Jewish worshipers entered the Islamic holy site. Muwafaq Hamami was trying to stop an Israeli extremist taking photos of women at the compound when the Israeli hit him and knocked him unconscious, witnesses told Ma‘an. Hamami was taken to Hadassah Medical Center for treatment. Dozens of Israelis entered the Al-Aqsa Mosque on Wednesday. Four Israelis started to perform Jewish prayers on leaving the compound, and Muslim worshipers tried to stop them, leading to further clashes.
Jews arrested for Temple Mount prayer
Times of Israel 19 June by Adiv Sterman — Four Jewish Israelis were arrested at the Temple Mount Wednesday after praying in the Jerusalem compound, considered Judaism’s holiest site. The four prostrated themselves at the site, prompting police to detain them and escort them to a nearby police station for questioning, police said. Under current laws, Jews are allowed to ascend the mount and pray at the site, which is revered as the location of both ancient Jewish temples. However, police have the right to veto any visits and in practice prevent both prayer and high-profile Jewish visits.
Israel police officer tells Haaretz war on ‘price tag’ attacks far from over
Haaretz 19 June by Chaim Levinson, Gili Cohen & Yaniv Kubovich — Officer pessimistic about chances of stopping right-wing hate crimes over next few months, citing lack of deterrence and the strong trust and cohesion among the perpetrators — The officer said that over the next few months, the police’s National Crime Unit of the Judea and Samaria District, which is responsible for the West Bank, would be hiring around 50 new police officers. Police officials are also waiting to see if Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon will declare the perpetrators of ‘price tag’ incidents an outlawed organization. Police hope these two measures will bring greater success in dealing with the phenomenon. Police officials believe that the main problem is the complete lack of deterrence among young right-wing activists. The officer added that a series of solved crimes would restore the feeling that the rule of law prevailed.
Arabs targeted in hate crimes left to cover costs, unrecognized by Israel as terror victims
Haaretz 20 June by Nir Hasson — Government’s decision to classify perpetrators of ‘price tag’ attacks as members of illegal organizations rather than terrorists makes victims ineligible for compensation from the state — Two days after unidentified assailants slashed the tires of 28 cars and daubed hate slogans on homes in the Israeli Arab village of Abu Ghosh, the victims of the attacks – believed to have been carried out by Jewish extremists – voiced dismay that they are ineligible for compensation from the state. One of the families targeted by the ‘price tag‘ attack lamented that all four of the cars in its possession have been vandalized, including a luxury jeep. The cost to repair the latter vehicle could amount to NIS 5,000 per tire … On occasion, instead of receiving compensation from the state, the victims are handed a bill. Three months ago four cars in the northern village of Akbara were torched. A few days later, the owners of the vehicles were asked to pay for the firefighters’ services – NIS 400 per car. “Clearly no one would have dared to send a receipt to the victims of Arab terrorism,” said Gadi Gvaryahu, the founder of Tag Meir, a coalition of groups advocating for the rights of ‘price tag’ victims. “The State of Israel must recognize victims of Jewish terrorism the same way it recognize victims of terrorism perpetrated by Arabs.”
New Wall construction to surround Azzun Atma
Azzun Atma (ISM) 20 June by Nablus Team — On the 18th of June, two bulldozers arrived with Israeli forces in the village of Azzun Atma, southeast of Qalqilya, and began to work on the land behind the village’s school, to what is believed to be the construction of the new wall. Accompanying the bulldozers to the village was the Israeli army and border police, including the local Israeli army commander who said the action was based on a High Court decision by the Israeli government. He said it was in order to protect their citizens, and if anybody tried to stop the construction, they would then close the gate to the village, the only way in and out …The villagers fear that this new construction is being done in order to replace the current two metre barbed mesh fence that surrounds the village from all sides and separates it from the settlements nearby, with the concrete wall.
Settlers building illegal road on Palestinian land in Hebron
[with VIDEO] Hebron, Occupied Palestine (ISM) 19 June by Khalil Team — Israeli settlers in the Wadi al-Hussein valley neighborhood of occupied Khalil (Hebron) have begun building a new road on land owned by a Palestinian family. The road will be around four meters wide and lead to the illegal settlement of Kiryat Arba which is above the valley. When completed it will split two olive groves. The work on the new road began at around 11am as settlers arrived, accompanied by bulldozers and Israeli soldiers and police. Initially, the settlers made a tent and planted their flag, as if doing that could overturn generations of Palestinian ownership of this plot of land. Soldiers also blocked off a portion of the main road and bulldozers dug holes in the ground. A truck full of Israeli recording equipment has also been present on the scene. The family who own the land were outside watching this happen. Israeli colonizers tried to build this road three weeks ago, claiming they had a court order authorizing it, but were met by widespread resistance and were unable to provide a copy of the court order. See details here.
UPDATED: Illegal settler colonisers attack workers in Asira
[with surveillance video of masked settlers setting fire] Asira al Qibliya (International Women’s Peace Service) UPDATE 19th June: Settlers from the illegal settlement of Yizhar again attacked the water reservoir project in Asira. At 4pm on the 19th of June fifty settlers, accompanied by over thirty Israeli soldiers trespassed onto village land and attacked locals working on the site. UPDATE 18th June: The illegal settler continue their attacks on the village of Asira. Yesterday (18 June) they burnt the power/electricity switch box of the water reservoir project. Apart from the immediate labour and financial costs, such criminalities aim to further block Palestinian access to their water.
Watch footage: ‘Settlers torch Palestinian shed’
Ynet 20 June by Itamar Fleishman — Footage obtained from a security camera in the Palestinian village of Asira al-Qibliya, located near a Jewish settlement in the West Bank, shows a group of hooded men setting fire to a storeroom and fleeing the scene. The shed contains building material meant for the construction of a water tower between the settlement of Yitzhar and the Palestinian village. The plan to build the water tower has been a source of tension between the settlers and Arabs. Human rights group B’Tselem claims the people shown in the video are settlers. Residents of the Yitzhar settlement are opposed to the construction of the water tower, claiming it is part of a plan by Asira al-Qibliya’s residents to seize lands.
‘It’s as if we are living on another planet’
PCHR Dr Kamalian Sha‘ath, President of the Islamic University of Gaza, is one of many dedicated academics providing higher education in the Gaza Strip. The Islamic University was one of the sources for the report ‘ Academia Undermined: Israeli Restrictions on Foreign National Academics in Palestinian Higher Education Institutions Field Research by Ruhan Nagra’ published by the ‘Right to Enter’ organisation. This report highlights that the closure on Gaza is not only on raw materials and freedom of movement but also an academic blockade, and that the prospects of academic enlightenment are under equal threat in the West Bank. The report focuses on one university in Gaza; the Islam University, as well as three in the West Bank; Birzeit, Bethlehem and al-Quds. The report states that the closure is designed to cripple the prospects of university education. Dr Kamalian was more than happy to highlight the struggle he and his colleagues have been engaged in, in an effort to further academia in the Gaza Strip. Since the State of Israel tightened its closure of the Gaza Strip in 2007, prospects for exchange with academic institutions outside Gaza have been severely restricted. Israel currently limits the ability of international academics to take up lecturing and research positions in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank through a number of different approaches, from denying entry for ‘security reasons’ to issuing visas that only permit the holder to stay for a matter of weeks. The resulting isolation of Palestinian academics has a detrimental effect on higher education institutions in the Gaza Strip, and prospects for good quality higher education are steadily worn away. There are few opportunities for students to obtain a Masters degree, and only one post-doctorate programme is available. Dr Kamalian provides an insight into how universities are attempting to overcome the obstacles posed by the Israeli-imposed closure:
Violence / Raids / Attacks / Clashes / Detentions
Weekly report on Israeli human rights violations in the occupied Palestinian territory (13-19 June 2013)
PCHR 20 June — Israeli forces have continued to open fire at the Palestinian civilians in the Gaza Strip border area. A Palestinian farmer was wounded in the east of the central Gaza Strip. Israeli forces have continued to use excessive force against peaceful protesters in the West Bank. 2 protesters were wounded during a peaceful protest in Bil‘in village, west of Ramallah. A civilian was wounded and 3 vehicles were burnt during the protest of ‘returning to the destroyed villages’ in Ramallah Israeli forces conducted 82 incursions into Palestinian communities in the West Bank. 32 Palestinian civilians, including 3 children, were arrested. 4 civilians were arrested in the Gaza Strip while attempting to cross the border into Israel. Israeli forces harassed a family from al-Aroub refugee camp, north of Hebron, and severely attacked a mentally disabled young man….
Palestinian car attacked by settlers near Nablus
IMEMC — A number of extremist Israeli settlers attacked, late on Wednesday at night [June 20] a Palestinian car driving on the Nablus-Qalqilia road causing excessive damage but no injuries. Resident Amjad Amin Jaber stated that the settlers surrounded his car, and hurled stones at it, while shouting racist slurs at him. He added that the settlers attempted to physically attack him after attacking his car, but he managed to escape unharmed.
Elderly woman struck by Israeli car in Nablus area
NABLUS (Ma‘an) 21 June — An elderly Palestinian woman was severely injured on Friday after being hit by a car driven by an Israeli near Huwwara village south of Nablus, locals said. Zahiya Awda, 70, was walking by the side of the road when she was struck. The driver was an Israeli woman. Both Israeli and Palestinian ambulances arrived at the scene. Awda was taken to Rafidia Hospital in Nablus.
Demonstrations across the West Bank
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 21 June — Dozens of Palestinians suffered light injuries Friday as Israeli forces tried to disperse weekly demonstrations throughout the occupied West Bank. In al-Ma‘asara, near Bethlehem, participants in a weekly march raised Palestinian flags, pictures of prisoners and hunger strikers, and they chanted against the occupation …
Dozens suffered tear-gas inhalation in Bil‘in, near Ramallah, where residents and supporters held a weekly protest against settlements, the wall and the confiscation of land. Israeli forces fired rubber-coated steel bullets, tear gas, and stun grenades at protesters near the wall, which led to burning of Palestinian lands in the area.
Settlers at stolen spring watch violent repression of Nabi Saleh demonstration
[with photos] Nabi Salih (ISM) 21 June by Khalil Team — On Friday 21st June 2013, around sixty protesters from the village of Nabi Salih and abroad gathered for the weekly protest. First, passing through the Olive grove, they descended the mountain towards the stolen village spring, but were met with a violent reaction from the Israeli military, who shot large amounts of tear gas and some rubber coated steel bullets directly at unarmed demonstrators. The soldiers then invaded the village on foot and in jeeps, shooting into civilian residential areas and injuring one medic. Fires ignited by Israeli tear gas canisters spread throughout the village … One medic was present and was targeted directly by an Israeli soldier who threw a heavy metal sound grenade at his head. A tear gas canister was then shot at his foot, causing injury and burning his trousers. Nabi Salih medics have recently spoken out against the Israeli military targeting them during demonstrations – see report here. Several tear gas canisters were also fired at short range into the petrol station of Nabi Salih, risking igniting the fuel sources there.
Army violently represses Kafr Qaddum demonstration
Kafr Qaddum (International Women’s Peace Service) 21 June — On Friday, June 21, the residents of Kafr Qaddum gathered for the weekly demonstration following the Friday prayer. Many residents were prevented from attending the prayer, as 60 soldiers entered the village before the demonstration even began … At 14:00, one protestor was shot in the back with a plastic-coated steel bullet and was carried away to receive medical attention. Ten minutes later, a camera man and a correspondent for Palestine TV were violently beaten and arrested by the army, showing the Israeli military’s clear disregard for freedom of the press and a journalist’s right to report the news. All of their equipment was confiscated and thrown into a nearby field. Demonstrators shouted for the men’s’ release to no avail. Twenty minutes later, two more young men were shot with plastic coated steel bullets, one in the chest and another in the arm and the stomach. Approaching 15:00, yet another young man was shot in the hand with a plastic-coated steel bullet, severely cutting his fingers.
4 injured in Beit Ummar clashes
HEBRON (Ma‘an) 21 June — Four Palestinians on Friday were injured with rubber-coated steel bullets in clashes with Israeli soldiers in Beit Ummar north of Hebron, a local committee said. Clashes erupted in the Beit Zaata area and four were injured and treated on the spot, spokesman for the Popular Committee in Beit Ummar Mohammad Ayyad Awad said. Awad added that Israeli forces fired tear-gas canisters at stores in the central market of the village, causing several shop-owners to suffer tear gas inhalation. Fires broke out in areas of Palestinian-owned land, he added.
Israeli army detains MP’s bodyguard in UNRWA camp
NABLUS (Ma‘an) 20 June — Israeli forces detained the bodyguard of a member of the Palestine Legislative Council on Thursday in the UNWAR-administered Balata refugee camp in the northern West Bank district of Nablus, locals said. Locals said the army raided the home of MP Jamal Tirawi at 2 a.m., detaining Haitham Tirawi and searching the house for over an hour. Forces had searched the bodyguard’s home first, then went to the MP’s to detain him.
18 Palestinians kidnapped in West Bank
IMEMC Wednesday, June 19 — Palestinian sources have reported that Israeli soldiers kidnapped a total of 18 Palestinians in different parts of the occupied West Bank. The army invaded the West Bank districts of Jenin, Nablus, Hebron, and occupied East Jerusalem, broke into and searched dozens of homes, and kidnapped 18 Palestinians. Three Palestinians were kidnapped from Qabalan village, near the northern West bank city of Nablus, three more were kidnapped in Jenin, six in the Al-Arroub refugee camp north of Hebron, Ath-Thaheriyya and Doura, south of Hebron, and five in occupied Jerusalem. Updated From ‘Five Palestinians Kidnapped In Jenin, Hebron ‘– excerpts: The sources added that the soldiers destroyed doors of 10 stores at the Industrial Zone in Jenin, and violently searched them. The army also invaded ‘Aneen village, west of Jenin, and kidnapped one resident, identified as Ali Yassin, 20, after breaking into his home. Furthermore, several armored military jeeps invaded the nearby town of ‘Arraba town, and kidnapped one resident identified as Kamal Mazin Ezzeddeen, 33, after violently breaking into and searching his home … The soldiers also invaded the nearby towns of Sa‘ir and Halhoul, stopped and searched several vehicles, and inspected the ID cards of dozens of residents….
Six Palestinians kidnapped in West Bank
IMEMC Thursday at dawn, June 19 2013 — Israeli soldiers invaded various districts in the occupied West Bank, broke into and searched several homes and kidnapped at least six Palestinians. Dozens of soldiers invaded the village of Ya‘bod, southwest of the northern West Bank city of Jenin, and kidnapped two Palestinians … Army also invaded the Balata refugee camp, east of the northern West Bank city of Nablus, and kidnapped one Palestinian identified as Haitham Teerawy. Several soldiers also invaded the homes of Legislator Jamal Teerawy, and resident Mohammad Ash-Sheikh, and searched them causing property damage. Both are former political prisoners. The Palestine News & Info Agency (WAFA) has reported that several armored Israeli military jeeps invaded the Al-Khader town, south of the West Bank city of Bethlehem, and kidnapped one resident … In related news, one Palestinian identified as Mike Khalil Sokkar, 35, from Beit Jala city near Bethlehem, was violently attacked and beaten by a number of soldiers and was moved to the Beit Jala governmental hospital suffering fractures in his fingers. He was attacked by the soldiers in Jerusalem. Furthermore, two Palestinians have been kidnapped in Beit Ummar town, north of the southern West Bank city of Hebron….
Israeli troops raid Jenin at dawn, detain 1
JENIN (Ma‘an) 21 June – Israeli forces arrested a Palestinian man on Friday at dawn in Jenin in the northern West Bank, locals said. Troops raided the city at dawn before breaking into Firas Abu Zeineh’s house and arresting him. The 22-year-old was taken to an unknown destination.
IDF arrests three Palestinian suspects over 2011 Joseph’s Tomb attack
Haaretz 19 June by Gili Cohen — The Shin Bet and the Israel Defense Forces arrested three members of the Palestinian security services who were allegedly involved in the fatal 2011 shooting at Joseph’s Tomb in Nablus. One Israeli was killed in the attack – Ben-Yosef Livnat, the nephew of Culture and Sports Minister Limor Livnat – and five other Israelis were wounded. The suspects were arrested on May 22, one month after serving two years in a Palestinian prison. The gag order on their arrests has only just now been removed. Two of the men — Nawaf Bani Odeh of the village of Tamoun and Wael Daoud of Qalqilya, both 24 — were armed patrol officers in the Palestinian security services. The third, Tarki Zouara, 23, was the driver of patrol car. The suspects have confessed to firing into the air during the incident, according to the Shin Bet security service.
Detainees / Court actions
WATCH: Why is Israel still shackling hospitalized prisoners?
Israeli Social TV 19 June — As far back as 2008, Israel’s Health Ministry and Prison Service formulated clear criteria for the shackling of hospitalized prisoners. But as it turns out, the Prison Service still dictates the policy and doctors’ hands are tied — and shackling procedures are still being applied arbitrarily.
Prisoners to boycott Ashkelon prison clinic
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 21 June — Palestinians held in Israel’s Ashkelon jail will boycott the prison clinic in protest over medical neglect, the PA detainee affairs ministry said Friday. A ministry lawyer said in a statement that detainees had made 11 complaints against the doctor in Ashkelon prison clinic. The prison doctor refused proper treatment to sick detainees, mocked them and mistreated them, detainees informed the lawyer in a letter.
Lawyer: Detainee to be deported to Gaza for 10 years
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 21 June – The Israeli military prosecution announced Thursday plans to deport detainee Iyad Abu Fnun from Nahalin village to the Gaza Strip, responding to his wishes. Lawyer Ahlam Hadad told Ma‘an that the Israeli prosecution at Ofer told her that they agreed on Iyad’s calls to be deported to Gaza for 10 years. The lawyer added that Iyad will be released within two months and sent to Gaza. Iyad was freed in a deal to release an Israeli soldier and arrested again afterwards. He could have faced 20 years of his original sentence in an Israeli jail, lawyers say.
Detainee’s mother dies before son’s release
NABLUS (Ma‘an) 20 June — A mother of a Palestinian detainee passed away Thursday without seeing her son for 10 years, locals told Ma‘an. Basima Hashash, 67, passed away in the Balata refugee camp in the northern West Bank district of Nablus, just two weeks before her son Atallah was scheduled for release, locals said. “She died wishing to see her son,” they said.
Witnesses: Israeli forces open fire at Gaza farmers
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 19 June — Israeli forces opened fire at Palestinian farmers in the central and southern Gaza Strip on Wednesday, witnesses said. Locals told Ma‘an that Israeli soldiers stationed in watchtowers opened fire at Palestinian farmers near the separation fence in Khan Younis and Deir al-Balah. The gunfire hit several homes in the area, with no injuries reported.
Meanwhile, Israeli naval forces opened fire at fishermen off the coast of Khan Younis, witnesses added.
Military vehicles seen entering southern Gaza
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 20 June — Israeli forces were seen entering the southern Gaza Strip on Thursday in the al-Qarara village in the Khan Younis district, witnesses said. Six military vehicles and bulldozers were seen entering farming land amid the sound of gunfire, which witnesses said caused extensive damage to the land. Witnesses also said they saw Israeli military aircraft overhead.
An Israeli military spokeswoman described the incident as “routine activity,” but did not confirm the sound of gunshots.
Gaza students prepare for finals without electricity
Al-Monitor 21 June by Mohammed Suliman — High school students in Gaza are struggling to study for their finals exams due to continued electricity outages and sweltering heat — Amid all the political uncertainty and under extremely abnormal circumstances, Palestinian high school students both in the Gaza Strip and West Bank are taking their final high school tests known as Tawjihi.
Will Israel solve Gaza fuel crisis?
Al-Monitor 19 June by Shlomi Eldar — Once again, there’s no fuel in Gaza. The gas stations have been emptied, cars are stranded, but this time the fury is not directed at Israel but rather at ‘our brother’, Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi. Fuel to Gaza is supplied through the Rafah tunnels, usually at much cheaper cost than the prices Israel used to charge for supplying gas to the Strip. Ever since Israel imposed its blockade on Gaza and used the supply of gasoline and diesel fuel as a punitive tool, Hamas decided to cut itself off unilaterally from Israel’s fuel and to replace it with cheap gasoline from Egypt, pumped via makeshift pipes through the tunnels. That decision, as shall soon be made clear, turned out to be a mistake.
PCHR denounces anti-drug police raids and searches on customers in cafés in Gaza City
20 June — The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR) denounces the Anti-Drug Police’s raids on a number of cafés, arbitrary and degrading search campaigns against café customers and the attack of a civilian. PCHR calls upon the government in Gaza to issue firm decisions in order put an end to the illegal and degrading measures that violate the safety and tranquility of civilians. In addition, PCHR calls upon the Attorney General to investigate these incidents, including the attack on a civilian. According to investigations conducted by PCHR and testimonies of a number of café owners and eyewitnesses, on Monday and Tuesday evening, 17 and 18 June 2013, the Anti-Drug Police raided a number of cafés … The Anti-drug officers, who were in uniform, pointed their guns inside the cafés. They also ordered the workers and customers to stand up to be searched and also searched the cafés’ contents. The Anti-drug officers justified their practices by looking for Tramadol drug.
Anti-drugs police seize pills at Gaza border
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 21 June — Anti-drugs police seized thousands of illegal pills on Friday in southern Gaza, near the border with Egypt. Following a tip-off, police raided an area in Rafah close to cross-border smuggling tunnels and confiscated 32,000 Tramadol pills, police said in a statement. Tramadol is a prescription pain reliever sometimes used as an anti-depressant.
Gaza electricity company to auction assets over unpaid bills
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 20 June — The electricity company in the Gaza Strip has obtained a court order to seize the real estate of a Khan Younis family and sell part of it to retrieve unpaid electricity bills mounting to 90,000 shekels. A statement from the company pointed out that assets would be auctioned so the company can retrieve its money … The statement quoted the company’s general manager as saying it had been running campaigns early in 2013 seeking to help Gaza citizens pay their bills. He urged all residents who have unpaid bills to take advantage of the initiatives to pay their bills.
Gaza military court issues death sentence to collaborator
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 20 June — A military court in the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip issued the death sentence to a Palestinian after finding him guilty of collaborating with Israeli intelligence. The man, identified only as Kh.Sh, was born in 1972 and is from the Meghazi refugee camp in the central West Bank district of Deir al-Balah. The sentence is the third death penalty issued since May, after the Hamas-run government vowed it would execute a number of collaborators with Israel in an attempt to “eradicate” collaboration.
Hamas: Erdogan still planning Gaza visit
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 19 June– Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan will follow through on promises to visit Gaza despite having to deal with mass protests in Turkey, the Hamas government said Wednesday. A spokesman for the Gaza government quoted Erdogan as making the remarks in a news conference Tuesday in Ankara after meeting with Ismail Haniyeh, the Hamas prime minister.
Ashton calls to ease blockade on Gaza
AFP 20 June — European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton called on Thursday from Gaza for a relief of the Israeli blockade on the Palestinian territory, ruled by the Islamist Hamas movement. “It is World Refugee Day and I chose to be here on this day,” Ashton said in remarks relayed by her office.”I chose to be here to underline the situation in Gaza, and to say that we support the work of (United Nation’s agency for Palestinian refugees) UNRWA and want to see a future for the people of Gaza.” “We want to see the crossings open, and the economic situation improved,” she said in a remark directed to Israel at a joint press conference with with UNRWA Commissioner General Filippo Grandi. Ashton praised UNRWA’s work and pledged that the EU would “continue to be the strongest supporter, that we will give the financial support that is needed, but also the political support.”
Reflections on hope and heartbreak for Palestine’s ‘double refugees’ in Lebanon on World Refugee Day
HuffPost 20 June by Rushanara Ali — After an inconclusive and disappointing G8 summit, the Syrian conflict shows no sign of abating. As the civil war enters its third year, one story remains largely untold – that of Palestinian ‘double refugees’. After decades of statelessness, tens of thousands of Palestinians have now fled their second home in Syria. Generations of Palestinians have lived in Yarmouk camp in Syria since it was established in 1957. Tragically, they have found their lives uprooted by conflict once again … In a camp where people are struggling to even get by, I did not expect generosity and hope to be the defining characteristics of this community. However, most Palestinians I met remained hopeful they would be able to return home. Many families keep the keys of their old houses with them in the hope that they will one day return. I was struck by an elderly Palestinian woman peering through the window of her house, waving at our group with her granddaughters as we left. Her friendly gesture spoke volumes of the generosity and plight of these people. It was also encouraging to see the resourcefulness of the refugees.
31% of refugees in Palestine live below poverty line
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 20 June — The Palestinian refugee population in the West Bank and Gaza Strip is characterized by poverty, statistics issued Thursday revealed. Some 31 percent of Palestinian refugees in the West Bank and Gaza Strip live below the poverty line, according to statistics issued by the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics. This is reinforced by a young population of which 41 percent are under the age of 15, compared with 39.7 percent of the non-refugee population in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Meanwhile, 27.9 percent of over 15-year-olds are unemployed, compared with 19.8 percent of non-refugees. However, the illiteracy rate among Palestinian refugees is lower than non-refugees, with a rate of 3.7 percent of those aged 15 and above, compared to 4.3 percent of non-refugees. While 86 percent of refugees owned their own housing units, only 15.9 percent owned private cars, 10 percent less than non-refugees.
The statistics were released to mark International Refugee Day and show that as of 1 January 2013, there were 5.3 million UNRWA-registered Palestine refugees. Of the total number 40 percent are in Jordan, 24 percent in Gaza Strip, 17 percent in the West Bank, 10 percent in Syria and 9 percent in Lebanon.
Israeli racism / discrimination
Education Ministry funds fewer school hours for Arabs than Jews
Haaretz 19 June by Lior Dattel– The Education Ministry pays for fewer school hours for Arab students than for their Jewish peers. According to ministry data for the 2012-13 academic year, the Education Ministry pays for 2.9 percent fewer school hours for Arab students than Jews. The largest gap is in middle school. For Arabs, the average number of hours that the Education Ministry budgets for each class, divided by number of students per class, is 1.63. For Jewish students that figure is 1.81 – an increase of 11 percent.
Education Ministry official accused of banning Arabic teachers from corresponding in Arabic
Haaretz 21 June by Yarden Skop — School teachers of Arabic are up in arms over an email sent by a senior Education Ministry official that appears to prohibit them from conducting their official correspondence in Arabic. “Why are official documents being issued in Arabic? Please ensure that documents are issued in Hebrew alone,” Dr. Orna Simhon, the Education Ministry’s northern regional director, wrote in an email dated June 1. Haaretz has obtained a copy of that email … “Dr. Simhon’s response contradicts the provision of the law regarding Arabic’s status as an official language in Israel, and violates the right of Arab workers in the Education Ministry to retain their national identity and cultural uniqueness, as well as their right to dignity and equality,” the ACRI wrote to Stauber.
Political, other news
Update: ‘Raise your keffiyeh, raise it.’ Mohammed Assaf sings, and there is jubilation in Palestine
Mondoweiss 21 June by Enass Tinah & Annie Robbins — Updated with tonight’s performance — It’s the final night of competition on Arab Idol, and Mohammed Assaf sang his trademark song Ali Keffiyeh, and the crowd is going wild both in the auditorium and throughout the Arab world including of course…Palestine. Here’s Mohammed singing the song, recorded in Gaza circa 2008, and we all know what happened in Gaza that same year. The song is sung in a pure Palestinian dialect, and Assaf sings it with his Gazan tilt. The song lists several names representing different singing and music styles of the Levant– in the same way that blue grass and the blues are associated with certain regions in the US — but in this case Ataba, Mijana, Diheya, Jafra are all folk music styles very popular in Palestine, Lebanon, Jordan and Syria. Here are the Lyrics:
Philip Weiss’s comment: My question to US foreign policy makers: Can anyone say that Palestinian freedom is not a leading cause across the Arab world? And has been for decades, and will continue to be so long as the occupation continues? Assaf is such a symbol of national pride, in the face of endless humiliation…
Official: PM withdraws resignation
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 21 June — Newly-appointed Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah is expected to formally withdraw his resignation after a second meeting with President Mahmoud Abbas, a senior official said Friday. According to the knowledgeable official, Hamdallah will make a final decision after a new meeting with Abbas on Saturday. The official said Friday’s talks were positive … Abbas has made intensive efforts to persuade Hamdallah not to resign. Tayib Abdul-Rahim, Abbas’ top aide, and intelligence chief Majid Faraj left Hamdallah’s home in Anabta on Thursday evening after more than three hours of talks trying to convince him to reconsider. The premier submitted his resignation to Abbas earlier the same day following a heated argument between his deputies Muhammad Mustafa and Ziad Abu Amr.
Netanyahu: If Kerry pitched a tent between Jerusalem and Ramallah, I’d stay there until securing peace
Haaretz 21 June — In interview with Washington Post, the prime minister says the Israeli-Palestinian conflict must be solved to prevent a bi-national state … In the interview, the prime minister said that he is willing to restart negotiations with the Palestinians, but their demand that Israel halt settlement construction as a precondition serves as an obstacle.
UN watchdog accuses Israeli forces of abusing kids
GENEVA (AFP) 20 June — A UN human rights watchdog on Thursday accused Israel’s police and military of abuses against Palestinian children ranging from torture to solitary confinement and threats of death and sexual assault in prisons. In a report on Israel’s record, the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child said it expressed its “deepest concern about the reported practice of torture and ill-treatment of Palestinian children arrested, prosecuted and detained by the military and the police”.
Israel may cut off electricity supply to West Bank
MEMO 21 June — Israel is studying proposals to cut the electricity supply to the occupied West Bank as a punitive measure for unpaid bills owing to the Israeli Electricity Company, Israeli TV channel 10 has revealed. The debts amount to around $230 million.
Cutting off the supply is just one of the options being considered by the Israeli Ministerial Council; the others include deducting the amount outstanding from tax revenues due to the Palestinian Authority and cancelling the operating licence for a Palestine electricity company in Jerusalem.
Minister rejects fatwa against watching Arab Idol
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 20 June – The Palestinian minister of endowment and religious affairs Mahmoud al-Habash on Thursday rejected a legal pronouncement by the mufti of Nablus declaring the popular reality show Arab Idol a violation of Islamic law. The mufti of Nablus urged Muslims, namely Palestinians, to avoid watching the show and voting for competitors because, according to him, that is all unacceptable under Islamic regulations. Responding to that fatwa, the minister of religious affairs al-Habbash said that “singing is permissible in Islam when it … does not encourage depravity. It is poetry, after all.”
India to fund construction of West Bank schools
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 19 June – The head of India’s mission to Palestine on Wednesday handed a $180,000 check to the Palestinian minister of education, Ali Abu Zuhri, in the latter’s office in Ramallah. The money is the first installment of a $1.8 million dollar project funded by the Indian government to construct two schools in Abu Dis and Asira al-Shamaliya villages.
The West Bank on a shoestring: A day along the hottest new tourist trail
Haaretz 21 June by Jud Maltz — A niche industry is developing in the West Bank, with Israeli companies organizing tours for independent travelers wishing to see what life is really like beyond the Green Line. Haaretz joins the day-trippers — Our day begins with a stroll through the ‘Aida refugee camp, a few kilometers north of Bethlehem, where we get our first close-up view of the separation fence and a short lecture from our Palestinian guide, Tamer, on the history of the occupation. From there we proceed to the Church of the Nativity, making a brief detour along the way so Tamer can point out the political graffiti murals painted around the town by British street artist Banksy … For additional information about alternative West Bank tours: Abraham Tours Green Olive Tours Alternative Tours (East Jerusalem)
Kotel shooter suspected of murder
Ynet 21 June by Noam (Dabul) Dvir — Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court remands guard who shot dead a man near Western Wall. Suspect was silent in interrogation; lawyer insists: He’s salt of the earth
Israeli security guard kills mentally ill Jew at Kotel
Tikun Olam 21 June by Richard Silverstein — A 45 year-old mentally ill Jewish man, known to those who frequent the Kotel as a volunteer for Chabad’s soup kitchen there, was shot ten times (Hebrew) by a private security guard and killed. The man’s crime? Aside from being mentally ill (he was known to have told others that he converted to Islam), he was believed by the killer to have shouted “Allahu Akbar,” which turns out to have been false. The guard, trying to defend the indefensible, claims he saw the man removing something from his pocket. I’m certain if the man had anything in his pocket, authorities, eager to justify the killing, would’ve told us. No, this is yet another case of the Israeli security state chewing up and swallowing its own. Walla reports the guard is an Israeli Druze who was working for the firm, Modiin Ezrahi (“Civilian Intelligence”).