Land, property theft & destruction / Ethnic cleansing / Restriction of movement
‘We will not give up; to give up is to die” – Susiya resists mass demolition orders
Susiya (ISM) 27 June by Khalil Team — Today, June 27, 2013, the Israeli Civil Administration served thirty-four demolition orders in the Susiya village, which is in Area C and surrounded by the Israeli colony of Suseya. Due to previous demolition orders, every existing structure in the village is now threatened with destruction if they do not obtain permits by July 17. The residents of Susiya include more than thirty families, who were all evacuated from their homes in the old Susiya village and forced to relocate 200 meters to the southeast, in 1986. Susiya residents collaborate with the nearby villages in Masafer Yatta, a closed military “firing zone,” also in Area C and threatened with demolition. On July 15, a hearing will decide whether all the villages in Masafer Yatta can be evacuated by the military. Hafez Huraini, leader of the South Hebron Hills Popular Committee and himself a refugee from 1948, emphasizes that the villagers in Susiya are targeted simply for existing, so everything they do from grazing sheep to visiting family members in the nearby city of Yatta draws violence from the Israeli military and the local settlers.
Israel notifies the demolition of 30 Palestinian houses south of al-Khalil
AL-KHALIL (PIC) 28 June — Israeli occupation authorities notified the demolition of thirty Palestinian homes and properties in the village of Susia in al-Khalil, south of the West Bank. Jabour Rateb, coordinator of the Popular Committee against Settlement in Yatta, stated that the occupation handed demolition notices to thirty Palestinian houses, facilities and agricultural properties in the village of Susia, noting that these houses are inhabited by 250 Palestinians. Jabour pointed to the occupation’s attempts to deport residents of the village and annex their lands to the settlement of Susia.
Bedouin fight Israeli relocation bill
Al-Monitor by Shlomi Eldar — …In an interview with Al-Monitor, Sami Amrana, a resident of Segev Shalom (Shaqib al-Salam in Arabic), one of the seven permanent Bedouin towns built in the Negev in the early 1980s, says that the rough treatment of the Bedouin over the years has opened a deep rift and led to distrust between the Bedouin community and the Israeli authorities. “They show up on the scene and, employing force and violence, tear down the dwelling place of a Bedouin [family]. And they don’t even bother to take care of the people whose home has just been demolished before their eyes — call a social worker to help them or offer them an alternative accommodation — nothing. It could be a child with special needs, a widow or an elderly man — they are all uncaringly left outdoors in the heat or cold. Such treatment inevitably fans the flames of hatred.” So maybe the proposed law will at long last put things in order and prevent a situation where everyone settles wherever he wants? “In the past, there was trust between the Bedouin community and the Jewish society. My father was one of the first scouts in the Israel Defense Forces and served in the army for 21 years. His body is still riddled with shrapnel, but the trust is lost. You come and destroy my home, without showing minimal sensitivity, and then you ask me to conduct negotiations with you on my future. How can I possibly trust you?”
Israeli forces demolish houses, agricultural structures near Jericho
JERICHO (Ma‘an) 27 June – Israeli forces demolished two houses and several agricultural structures north of Jericho Thursday, according to Palestinian officials. Deputy governor of Jericho Jamal Rajoub said demolitions took place in the Bedouin area inhabited by Kaabna tribe and in al-Nuweima village north of Jericho … The deputy governor condemned the demolitions and asserted that they were part of Israeli plans to “empty the Jordan Valley of its indigenous residents.”
Israel okays 69 settlement homes on eve of Kerry visit
JERUSALEM (AFP) 26 June — An Israeli planning committee on Wednesday granted final approval for the construction of 69 settler homes, an official said, on the eve of a visit by US Secretary of State John Kerry. “The municipal committee has today given its final approval for the construction of 69 homes in Har Homa in east Jerusalem,” councillor Meir Margalit said.
Supreme Court nixes bid to retroactively approve West Bank homes
Times of Israel 27 June by Adiv Sterman — Government also planned construction of 40 new housing units in Nokdim settlement; court says land claims must be studied first — The Supreme Court on Thursday temporarily overruled a government decision to retroactively approve a number of illegal homes in the West Bank and to allow new construction in the settlement of Nokdim, Army Radio reported. The court stated that the ownership of the land on which the buildings were built is disputed and called to freeze construction until a further hearing on the matter takes place. Earlier Thursday, Army Radio reported that the government announced its intentions to allow construction of 40 additional housing units in the Etzion Bloc settlement southeast of Jerusalem.
Israeli authorities uproot trees in Bethlehem
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 27 June — Israeli authorities began digging up agricultural land and uprooting trees in the village of Khirbet al-Nahla in the southern West Bank district of Bethlehem on Thursday. A Ma‘an reporter said bulldozers were seen razing land on a 25 dunam plot of land belonging to Mahmoud Asad. Several trees were uprooted as well, the reporter said. The digging is ongoing.
Official: Israel to confiscate more land in Nablus
NABLUS (Ma‘an) 26 June — The Israeli military plans to confiscate 379 dunums of Palestinian land near Bracha settlement in the northern West Bank, a Palestinian Authority official said Wednesday. Ghassan Daghlas, who monitors settlement activities, said Israel’s military commander in the West Bank Nitsan Alon issued the decision to confiscate the land in Kafr Qalil … The Israeli military said a seizure order was issued to formalize the status of Tel a-Ras Outpost, a military position … Nablus Mayor Jibrin al-Bakri said the Israeli government was speeding up land confiscation in the West Bank, particularly in areas near Israeli settlements. Al-Bakri said that in recent weeks, Israel had announced the confiscation of over 950 dunums in Nablus villages including Azmut, Huwwara, Awarta, Rujeib and al-Naqura.
Israel demolishes properties in Tubas ‘without notice’
NABLUS (Ma‘an) 27 June — Israeli forces on Thursday began demolishing two agricultural properties in the Tammun village in the northern West Bank district of Tubas, locals said. Israeli military bulldozers entered the al-Bukea area of the village and began the demolition works on the properties belonging to Jamil Odeh and relative Lutfi Odeh, which is on going, locals said. Jamil was injured after trying to remove personal property from one of the structures, locals said, adding that he was transferred to the Rafidiya Hospital in Nablus for treatment of light wounds. Locals said they had not received demolition orders and were concerned that the remaining 30 agricultural structures would be torn down imminently. [PIC: [the deputy mayor] pointed out that the Israeli soldiers attacked the Palestinians and did not allow them to save their personal belongings and livestock from the demolition.
General strike in northern 1948-Palestine to protest demolition of a house
BEERSHEVA (PIC) 27 June — Dozens of Palestinian towns and villages in Wadi Ara, in northern 1948-occupied Palestine, are witnessing a general strike in protest against demolition of a Palestinian house in Arara town at dawn Wednesday by Israeli authorities. Hundreds of Palestinians from the 1948-occupied territories staged a protest on Wednesday evening and closed the main street, in condemnation of the demolition of the house. Palestinian sources reported that all public facilities; including schools, banks and health services, are closed.
Official: Israel rounds up Palestinian workers in Barta‘a
JENIN (Ma‘an) 26 June, updated 28 June — Israeli forces rounded up over 100 Palestinian workers early Wednesday in Barta‘a Sharqiya, a village in the northern West Bank, a local official said. A large Israeli force surrounded Barta‘a Sharqiya shortly after midnight and searched homes, looking for workers, said village council member Tawfiq Qabaha. Israel’s separation wall surrounds Barta‘a Sharqiya, cutting the village off from the rest of the West Bank. As the village lies in the seam zone, Palestinians need a special permit to enter Barta‘a Sharqiya, although its residents have West Bank IDs. Many workers with West Bank IDs sleep in Barta‘a Sharqiya to avoid having to cross the wall to enter Israel. Qabaha said Israeli forces took more than 100 workers into custody, including some who had valid permits to work in Israel but not to reside in Barta‘a Sharqiya.
Israel, Arab neighbors hinder Palestinian movement
Al-Monitor 26 June by Daoud Kuttab — A rather underreported issue about the way Palestinians are treated is emerging. Countries that control borders through which Palestinians need to travel act as though they were the guardians for what they deem best for Palestinians. Four different bodies today are using their powers to limit the movement of people and goods from and to various Palestinian territories. Ironically, the Ramallah-based Palestinian government is not one of them. While travel restrictions refer to both entry and exit, what is strange is that these four powers use this control to prevent people from exiting without actually accusing them of anything. Such arbitrary decisions are often made under the pretext of being in the best interest of the people that they are restricting. When it comes to freedom of travel, the four key groups who have appointed themselves the guardians for Palestinians are the Hamas government, Egypt, Jordan and Israel.
Violence / Raids / Attacks / Suppression of protests / Arrests
PCHR weekly report: 6 Palestinians wounded, 35 abducted in 48 Israeli incursions this week [20-26 June]
IMEMC 28 June — … the Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR) found that Israeli forces launched 3 air strikes against civilian targets and training sites in the Gaza Strip. A girl was injured in her home during the attacks in Gaza, a restaurant was completely destroyed and 13 houses sustained partial damage. In the West Bank, 4 protesters were wounded during a peaceful protest in Kofur Qaddoum village, northeast of Qalqilia. During the reporting period, Israeli forces conducted at least 48 military incursions into Palestinian communities in the West Bank. During these incursions, Israeli forces abducted at least 25 Palestinians, including 5 children. Full Report
Medics: Ramallah man shot in chest in clashes with soldiers
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 28 June — Israeli soldiers shot a Palestinian man in the chest with a live bullet during clashes in Qalandiya refugee camp early Friday, medics said. The victim, in his 20s, was taken to the Palestine Medical Complex in Ramallah where he underwent surgery, medics told Ma‘an. Locals said Israeli forces raided the camp, between Ramallah and Jerusalem, at around 1 a.m. Palestinians clashed with the Israeli soldiers, who fired live ammunition and plastic-coated bullets, witnesses told Ma’an. An Israeli military spokesman said soldiers were conducting an “arrest activity” in the area and that 200 Palestinians held a “violent and illegal riot” and attacked the soldiers. The army spokesman said four soldiers were injured.
Settlers attack Palestinian man near Hebron
HEBRON (Ma‘an) 27 June – A Palestinian man was lightly injured Thursday after a mob of Israeli settlers attacked him south of Hebron in the southern West Bank. Khalid Mahmoud Bheis told Ma‘an in Hebron that he was driving his car near Zeev crossroad Thursday morning when a suspicious vehicle approached him. He added that a Jewish settler extended his hand from a blue Mazda and threw a big rock at his car smashing the windshield. He added, “I pulled over quickly and tried to get out of the car. I heard gunshots, so I crouched on the ground before the settlers fled the scene. I notified the Israeli police about the attack.” Medical sources at Abu Al-Hasan Al-Qasim hospital told Ma‘an that Bheis was admitted to the emergency room with bruises and scratches on the head and the hands.
Israel detains 3 Al-Aqsa Brigades members
NABLUS (Ma‘an) 27 June — Israeli forces on Thursday detained three Al-Aqsa Brigades members in the northern West Bank district of Nablus as they searched for weapons, locals said. An Al-Aqsa Brigades source said forces detained Samer Ayran, 33, Ghassan Abed al-Haq, 20, and Alam al-Qarm, 35, a Fatah secretary, in the Jabal al-Shamali area in Nablus City. The source said they had recently been granted an exemption from arrest by Israel under a deal with the Palestinian Authority signed in 2007, giving Palestinian fighters immunity in exchange for renouncing violence and giving up arms. Locals said that the army was searching for weapons that were still in their possession, which would constitute a violation of the terms of the agreement. The source said no weapons were found during the raid while an Israeli military spokeswoman said a gun and ammunition was found….
Martyr’s son arrested in Nablus early Monday morning
Nablus (ISM) 26 June — This Saturday, June 29 marks the 9th anniversary of the Israeli assassination of Naif Abu-Sharah, former resident of Nablus and leader of the al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigade until his death. But even though his death has long passed, Israeli authorities haven’t ceased collectively punishing the family he left behind. During the early morning of Monday, June 23, the Israeli military surrounded the Hosh al-Hitan neighborhood of the Old City of Nablus and arrested Fadi Abu-Sharah, the 25-year-old son of Naif, in the same building in which they assassinated his father nine years ago. He is currently believed to be held at Huwwara Interrogation Center, south of Nablus. This is not the first instance of punishment by the Israeli military against the Abu-Sharah family. Fadi has been arrested and imprisoned for extended periods in a number of previous instances, and his older brother, Fathi, was kept in an Israeli prison for nine years before being released a year ago….
PA liaison officials secure release of teenage brothers
HEBRON (Ma‘an) 18 June — Palestinian Authority liaison officials on Thursday secured the release of two teenagers from Israeli custody. Israeli forces detained brothers Yahya Muhammad, 14, and Salim Muhammad, 13, from Idhna village in the southern West Bank on Thursday and accused them of possessing illegal items, a spokesman for the PA liaison office said.
It is unclear, at least to me, which if any of these arrests are included in the ones listed in the Ma‘an article following:
Police arrest 23 suspected car thieves in West Bank raids
JPost 26 June by Ben Hartman — Police and Border Patrol officers raided homes and chop shops across the West Bank late Tuesday night, on what police said was an unprecedented operation against car thieves based in the Palestinian Authority. Almost all of the 23 suspects arrested in the raids are from Area A, and were brought to Ofer Military Court for a remand hearing on Wednesday. Vered Vinikov, spokeswoman for the Lahav 433 branch of the National Israel Police said the operation was the first of its kind – a six month undercover investigation where police deployed an undercover agent to infiltrate the car thieves.
Israeli forces detain 10 in West Bank raids
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 26 June — Israeli forces detained 10 Palestinians in raids across the West Bank early Wednesday morning, the Israeli army said. Locals told Ma‘an that seven army vehicles stormed Nablus city, and detained Raafat Eleiwi and Faris Mahloub after ransacking their homes in Freitikh street. In Talfit, southern Nablus, soldiers detained Abdullah Walid Musallam, locals said, adding that the 22-year-old is affiliated to Fatah.
An Israeli military spokesman said one Palestinian was detained in Talfit, one in Nablus city and three in Fara‘a refugee camp, northwest of Nablus. He told Ma‘an that two Palestinians were detained in the Qalqiliya district and two in the Hebron area.
A lawyer for the PA Detainee Affairs Ministry Jamil Sadeh said soldiers detained high school student Muhammad Fathi Hutari in Qalqiliya. He is midway through his Tawjihi final exams. Israeli forces detained the student’s brother Ali Hutari last week, the lawyer told Ma‘an.
21 Palestinians kidnapped in West Bank
IMEMC Israeli soldiers invaded on Thursday [June 27 2013] [or overnight Wednesday] various districts in the occupied West Bank, and kidnapped 21 Palestinians. Local sources in Al-Mazra‘a Al-Qibliyya village, north of the central West Bank city of Ramallah, reported that dozens of soldiers invaded the village, violently broke into several homes, and searched them, before kidnapping eight Palestinians, including children. The army also fired several gas bombs and concussion grandees during clashes that took place with local youths during the invasion. [Ma‘an: The ministry said 100 military vehicles raided the village, with some forces descending from a helicopter.]
Furthermore, soldiers invaded the northern West Bank city of Nablus, and attacked several residents before kidnapping four identified as Samer Eiraan, 33, Hassan Abdul-Haq, 20, Maher Qareeb and Nassr Al-Kharraz. Eyewitnesses have reported that clashes took place in different neighborhoods in the city, and that the army violently searched several homes and fired rounds of live ammunition in the center of the city.
Army also invaded Beit Ummar town, north of the southern West Bank city of Hebron, shot and injured three children, and kidnapped at least five Palestinians. Mohammad Awad, spokesperson of the Popular Committee Against the Wall and Settlements, stated that three children (16-17 years old) have been injured by rubber-coated metal bullets… The latest arrests bring the number of Palestinians kidnapped in Beit Ummar since the beginning of the year to 66; more than half of them are children.
Several Israeli military jeeps also invaded Ath-Thaheriyya town, south of Hebron, searched several vehicles, and illegally took possession of a car that belongs to resident Raed Al-Jabareen.
In Tubas, in the central part of the West Bank, soldiers kidnapped three Palestinians identified as Adham Daraghma, 21, Ammar Ghaleb Aref Daraghma, 21, and Ammar Sawafta.
On Wednesday afternoon, the army kidnapped four brothers in Jenin, in the northern part of the West Bank, the four have been identified as Moayyad Abu Obeid, 26, Eyad, 27, Jihad, 35, and Mohammad, 40.
The latest arrests are part of daily Israeli military violations against the Palestinians in different parts of the occupied West Bank.
[Ma‘an: Forces also detained one person from Kifl Haris, near Qalqiliya, and another from ‘Aida refugee camp in Bethlehem, the army spokesman said.]
Video: Gaza Ark Project 2013
Gaza (ISM Gal·la) 27 June — Charlie Andreasson, a member of Ship to Gaza Sweden, explains the new Gaza Ark project of this year 2013. The several unsuccessful attempts to break the siege on Gaza, imposed by Israel, from the outside to the inside made the activists think about this project which is based on breaking the siege from within. We wish all the best in this time. Free Palestine!
Frequent border closures add to Gaza gas woes
GAZA CITY (IRIN) 28 June — Frequent closures of the only crossing for commercial goods between Israel and the Gaza Strip have left the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT) short of gas for cooking and heating, businessmen say, affecting businesses, agricultural production and health services. Kerem Shalom crossing reopened on 26 June after two days of closure, described by the Israeli military as a response to rocket fire from Gaza. Israel has closed the crossing five times since the end of February after similar rocket fire, for a total of 15 working days, in addition to six days of closure due to holidays. Before this most recent closure, Gazans said they were still recovering from the series of closures in the spring, which they say created a cumulative deficit in gas.
At one of Gaza’s major gas distributors, some 40,000 empty cylinders fill the station. “Some people have been waiting for months to get their cylinders filled,” owner Yusri Daban told IRIN. He manages to fill about 1,500 per day, but is flooded with an equal amount of empty arrivals … Bassam Barhoum, a Palestinian health ministry official, said public hospitals and health centres need 4-4.5 tons of gas per month to feed patients and staff and disinfect bed sheets and clothing. “What we have now is [stocks] roughly enough for about four days,” he said, down from the usual stocks of one to two weeks. “We are in dire situation.”
Egypt’s security clampdown disrupts Gaza smuggling
RAFAH, Gaza Strip 27 June by Ibrahim Barzak — An Egyptian security crackdown has severely disrupted smuggling to the neighboring Gaza Strip, causing a fuel shortage, doubling the price of building materials and shutting down some construction sites in the Hamas-ruled territory. Egypt’s military clamped down on the lawless Sinai Peninsula, which abuts Gaza, in the run-up to mass protests planned for Sunday by Egyptian opposition activists trying to force out the country’s president, Mohammed Morsi. It’s not clear if the Sinai lockdown is temporary or signals a tougher security regime aimed at restricting smuggling through tunnels running under the Egypt-Gaza border in the long term. That would have a devastating effect on Gaza, which has relied on smugglers since Israel imposed a border blockade following the rise to power of the Islamic militant group Hamas in 2006.
Official: Rafah crossing to stay open during June 24 demos
CAIRO (Ma‘an) 28 June — Egyptian security forces do not plan to close the Rafah crossing on Gaza’s border during protests planned for June 30, a senior Egyptian official said Friday. The official told Ma‘an that the area in North Sinai was secure following the deployment of the Egyptian army to border towns and the closure of smuggling tunnels. He said if violence disrupted the security situation, officials may review the decision to keep the Rafah terminal open through the protests.
Egypt deports 11 Palestinians who entered through tunnels
EL-ARISH, Egypt (Ma‘an) 28 June — Egyptian authorities on Friday deported 11 Palestinians who entered Egypt through tunnels from the Gaza Strip, a security official said. The Palestinians were detained after arriving in Egypt’s Sinai through smuggling tunnels without any travel documents, an Egyptian security official told Ma‘an.
Islamic Jihad, Hamas resume communication
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 26 June — The Islamic Jihad and Hamas movements in Gaza on Wednesday resumed communications, three days after Jihad severed ties following the death of one of their members at the hands of Hamas police officers. Jihad spokesman Daoud Shihab told Ma‘an that full contact between both groups was resumed on Wednesday after a Hamas delegation visited the home of Jihad leader Muhammad Harazein to apologize over an alleged assault during the funeral for a slain Jihad member.
Erdogan to visit Gaza July 5
IMEMC 27 June — Turkish media agencies have reported that Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayiip Erdogan will be visiting the Gaza Strip on July 5 to meet with Ismail Hanniya of Hamas, and several Palestinian officials in the coastal region.
Gaza Strip heading inexorably into water crisis
World Bulletin 26 June — A tiny wedge of land jammed between Israel, Egypt and the Mediterranean sea, the Gaza Strip is heading inexorably into a water crisis that the United Nations says could make the Palestinian enclave unliveable in just a few years. With 90-95 percent of the territory’s only aquifer contaminated by sewage, chemicals and seawater, neighbourhood desalination facilities and their public taps are a lifesaver for some of Gaza’s 1.6 million residents. But these small-scale projects provide water for only about 20 percent of the population, forcing many more residents in the impoverished Gaza Strip to buy bottled water at a premium … A NASA study of satellite data released this year showed that between 2003 and 2009 the region lost 144 cubic km of stored freshwater – equivalent to the amount of water held in the Dead Sea – making an already bad situation much worse. But the situation in Gaza is particularly acute, with the United Nations warning that its sole aquifer might be unusable by 2016, with the damage potentially irreversible by 2020.
Media analyst convicted over France 2 Palestinian boy footage
Paris (AP) 26 June — A French media analyst has been convicted of defamation for accusing a state television network of staging a video that depicted a Palestinian boy being killed in a firefight between Palestinian militants and Israeli forces. The footage more than a decade ago galvanised anti-Israeli sentiment, and shaped perspectives of the Middle East conflict during the second Palestinian uprising. The al-Dura case has long stirred emotions in Israel, tapping into a larger sense of the Jewish state being victimised in the media.
Gaza amusement park caters to children of war victims
Al-Monitor 25 June by Abeer Ayyoub — At Al-Nour amusement park in Gaza, the children of Palestinians killed, wounded or arrested by Israel are admitted for free. The resort was opened by the Hamas-affiliated NGO Al-Nour three years ago. The location was a venue serving children of the Israeli settlement Netzarim before it was evacuated by former Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon’s government in 2005. Reduced to rubble like all the other former Jewish settlements in Gaza, this large patch of land now houses a large resort for Palestinian orphans. Other Palestinian children and their families are also allowed access to the park for a low price of $1.50 for each person aged over 10.
In Gaza, teen lifestyle gets cramped by Hamas
GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip (WOMENSENEWS) by Eman Mohammed — Nisma Issa, a 14-year-old who recently switched from a private to a public school, doesn’t like the law passed in April that says boys and girls over 9 years old can no longer attend the same school. “I don’t think this law will be to our benefit,” says Issa, who belongs to a Muslim conservative family, during an interview at a café here. “I felt happiest roaming my school with my friends, who are like brothers. I love my school as it is. Why should such laws complicate our lives?” The law does not actually affect Issa’s new school because public schools in Gaza were already sex-segregated. But the new law will be changing life in Muslim and Christian private schools as well as United Nations schools, where classes were separated for boys and girls starting in April of this year, the beginning of the school year’s second semester. The law, which also bans male teachers from working in girls’ schools in the Gaza Strip, is the latest in a long list of measures–including efforts to impose Islamic dress on university women–introduced by Hamas
Israeli guard ‘assaults prisoner on hunger strike’
NABLUS (Ma‘an) 26 June — An Israeli guard assaulted a Palestinian prisoner on hunger strike in an Israeli hospital on Monday, a human rights organization said Wednesday. The guard dragged Abdullah al-Barghouti from his hospital bed to the floor and kicked him in the face, causing bleeding, the Solidarity Foundation for Human Rights said in a statement. The guard was angry that al-Barghouti closed the door during a bathroom visit despite instructions to leave it open, the group said. Ahmad al-Betawi, a researcher for the foundation, said the attack was also motivated by al-Barghouti’s complaint to Israel’s high court over his treatment by prison guards. Al-Barghouti has been on hunger strike for 56 days. Hanan al-Khatib, a lawyer for the PA Detainee Affairs Ministry, visited Barghouthi earlier in June and said he was chained to his hospital bed by his legs and his left hand. Prison guards have turned Barghouthi’s hospital room “into a kitchen” to harass him, al-Khatib said. They also provoke him by having noisy gatherings in his room.
Secret talks held over release of pre-Oslo prisoners
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 28 June — Israeli and Palestinian officials have held secret talks to discuss the release of prisoners detained before the 1993 Oslo Accords, an official said Friday. President Mahmoud Abbas has insisted that 107 Palestinians detained before the Oslo agreement must be released before the PLO will return to negotiations with Israel. Amin Shuman, director of the High Coordination Committee for Prisoners’ Release, told Ma‘an that the closed-door talks related to this condition, adding that the ongoing detention of the long-term prisoners violated all international laws and conventions. Political analyst Hani al-Masri said Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was expected to release the prisoners in three stages during negotiations, to ensure the PLO remains in peace talks.
IPS in Megiddo prison seizes prisoner’s artwork and drawings
NABLUS (PIC) 27 June — Ahrar Center for Prisoners’ studies condemned the confiscation of the prisoner Nidal Fatash’s artworks and drawings by the Israeli Prison Service (IPS) in Meggido prison. The IPS has interrogated and threatened Fatash, 23, from Salfit, to be moved into isolation due to his drawings, claiming that he keeps drawing the prison’s details in an attempt to escape from it, the prisoner’s mother told Ahrar center.
Political, other news
Harsh reality of Israeli occupation persists in spite of Kerry’s efforts
Al-Monitor 28 June by Linah Alsaafin — As US Secretary of State John Kerry returns to the West Bank this week for his fifth visit in three months, the reality for Palestinians has not improved under the direct rule of the Israeli occupation, nor has the Israeli government shown much interest in the two-state solution … The West Bank village of Kufr Qaddoum, with a population of 4,400, exemplifies the status quo by its weekly Friday protests against confiscation of their land by the settlement of Qedumim. Since its establishment in 1978, the settlement has expropriated 7,000 dunums out of the village’s total land area of 25,000 dunums. The villagers need special coordination permits issued by the Israeli military to access a further 11,000 dunums of their land for farming.
In Israel, growing chorus against Palestinian state
JERUSALEM (AFP) 26 June — Just days before Washington’s top diplomat returns to push for a resumption of direct peace talks, a growing number of Israeli ministers are openly expressing their opposition to the two-state solution … Earlier this month, coalition partner Naftali Bennett, who heads the far-right Jewish Home party, said the idea of a Palestinian state was at a “dead-end,” and central to the problem was the reluctance of Israel’s leadership to simply insist that the West Bank belongs to “the people of Israel.” “There was never a Palestinian state here, and we were never occupiers, this is our home,” he said. “We won’t veto the negotiations, we won’t bring down the government over this,” Bennett told army radio on Tuesday morning, saying he didn’t believe “anything much” would come out of Kerry’s fifth visit to the region since February.
Poll: Majority of skeptical Israelis want peace talks
JERUSALEM (AFP) 28 June — A majority of Israelis support resuming peace talks with the Palestinians, a poll published on Friday said, as US Secretary of State John Kerry presses leaders from both sides to return to negotiations. The poll in daily Israel Hayom said 56.9 percent believed negotiations should resume, against 28.6 percent who thought they should not. But there was skepticism over whether talks would achieve anything, with 55.4 percent saying it was not “possible to reach a permanent status arrangement.” And nearly 70 percent were against “gestures” of peace to the Palestinians, such as releasing prisoners and easing movement for Palestinian residents of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.
Israel may withdraw from ’90 percent’ of West Bank
JERUSALEM (UPI) 27 June — Israel would consider withdrawing from “90 percent” of the West Bank if Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s security demands are met, a Cabinet minister said. Netanyahu knows if negotiations with Palestinian leaders resume under U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry’s auspices, Israel would have to be serious in its willingness to make big concessions on the borders of a Palestinian state, the unnamed senior minister told Israeli newspaper Haaretz… The offices of Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas had no immediate comment on the report.
Kerry shuttle presses Mideast peace bid
JERUSALEM (AFP) 28 June — US Secretary of State John Kerry shuttled between Jerusalem and Amman on Friday as he tried to revive moribund Middle East peace negotiations, holding lengthy separate meetings with Israeli and Palestinian leaders. Kerry, who is trying to break a protracted deadlock in the negotiations, met Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem in two separate meetings before and after a visit to Amman for lunch with President Mahmoud Abbas.
Palestinians elect new ‘president’ in reality finale
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 27 June — The final episode of the Palestinian reality show The President will air live Thursday on Ma’an satellite TV to announce the next Palestinian “president.” Out of 1,200 young competitors who joined the program since its March launch, two finalists will compete for the title in the last episode. Over three months, The President has attracted a large following even though its contestants have not been trying to prove to the audience and to the judges that they are good dancers or singers.
Some have interpreted the success of the show as a reflection that the Palestinian people want to vote; they only had a chance to go to polls to elect a president twice. The first time was in 1996 when late president Yasser Arafat was elected, and the second was in 2005, when the Palestinians chose Mahmoud Abbas. Arafat remained in office until he died in 2004, and Abbas, 78, is still [illegally] in office.
Poll shows Hezbollah losing support among Palestinians
Al-Monitor 26 June by Mohammed Suliman — A recent survey conducted by the Pew Research Center, published on June 7, shows the decrease of Hezbollah’s popularity in the Arab region following its military involvement in the Syrian conflict alongside Bashar al-Assad’s regime and its victory over the Syrian rebels in Qusair. According to the survey, the Lebanese militant group has significantly lost popularity among Palestinians living in the territories due to its stance on the Syrian conflict. While in 2011, 61% viewed the militant group “favorably,” this has decreased to 43% in 2013.
UNRWA chief: Assaf united us in celebration
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 27 June — UNWRA commissioner general Filipo Grandi thanked Palestinian Arab Idol winner Mohammad Assaf Wednesday for accepting the agency role of regional youth ambassador for Palestine refugees, a statement read. “Mohamed has brought us all together in a unique moment of celebration,” Filippo Grandi said in meeting with Assaf and UNRWA staff, a day after the singer’s return.
Artists, activists, and theater lovers gather to protest closure of Palestinian children’s festival
92mag 28 June by Matt Surrusco — Festival programs and posters were laid out on a table outside the theater. More were stacked in an office on the floor, still in packaging. At el-Hakawati, the Palestinian National Theatre in East Jerusalem, approximately 50 people gathered Thursday evening to condemn the Israeli government’s banning of a children’s puppet festival, which would have been held for its 19th year this month. “This place is supposed to be full of children today,” said Mohammad Halayka, el-Hakawati’s executive director … El-Hakawati is the only Palestinian theater in East Jerusalem, serving a community of almost 300,000 people, Halayka said. “No one could expect that they would close down the theater and cancel the festival,” he said.
Boycott, Divestment & Sanctions
YouTube pulls clip calling on Keys to cancel Israel gig
JTA 28 June — YouTube removed a video calling on Alicia Keys to cancel a concert in Tel Aviv. Set to Keys’s popular song “This Girl Is on Fire,” the video was removed on Monday, according to the US Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel. The video, “Alicia Keys, Come Together with Your Sisters, Boycott Apartheid,” was removed, a notification by YouTube said, due to a copyright infringement claim by “Alicia Keys c/o Ziffren Brittenheim LLP.”
Boycott effort in London council falls flat
LONDON (Times of Israel) 29 June by Miriam Shaviv — A company that was the target of a boycott campaign because it has carried out work in Israel has expressed relief after a local London council stopped a vote on whether it could bid for contracts, deeming it “illegal, improper or irregular.” “Thankfully the council is happy to allow us to continue the bidding process,” said Dan Lester, a spokesman for Veolia Environmental Services.
TV: McDonald’s refuses to open in West Bank settlement
JERUSALEM (AFP) 27 June — McDonald’s Israel, a franchise of the American fast food chain, has rejected an offer to open a restaurant in the Jewish settlement of Ariel in the occupied West Bank, media reported on Wednesday. Israeli television stations said the company had rejected for “ideological reasons” an offer to locate in a mall under construction in Ariel that is due to open at the beginning of next year. Housing Minister Uri Ariel, a member of the far-right Jewish Home party, reacted by calling on Israelis to boycott McDonald’s, the reports said.
Analysis / Opinion / Human interest
For Palestine / Susan Abulhawa
Al Jazeera 26 June — …History almost didn’t happen. Israel and the hypocrites who support Israel almost stole his brilliant destiny. Only they couldn’t. His song was bigger and his resolve stronger. His person was more elegant and dignified. His lyrics were native and organic, written by the earth of Palestine, steadied by the roots and bones of our ancestors and watered with the spilled blood of our martyrs. And when he stood on stage, his voice carried us all on his wings. All of us Palestinians – from Haifa and Nazareth, to Jerusalem and Ramallah and Hebron, to the refugee camps of Lebanon and Syria, to the diaspora in all parts of the world – found each other in his song. The geographic, political, social and psychological divides that Israel feeds dissolved, and for those moments of music, Palestine was free and we were one. For the duration of his song, there were no more refugee camps, no more home demolitions or checkpoints, no segregated roads or segregated housing, no more bombs raining from the sky; there were no lost generations, no more need for impossible permits to travel one mile to see our loved ones. In his song, we could just walk into Jerusalem and pray. For those moments, we could imagine, and feel proud and hopeful. And when he won the Arab Idol title, and he fell to his knees and bowed in humble prayer, the millions of us around the globe were lifted off our feet in joy and triumph, as if what we felt through his songs could be real and permanent...
Israel has labeled Assaf’s birthplace as a “den of terror”, where Palestinian mothers, they claim, do not love their children and send them to die by Israeli bullets for media attention. Through this hateful language and Israel’s imperialist aggression, this exquisite young man walked onto the world stage with such brilliance and with his loving parents cheering him on. What we can see clearly in his shadow is that Israel sits small and unrooted, with guns and steel but no authenticity and no native song.
The Big Mac Index of the delusion that ‘Ariel is part of Israel’ / Chemi Shalev
West of Eden blog 27 June — Reactions to McDonald’s refusal to open shop in a West Bank town say less about selling hamburgers and more about Israel’s reality-challenged view of the world — The Big Mac Index is the ingenious annual survey conducted by the Economist magazine in which the price of McDonald’s star hamburger sandwich in different cities is used to evaluate foreign currency exchange rates around the world. Now, thanks to the brouhaha that erupted this week in the wake of McDonald’s refusal to open a restaurant in the West Bank town of Ariel, Israel has its own Big Mac measure. It translates the outrage at the so-called “boycott” of Ariel to a diagnosis of the degree to which Israelis have started to believe in the alternative reality that they have themselves created. The owner of the mall in which McDonald’s declined to open a branch, discount food king Rami Levy, seemed to be genuinely perplexed. “What are we talking about?” he asked. “About people who are living here, in the State of Israel?” … In fact, not only is Ariel decidedly NOT a part of Israel, not only does it reside in what even Israel acknowledges are “disputed” territories, but it is even an outlier compared to all the other “settlement blocs” that Israel swears allegiance to in any peace settlement.
Can Israel’s settlers be persuaded to exit the occupied territories? / Daniel Ben Simon
Al-Monitor 28 June — Yedidia Stern, a renowned law professor at Bar-Ilan University, skullcap on his head, recalls how as a child, he walked the streets of Tel Aviv with his father on their way to the synagogue. He was dressed in a white shirt, just like his father, and the two of them were marching solemnly to welcome the Sabbath. He still remembers, as if the years had not passed, what it felt like to be a religious Jew in those early years of the state. It was tantamount to living on the edge of society …”The Six-Day War let the messianic genie out of the bottle of religious Zionism,” says Stern. “All at once, the holy places which had been the imagined object of yearning became actual sites of worship.” Evoking those days, Stern tells how his friends left everything behind — even brothers and sisters — and, moving out of their homes, flocked to the hills of Judea and Samaria to settle them. The rise to power of late prime minister Menachem Begin in 1977 was the starting signal. It was clear then that the dream of the settlers was about to come true. “I, too, have deep feelings for the territories. However, unlike others, I don’t claim to have the key to deciphering history,” Stern notes. “Zionism must ensure a national home for the Jewish people, but it should not rule over another people. In my opinion, the ideal solution would be to establish a spiritual and emotional bond with Judea and Samaria, while giving up the political relationship.” … I asked Stern how the settlers would act if and when they were asked to evacuate their homes.
Israelis, take heed: To remember is not to own / Gideon Levy
Haaretz 27 June — …When I visited Saatz [in the Czech Republic], not for a moment did I have the feeling that the place belongs to me or to my people because of the memories. At most, I may have a certain right to the house that remained behind, just as the Palestinian refugee has a certain right to the house that remained behind … Those rights must stem only from the principles of law and justice, not from the stories of the Bible or the Talmud. Israelis have a right to their land of course, by dint of the sovereignty of a state that has been recognized by most of the countries in the world. Palestinians also have a right to the land of course, by dint of living in it for generations, and that too must be honored – in two states, or in one. For me Saatz is a realm of memories and roots, just as Beit El or Kiryat Arba is a realm for which a (small ) percentage of Israelis yearn. Those feelings must be set aside: They are unrelated to justice.
Letter from a West Bank refugee camp / Robin D.G. Kelley
Portside 24 June — Robin D. G. Kelley’s “Open Letter,” “in the style of Dr. King’s Letter from a Birmingham Jail, directed at the best known African-American lobbyist organization for Israeli policies – the Vanguard Leadership Group,” prompted by the recent Portside post – Alice Walker’s Open Letter to Alicia Keys, and the resulting responses from Portside readers — …I spent some time in the West Bank and East Jerusalem in January of 2012, and was so moved and shocked by what we saw that I wrote a letter, in the style of Dr. King’s Letter from a Birmingham Jail, directed at the best known African-American lobbyist organization for Israeli policies – the Vanguard Leadership Group. They were not the only focus of my critique, just the most visible. In that letter I detail the conditions of apartheid occupied territories and in Israel, and the ways in which Israeli policies violate international law and the Geneva Convention. I’ve tried to publish this letter in several venues, but failed each time, despite praise from editors (or excuses that the question of Palestine isn’t really newsworthy).
Home cooking lures Palestinian expat home
CSMonitor 16 June by Christa Case Bryant — Photo: Mazen Saadeh, a Palestinian restaurateur, takes a sunset stroll down through his land, where he grows everything from cashews and pistachios to olives and grapes. With everything from chickens and rabbits to cashews and apricots out back, Mazen Saadeh is part restaurateur, part survivalist … He hadn’t been planning on coming back here; he and his wife, Julia, had found an old house in Portland, Ore., and were planning on converting it into a weekend restaurant. But at the last minute he felt the pull of his native land. He told her, “No, khalas [enough], let’s go back to Palestine.” The mayor of Bir Zeit, a university town near Ramallah, offered him a restaurant property he couldn’t refuse. But Julia apparently didn’t feel the same draw. “So now she is making wine in Portland and I am making wine in the West Bank,” he says matter-of-factly, fiddling with his Apple computer.