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Palestinian children’s theater festival, featuring puppets and European troupes, is shut down in Jerusalem

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Land, property theft & destruction / Ethnic cleansing / Apartheid

Israel blocks East Jerusalem children’s festival, citing link to Palestinian Authority
Haaretz 24 June by Amira Hass — Public Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch has blocked a Palestinian children’s theater festival from opening in East Jerusalem this Saturday night on the claim that the event was “under the auspices of or sponsored by the Palestinian Authority.”  According to Aharonovitch, the holding of such an event associated with the PA in Israel contradicts an Israeli law passed as part of the Oslo peace process. Aharonovitch’s order bars this event from taking place not only in Jerusalem but anywhere else in Israel proper. The festival was scheduled to feature performances at the El Hakawati Palestinian national theater in East Jerusalem, but Aharonovitch’s order closes the theater for eight days beginning on the scheduled first day of the festival, which has been held annually for 18 years. Preparations for this year’s event began about four months ago, and the festival has been promoted over the past two weeks. Most of the shows, including puppet theater, were to be performed by Israeli Arabs. Foreign troupes from Norway, France and Turkey were also on the program.
Bulldozing Palestinian history on Israel’s southern hills
[with VIDEO of the remains] Haaretz 22 June by Zafrir Rinat — The remains of the Palestinian village of Al-Dawayima, in the Lachish region, about 15 kilometers southeast of Kiryat Gat, are being erased forever. Bulldozers are leveling the hills on which the village was located and preparing the ground for the establishment of a new settlement, to be inhabited by evacuees of the Gaza Strip settlements. In the course of the work, the site’s long history of habitation is being uncovered, a history which came to a temporary end when Israel Defense Forces soldiers perpetrated a massacre in the village in October 1948, during the War of Independence. The Antiquities Authority is now carrying out a rescue dig at the site and plans to preserve it, in part. However, most of the ancient human heritage will not survive the earthworks … During the course of its conquest, one of the worst massacres of the war was carried out: Dozens of villagers, among them women and children, were shot to death by soldiers taking part in the village’s capture. There are also testimonies of rape … Despite the demolition, remnants of some of the structures of Al-Dawayima were uncovered during the work now being carried out. In addition, a multilayered world was discovered, encompassing the Bronze Age
(from 3300 B.C.E.), the Iron Age, the Persian and Hellenistic periods, and all the way to the Ottoman era.

No abandoned land: Palestinians tend ancestors’ graves in village ethnically cleansed in 1948
[with 10-minute film by Badil] Electronic Intifada 17 June by Ali Abunimah — The people of the village of Lifta, on the outskirts of Jerusalem, are affirming that right by returning home regularly, even though they cannot yet move back permanently. Sons of Lifta, a moving short film, was shot on Land Day, when many of Lifta’s people tended the village cemetery. Yacoub Odeh, a Liftawi, and one of the leaders of the campaign to save the village, explains in the video the significance of this act: “We are here today to clean the cemetery. We must clean it well, so that the graves are visible. Why? So that people can see that this is not abandoned land. No! Anybody who wants to buy or make plans [for our land] must know that these are our graves, our houses, our olive presses, our springs, our trees and our stones.” … Lifta, one of the few ethnically cleansed villages to remain largely intact, is now under threat from Israel plans to turn it into a luxury Jewish colony. Villagers and their supporters have challenged the plan in Israeli courts and have won a temporary reprieve. There are also calls for international protection for Lifta’s unique cultural heritage.

Palestinians in Jaffa protest against Israeli schemes to displace them
JAFFA (PIC) 23 June — Hundreds of Palestinians in Jaffa in occupied Palestine participated in the vigil organized by local institutions on Saturday evening to protest the Israeli schemes to sell lands located in the Palestinian historical Ajami neighborhood. Israel Lands Administration (ILA) put out to tender for the marketing of land located in the Ajami neighborhood in the city of Jaffa, of an area exceeding six thousand square meters. According to the tender, more than 40 housing units can be built on this land. The protestors chanted slogans condemning the occupation schemes to displace them and confirming their adherence to their land.

Report: US delegation visits E1
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 22 June – A high-profile US delegation headed by Vice Adm. Harry B Harris secretly visited the disputed E1 area between Jerusalem and the West Bank this week, according to Israeli media. Israel’s Channel 2 TV reported Saturday that the delegation, under supervision of US Secretary of State John Kerry, went to see if construction in the E1 area threatened the territorial contiguity of a future Palestinian state. Israel’s coordinator of government activities in the West Bank Eita Dangot escorted the delegation and tried to explain that E1 construction would not affect the contiguity, according to the report … The US consulate in Jerusalem did not immediately return a call seeking comment.

Israel forces Jerusalem resident to demolish home
JERUSALEM, June 22, 2013 (WAFA) – One resident of Jerusalem Saturday demolished his house with his own hands after Israel issued a demolishing order of his home which houses 8 members of his family. Munther Hijazi, a 57 year old Jerusalemite living in al-Sa’diya neighborhood in the old city said that he demolished his 55-meter-square house after he received a demolishing order last year. Hijazi said that he has been fighting in court for the last few years and paid fines that amount to 36,000 shekels. Hijazi, one of the many Jerusalemites and Palestinians who are forced to demolish their homes, chose to demolish his house with his own hands to save the large sum of money he will have to pay to the Israeli Municipality to demolish his house. He said that the cost of using a bulldozer to demolish a house is over 100,000 shekels. If he uses a bulldozer, he will have to pay in order to demolish his house. Hijazi said that Israel has appointed a hearing in September to make sure he demolished his house. He will have to pay yet another fine if he doesn’t remove the rubble of his house … Hijazi’s child, Nadia, while crying for the loss of her home, said “Here I used to sleep with my friends. Now I don’t have a bedroom or a home.”

Settlers demolished solar energy building in Ad Dawa
Ad Dawa, Occupied Palestine (ISM) 23 June by Nablus Team — On the 19th of June, a group of settlers from the Illegal settlement of Itamar attacked a building that was being constructed for solar energy to provide electricity in the village of Ad Dawa, near Aqraba. The building was being constructed without a roof to house the solar system, including the solar panels and the water pump to provide Ad Dawa with electricity and water. This is part of a project financed by a Spanish cooperation and the Energy Research Center at An Najah University. The building, located in a valley with a small pond and over 100 trees on the land including figs, lemons, pomegranates and oranges, was completely smashed and demolished.

Israeli excavations and Judaization in the Ibrahimi mosque
AL-KHALIL (PIC) 22 June — Jewish settlers carried out excavations at the entrance of the Ibrahimi mosque to bring in electricity as part of the Israeli Judaization policy in the Ibrahimi mosque in al-Khalil under Israeli forces’ protection. Waqf Department confirmed that the Israeli settlers stormed the Ibrahimi mosque and started digging in an effort to bring electricity into the area. The Ibrahimi mosque has been witnessing an Israeli escalation in Judaization plans where Palestinian worshipers are prevented from entering the mosque in particular times while the Israeli settlers are allowed to enter the mosque without restrictions.
Meanwhile, the Israeli occupation forces closed on Saturday a street in Dura town southern al-Khalil for alleged security reasons. The IOF soldiers closed the iron gate near Njihut settlement built on Palestinian lands southern al-Khalil and prevented thousands of Palestinians from passing through the street under the pretext of protecting dozens of settlers living in the settlement, eyewitnesses said. The street is used by Palestinian residents living in 40 villages. The street is frequently closed by Israeli forces at similar pretexts.

Restriction of movement / Permits / The wall

Staring into the eyes of the occupation
972blog 23 June by Leehee Rothschild — After taking part in a protest action challenging the checkpoint and permit regime in Bethlehem, one activist finds herself in a home where the reality of the occupation comes to life in a way that ‘breaks your heart while punching you in the stomach as you stare at it.’’ … Located just across from Rachel’s Tomb and not far from the Nativity Church, Claire and her family, Bethlehem natives, used to make their living from a gift shop and guesthouse catering to Christian tourists. Nowadays, the house is separated from Rachel’s Tomb by the wall, which encloses it from three directions, its huge form casting its shadow over the pavement. Claire told us yesterday, “no one comes this way, not even the alternative tour groups.” Claire’s house, click to enlarge (Photo: Haim Schwarczenberg). For a fuller description of the home, click here. Like Shuhada street in Hebron, Claire’s house is one of those places in which all the horrors of the occupation come to life in a way that breaks your heart while punching you in the stomach as you stand there, looking at the house, surrounded by the wall. I have seen many things in my years as an activist: evils and wrongdoing, big and small. As I stood by Claire’s house, feeling the entire weight of the occupation in the grey concrete staring at me, I simply wanted to cry.

Israel’s control over movement, expressed by a local artist
972mag 22 June by Yuval Ben-Ami — May Castelnuovo presents a visual representation of 101 things at which we would rather not lookWithin Bezalel, one finds the typical Israeli mix of art that concerns itself with local realities and that which stubbornly ignores them. This post is dedicated to one work of the first category, presented only last week by a student at Bezalel’s photography department … it is an enormously educational piece of art. It is made up of permits — permits necessary for movement, permits for crossing the wall. The crow may fly right over it, but it traps men and women. Many Palestinians never get a permit to cross the separation barrier and go into Israel. For those who do, Israel issues 101 kinds of permits: only for Jerusalem, only for a specific hospital in Jerusalem, only for daylight hours, for all hours, for a few hours, etc., etc.
The permit policy can be described as a form of bureaucratic violence, or at least a tool of intimidation. Palestinians receive no information about how to qualify for a permit. One permit expires, and the next offers entirely different liberties, for no apparent reason. The printers at Kafka’s castle work overtime.
Like the wall itself, the policy is presented as a security measure. It is, however, a dubious one. On one fine day last August, Israel experimented with relaxing this policy and lavishly issued nearly 300,000 permits, drawing multitudes of Palestinians to Mediterranean beaches. No violent incidents were recorded that day. The meager value of this gross infringement on human rights was clearly displayed, and yet the experiment has not yet been repeated.

HaMoked: Permit regime in seam zone violates Palestinian rights
OCCUPIED JERUSALEM (PIC) 23 June — A recent report by HaMoked, Israeli Center for the Defence of the Individual, exposes the destructive bureaucratic mechanism which governs the daily lives of Palestinians under the permit regime inside the ‘seam zone’. The report states that ever since 2003, the Israeli military has been implementing a permit regime in the areas of the West Bank trapped between the separation wall and the Green Line, which Israel designates the ‘seam zone’. It adds that under this regime every Palestinian who lives in or wishes to enter these areas must first obtain a military-issued permit for that purpose. The permit regime applies to Palestinians only — Israelis and tourists do not need any permit to enter or stay in the ‘seam zone’ areas. HaMoked asserts that the permit regime violates various human rights of OPT residents from both sides of the separation wall. “First and foremost, it constitutes a violation of the right to freedom of movement, and in particular, the right to travel freely within one’s country; this violation leads to the violation of other human rights: the rights to family life, health and education, the rights to property and a livelihood, and the rights to culture and community-living, all accompanied by a severe violation of the rights to equality and dignity.”

Israel to let Assaf enter West Bank
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 22 June — Israeli authorities have agreed to allow Arab Idol finalist Muhammad Assaf to enter the occupied West Bank, after two years of delays, officials said Friday. The officials, from the Palestinian Authority’s civil affairs ministry, told Ma‘an that Assaf will be able to enter the West Bank despite being a resident of the Gaza Strip. The coordination was the PA’s latest effort to facilitate travel for the Palestinian star. On Thursday, Ma‘an learned that the PA was providing Assaf a VIP passport to make it easier for him to enter and exit the Gaza Strip through Egypt.

Protesters pray at checkpoint after being denied entry to Jerusalem
IMEMC 23 June — On the morning of June 22nd, Palestinian, international and Israeli activists marched to the Israeli occupation military checkpoint blocking the West Bank from Jerusalem. Upon reaching the Israeli occupation roadblock, they were stopped by soldiers who violently prevented them from passing through the checkpoint. In reaction, the Palestinian activists prayed at the checkpoint, demonstrating their right to both freedom of movement within their own land, and freedom to worship in Jerusalem … This demonstration aimed to highlight the human rights abuses that the Palestinian people are subjected to every day because of the occupation. Restriction of movement is widespread across the West Bank, with permission from the Israeli occupation authorities being demanded for Palestinians to be allowed to travel their own land. This permission is granted very rarely, and usually excludes people aged 18-45.

Violence / Raids / Attacks / Illegal arrests

Report: Mossad ‘abducts Palestinian man in Egypt’
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 23 June — Israel’s intelligence agency Mossad abducted a Palestinian man in Egypt where he was receiving medical treatment, a source close to the family told Ma‘an on Sunday.  The source said Wael Abu Reida, 27, from the Khan Younis refugee camp, was taken to an Israeli detention center following the abduction.  The family received several phone calls saying Abu Reida had been taken by Mossad and was being held in Israel, the source said. Abu Reida was in Egypt with his wife for medical treatment and was taken from Sinai, the source added. The family have notified the International Committee for the Red Cross to locate Abu Reida to verify his locations.

Four children kidnapped near Qalqilia
IMEMC — Local sources in ‘Azzoun village, east of the northern West Bank city of Qalqilia, have reported that dozens of Israeli soldiers invaded the village, on Sunday at dawn [June 23 2013], and kidnapped three children. The sources said that the army broke into several homes, and violently searched them, before kidnapping four children identified as Monther Salim, 14, Mahdi Ayman Majd, 15, Abdul-Karim Hussein, 16, and Maher Hasan Abu Tneina, 16. The kidnapped children have been cuffed and blindfolded, before the army took them to an unknown destination.
In related news, soldiers stationed at the Container Roadblock, north of Bethlehem, kidnapped on Sunday evening, one Palestinian identified as Yousef Ahmad Abu Hashem, 19, from Beit Ummar town, north of the southern West Bank city of Hebron.

IOF detain West Bankers including children
AL-KHALIL [HEBRON]  (PIC) 23 June — Israeli occupation forces (IOF) rounded up a number of Palestinian youths and kids in the West Bank over the past 24 hours and released two children a few hours after their arrest. Palestinian security sources told Quds Press that IOF soldiers arrested a university student in Doura town in Al-Khalil. They said that the soldiers also detained two 11-year-old children after breaking into their homes in the Old City of Al-Khalil then handed them to the Palestinian liaison office a few hours later. Other soldiers arrested a young man in Beit Ummar village, north of Al-Khalil, local sources said, adding that he was suffering from psychological and neurological diseases. They said that he was the same youth who soldiers forced him to drink wine a few days earlier. Locals in Tabaka [or Tabaqa]  village also in Al-Khalil said that IOF soldiers burst into their village and searched a number of homes before serving summonses to young men for intelligence questioning. Meanwhile, IOF soldiers detained a 23-year-old youth in Harmle village, Bethlehem province.

Military police must decide: Is the IDF a gang or an army?
972blog 21 June by Yesh Din, written by Yossi Gurvitz — Youth from the village of Qaddum were shocked to find themselves featured on a threatening IDF poster. Will the army severely punish those responsible? — About two weeks ago, several youth from the village of Qaddum were shocked to discover their photos and names appear on a placard posted near the mosque, which presented the following threat: “We are the army, dir balaq, we’ll catch you should we see you, or we’ll come to your house.” The affair was exposed in the +972. The placard was written in bad Arabic. “Dir Balaq” is roughly translated as “be careful.” According to the testimonies of Qaddum’s residents, three IDF jeeps stopped next to the mosque in the late morning of Friday, May 31. Ten soldiers or more disembarked, and began posting the placards. A, a 16-year-old high school student, told a Yesh Din investigator that “I was shocked by seeing my picture and the threat against me. I panicked and now I am always afraid the army will capture me. My brothers are also scared and my mom cries. I can’t sleep. I haven’t returned to school since it happened and I’ve missed a final exam.”

Settlers attack Palestinian shepherds near Nablus
NABLUS (Ma‘an) 22 June — Dozens of settlers and Palestinian villagers clashed in Nablus on Saturday, a Palestinian Authority official said. Ghassan Daghlas, who monitors settler activity in the northern West Bank, told Ma‘an that over 50 settlers from Bracha attacked Palestinian shepherds tending to their animals near the village of Burin. Israeli forces dispersed the two groups using tear gas, Daghlas added. Settlers then set fire to five dunams of land belonging to Burin villagers.

Another hate crime in J’lem: Car tires slashed in Arab neighborhood
Ynet 24 June by Noam (Dabul) Dvir —  The Security Cabinet labeled “price tag” attackers as an illegal organization, but the hate crimes in the Jerusalem areas continue: The tires of 21 vehicles parked along a road in east Jerusalem’s Beit Hanina neighborhood were slashed. Residents of the Arab neighborhood on Monday morning also discovered the words, “We do not remain silent in the face of stone throwing” spray painted on a wall. In addition, a Star of David was spray painted on one of the cars.  Jerusalem District Police officials said an investigation has been launched and suspect the motivation behind the attack was nationalistic.,7340,L-4396165,00.html

Palestinian injured by Army fire near Ramallah
IMEMC — Palestinian medical sources reported Sunday [June 23 2013] that a young Palestinian man was shot and injured by Israeli army fire near the Al-Jalazoun refugee camp, in the central West Bank district of Ramallah. The soldiers shot the young man after his car collided with a military jeep. The sources said that the young wounded man managed to escape and ran into the refugee camp. The Palestinian was heading back home after the massive celebrations held in Ramallah after a young Palestinian singer, identified as Mohammad Assaf, won the Arab Idol competition for young aspiring singers in the Arab world. Dozens of soldiers invaded the camp searching for the wounded Palestinian but could not locate him. The invasion led to clashes between the soldiers and local youths in the camp

Palestinian detained after Israeli injured in Jerusalem
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 23 June — Israeli police detained a Palestinian man Saturday evening in Damascus Gate after an Israeli was injured by stones in the Old City of East Jerusalem. Witnesses said Palestinians clashed with Israeli officers and were throwing stones. Israeli officers reportedly responded with tear gas. Israeli Police spokesman Mickey Rosenfeld confirmed the incident but said no tear [gas] was used. Rosenfeld said the Israeli man was injured in the face and was taken to hospital.


Israel bars Gaza families from prison visits
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 24 June — Israeli authorities barred Gaza residents from leaving the coastal enclave Monday to visit relatives in Israeli jails, following the closure of all crossings, a Palestinian Authority liaison official said. Raed Fattouh said 80 relatives had headed to the Beit Hanoun (Erez) passenger crossing in northern Gaza but soldiers said they were not allowed to cross. Earlier Monday Fattouh announced that Israel had shut down all crossings into Gaza for “security reasons,” following rocket fire from Islamic Jihad, who severed ties with Hamas over the death of an affiliate by Hamas police a day earlier.

Jordanian detainees continue their strike for the 53rd day
Jordanian political prisoners held by Israel entered their 53rd day of ongoing hunger strike protesting their continued detention, the bad treatment and dire health and living conditions they face in Israeli prisons. The detainees are demanding Israel either to release them or to transfer them to Jordan to serve their terms there, as stated by the peace Agreement signed between Jordan and Israel in 1994. They have also been denied the right to family visits.

A Palestinian mother’s heartache for her imprisoned son
Al-Monitor 22 June by Daoud Kuttab — Writing on her Facebook page this week, Suheir Farraj talks about the conviction of her son Ismail by an Israeli military judge for the huge crime of belonging to the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP). The legal status of the PFLP, one of the main factions of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) is confusing. On the one hand, the PFLP through its membership in the PLO has recognized Israel and has ceased its guerrilla activities against Israel.  After Oslo, a number of the PFLP’s leadership abroad were allowed to return. PFLP Secretary-General Abu Ali Mustafa was allowed to return by Israel in 1999 only to be assassinated by Israel in August 2001. [But] Israel has never officially taken the PFLP off its list of “terrorist” organizations. So an act as simple as setting up chairs at a PFLP rally at a local Palestinian university, which Ismail is accused of, is considered a crime by the Israeli occupiers. This week, 20 months after being literally kidnapped from his home in the Dheisheh refugee camp within the Bethlehem district in area A, Ismail Farraj, 22, was convicted of membership in a terrorist organization and given the steep sentence of 23 months in jail and a further suspended term of 10 months. In her moving reflection on her Facebook page, Suheir relates how difficult the past 20 months have been. During this period, she and her husband were barred from visiting their son in jail for undeclared “security” reasons.

Foreign activists stage sit-in at Israeli jails
RAMALLAH (PIC) 23 June — Foreign activists participated in sit-ins in front of Israeli jails organized by rights groups to demand rights of Palestinian prisoners. The sit-ins, organized by the prisoner’s committee, the detainee’s society, and the international campaign to release Palestinian sick prisoners, were part of a series of activity in solidarity with prisoners in general and sick and hunger striking prisoners in particular. The participants hoisted photos of sick prisoners and hunger strikers in addition to banners in various languages and chanted anti-occupation slogans and freedom songs.

Blockaded Gaza

Israeli air force strikes Gaza
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 24 June — Israeli aircraft shelled several Islamic Jihad sites in Gaza on Monday morning in response to rocket fire. A Ma‘an reporter said several F16 aircraft shelled four sites belonging to the military wing of Islamic Jihad, Saraya al-Quds, in Rafah. Shelling was also reported in empty areas near the Asda city in Khan Younis and in the Deir al-Balah district, including the al-Zawayda village. Tunnels were also targeted along the Rafah border, with no injuries reported.

6 Gaza rockets hit south; IDF retaliates
Ynet 24 June Four rockets fired from the Gaza Strip hit the Hof Ashkelon Regional Council late Sunday night. The Iron Dome missile defense system intercepted two rockets and two hit open areas. No injuries or damage were reported. Another two rockets were launched at the Bnei Shimon Regional Council. Both exploded in open areas and no injuries or damage were reported. In response to the rocket fire, Israeli aircraft attacked in Gaza overnight, and Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon ordered the closure of the border crossings between Israel and the Hamas-ruled territory. The IDF estimates Islamic Jihad was behind the rocket fire. Following a meeting with top Southern Command officials and the head of IDF intelligence, Chief of Staff Benny Gantz instructed the army to launch airstrikes against four terror targets in central and south Gaza. The targets, including a rocket-launching pad and a weapons cache, belong to Islamic Jihad. The terror group apparently launched the rocket attack as an act of defiance against Gaza’s rulers. However, the army is not ruling out the possibility that extremist Salafists were behind the attack.,7340,L-4396107,00.html

Islamic Jihad severs ties with Hamas after death of member
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 23 June — The Islamic Jihad movement in Gaza announced Sunday that it was temporarily suspending ties with Hamas, accusing Gaza authorities of being responsible for the death of one of the group’s members. Raed Qassim Jundeyeih, a member of Islamic Jihad’s militant wing, the Al-Quds Brigades, died on Sunday after being shot a day earlier by Hamas police officers. Police had gone to an address in Gaza City on Saturday to deliver summons orders to a member of the Jundeyeih family. Upon approaching the home, members of the family opened fire at the officers and Jundeyeih was wounded in the ensuing gunfight.
He died from his injuries on Sunday. Islamic Jihad told Ma‘an that members affiliated with Hamas were responsible for the death, describing Jundeyeih’s death as a “favor” for Israel, whether intentional or not. Tensions further increased after a member of Islamic Jihad was hit by a jeep driven by a Hamas member during the funeral procession of Jundeyeih. Islamic Jihad said that Jundeyeih was wanted by Israeli authorities for being the head of a rocket-firing unit.

Hamas govt ‘executes 2 collaborators’
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 22 June — The Gaza interior ministry implemented on Saturday death sentences against two convicted collaborators, the ministry announced. In a statement, the ministry identified the convicts only by their initials and ages — A.G., 49, and H.K., 43. It insisted the process took place in the presence of authorized parties and according to the legal procedures stipulated in the Palestinian law.  The ministry said that the two convicted collaborators confessed that they told the Israeli army about houses, places, security and military locations that were later targeted, killing adults and children.  They collaborated with the Israeli authorities for more than 10 years, the ministry said … The collaborator also allegedly told interrogators he agreed to work with the Israelis because he badly needed a permit to travel to Israel to attend to his mother who needed medical treatment. He also said he received money from the Israeli intelligence, according to the statement….

Gaza fights to save Holy Land’s oldest monastery
TEL UMM AL-AMR (AFP) 23 June — A haven of peace in the sea of concrete that is the Gaza Strip, the crumbling remains of the Holy Land’s oldest monastery are in danger of disappearing for lack of funds to preserve them. Saint Hilarion, which is located at a site called Tel Umm al-Amr, draws its name from the fourth century hermit who came from southern Gaza and is considered to be the father of Palestinian monasticism. Its life close to the Mediterranean shore spanned more than four centuries — from the late Roman Empire to the Umayyad period. Abandoned after an earthquake in the seventh century, it was uncovered by local archaeologists in 1999. But today, “it’s a complete mess — archaeologically, scientifically, and on a human level,” laments Rene Elter, a researcher at the Ecole Biblique, a French academic institution in Jerusalem, who is responsible for trying preserve the site.

Egypt detains 4 Palestinians who entered country illegally
EL-ARISH, Egypt (Ma‘an) 23 June — Egyptian authorities on Sunday detained four Palestinians who illegally entered Egypt via smuggling tunnels, security officials said. Egyptian officials told Ma‘an that one man was carrying Egyptian identity papers, one of the men was detained while driving without official papers and another man was said to be a trader. All suspects were transferred to the custody of security forces for investigation.

Mohammed Assaf, Arab Idol

Annie Robbins and Enass Tinah have covered this story superbly. If you’ve missed anything over the past few weeks (videos, translation of lyrics or judges’ remarks, etc.), check out the Mondoweiss articles.
UPDATE: Mohammed Assaf IS Arab Idol!
22 June by Annie Robbins — Palestinian Mohammed Assaf, a strikingly talented, charismatic, handsome, Gazan with a “golden” voice has just been chosen Arab Idol by millions of fans and viewers all over the world … It is likely Mohammed Assaf will go on to be recognized as the first newly discovered great Arabic singer of 21st century. The cultural impact of his artistic influence and meteoric rise to fame and what this means to Palestine and the Arab world is immeasurable. Update: Crowds going wild with happiness in in Gaza and Ramallah [Update: wild fantastic video]:

After ‘Arab Idol’ win, Gaza goes to bed with hope
GAZA 23 June by Abeer Ayyoub – I have, in the past, witnessed Palestinians in Gaza rushing into the streets to celebrate various events. Once, it was after reaching a ceasefire that ended the eight-day Israeli offensive in November 2012. Another time was to celebrate the UN vote on upgrading statehood status for Palestine. But I don’t remember ever seeing them as happy as when Gazan competitor Muhammad Assaf won the title of Arab Idol. Aya, my friend who I was sitting next to, hugged me; I cried. It was indescribable. Assaf, who lives in my impoverished Strip, drank the same low-quality water I drank, suffered the same restrictive siege I suffered, and today, is representing Palestine in an artistic competition far away from the blood and wars. Fireworks went off for hours and Assaf’s songs were played in every corner of the city. At the restaurant where we were sitting, the waiters were dancing together with the customers. Later, the restaurant made a celebratory cake for its guests; it was huge … That night, Gaza went to sleep dreaming of hope, love and peace. Gaza never was a territory of terrorism or war, and it has always looked for a chance to prove it. Thanks Assaf, you did it on our behalf.

Hamas MP praises Arab Idol winner’s ‘thankfulness to God’
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 23 June — A Hamas MP praised Muhammad Assaf for becoming the first Palestinian to win the popular TV competition Arab Idol on Saturday night via Facebook. MP Yahya Mousa posted on his Facebook page that he welcomed Assaf’s thanks to God and his kneeling to the ground as though [as though?] in prayer when he was announced the winner.  Assaf won Arab Idol and dedicated his winning to the Palestinian people …  Assaf, a 23-year-old from Khan Younis in the southern Gaza Strip, has become a household name in Palestine.

Assaf named goodwill ambassador by PA, UN
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 23 June — Mohammad Assaf, the first Palestinian to win the popular Arab Idol TV singing contest, will also become the UN’s first Palestinian goodwill ambassador and the PA’s goodwill Diaspora ambassador. Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas made the appointment shortly after Assaf’s win on Saturday evening, according to PA news agency WAFA. Assaf will have “full diplomatic privileges” in his appointment, Abbas said, describing his winning as a “victory” for the Palestinian people. Among those there to support Assaf were influential Palestinian businessman Munib al-Masri, PA Culture Minister Anwar Abu Aisheh, Palestinian Ambassador to Lebanon Ashraf Dabour, and Abbas’ son Yasser. The Arab Idol winner was also named goodwill ambassador for UNRWA, making Assaf the first Palestinian to receive the title.

Gaza singer’s Arab Idol win gives Palestinians a voice
GAZA CITY (AFP) 23 Kime — “Congratulations, Assaf! You’ve made Gaza and Palestine lift their heads up high,” crowed 14-year-old Diana Shams as a young Gazan singer won the popular Arab Idol talent show, sparking rapturous celebrations across Palestine. “This is one of the best moments of our lives,” she beamed after watching 23-year-old Mohammed Assaf crowned victor on giant screens at a beach-front restaurant in Gaza City called The White House. “We voted in droves for Assaf and now we’re seeing the fruit of it,” she grinned. “Assaf deserves to be an international artist.” The sudden leap to stardom for a refugee from southern Gaza triggered a wave of unrestrained joy among a people more often known for their suffering and troubles.

Economic, political, other news

UN relief officials sound alarm over deepening food insecurity in Palestine
New York, June 21 : The heads of two United Nations aid agencies Friday raised the alarm over the worsening food insecurity in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, where one in three Palestinian households now struggle to feed their families. Preliminary results of a joint UN survey carried out by the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics, the World Food Programme (WFP), the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), and the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) found that 1.6 million people – or 34 per cent of households – were food insecure in 2012. This represents a “dramatic” rise from 27 per cent in 2011, stated a joint news release from WFP and UNRWA. Contributing factors include high unemployment rates, stagnant economic growth, the financial problems of the Palestinian Authority, the continued Israeli occupation of the West Bank and the six-year blockade of Gaza.

UAE Human Appeal International starts Ramadan programme
Occupied Jerusalem (GulfNews) 22 June — The Ramadan programme in Palestine has been launched by the UAE Human Appeal International. The 10-stage programme is made use of by many needy Palestinian families. Ebrahim Rashid, the director of HAI in the Western Bank, said that the first three phases of the programme are being carried out now and include the distribution of Braille Quran, slaughtered meat for remote population complexes, and financial aid for orphans’ families. He also pointed out that the preparations are being made for the seven other phases which include food baskets, Eid clothes, Zakat, and Eid presents.

Palestinians employed in West Bank settlements entitled to Israeli wages and benefits, court rules
Haaretz 23 June by Haim Bior — Palestinians who are employed in industrial zones in West Bank Jewish settlements are entitled to the salaries and fringe benefits provided by Israeli law, the Jerusalem regional labor court ruled last week. The court was faced with the question as to whether Israeli law applied to the Palestinians even though the West Bank has not been annexed by Israel and Israeli law does not fully apply there. Despite the fact that the plaintiffs in the case are also not Israeli citizens, the labor court ruled that the workers would have the benefit of Israeli law when it comes to minimum employment terms.

Official: Hamdallah to head caretaker govt until Aug. 10
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 23 June — Rami Hamdallah will stay on as head of a caretaker Palestinian Authority government for the next five weeks, a member of Fatah’s Central Committee said Sunday. Jamal Muhaisen told Ma‘an that the caretaker government will continue until August 10, in which time it is hoped that a unity government can be formed comprising Fatah and its Islamist rival, Hamas. If a national unity government is not formed before August 10, the “leadership will look for alternatives,” Muhaisen said, without providing further details. Muheisan denied rumors that Fatah’s Central Committee had demanded that one of its members become prime minister, insisting that Abbas favored Hamdallah to stay on to head a caretaker government. Earlier Sunday, Abbas accepted the resignation of Hamdallah after just over two weeks on the job.

Prosecutor: Palestine could join ICC
TUNIS (Ma‘an) 22 June — The International Criminal Court head prosecutor believes Palestine qualifies to join the ICC after the UN General Assembly voted to admit the country as a non-member state in November. Fatou Bensouda made the remarks Thursday at the Transitional Justice and International Justice in the Arab World conference in Tunisia, Palestinian officials who attended it said. Palestinian justice minister Ali Muhanna attended the conference and handed Bensouda a letter on behalf of the Palestinian government. The conference included expert opinions in matters of transitional justice and its processes in Arab countries, and the role of International Criminal Court in the region.

Dancing through occupation in the West Bank
Ramallah (Al Jazeera Feature) 23 June by Dalia Hatuga — Palestinian girls as young as three years old are flocking to the territory’s first ballet centre — To the music and lyrics of Pirouette Cacahuete, a French children’s song, more than a dozen tiny feet glide across the wooden floorboards of Shyrine Ziadeh’s Ramallah Ballet Centre. “Get ready for the plié,” the 24-year-old teacher instructs the girls, many of them dressed in pink tutus and glittery ballet slippers. They all take their places using the windowsills as barres. The ballerinas giggle and jiggle, but with a little coaxing from their instructor, they assemble in a line with their heels touching in first position, their tiny palms pointed inwards, before finally bending into a group plie. Ziadeh rewards them with a loud “bravo”.

USAID stops funding Palestinian NGOs
RAMALLAH (PIC) 22 June — The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) has recently stopped funding projects of a number of Palestinian civil institutions that support the boycott of Israel. Lawyer Salah Ouda told PIC’s correspondent: “The problem began when the Israeli center to monitor Palestinian NGOs started monitoring all Palestinian civil institutions that support the local and international boycott of the occupation.” He added that this center began last year to incite against the Palestinian civil institutions that receive funding from USAID, and which participate in activities calling for boycotting Israel. He noted that this incitement resulted in breaking into and conducting searches in the headquarters of some institutions, and confiscating many of their possessions.

New push to find Alex Odeh’s assassins
Electronic Intifada 20 June by Asa Winstanley — In 1985, Palestinian-American civil rights leader Alex Odeh was killed in a terrorist bomb attack on the California offices of the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee. ADC announced earlier this month that Alex’s brother passed away on 6 June after a long illness. “We regret that Sami Odeh never lived to see justice served for Alex’s death, but are hopeful that this case will be solved soon,” ADC wrote in a press release. The next day Congressperson Loretta Sanchez, who represents Santa Ana where the bombing took place, sent a letter [PDF] to the attorney general requesting an update on the status of the case: Jewish Defense League suspects in the case fled to Israeli-occupied Palestine and were last reported to be living in the extremist Jewish colony Kiryat Arba near Hebron

Multilingual Israei 24-hour news TV to launch July 1
TEL AVIV, Israel (AFP) 22 June — A new Israel-based 24-hour TV news channel broadcasting in English, French and Arabic is to go on air on July 1, its CEO says. The new station, based in Tel Aviv’s seafront Jaffa district, is named i24 news. “The channel will be launched on July 1, in three languages, including the website,” Frank Melloul said. Looking at global broadcasters Al Jazeera and France 24 it will broadcast around the clock in English and French and five hours each day in Arabic, executives say. Melloul said the three language services would share editorial facilities in Jaffa’s ancient port. With 150 journalists on its staff, i24 news aims “to decode the world news from the heart of the Middle East,” he said.

Analysis / Opinion

Why Google’s tagline change matters
Palestine Monitor 23 June by Henrique Dores — On the 1st of May of 2013, the Internet search engine Google surprised the world by changing the tagline on the homepage of its Palestinian version from “Palestinian Territories” to “Palestine.” … Google’s tagline change can be seen as an outstanding achievement for the Palestinian cause, one that is embedded with blatant symbolism. The importance of this symbolic statement only grows stronger when we consider that official discourse within western world tends to be quite hegemonic, placing exclusive importance on, and solely produced by, Western mainstream media narratives. Although the practical effects of Google’s emblematic change are very little, it is undeniable that it not only has a great psychological effect amongst western populations, but that it also represents the first real achievement of the Palestinian lobby

Is Israel a legitimate state? / Gideon Levy
Haaretz 23 June –  The Presidential Conference did nothing to legitimize Israel, just as documenting the wrongdoings of the occupation or pointing out racism aren’t to blame for the delegitimization of the regime — The provocative (and challenging) question in this headline is irrelevant. With the exception of Israel, such an accusation hasn’t been hurled at any state, and to be honest, Israel isn’t seriously considered illegitimate either – at least not in the sense the nationalist right in the country would have us believe in order to scare the public. When discussing the topic, the question is not whether certain states are legitimate or not, but whether certain regimes are. The regimes of Iran, North Korea, Burma and others are considered illegitimate due to their conduct, but no one questions the legitimacy of Iran as a state. Of course there are states that were born in sin – the United States leading the pack – but no one questions the legitimacy of the U.S. That is true concerning Israel as well. It is an existing state, whose existence isn’t in doubt.
When the right screams ‘delegitimization,’ it purposely exaggerates. Even the most heated criticism of Israel is directed at the regime: most of it deals with Israel being a regime of occupation – an overtly illegitimate reality – and some of it is directed at its definition as an ethnic-national state, the Jewish state. There is no other state that carries out such an occupation, nor another state that defines itself according to its ethnic, religious or national purity. (listserv) (archive)


American; political science major, M.A.; former ISM volunteer in the West Bank

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2 Responses

  1. chocopie on June 25, 2013, 9:17 am

    Yet more evidence of Israel’s pathological fear of Palestinian thespians. Poor Israel, the world must be a terrifying place if they’re afraid of theater productions.

  2. talknic on June 26, 2013, 12:32 am

    Thx Kate

    The list of Israeli atrocities is never ending

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