Egypt bans Gaza fishermen from its waters
Al-Monitor 25 July by Abeer Ayyoub — Palestinian fishermen have been banned by Egyptian authorities from sailing into Egyptian waters. It is the latest punitive measure slapped on Gaza following President Mohammed Morsi’s overthrow on July 3. The fishermen often sailed toward Egyptian waters from their narrow fishing zone, which Israel has set to six nautical miles and which is described by local fishermen as a ‘pool’. According to the Israeli newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth, the Egyptian military banned fishing in the area of the northern Sinai towns of Rafah, Sheikh Zuweid and El-Arish from July 18 until further notice. The paper claimed that the reason behind the ban is to prevent the infiltration of Palestinians and jihadi agents from Gaza to Egypt by fishing boats. The head of the Palestinian Syndicate of Fishermen in Gaza, Nizar Ayesh, said that his organization was not officially informed that Gaza fishermen were no longer allowed to sail in the Egyptian waters. “Egyptian gunboats always watched the borders between Gaza and Egypt, yet never banned any Palestinian boat from sailing to Egypt before last week,” Ayesh told Al-Monitor in an interview at the seaport on July 25 … In addition to limited fishing zones, Gaza’s fishermen are also suffering from a lack of fuel after the Egyptian military demolished many smuggling tunnels stretching under the borders between the Gaza Strip and the Sinai Peninsula … At the Gaza central fish market just behind the seaport — which is normally crowded — only a few customers were present with only a handful of fish on display. Abu Osama, 48, and a fishmonger for more than 15 years, said that he has never seen the market as bad as it is now.
Official: Rafah crossing partially open
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 24 July — The Rafah crossing will operate at reduced capacity on Wednesday, a Palestinian official said. Maher Abu Sabha, general director of crossings, told Ma‘an that foreign nationals and patients seeking medical treatment will be allowed access. Rafah was closed on Tuesday as Egypt marked the anniversary of the July 23 revolution in 1952, which brought an end to the Egyptian monarchy in a coup led by Gamal Abdel Nasser.
Egypt officer shoots 2 Egyptians at Rafah crossing
EL-ARISH, Egypt (Ma‘an)24 July — An Egyptian police officer shot and injured two Egyptian taxi drivers at the Rafah crossing on Wednesday, a security official said. Yasser Mohammad Madhi, 18, and Dawoud Awad Suleiman, 50, tried drive through the border gate in separate cars to pick up passengers from Gaza, an Egyptian security official told Ma‘an. They did not have permission to cross and a police officer opened fire, shooting Madhi in the back and the arm, and Suleiman in the stomach, he added. They were taken to hospital in Rafah.
Israeli forces arrest Palestinian at Gaza crossing
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 24 July — Israeli forces arrested a Palestinian man at the Erez crossing in northern Gaza on Tuesday, Palestinian security officials said. Hussam al-Zanin was accompanying his sick mother to Israel for treatment, but was detained by Israeli forces. Al-Zanin’s mother was then asked to return to Gaza by Israeli forces at the border.
Mizan Center slams Israel’s kidnapping of patients at Beit Hanoun crossing
GAZA (PIC) 25 July — Al-Mizan center for human rights strongly denounced Israel’s persistence in kidnapping Gazan patients and their relatives who found themselves forced to travel through Beit Hanoun (Erez) crossing. Al-Mizan center stated in a report on Wednesday that the kidnapping of patients at Beit Hanoun crossing violates Israel’s legal obligations under the international humanitarian law, especially the fourth Geneva convention. The center outlined some incidents in which patients from Gaza were taken prisoners by the Israeli occupation forces, although they had obtained travel permits, noting that the detention of patients at this crossing increased during the current month.
IOF shoots Palestinian youth in northern Gaza
GAZA (PIC) 26 July — The Israeli occupation forces (IOF), stationed on the Gaza border, shot a Palestinian youth in the town of Beit Hanoun in the northern Gaza Strip. The spokesman for the Ministry of Health Ashraf al-Qidra told PIC’s correspondent that the young man was shot in the foot and is in a moderate condition, noting that the medical staff transferred him to Beit Hanoun Hospital to receive treatment
‘Sometimes, I have to risk my life to survive’
PCHR 24 July — On Sunday 14 July 2013, Israeli forces patrolling the border fence northeast of Beit Hanoun fired in the direction of a group of workers who were collecting metal and plastic scraps from a landfill which is located around 400 metres away from the border fence. As a result, Khaled Shehada Hamad, an eighteen-year-old worker who was present at the site, was injured … Khaled was shot while working in a landfill around 400m away from the border fence. Israel has unilaterally imposed an illegal “buffer zone”, an area prohibited to Palestinians along the land and sea borders of the Gaza Strip. The precise area designated by Israel as a “buffer zone” is unclear and this Israeli policy is often enforced with live fire. In accordance with the ceasefire agreement that ended Israel’s last military offensive on the Gaza Strip in November 2012, the Israeli Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) in an online statement on 25 February 2013 declared that farmers could access lands in the border area up to 100m from the border fence instead of the previously-imposed 300 meters. However, this reference, along with the reference to the increased fishing area at sea, was later removed from the statement. Then, on 11 March 2013, an Israeli army spokesperson, in a letter to GISHA, stated “the residents of Gaza are required not to approach within 300m of the security fence”. The arbitrary and changing parameters of the so-called “buffer zone” has led to huge confusion among the civilian population living around the border area, whose agricultural lands, their main source of livelihood, can only be accessed with high risk. In reality, attacks against civilians take place anywhere up to 1.5 kilometres inside the border fence. This means that 35% of the Gaza Strip’s agricultural land can only be accessed under high personal risk, as Israeli attacks may result in injury or death of civilians … Khaled still does not know when he will be able to walk again, and believes that he was directly targeted by the Israeli soldier.
Hamas government closes Ma‘an, Al-Arabiya TV bureaus in Gaza
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 25 July — …A Hamas official told AFP that the attorney-general closed Al-Arabiya’s office “for distributing false news regarding the smear campaign against Hamas and Gaza about what’s happening in Egypt.” … The closure order from the attorney-general was delivered to Ma‘an by officials from the Hamas-run Ministry of Information and security forces. Ministry officials accompanied by security forces questioned the Gaza bureau chief in his office on Thursday over a report published on Ma’an’s Arabic site that quoted information translated from a Hebrew news site. The report said that six Muslim Brotherhood officials had smuggled themselves into Gaza to plan an uprising against the military in Cairo, after their Egyptian president was deposed. A ministry official told Ma‘an’s bureau chief that the report was false … Commenting on the accusations, Ma‘an’s editor-in-chief Nasser Lahham said “some people in Gaza seemingly went mad after the Muslim Brotherhood rule was ousted in Egypt. “They take any possible occasion to wage tough attacks against Ma‘an News Agency for no reason.
Factions denounce Hamas closure of media offices in Gaza
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 26 July — Palestinian factions on Thursday condemned the closure by Hamas of media offices in the Gaza Strip … The Palestinian National Initiative called on Hamas to reconsider its decision to close the offices and to respect the rights to expression and stop attacks against the media freedoms. Meanwhile, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine called on Hamas to reverse its decision. PFLP condemned “such violations against journalism and journalistic work” and described the closures as repressive. The Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine called for the reopening of the Ma’an and Al-Arabiya offices and said the closure orders violated the rights to expression and media freedom. The Palestinian Peoples’ Party also called for an end to attacks on freedoms and condemned the Hamas decision to close the bureaus.
Egypt prosecutor ‘orders Mursi held over Hamas ties’
CAIRO (AFP) 26 July — Egypt’s state prosecutor has ordered that ousted President Mohamed Mursi be detained for questioning over suspected collaboration with Hamas, official MENA news agency reported Friday. Mursi will be quizzed on whether he collaborated with Hamas in attacks on police stations and prison breaks in early 2011, in which the Islamist and other political inmates escaped during the revolt against strongman Hosni Mubarak, it said. The order comes as a tense Egypt braced Friday for a showdown in the streets between supporters of Mursi and his army-backed opponents, who have called rival rallies across the Arab world’s most populous country.
Israel police: 2 Gaza rockets hit Israel
JERUSALEM (AFP) 24 July — Two rockets fired from the Gaza Strip hit southern Israel on Wednesday but caused no damage or casualties, a police spokeswoman said. “The rockets landed in the Eshkol region,” Luba Samri told AFP, adding that “security forces are searching for their remains”. A lone rocket hit the same area on Sunday, and two hit southern Israel last Thursday, none causing any damage or casualties.
Gaza’s Ark: a bid to break Israel’s blockade from within
GAZA CITY (AFP) 26 July — Palestinian laborers and foreign activists are working tirelessly to transform a large fishing boat into “Gaza’s Ark” with the aim of exporting local produce in the latest bid to break Israel’s blockade on the coastal strip. The Ark, which is being fitted out to carry goods and more than 100 passengers, is expected to set sail for Europe when it is completed by the end of July in the latest high-profile attempt to challenge Israel’s maritime lockdown on the tiny Hamas-run territory. If they are successful, this will be the first time goods from Gaza have been exported by sea since the signing of the 1994 Oslo Peace Accords. Significantly, this attempt to alleviate the effects of the seven-year blockade comes from within Gaza, where locals refurbishing the 24-metre-long (78 feet) vessel want to take matters into their own hands, rather than waiting for help from the outside world…
But a sense of apprehension marks the preparations. A plaque at the entrance to the quay on which the Ark is being built remembers the nine Turkish activists who were killed in May 2010 during an Israeli raid on a six-ship flotilla trying to reach Gaza in defiance of the blockade.
Turkey, Israel disagree on compensation payment
Ankara (AP) 25 July — Talks between Israel and Turkey on compensation for the victims of a deadly 2010 Israeli raid on a Gaza-bound aid flotilla have stalled over disagreement on the legal definition of the damages, Turkey’s deputy prime minister said in comments published Thursday. Bulent Arinc told a group of journalists that Israel wanted to make a voluntary payment out of compassion, while Turkey insists that Israel accept liability for a “wrongful act.” His words were reported by Zaman and Hurriyet Daily News newspapers.
Gaza’s Omari Mosque embodies city’s ancient history
Al-Monitor July 25 by Asmaa al-Ghoul — Praying in the Great Omari Mosque elicits humanistic emotions before evoking religious feelings, especially if one knows that, thousands of years ago, people prayed in this place of worship when it was a pagan temple for Marna, the greatest of the city’s seven gods. During that era, Gazans worshiped idols and the sun. According to Saleem Mobayed’s book ”Islamic Archaeological Buildings in the Gaza Strip,” when Christianity emerged at the beginning of the 5th century, the majority of the city’s inhabitants embraced Christianity and demolished the pagan temple. They built a church on the same site to practice their faith … Two and a half centuries later, during the era of Islamic conquests, Gazans turned to the new religion, and the church was transformed into a mosque. It was named the Omari Mosque after Caliph Umar bin al-Khatab.
Ramadan in Gaza: Life in a cemetery
GAZA (Albawaba) 26 July by Sanaa Kamel — People walk by the cemetery, where thousands of dead gather in one place. They begin praying for them out of fear of the torments of the grave. Some do not know that these cemeteries are not only inhabited by the dead but also by the living. Al-Mamadani Cemetery in the center of Gaza City, near Palestine Square, has been home to Palestinian families since the 1948 nakba. Here, children play on top of graves, jumping over the rectangular obstacles and announcing the winner who cleared the most. Their innocence makes them oblivious of the tragedy of life … Kheil has been living in Mamadani Cemetery since 1948. His poor family could not find refuge, except next to the graves where they built a small home. He waters the graves for a small amount of money paid by relatives of the dead, but it is not enough to feed his family. However, he knows all the graves by name and age at death, pointing them out to visitors. He is also the cemetery’s watchful guard. His family dreams of living in a normal home, no matter how small. It has to be far from the terror of the graveyard, with its lizards, snakes, scorpions, and stray dogs. But they have not yet found a way to achieve their goal. Ramadan brings a different type of suffering to the family. At sunset, they watch people scurrying to their homes to enjoy a good meal. But they need to wait for charity and donations to set their own table over a grave that can fit them around it, just like one of those Ramadan series about slum dwellers.
Child workers maintain Gaza’s cemeteries
Al-Monitor 26 July by Rasha Abou Jalal — Mahmoud, a 12-year-old Gazan boy, spends more than nine hours a day between the graves of the Sheikh Radwan cemetery in the center of Gaza City. He stares at the cemetery gate, waiting for a grave visitor or funeral procession … According to data from the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics (PCBS), “There are about 65,000 working children in the Palestinian territories, accounting for 6% of all children in the 5-14 age range. Some are paid, others are not.” … Mahmoud, who appears to be extremely tired, wanders among the graves, carrying a small bucket of water in one hand and a bouquet of roses in the other. He sprays water on graves and removes the grass from around the tombstone to plant flowers instead. While spraying water on a marble tomb that appears to be new, he told Al-Monitor, “My father took me out of school two years ago. He told me I am only supposed to work, and forced me to come to this cemetery every day to ask visitors for money in return for taking care of the graves of their loved ones on a regular basis.” There are many children in the Sheikh Radwan cemetery who have the same job as Mahmoud, creating competition to attract visitors. This led Mahmoud to devise new ways to attract as many visitors as possible.
Gaza Sky Geeks to launch underguidance of Portland-based Mercy Corps
Oregonian 24 July by D.K. Row — Startups the world over possess much the same relentless DNA. Take, for example, the scene in the Palestinian city of Gaza, where political crises are frequent and electricity can be unpredictable. No matter what’s going on, you can count on the area’s growing number of tech geeks to program and strategize around the clock, planning startups that may one day make successful, big-dollar exits. That entrepreneurial spirit is the future of Gaza, hope the people behind the new startup accelerator Gaza Sky Geeks… Ross says the energetic tech scene in Gaza, which focuses heavily on gaming and app development, is ripe for growth. One reason is because the physical restrictions of living in Gaza make online businesses more viable than other types of entrepreneurial activity. Ross estimates, for example, there are at least 120 high tech startups in Gaza. There are also five universities, with technology and engineering popular subjects at some of them.
Beautiful normality of Gaza’s people shines in new book
Electronic Intifada 23 July by Sarah Irving — The number of books and blogs by Westerners on Palestine has increased in recent years — at least partly thanks to the greater interest in the surrounding region brought about by the “Arab Spring.” At their worst, some of these accounts are ill-informed expropriations of Palestinian experience and suffering. Meet Me in Gaza, Louisa Waugh’s excellent narrative of her years living in Gaza between 2007 and 2010, is at the opposite end of the spectrum … although Waugh’s time in Gaza may frame the narrative, the real center of the book are the people of Gaza and — delivered in small digestible chunks — their long, vivid, salt-and-spice history. For people who know nothing of Gaza but lazy media stereotypes, this book is a perfect introduction. And for those who think they know all the facts and figures, there will be some small surprise … This isn’t to say that Waugh’s account is a whitewash of the situation. Working with a Palestinian human rights organization, she recounts some of the horrific testimonies she heard from survivors of Operation Cast Lead (Israel’s all-out attack on Gaza in late 2008 and early 2009) … Waugh is also not afraid to show the complexities she encountered in Gazan society. She is open about meeting Palestinians who were increasingly frustrated and fearful of the Hamas regime.
Land, property theft & destruction / Ethnic cleansing
Palestinian right to Jerusalem only valid for 10 years
Jerusalem, Occupied Palestine (International Campaign to Protect Palestinian Residency in Jerusalem) 24 July — The Jerusalemites Campaign strongly condemns Israel’s recent change in its issuing of Jerusalem IDs, which now include expiration dates. Since the beginning of July, Jerusalem residents who have gone to the Ministry of Interior to receive new IDs have obtained ones valid for only 10 years. Prior to this, IDs had no explicit expiration date. The implications of this policy change are significant. Once implemented collectively, all Palestinian Jerusalemites who hold permanent residency status will be obligated to go to the Ministry of Interior to renew their IDs upon such expiration. It can be expected, then, that they will be subjected to the MOI’s Center of Life policy, which requires Palestinians through an exhaustive list of documents to prove Jerusalem as their continuous, uninterrupted center of life. Those who are unable to meet the Ministry’s excessive list of demands will render themselves at threat of having their IDs revoked and, accordingly, their rights to live in Jerusalem stripped. Until now, many Jerusalemites avoid any reason to go to the MOI for fear of the Center of Life policy; it has been reported that even those who have never lived outside of the city have previously failed to satisfy the Ministry’s expectations on this measure … This policy exists in stark contrast to that applied to Israelis, who are permitted to hold dual nationality with another state and whose citizenships have no expiration date.
Israel classifies Jerusalem natives as noncitizens
OCCUPIED JERUSALEM (PIC) 24 July — The Israeli ministry of interior has come up with a new plan to expel the Palestinian natives of occupied Jerusalem from their city through classifying them as “noncitizens,” lawyer Ahmed Roweidi revealed. Roweidi stated on Tuesday that the Israeli interior ministry started to specify periods for the residence of the natives in Jerusalem and classified them as noncitizens who are susceptible to deportation anytime. Roweidi described this new measure as a prelude to a new ethnic-cleansing campaign against the Palestinian natives in the holy city. He affirmed that a number of Jerusalemite citizens went lately to the Israeli occupation authority to renew their IDs and noticed that the word “resident” was added into the new cards with an expiry date for their residence in the holy city.
Israel pushing ahead with grandiose West Bank railway plan, ignoring political borders
Haaretz 24 July by Chaim Levinson — The Civil Administration decided Wednesday to go ahead with its grandiose railway plan for the West Bank and open it up for public objections, after the Palestinian Authority refused Israel’s request to participate in the planning. The program is being aggressively promoted by Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz (Likud). Some NIS 1 million has already been invested in the planning process. The plan, first made revealed by Haaretz, included 473 kilometers of rail with 30 stations on 11 lines, meant to connect all cities and regions within the West Bank and the West Bank with Jordan and Syria. Due of the West Bank’s hilly terrain, the plans include dozens of bridges and tunnels. The railway plan, which is supposed to accommodate all populations living in the West Bank, completely ignores all current political borders.
Israel’s West Bank railway plan will face hundreds of objections
Haaretz 2 July by Amira Hass — The plan aims to strengthen Israel’s link to the settlements, but it’s unlikely that tunnels will be excavated around Hebron, Ramallah and Nablus in the next two or three years — The grandiose West Bank railway project that defense officials approved this week is tailored for Jewish settlers now and in the future, not the Palestinians of the West Bank. The plan, which pretends to offer a regional railway network, is being pushed by Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz. This is the minister who recently said on the Walla website that “a Palestinian state is unacceptable, mainly because of our right to this land.” Some NIS 1 million has already been invested in the planning, which envisions 473 kilometers of track and 30 stations on 11 lines, meant to connect the West Bank’s cities and regions, and in turn these cities and regions with Jordan and Syria … Even if Palestinians use the rail network, its route, like the West Bank’s roads, is designed according to the Jewish population’s needs
Settlers start construction of two units near Bethlehem
IMEMC 26 July — Ahmad Salah, Coordinator of the Popular Committee Against the Wall and Settlements in the Al-Khader town, south of Bethlehem, has reported that a number of settlers started the construction of two units near Boaz illegal settlement. Salah added that the settlers placed the corner stones for the new constructions on lands that belong to resident Khader Issa, in Khirbit Abu Ghlaion area. He said that the two units are being built in direct violation of a ruling by an Israeli court preventing the settlers from building in the area.
Photos — Ongoing Israeli settlement expansion endangers Palestinian communities in South Hebron Hills
Occupied Palestine PRESS RELEASE By Operation Dove | July 23, 2013 While the Israeli government is promoting construction of 80 new housing units in the Israeli settlement of Karmel, the DCO delivers four stop working orders and one demolition order in the Palestinian village of Al Mufaqarah. During the months of June and July the expansion of the Israeli settlements of Karmel, Ma’on and of Avigayil outpost have been documented by Operation Dove volunteers. The largest expansion was recorded in the settlement of Karmel. During the month of June, building machines worked on the foundation of a new section in the settlement’s southern area. By the middle of July six new houses and three new concrete bases were already constructed in this area. Karmel was built in the 1980s near the Bedouin village of Umm Al Kheer. This new expansion causes additional difficulties to local Bedouin shepherds, who have to graze their sheep near the settlement.
Israeli damage cars of Palestinians in Jerusalem
JERUSALEM (WAFA) 25 July – Israelis Thursday slashed tiers and smashed windows of a number of vehicles that belong to a Palestinian family in occupied East Jerusalem, said witnesses. They told WAFA that about 20 Israelis were involved in the arson that occurred at dawn in Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood in East Jerusalem. Israelis have recently escalated their attacks against Palestinians and their property in East Jerusalem neighborhoods.
Quiet settlement freeze: Netanyahu denies, Ariel thinks otherwise
Ynet 23 July by Moran Azulay — Prime Minister states no restrictions exist on construction in territories, says all in coordination with Housing Minister Ariel. Minister replies: ‘It never happened.’ Confidants of minister: ‘Ready to market thousands of apartments, but in practice it is not happening’
IOA to create new settlement road in Haifa
JAFFA (PIC) 23 July — The Israeli District Committee for Planning and Building declared its intention to build a new settlement road, in Haifa in occupied territories, that links between Fureidis and Zichron Yaaqub [Zikhron Ya’akov] junctions with the nearby settlement of Nkhcollym [Nachsholim]. Palestinian farmers in that area expressed their dissatisfaction with the new Israeli settlement project especially that hundreds of dunums of their land will be confiscated. The Israeli new scheme is made to facilitate the movement of settlers living in Nhacollym and Dore [Dor] settlements. The project area is estimated at 1275 dunums where hundreds of agricultural dunums will be confiscated. Residents in that area rely on agriculture for their livelihood.
Spectacular photos – and a lot of them
In Photos — Third Friday of Ramadan in Palestine
Occupied Palestine 26 July
Worshipers head to Al-Aqsa for Ramadan prayers
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 26 July — Tens of thousands of worshipers headed to the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem on Friday for Ramadan prayers. Palestinians queued at checkpoints to Jerusalem from the early hours of Friday morning to pray at the Al-Aqsa Mosque, the third holiest site in Islam. The Al-Aqsa Mosque foundation said tens of thousands of worshipers stayed at the mosque from Thursday evening, taking breakfast provided by the foundation and performing dawn prayers. Meanwhile, the Al-Bayariq Foundation, based in Israel, dispatched 250 buses to bring worshipers to the mosque from across Israel.
Video: Palestinians rage at Israel’s plan to shut down Ibrahim Mosque on Laylat ul-Qadr
Press TV 23 July — Israeli authorities will close the Ibrahim Mosque in Al Khalil Hebron in the occupied West Bank on the most important Muslim religious day in Ramadan. [beautiful interior shots of the mosque]
Israel retracts decision to close Hebron mosque on important Muslim night
HEBRON (WAFA) 24 July – Less than 24 hours after the Israeli military authorities had informed the Muslim Waqf in Hebron of its decision to close down the Ibrahimi Mosque (Cave of the Patriarchs) in the southern West Bank city of Hebron for Muslim worshipers during Lailat al-Qadr, the most important night for Muslims, it retracted its decision, a Muslim official said Wednesday. Director of the Hebron Waqf, the Muslim endowment, Tayseer Abu Sneineh said Israel has informed them the day before of its intention to ban Muslims from entering the mosque on that night and the next day, Monday, August 5, because it will be open only to Jews who will be marking the first day in the month of Ayloul according to the Jewish calendar. He said Israel changed its decision and decided to keep it open on Lailat al-Qadr and close on in the next day for Muslims between seven in the morning and 10 in the evening when it will be open for Jews only. Lailat al-Qadr is the night the Quran was revealed to the Prophet Mohammad more than 1400 years ago
Violence / Raids / Attacks / Clashes / lllegal arrests
Palestinians injured in Jenin clashes with Israeli forces
JENIN (Ma‘an) 25 July — Three Palestinians were injured early Thursday in clashes with Israeli forces in the Jenin refugee camp, locals said. Israeli forces raided the camp and surrounded the Tawalba mosque and a kindergarten under construction, searching for a wanted Palestinian, locals told Ma‘an. Residents of the camp threw stones at the soldiers, who fired plastic-coated steel bullets and sound grenades, locals said. Mohammad Matahin, Mohammad Soos and Muamin Soos were hit by plastic-coated bullets and dozens of Palestinians suffered from tear gas inhalation, they added…
Meanwhile, Israeli forces detained four Palestinians in raids across the West Bank early Thursday, the [Israeli military] spokeswoman said. Soldiers detained two Palestinians in Nablus, one in Huwwara near Nablus, and another in Hebron.
Israeli occupation forces raid Nablus city, brutally attack young men
NABLUS (PIC) 25 July – Violent clashes broke out at dawn Thursday between dozens of Palestinian young men and Israeli soldiers during a military campaign in Nablus city. According to Safa news agency, the IOF fired a hail of stun and tear gas grenades at the angry young men, and loud bangs were heard for more than two hours during the events. A number of young men sustained injuries during the attacks and were rushed to Nablus hospital. The clashes mostly took place in Rafidia area and in the vicinity of Al-Najah university. Meanwhile, the IOF raided some homes where the clashes took place and kidnapped two young men named Mohamed Al-Damoni and Jihad Dashun.
Clashes in Kafr Qaddum
QALQILIYA (Ma‘an) 26 July — Israeli forces fired tear gas and stun grenades at Palestinian protesters in Kafr Qaddum near Qalqiliya on Friday, the local popular committee said. Several military vehicles and a bulldozer entered Kfar Qaddum and soldiers fired tear gas canisters directly at protesters, committee spokesman Muraed Shteawy said. Israeli forces also closed a road in the village to limit the movement of people, he added.
Video – Kufr Qaddum protest July 26 2013
Occupied Palestine — Israel violent[ly] suppresses non violent demo – Palestinian youth resists
Soldiers invade two Palestinian houses for training only
Hebron (ISM) 25 July by Team Khalil — Last night, Israeli occupation soldiers invaded two houses in Tel Rumeida, Hebron, one being the Sumud house and the headquarters of the Palestinian human rights organisation Youth Against Settlements. At 21:15 pm three groups consisting of four Israeli soldiers each invaded the Sumud house from different directions. The heavily armed soldiers took the residents of the house completely by surprise, as they had been sneaking through the nearby olive groves. After harassing the people at the Sumud house and creating some mess, the soldiers retreated into the olive groves, only to invade the neighbouring house’s back garden using the latter to climb over the wall surrounding the property. The aim of the exercise is unclear but soldiers seemed to have practised how to break into a house. Activists from Youth Against Settlements as well as the International Solidarity Movement who were present at the scene strongly believe the invasion to have been a training exercise, as the soldiers could not show a court order justifying the invasion, nor did they arrest anyone. The precise goal and nature of the exercise remain unclear. By 22pm, all soldiers had gone, leaving a trail of confusion and broken property.
PCHR Weekly Report: 2 civilians wounded in 50 Israeli incursions this week [18-24 July]
26 July …During the reporting period, Israeli forces wounded an 18-year-old boy and an Israeli human rights defender, and dozens of civilians suffered tear gas inhalation during peaceful protests against the construction of the annexation wall and settlement activities in the West Bank. Furthermore, a number of civilians sustained bruises due to Israeli settlers’ attack on them. Israeli forces conducted 50 incursions into Palestinian communities in the West Bank, during which at least 25 Palestinian civilians, including 4 children, were abducted. On 27 July 2013, an 18-year-old boy was wounded during an Israeli incursion in al-Bireh. The boy was shot by 2 bullets to the chest … Israeli forces have continued to support settlement activities in the West Bank and Israeli settlers have continued to attack Palestinian civilians and property. The settlers set fire to 400 fruitful olive trees, south of Bethlehem. The settlers continued their attacks on the Palestinian farmers and shepherds, south of Hebron. 4 settlers tortured a Palestinian woman, northwest of Ramallah, and put her life at risk. Full Report
Israeli inaction enables settler violence against Palestinians
972blog 24 July by Yesh Din, written by Yossi Gurvitz — The failure of Israeli authorities in the struggle against Jewish terrorism makes them its enablers. Yesh Din demands a special IDF deployment in order to protect Palestinians — Yesh Din on Wednesday published its annual data sheet about law enforcement on Israeli civilians in the West Bank, and as usual, the data is not encouraging. You can see the full data sheet here. To make a long story short, between 2005 and 2013, the SHAI (Judea and Samaria/West Bank) District Police managed to obtain indictments only in 8.5 percent of the cases Yesh Din monitors, while showing impressive incompetence by closing 84 percent of the cases due to investigative failure. This is not new: the data repeats itself every year. There is only one category in which the SHAI police outshone itself in the last year: the losing of cases. Since 2005, the SHAI cops managed to physically lose eight of the files; five of them were lost last year. Yesh Din’s cases, it should be noted, represent just a small part of the offenses carried out by Israelis in the West Bank. The organization is not informed of all the incidents and even when it is, can’t handle all of them.
Israeli forces detain Hebron man
HEBRON (Ma‘an) 24 July — Israeli forces on Wednesday informed the family of Luay Adi that the 26-year-old is in Israeli custody, a local official said. Adi, from Beit Ummar near Hebron, went missing after leaving his home on Monday. Israeli authorities on Wednesday telephoned Adi’s parents and informed them that he is being held at Etzion detention center
Israeli forces detain former Fatah fighter in Jenin camp
JENIN (Ma‘an) 26 July — Israeli forces on Friday detained a former Fatah fighter after raiding his home in the Jenin refugee camp, Palestinian Authority security sources said. Israeli military vehicles raided the camp and detained 35-year-old Daoud Zubeidi, PA security officials told Ma‘an. An Israeli military statement said that soldiers and border police arrested “a Palestinian terrorist operative,” without giving his name or detailing the allegations against him. Zubeidi’s brother Zakaria Zubeidi, the former head of Al-Aqsa in Jenin, is currently facing charges in a Palestinian court of taking part in a May 2012 shooting attack on the residence of Jenin governor Qaddura Musa. Musa died after suffering a heart attack during the incident, and Palestinian security forces arrested dozens of people, including Zakaria Zubeidi, shortly afterwards. Zakaria, a founder of Jenin’s Freedom Theatre, was released on bail in October.
IDF nabs Palestinians suspected of firing at Israeli buses in West Bank
Haaretz 25 July by Gili Cohen — A Palestinian suspected of shooting at buses in the Judea and Samaria District of the West Bank was arrested Thursday by the Israel Defense Forces. According to authorities, an IDF soldier was riding a bus near the West Bank village of Hawara Thursday afternoon when he saw a Palestinian aiming a handgun at the bus. The suspect was about 15 meters away from the bus, the soldier reportedly told authorities. Upon seeing the armed man, the soldier immediately summoned additional IDF personnel and they arrested the suspected gunman, authorities say. The suspect, a resident of the West Bank village of Awarta, was arrested in an olive grove near the highway and taken in for questioning.
Rights group says 12 prisoners are now on hunger strike
RAMALLAH (WAFA) 24 July – A Palestinian human rights group said Wednesday that 12 prisoners in Israeli jails are currently on hunger strike. Addameer Prisoner Support and Human Rights Association said the 12 prisoners are: Ayman Hamdan, on strike for 88 days, Emad Al-Batran, 79 days, Ayman Tabeesh, 63 days, Mohammad Tabeesh, 43 days, Adel Hareebat, 63 days, Husam Matir, 54 days, Abd Al Majid Khdeirat, 24 days, Abdallah Barghouthi, 84 days, Mohammad Rimawi, 84 days, Munir Mar’ee, 84 days, Alaa Hamad, 84 days, and Hamza Othman, 79 days.It said the Israel Prison Service is mistreating the 12 Palestinian and Jordanian hunger strikers. Addameer said that punishment of the striking prisoners escalates and the hunger strikers are beginning to be denied lawyers’ visits
Families boycott prison visit due to humiliating treatment
RAMALLAH (WAFA) 24 July – Families of prisoners from East Jerusalem and inside Israel Wednesday boycotted a planned visit to their sons in an Israeli jail to protest mistreatment by guards of the Israel Prison Service, according to the Prisoners Club. It said, in a statement, that the prison authorities at Nafha prison in the Naqab desert decided not to continue with the visit planned by the Red Cross as a result of what they said was humiliating treatment. Families boarded four buses and went in private cars to the prison since two in the morning to be there on time to visit their sons. However, they were mistreated and ordered to go through humiliating search and those who protested were not allowed in. In the end, the families decided not to continue with the visit and return Jerusalem to protest the mistreatment to the Red Cross office
The Hares Boys – the story
Five Palestinian teenagers are facing life imprisonment for a crime that never happened. A settler car accident labels them as “terrorists”. Fight for justice for the Hares Boys! — The car accident At around 18:30 on Thursday 14 March 2013, a car crashed into the back of a truck on Road 5 in Salfit Governorate, occupied Palestine. The driver and her 3 daughters were injured, one of them seriously. The driver, Adva Biton, was going back to the illegal Israeli settler colony of Yakir when the accident occurred. She later claimed the accident was due to Palestinian youth throwing stones at her car. The driver of the truck, having testified immediately after the accident that he had pulled over because of a flat tyre, later changed his mind and said he had seen stones by the road. There were no witnesses to the car accident. Nobody had seen any children or youth throwing stones that day. The arrests In the early hours of Friday 15 March 2013, masked Israeli soldiers, some with attack dogs, stormed the village of Hares, which is close to Road 5. More than 50 soldiers broke the doors of the villagers’ houses, demanding the whereabouts of their teenage sons. Ten boys were arrested that night, blindfolded, handcuffed, and transferred to an unknown location. The families were not informed of their sons’ alleged wrongdoings. Two days later, a second wave of violent arrests took place. At around 3 o’clock in the morning, the Israeli army, accompanied by the Shabak (the Israeli secret service), entered the homes of 3 Palestinian adolescents. They had a piece of paper with their names in Hebrew. After forcing all the family members into one room, taking away their phones so that they wouldn’t call for help, and interrogating them, the soldiers handcuffed their sons, all aged 16-17. “Kiss and hug your mother goodbye,” a Shabak agent told one boy. “You may never see her again.”
Palestinian refugees in Syria
PLO presents plan to end violence in Syria refugee camps
DAMASCUS (Ma‘an) 24 July — A PLO delegation on Wednesday presented an initiative to the Syrian government to disarm and pacify Palestinian refugee camps in the country. Zakaria al-Agha, Chairman of the PLO’s Refugee Affairs Department, said that the initiative called for an end to all fighting in the camps, freedom of movement, and the rebuilding of damaged infrastructure as a result of fighting. The plan also called for the release of prisoners being held without charge by the Syrian government. “We have contacted all parties involved in order to implement this initiative. It was welcomed and encouraged by Syrian officials and the ideas and terms of the initiative will be implemented in the coming days,” al-Agha said. The PLO delegation met with Syrian deputy minister of foreign affairs Faisal al-Miqdad to discuss the protection and pacification of Palestinian camps. Armed groups have infiltrated refugee camps across the country, displacing tens of thousands of Palestinians, al-Agha said. The PLO’s primary objective is to return all displaced persons to their homes and provide them with adequate living conditions.
Group: 3 Palestinian refugees killed in Syria
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 24 July — Three Palestinians were killed during clashes in Syria’s ongoing conflict on Tuesday, a Palestinian group said. Firas Abu al-Hasan, Muhammad Abdul-Ghani al-Nasser, and Basil al-Umari were killed in Yarmouk refugee camp near Damascus as Syrian regime forces clashed with rebels, the Taskforce for Palestinians in Syria said. Yarmouk camp came under heavy shelling on Tuesday from the Syrian army, with warplanes also hovering over the camp, the group said. Handarat refugee camp in Aleppo was bombed overnight Tuesday, with no injuries reported. In Homs, Rami Kamil was arrested by the Syrian army while returning home to al-Aedin camp. Palestinian officials insist that refugees in Syria are not involved in the deadly war rocking the country, citing security concerns for the vulnerable refugee population if they are perceived to take sides. But Syria’s uprising has split Palestinian loyalties
Ten Palestinians killed in Syria
Gaza (Alray) 25 July - Ten Palestinians killed and several wounded in the Yarmouk refugee camp in Syria after a night of continuous shelling on Wednesday evening. Child Rasha, Anwar, Wasel and Amer Fadlon were killed in the bombardment , the Association for the Sake of Palestinians in Syria said. Adel Fadlon, Marah and Raghad Hamad and their mother, Hanan Shaker an Ahmed Abdullah were also killed by a Grad rocket. The regime army closed the entrances and exits of the camp since last Thursday leading to a harsh disaster, the group reported. It added that residents of Al-Raml camp in Al-Latheqia is suffering power outage for more than 15 hours a day. According to the group, the Palestinian youth Yahia Gharib from Ayn Al-Zaiton village was lost last Monday and no news reported about him till now.
BDS / Activism / Solidarity
Ya’alon minimizes cooperation with EU in response to ban
Ynet 25 July by Attila Somfalvi – In response to EU decision to ban funding of Israeli activities in territories, defense minister decides to punish EU by refusing to cooperate with representatives, halts assistance to EU projects. From now on ‘they’re tourists,’ he says … The IDF cannot prevent EU officials from traveling in and out of Palestinian Authority-controlled territories, but it can prevent them from entering or leaving the Gaza Strip via Israel, as well as from promoting projects. According to a defense establishment source, the decision was taken in a bid to send a clear message to the EU, stressing that any move to boycott Israeli actions beyond the green-line “turns the organization into a biased mediator in negotiations, and as such, it must accept the results. “Ya’alon decided the freeze in cooperation between Israel and the EU will include Area C as well as the crossing between Israel and Gaza .In the rest of the area of Judea and Samaria, the cooperation will continue as usual.
Israel launches ‘price tag’ attack par excellence in response to EU
972mag 26 July by Michael Omer-Man — Israel’s defense minister launched a massive ‘price tag’ attack last week. In response to an EU directive that will help ensure European funding does not benefit Israeli settlements, Moshe Ya’alon ordered a halt to cooperation with European humanitarian efforts benefiting Palestinians in Israeli-controlled areas of the West Bank. “We are freezing the relationship on everything,” an Israeli official told The Guardian. “We did this as soon as we heard [about the directive]. We can’t act like nothing happened.” … European Union humanitarian projects in Area C tend to focus on water access and reclamation, providing solar electricity infrastructure, waste removal and other basic services to the most vulnerable of Palestinian communities, primarily in the rural south Hebron Hills and Jordan Valley. As part of the Israeli Defense Ministry’s new directives, Israel will stop all cooperation, halt issuing new permits for projects and no longer issue documents allowing EU representatives to easily travel through and into the West Bank and Gaza. The new restrictions apply to EU projects but not those of EU member states, Haaretz reported.
Israel, however, has long erected hurdles to EU humanitarian projects benefiting Palestinians. Last year, Israel destroyed 62 EU-funded humanitarian structures and another 110 projects were at risk, a UN-chaired task force of international NGOs reported. All 27 EU foreign ministers condemned the demolition of projects their countries funded.
EU concerned by Israel’s restrictions of union’s WB, Gaza activity
Reuters 26 July — Following defense minister’s announcement that IDF is to minimize cooperation with EU representatives, humanitarian aid staff denied entrance to Gaza; EU concerned by Israeli measures, seeks ‘clarifications’
But will they still be able to do this?
EU to support construction of courthouses in West Bank
JERUSALEM (WAFA)24 July — The European Union said Wednesday that it will finance the construction of seven new courthouses in the West Bank as well as the headquarters building of the Palestinian Bar Association for a total cost of €21 million, according to an EU press release. It said construction will commence in April of next year. According to the press release, the project is part of an EU effort “to improve the quality of judicial services for the Palestinian people and provide a fitting work environment for Palestinian judges and lawyers.” It said the High Judicial Council use rented buildings which were both inadequate and in poor condition to serve as courthouses. The courthouses will be built in Qalqilya, Tubas, Salfit, Dura and Halhoul
Water company replaces Israeli-made meter from woman’s home after she objected to ‘repression of Palestine’
Daily Mail (UK) 24 July by Suzannah Hills –A water company has replaced an Israeli-built meter in the home of a customer who objected to the ‘repression of Palestine’. Caroline and Edmond O’Reilly asked Southern Water to replace the device because the manufacturers, Arad Technologies, are accused of ‘profiteering’ in the West Bank. The company has now agreed to install a second-hand appliance built by a different manufacturer. Pro-Palestinian campaigners claim the decision paves the thousands of other customers to object to the meters on ethical grounds … Mrs O’Reilly said her objection was based on the Israeli Government’s alleged incursions on to Palestinian land and Arad’s connections with the government. She said: ‘Since 2000 the Israelis have systematically destroyed the Palestinian water supply infrastructure and Arad supplies the Israeli government. ‘Should we turn a blind eye, we collude in supporting a system that is systematically discriminating against people who are powerless against a state that seems to be attempting to drive Palestinians out of Palestine.’ … The Israeli company secured a £36 million contract with Southern Water in February 2010 to provide meters, meter reading services and data hosting services across Hampshire, Surrey, Kent and Sussex.
Israeli activists replace threatening military signs with messages of peace and resistance
972mag 26 July by Haggai Matar — Using creative, colorful tools and supported by Palestinians from a number of villages, a group of Israeli women is trying to break the army’s campaign of fear and segregation — For several years now, all roads branching off of major Israeli-controlled West Bank highways and taking drivers towards Palestinian villages and cities, have been dominated by the presence of red trilingual warning signs. The signs threaten Israelis that the roads lead to Palestinian Authority controlled areas. Driving on them should thus be considered both a violation of the law, which officially forbids Israelis from entering ‘Area A’ (although this law is almost never enforced), and a risk to one’s life, the signs warn. On Saturday, July 13, a group of Israeli women went on a road trip to replace these threatening signs with more inviting texts. They traveled between several Palestinian towns and with the help of local residents, covered the military’s red with sheets of more colorful cloth. The messages on the new signposts read: “Civilian zone: No entry to the army! This road leads to Palestinian settlements. Israeli civilians, do not be afraid! Come and visit Palestinian settlements, refuse to be enemies!” … The group, called “We do not obey,” previously gained considerable attention for publicly stating that they break the law and illegally enter Palestinian villages in order to smuggle Palestinian women through checkpoints into Israel.
Palestinians still buying Israeli settlement goods
Al-Monitor 26 July by Naela Khalil — …The Palestinian government launched in June 2010 successive campaigns to combat the importation of goods coming from Israeli settlements built on Palestinian lands occupied in 1967 … The European Union’s decision on July 17 to ban cooperation with or funding of Israeli settlements built on occupied Palestinian lands — including east Jerusalem — and prohibit the financing of any settlement related faction or institution was the culmination of years of Palestinian diplomatic efforts in EU countries, as a former official of the Palestinian Embassy in Brussels, Majed Bamiah, told Al-Monitor in an interview on July 22. But the latest European decision inflamed an internal debate among Palestinians as to whether their governmental and popular efforts had succeeded in combatting the importation of settlement goods or not … The primary shortcoming faced by the PA and Fayyad’s government emanated from their call on Palestinians to stop working inside the [Israeli] settlements, futilely promising to provide them with alternatives. In this regard, Mansour said, “Despite the millions of dollars given to the PA by donor countries, it failed to provide a source of income to approximately 40,000 Palestinians who gained their livelihoods by working in the settlements.” Working in the settlements goes against the national project to build a Palestinian contiguous state. But this is not the only contradiction faced by Palestinians, for the Palestinian people’s appetite for settlement goods and — even worse — their going to the settlements to shop, both embody the height of illogicalities.
Political, other news
Middle East peace talks set to begin in Washington next week, says Israeli cabinet minister Silvan Shalom
Independent 25 July by Alistair Dawber — Israeli and Palestinian negotiators could sit down for face-to-face peace talks as early as next Tuesday, according to an Israeli cabinet minister. Speaking earlier today, Israeli energy minister, Silvan Shalom, told a meeting in the West Bank city of Jericho that he hoped officials from both sides would meet in Washington next week. “We hope that the talks between Israel and the Palestinians in Washington will begin next week, hopefully Tuesday,” he said. “We want and are interested in moving forward in the negotiations and meanwhile see an improvement in the Palestinian economy.” According the Haaretz newspaper, an Israeli official later confirmed Mr Shalom’s comments – the first direct negotiations for almost three years. Palestinian sources were less confident, however. One senior official in Ramallah told The Independent that the Washington talks would begin on Tuesday only if the Israelis provided assurances that the 1967 border between Israel and the West Bank was the basis of territorial discussions and that all Palestinian political prisoners jailed before the 1993 Oslo peace accord were included in a planned prisoner release.
Hamas warns Abu Mazen on peace talks with Israel
Al-Monitor 26 July by Asmaa al-Ghoul — The rift is widening between Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Hamas after the announcement that talks with Israel may resume — On July 19, US Secretary of State John Kerry announced that an agreement had been reached on the foundations for direct negotiations between the Palestinians and the Israelis. The announcement came as a surprise to the Palestinian factions, especially the Islamic resistance movement Hamas … In an interview with Al-Monitor in his office, Ghazi Hamad, a proxy for the Foreign Affairs Ministry in the Hamas government in Gaza, said that the Palestinian position has backtracked, especially because the negotiations are set to resume without having implemented the conditions demanded by Abbas. “Settlement activity goes on. Our prisoners have not been freed. And [Abbas] is deviating from the step taken at the UN [recognizing Palestine],” he said.
Families: Peace deal must include veteran prisoners
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 24 July — Palestinian prisoners from inside Israel must be included in any political agreement, their families said Wednesday. At a meeting of the Arab Association for Prisoners, families of prisoners from inside Israel said a peace deal must include the unconditional release of their relatives, particularly those who have spent several decades in Israeli jails. Some 103 Palestinians are considered veteran prisoners, including 14 from inside Israel. Israel will release 80 Palestinians detained before the 1993 Oslo Accords as part of an agreement to renew peace negotiations, an Israeli official said Monday. The association said it was not confident about Israeli intentions to release prisoners, despite verbal assurances from President Mahmoud Abbas. “In the last two decades of negotiations, we have heard news and confirmation about releasing veteran prisoners,” the association said in a statement.
PFLP leader calls for protests against negotiations
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 16 July — The secretary-general of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine has called for nationwide protests against a return to negotiations. Ahmad Saadat urged Palestinians to “break all the barriers of silence and step up to defend the national rights that are being threatened in this critical phase in the region,” in a letter received Friday from Shatta prison, where he is serving a 30-year sentence. Saadat highlighted the importance of wide popular participation in protests to achieve unity and to start a new national phase that will adopt resistance in all its forms.
Netanyahu confidant: ‘Status quo’ in Jerusalem must remain in two-state deal
972mag 26 July by Mairav Zonszein — If Jerusalem is not divided, then East Jerusalem cannot be the capital of a Palestinian state, a central Palestinian demand. Israeli Minister Yuval Steinitz reveals two-state stance to the ‘Telegraph.’ — Likud minister and close confidant of Prime Minister Netanyahu, Yuval Steinitz said that Israel is prepared to make “considerable and difficult” territorial concessions as part of a peace agreement with the Palestinians, in an interview with The Daily Telegraph (and reported on in Haaretz). Steinitz stressed that the two-state solution was the only way to end the conflict. This is apparently news because he, Netanyahu and the Likud Party once opposed a two-state solution and within the party, there are plenty of members who are currently opposed to the establishment of a Palestinian state. Steinitz, however, had some caveats to his statement …The one caveat that stood out to me, that is maybe the most significant and that wasn’t elaborated on is what he said about Jerusalem.
High school Tawjihi results show almost 60% success rate
RAMALLAH (WAFA) 25 July – Results of the high school matriculation exams, the tawjihi, announced Thursday showed almost 60 percent success rate in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. In announcing the results, undersecretary of the Ministry of Education Jihad Zakarne, said while 85,910 students sat for the tawjihi exam this year, 51,187 students have passed, a rate of 59.58 percent. He said success rate in the science stream was 80.3 percent and 54.2 percent passed in the arts stream. President Mahmoud Abbas congratulated the successful students and wished those who failed better luck in the future. Celebrations were held throughout the West Bank and Gaza as the results were announced simultaneously in both locations.
2 suicides after high school exam results announced
TULKAREM (Ma‘an) 25 July — Two Palestinian teenagers committed suicide on Thursday after failing their high school exams. The Ministry of Education published the results of the final high school exams, known as Tawjihi, on Thursday. The high school qualification is required for admission to universities. In Tulkarem in the northern West Bank, 18-year-old Nisrin Jumaa hanged herself in her family home after learning that she had failed the Tawjihi, locals told Ma‘an. In Jabaliya refugee camp in northern Gaza, Muhammad Zaqut committed suicide by shooting himself after learning that he had failed the exams, police spokesman Ayyub Abu Shaar told Ma‘an. Earlier Thursday, a teenage girl threw herself from the second floor of a building in Beit Hanoun in northern Gaza after learning she had failed the Tawjihi.
3G void limits West Bank’s smartphone revolution
RAMALLAH (AFP)24 July — Like many young Palestinians, Amir was excited to get his first smartphone, despite the heavy price tag. But he did not keep it long after realizing the lack of 3G network meant its applications were largely unusable … As telecom companies in the Middle East prepare to launch the next generation of high-speed mobile phone Internet services, commonly known as 4G, Palestinians still have no access to 3G, meaning they are unable to fully use their smartphones on the go. As a result, most mobile phone owners simply do not use 3G. And many feel the cost of a smartphone is hardly worthwhile …Sabri Saidam, telecommunications adviser to President Mahmoud Abbas, said Israel had repeatedly refused to grant 3G access to Palestinian phone companies for “security” reasons … “Israel persistently refuses the application for 3G on the basis of security,” Saidam told AFP. “This is even though there are Israeli companies illegally operating in the Palestinian territories providing 3G for their customers,” he said, referring to the more than 500,000 Israeli settlers living in the West Bank and occupied East Jerusalem.