Israel approves another 942 settlement units
JERUSALEM (AFP) 13 Aug — Jerusalem’s municipality has approved 942 new settlement units for occupied East Jerusalem, a local official said Tuesday, on the eve of the scheduled resumption of peace talks with the Palestinians. The units are in addition to the more than 1,000 settlement homes approved by Israel on Sunday, in a move that has angered the Palestinians and drawn fire from the international community. “The Jerusalem municipality has approved a construction plan for 942 homes in Gilo,” an existing settlement in East Jerusalem, deputy mayor Yosef Pepe Alalu told AFP. “This is a terrible decision which is a provocation against the Palestinians, the Americans and the whole world who oppose continued settlement building,” the left-wing municipal councilor said.
Land, property, resources theft & destruction / Ethnic cleansing
Under draft Israeli guidelines || Palestinians with security records won’t get back seized East Jerusalem property
Rules being drawn up by Israel’s attorney general also state ‘fabric of neighborhood’ must be taken into account in decisions on returning properties — Haaretz 14 Aug by Revital Hovel and Nir Hasson — Properties seized in East Jerusalem under the Absentees Property Law would not be returned to Palestinians with a security record or connection to hostile elements, under new procedures being drawn up by Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein’s office that were obtained by Haaretz. Moreover, such properties would only be returned to Palestinian owners after taking into account “the influence releasing the property would have given its location in the fabric of Jerusalem’s neighborhoods,” the proposed guidelines state. This would make it difficult for a Palestinian to get back his property if Jews had moved into the adjacent areas.
These guidelines are a follow-up to a response Weinstein gave the Supreme Court two months ago, in which he stated that the Absentees Property Law could be used to seize properties in East Jerusalem. Under the Absentees Property Law – 1950, any person who lived in a hostile country, or in the area of “Eretz Yisrael” that was not under the State of Israel’s control, and owned property within the State of Israel, is considered an absentee owner and his property can be transferred to the Custodian of Absentee Property. The primary purpose of this law was to enable use of lands belonging to Arabs who fled during the War of Independence.
The complications of getting running water in the West Bank
NPR 12 Aug by Emily Harris — Four enormous water tanks sit high on a hill in the West Bank. These hold the lifeblood for Rawabi, the first planned, privately developed Palestinian community, about 25 miles north of Jerusalem. After five years, the first neighborhood is nearly built. But developer Bashar al-Masri is worried, because when it comes to water, Israel controls the spigot in the occupied West Bank. “We’re about to have people move into the city,” he says, “and we still do not have a solid solution for the water.” Right now, a 2-inch temporary pipe brings in less than half the water needed for construction and to run the offices. The rest is trucked in to those storage tanks, an extra expense and hassle. Rawabi’s first residents are due to move in at the end of this year.
Israel to demolish car wash shop near Jerusalem
JERUSALEM (WAFA) 13 Aug — Israeli forces Tuesday raided a car wash shop in the village of An-Nabi Samuel, north of Jerusalem, seized its equipments and handed its owner a demolishing order, according to the owner. Eid Barakat told WAFA that Israeli authorities have previously demolished his house under the pretext of being built without a permit. Israel refuses to issue building permits for Palestinians living in that village and other Palestinian villages forcing them to build without obtaining permits. The village has a residential population of around 250 Palestinians; Israeli forces prevent any Palestinian not resident in the village from entering it.
Settlers set up a new outpost south of Nablus
NABLUS (PIC) 12 Aug — A group of settlers on Monday morning set up a new settlement outpost, as they erected tents in the east of the town of Burin, south of the city of Nablus in the West Bank. Ghassan Daghlas, in charge of Israeli Settlements File in the northern occupied West Bank, said in a statement that a group of settlers from Bracha settlement, set up on citizens’ lands east of the town of Burin, started since the early morning hours setting up a number of tents in Zakaka area in preparation for the establishment of a new outpost.
Jalud settler attack: ‘Imagine if we were not in our homes, they would have destroyed them’
Jalud, Occupied Palestine (ISM) 13 Aug by Nablus Team — Yesterday morning, 12th August, settlers from the illegal settlements of Esh Kodesh and Ahiya attacked several houses in the village of Jalud and set land on fire, including ten olive trees. On the morning of the 12th of August at 11:30, four masked settlers from the two illegal settlements approached several houses located on the outskirts of Jalud and threw rocks at them. According to Abu Osama, one man who lives in the attacked area, the settlers thought that there was no one in the homes because it was a Muslim holiday. Approximately ten minutes later, as residents went out to push the settlers back, they left. “Imagine if we were not in our homes, they would have destroyed them”, said Abu Osama, clearly worried for their dangerous situation. On their way back to the settlements, settlers set several fires on the land, burning down ten olive trees belonging to the five families in the area. As the fires were expanding through the land, the residents of Jalud called the fire brigade but they didn’t arrive until the flames were blowing towards the settlements. Only then, the Israeli army and the Israeli fire brigade appeared at the scene and extinguished the flames.
What ‘equality under the law’ means to Israeli police in the West Bank
Haaretz 13 Aug by Chaim Levinson — A Palestinian complaint that a settler destroyed his olive trees gets ‘official’ treatment – with the case closed without any investigation — The story of a Palestinian farmer named Atef Ahmed gives an indication of how Israeli police in the West Bank view the concept of “equality before the law.” Ahmed’s case seems to be part of a pattern. Last week, Haaretz published a complaint that the West Bank traffic police was engaging in political law enforcement … Ahmed, a resident of the West Bank village of Siniria, owns land within the security boundary of the settlement of Sha’arei Tikva. Since the settlement was built, he has been cultivating his land without interference and has gone there freely, in coordination with the settlement’s security guard. Last December, Ahmed arrived at his field to find a tractor creating a road between his olive trees, and even destroying some of them.
Israeli army seeks to evict villagers to expand firing zone
Al-Monitor 13 Aug by Daoud Kuttab — As Palestinian and Israeli negotiators begin their second round of peace talks with a special focus on borders and security, an entirely Israeli set of judges will decide the fate of one Palestinian community south of Hebron. The area, known to Palestinians as Masafer Yatta, spans over 12,200 cultivated dunums and contains 12 villages with a total population of over 1,300 people. On the other side of the Green Line separating Israel from the occupied territories is the Israeli Nahal Brigade training base in Tel Arad, just inside the 1949 armistice lines. The Israeli army, by virtue of sheer military power and might, has turned the entire area across the border into a firing zone. Firing Zone 918, as this zone is called, is one of dozens of such zones that cover nearly 18% of the occupied West Bank. Almost all of the Jordan Valley area, which Israel has repeatedly said they will not relinquish in any peace deal, is considered a military firing zone. No Palestinians are allowed to build in or develop such areas.
Restriction of movement
Photos: The morning commute (through the checkpoint)
Mondoweiss 13 Aug by Philip Weiss — Recently a Finnish photographer who had worked in the region sent us these photographs that were posted at his/her blog Ubuntifada. They were taken in late June, at the Bethlehem checkpoint to enter Israel. They depict the everyday experience of hundreds of Palestinians who go to work in Israel. I am respecting the photographer’s desire for anonymity because of employment/funding issues. He/she wrote the following at that site to explain the photos: Morning blues in the checkpoint 5:00 in the morning in Bethlehem. The rising sun is replacing the blue morning mist with its first warm rays. Hundreds of men are standing in a cage, holding the metal bars like prisoners and anxiously waiting. The atmosphere is as blue as the air. Actually, it could be just a crossing between two countries — though a very disturbing one with its iron gates and cages, bars and burrows, loud PA systems and shouting, soldiers and police and private security guards all armed to the teeth. But instead of being in the border, checkpoint 300 stands 2 kilometers south of the green line, deep inside of the occupied West Bank.
Israeli forces deny former PA minister entry to village
JENIN (Ma‘an) 12 Aug – Israeli forces temporarily detained a former Palestinian minister at Bartaa checkpoint west of Jenin as he attempted to enter his village of origin Monday evening. Wasfi Qabaha, former Palestinian minister of prisoners’ affairs, told reporters that he was held for a few hours at a waiting room after trying to access Bartaa al-Sharqiyya. He added that he had a special permit from Israel to visit Bartaa, but the soldiers at the checkpoint revoked the permit before they ordered him to go back to Jenin. Qabaha had planned to visit his family members on the occasion of Eid al-Fitr. Israeli forces had banned Qabaha from visiting his village except with a special permit from the army.
For my faith: a difficult Ramadan at Qalandiya
Qalandiya, Occupied West Bank 13 Aug by Tamar Fleishman — On each one of the four Fridays of the Ramadan month, thousands of Palestinians throughout the West Bank left their homes at the break of dawn to participate in the prayers at Al Aqsa at noon. Most likely, none of them was under the illusion that the road leading to their destination would be open, as is required by international law and as has been alleged by the representatives of the Israeli government in regards to the freedom of religion. Years of experience have taught them that neither the law nor statements would determine and give out the verdict as to who would pass and who would not. They knew that criterion alone will fulfill or crush their hopes to pray before their God. They knew that at Qalandiya checkpoint there would be a screening process and meticulous inspections of IDs and permits would be performed. They also knew that they had to let it go, to swallow their pride and let it all blow over, and the fact that there is a discrimination based on age and gender didn’t go unnoticed either: since most of the boys and teenagers were too old to pass the selection and most of the men were too young. But regardless of what they knew and despite the mental and physical torture, there were many that didn’t fit the criterion but arrived nevertheless.
Israeli bypass roads: separate but unequal
Daily Beast 12 Aug by Maysoon Zayid — I have spent every single summer of my life hanging out in Deir Debwan, the Palestinian village both my mom and dad were born in. I was born in New Jersey and while my classmates spent their summers on the Jersey Shore, I spent mine in a war zone instead. My father was afraid that if my sisters and I did not go back to visit the motherland every year, we would forget our roots and grow up to be Madonna. Each June, my parents would put my three older sisters and me on a plane and ship us to live with our grandparents until Labor Day. The highlight of our summer vacations in the West Bank was the nightly jaunts from our olive-tree-carpeted village to the big city, Ramallah. In the evening after dinner, we would pile into my grandfather’s green Volvo and drive to the greatest ice cream parlor that ever was, Rukab. Their ice cream is one of a kind and it is the best I’ve ever had. Thirty years later, Rukab still stands and I still love their rainbow ice cream. Unfortunately, the trip from Deir Debwan to Ramallah no longer takes 15 minutes, with Grampa driving slowly. It takes 90 minutes on a good day and up to three hours if the Israeli settlers are feeling frisky. With the birth of the settlements came the birth of the bypass road. Israel created these roads so settlers could have access to their brand new, shiny apartments in the West Bank and so they would be able to “bypass” Palestinian neighborhoods without having to look at them.
Violence / Raids / Attacks / Suppression of protests / Illegal arrests
Journal — After Friday protest, Israeli army continues harassing residents of Kafr Qaddum
Kafr Qaddum, Occupied Palestine (ISM) 12 Aug by Anna, Nablus Team — Yesterday afternoon, we received a call from the village of Kafr Qaddum asking for our intervention because the Israeli soldiers had stormed the village and erected a flying checkpoint. On the road to the village we got another call saying soldiers had left, but we decided to reach Kafr Qaddum to take some pictures and report what had happened. We met one of the organizers of the Popular Committee who told us that at 2:30 pm, three Israeli army jeeps full of soldiers coming from the East, crossed the village and erected a flying checkpoint at the West entrance.”To be honest that’s the alternative entrance — he says — as the historical and real access to Kafr Qaddum (whose name means “ancient agricultural village”) is the main road where Palestinians are denied access because of the Quedumim settlement”. They stopped all cars, checking the people’s IDs and questioning them with the intention to intimidate and ask information about the shebabs involved in the protests. Some of the people were taken into the jeeps before being questioned. After one hour the soldiers left and then residents held a demonstration to protest the army harassment. The army immediately arrived again but could not invade the village as youths had set up burning tires barricades across the road.
Video — Sent to prison for playing with olives
Hebron, Occupied Palestine (ISM) 12 Aug by Khalil Team — On Sunday, 11/08/2013, at approximately 4 o’clock in the afternoon, two activists from Youth Against Settlements (YAS) were arrested. Twenty-one-year-old Abd AlMajeed Bassam Amro, and twenty-year-old Ali Talib Amro were playfully throwing olives at each other when an Israeli soldier came up to them and accused them of throwing stones at his colleague. The colleague in question initially denied having any knowledge of this, but after a brief period, many more soldiers came to the scene and the two youths were arrested and handed over to the police. The police interrogated the youths and rejected to even hear the testimony of eyewitnesses supporting them. The police found enough grounds to charge them based on the accusations of a single soldier, and Ali and Abd AlMajeed were sent to Atsion prison later that night. Two members of the ISM, as well as many other locals were present as the incident unfolded. Ali and Abd AlMajeed chose to hold their ground and defend themselves against the soldier’s accusations, putting their trust in reasoning with the Israeli forces, hoping that the testimony of many eyewitnesses to the event would be enough to counter the claims of the soldier. Sadly, this was not the case…
Women of Kafr Qaddum: Steadfastness and determination
Kafr Qaddum, Occupied Palestine (ISM) 12 Aug by Nablus Team — In June 2013, a photo depicting Suriah Mahmood from Kafr Qaddum won first prize in a photography competition in Qatar. International activists met Suriah to talk to her about non violent Palestinian resistance and the village of Kafr Qaddum. The people of Kafr Qaddum have organised non-violent marches every Friday, with men and women sharing roles in the demonstration according to Suriah Mahmood, a prominent woman from Kafr Qaddum. Women participate in the demonstration by directing the ‘shabab‘ – the young men of the town. The women tell the shabab demonstrators where to move and where the soldiers are hiding in ambush as they attempt to injure and arrest people.
IOF arrests 17 Palestinians across West Bank
AL-KHALIL (PIC) 13 Aug — The Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) waged Monday an arrest campaign across occupied West Bank where 17 Palestinians were arrested. The Israeli forces raided at dawn Monday many parts of West Bank, arresting 13 Palestinians from Qalqilya, Nablus and Ramallah, as well as three others from the southern West Bank and another detainee in occupied Jerusalem. In Nablus, two brothers were arrested at Zatara military checkpoint where the Israeli soldiers stopped and searched the Palestinian vehicles heading towards the city of Ramallah.
Local sources said that the IOF stormed the city of Nablus where they fired a barrage of stun grenades and tear gas at the residents’ houses. Violent clashes erupted between IOF troops and Palestinian youths who stoned the soldiers. As a result, Fourteen Palestinians were arrested including the liberated prisoner Khadr Sarkaji.
In the same context, Israeli forces arrested the 13-year-old Hussam Omar Abu Khalifeh after storming his house in Saf Street in Bethlehem city at a late hour. In Jerusalem, Israeli occupation forces arrested Jihad al-Zogol under the pretext of attacking Israeli soldiers and throwing stones at settlers’ cars during the storming of al-Aqsa mosque.
Israeli forces detain 8 in West Bank arrest raids
JENIN (Ma‘an) 13 Aug — Israeli forces arrested eight Palestinians overnight Monday, locals and Israel’s army said. Obaideh Azzam, 22, was detained in Silat al-Harithiya and Hassan al-Qash, 23, was arrested in Burquin, locals said. An Israeli army spokesman said eight people were detained overnight, three in the Jenin district, two in Qalqiliya, one in Budrus, one in Ramallah and one in Jericho.
4 arrests in Jerusalem including a child
OCCUPIED JERUSALEM (PIC) 12 Aug — The occupation forces have waged Sunday a new arrest campaign in occupied Jerusalem where they arrested 4 Jerusalemites including a child. The occupation soldiers have detained three Jerusalemites in al-Aqsa mosque squares including a human rights activist in addition to arresting a 13-year-old child after raiding his house east of Jerusalem, Wadi Hilweh Information Center said. The child Abdullah Omar Shalabi, the son of the secretary of Fatah committee in Jerusalem, was detained and took to al-Maskubiya detention center after raiding and searching his parents’ house.
Israeli forces arrest journalist from Budrus village
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 13 Aug — Israeli forces arrested a Palestinian journalist in the village of Budrus early Tuesday, family members said. Soldiers detained Mohammad Awad after raiding his home and breaking down the door, his brother said. He was taken to an unknown location. An Israeli military spokesperson could not be reached for comment. Awad is a journalist at Ramsat media agency in Ramallah. He has been detained several times by Palestinian Authority security forces over the past year and spent months in jail. In May, he went on hunger strike to protest his detention by PA authorities.
Group: Israeli forces detain 2 activists in Hebron
HEBRON (Ma‘an) 12 Aug — Israeli forces on Sunday detained two activists from the Youth Against Settlements group in Hebron, a statement from the group said. Abed al-Majid Bassam Amr 21, and Ali Taleb Amro, 20, were detained after Israeli forces claimed Amr threw stones at soldiers.Youth Against Settlements called on human rights groups to intervene to release the activists.
PA forces arrest an Islamic preacher and summon another
WEST BANK (PIC) 13 Aug — PA security forces have arrested an Islamic preacher in al-Khalil and continued the summon another preacher from Qalqilya. A political detainee was also arrested in Nablus. In al-Khalil, the preacher Walid Amayreh was arrested following directing some questions to the PA interior minister during his visit to the martyr Qawasmi’s house.
In Qalqilya, PA intelligence services continued to summon Sheikh Mujahid Nofal, on a daily basis, for his distinctive preaching role in the city. Sheikh Nofal is prevented from preaching at the mosque of Hajja Ferial.
In Nablus, Israeli forces arrested the liberated prisoner and former political detainee Khadr Sarkaji, 36, after brutally raiding his house in Haifa Street after midnight last night.
Soldiers bombard Gaza
IMEMC 14 Aug — Israeli military sources have reported that the Israeli Air Force fired, on Wednesday at night, a number of missiles targeted different areas in the Gaza Strip. The army claimed that the Israeli strike came a few hours after the missile was fired into Israel, and that the Israeli attack targeted a group behind the incident; no casualties have been reported. It said “the strike scored direct hits.” In a statement issued by the leadership of the Israeli military, the army said that it will continue to target anyone who attacks Israel, Israeli daily, Haaretz, reported. Israel said that Palestinian fighters fired a shell into the Negev town of Sderot as soon as Israel started the release of 26 Palestinian detainees to boost talks with the Palestinian leadership in the West Bank, before the second round of direct talks is held …
The Palestine News & Info Agency (WAFA), run the by the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank, has reported that President Mahmoud Abbas welcomed, on Wednesday at dawn, the eleven West Bank detainees, at his presidential headquarters. 15 more detainees have been released, and were sent home to the Gaza Strip.
Army attacks three fishermen in Gaza
IMEMC 14 Aug — Tuesday evening [August 13, 2013] Palestinian medical sources have reported that three fishermen have been detained, and violently attacked by Israeli soldiers, in Palestinian territorial waters, resulting in moderate injuries. Ashfar Al-Qodra, spokesperson of the Palestinian Ministry of Health in Gaza, stated that the soldiers kidnapped the three fishermen, and violently assaulted them, before releasing them later on. He added that the three, identified as Khader Marwan Sa‘eedy, Mohammad Jamal No‘man, and Hasan Ali Morad, were moved to the Shifa Medical Center in Gaza, suffering moderate injuries. The attack is the latest of a series of ongoing violations against the Palestinian fishermen, and their boats
Gazan fuel supplies destroyed
World Bulletin 13 Aug — Egyptian army troops on Tuesday destroyed five underground fuel tanks and ten pumps used to smuggle fuel across the border into the besieged Gaza Strip. Military personnel raided fields along the Egypt-Gaza border where they found five underground fuel tanks holding 300,000 liters of fuel, eyewitnesses in Rafah said. Troops destroyed the tanks, witnesses said, as well as the pumps used to transport fuel into the Palestinian enclave. The military has not released any official statements on the operation.
Detainees / Prisoner releases
[with 3 short videos] 26 Palestinian prisoners released from Israeli jails
Ynet 14 Aug — Twenty-six prisoners leave Ayalon Prison in vans with tinted windows; arrive in Gaza, West Bank were hundreds, including President Mahmoud Abbas welcome them. Abbas: We won’t rest until all prisoners are released; rocket lands in western Negev
Release of 26 detainees concluded
IMEMC 14 Aug — The release of 26 Palestinian political prisoners, held by Israel, has been concluded as 11 West Bank detainees reached the Palestinian Presidential headquarters in Ramallah, and 11 Gaza Strip detainees made it to the coastal region, through the Erez (Beit Hanoun) crossing. Dozens of thousands of Palestinians gathered in the central West Bank city of Ramallah, and in Gaza city, and welcomed the freed detainees in massive celebrations. The released detainees were transported, to Ramallah, in four official Palestinian Authority vehicles, after tinted Israeli buses moved them to a roadblock near the city.
West Bank detainees were welcomed by President Mahmoud Abbas, and thousands of Palestinians, before heading to the grave of late President, Yasser Arafat, where they placed flowers on his grave, and prayed for his soul. Abbas told the detainees, and the mass crowds, that the Palestinian leadership would not rest before every Palestinian detainee enjoys freedom.
Thousands of Palestinians also gathered at the Beit Hanoun (Erez) Terminal, in the northern part of the Gaza Strip, and welcomed the 15 released Gaza Strip detainees. Hundreds of social and local figures, leaders of Islamic and national factions, and thousands of residents celebrated the release.
25 of the released detainees have been imprisoned by Israel since before the first Oslo Peace Agreement of 1993, while one of them has been imprisoned since 2001.
Nablus village prepares to welcome 2 veteran prisoners
NABLUS (Ma‘an) 13 Aug — The village of Iraq al-Tayih, near Nablus, is preparing to welcome two prisoners set to be released from Israeli jails after 23 years. Muhammad and Husni Sawalha are among 26 veteran prisoners expected to be released within days as Israeli and Palestinian negotiators resume talks. The Fatah-affiliates were teenagers when they were arrested in 1990 for fatally shooting an Israeli soldier and injuring seven others in Ramat Gan near Tel Aviv. They were arrested and sentenced to life imprisonment … “The whole village is on a state of alert preparing to welcome Muhammad and Husni in the coming hours which could be the longest ever for us,” Husni’s brother Husam Sawalha told Ma‘an. “My parents died while Husni was in Israeli jail. He did not expect to be freed at all. I used to urge him to be optimistic, but he always asked me to avoid dreaming of his release.” Husni said his dream had become reality. “We will celebrate their release for two weeks and we will marry them off,” he said.
84 citizens from Gaza visit their relatives held in Nafha jail
GAZA (PIC) 12 Aug — A new batch of prisoners’ families from the Gaza Strip, including 17 children, at dawn Monday headed for Nafha prison to visit their detained relatives. The Information Officer in the International Committee of the Red Cross Nasser Al-Najjar told PIC’s correspondent that 84 citizens from Gaza, including 17 children, took the buses and headed for Beit Hanoun / Erez crossing in the northern Gaza Strip, and then to the Israeli Nafha prison to visit their detained family members.
Third baby born after sperm smuggled from jail
NABLUS (Ma‘an)12 Aug — Salam Nazzal, the wife of Jordanian prisoner Sharif, gave birth to a baby boy on Monday in Nablus, the third case of a baby being conceived using sperm smuggled from jail. The baby boy, named Sharif, weighed 1.9 kg and was born in the Razan Medical Center in Nablus. Dr. Salem Khaizaran, general director of the clinic, said Sharif was healthy and is considered an “ambassador of freedom.” Nazzal is sentenced to 20 years in jail, having already served seven … There are currently 16 women who have become pregnant by smuggling their husband’s sperm from Israeli jails, medical sources told Ma‘an.
PA official: Jordanian prisoners end hunger strike
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 12 Aug — Two Jordanian hunger strikers being held by Israel have ended their protest action, the PA minister of prisoners affairs said Sunday. Fouad al-Khafsh, head of the prisoners group Ahrar, said that relatives will be able to visit Abdullah Barghouthi and Ibrahim Hamed for a first visit of four hours, after which each visit will last one hour and a half. The family will be able to visit in three weeks. Barghouthi had lost 30 kilograms, according to his lawyer Hanan al-Khatib, quoting his doctors. He has been hospitalized at Haemek Medical Center in Afula in northern Israel since shortly after he started a hunger strike on May 2. Al-Khatib had noted earlier that he was chained to his hospital bed by his legs and his left hand.
Qabha unveils some details of Israeli agreement with Jordanian hunger strikers
RAMALLAH (PIC) 12 Aug — Former Palestinian minister of prisoners’ affairs Wasfi Qabha said that the efforts that had been made lately by senior Hamas officials and some lawyers in addition to leading Hamas detainees led to the agreement that was brokered on Sunday between the Jordanian hunger strikers and Israeli jailers. In a press release, Qabha stated that intensive telephone contacts took place between prisoner Abdullah Al-Barghouthi, who is in Afola hospital, and the other hunger strikers in Ramla and Beersheba jails to discuss the Israeli offer to meet their minimum demands … The official affirmed that the hunger strikers started to drink milk following their agreement with senior Israeli prison and intelligence officials, pointing that prisoner Abdullah Barghouthi was able to phone his wife and his children for about 15 minutes. Qabah said that Anas Abu Khadir, member of the Jordanian prisoners support team, would reveal later further details of the agreement that happened between the hunger strikers and the Israeli side.
Political and other news
PLO official says talks could ‘collapse’ over settlements
RAMALLAH (AFP) 13 Aug — Middle East peace talks could “collapse” due to continuing Israeli settlement expansion, a senior Palestinian official warned Tuesday, on the eve of the scheduled resumption of the fragile process. “Settlement expansion goes against the US administration’s pledges and threatens to cause the negotiations’ collapse,” Yasser Abed Rabbo told AFP. The comments came after Israeli authorities approved the construction of a total of more than 2,000 settlement units in east Jerusalem and the West Bank in the days leading up to Wednesday’s scheduled new round of direct talks between the Israelis and Palestinians. The approval on Sunday of 793 settlement housing units in annexed east Jerusalem and 394 elsewhere in the West Bank — followed by Tuesday’s separate announcement of a further 942 in east Jerusalem — hiked up tension ahead of the meeting of Israeli and Palestinian negotiators. “This settlement expansion is unprecedented,” Abed Rabbo said. “It threatens to make talks fail even before they’ve started.”
Prisoner list divides Palestinian officials
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 12 Aug — A list of 26 prisoners due to be released by Israel has divided opinion among Palestinian officials, with some lauding the move while others say the shortlist aims to undermine negotiations. The Palestinian Authority Minister of Detainees, Issa Qaraqe, on Monday said Israel’s decision to release the first group of Palestinian prisoners was an important step for promoting peace. Abbas Zaki, a member of Fatah’s Central Committee, also welcomed the prisoner release, saying freeing all Palestinian detainees was a key priority.
But a senior Palestinian official, who wished to remain anonymous, told Ma‘an that Israel had made a “childish decision” in choosing which prisoners were to be released. Some prisoners, such as Jameel Abdul Wahab Jamal Al-Natsheh, have only 30 days of their sentence remaining, while two are due to be released in six months and eight others have only a few months remaining to serve. The fact that so many prisoners on the list will be released shortly anyway was carefully chosen to thwart peace talks, the official said. Head of the Ahrar Center for Detainees Studies, Foad al-Khafsh, said that the 26 names will disappoint the Palestinian public, and in particular prisoners’ relatives, as the list was not based on seniority. Although all prisoner releases are joyful occasions, the list is tainted by the fact that no detainees from Jerusalem are due to be freed and most prisoners will be released to Gaza, he added.
Pre-Oslo prisoners must be freed at once, says wife of jailed leader
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 12 Aug — As families of veteran Palestinian prisoners impatiently await the release of the first group of 104 Palestinians detained before the 1994 Oslo Accord, families of other prisoners are disappointed. Releasing the 104 veteran prisoners in groups is a big mistake in the first place, says Fadwa Barghouthi, wife of jailed Fatah leader Marwan Barghouthi. All 104 prisoners must be released at once before resuming negotiations with the Israelis, she told Ma‘an on Monday. On the other hand, Barghouthi was disappointed because the Palestinian leadership did not raise with the Israelis the release of her husband who has been serving five life sentences since 2002. “Does the Palestinian leadership want prisoners like Marwan and Ahmad Saadat (secretary-general of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine) and others to wait 30 more years in custody before being freed?” Fadwa wondered. But she welcomed the release of any pre-Oslo prisoners. “Before he was detained, Marwan had struggled to release long-serving prisoners, and he always slammed Oslo over (its) failure to free them,” she added.
Kerry urges PA against settlements reaction
BOGOTA, Distrito Capital de Bogotá (AFP) 13 Aug — US Secretary of State John Kerry has urged Palestinians “not to react adversely” to Israel’s announcement of new settlement building, stressing the need to return to the negotiating table. With a fresh peace dialogue in its early stages after a three-year hiatus, the approval of almost 1,200 housing units in annexed east Jerusalem and elsewhere in the West Bank on Sunday infuriated Palestinian officials. The plan was swiftly followed by Israel announcing it would release 26 veteran Palestinian prisoners ahead of a resumption of peace talks Wednesday in Jerusalem. As some Israeli ministers criticized the government’s prisoner release, Palestinians denounced the settlement plan, which Washington and the European Union said Monday was illegal and detrimental to peace efforts. The last peace talks in 2010 broke down on the issue of settlement building … “We have known that there was going to be a continuation of some building in certain places, and I think the Palestinians understand that,” the chief US diplomat said in Bogotá. But he added: “I think one of the announcements or maybe one of them was outside of that level of expectation, and that’s being discussed right now.”
Hamas says peace talks ‘futile’
GAZA CITY (AFP) 13 Aug — Hamas on Monday said peace talks with Israel were “futile,” repeating its rejection of negotiations that are due to resume between Palestinians and Israelis this week. “We renew our rejection of these futile talks, and consider them purely a means for the occupation (Israel) to look good to the international community,” senior Hamas official Mahmoud al-Zahar told a news conference in Gaza. President Mahmoud Abbas and his negotiating team “have no legitimacy” to represent the Palestinian people in talks, Zahar said.
Abbas asks Hamdallah to form new government
NABLUS (Ma‘an) 13 Aug — President Mahmoud Abbas on Tuesday asked caretaker Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah to form a new government, presidential spokesman Nabil Abu Rudeinah said. Abbas accepted the resignation of Hamdallah on June 23 after just over two weeks on the job, plunging his government into crisis. Hamdallah will have five weeks to form a new government, which is likely to comprise independent political figures.
Group: Palestinian killed in Syria refugee camp
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 13 Aug — A local group in Syria on Tuesday announced the death of a Palestinian refugee in the country, after being wounded in clashes earlier this week. Sameer Mahmoud Nassar was seriously injured when Khan al-Sheikh refugee camp was hit by missiles fired by Syrian regime forces, the Taskforce for Palestinians in Syria said … In March, the Action Group for Palestinians of Syria said that over 1,377 Palestinians had been killed in the ongoing Syria conflict, with that number thought to have increased significantly since then.
Russian company to invest $30 million in Bethlehem complex
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 13 Aug — A Russian company is set to invest $30 million in a building complex in Bethlehem, the Palestinian Authority Minister of Economy said Tuesday. The complex will house a music school, gym, administrative offices, gardens and other marketing and commercial spaces, Jawad al-Naji said. It will be built alongside the Russian Center for Science and Culture, situated on Vladmir Putin street. The Russian government and the Credo company will support the project.
Tel Aviv shutting African migrant businesses in mass crackdown
Haaretz 13 Aug by Ilan Lior — Businesses run by African migrants in south Tel Aviv are due to be be shut down in a joint operation launched by the police, the Tel Aviv municipality and the Health Ministry. One business in the Shapira neighborhood was closed on Monday and 25 more were to be shut in the following 24 hours. The closures are by judicial and administrative orders, the Tel Aviv municipality said on Monday, in response to a query from Haaretz. The operation is one of a number undertaken over the past few months, as the municipality increases pressure on Eritrean and Sudanese business owners in south Tel Aviv. As reported in Haaretz, the city has changed its policy and no longer allows Eritrean citizens to receive business licenses, even if they have a valid work permit.
Israel’s everyday racism — and how American Jews turn a blind eye to it
Forward 12 Aug by Larry Derfner — The Anti-Defamation League and the rest of the American Jewish establishment owe Jesse Jackson a big apology. They put the man through the wringer, they made him apologize in every possible forum for his “Hymie” and “Hymietown” remarks back in 1984. Yet look at the kinds of things Israeli leaders — senior government ministers, chief rabbis — get away with without ever having to apologize, without ever being punished in the slightest. Just last week, Naftali Bennett, the fresh new face of right-wing Orthodox Judaism, said in a cabinet meeting how he didn’t like these releases of Palestinian prisoners. “If you catch terrorists, you simply have to kill them,” he was quoted in Yedioth Ahronoth as saying. The head of the National Security Council, Yaakov Amidror, told Bennett, “Listen, that’s not legal.” Bennett replied: “I have killed lots of Arabs in my life — and there is no problem with that.” The media, the left and the Arabs made a big deal out of it, nobody else. Bennett defended what he said, and so did countless talkbackers and Facebookers. Two days later the newly-elected Ashkenazi chief rabbi of Israel, David Lau, was seen on a video telling an audience of yeshiva boys that they shouldn’t watch European basketball games in public. “What difference does it make,” Lau said, “if the kushim who get paid in Tel Aviv beat the kushim who get paid in Greece?” Kushim, especially when used in a dismissive context like Lau did, is a well-understood derogatory term for blacks.
Attacks on pro-Palestinian activism / Hasbara
Students forced to attend ‘re-education’ program designed by Israel lobby group
Electronic Intifada 13 Aug by Nora Barrows-Friedman — Students who walked out of a speech given by an Israeli soldier at Florida Atlantic University earlier this year are being forced by the administration to attend a chilling “re-education” program designed by an Israel lobby group. This mandatory “training” program is based on curriculum designed by the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), a lobby organization which has been instrumental in pressuring university administrations to curb Palestine solidarity activism across the US. As The Electronic Intifada recently reported, the ADL has a lengthy history of spying on Palestine solidarity activists and academics, including Noam Chomsky. Two of the three Florida Atlantic University (FAU) students being forced to attend this program have also been put on indefinite probation by the administration “for the remainder of our undergraduate careers,” they say in a recent statement.
Israel racism and American Jewish hypocrisy
Electronic Intifada/972mag 12 Aug by Nora Barrows-Friedman — Students and alumni of York University in Toronto are organizing against what they say are increasing efforts by the administration to curb Palestine solidarity activism. York University administration recently revoked the official club status of an on-campus group that has been instrumental in passing boycott, divestment and sanctions resolutions at both the York University Graduate Students’ Association and the York Federation of Students — the undergraduate student union — over the past year. The resolutions call upon the university administration to pull its investments in companies which sell weapons and military equipment to Israel … York University’s chapter of Students Against Israeli Apartheid (SAIA) was punished in May because of what the administration called a “disruption of academic activities” during a demonstration in March. SAIA and supporting groups gathered to celebrate recent victories at the university and elsewhere in Ontario, and called on the university to abide by the resolutions calling for divestment. Revoking SAIA’s student group status cuts the organization off from university funding and resources, and prevents the group from holding meetings or doing student outreach on York’s campus.
Israel lobby threatens freedom of speech in Germany
Bonn (Palestine Chronicle) 13 Aug by Dr. Ludwig Watzal — Due to the pressure from the “Israel lobby”, events and exhibitions about Palestine can hardly take place in Germany anymore. The pro- Zionist “Israel lobby” is well organized. When an event is announced publicly, perfectly organized machinery is set in motion, which exercises massive pressure on those who provide the premises for a Palestinian event. Consequently, it has become almost impossible to have an open debate about Israel’s policy towards the Palestinian people and the Zionist colonization in Palestine. The latest “success” of this lobby was garnered in Berlin. The cultural department of the Iranian Embassy in Berlin wanted to organize a conference entitled “Palestine — Peace based on justice” on Friday, August 16, 2013 at the educational institution “Urania”. All formalities were cleared. Speakers were committed among them the journalist Petra Wild who just published a book entitled “Apartheid and ethnic cleansing of Palestine: The Zionist settler colonialism in word and deed”, the film-makers Stefanie Landgraf and Johannes Gulde whose film “We refuse to be enemies” was highly acclaimed but also defamed by the lobby….
Israel setting up ‘covert units’ to tweet, Facebook government propaganda
Electronic Intifada 13 Aug by Ali Abunimah — The Israeli prime minister’s office is organizing Israeli students in “covert” and “semi-military” style units to tweet and post pro-Israel messages on social media without revealing they are doing it as part of a government propaganda campaign, Israeli media reported today. But as The Electronic Intifada has previously revealed, this effort is not entirely new. Haaretz reports today: “The Prime Minister’s Office is planning to form, in collaboration with the National Union of Israeli Students, “covert units” within Israel’s seven universities that will engage in online public diplomacy (hasbara). The students participating in the project, who would post on social media networks such as Facebook and Twitter on Israel’s behalf, will be part of the public diplomacy arm of the PMO [prime minister’s office], but would not identify themselves as official government representatives. It is clear that the Israeli government views universities and students as tools in its international propaganda, as a government document, cited by Haaretz, reveals:
Analysis / Opinion
Peace talks: The missing Palestinians / Samer Abdelnour
Al Jazeera 13 Aug — The rhetoric surrounding the current round of peace talks is seemingly omitting a rather significant constituency …political leaders have suggested that the four million Palestinians under Israeli occupation in Gaza and the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, could voice their position on a potential peace agreement through a referendum. But what about the Palestinian Diaspora – the millions of refugees and exiles who are not allowed to go home and whose numbers are swelling daily with every new dispossession? What about our rights and aspirations? Unfortunately, “peace talk” advocates seem comfortable excluding the majority of the Palestinian people, effectively disregarding them as an integral stakeholder in the peace process. Instead of working on an inclusive basis to consider the aspirations of the majority of Palestinians, talks will focus almost exclusively on the issue of borders and land swaps. The status of Jerusalem is occasionally mentioned and what little discussion about Palestinian refugees and exiles assumes that our rights and aspirations are negotiable. As a Palestinian, I find these positions highly insensitive and utterly dismissive of our rights. As difficult as it may be for observers to accept, the rights of Palestinian refugees and exiles to return to our homeland are inalienable. The right of return is both an individual and a collective right. Any negotiation of this right must not happen without the full participation of Palestinian refugees and exiles, including the refugees in Gaza and the West Bank