Bulldozers move in on East Jerusalem, and another 1500 settlement units are set for approval

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Land, property theft & destruction / Ethnic cleansing

Israel levels East Jerusalem land for ‘national park’
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 21 Aug — Israeli bulldozers leveled Palestinian land in the Jerusalem neighborhood of al-Tur on Wednesday. Israeli police closed the area of Khallat al-Ein and prevented local residents from accessing the area before bulldozers started to level around 20,000 square meters of land. Local activist Mufeed Abu Ghannam told Ma‘an that the move has shocked residents, as locals had petitioned Israeli courts to freeze all work on land in al-Tur. The area is being readied for the construction of a National Park. In 2011, the Israeli District Planning Committee for Zoning and Building in Jerusalem submitted a plan for the construction of a ‘National Park’, which would be built on 738 dunams of land confiscated from the Palestinian neighborhoods of al-Isawiya and al-Tur, according to the Civic Coalition for Palestinian Rights in Jerusalem. Construction of the park would effectively separate the neighborhoods of al-Tur and al-Isawiya, diminish the possibility of future expansion for Palestinian villages in the area, and facilitate the link between Jerusalem and the Maale Adumim and E1 settlement area, the CCPRJ says.

Israel to approve 1500 new units in Jerusalem
IMEMC 23 Aug — Israeli sources have reported that the Finance Committee of the Jerusalem City Council will be convening this coming Sunday to approve a new budget for infrastructure aiming at adding 1500 units for Israeli settlers in occupied Jerusalem. Palestinian researcher specialized in Israeli settlements affairs, Ahmad Sob-Laban, stated that the units are meant for expanding Ramat Shlomo settlement towards the Palestinian town of Shu‘fat and the Ramot settlement … Sob-Laban said that this plan would lead to more illegal annexation of Palestinian lands in Shu‘fat, and will seriously limit any possibility of expanding Shu’fat and Beit Hanina from their western sides. Under the plan, Israel would be illegally confiscating 580 dunams of Palestinian lands in Shu‘fat.

‘This return is permanent’ — refugees’ grandchildren defy Israel with Galilee camp
Electronic Intifada 22 Aug by Patrick O. Strickland — Young people with family connections to Iqrit, an ethnically-cleansed village in the Galilee, assembled recently for a week-long “camp of return.” According to organizers, more than 200 participants between eight and eighteen years old registered and attended the camp in Iqrit, which was destroyed by Israel’s military in 1951. The village’s vibrant green hills — situated in the northern Galilee region of present-day Israel and hugging the boundary with Lebanon — are dotted with campers’ tents and the decaying rubble of demolished homes. The “Camp of Return” has been held annually since 1996. For many years, its participants left Iqrit after only a week. Activists have, however, now decided to complement the annual camp with a constant presence in the village.

Israeli diggings underground cause subsidence near Aqsa Mosque
OCCUPIED JERUSALEM (PIC) 21 Aug — The Aqsa Foundation for Endowment and Heritage said that a cave-in occurred last night at the entrance to the house of Mahmoud Oseili in the old city of Jerusalem, which is 20 meters away from the Aqsa Mosque. It stated on Wednesday that the cave-in was six meters deep and 20 meters wide and happened as a result of the Israeli excavations taking place underground in the old city and at the Aqsa Mosque. It said that immediately following the collapse, Israeli policemen arrived at the scene and gave orders to close the hole. The foundation warned that such cave-ins that happen every once in a while show that the Israeli excavations underground are still ongoing and pose a threat to the foundations of the Aqsa Mosque and the buildings in its vicinity.

Jewish settlers break into Aqsa plazas
OCCUPIED JERUSALEM (PIC) 21 Aug — Jewish settlers broke into the Aqsa Mosque at an early hour on Wednesday morning to offer Talmudic rituals under heavy police protection. The Aqsa Foundation for Endowment and Heritage (AFEH) said in a statement that around 30 settlers entered the holy site and toured its plazas as Israeli police forces facilitated their tour and restricted movement of Muslim worshipers and scholars. It warned that the Aqsa Mosque was passing through a critical stage due to the Israeli occupation authority’s escalated targeting of the holy site as evident in the vigorous excavations under it and in its vicinity.

Jerusalem family living in tents on ruins of home
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 21 Aug — A Palestinian family is living in a tent on the ruins of their home after it was demolished by Israeli forces on Tuesday. Khaled al-Zeir erected the tent on the rubble of his home in the al-Abbasiya neighborhood of Silwan in East Jerusalem. Israeli forces on Tuesday demolished the 60-square-meter room al-Zeir lived in with his wife and seven children. They also demolished his brother’s room and three barns which housed sheep, horses, pigeons and chickens. Al-Zeir told Ma‘an that he put up the tent to prevent Israel’s Nature and Parks Authority from taking control of his land.

Israel strengthening Bethlehem settlements, group says
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 21 Aug — Israel is intensifying settlement expansion in the West Bank only weeks after peace talks resumed between Israel and the Palestinians following US pressure, a Bethlehem-based research institute said Wednesday. Israeli settlers are working to turn illegal outposts in eastern Bethlehem into permanent settlements officially recognized by the Israeli government. The international community considers all Israeli settlements built after Israel occupied the West Bank in 1967 illegal.
A researcher with the Applied Research Institute-Jerusalem, Suheil Khaliliyya, told Ma‘an Wednesday that Israel is working to avoid any possible evacuation of east Bethlehem outposts and settlements as part of future agreements with the Palestinians. Locals told Ma‘an Tuesday that lorries were seen unloading new mobile homes at Israeli settlements in east Bethlehem near Herodium. Residents also said that Israeli authorities had started to build more than 40 new houses in al-Uqban neighborhood of Jannatah village between the settlements of Noqedim and Teqoa in preparation to build a new settlement east of Bethlehem.

Israeli occupation forces demolish an entire Bedouin community in Beit Hanina
[with photos and video] Beit Hanina, Occupied Palestine (ISM) 22 Aug by Ramallah Team — On the morning of the19th August, two hundred soldiers in thirty-eight jeeps and with two military dogs dismantled several tents housing the Tal ‘Adasa Bedouin community in the Jerusalem neighborhood of Beit Hanina. At around 6am, Israeli soldiers surrounded the Bedouins tents, pointing guns at the fifty-three residents, which include twenty-eight children.  The family members were separated into three groups, always under the threat of guns, and were not allowed to move for three hours. Children were not permitted to go to the bathroom nor to have anything to drink or eat. At 9am, two armored bulldozers invaded the camp, destroying all the tents, animal facilities and furniture. The two military-trained dogs attacked the sheep and goats of the Bedouin, causing them to scatter all around. The Bedouins, worried about losing their flocks, ignored the soldiers’ orders and ran after them, managing to bring them back. Three hours later, the soldiers left the area but not before fining the community with 70,000 NIS for use of the bulldozers and – according to Israeli authorities – for illegally occupying the land. One of the eldest men of the community was told by Israeli soldiers that they have to clear the area within the next ten days, otherwise they will be arrested.

Israeli forces demolish 2 homes in Negev town
BEERSHEBA, Israel (Ma‘an) 21 Aug — Israeli forces demolished two Palestinian homes in a Negev village on Wednesday. Israeli police cordoned off a neighborhood in the town of Arara Ba-Negev, before bulldozers arrived and destroyed the al-Rahahleh’s family home. Israeli forces then destroyed a home belonging to the al-Mahthi family. Taleb Abu Arar, a Bedouin Mk, said the demolitions prove that “we must escalate our struggle and make the Israeli government understand that the destruction is unacceptable.

Settlers raze Palestinian land near Nablus
NABLUS (Ma‘an) 21 Aug — Israeli forces on Wednesday razed land in a northern West Bank village to expand an illegal Israeli settlement, a Palestinian Authority official said. Settlers used bulldozers to raze Palestinian land in the al-Wara area of Einabus village, said Ghassan Daghlas, who monitors settler activity in the northern West Bank. They were accompanied by Israeli soldiers, he told Ma‘an. Daghlas said the settlers are expanding Yitzhar settlement.

Video: The Jaber family of El Baka
Posted by Eitan Wetzler — [Settlers take over the land in the West Bank the Jaber family has farmed for 600 years. They encourage their small children to uproot the newly planted crops, and plant theirs instead. Settler to Palestinian landowner: “You understand only one language, when you’re trampled. You are a Muslim.” —“I’m not only a Muslim, I’m a human being.” —“You are just a Muslim, ready to die.” —“I’m a human as well.” —“No, you are not a human.”  — Disgraceful way to bring up Jewish children, not to mention the suffering of the Palestinians.]

PLO threatens action over Israeli settlements
BEIT JALA (AFP) 22 Aug — A top PLO official threatened Wednesday to sue Israel through international bodies if it continues expanding settlements in the occupied territories, warning it was an issue that could torpedo fledgling peace talks. “These are not just dots on a map,” PLO executive committee member Hanan Ashrawi said of more than 2,000 new settler homes which were approved for construction ahead of a resumption of peace negotiations late last month. “These are wilful and destructive measures to prevent the creation of a Palestinian state. If Israel carries out these plans … we will be forced to (have) recourse to international judicial processes through international institutions,” she told reporters near the settlement neighborhood of Gilo, south of Jerusalem, where many of the new units are to be built.

PA urges Quartet to stop settlement expansion
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 22 Aug – The Palestinian Authority’s ministry of foreign affairs on Thursday urged the international Quartet to immediately bring to an end all illegal Israeli settlement activities. In a statement, the ministry called upon local, regional and international bodies to document Israel’s settlement expansion “which is against international law and the Geneva conventions.”

Restriction of movement / Deportation

Will Israeli-Palestinian negotiations get my family back home?
Oslo Times 16 Aug by Suheir Azzouni — Last month, my family and I went back home to Palestine for summer vacation. Five days into the vacation, the Israeli Ministry of Interior (MoI) handed us documents expelling us from our country, leaving us to face statelessness and exile. We are now in France, appealing our case, still in sharp pain, indignant about this injustice, and fearful about our future.Our attorney hopes to convince MoI to reverse its decision on revoking our “permanent resident” status in East Jerusalem, where my husband was raised and my children were born. Should MoI insist on its decision, two of our three children would end up stateless and passport-less. This will also mean that our family will not be able to live in, or possibly visit, our homeland again. [Sign petition here]

Court grants East Jerusalem widow last-minute reprieve from deportation
Haaretz 22 Aug by Amira Hass — Nahil Rajbi married a Palestinian resident of Jerusalem in 1994 and has lived there since 1995; their six children are permanent residents of Israel — The deportation of the widow of an East Jerusalem resident, the mother of his six children who are permanent residents of Israel, was averted at the last minute on Wednesday following submission of an urgent petition to the High Court of Justice. On a routine stop of cars near the Old City, Border Policemen discovered that Nahil Rajbi did not have a permit to be in the city. Although Rajbi’s case is now being examined by a special Interior Ministry committee, a senior official at the Population Registration Bureau told a Border Police officer that if the woman is illegally present in the city, she must be deported immediately. The Border Police officer then began the procedure to deport her on Wednesday.

Prisoner deported to Gaza Strip
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 22 Aug — Israel on Thursday deported a Palestinian prisoner to the Gaza Strip as part of a deal to end his 40-day hunger strike. Ayman Abu Daoud is from the West Bank city of Hebron, where his wife and children live. He was freed in October 2011 in Israel’s prisoner swap deal with Hamas, but Israel rearrested him four months later. Israeli prosecutors sought to sentence him to 28 years, the remainder of his former sentence. Abu Daoud went on hunger strike for 40 days, and Israel agreed in May to deport him to the Gaza Strip for 10 years. He arrived in Gaza through the Erez crossing on Thursday.

Graveyard of numbers
Mondoweiss 23 Aug by Nadya Raja Tannous — Walking around any primarily Palestinian city, the posters on the walls are hard to miss. As we walked through the old city of Nablus, all of their printed eyes stared down at us from serious faces. They are the faces of “martyrs”, the ones who have been killed by the Israeli military during night-raids, sniper attacks, and bouts of intensely visual and violent military or settler presence. Next to their pictures are their names, their dates of death, and a few words regarding their lives and premature passing. At one corner, we stopped next to one with a young man sporting an outdated curly combover, a plaid dress shirt, and a date of death that read May 18th, 1976. It was puzzling to me to see a remembrance tract left for someone who had died almost 40 years before. The group stared intently into his face, at which point the guide asked us “who here has heard of the Graveyard of Numbers”? The lives of Palestinian people under military occupation are filled with injustice and deceit but nothing exemplifies the complete control and ruthlessness of the Israeli Occupation as what happens to them after death if they qualify to enter the “Graveyard of Numbers”. If a Palestinian from the West Bank is considered to be guilty of a crime by the State of Israel upon their death, the Israeli military can collect that person’s remains and place the individual in a trial post-mortem. After the trial process, a sentence is assigned and the body is taken to a storage facility inside of Israel and held in detention until the sentence is fulfilled. This man looking down at us was named Hafith Muhammad Wahid Abu Zanat and his corpse was condemned to 20 years in prison. During this time, his family’s rights to burial and/or viewing of his remains were revoked until the 20 year jail period was carried out to term.

Jerusalem teenager released after 2 days
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 23 Aug — Israeli police on Friday released a teenager from Jerusalem after detaining him for two days, his uncle said. Nour Saleem Shalabi, 15, was detained on Wednesday at the Allenby Bridge while returning from Jordan. Shalabi was released on bail of 500 shekels, and was put under house arrest for four days. He is also prohibited from entering the Old City of Jerusalem and the al-Aqsa mosque for a month.

Violence / Raids / Attacks / Violent quelling of peaceful demonstrations / Illegal arrests

PCHR weekly report: one killed, 2 adults and 4 children wounded by Israeli attacks this week [15-21 August]
Israeli attacks in the West Bank: During the reporting period, Israeli forces killed a Palestinian civilian and wounded 5 others, including 2 children, in 3 separate incidents in the West Bank. In the West Bank, on 20 August 2013, in an excessive use of lethal forces, Israeli forces killed Majd Mohammed Lahlouh (al-Shahla) (21) and wounded 3 others, including 2 children, during clashes that erupted in Jenin refugee camp, in the north of the West Bank. A day before, Shalash Yasser Hamamrah (22) was wounded by a bullet in the left leg during an Israeli incursion into Jaba‘ village, south of Jenin. On 22 August 2013, a 21-year-old civilian was wounded by a bullet to the left leg when Israeli forces moved into al-Dhaisha refugee camp in Bethlehem and clashes erupted. During the reporting period, Israeli forces continued the systematic use of excessive force against peaceful protests … Israeli forces conducted 56 incursions into Palestinian communities in the West Bank. At least 31 Palestinian civilians, including 2 brothers and 3 children, were abducted … Israel has continued its measures to create a Jewish majority in occupied East Jerusalem. Palestinians were forced to demolish their own houses in Sour Baher and the Old Town. An image and a stereograph of a synagogue to be established in al-Aqsa mosque was disclosed. Al-Ka’bnah Bedouin community in Beit Hanina village was demolished under the pretext of not obtaining construction license … In the Gaza Strip, on 20 August 2013, Israeli forces stationed along the border fence, east of Jabalia, in the northern Gaza Strip, opened fire at a group of boys who were about 300 meters away from the fence in between al-Shuhada’ cemetery and Abu Safiya area, east of Jabalia. As a result, 2 children from Jabalia refugee camp were wounded. It should be mentioned that area was completely calm when Israeli troops opened fire. Israeli forces abducted 3 Palestinian civilians while swimming in the sea in the northern Gaza Strip.  Full Report

Israel monastery firebombed in suspected hate crime
JERUSALEM (AFP) 21 Aug — Unknown assailants threw a Molotov cocktail at a Roman Catholic monastery in Israel and scrawled racist graffiti on its walls, a police spokeswoman said Wednesday, in a suspected hate crime. “A Molotov cocktail was thrown at the wall of the Beit Jamal monastery, near Beit Shemesh,” in central Israel, Luba Samri said in a statement, adding that “it caught fire.” “Hebrew graffiti was also scrawled on the monastery walls, reading ‘Gentiles perish’ and ‘revenge,'” she added. According to Samri, the attack most likely took place overnight Monday. “Police were investigating all directions, including nationalistic motivation,” she said. In past years, Christian sites in Israel have been targets of hate crimes by suspected Jewish extremists. These incidents come in addition to attacks against mosques, which have been linked to the “price tag” campaign of Israeli extremists opposed to state moves to dismantle unauthorized settler outposts.

Thousands march in funeral of Lahlouh
JENIN (PIC) 21 Aug — Thousands marched in the funeral procession of Majd Lahlouh in Jenin afternoon Tuesday and demanded revenge for his murder at the hands of Israeli occupation forces. The PIC reporter said that angry participants carried the body from the hospital to the graveyard in Jenin refugee camp amidst massive participation in the procession. Former minister of prisoners Wasfi Qabaha told the PIC reporter that the Israeli crime at dawn Tuesday carried a clear message to the Palestinian Authority mainly that Israel does not believe in peace. He said that the PA should learn the lesson and give up talks with Israel and return to its people and complete the national reconciliation. IOF soldiers stormed the camp at dawn Tuesday and used dumdum bullets against young protesters, killing Lahlouh, 22, and seriously wounding two others.

Video and Photo report: Israel forces shoot teargas into mosque, suffocating hundreds before start of Kafr Qaddum demonstration
Kafr Qaddum, Occupied Palestine (ISM) 23 Aug by Nablus Team — Today, Friday 23rd August, Israeli occupation forces invaded the village of Kafr Qaddum before their regular demonstration began. Shooting gas and sound grenades at residents, the army stormed the village from several different directions, attempting to make arrests – two protesters were injured with teargas canisters, which were shot directly at protesters. Soldiers shot teargas directly into the village mosque, whilst around three hundred people were inside praying, causing people to flee from the building … The Israeli military guidelines for shooting teargas canisters state that they should be fired at an arc into the air, but as usual the soldiers disregarded this rule, shooting directly at people. This is a dangerous practice which has killed protesters in the past – today several villagers reported that they had seen and felt the heavy metal canisters flying straight past their heads. “I feel I was nearly killed today,” said one demonstrator who experienced the near-miss.

Israeli forces disperse West Bank demos
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 23 Aug — Israeli forces on Friday dispersed a demonstration in al-Ma‘asara village south of Bethlehem in solidarity with the victims of an alleged chemical weapons attack in Syria. Demonstrators marched toward the wall and raised Palestinian flags and pictures of prisoners in Israeli jails. Israeli forces used stun grenades and tear gas to disperse the demonstrators. Activists also condemned the “massacre” in Syria, and reiterated their support for Syrian people and Palestinian refugees in Syria…
Near Ramallah, four people were injured and dozens suffered tear-gas inhalation in clashes between protesters and Israeli forces in Bil‘in village’s weekly march against the wall and settlement activity.  Israeli forces fired rubber-coated steel bullets, tear gas, and stun grenades at protesters who marched toward their lands near the wall. Ashraf al-Khatib, 33, Kifah Mansour, 35, Mohammad Hamad, 22, and a Chinese journalist suffered injuries from rubber-coated steel bullets. Activists suffered tear-gas inhalation…

Palestinians seized in West Bank raids
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 21 Aug — Israeli forces early Wednesday raided al-Duheisha refugee camp and Doha village in the southern West Bank district of Bethlehem and arrested two Palestinians. Security officials said Israeli forces fired tear-gas canisters at homes in the camp and detained Ahmad Mohammad Abu Arafeh, 17, after raiding his house in the camp. They also detained Anas Adnan Yahya Malsh, 21, after raiding his house in Doha.  Karam Abed Rabu, 21, was injured in clashes in the camp and transferred to Beit Jala hospital for a foot wound.
Israeli forces also entered Bethlehem and nearby Beit Sahour. No arrests were reported.
In Nablus, Israeli forces detained three men from Balata refugee camp. Locals told Ma‘an that forces invaded Balata camp and ransacked several houses before detaining Abdul Jalil Qatab, 21, Yazan Ishtaye, 16, Ahmad Hashash, 16.
An Israeli army spokeswoman confirmed two arrests northwest of Ramallah, one in Bethlehem, and one in al-Duheisha refugee camp.

Hundreds of settlers in Nabi Yusuf tomb spark clashes
NABLUS (PIC) 21 Aug — Violent confrontations broke out in the vicinity of Nabi Yusuf tomb after hundreds of settlers broke into the said shrine to perform Talmudic rituals. Eyewitnesses said that dozens of buses arrived at the tomb at an early hour on Wednesday carrying hundreds of settlers under heavy Israeli military escort. They said that the Israeli soldiers sealed off the entire area and set up roadblocks and searched passing cars and citizens and checked their IDs. They said that young men threw stones at the Israeli soldiers and settlers in protest at their visit. They added that the soldiers fired teargas and that many citizens suffered breathing problems.

IOF soldiers round up 5 Palestinians including child
RAMALLAH (PIC) 21 Aug — …IOF soldiers arrested two other citizens in Deir Abu Mishaal village in Ramallah and a child in Nablus while quelling citizens protesting the entry of Jewish settlers into Nabi Yusuf tomb.

IOF soldiers round up 3 Palestinians in Tulkarem
TULKAREM (PIC) 22 Aug — Israeli occupation forces (IOF) rounded up three Palestinians in Tulkarem at dawn Thursday. Eyewitnesses said that IOF soldiers stormed Nur Shams refugee camp and arrested two young men before detaining a third in Tulkarem city.
Meanwhile, IOF soldiers broke into the home of liberated prisoner Tarek Qadan in Arrabe village, Jenin province, and interrogated him for an hour. The same thing happened in the home of liberated prisoner Jafar Ezzuddin, who was questioned on his brother Tarek, who was exiled to Gaza, and his third detained brother.
Palestinian security sources said that an IOF unit of 40 soldiers raided Al-Khalil city and detained a number of young men and interrogated them in Shalale street while another unit set up a roadblock at Halahoul bridge and searched passing vehicles.

Blockaded Gaza

Israeli forces shoot, injure 2 Palestinians in north Gaza
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 21 Aug — Israeli forces shot and injured two Palestinians in Gaza late Tuesday, medics said. Loai al-Mabhouh, 14, was shot in the top of the leg and Hussein Abu Attia, 22, was shot in the abdomen, medics told Ma‘an. Israeli forces stationed east of Jabalia opened fire on the men. An Israeli army spokeswoman told Ma‘an that the soldiers fired at two Palestinians who approached the separation wall after they failed to respond to warning shots…
On Aug. 10, Israeli forces killed a Palestinian they described as acting suspiciously along the border between southern Israel and the northern Gaza Strip.  A week earlier, Israeli forces positioned in a watchtower shot and injured a Palestinian in the foot near the border in the northern Gaza Strip.

Israeli navy opens heavy machinegun fire at Gaza beaches
GAZA (PIC) 21 Aug — Israeli navy gunboats opened heavy machinegun fire at beaches in southern Gaza, Zahra city, and Nuseirat refugee camp on Tuesday night and at dawn Wednesday. A security source told the PIC reporter that the navy gunboats opened fire at those shores last night and later on opened intermittent fire at the same areas. Nizar Ayyash, the chairman of the fishermen syndicate in Gaza, said in a press release on Tuesday that the Israeli occupation authorities launch a systematic, ferocious campaign against the Palestinian fishermen.

Egypt forces demolish smugglers’ homes near Gaza border
EL-ARISH, Egypt (Ma‘an) 23 Aug — Egyptian security forces on Thursday demolished three homes belonging to Egyptian smugglers in Rafah near the Gaza border, a security source said. Entrances to tunnels leading to the Gaza Strip were located in the homes, the official told Ma‘an. They were also destroyed, he said. Forces arrested the homeowners, he added.

Egyptian army destroys more tunnels in Rafah area
GAZA (PIC) 22 Aug — The Egyptian army detonated at dawn Wednesday five tunnels and one house in Rafah border area between the Gaza Strip and Egypt. According to Quds Press, clouds of smoke billowed up in the Egyptian side of Rafah area, and sounds of explosions were heard on the other side of the Palestinian Rafah … The Rafah border crossing has also been closed completely since last Monday, and it is unknown if it will be reopened partially as before.

Gov’t: Erez could not replace Rafah crossing
GAZA (PIC) 22 Aug — The Gaza government has said that the Beit Hanun (Erez) crossing north of Gaza Strip could never substitute for the Rafah border terminal with Egypt to the south of the Strip. The Hebrew radio had said that an agreement was reached with the Palestinian Authority in Ramallah on opening Erez for travel of Palestinians in Gaza on temporary basis to replace the closed Rafah terminal. Dr. Ghazi Hamad, the government’s foreign undersecretary, demanded the opening of the Rafah terminal in a press conference on Wednesday, saying its closure turned Gaza into a big prison. He said that there was no rational reason for the closure of Rafah terminal, adding that political conditions in Egypt did not necessitate such a step … He denied that his government had agreed to the return of the Palestinian presidential guards to man the Rafah border terminal.

Palestinian bank pioneers sign-language banking
Al-Monitor 22 Aug by Hana Saleh — Since the Gaza Strip branch of the Palestine Islamic Bank launched a service in June to provide direct transactions via sign language, it has become easier for people with special needs to bank without a mediator … The direct sign language banking service launched by the Palestine Islamic Bank is the first of its kind in the Palestinian territories, according to bank officials. Aziz Hammad, manager of the bank’s Gaza branch, told Al-Monitor, “We have trained more than 50 of the bank’s employees on the use of sign language, and all our branches in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip can now operate in it.” … In addition to this service, the bank issued a CD that translates banking terms into sign language in a bid to increase banking awareness among the disabled. The bank intends to launch a new service for people with visual disabilities right after Eid al-Fitr … According to the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics, the number of disabled people in the Palestinian territories totaled about 113,000 in 2011.

Hamas: Egypt trained ‘Tamarod’ members in Gaza
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 23 Aug — Egyptian intelligence and security services trained members of a group calling itself “Tamarod Gaza,” a senior Hamas official charged Friday. In a video released Sunday, masked activists read a statement by “Tamarod Gaza” calling for protests across the enclave on Nov. 11 to overthrow Hamas. On Nov. 11, all “tyrannies and oppression practiced by the Muslim Brotherhood in Gaza” will come to an end, according to the statement. The Egyptian Tamarod movement is a protest group that organized opposition to the rule of president Mohamed Morsi, the Muslim Brotherhood leader who was deposed on July 3. Hamas’ Yahya Mousa told the Lebanese newspaper El-Nashra that Tamarod had centers in the West Bank and Gaza and that its members were trained by Egyptian intelligence and security services. Hamas security services have detained members of the group in Gaza and they are being interrogated, Mousa added.

Haniyeh rebuffs new youth group targeting Hamas rule
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 21 Aug — Gaza prime minister Ismail Haniyeh on Wednesday warned a newly formed movement in the coastal enclave against calling for protests against Hamas’ rule later in the year. On Monday, a newly announced Palestinian youth movement urged protests against rivalries, exclusion, single-handedness, injustice, oppression and the violation of the inalienable rights of the people of Gaza … Speaking at a ceremony in Gaza City, Haniyeh said Palestinians should not talk about rebellion against other Palestinians. “We hear some calling for rebellion and action and so on. I am with rebellion but against the enemy occupation as we are all rebellious people against the occupier, against disgrace, ignominy and siege.” The Gaza PM urged all factions and groups to take part in the management of Gaza until reconciliation is achieved and a unity government is formed. “Four hundred and fifty people died during inter-Palestinian fighting in 2007, of whom 260 were Fatah supporters and 180 Hamas affiliates as well as other people who were not associated with any factions. We don’t want to go back to this tough era, neither do we wish to resume bloody confrontations. We want dialogue, and thus I urge leaders who support well-known youth movements to show some wisdom and avoid dangerous paths.”

Gaza Salafist leader calls for jihad against Egyptian general
Al-Monitor 22 Aug by Asmaa al-Ghoul — The emir of the Salafist group Jaysh al-Umma, or Army of the Islamic Nation, in Gaza, Abu Hafs al-Maqdisi, called for jihad in Egypt to save it from the rule of the so-called “New Pharaoh” — in reference to Egyptian Defense Minister Abdel Fattah al-Sisi.  In an exclusive interview with Al-Monitor, Maqdisi said, “We direct our message to our people in Egypt. You have to go out for jihad and lift the injustice and tyranny, and stop the bloodshed by the tyrant Sisi and his supporters. So get out and stay in the fields and public squares until Sisi — along with all his political, religious and military pillars — falls.” Maqdisi denied any relationship between his Salafist group and the execution of 25 Egyptian soldiers who were shot dead in Sinai

Archaeologists race to save Gaza’s ancient ruins
AP 22 Aug — The ruins of this ancient complex sit on dunes by the sea, a world away from Gaza City’s noise and bustle. Up in the sky, birds compete for space with children’s kites flying from a nearby farm. St. Hilarion’s monastery, a reminder of the time in late antiquity when Christianity was the dominant faith in what is now the Gaza Strip, is one of many archaeological treasures scattered across this coastal territory … Archaeologists, short of funds and unable to find sufficient trained local staff, say they are scrambling to find and protect the monuments. Some are left open to the weather. Others are engulfed by new development projects. “Archaeology in Gaza is everywhere,” says French archaeologist Jean-Baptiste Humbert, who excavated in the territory from 1995 to 2005. He says it was once a “very rich oasis, with gardens, cities and you have settlements, dwellings, fortresses, cities everywhere, everywhere.”


Palestinian children routinely tortured, some threatened with rape: Israel rights group
[with video] Electronic Intifada 23 Aug by Ali Abunimah — Palestinian children are systematically subjected to torture and violence, including threats of rape, by Israeli interrogators, in order to force them to confess to stone-throwing. The brutality, at the Etzion police station, in an illegal Israeli colony near the occupied West Bank city of Bethlehem, is documented in a new report by the Israeli group B’Tselem: “In November 2009, B’Tselem began receiving reports of violence against Palestinian minors during interrogation at the Etzion police station. Until July 2013, B’Tselem field researchers collected 64 testimonies from residents of eight communities in the southern West Bank who reported such incidents. Fifty-six of them were minors at the time of their interrogation. The testimonies described severe physical violence during the interrogation or preliminary questioning, which, in some cases, amounted to torture. The violence included slaps, punches and kicks to all parts of the body, and blows with objects, such as a gun or a stick. Some of the former interrogatees also reported threats: in twelve cases, they claimed that the interrogator had threatened them or female relatives with sexual assault, such as rape and genital injury. In six cases, the interrogatees claimed that the interrogators had threatened to execute them; in eight cases, the interrogators allegedly threatened to harm family members; and in five other cases, they allegedly threatened to electrocute the interrogatees, including in a way that would damage their fertility.”

Snatched Gazan starts hunger strike in Israel prison
JERUSALEM (AFP) 23 Aug — A Palestinian from Gaza who was snatched from Ukraine and is being held in an Israel prison has begun refusing food, a prison spokeswoman said on Thursday. Dirar Abu Sisi “was on the third day of a hunger strike, following which all his personal items and electric appliances were removed from his cell, except for a fan,” Israel Prison Service spokeswoman Sivan Weizman told AFP. Weizman added that Abu Sisi, like the rest of the prisoner populace, was receiving appropriate medical care. Abu Sisi, an engineer who was former technical director at Gaza’s sole electricity plant, created a sensation when in early 2011 he disappeared while traveling on a train in Ukraine. Israel later announced it was holding him and intended to put him on trial for “activity in a terrorist organization, hundreds of counts of attempted murder, conspiracy to commit murder and arms production offenses” as a member of Hamas, a summary of the charges said at the time.

Palestinian prisoners give IPS 48 hours to end isolation of Abu Sisi
Ahrar 22 Aug — Palestinian prisoners in Israeli occupation jails have given the Israeli prison service (IPS) 48 hours to end the isolation of Dirar Abu Sisi, a human rights center said on Wednesday. The Ahrar center for studies and human rights said in a statement that Palestinian prisoners in Nafha, Eshel, and Raymon had decided to support the case of Abu Sisi by all means available. They threatened to escalate their protests to an open hunger strike in the event the IPS did not respond and end the solitary confinement of Abu Sisi, who has been in isolation since his kidnapping and detention in 2011.

Hunger striker denied right to call dying father
Electronic Intifada 20 Aug by Patrick O. Strickland — Like more than one hundred other Palestinians held on “secret evidence,” Israel is detaining political prisoner Ayman Hamdan without charge or trial. In response, he launched a hunger strike that has lasted more than 110 days. Hamdan is one of nine remaining hunger strikers from a group that included 23 prisoners on hunger strike in July. According to recent statistics reported by the prisoners support group Addameer, 136 prisoners, including Hamdan, are being held in administrative detention — indefinite detention without charge or trial.

Palestinian refugees in Syria

Mourning in Nazareth: 21 relatives killed in Damascus attack

Ynet 23 Aug by Hassan Shaalan — The photographs of the Damascus chemical massacre on Thursday – in which 136 to 1,300 people died, according to wildly differing estimates – shocked the world. But for the Waked family from Nazareth the massacre was a devastating personal tragedy: 21 of their relatives killed in the attack. “We heard of their death through family in Jordan, yesterday,” Ahmed Waked told Ynet. “They were hit by the chemical material and they died. Twelve women and girls, nine men and boys.”  He said that among those killed are a mother and her six children, as well as a couple and four of their children. He explained that the victims are Palestinians who escaped to Syria in 1948 after the establishment of the State of Israel. “They were killed in the village of Zamalka,” Ahmed Waked said.,7340,L-4421469,00.html

Group: 3 Palestinians killed in Syria clashes
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 21 Aug — Three Palestinian refugees were killed on Tuesday in clashes across Syria, a local group said. Ammar Ammora was critically injured by shelling in the Moroccan neighborhood of Yarmouk camp and later died from his injuries, the Taskforce for Palestinians in Syria said. Abed Khader and Bilal Najib were also killed in Yarmouk. Syrian regime forces and Free Syria Army fighters clashed near Yarmouk municipality and around Thirty Street and Palestine Street, with a UNRWA center in the camp severely damaged. Daraa refugee camp was also targeted by the Syrian army, causing damage to several homes.

Political, other news

Hamas, Islamic Jihad hold protest against peace talks
GAZA CITY (AFP) 23 Aug — Hundreds of people in the Gaza Strip protested on Friday against Israeli-Palestinian peace talks, in marches organized by Hamas and Islamic Jihad. Marchers set off from mosques across the coastal strip before converging on a square in the middle of Gaza City, with protesters brandishing signs saying “No to negotiations” and slamming West Bank-based President Mahmoud Abbas’s “political failure.”

Abbas: ‘We will not demand to return to Akka, Safad, and Jaffa”
IMEMC 23 Aug — During a meeting with members of the Israeli Meretz opposition Party, who visited him Thursday in the central West Bank city of Ramallah, Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas, stated that the Palestinian Authority will not demand the Palestinian return to Jaffa, Akka (Akko) and Safad. He was referring to the internationally guaranteed Right of Return of the refugees displaced during the creating of Israel in historic Palestine. “I know how concerned you (the Israelis) are, therefore I want to make some issues clear”, Abbas said, “I assure you that following the end of successful peace talks, the conflict will be resolved, we will not demand to return to Jaffa, Akka and Safad”. The statements of Abbas, who comes from a family of refugees displaced by the Israeli forces from Safad during the Nakba of 1948, received extensive Israeli media coverage.

Abbas: Prisoner release ‘separate issue’ from peace talks
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 22 Aug — President Mahmoud Abbas said Thursday that the release of Palestinians detained by Israel before the 1994 Oslo Accords was a separate issue from the resumption of peace negotiations.  Israel released 26 veteran prisoners hours before peace negotiations resumed earlier in August, and is expected to release the rest of the pre-Oslo prisoners in stages throughout the talks.

French foreign minister in Ramallah
RAMALLAH (WAFA) 24 Aug – French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius arrives in Ramallah shortly before noon Saturday for an official short visit during which he will meet President Mahmoud Abbas and Prime Minister-designate Rami Hamdallah.
Fabius will start his visit in Ramallah with a meeting with Hamdallah during which France and Palestine will sign a cooperation agreement. He will then travel to the presidential compound for a meeting with Abbas and later meet with members of the Palestinian civil society. A French foreign ministry statement said Fabius, who will also visit Israel on Sunday and meet Israeli officials, will take this opportunity to encourage the Palestinians and Israelis to continue on the path of direct negotiations and will convey France’s determination to support these efforts until an agreement is reached that would end the conflict. Fabius will also stress France’s full support for Palestinian development, particularly the establishment of a viable Palestinian state, said the statesmen.

Malki meets Venezuelan FM in Caracas
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 21 Aug — Foreign minister Riyad Al-Malki met with his Venezuelan counterpart in Caracas on Tuesday. Al-Malki’s visit was part of a regional trip to the Caribbean Basin. His office described the Caracas meeting as aimed at developing bilateral relations between both countries. A statement said the Venezuelan foreign minister would soon visit Palestine to launch projects sponsored by the South American nation.
PLO chief negotiator Saeb Erekat, meanwhile, will travel to Moscow on Aug. 22 to hold talks with Sergei Lavrov, the Palestinian ambassador said.

Family: PA arrests man for selling ‘Morsi perfume’
TULKAREM (AFP) 23 Aug  — Palestinian Authority security services have arrested a Hamas member in the West Bank for selling perfume named in honor of Egypt’s ousted president Mohamed Morsi, family members said on Thursday. Islambuli Badir, 36, was arrested during a raid on his perfume shop in the town of Tulkarem, his brother Abdel Fattah Badir told AFP. “Men from the security services on Tuesday raided my brother’s shop and confiscated all the perfume bottles that were labelled ‘Morsi,’ then arrested Islambuli and also seized his laptop,” said Abdel Fattah.

PA colonel storms house in Ramallah and fires inside because of children’s quarrel
PCHR 23 Aug — On Tuesday, 20 August 2013, a colonel who serves as director of the office of the Palestinian presidency’s secretary general broke into a house in Ramallah and fired inside it allegedly because his child was attacked by another child living in the house. As a result of the indiscriminate shooting, the colonel’s child, who was accompanying him, was injured by a bullet to the foot. This attack constitutes a form of misuse of weapons, a phenomenon which prevails in the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt) … PCHR calls upon the Attorney General’s office to investigate it and bring the perpetrators before justice.

Hamas: No Lebanese request for handing over alleged shooters of rockets
BEIRUT (PIC) 21 Aug — Hamas movement denied Lebanese press reports that the Lebanese authorities had demanded Hamas to hand over two persons suspected of firing rockets at the southern suburb of Beirut. Hamas, in a statement on Wednesday, described the fabricated news as part of a scenario to mislead the public opinion in a bid to shake the Lebanese-Palestinian stability and security. It said that the news report fell as part of the campaign of incitement against the Palestinian people in Lebanon and refugee camps with the aim of harming this presence and Lebanese-Palestinian relations.

Israel retalilates after Syria shells hit Golan Heights
JERUSALEM (AFP) Updated 19 Aug — The Israeli army fired into Syria after shells from the neighboring country hit the Israeli-occupied sector of the Golan Heights on Saturday, a military spokesman said. “Today, several shells fired from Syria landed in the central Golan heights, adjacent to the Israel-Syria border,” he told AFP. Israeli military “forces carried out a pinpoint strike, targeting the source of the shooting. A hit was confirmed.” The spokesman said at least three shells were confirmed to have hit Israel. He could not say whether the army considered the incidents cases of stray fire spilling over from the conflict in Syria.

Blasts rock northern Israel as rockets fired from Lebanon
GESHER HAZIV, Israel (AFP) 22 Aug — Explosions were heard near Israel’s border with Lebanon on Thursday, witnesses and AFP correspondents said, as Lebanese security sources said militants had fired four rockets at Israel. Witnesses reported hearing several blasts near the northern coastal town of Nahariya. The Israeli army said that none of the rockets had hit the ground inside Israel. But an AFP correspondent reported a hole in the ground in Gesher Haziv, a kibbutz east of Nahariya, with debris causing damage to two cars and a number of homes nearby.

Israeli planes bomb a PFLP-GC position in Beirut
BEIRUT (PIC) 23 Aug — Israeli warplanes Thursday night bombed a position belonging to the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine General Command (PFLP-GC) in Na’ama neighborhood in southern Beirut. Media reports said that the airstrike did not result in any human casualties. The Israeli military claimed that the airstrike was in response to the firing of four rockets from Lebanon at  the northern 1948-occupied Palestinian territories, adding that the position that was targeted in southern Beirut sustained a direct hit.

Palestinian film to premiere at Toronto Film Festival
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 21 Aug — A film [Waiting] by Palestinian director Rashid Masharawi has been officially announced to compete at Toronto International Film Festival which will kick off on Sept. 5 … The film, according to Abu Askar, was shot in several West Bank cities in about six weeks. Dozens of Palestinian, Arab and international technicians worked on the film which starred Palestinian actors both from the West Bank and Israel in addition to hundreds of extras. It is directed by Rashid Mashawari whose previous project Laila’s Birthday was a critical success. His new film follows two brothers who were rendered homeless by an Israeli airstrike as they try to raise enough money to move to Canada.

Analysis / Opinion

Express delivery for Israel’s war diamonds / David Cronin
Electronic Intifada 23 Aug — Antwerp is a favorite location for those who are in a hurry to help Israeli apartheid. A few minutes’ stroll from the central train station in Belgium’s second city, I found posters for a new express delivery service run by the Israeli firm Malca-Amit. “Simply hand over your shipments to Malca-Amit offices in Tel Aviv by the end of working day and the next morning, they’ll already be at Antwerp’s diamond office by 9.30am at the latest,” they read. To show that the firm means business, an armored truck was parked right outside its Antwerp office. “Delivering peace of mind,” a sign above it declared. The motto is particularly inappropriate, when you consider that diamonds are of critical importance to Israel, a state addicted to war. Israel is the third largest exporter of polished diamonds in the world. According to Israel’s trade ministry, these sales were worth $5.6 billion in 2012. Malca-Amit started its accelerated delivery service over the past few months. It is one of several private security firms involved in the gem trade between Belgium and Israel. Around the corner from its Antwerp office, I noticed the unmistakable logo of G4S, a company that has become infamous for providing equipment to Israeli jails in the occupied West Bank.

Homeland security made in Israel / Philip Giraldi
Antiwar 22 Aug — …The American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) is also involved in the effort to indoctrinate the U.S. law enforcement community. Its website’s Homeland Security Monitor chronicles numerous meetings between Israeli intelligence and police officials and their U.S. counterparts, to include numerous trips to Israel to learn from the masters of the craft about various aspects of security, including controlling borders and airports. Even firemen have made the journey, presumably to learn how a fire in Israel differs from a fire in the United States. Ironically, American law enforcement and emergency services are every bit as capable as those in Israel and really have nothing to learn. The difference in practice is that Israel uses extensive profiling to identify threats, which means Arabs are regularly stopped and questioned. Exposure to that dubious technique is often paid for by the U.S. taxpayer as much of the travel to Israel is funded by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), which provides billions of dollars in training grants to cover the expenses.

Israel’s booming Occupation tourism / Dr. Sarah Marusek
MEMO 23 Aug — When Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu came to Washington two years ago, the US Congress gave him 29 standing ovations, four more than they had given to President Obama during his State of the Union address earlier that year, leaving some to wonder which leader is the real decider-in-chief of the US. Last month at the confirmation hearing for her new role as US ambassador to the United Nations, Samantha Power’s short opening statement to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee mentioned Israel eight times. She was confirmed immediately. Yes, we all know that Congress hearts Israel. But supporting Israel is one thing; how is it possible that US policymakers are all Israel-firsters? Well, every summer US legislators travel around the world on “fact-finding trips” at the expense of lobbyists. And over the years, their number one foreign destination has been, you guessed it, Israel. The American Israel Education Foundation recently financed two such trips to Israel and the West Bank for more than 60 members of the House of Representatives, both Democrats and Republicans, along with some of their aides. The New York Times reports that, so far “hundreds of Washington lawmakers have” gone to Israel courtesy of this program.

The irony of tut-tutting ‘Arab nature’ / Sefi Rachlevsky
Haaretz 22 Aug — Many Israelis, including those who stride the corridors of power, look at the bloodshed in Egypt and Syria and mutter: “It’s the Arab nature.” Even Uri Savir, one of the people behind the Oslo Accords, declared this week that our neighbors “aren’t Swiss.” Just a few decades ago Europeans murdered more than 100 million people during 31 years of horror. Was that a manifestation of “European nature”? “White nature”? “European murderousness”? … As circumstances change, people and cultures change their behavior radically. Instead of adding racism with talk of “nature,” we would do better to see to the cultural circumstances, to expand the humanity of each person to include as many as possible. This patently obvious statement does not bear mentioning under normal circumstances. But the circumstances are not normal. The remarks of Daniel Seaman – an ideological associate of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his choice for heading up Israeli public relations – about “Arab nature,” reported by Barak Ravid in Haaretz, are just an example of the prevailing governmental winds in Israel. (listserv) (archive)

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View all comments “Warschawski describes the atrocities of the occupation—from the sack of Ramallah to the massacre in Jenin, the razing of houses and refugee camps, shooting at ambulances and hospitals, the use of Palestinian civilians as human shields—showing how each of these pushes back the boundaries of what was previously thinkable.… Read more » “The Dutch government has asked the country’s largest engineering company to rethink its participation in a project with the Jerusalem municipality because the project is based on the Palestinian side of the 1967 border. Foreign Ministry officials fear that this will be a trend in Europe, not an isolated… Read more »