Land, property theft & destruction / Ethnic cleansing
Man forced to demolish own home in East Jerusalem
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 18 Aug — A Palestinian from Jerusalem was forced to demolish his own home on Sunday after Israeli authorities declared that the property was unlicensed. Ziad Ameira told Ma‘an that he built his home in the Sur Bahir area of East Jerusalem 15 years ago on land inherited from his father. Nine family members lived on the property. “Despite the difficult situation for the members of my family, today and yesterday I demolished the house that I lived in for 13 years as a result of the decision of the occupation’s municipal court,” Ameira told Ma‘an. He chose to demolish his home to avoid a 73,000 shekel ($20,400) fine imposed by the Jerusalem municipality for destruction costs. Ameira still had to pay 25,000 shekels ($7,000) to hire a bulldozer and trucks to transport the rubble. Israel’s Jerusalem municipality issued a demolition order for the home 20 days after the family first moved in, but Ameira was able to postpone it by paying multiple fines and mounting several legal challenges … Palestinian homes are usually demolished under the pretext of not having a building permit. Figures from Israeli NGO Bimkom show that 95 percent of Palestinian applications for a building permit are rejected.
From the rubble, Palestinian village of Kafr Birim declares its return
Akka (Al-Akhbar) 16 Aug by Rasha Hilwi — It’s 7:30 am and the morning air is still cold from the night before. In the square of Kafr Birim’s church, groups participate in the 24th annual summer camp called, “Return of the Blossoms.” The festival’s name is a play on the village’s name, which means hamlet of blossoms. Organized by al-Awda, meaning the Return, the camp’s participants range in age from 2 to 18. They begin their day by singing the depopulated village’s national anthem, written by Kafr Birim’s son and poet Tony Andraos. “Keep your hand in mine / to protect the land / for whose sake life is sacrificed / I swear I will redeem it with my soul.” Kafr Birim is a northern Palestinian village located four kilometers from the Lebanese border. Toward the end of October 1948, the village was occupied as part of Operation Hiram. On 13 October 1948, an Israeli officer ordered all villagers to leave their homes and head toward Lebanon. In September 1953, the Israeli air force bombed Kafr Birim, destroying all buildings except for the church and school. The villagers watched the bombing of their village from a hill two kilometers away. The hill is now called the Wailing Hill.
Israel starts illegal construction, destroying field of olive trees on private Palestinian land near village of Immatin
[with 1-min. video] Immatin, Occupied Palestine (ISM) 17 Aug by Nablus Team — Immatin is a village situated in close proximity to the annexation wall and flanked by the illegal settlements of Qedumim, Gilad and Immanu’el. Recently, three brothers from the village went to work on their land. However, when they arrived, they found that construction workers, under instruction from the Israeli authorities, were bulldozing and clearing areas of the land to erect electricity pylons. The brothers had not received any verbal or written request to use the land nor had they received any order that would confiscate it. The brothers tried to stop the work, as the land is used for olive trees by the family and they fear the destruction of the trees. However the army were then called by the construction workers who when arriving threatened to beat and then arrest the brothers unless they left. The army said that the building work would be between the olive trees, but it is not known what will happen in the future, nor if it will still be permitted for them to access their own land, once these Israeli power lines are in place. When threatened with arrest the brothers left their land, powerless to assert their property and individual rights because they are Palestinian.
World Zionist Organization funneled NIS 400,000 into infrastructure at illegal West Bank outpost
Haaretz 19 Aug by Chaim Levinson — The World Zionist Organization’s Settlement Division has financed NIS 400,000 worth of infrastructure work in the West Bank outpost of Negohot, even though the work was carried out without building permits. Negohot, located in the western Hebron Hills, was built on the ruins of an army outpost in 1998. Over the years, the Housing Ministry built permanent houses there, and another outpost, called Mitzpeh Lachish, was set up nearby. Together, these two outposts are home to some 50 families. But neither has ever had an approved master plan, and therefore, there is no way to issue legal building permits.
Protection against earthquakes plan aims to promote settlement activity, says committee
RAMALLAH (WAFA) 18 Aug – The Islamic-Christian Committee to support Jerusalem and holy sites Sunday stated that the new Israeli regional structural plan to protect buildings from earthquakes aims to promote settlement construction in the city of Jerusalem. Hanna Issa, Secretary General of the committee, said that the plan – known as A38 – aims to “make substantial changes to the construction in the old city of Jerusalem under the pretext of protecting buildings from earthquakes.” Hanna claimed that Israel aims to obliterate any Arab presence in the holy city, as it continues with its settlement plans
Netanyahu: “Israel will always maintain sovereignty on settlements, new ‘Jewish neighborhoods'”
IMEMC 17 Aug — Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, stated during his recent meeting with UN General-Secretary, Ban Ki-moon, that Israel will continue to build and expand settlements in occupied East Jerusalem, and that settlements, and what he labeled as “new neighborhoods” and settlement blocs will always remain under Israeli sovereignty. During his meeting with Ki-moon two days ago, Netanyahu said that there is nothing to discuss or negotiate on regarding Israel’s settlements. “Everybody knows new Jewish neighborhoods in Jerusalem, all settlement blocs, will always remain under Israeli control”, he said, “There is nothing to talk about, there will be no discussion on the issue.”
Jewish settlers desecrate Aqsa plazas
OCCUPIED JERUSALEM (PIC) 18 Aug — Groups of Jewish settlers entered the holy Aqsa mosque compound on Sunday and strolled in its yards under heavy police protection. Aqsa guards said that the settlers broke into the mosque through the Maghareba gate and performed rituals, adding that Muslim worshippers protested the step and chanted Allah Akbar during the settlers’ tour. They said that around 200 foreign tourists also entered the holy site “half-naked” and toured its plazas.
Restriction of movement
Israel bans ex-prisoner from entering West Bank
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 17 Aug — Israeli forces have banned a recently freed Palestinian prisoner from entering the West Bank, citing security concerns. Alaa al-Ali said he received a warrant this week from Israeli forces prohibiting him from entering the West Bank, reportedly to protect the “security of the state.” Al-Ali, from Jerusalem, was released three months ago after spending 12 years in an Israeli prison.
Delayed West Asia Youth Tournament to open on Sunday
RAMALLAH (WAFA) 17 Aug – The West Asia Youth Tournament planned for the Palestinian areas will start on Sunday in spite of a delay by few days due to attempts by Israel to prevent members of the guest teams to reach Palestine, the organizing committee announced on Saturday. It said the games between teams from the United Arab Emirates, Iraq, Jordan and Palestine will open on Sunday and will continue until the end of the week. All games will be held at Faisal Husseini stadium in Ram, just outside Jerusalem. The Palestinian Football Association has threatened to complain Israel the FIFA congress for not allowing some administrators in the guest teams to reach the West Bank
Violence / Raids / Attacks / Clashes / Illegal arrests
Video: Nablus, Palestine, under attack 16 August
3:05 ISM Palestine Nablus Team — The army attack Nablus, in the old city, at 3 am of 16 August. They have arrested one woman and shoot sound bomb and tear gas.
Video: Soldiers violently attack and arrest peaceful protesters in Al-Ma‘sarah
2:46 Al-Ma‘sara, Occupied Palestine (ISM) 17 Aug by Khalil Team — Yesterday, the 16th August, four people were violently arrested at a peaceful demonstration taking place near the village of Al-Ma‘sara, on the outskirts of Hebron (Al Khalil). Around sixty demonstrators calling for the dismantlement of illegal Israeli settlements upon Palestinian land were attacked immediately. Although the protesters had planned to go to the Gush Etzion illegal settlement bloc, to once again construct the Canaan protest village, they were prevented as the protest was disbanded by Israeli soldiers within minutes. Those who had been arrested were later released … Local Palestinians are incensed by the continuous settlement expansion and subsequent annexation of their land that deliberately prevents farmers from harvesting their crops. This disabling act of aggression has led to local Palestinian families being financially crippled. As an act of resistance, the local people regularly hold peaceful demonstrations that are consistently met with force from the Israeli occupation. These acts, usually held on Friday – Juma‘a – often use symbolism to convey their message. Two weeks ago the locals erected a tent on occupied Palestinian land, as a mark of resistance to the Israeli settlements.
Israeli military terrorize town of Beita — full day raid, three arrested
BEITA, Occupied Palestine (ISM) 18 Aug by Nablus Team — On the 16th August 2013 [Friday], Israeli occupation forces blockaded the village of Beita, near Nablus, stopping movement in or out. They proceeded to spend the hours of 10am to 7pm attacking the village with teargas, rubber-coated steel bullets and sound grenades. One fourteen-year-old boy was injured with a rubber bullet to the leg and three others were arrested. Their current legal status is unknown.
At around 10am, around eleven jeeps arrived in the area, proceeding to completely surround the village of Beita. Several jeeps blocked each access road to the village, completely restricting freedom of movement. Soldiers in military vehicles then drove into the village, the residents of which were now completely trapped. Storming through the village soldiers shot teargas and sound bombs, some of which were seemingly deliberately fired directly into homes … Nineteen-year-old Abdel Aziz was working in his father’s shop during the incursion, but closed the doors when the army approached the area. Going up onto the roof, he watched as the teargas fell in the village. Around seven soldiers, having seen him on the roof, came to the front door and started banging at it. When Abdel Aziz came to the door, they pushed him inside and immediately started to beat him. He was then dragged outside and searched violently at the jeep. His father and brother, who witnessed the arrest, said that he was then hit in the head and brutally pushed into a jeep, where he was blindfolded and handcuffed. Abdel Aziz is due to start studying law at university in less than two weeks time on the 1st of September. However, his family are concerned that he will not be released in time to begin his course. His father said today “his mother is the most concerned — she is very upset.”
Soldiers invade village near Nablus, kidnap five Palestinians
IMEMC 17 Aug — Dozens of Israeli soldiers invaded, on Friday evening, the village of Beita south of the northern West Bank city of Nablus, and kidnapped five Palestinians; clashes and injuries have been reported. Local sources said that dozens of soldiers invaded the village, broke into and violently searched several homes, causing property damage, and kidnapped the five Palestinians, the Maan News Agency has reported. Four of the kidnapped residents have been identified as Mazin Fawzi Dweikat, 19, Mansour Ahmad Hamayel, 22, Ammar Yousef Hamayel, 21, and Azzouz Mousa Hamayel, 17. The sources added that the soldiers also fired dozens of flares, gas bombs and concussion grenades in a number of neighborhoods in the village. The army claimed that the invasion was carried out after Molotov cocktails was hurled at Israeli military vehicles driving at the Beita Junction, south of the village.
Witnesses: Israeli forces detain 2 teens in Nablus village
NABLUS (Ma‘an) 18 Aug — Israeli forces raided a Nablus village overnight [Sat 17 Aug] and arrested two teenagers, locals said. A number of Israeli military vehicles entered Beita village and raided several homes, arresting Amin Ahmad Sayed, 19, and Munther Aysar Sayed, 18. Soldiers fired tear gas and sound bombs, locals added. An Israeli spokeswoman said one person was detained overnight in Beit Fajjar, south of Bethlehem.
Army invades ‘Aida refugee camp in Bethlehem
IMEMC — [Sunday August 18, 2013] Dozens of Israeli soldiers invaded the ‘Aida refugee camp in Bethlehem, and clashes with dozens of local youths, local sources have reported. The sources said that dozens of youths hurled stones and empty bottles at the invading soldiers, and that the army fired gas bombs, and rubber-coated metal bullets; no injuries have been reported, the Palestine News Network (PNN) has reported. The soldiers withdrew from the refugee camp later on without conducting any arrests.
In related news, Israeli media sources have reported that two Molotov cocktails were hurled at an Israeli settler’s vehicles driving on settler road #60, near the Al-Khader town, west of Bethlehem. The army reported no injuries
Report: Shepherd attacked with iron rod
Ynet 18 Aug by Itamar Fleishman — A shepherd was attacked Sunday near the Migron outpost by masked men, witnesses reported. The victim, 47, was evacuated to the Ramallah hospital with moderate to severe head injuries … The attack occurred Sunday morning, as a group of shepherds from the village of Mukhamas crossed an underground tunnel under Route 60, and came across a group of masked men at the other end. Najeh Abu Ali, who finished crossing first, said six men in masks attacked him with sticks and sharp objects. The victim added that the men beat him on his head, stabbed him and several of his sheep. The shepherds who crossed the tunnel after Abu Ali, saw the assailants only as they were fleeing the scene, leaving Abu Ali bruised and beaten. The victim’s friends then carried him to the road, where they managed to stop a car to take him to a hospital. According to one of his friends, the hospital found that Abu Ali had multiple fractures in his body and needed 75 stitches to his head and torso.
Israeli forces arrest two shepherds near Hebron
HEBRON (WAFA) 17 Aug – Israeli forces Saturday arrested two brothers from the town of as-Samu‘, south of Hebron, according to Security sources. They told WAFA that Israeli soldiers arrested the two brothers, who work as shepherds, and erected military checkpoints at the entrances of the towns of Sa‘ir and Halhul north of Hebron and al-Fawwar refugee camp and Kharsa village to the south. They also searched the cars of the residents and inspected their personal document
Israeli forces arrest youth, summon three
BETHLEHEM (WAFA) 18 Aug – Israeli forces Sunday arrested a youth from Bethlehem and notified another three to refer to Israeli intelligence, said security sources. They told WAFA that a 24-year-old from the town of Beit Fajjar, south of Bethlehem was arrested after raiding his house and searching it. Meanwhile, Israeli soldiers handed three Palestinians notices to refer to the Israeli intelligence in the Gush Etzion settlement bloc south of the city.
Meanwhile in Jenin, Israeli soldiers notified two youth from the villages of Fagua [Faqqu‘a?] and Beit Qad, east of the city. Security sources said that Israeli soldiers raided their houses at dawn and handed them orders to refer to the intelligence in Salem military camp west of Jenin.
OCHA Protection of Civilians Weekly Report 6-12 August 2013
WEST BANK — Injuries remain below 2013 weekly average: This week, 24 Palestinians, including three children, were injured by Israeli forces in the West Bank, roughly the same as the weekly average for the previous four weeks (23) … Low frequency of settler-related incidents continues: OCHA recorded four incidents involving Israeli settlers that resulted in Palestinian casualties or damage to Palestinian-owned property, resulting in one Palestinian injury. Thus far in 2013, OCHA has recorded an average of seven settler-related incidents per week. Lull in demolitions continues: Continuing the trend that began with the start of Ramadan (10 July), there were no demolitions recorded in Area C or East Jerusalem. However, on 11 August, the Israeli Civil Administration delivered a notice to a Bedouin community next to Az Za‘ayyem town (Jerusalem) giving them three days to object to eight previous demolition orders issued against residential and livelihood structures in May 2011…. GAZA STRIP: One Palestinian killed and another one injured in ARA:This week, in two separate incidents, Israeli forces shot and killed a Palestinian man and injured another, while enforcing restrictions on Palestinian access to areas near the fence separating Israel and the Gaza Strip. This week’s casualties bring the number of Palestinians killed by Israeli forces since the announcement of the Egyptian-brokered cease-fire between Israel and Hamas on 21 November 2012 to five and the number of injured to 12
IOF soldiers round up 94 Palestinians last week
RAMALLAH (PIC) 18 Aug — Israeli occupation forces (IOF) rounded up 94 Palestinians in various West Bank areas over the past week, Hamas statistics revealed on Sunday. The movement’s report said that IOF soldiers did not desist from their policy of storming houses and terrorizing citizens. It pointed out that the arrests were made after Israel had released 26 Palestinians, who have been in jail since pre-Oslo accords, to signal the re-launch of negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority. The report said that the biggest number of arrests was made in Ramallah followed by Nablus. It said that the detainees included eight liberated prisoners, three of them women, while seven were ex-detainees in PA jails.
Red Cross concerned over hunger-striking Palestinians
JERUSALEM (AFP) 17 Aug — The International Committee of the Red Cross said on Saturday it is “extremely concerned” over the health of seven hunger-striking Palestinians held by Israel. “The ICRC is particularly worried about Imad Abdelaziz Abdallah Al Batran, who has been on hunger strike for several weeks,” the ICRC said in a statement. Juan Pedro Schaerer, the head of the ICRC delegation in Israel and the Palestinian territories, said Batran’s life was at “immediate risk unless the detaining authorities find a prompt solution”. The Red Cross added any solution must take into account that detainees cannot be forced to be fed or receive medical treatment … [Palestinian Prisoners’ Society] spokesman Sarahna said there were currently eight Palestinians held by Israel on hunger strike, some long-term prisoners and others detainees, including one who had recently began refusing food. He said they were being held in Israeli hospitals and not prisons.
Administrative detainees launch protest steps against administrative detention
NABLUS (PIC) 17 Aug — Administrative detainees in the Israeli occupation jails announced launching protest steps against policy of administrative detention at the beginning of September that will develop into open hunger strike in October. Fouad Khuffash, director of the Ahrar Center for Prisoners’ Studies and Human Rights, said that after discussions, the prisoners in the Negev and Ofer prisons decided to start protest steps in rejection of the policy of administrative detention. The prisoners called for supporting them at the popular and media levels, to help them achieve their demands. There are approximately 180 prisoners held under administrative detention, without trial or charge, in the Israeli jails mostly in the Negev desert prison.
‘We derive our energy to persist from you’, Hassan Karajah writes from Israeli prison
Electronic Intifada 17 Aug by Nour Joudah — Eight months ago, during a night raid in January 2013, 29-yr-old Hassan Karajah was arrested by Israeli occupation forces. Karajah, a youth coordinator for the Stop the Wall campaign, has been accused of actively supporting Palestinian prisoners and participating in a student group affiliated with the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP). Human rights advocates insist his arrest and imprisonment is just another example of Israeli intimidation of Palestinians who speak out and work for organizations that highlight abuses by the occupation … Despite health concerns and lack of access to his family, Karajah, seems to be taking on the role of so many prisoners who write open letters. From behind bars and with freedom snatched away, it is Hassan who is sending his friends, family, and community reassurance, encouragement, and positivity. But those who know Karajah are not surprised. Yassmine Hamayel, a friend of Hassan’s, describes his “creativity and optimism” as so present in his energy that he makes one feel “as if Palestine was not lost.”
Gaza official: Palestinians unable to cross into Egypt
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 18 Aug — Palestinians are not being allowed to cross into Egypt via the Rafah crossing, a Hamas official said Sunday. Maher Abu Sabha, general director of the ministry of interior in Gaza, told Ma‘an that the Rafah crossing was open on Saturday, but no passengers from Gaza were allowed to cross over. “The Egyptian side asked us to allow only one bus to enter and we prepared it and sent it to the Egyptian side, however, no passengers were allowed before 2 p.m and after, 50 travelers were allowed into Gaza, but no Palestinians were allowed into Egypt at all,” he said …
On Saturday Egypt “reopened the Rafah crossing to allow through international travelers” who hold foreign passports and “humanitarian cases,” Gaza’s interior ministry said. Days earlier, Egypt announced it was closing “indefinitely” the Rafah crossing for security reasons a day after deadly violence nationwide.
Egyptian authorities partially open Rafah crossing
RAFAH (PIC) 18 Aug — The Egyptian authorities opened the Rafah border crossing between Sinai and Gaza Strip only partially on Sunday morning. Maher Abu Sabha, the director of crossings, told the PIC reporter that the Egyptian authorities opened the crossing at 11.00 am local time and said it would remain open until 03.00 pm. He said that the Egyptian authorities said that the crossing would be open in both directions but would only allow holders of foreign residences and sick people to enter Egypt from Gaza.
Hamas calls for biggest ever sea convoy to bust Gaza blockade
GAZA (PIC) 18 Aug — Hamas movement called on free people of the region and the world to exert all efforts possible to lift the siege on Gaza Strip especially after the closure of Rafah crossing and destruction of most of the tunnels. Dr. Sami Abu Zuhri, a Hamas spokesman, called in a press release on Sunday for organizing the biggest ever sea convoy to Gaza to break its siege after the latest developments. The Gaza Strip has been under siege since 2006 but its impact gravely worsened following the 30th June events in Egypt, as the Egyptian army destroyed Rafah tunnels and blocked entry of goods into the coastal enclave while almost completely closing the Rafah crossing.
Israeli navy arrests three Palestinian swimmers off Gaza coast
GAZA (PIC) 18 Aug — Israeli navy forces detained three Palestinians at the pretext of swimming toward the restricted sea area off the coast of Gaza Strip on Saturday. Hebrew press reported that the Israeli navy spotted the three while swimming toward the out-of-bound area and took them in. Palestinian security sources said that the three were fishermen and were all from Shati refugee camp to the west of Gaza city.
Dozens protest outside Ma‘an Gaza office
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 17 Aug — Dozens of people demonstrated outside Ma‘an News Agency’s Gaza bureau on Saturday to protest the agency’s coverage of events in Egypt and Gaza. Over 20 people chanted slogans denouncing the news agency and its editor-in-chief, Nasser Laham. The Hamas-run ministry of interior in Gaza published a statement late Friday accusing Ma‘an of publishing lies about the Gaza Strip, without providing further details. Head of the Palestinian journalists syndicate Abdul-Nasser Najjar told Ma’an Saturday that Hamas had ordered the demonstration against Ma‘an, saying that the Islamist group aims to terrorize media institutions and stands against pluralism. All journalists that participated in the protest will be blacklisted from the syndicate, he added … Ma‘an’s Gaza bureau has been closed since July 25 …
Commenting on the accusations, Ma‘an’s editor-in-chief Nasser Lahham said “some people in Gaza seemingly went mad after the Muslim Brotherhood rule was ousted in Egypt. “They take any possible occasion to wage tough attacks against Ma‘an News Agency for no reason…”
Israel’s white phosphorus smokescreen?
Palestine Chronicle 17 Aug by Sarah Louis — On 26th April 2013, the BBC reported on its website that Israel was going to stop using white phosphorous in its shells and replace it with a gas. This important declaration was largely ignored by the British media as the timing of Israel’s announcement came whilst they and the public were fixated on the conflicting reports concerning the authenticity of the ‘evidence’ that Syria had been using illegal weapons. The British newspaper The Telegraph in fact presented this news as the introduction into an article reporting on the shooting down of a drone by Israel that had been flying over Lebanon. Israel’s position on accusations that it had used white phosphorous in its shells has considerably shifted over the years, in a similar pattern of denials to that used by the USA. Israel initially denied that white phosphorous had been used at all, to eventually admitting that, yes they had used white phosphorous but only to create a smokescreen. Israel’s welcome April 2013 declaration that shells containing white phosphorous were going to be ‘removed from active duty soon’ is not apparently due to its illegality or because of the terrible injuries it inflicts but because, ‘according to a senior officer, white phosphorous “does not look good, as we saw in Operation Cast Lead.”
Tending the war graves of Gaza City
The Guardian 18 Aug by Harriet Sherwood — Ibrahim Jeradeh took care of the cemetery outside Gaza City for 45 years: it’s both a picnic spot and testament to generations of conflict — A sandy track flanked by tall cypress trees, a limestone arch, a low wall against which deep red roses are in bloom, an emerald lawn studded with marble headstones. Away from the ubiquitous drab of Gaza City lies a corner of a foreign field that is forever England. Or, rather, England and the Commonwealth. The graves of 3,217 servicemen who died in Gaza during the first world war lie in this small oasis located behind the walls and fences that enclose the tiny coastal territory. Almost 800 of the headstones are without names, marked “Soldier of the Great War, known unto God”.
Hamas vs. Fatah
Hamas security forces detain PA officers in Gaza
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 17 Aug — Security forces of the Hamas-run government in the Gaza Strip on Friday detained two Palestinian Authority security officers. Hamas security forces ransacked several homes in the Fadil Rayhan neighborhood in northern Gaza, a Ma’an reporter said. They detained Zakariyya Shehada, an officer in the Fatah-led Palestinian Authority’s Preventive Security Services, and his son Jihad, and confiscated a computer and mobile phones from Shehada’s apartment. Hamas forces also ransacked the home of PSS officer Khalid Judah. He was taken to an interrogation center
Fatah: Hamas targeting members in north Gaza
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 18 Aug — Hamas’ internal security forces are escalating their campaign against Fatah members in the northern Gaza Strip, Fatah said Sunday. Hamas forces summoned Fatah member Abdullah Yaghi for interrogation, and summoned and detained Fatah affiliates Abdullah Al-Majdalawi and Mohammad Zeidan, Fatah said in a statement. Fatah’s Abdul Aziz al-Muqadameh has been detained for over a week, it added. Fatah said its members and leaders are being targeted in northern Gaza as part of a Hamas campaign against the movement. It blamed the campaign on Hamas’ fear over the fall of its parent movement in Egypt, the Muslim Brotherhood…
A reconciliation deal signed by Fatah and Hamas in May 2011 entailed pledges to stop politically motivated arrests, but the agreement has not been implemented.
Hamas: PA security forces arrest 6 West Bank members
BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) 18 Aug — Palestinian Authority security forces detained six Hamas affiliates on Sunday across the West Bank, a statement from the Islamist group said. PA forces made the arrests in Salfit, Hebron and Jenin, Hamas said.
PA ‘waiting on Egypt outcome’ for reconciliation push
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 15 Aug — The Palestinian Authority is waiting on the outcome of the crisis in Egypt to move forward on reconciliation with Hamas, a senior PLO official said Thursday … Cairo has hosted several rounds of reconciliation talks between the rival Palestinian movements.
Israeli PR head issued warnings over racist, offensive Facebook postings
IMEMC 19 Aug by Celine Hagbard — Danny Seaman, who recently became the head of Israel’s ‘Internet Hasbara (Hebrew for Propaganda)’ branch of the government, has been issued a warning by the Netanyahu administration for a series of racist and offensive postings against Palestinians, Arabs, Muslims and Japanese people on his Facebook page. As head of the Internet Hasbara program, Seaman is tasked with promoting Israel, while downplaying the Israeli occupation of Palestinian land and continued human rights abuses, in an effort to sell the world a more ‘positive vision of Israel’. To that end, he has begun a program to pay college students around the world to say positive things about Israel on their social networks and campuses. But on his own Facebook page, Seaman has engaged in numerous statements that are anything but positive. In a comment about the attempts to re-start negotiations with Palestinian chief negotiator Saeb Erekat, Seaman wrote, “Is there a diplomatic way of saying ‘Go F*** yourself’?”
Arab couple’s home in upscale community defaced
Ynet 17 Aug by Hassan Shaalan – Graffiti has been found in the Rakefet community in northern Israel, sprayed on the home of Fatna and Ahmed Zubeidat, an Arab couple who won a Supreme Court appeal against the community that refused their bid to purchase a lot due to “social incompatibility.” The house, currently under construction, has been defaced with an inscription reading “no loyalty – no citizenship.”
Following parents’ complaint, Education Ministry circulars to be translated into Arabic
Haaretz 19 Aug by Yarden Skop — In response to parental complaints, the Education Ministry recently announced that as of the coming school year, all circulars issued by its director general will be translated into Arabic. Until now, the circulars – which detail ministry regulations on a wide variety of subjects, such as parental payments, school trips and safety rules – have been issued only in Hebrew.
Israel encouraging preschool literacy – just not among Arabs
Haaretz 14 Aug by Yarden Skop — Officials from the Follow-Up Committee on Arab Education last week asked Education Minister Shay Piron to reinstate a pre-school reading-encouragement program which two years ago was discontinued in the Arab sector. The program, which is still running in Hebrew-language kindergartens, was cut “due to budgetary considerations,” according to Education Ministry officials.
Political and other news
Israeli, Palestinian officials meet in Budapest
IMEMC 18 Aug — Israel and Palestinian officials held a meeting, last week, in the Hungarian capital, Budapest, and discussed the efforts to ensure the continuation of the recently resumed direct peace talks, mediated by the United States. Israeli daily Maariv reported Sunday that members of Knesset (MK’s) of the Yesh Atid Party (There is Future) Dov Lipman, Boaz Toporovsky, and Yifat Kariv, in addition to MK Moshe Mizrahi of the Labor Party and David Tsur of the Hatenua Party, met with Fateh officials Qaddoura Fares and Sameeh Al-Abed, legislators Abdullah Abdullah, and Jamal Zaqqout. MK Kariv stated that the meeting was held to help boost direct peace talks between the Palestinians and Israel. “The sooner we achieve the two-state solution, the better it is for both sides”, she said, “I left the meeting knowing we can talk with them”.
US to send $148 million to PA
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 18 Aug – US consul general in Jerusalem Michael Ratney signed an agreement Sunday with Palestinian caretaker prime minister Rami Hamdallah upon which the US will pay the Palestinian Authority $148 million … Hamdallah applauded the US government for supporting the Palestinian people financially and noted that the latest grant would help Palestinian institutions continue to provide services to citizens. Ratney, for his part, asserted that his country would continue to support the Palestinian people and the PA’s efforts to develop state institutions. In August, US President Barack Obama decided to waive restrictions set by Congress to allow sending money to the PA in order to bolster the Palestinian leadership after it resumed talks with Israel.
Report: Israel promised al-Sisi US aid would not be affected
Ynet 17 Aug by Yitzhak Benhorin — The White House was unprepared for what is happening in Egypt, The New York Times reported on Saturday, quoting diplomatic sources that said that Israel and Egyptian Defense Minister General Abdel Fatah al-Sisi have been in close contact. These same diplomats say that Israel assured Egypt it did not have to worry about the US threat to cut its enormous aid package to that country. The US is in no hurry to stop its aid to Egypt, which would severely damage its relations with the Egyptian army. The Egyptians allow the Americans to move their military forces, quickly and almost without warning, over Egyptian skies and the Suez Canal, which is a necessity for its activities in the war on terror in the Horn of Africa, the Persian Gulf, Afghanistan, and the area of Israel and the Gaza Strip … What really threatens US-Egypt ties is the demand of some senior US senators to freeze aid to Egypt, including $1.3 billion in military aid and $250 million in economic aid.
Report: Israel urges West to back Egypt’s military
Ynet 19 Aug — Jerusalem launching campaign to urge Europe, United States to support military-backed government in Egypt, New York Times reports. ‘What’s the alternative? it’s army or anarchy,’ says Israeli official
Thousands rally for Morsi in Nazareth
NAZARETH, Israel (AFP) 17 Aug — Thousands of Palestinian supporters of the Islamic Movement in Israel demonstrated on Saturday in support of Egypt’s ousted Islamist president Mohamed Morsi, an AFP correspondent said. Around 4,000 people led by firebrand preacher Sheikh Raed Salah, head of the northern branch of the Islamic Movement, took part in the protest in the northern city of Nazareth, the correspondent said. The demonstrators marched holding Egyptian flags as well as pictures of Morsi and chanting against Egyptian army chief Abdel Fattah al-Sisi who led the overthrow of Morsi, claiming he was “taking orders from the US.” A police spokeswoman said the demonstration passed without event. Pro-Morsi rallies took place on Friday in Jerusalem’s Old City and in the West Bank city of Hebron, attended mostly by supporters of Hamas. Some of the participants in the Friday rallies accused Sisi of collaborating with Israel, where officials have refrained from commenting on the events in Egypt.
Palestinian child prodigy becomes doctor at age 20
Abu Dhabi 18 Aug by Elizabeth Dickinson — Iqbal Al Assaad was not just a prodigy as a child, she was a prodigy with a dream – to become a doctor and help the Palestinian relatives she visited in refugee camps while she was growing up in Lebanon. She graduated from high school, top of her class, at the age of 12. Already, she had mastered the biochemistry and mathematics she would need for medical school. By the age of 13, Iqbal had not only learnt to drive, she had caught the eye of Lebanon’s education minister, who helped her to secure a medical scholarship in Qatar. And this year, at 20, she became not only the youngest ever medical graduate from Cornell University’s Qatar branch, but possibly the youngest Arab doctor ever…
There is just one problem: Iqbal cannot work as a doctor in Lebanon, the country of her birth. “My dream is to come back to do something for the Palestinian refugees in the camps, even by opening a free clinic for them,” she says. “But if you’re a Palestinian doctor, you’re not allowed to work in public hospitals.” Medicine is among several dozen professions from which Palestinian refugees are still effectively barred.
Pro-Palestinian students suffer from harassment, police intimidation, and death threats on US campus
MEMO 16 Aug by Dr. Sarah Marusek — Last April, the Zionist Organization of America and the student group Owls for Israel invited Israeli Colonel Bentzi Gruber to speak at Florida Atlantic University (FAU). Gruber was traveling across the US for a series of talks on “Ethics in the Field: An Inside Look at the Israel Defense Forces,” in which he proposes the moral and legal justifications for “Operation Cast Lead,” the 2008-2009 attack on Gaza that Israeli journalist Gideon Levy has described as “a brutal, nearly unrestrained attack on a poor, helpless, besieged population that had nowhere to flee, save the sea, and on armed Palestinian groups, with meager equipment and primitive weaponry.” According to a statement that was published this week, the local chapter of Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP), which counts Jewish students among its members, expressed their concerns to university officials about Gruber’s lecture two days before the event, reminding them that some students on campus had family members killed by the Israeli military during “Operation Cast Lead”. SJP received no response, and so the students decided to stage a protest during Gruber’s lecture … The protest lasted no more than two minutes, during which time some members of the audience called the protesters “spies,” “terrorists,” and other offensive names. They briefly continued their protest outside the event in the company of a police officer. Four months later, the university formally decided to punish the five students who staged the protest, three of whom are still students at FAU.
Questions about the Alice Walker case
Mondoweiss 18 Aug by Barbara Harvey — In a nutshell, the globally worshipped Pulitzer Prize-winning author Alice Walker was invited — and then “disinvited” to be the featured speaker at the U of M Center for the Education of Women celebration of its 50th anniversary, reportedly because donors to the event do not like her views on the Israeli Occupation. The current news is that Prof. Gloria Thomas, the Center director, has privately assured recently retired literature professor Alan Wald that she is now “working on re-extending” “an” invitation … The incident is not resolved yet. The Center director denies that donor pressure influenced her decision and claims that the agent “misunderstood” what happened. And is the “re-extended” invitation an invitation to speak at the Center’s anniversary event? The Provost’s statement –link – suggests that it is not an invitation to the Center’s anniversary celebration. This incident may reveal whether financial donors to the U of M are allowed to veto speakers at official University events or otherwise influence students’ exposure to various perspectives — a question that goes to the academic integrity of the institution…
The sort of behind-the-scenes financial pressure that we fear may have been at work here has been responsible for decades of self-censorship in the U.S. media on this issue, with the result that Americans are the only people in the world who lack balanced and undistorted mainstream media coverage of one of the most important human rights and justice issues of the modern era. We can’t tolerate the same dynamic on U.S. campuses
Analysis / Opinion
Gisha position paper: The maximum possible
August 2013 A guiding principle for Israeli policy on civilian access to and from the Gaza Strip — Israel’s policy toward the Gaza Strip over the past three years has been guided by two different principles, resulting in inconsistencies and contradictions between the actions taken by the security establishment and the rhetoric heard from top officials. The first principle says that restricting the movement of civilians and suppressing economic activity in the Gaza Strip are legitimate and effective means of putting pressure on the Hamas regime and other armed groups in the Gaza Strip. This is the logic that guided the Gaza closure policy between 2007 and 2010, and it continues to be the basis for some of the restrictions on access between the Gaza Strip and the West Bank and Israel, and for access restrictions used as punishment for rocket fire from the Gaza Strip (for example, reducing the fishing zone off Gaza’s coast). The counter-principle says that promoting economic stability in the Gaza Strip is in Israel’s interest and that in order to do so Israel must distinguish between Gaza’s civilian population on the one hand and the Hamas regime and other militant groups with which Israel is engaged in hostilities on the other. Evidence of this concept is found in abundance in publications put out by the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT). Both principles are reflected in the table appearing in the appendix. The results: Some may look at the current policy toward Gaza as the natural outcome of necessary trade-offs and inevitable compromises between different and sometimes contradicting considerations. Yet, this is not the case because the two above-outlined principles undermine one another.
The secret history of democratic thought in the Middle East / Thanassis Cambanis
Boston Globe 18 Aug — Are constitutional ideals alien to the region? Not at all — Is democracy possible in the Middle East? When observers worry about the future of the region, it’s in part because of the dispiriting political narrative that has held sway for much of the last half century. The conventional wisdom is that secular liberalism has been all but wiped out as a political idea in the Middle East. The strains of the 20th century — Western colonial interference, wars with Israel, windfall oil profits, impoverished populations — long ago extinguished any meaningful tradition of openness in its young nations. Totalitarian ideas won the day, whether in the form of repressive Islamic rule, capricious secular dictatorships, or hereditary oligarchs. As a result, the recent flowerings of democracy are planted in such thin soil they may be hopeless. This understanding shapes policy not only in the West, but in the Middle East itself. The American government approaches “democracy promotion” in the Middle East as if it’s introducing some exotic foreign species. Reformists in the Arab world often repeat the canard that politicized Islam is incompatible with democracy to justify savage repression of religious activists. And even after the revolts that began in 2010, a majority of the power brokers in the wider Middle East govern as if popular forces were a nuisance to be placated rather than the source of sovereignty. An alternative strain of thinking, however, is starting to turn those long-held assumptions on their head. Historians and activists are unearthing forgotten chapters of the region’s history, and reassessing well-known figures and incidents, to find a long, deep, indigenous history of democracy, justice, and constitutionalism. They see the recent uprisings in the Arab world as part of a thread that has run through its story for more than a century — and not, as often depicted, a historical fluke. The case is most clearly and recently laid out in a new book called Justice Interrupted: The Struggle for Constitutional Government in the Middle East by Elizabeth F. Thompson, a historian at the University of Virginia. Thompson sees the thirst for justice and reform blossoming as long as 400 years ago, when the region was in the hands of the Ottoman Empire.
VIDEO: Ramzy Baroud, The reality of war in the Middle East
Palestine Chronicle 14 Aug — Ramzy Baroud speaks to the Post Globalization Initiative on the reality of war in the Middle East . Baroud is an internationally-syndicated columnist and the editor of PalestineChronicle.com. His latest book is: My Father was A Freedom Fighter: Gaza’s Untold Story (Pluto Press).
Editorial: Will Israel’s Arabs get a say in its future?
LA Times 9 Aug — Once again, the country wrestles with the difficulty of being a Jewish state and a democratic one at the same time — There were a number of disturbing findings in last week’s poll by the Israeli Democracy Institute and Tel Aviv University, released just as negotiators were preparing to resume Middle East peace talks in Jerusalem on Wednesday. But one less-remarked-upon point deserves further discussion: Apparently, 49% of Jewish Israelis (a narrow plurality) believe that if a final peace deal is reached at the talks and submitted to voters for their approval, Arab citizens of Israel should not be permitted to vote in the referendum. In other words, if the Jews of Israel don’t support the deal, it wouldn’t be adopted.
Still basking in the Yom Kippur War grief / Gideon Levy
Haaretz 19 Aug — The blooming of the sea squill once again tells us autumn is on the way. Autumn reminds us of Yom Kippur, and Yom Kippur reminds us of that war. This year is its 40th anniversary, and the commemoration festival has already begun. There is nothing people here like more than wallowing in past wars and yesterday’s disasters: two years since the attack at Itamar, seven years since the Katyusha attack on the reserve soldiers at the Kfar Giladi cemetery, 16 years since the helicopter disaster. And above all, the 1973 war, the war of which there is never enough and which is never elsewhere. In the land of memorials – 2,900 official memorials to the war dead, one for every eight (in war-drenched Europe the ratio is one to 10,000) – almost every day is a yahrzeit for a tragedy … Do we long for terror attacks? Do we miss wars? Highly unlikely. And yet the fact that there is nothing more sacred here than war makes us suspect that many Israelis carry, together with the pain, the terror and the trauma, also a hidden longing for the battlefield, the scene of the most masculine, formative experience of their lives.