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At time of Obama visit to Israel/Palestine, settlement construction increased 70 percent

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Land, property theft & destruction / Ethnic cleansing / Threats to non-Jewish historic sites


Peace Now: ‘Settlement construction rises by 70%’
[with map] IMEMC 17 Oct — The Israeli Peace Now movement issued a report on Israeli settlement construction and expansion activities, and revealed that settlement construction increased by 70% in the period between January and June 2013. [Obama visited Israel and Palestine in March.] Peace Now said that its data is based on survey of aerial photos, and count of all units that “started/ended to be built in each settlement.”  It said that there is a 70% increase in construction starts when compared to the same time-frame of last year, and added that constructions started for building 1708 units from January to June. Peace Now added that 180 of these constructions are in fact located in illegal settlement outposts, comparing to 995 units in the same period of 2012. It further stated that the construction of 1794 units has been completed, and 2840 units are still under construction.

Israel plans to cancel construction tenders in settlements to avert pressure
OCCUPIED JERUSALEM (PIC) 17 Oct — Haaretz newspaper said Israeli prime minister’s adviser on settlement issues is advancing a plan to exempt officially urban settlements from being obliged to publicize tenders for marketing land, in order to reduce the diplomatic pressures on Israel that results from publicizing such tenders. The paper said in its Thursday edition that “settlement construction is divided into two parts, the first related to construction in rural areas which is run by local authorities, and the second related to construction in cities and is run by the Minister of Housing,” and added that the settlement construction obliges the government to publish tenders on land intended for construction. “Because of the publication of these tenders, the pressure on Israel is increasing to halt settlement building”, Haaretz reported.

PHOTOS: Forced to live in a tent, Palestinian family celebrates Eid al-Adha
Activestills 16 Oct — In the Jordan Valley, it is virtually impossible for Palestinian families to get the permits to build a home: their buildings are demolished and they are forced to live in tents and tin structures with no electricity or water. Illegal Jewish settlements, however, are rarely demolished and are connected to the electricity and water grids. Activestills joins one family that has been living in a tent without basic services for 10 years as they celebrate the first night of the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Adha — Samiha and Suleiman Shalalda live with their five children in a tent on the edge of the Jordan Valley desert, with a view of the Dead Sea in the distance. On the first day of Eid al-Adha, the “Feast of the Sacrifice,” family visitors filled their tent with food, gifts and laughter. According to Muslim tradition, the holiday celebrates Ibrahim’s willingness to sacrifice his son Ismail, when God instead provided a sacrificial lamb. As the setting sun illuminates the horizon Jordanian mountains with pastel hues, roasted meat from sheep slaughtered to honor God’s provision fills folds of flatbread baked over open fires. The beauty of the location and occasion, however, cannot disguise the ugly reason that this family must live on the edge of the desert without access to running water or electricity.
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A call to save Khan al-Umdan, Acre, Palestine
Avaaz 13 Oct — Khan Al-Umdan [or Caravanserai of the Pillars] was built in 1874 and is one of the largest and best preserved Khans in Palestine. It sits in the centre of the coastal city of Akka which is a UNESCO World Heritage Centre designated as such in 2001. The proposals by the Israel Land Authority (ILA) and the Israel Ministry of Tourism to issue a commercial tender to convert Khan Al-Umdan into a 200 room luxury hotel (under the guise of maintaining and conserving the site) is but a slap in the face of heritage conservation in Akka. The call for Tenders was dated 7 October, 2013 and the deadline for submission of all commercial bids is 6 January 2014. Khan Al-Umdan must be maintained, preserved and left untouched by greedy commercial development plans. We call upon all responsible people and conservationists to raise their voice and to demand a stop to this land grab.
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Restriction of movement

IOF close checkpoints before movement of Palestinians on second day of Eid
NABLUS (PIC) 17 Oct — The Israeli occupation forces (IOF) obstructed the movement of Palestinian vehicles in the northern West Bank on the second day of Eid Al-Adha. According to local sources, the IOF closed on Wednesday evening Za’atara and Hawara checkpoints, which caused long lines of vehicles extending two kilometers away. The bulk of the vehicles had to stay in Hawara town until the IOF opened the checkpoints. The IOF closed the checkpoints at six o’clock in the evening for several hours, eyewitnesses affirmed. During the occasion of Eid Al-Adha, the Palestinians in the West Bank visit their relatives in other areas, but every year their movement is hindered by Israeli road blocks and closures.

IOF continues its restrictions on residents of Shuhada Street in al-Khalil
AL-KHALIL (PIC) 17 Oct — The occupation forces continued to impose restrictions on residents of Shuhada Street, which has been closed since the Ibrahimi Mosque massacre in 1994, during the Eid days. They prevented visits and detained citizens at the military checkpoints erected at the Street’s entrances. Mohammed al-Tamimi, 47 one of the residents of the Shuhada Street, told PIC’s reporter: “the Israeli army prevented my brothers and cousins from reaching my house to celebrate the Eid. The soldiers has detained them at the checkpoint for two hours, and then expelled them from the place.”

Disruptions at Rafah Crossing highlight Israel’s duty to enable Gazans’ travel abroad
B’Tselem 15 Oct — In September 2005, Israel completed its Disengagement Plan from the Gaza Strip. Notwithstanding, Israel has retained control over all entry and exit points to and from Gaza, with the exception of Rafah Crossing. Israel controls Gaza’s sea- and air-space and prohibits the movement of aircraft or sea vessels there. With very rare exceptions, Israel also prohibits travel abroad from the Gaza Strip through Allenby Crossing in the West Bank, and never allows Palestinians to fly abroad from Israel’s Ben Gurion International Airport. Consequently, Rafah Crossing is currently the only possible way to travel between the Gaza Strip and other countries … According to figures collected by Israeli Human Rights organization Gisha – Legal Center for Freedom of Movement, during the first six months of 2013 a daily average of 1,353 persons passed through Rafah Crossing in both directions. Since then, the numbers have steadily dropped to a daily average of 526 people in July, 363 in August, and only 217 in September 2013. Data published by the World Health Organization indicate that, during the same period, Israel doubled the number of patients allowed to pass through Erez Crossing for medical treatment in the West Bank (including East Jerusalem) and in Israel. The objective was to grant access to medical treatment to patients who were to have been treated in Egypt. However many other Gazans scheduled to travel abroad for other purposes have been left with no recourse. Students studying outside of Gaza have had great difficulty getting through Rafah Crossing over the last three months

A graduate student’s odyssey from Gaza to Indianapolis
National Public Radio 16 Oct by Emily Harris — To get a small sense of Fida‘a Abuassi’s odyssey, start on June 28, days before the Egyptian coup. She had just returned to her native Gaza Strip via Cairo after spending the year in New York on the U.S. government-sponsored Fulbright student program.  “I came back to Gaza, and then they declared that they will close the border until further notice,” she says. Her goal was to get to Indiana by August to start her master’s program at the University of Indianapolis.
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Violence / Raids / Attacks / Clashes / Illegal arrests

Israeli soldiers shoot Palestinian dead at army base
AFP/Reuters 17 Oct — Israeli soldiers shot dead a Palestinian who drove a tractor through a fence surrounding a military base in the occupied West Bank on Thursday, sources on both sides said. Palestinians said he died of his wounds in an Israeli hospital, and named him as Yusef Ahmed al-Radaydeh, 30. They said he was the brother of Mirii al-Radaydeh, shot dead by Israeli police in Jerusalem in March 2009 after he rammed a bulldozer into a bus and a police car. The army said Friday’s incident occurred at a base in the West Bank neighborhood of Al-Ram, adjacent to east Jerusalem, but did not confirm media reports that he died of his wounds. State-run Channel One television said that the man initially stopped at the gate to ask a guard to let him in and when the soldier turned away to seek authorization, he drove into the fence. Israeli forces have shot dead eight other Palestinians since July, according to a Reuters tally.
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Israeli forces attack Palestinian funeral, injuring many
HEBRON (WAFA) 17 Oct – Israeli forces Thursday attacked a Palestinian funeral in Beit Ummar, a town north of Hebron, injuring two Palestinians with steel rubber-coated bullets, according to a local activist. The coordinator of the popular committee against settlements and the Apartheid Wall, Mohammad Awad, told WAFA that Israeli forces attacked the funeral, firing steel rubber-coated bullets, tear gas canisters and acoustic bombs at the Palestinians, causing several suffocation cases among them. Two Palestinians were also shot and injured during the clashes. They were transferred to hospital for treatment. Awad said that forces deliberately target Palestinian funerals in the area in an attempt to take over the town’s cemetery

Hebron man killed in hit-and-run incident
HEBRON (Ma‘an) 17 Oct — A man was knocked down and killed in Hebron late Wednesday in a hit-and-run incident, locals said.  Alaa Haroun al-Zghaier was hit by a car in Hebron and seriously wounded. He was taken to al-Ahli hospital in Hebron where he was pronounced dead. The driver fled the scene. Palestinian Authority police have opened an investigation into the incident.

Elderly man seriously injured after being rammed by settler’s car
IMEMC — [Wednesday October 16, 2013] Palestinian medical sources have reported that an elderly Palestinian man was seriously injured after being hit by a settler’s vehicle in Al-Fondoq village, east of Qalqilia, in the northern part of the West Bank. The Palestinian Police said that a speeding settler driving a Toyota Corolla hit Abdul-Hafith Mohammad Tayyem, in his sixties.
The settler, who fled the scene, was driving in the center of the Palestinian village. Palestinian medical sources said that Tayyem was moved to an Israeli hospital due to the seriousness of his condition. There have been dozens of similar incidents that led to serious injuries and fatalities, in different part of the occupied West Bank, including in occupied East Jerusalem.

Israeli settler stabs Palestinian woman in Jerusalem
OCCUPIED JERUSALEM (PIC) 15 Oct — An Israeli settler stabbed a Palestinian woman from Jerusalem on Monday near Al-Aqsa Mosque’s Damascus Gate, Israeli media sources said. Israel’s Channel 10 confirmed a Jew has stabbed Monday afternoon a Palestinian citizen in the Masrara neighborhood off the Al-Aqsa Mosque’s Damascus Gate causing moderate injuries, without giving further details.

Settlers attack Palestinians near Nablus
NABLUS (WAFA) 17 Oct – Israeli settlers Thursday attacked a number of Palestinians while they were picking olives in an area south of the village of Burin, south of Nablus, leading to confrontations, according to a local activist. Ghassan Daghlas, who monitors settlements in the north of the West Bank, told WAFA that more than a hundred settlers from the illegal Israeli settlement of Yetzahar attacked Palestinians and activists while they were picking olives in their land as well as seized their equipment. Confrontations erupted between the residents and settlers with no reports of any injuries.

Family home ransacked and young teenager detained during Eid
HEBRON, Occupied Palestine (ISM) 16 Oct Khalil Team — Yesterday, 15th October, a young teenager visiting his family was detained from inside a Palestinian home after it was forcibly entered and searched by armed Israeli soldiers on the evening of Eid. A Palestinian family’s home was entered on the evening of the 1st day of the Muslim festival of Eid by at least 8 Israeli soldiers. According to other family members the soldiers were searching for a toy gun. The family of 6 were locked into one room whilst the Israeli soldiers ransacked their home breaking beds, upturning furniture, and throwing clothes and jewelry around the house. International activists asked to enter the house but were forcibly prevented by several armed soldiers. The Israeli soldiers eventually left the house, detaining the young teenage boy and his father … The father and his son were marched to a military base where the father was released soon after, leaving the teenager detained alone for several hours … This is the third time in three weeks that the Israeli army has entered this Palestinian home with little or no reason given for these intrusions.
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Israeli police lock up Haifa activist for Facebook statuses
972blog 17 Oct by Yoav Haifawi — Police detained and held Razi Nabulsi, a young Palestinian from Haifa for a week for statuses he posted to Facebook and Twitter, claiming they constituted incitement. The catch? Even though the statuses were posted publicly on the Internet, police declared them to be secret evidence and refused to publicly say in court what he was accused of writing.

IOF kidnap son of MP Abu Juhaisha
AL-KHALIL (PIC) 17 Oct — The Israeli occupation forces (IOF) kidnapped on Wednesday afternoon the son of Palestinian lawmaker Mohamed Abu Juhaisha from Idna town, west of Al-Khalil city.  MP Abu Juhaisha told the Palestinian information center (PIC) that his son Muaad was on his way to visit some of his relatives in Dura town along with his wife and children when Israeli troops stopped him at a checkpoint at entrance of the town, searched his car and rounded him up.  He added that an Israeli policeman from Etzion detention center told him over the phone that his son was detained for interrogation at the center and would be transferred to Ofer jail during the next two days.

Army invades village near Hebron
IMEMC — Monday evening (October 14 2013], Palestinian sources have reported that several Israeli military jeeps invaded Beit Awwa town, south of the southern West Bank city of Hebron, leading to clashes with local youths. The sources said that dozens of youths hurled stones and empty bottles at the invading soldiers, and placed barriers obstructing the movement of the army in the town. The soldiers fired several gas bombs, concussion grenades, and rubber-coated metal bullets, in addition to rounds of live ammunition. No injuries have been reported. Also on Monday evening, several extremist Israeli settlers attacked three Palestinians in Ya‘bod village, south of the northern West Bank city of Jenin. The settlers hurled stones at the Palestinians’ car nearby causing damage.

Israel arrests four Palestinians in West Bank
JENIN (WAFA) 17 Oct – Israeli forces Thursday arrested four Palestinians, including three minors, from the West bank cities of Jenin and Hebron, according to security sources. They told WAFA that forces stormed the town of Ya‘bod, southwest of Jenin, and raided several houses while firing steel rubber-coated bullets, tear gas and acoustic canisters towards the residents, leading to several suffocation cases among the residents and the arrest of an 18-year-old. Meanwhile, forces late Wednesday arrested three Palestinian brothers age 12, 15, and 17 while they were trying to cross an Israeli military checkpoint south of Hebron

Ex Shin Bet chief: Price tags – basis for next political murder
Ynet 16 Oct by Itamar Fleishman —  According to Carmi Gilon, who served as Shin Bet director during the assassination of Prime Minister Yithak Rabin in 1995, the roots for the next political murder are planted within “price tag” activists. “Today they call it ‘price tag’ because there is no actual threat of returning territories, but this is where the foundations lay for the next (political) murderer,” he added. Gilon spoke at a ceremony at the Holon Institute of Technology marking the 18th anniversary of the murder of Rabin. He widely addressed the issue of the Hilltop Youth and price tag activities and said: “When the Latrun monastery is spray-painted, it troubles the entire Protestant world, and we cry about anti-Semitism? Those who seek to destroy and devastate us come out of us.” While Gilon made his remarks, an indictment was filed with the Jerusalem District Court against 11 teens who are accused of carrying out several price tag acts in Jerusalem’s Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood during August and September … In his speech in Holon, Gilon criticized the futility of the law enforcement establishment in dealing with the price tag phenomenon.,7340,L-4441584,00.html

PA Security kidnaps young man, raids mosque on eve of Eid Al-Adha
RAMALLAH (PIC) 17 Oct — The Palestinian authority (PA) security forces persisted in its violations against the Palestinian citizens in the West Bank without any regard for the holy occasion of Eid Al-Adha. In Tulkarem, the PA intelligence apparatus kidnapped a young activist named Qassam Budair on the eve of the Eid during his presence in a perfume store. Qassam is the son of martyr Riyadh Budair, one of the leaders of the battle that took place in Jenin refugee camp in 2002. In Ramallah, the PA preventive security apparatus broke into and ransacked Abu Dhar Al-Ghafari Mosque in Qatna [Qatanna?] town on the eve of the Eid at the pretext of looking for green [Hamas] banners carrying the Islamic testimony of faith. The PA preventive security also prevented the family of political prisoner Hammam Samreen from visiting its son during the Eid for the second consecutive time. As part of the security coordination between the PA and Israel, the IOF kidnapped Ihab Zaqla from his home in Shweikeh suburb to the north of Tulkarem. Zaqla was an ex-detainee in a PA jail. The IOF also kidnapped a young man only three days after his release from a PA intelligence jail in Beit Lakiya town. The young man is named Islam Mousa and he is the brother of prisoner Saleh Mousa.

Leader Badran calls to put an end to students’ arrests
AL-KHALIL (PIC) 17 Oct — The leader in Hamas movement Hossam Badran called upon PA security apparatus to stop its arrest campaign against university students that was recently intensified. Badran, a liberated prisoner in Wafa al-Ahrar deal who was exiled to Qatar, pointed out that political arrests especially against Islamic Bloc students of the Polytechnic University in al-Khalil in the West Bank have been escalated noticeably. Badran stated that these arrests came following their activities in the university in support of al-Aqsa mosque and prisoners’ issue. The Israeli occupation itself did not launch such arrests for such charges, he said

Palestinian youths are victims of security coordination in WB
RAMALLAH (PIC) 17 Oct — The two Palestinian youths Islam Mossa and Mohamed Assi spent Eid al-Adha away from their families and behind the Israeli bars after being arrested by Israeli forces on the day of Arafat, the day before Eid al-Adha. The Israeli forces arrested Islam and Mohammed, from Ramallah, after raiding and violently searching their parents’ houses. It worth mentioning that the two youths’ arrest came three days after being released from PA jails where they spent three months behind PA bars as part of the security coordination policy between Israeli and Palestinian authorities in West Bank. Islam’s mother stated that her son was jailed during Eid al-Fitr in PA jails and he is also detained in Eid al-Adha in Israeli prisons … The two young men were first arrested in PA jails for 15 days to be released by a court’s order, however they were detained again few moments after their release. The PA Intelligence has extended their arrest twice despite the court’s order to release them. They were then released few days before Eid al-Adha to be re-arrested by Israeli forces.


Infographic: A guide to administrative detention in Israeli prisons
Mondoweiss 17 October — Visualizing Palestine explains what administrative detention looks like in this captivating infographic. Palestinians and their supporters are calling for an end to the practice of administrative detention, where Palestinians are held without charge or trial for months or even years. The infographic “A Guide to Administrative Detention” takes the perspective of an administrative detainee as they face daily stresses, uncertainties and indignities. This experience ranges from simply not knowing what they are accused of, to realising that lawyers and humanitarian agencies can do little to help them. This graphic is being released as part of Visualizing Palestine’s 2013 crowdfunding campaign on Indiegogo.

5,200 Palestinian detainees currently held by Israel
IMEMC 14 Oct — The Palestinian Ministry Of Detainees issued a press release revealing that Israel is currently holding captive 5,200 Palestinians in 17 prisons, detention camps, and interrogation facilities. It said that this year witnessed a sharp escalation in arrests as the soldiers kidnapped 2450 Palestinians, including 476 children and 49 women, since the beginning of the year. It said that the army kidnapped at least 600 Palestinian security and police officers, and that the number of Hamas affiliated detainees is 1,100, and 365 detainees who are members of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), while the rest are members of different factions. The Ministry stated that Israel is currently holding captive 13 democratically elected legislators, and that the Israeli military kidnapped a total of 60 legislators and ministers (46% of the members of the Palestinian Legislative Council). Among the detained legislators are Marwan Barghouthi, Ahmad Saadat and Hassan Yousef … There are currently 150 Palestinians held under arbitrary Administrative Detention orders, while 23,000 Palestinians have been held under these orders since the year 2000.

Natsheh’s family deprived of celebrating holidays with him for 20 Eids
AL-KHALIL (PIC) 17 Oct – Prisoners’ families live tough moments during holidays in the absence of their husbands, fathers and their children who are detained in the Israeli occupation prisons, many of them without charge or trial. Mrs. Ahlam Shaarawi, the wife of captive leader Mohammed Jamal Natsheh, the MP for Hamas from al-Khalil, expressed her family’s sadness and grief in the absence of her husband during the days of Eid and said: “We have been deprived of enjoying and celebrating the holidays for many years, while my husband is held in custody.” … Lawmaker Natshe is currently detained in occupation jails under the so-called administrative detention, without charge or trial.  [There are two Eids per year.]

Army breaks into Negev detention camp
IMEMC — [Wednesday October 16, 2013] Dozens of Israeli soldiers broke into the Negev detention camp, allegedly to install new iron gates, leading to clashes with Palestinian detainees who protested the move. Palestinian Minister of Detainees, Issa Qaraqe‘, told the Palestinian News & Info Agency (WAFA) that a large number of soldiers broke into the detention camp, on the second day of the Al-Adha Feast, an issue that provoked the detainees. Qaraqe‘ added that fire broke out in sections 15 and 16 of the camp, and that the detainees burnt a shed while protesting the attack. The Palestinian Prisoner Society (PPS) said that two detainees were mildly hurt due to smoke inhalation, and received the needed medical attention. The PPS added that the prison administration wanted to install doors on sheds where dozens of detainees are held, and added that those sheds, even without doors, are unfit for human use, due to heat and humidity.  The Prison Administration eventually ceded to the demands of the detainees.

Gaza under blockade

Sources: ‘Egyptian army opens fire at Palestinians in Rafah’
IMEMC — [Wednesday October 16, 2013] The Palestine Now News Agency has reported that Egyptian soldiers opened fire at the Palestinian side near the border area in Rafah, in the southern part of the Gaza Strip. Palestinian security sources in Gaza told Palestine Now that the Egyptian army targeted a number of Palestinians in their lands close to the border; no injuries have been reported.  The incident took place while the Egyptian Air Force was flying over the border area with Gaza. Also on Wednesday, the Egyptian army detonated a tunnel under a home on the Egyptian side, and said that the tunnels lead to the Rafah city.

Israeli troops enter Gaza every three days: Oxfam
Electronic Intifada 16 Oct by Ali Abunimah — Israel’s military incursions into the besieged, occupied Gaza Strip increased sharply in September. Israeli ground forces entered the occupied territory nine times in September, up from twice in August, according to UK-based development agency Oxfam in its October report on the situation in Gaza. That’s about once every three days. Shooting at farmers There was also a 30 percent increase in fire by Israeli occupation forces toward Palestinians in farmland along the Gaza boundary since July and August. The “Israeli army has fired warning shots at farmers, forcing them to leave, and conducted land leveling operations,” Oxfam said … In total, seven Palestinians in Gaza have been killed and 124 injured by Israeli military forces since the announcement of the ceasefire in November 2012 after a week of intense Israeli bombardment, Oxfam said.  Overall, the escalating level of military attacks by Israel could not be explained as a response to any increase in military operations by resistance groups in Gaza. In September a total of ten homemade rockets or mortars were fired from Gaza, causing no damage or injuries – exactly the same number as in August.

Egyptian air force flies over Gaza-Israel border
IMEMC — [Wednesday October 16, 2013] [Israeli] Channel 2 said that, for the first time since the peace agreement was signed between Cairo and Tel Aviv in 1979, Israel has authorized Egyptian F16 jets to fly over the border area as part of operations the Egyptian military is conducting against armed groups in the Sinai Peninsula. A month ago, Israel allowed Egyptian Apache helicopters to operate in the area, to allow the Egyptian military to strike “sites used by terrorists”, according to Israeli sources.

Gaza blockade leads to decrease in Eid livestock sales
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 16 Oct — Livestock sales in Gaza for the Eid al-Adha holiday decreased significantly this year due to high prices caused by Israel’s blockade and a crack down on smuggling tunnels by Egyptian authorities, residents say. Abu Faris al-Nijar, who sells livestock to be sacrificed every year for Eid al-Adha, told Ma’an that his sales had decreased by at least 40 percent. The price of imported calves “soared this year,” he added, “increasing between 18 and 21 shekels per kilo.”  Gaza residents Jihan Ashour and Hamdi Faris told Ma‘an that their families could not afford to purchase an animal to sacrifice this year due to the rise in prices. “Closing the tunnels and the Israeli blockade has led to a problem of prices as our livestock came from Egypt through tunnels,” Ashour said.

Photos: Gaza supporters rally for Alaa Hammad, keep weekly vigil for Palestinian detainees
GAZA (ISM) 16 Oct — Palestinians rallied outside Gaza’s International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) office Monday morning to support Alaa Hammad, a Palestinian-Jordanian on hunger strike since May 2 against the conditions of his detention by Israel, and other Palestinian detainees … Hammad, a Palestinian with Jordanian citizenship, is one of 26 Jordanian nationals held by Israel. The occupation has imposed a near-complete blackout on news of his 168-day hunger strike, so most information on his case is over two months old. “On 5 August Hammad fainted and remained unconscious for five hours, without the guards calling a doctor,” the ADDAMEER Prisoner Support and Human Rights Association reported two days later. ”After finally receiving treatment Hammad regained consciousness.”

Gaza gets first stress-relieving sensory room
RAMALLAH (The Media Line) 16 Oct — Palestinians in Gaza Strip will soon enjoy space for special needs children; ‘Gaza is our mission in Palestine’ — After months of waiting for a room whose installation should have only taken a few weeks, the effort is an example of Palestinian unity despite living in two separate territories …  Three engineers in Ramallah and two in Gaza are putting the final touches on the first sensory room in the territory after a month of online correspondence. Medical Aid for Palestinians (MAP) funded the project. The new space is equipped with lights, music and interactive surfaces that stimulate the senses. Designed to isolate external distractions, it allows for vivid sensory experiences that help develop visual and verbal communication skills. Sensory rooms are used for relaxation and stress relief, but also have therapeutic effects on children with disabilities or those suffering from communication problems.,7340,L-4441758,00.html

Tech startups face all the usual challenges and more in Gaza
[with transcript] National Public Radio 16 Oct — Building an IT startup in the Gaza Strip isn’t simple: Electricity is sporadic, there’s no mobile 3G and even if you can sell your app outside Gaza’s tightly controlled borders, it’s difficult to get paid. Still, IT has some advantages in Gaza, and the possibilities have fostered a crop of devout entrepreneurs. At a first-of-its kind session to win seed money this week, Gazan entrepreneurs pitched, among other things, an app that uses music to help colorblind people dress well, a sports social network and 3-D printing for the masses

Besieged Gazans find joy in Eid
GAZA CITY (Al-Monitor) 16 Oct by Asmaa al-Ghoul — The Abu Khadra governmental building complex, destroyed by Israeli forces in the November 2012 war, has been transformed into an amusement park to usher in Eid al-Adha. Named “Freedom,” the park has been open since Eid began, although it was filled with children and families even before the holiday. The children play electronic games while others leap and jump on the inflatable moon bounce, having entered for free or with tickets that cost less than fifty cents … Eid al-Adha begins with the slaughter of a sheep, cow or calf on the doorstep of one’s home or in another place allocated for it. The meat is distributed in accordance with Islamic law, with a third given to the poor and a third to relatives. The person who slaughtered the animal keeps the remaining third.

Siege puts holiday tradition beyond reach of many Gaza families
GAZA STRIP (Electronic Intifada) 15 Oct by Rami Almeghari — Imad Affana looked out on his livestock yard. At this time of year, when Muslims all over the world are celebrating Eid al-Adha, the holiday marking the end of the annual Muslim pilgrimage to Mecca, it ought to have been full of people buying sheep or goats for the traditional sacrifice. But there were few customers — even at Affana’s Beit Hanoun farm in the northern Gaza Strip, the largest trader in the territory. According to Affana, this year has been the worst ever. “Since early morning, I have only sold one animal,” he told The Electronic Intifada. “In previous years, we used to sell about fifty to sixty animals a day.” In Muslim tradition, those who are able to afford it, slaughter an animal symbolizing the sacrifice made by the prophet Abraham. By tradition, those who are better off distribute meat to those less able to afford it. In previous years, Affana said, his stock would sell out to individuals as well as local and international charities who would buy animals, slaughter them and distribute meat to needy families over the four-day holiday.

Video: The olive harvest in the Gaza Strip, 2013
GAZA (ISM &  Gal·la) 16 Oct — Palestinians in the Gaza Strip harvest olives during the month of October. Several years ago, a large amount of land was planted with olive trees. They were completely destroyed by Israeli bulldozers, and Palestinians were prevented from replanting them by the so-called “green line.” Today the olive oil industry is a small part of the local economy. The export of this olive oil is also prevented as a consequence of more than seven years of the Zionist blockade.

Quebec father’s plea: Bring my family home from Gaza
[with news video] CTV News Montréal 14 Oct — A Quebec man is calling on the federal government to help him bring his wife and three daughters home from Gaza. Ghassan Elgadi said his family left for Gaza in August and hasn’t been able to return home since. Despite a government warning, Elgadi’s family flew to Cairo on Aug. 8, and then made its way to Gaza to see his wife’s ailing father, who lives in a refugee camp. “She didn’t see her parents in the last ten years and the father is very sick — really sick — between life and death. She was really worried about that,” he explained. While there, the Egyptian government closed the border due to violence in Egypt, allowing a limited number of people to cross. The border was also closed all week for the holy holiday Eid that marks the end of Ramadan, and so they remain stranded in Gaza. Elgadi’s wife and their three daughters, aged 12, 8 and 3, were supposed to return to Canada on Sept. 16. “They’re stuck,” he said. All four are Canadian citizens. Elgadi has asking Foreign Affairs to intervene, but so far said he’s received little response.

Palestinian refugees elsewhere

Gaza gov’t asks Arab states not to close borders before Palestinian refugees
GAZA (PIC) 16 Oct — Palestinian government in Gaza Strip stressed its readiness to receive the Palestinian refugees fleeing from the war in Syria, after a boat carrying hundreds of them capsized in the Mediterranean Sea. Dozens of Palestinian refugees drowned in the incident off Malta’s coast on Friday, while 15 other Palestinians drowned two days earlier in a similar incident off the coast of Alexandria, Egypt. “We welcome them in their home and among their brothers in the Gaza Strip,” the Undersecretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Dr. Ghazi Hamad said on Monday in a press conference. He called on the Arab states not to close their doors before the Palestinian refugees, and work seriously to offer help to them.

Haneyya invites Palestinian refugees fleeing Syria and Egypt to come to Gaza
GAZA (PIC) 16 Oct — Palestinian premier Ismail Haneyya called on the Palestinian refugees fleeing Syria and Egypt by sea to come to the Gaza Strip instead of risking their lives. “On this day of the holy Eid Al-Adha, I’d like to say to the Palestinian refugees who are fleeing from Syria to the Egyptian territories or anywhere, to those who may die today over the sea that we are your brothers, kinsfolk and friends, so stop risking yourselves and the lives of your children. If you found no land to take you in, Gaza, despite the siege, are always big enough for you,” Premier Haneyya stated following the Eid prayers on Tuesday in Gaza city.

1607 Palestinian refugees killed in Syria
DAMASCUS (PIC) 17 Oct — The Action group for the Palestinian refugees in Syria stated that 1607 Palestinian refugees killed since the outbreak of the Syrian revolution and till September 30. In a detailed report, the group said that 1088 refugees have been killed since the beginning of the revolution till the 30th of September after their camps were targeted. The Palestinian refugee camps have been subjected during the ongoing conflict in Syria to daily shelling and bombing, leading to hundreds of victims. The Action Group pointed out that 105 martyrs have been killed under torture in the Syrian regime’s prisons….

Israeli racism

Jewish women can’t volunteer at night – to avoid ‘contact with Arabs’
972mag 17 Oct by Mairav Zonszein — Young Israeli women volunteering at hospitals in Israel as part of their national service (an alternative to serving in the Israel Defense Forces) will no longer be allowed to do night shifts in order to avoid any contact with Arabs, Channel 10 reported Wednesday (Hebrew). The director of Israel’s National Service Administration, Sar-Shalom Jerbi, issued a directive two weeks ago banning any volunteer shifts past 9:00 p.m.: “We reached the decision based on concern for our volunteers, and Minister [Naftali] Bennett gave his blessing.” According to the report, the decision was made following a pressure campaign waged by religious Zionist rabbis, among them notorious Kiryat Arba Rabbi Dov Lior (arrested in 2011 for incitement against Arabs and for legitimizing the killing of non-Jews in wartime) and the radical Israeli anti-miscegenation organization Lehava. They began the campaign over the last year after hearing reports of “intimate relations” between some of the Palestinian-Arab doctors and the Israeli Jewish volunteers.

Political, other news

Hamas, Fatah leaders in Eid phone call
GAZA CITY (AFP) 15 Oct — Leaders of rival Palestinian factions Fatah and Hamas spoke via telephone on the eve of the Muslim Eid al-Adha holiday, stressing the need for reconciliation, a Hamas official said Tuesday. Gaza prime minister Ismail Haniyeh spoke to President Mahmoud Abbas of the “need for a return to national unity and an end to division” during the late night conversation, a Hamas official said on condition of anonymity. The two men exchanged greetings for Eid al-Adha, which Muslims began celebrating on Tuesday.

Resheq denies Hamas leaving Qatar
BEIRUT (PIC) 16 Oct — Izzat al-Resheq, a member of Hamas political bureau, flatly denied what was published in the Lebanese newspapers Al-Akhbar and Al-Safir that his movement had requested to change its political bureau’s residence to Syria or Egypt or any Arab country. In a press statement, Resheq described the reports on the matter as propaganda designed to harm Hamas. He stressed that Khaled Mishaal and a number of Hamas political leaders, who are currently based in Doha, will not change their residence and will remain in Qatar. He also denied reports saying that Hamas leadership in Gaza Strip called on Mishaal to leave Qatar. He vehemently denied such reports. Hamas leadership has not even raised leaving Qatar as a topic for discussion, he said

Maariv: Border issue brings the negotiations to a dead end
OCCUPIED JERUSALEM (PIC) 17 Oct — Maariv newspaper said the negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority have already entered a dead end following the disagreements between the two sides concerning the border issue. The paper pointed out that “Israel has proposed renting the Jordan Valley area for decades but the Palestinian Authority refused that.” It quoted Palestinian sources as saying that Israel insists on imposing its control over the eastern border with Jordan. Maariv said: “member of the Central Committee of the Fatah movement Hanan Ashrawi confirmed the news in a statement to the newspaper.”

Bennett: ‘We will leave coalition should government grant concessions to Palestinians’
IMEMC 17 Oct — Leader of the Jewish Home Party, Israeli Economy and Trade Minister, Naftali Bennett, threatened that his party would withdraw from the government coalition with Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, of the Likud Party, should Israel “grant any concession to the Palestinians in peace talks”.

Olive farmers hard-pressed by Israel’s wall
RAMALLAH (Al Jazeera) 15 Oct by Nigel O’Connor — The streets of Ramallah teem with traffic and shoppers during celebrations of Eid al-Adha, the most important holiday for Muslims. Tucked inside the city’s Tahta district, the hum of machinery drowns out the noise from outside and a group of men work into the night. This year’s Eid falls at the beginning of the Palestinian olive harvest. For workers at Mahad Rantisi’s olive oil factory, the festivities are of a secondary concern to producing the oil necessary to sustain family kitchens across the Palestinian territories and abroad. Farmers deliver their bags of olives to the factory and leave carrying five-gallon containers of oil … Despite the activity inside the factory, the yield from this year’s harvest is expected to be significantly lower than the previous year, causing prices to rise to nearly $8 per litre … More than 100,000 families in the West Bank depend on olive oil production to some extent, according to the World Bank, but nobody in the factory seems overly concerned: Palestinian lore dictates that a poor harvest in one year will be followed by a bountiful crop in the next. Waleed Assaf, the Palestinian Authority’s (PA) minister for agriculture, said that the entire national store of olives will be sold with this year’s harvest in order to satisfy local consumption and maintain a market for exported oil. Assaf told Al Jazeera that in a good year the West Bank produces around 30,000 tonnes of olive oil, and 60,000-70,000 tonnes of olives – but that production is severely impeded by Israel’s occupation.
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EU bank finances Israeli power plant as nearby Bedouins face demolitions
Electronic Intifada 17 Oct by David Cronin — European Union officials approved a loan for an Israeli energy project exactly one week after Palestinian Bedouins living nearby were served with demolition orders. A little-noticed decision made by the European Investment Bank on 17 September to rubber-stamp a €150 million ($205 million) loan for the Megalim power plant amounts to a gesture of support for Israel’s ethnic cleansing in the Naqab (Negev) desert. The plant is being built in Ashalim, an Israeli community, located beside the Bedouin village of Bir Hadaj. On 10 September, a number of orders to destroy property were distributed in Bir Hadaj by the Israeli authorities. Yet the Luxembourg-based bank — an EU institution — appeared to pay no attention to that brazen attempt to uproot the indigenous people of the Naqab.
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Russia denies issuing conclusions over Arafat’s death
MOSCOW (AFP) 15 Oct — The Russian agency involved in studying the remains of Yasser Arafat on Tuesday denied issuing any conclusions about the death of the late Palestinian leader, after a report cited its chief as saying he could not have died from polonium poisoning. Russia’s Federal Medical-Biological Agency was one of several international agencies involved in exhuming Arafat’s remains in November 2012. Interfax earlier quoted FMBA head Vladimir Uiba as saying he doubted a report published in The Lancet over the weekend saying that Swiss radiation experts had found traces of polonium on Arafat’s clothing.

Report: Turkey disclosed to Iran identities of Israel spies
WASHINGTON (Ynet) 17 Oct by Yitzhak Benhorin — Turkey has disclosed to Iranian intelligence the identities of up to 10 Iranians who had been meeting inside Turkey with their Mossad case officers, the Washington Post reported Thursday. According to journalist David Ignatius, Israeli intelligence had apparently run part of its Iranian spy network through Turkey, which has relatively easy movement back and forth across its border with Iran. Ignatius quoted knowledgeable sources as describing the Turkish action as a “significant” loss of intelligence and “an effort to slap the Israelis.”,7340,L-4441918,00.html

Rihanna and other artists who play Israel feel the pressure
Variety 16 Oct by Debra Kamin — Twitter-based BDS Movement urges entertainers and others to stage anti-apartheid-like boycott — Pop star Rihanna has confirmed an Oct. 22 concert in Tel Aviv, a decision that has delighted her legions of Israeli fans but angered proponents of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement, a global campaign calling for the use of political and economic pressure to compel Israel to withdraw from Palestinian land.
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Analysis / Opinion / Reviews

Hamas has a right to dig tunnels / Amira Hass
Haaretz 16 Oct — After all, there’s no chance of a revolution of consciousness or diplomacy in Israel, and the required fundamental change in the Palestinian leadership is not on the horizon. — Why shouldn’t Hamas dig tunnels? What makes a tunnel more “terrorist” than a navy boat firing on fisherman, or less of a security need than unmanned aerial vehicles? Each to his own resources in the arms race … Since 1991 Israel has been doing everything it can to disconnect Gaza institutionally and socially from the West Bank (thus foiling the two-state solution). It has tried and succeeded. You wanted a separate state in Gaza? You got it, with the generous assistance of stupid Palestinian politics,

The Nakba in the New Yorker
Muzzlewatch 17 Oct — The publication of Avi Shavit’s “Lydda, 1948: A city, a massacre and the Middle East Today” in The New Yorker, October 21, 2013, is a welcome chink in the wall of silence around the Nakba, the forced dispossession and expulsion of over 700,000 Palestinians from their homes and land before, during, and after the creation of the Jewish stateThat’s a very good thing, regardless of what one thinks of Shavit’s conclusions. For decades, the subject was declared off-limits, even for a former Israeli prime minister who wanted to talk about brutalities he’d witnessed himself … But thanks to the research  in the late 1980s of the New Historians ( Benny Morris’s The Birth of the Palestinian Refugee Problem, 1947-1949; Simha Flapan’s The Birth of Israel; Ilan Pappé’s The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine, among others) and, more recently, the work of  Zochrot, the events of 1947-1949 have been discussed and angrily disputed within Israel, despite the efforts of a variety of right-wing organizations to prevent such discourse and of Israeli legislation to penalize commemoration of the Nakba (American Jews on the other hand have been more successful in stifling discussion, at least until now.)

‘Occupied Palestine’ doc’y finds new life 30 years after a bomb threat killed its release / David Koff
Mondoweiss 16 Oct — Largely suppressed for 30 years, the  film “Occupied Palestine” will be screened on October 22 at the 2013 Boston Palestine Film Festival. Joumana El Alaoui said earlier this year that the film presents “an analysis of the Israeli occupation that is still today rare to find.” UCLA professor Robin D. G. Kelley lately tweeted, “David Koff’s powerful documentary Occupied Palestine . . . proves settlements a conscious colonial strategy.” And film scholar Terri Ginsberg, in a talk about the film at the Jerusalem Fund in June, called it “unique, timeless [and] strikingly relevant from the perspective of 2013.” We asked filmmaker David Koff to tell us about it. –Editor.

New documentary ‘Flying Paper’ showcases the creativity of Palestinian youth in Gaza / Daryl Meador
[with trailer] Mondoweiss 15 Oct — The new documentary film, Flying Paper, is premiering across the country in the coming weeks. Flying Paper is an uplifting story of Palestinian youth in the Gaza Strip on a quest to shatter the Guinness World Record for the most kites ever flown. This feature-length documentary film is directed by Nitin Sawhney and Roger Hill and co-produced with a team of young filmmakers in Gaza, who appear as primary characters and narrators in the film but also helped shape its production.

Video: Right of (Comic) Return
The Forward — A portrait of the Palestinian-American comedian Maysoon Zayid. “I’ve been coming back and forth to my parents’ village, which is called Deir Dibwan, since I was five years old. So basically I was born and raised in New Jersey, and all of my girlfriends would go to the Jersey shore for the summer, and I would go to a war zone. Because my dad was afraid that if we didn’t visit every year, we would forget our roots and grow up to be Brittany Spears.” … She says she just tries to get audiences to laugh, but yeah, it’s hard to separate politics from anything in the Holy Land … One attendee at her Jerusalem show summed it up: “People like Maysoon give you hope.”  [If you can’t watch the video in Firefox, try Internet Explorer]

Israelis turning blood into money: The Lab review / Vacy Vlazna
Palestine Chronicle 16 Oct — Warning! The Lab contains war-porn and hard-core evil; watch and weep. Yotam Feldman’s  documentary, released in August, is one of the most important exposés of the obscene rationale and execution of Israel’s hugely lucrative arms and security  industries through the voices of some of its ex-military key operators: Amos Golan, Shimon Naveh, Leo Gleser, and Yoav Galant. Israel’s armament juggernaut currently turns over $7 billion p.a. and its phenomenal success is, as Feldman reveals, due to experience, that is, the testing of weaponry on the Palestinian population in the Israeli military ‘labs’ of Gaza and the West Bank: “I think the main product Israelis are selling, especially in the last decade, is experience. .. the testing of the products, the experience is the main thing they [customers] are coming to buy. They want the missile that was shot in the last operation in Gaza or the rifle that was used in the last West Bank incursion.” Without blinking an eye, Benjamin Ben Eleixer, Industry Minister proudly asserts the reason for the tremendous demand for Israeli weapons and technology, ‘If Israel sells weapons, they have been tested, tried out.

Bombing victim’s spouse acknowledges Palestinians’ pain in new memoir
Electronic Intifada 17 Oct by Maureen Clare Murphy — David Harris-Gershon’s memoir What Do You Buy the Children of the Terrorist Who Tried to Kill Your Wife? pivots around a deadly bombing at Jerusalem’s Hebrew University in 2002 where the author and his wife, Jamie, both Americans, were then studying ancient Jewish texts. Jamie was at the university’s cafeteria with two of their friends when the bomb went off … Though the book may appear to be about Israel and the Palestinians or Jewish identity and the conflict (and indeed these are major themes of the book), the heart of Harris-Gershon’s memoir is his processing of the traumatic event … During his research of the bombing, Harris-Gershon came across an Associated Press report stating that the bomber, a Palestinian from the Silwan neighborhood of occupied East Jerusalem named Mohammed Odeh, had expressed remorse for the deaths of those he killed. Humanity This, coupled with news reports that Odeh’s horrified family expressed disbelief that he had committed the act, compelled Harris-Gershon to acknowledge Odeh’s humanity, and that of the Palestinian people as a whole, whom he came to recognize that he had only viewed as the enemy in a zero-sum game.

Who’s afraid of the Right of Return? A response to Kathleen Peratis on BDS / Tom Pessah
Daily Beast 17 Oct — …the Right of Return is so rarely discussed among both Israeli and American Jews that any mention of it triggers a lot of ignorant assumptions. So perhaps it would be worth dispelling some: 1. Palestinians are attached to specific places. People’s families lived in certain cities and villages for centuries. The Khalidi family has ancestors from the middle ages still buried in Jerusalem. These specific places had their own traditions, their own accents, their own costumes, their own plants, their own food—features which are unique and irreplaceable, which cannot be traded for residence in anywhere else. The simple knowledge that you are in the same spot as your ancestors were is highly important. 2. This attachment is central to their identity. They are as likely to give it up as Israelis are likely to “go back” to wherever their grandparents came from and forget about Israel. Just as people who have never met any Israelis are ignorant about us and feel we’re just a band of wandering “Europeans” who don’t have a connection to the place we’re born in, people who know few Palestinians imagine their centuries of attachment to this country mean nothing to them. This is a dangerous illusion that has no future, and is a serious obstacle to any progress. 3. It is absurd for Zionists like Peratis to insist on the right of Jews to “return” to a place their ancestors may or may not have lived in 2,000 years ago, and remain oblivious of people’s ties to a place they left merely 65 years ago. 4. If Palestinians had been displaced by Buddhists, Zoroastrians or Rastafarians, they would still feel attached to the places their families lived in. It isn’t about liking or disliking Jews. It really isn’t about us and our religion. 5. The Right of Return does NOT mean “throwing Jews into the sea.”

Even the World Bank understands: Palestine is being disappeared / Jonathan Cook
Nazareth (Palestine Chronicle) 17 Oct — Two recent images encapsulate the message behind the dry statistics of last week’s report by the World Bank on the state of the Palestinian economy. The first is a poster from the campaigning group Visualising Palestine that shows a photoshopped image of Central Park, eerily naked. Amid New York’s skyscrapers, the park has been sheared of its trees by bulldozers. A caption reveals that since the occupation began in 1967, Israel has uprooted 800,000 olive trees belonging to Palestinians, enough to fill 33 Central Parks. The second, a photograph widely published last month in Israel, is of a French diplomat lying on her back in the dirt, staring up at Israeli soldiers surrounding her, their guns pointing down towards her. Marion Castaing had been mistreated when she and a small group of fellow diplomats tried to deliver emergency aid, including tents, to Palestinian farmers whose homes had just been razed … The World Bank report is a way of stating discreetly what Castaing and other diplomats hoped to highlight more directly: that Israel is gradually whittling away the foundations on which the Palestinians can build an independent economic life and a viable state. This report follows a long line of warnings in recent years from international bodies on the dire economic situation facing Palestinians. But, significantly, the World Bank has homed in on the key battleground for an international community still harboring the forlorn hope that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict will end in Palestinian statehood (listserv) (archive)



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

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2 Responses

  1. Citizen on October 18, 2013, 2:48 pm

    Israel’s pattern is to expand settlements whenever POTUS or US VP visits. Zionist idea of showing who’s boss, and way of thanking US for $8.5 million per day and US SC pocket veto, while Americans go jobless, on food stamps. Americans get all the respect that deserves imo.

  2. RoHa on October 19, 2013, 1:55 am

    That’s odd. We didn’t see an increase in housing production when he visited Australia.

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