Army training in populated villages and towns
VIDEO: NGO films soldiers training near West Bank cemetery
Haaretz 5 Nov by Gili Cohen (1.31 minutes) — A video shot last Thursday by volunteers of the human rights group Yesh Din shows Israel Defense Forces troops training in close proximity to a Palestinian cemetery. Some of the troops were dressed as Palestinian demonstrators, a few dozen meters away from another unit, whose job it was apparently to ‘break up the demonstration.’ ‘We were shocked to discover last week that training was taking place in a cemetery in Hebron, in blunt disregard of the sensitivities of local civilians,’ said Yesh Din attorney Emily Schaeffer. ‘find it hard to believe that the IDF would hold training of this type in a Jewish cemetery, or in any Jewish neighborhood in the West Bank or within Israel.’
‘For Israeli soldiers, some Palestinians are little more than props’
972blog 5 Nov by Shay Davidovich — How can an entire army battalion pass through a village without disrupting its inhabitants? How can soldiers train with live bullets while ensuring that no one will be injured? A former IDF soldier describes the ways in which soldiers are taught to make their presence known, always at the expense of the local Palestinian population … In my compulsory service I served as a combat soldier in the Field Intelligence Corps. I was trained to observe and direct combat forces as well as to carry out the same security operations as all other combat soldiers. In August of 2011, I was summoned for a division-wide exercise in the Jordan Valley. This time around, our mission was to simulate the occupation of a southern Lebanese village. There is no better way to train for taking control of a village than to practice on the real thing. Therefore, we carried out our exercise in an area of the valley with Palestinian villages. Not abandoned villages nor areas specifically developed for training – simply normal towns where people live … Perhaps this is the time to explain what simulating the occupation of a village looks like. Imagine a massive amount of infantry troops all around, with explosions shaking the earth under your feet. Tanks and attack helicopters open fire as soldiers run through the village setting off stun grenades. There’s a lot of noise. It is important to note that at no point did I stop for a second to think about the fact that we were training around villages where regular people live their daily lives. They are Palestinians; from my perspective it was completely natural to train there as we did.
Mayor: Israel to hold military exercise in Nablus villages
NABLUS (Ma‘an) 4 Nov — Israeli forces will hold military training exercises next week in an area south of Nablus, a local official said. The mayor of Huwwara village, Moan al-Dmeidi, told Ma‘an that Israeli authorities sent a letter to the local municipality informing it of the exercises. The training exercises will take place next Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday around the villages of Beita, Huwwara, Awarta, Osarin, and Aqraba. Witnesses told Ma‘an that Israeli forces have already begun setting up tents in the Huwwara area and military vehicles and equipment arrived in the area over the past few days. The villages are located in Area B, which is currently under PA administrative control and Israeli security control as part of the Oslo Accords.
IDF to simulate Gaza seizure in Ashkelon drill
Ynet 5 Nov by Matan Tzuri — Thousands of soldiers will soon flood Ashkelon to participate in training exercise of Gaza seizure. Residents offended by comparison between the cities — They are the target of rockets, cars are exploding on their streets because of criminal in-fighting, but the residents of the southern Israeli city of Ashkelon still never expected to be compared to Gaza. The IDF is preparing for an exercise in which Ashkelon will be seized as if it were Gaza … The IDF stated that the exercise would not interfere with the day-to-day life of residents, nor should they experience any delays or difficulties. The military does not intend to use public facilities or to block streets and throughways.
Israel’s proposed eastern wall
Israel says separation wall to serve ‘as Palestinian border’
JERUSALEM (AFP) 5 Nov — Israeli negotiators have told their Palestinian counterparts the separation wall that cuts through the West Bank should serve as the border of a future Palestinian state, media reports said Tuesday. Just hours before US Secretary of State John Kerry’s arrival for top-level talks on ongoing direct peace negotiations, two press reports said the Israeli team had made the proposal. “Israel’s opening position was that the border be the route of the separation barrier, and not the 1967 lines as the Palestinians have demanded,” public radio said. And the top-selling Yediot Aharonot newspaper carried an identical report … The PLO insists that all negotiations be based on the lines that existed before the 1967 Six Day War, when Israeli seized Gaza, the West Bank and East Jerusalem. But Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has rejected any return to the 1967 lines as “indefensible,” saying that would not take into account the “demographic changes on the ground” over the past 46 years, in a clear euphemism for illegal Jewish settlements. Israel began work on its sprawling “security fence” in 2002 at the height of the second intifada, and has defended its construction as a crucial protective measure, pointing to a drop in attacks inside Israel as proof of its success. But the Palestinians, who refer to its as the “apartheid wall,” say the barrier is a land grab, pointing out that when complete, 85 percent of it will have been built inside the West Bank.
Jordan Valley fence would finalize the West Bank’s complete enclosure
972mag 4 Nov by Haggai Matar — In what might be a shot to the heart of current peace negotiations, Netanyahu is reviving plans to build a ‘security fence’ in the Jordan Valley. If the fence follows the original route it will enclose any future Palestinian state, cement impossible Bantustan borders and give birth to a new map of Israel’s borders — Ten years after international pressure led Israel to scrap construction plans for the Jordan Valley section of the security/separation fence, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is on track to revive them. Two Ma’ariv – Makor Rishon correspondents on Sunday reported that several government ministries are already making preparations for the project and that Netanyahu himself will order the commencement of construction once the Egyptian border fence is completed. According to Ma’ariv, the official excuse for constructing the new segment is the fear that Syrian refugees now staying in Jordan might infiltrate — although there are no known reports of Syrians trying to make it to the West Bank from the Hashemite Kingdom — and ‘closing the Israeli border.’ However, the correspondents also mention the un-coincidental timing in which Netanyahu made his plans known: just as negotiations with Palestinians seem to be hitting a dead end, with the question of sovereignty in the Jordan Valley reportedly being one of the central obstacles … It is still unclear where exactly Netanyahu plans to build his fence. When West Bank separation barrier maps were originally drawn about 11 years ago, however, they included plans for a fence that would separate most of the mountain area, where the vast majority of Palestinians live, from the vast expenses of the Jordan Valley … Considering the implications of political annexation in the existing fence and Netanyahu’s desire to ensure Israeli control over the Jordanian border, it wouldn’t be outlandish to presume Netanyahu wishes to build his fence along the original route. The result would be completely surrounding the Palestinian territories in the West Bank with Israeli fences, removing any and all land borders it might share with another state (aside from Israel) and finalizing the process of Bantustan-ization of any future Palestinian state/autonomy.
Land, property, resources theft & destruction / Ethnic cleansing
Israel to drill for oil in the West Bank
Al Jazeera 2 Nov by Jonathan Cook — Israeli investors had reason to celebrate last month with the news that Israel may soon be joining the club of oil-producing states, in addition to its recent finds of large natural gas deposits off the coast … Only one cloud looms on the horizon. It is unclear how much of this new-found oil wealth actually belongs to Israel. The well sits on the so-called Green Line, the armistice line of 1948 that formally separates Israel from the occupied Palestinian territories. According to Palestinian officials, Israel has moved the course of its concrete and steel separation wall – claiming security – to provide Givot Olam with unfettered access to the site, between the Israeli town of Rosh Haayin and the Palestinian village of Rantis, north-west of Ramallah. Dror Etkes, an Israeli researcher who tracks Israeli activities in the West Bank, said the Meged site was “a few dozen metres” inside the Green Line.
Israeli authorities halt work on 2 Palestinian houses in Idhna
HEBRON (Ma‘an) 4 Nov — Israeli authorities handed out two stop-work orders for two homes in the West Bank town of Idhna [or Idna] on Monday. Israeli forces ordered the owners of the two buildings to stop construction on their own houses in the city west of Hebron near the Green Line. The first building consisted of a house of two apartments belonging to Muhanad and Saed Issa al-Jiyawi, in the Wadi Aziz area. The other house belongs to Jamal Ahmad Khalil al-Jiyawi and is located in the Wadi al-Beir west of Idhna. Idhna is frequently subjected to attacks and violations by Israeli forces, and recently Israeli forces also handed similar notifications and stop-work orders to nearby agricultural properties as well. Idhna is surrounded by Israeli checkpoints to the north, east, and south, and the separation wall to the west.
Israeli bulldozers uproot 25 olive trees west of Salfit
SALFIT (Ma‘an) 4 Nov — Israeli bulldozers on Monday razed Palestinian lands west of Salfit and uprooted 25 olive trees in order to to pave the way for the expansion of an Israeli settlement, an independent researcher said. Israeli authorities razed the lands in the northwestern West Bank in order to expand a road for settlers from the adjacent settlement of Bruchin, said researcher Khaled Maali. Bruchin settlement is located between the lands of two Palestinian villages, Bruqin and Sarta, in the area west of Salfit. Palestinians in the region had previously protested and organized sit-ins in order to prevent Israeli bulldozers from continuing their work, and had succeeded in forcing bulldozers to suspend their work. Settlers, however, filed a complaint in an Israeli court asking them to resume the work. The court subsequently declared the area a closed “military zone” until the complaint could be considered. Settlers are building new apartments and housing units but are doing so covertly, added Maali.
The silent axe: Driving Palestinian olive farmers off their land
972blog 3 Nov by Yesh Din, written by Yossi Gurvitz — The daily terrorism directed against Palestinians in the West Bank is reliant on the despair Palestinians have for the Israeli justice system. A case in point: olive trees burned to the ground — Amira Hass last week wrote about the ‘quiet terror attacks,’ the ones Israelis don’t hear about. They occur on an almost daily basis and they are directed at Palestinian agriculture. Time after time, Palestinians’ trees are set on fire, uprooted or cut down. Time after time, it happens in an area that is under Israeli control. Time after time, it happens within spitting distance from Israeli settlements or outposts that are surrounded by soldiers, policemen, security cameras and more. Time after time, the people responsible evade justice. Hass noted that the attacks are quiet, because the Israeli media and the IDF are in cahoots to cover up what, at best, is military incompetence of the first rank and, at worst, is aiding and abetting agricultural terrorism. But there’s another reason that these events fade into the background … the fact that Palestinians despair of reporting the incidents. Here is a case in point.
Israeli forces demolish car shop near Ramallah
RAMALLAH (WAFA) 4 Nov — Israeli forces Monday demolished a car lube shop belonging to one of the residents in the village of Ras Karkar, west of Ramallah, according to a local source. Head of Ras Karkar village council Bahjat Samhan told WAFA that Israeli bulldozers, backed by a large army force, demolished the car shop built on a four-dunum land and belongs to Amjad Samhan. He said that a staff from the Israeli civil administration handed the owner of the shop two days ago a notice to evacuate the land as a prelude to demolish the shop. He said forces seized the entire shop’s equipment.
Knesset debate on Jewish prayer on Temple Mount ends in name-calling, walkout
Haaretz 4 Nov by Nir Hasson — …Deputy Religious Services Minister Eli Ben Dahan (Habayit Hayehudi) was scheduled to present a proposal setting specific hours for Jewish prayer on the Temple Mount, something that is currently forbidden. As it turned out, Ben Dahan declined to present his proposal, saying he was waiting for additional halakhic rulings by the recently installed chief rabbis on the issue. Nevertheless, a bitter argument erupted between MKs from the Arab parties and MKs from the right, only a few minutes after the hearing began. “When King David bought the Temple Mount you were savages in the desert. You have no rights on the Temple Mount, that’s a historical fact. Nothing will help you. Even now you are savages,” MK Orit Strock (Habayit Hayehudi) yelled at the Arab MKs present. “You are playing with fire, you’re going to set off a firestorm,” responded MK Jamal Zahalka (Balad). “I’m not threatening, that’s simply what’s going to happen.”
Settlers attack, occupy home in Ibrahimi Mosque yard
Hebron (IMEMC) – Tuesday November 5, 2013, the Radio Bethlehem 2000 has reported that a number of extremist Israeli settlers occupied a Palestinian home in the yard of the Ibrahimi Mosque in the southern West Bank city of Hebron. Head of the Waqf and Endowment Department in Hebron Taiseer Abu Sneina said that the settlers broke into the home, south of the mosque, and that they brought with them digging equipment, beds, and supplies while heavily guarded by dozens of soldiers. Abu Sneina added that the home is not roofed yet, and is located near the area where Israeli soldiers have a permanent roadblock and an electronic gate. Its location is of great significance as it overlooks the Ibrahimi mosque. Abu Sneina added that the illegal takeover only comes a few days after extremist settlers occupied a Palestinian home in the yard of the mosque, and that the Waqf departments filed a lawsuit demanding their removal.
Israeli settlers destroy olive trees near Bethlehem
BETHLEHEM (WAFA) 4 Nov — Israeli settler vandalism of Palestinian land during the olive harvest season continued on Monday with the destruction of dozens of olive trees in the Bethlehem area village of Husan. Member of Husan village council, Taha Hamamreh, told WAFA that settlers from Bitar Elite, built on expropriated land from Husan, Nahalin and Beit Fukin, cut down 40 olive trees from an 8-dunum lot that belongs to Shaer family located inside the settlement. He said the landowners got into a fight with the settlers until Israeli soldiers intervened on behalf of the settlers and detained Munawar Shaer for several hours. Hamamreh said the soldiers and settlers regularly prevent the Palestinian landowners from reaching their land to cultivate it in order to eventually take it over.
Settlers steal olives in As Sawaiya
As Sawaiya, Occupied Palestine (ISM Nablus Team) 4 Nov — The villagers of As Sawaiya had gained permission to pick their olives, for just 3 days in the year the Israel army was allowing them to visit their land. These three days were overshadowed by the harassment and attacks from settlers from the illegal Israel settlement of Eli. Since these attacks happen on a regular basis, the farmers asked International activists to attend the olive harvest as a protective presence. Activists accompanied farmers up to the groves closest to the settlement, which lies on top of the hill. On their arrival they discovered, that the trees were bare, for all the olives had been stolen. A private security guard from the settlement, told activists that the permission was only for the Palestinian farmers and that the army was already contacted to ask them to leave. Indeed soldiers arrived but made no attempt to evict the internationals. Farmers who tried to get to the fields closest to the settlement were prevented from doing so by the Israeli Army. Activists were able to assist with the olive harvest in groves further from the settlement where the crop had not been stolen
Violence / Raids / Attacks / Clashes / Illegal arrests
Child seriously injured in Jerusalem
IMEMC — [Tuesday Evening November 5, 2013] Palestinian medical sources have reported that a Palestinian child was seriously injured by Israeli army fire in Qotna village, northwest of occupied East Jerusalem. Chief of the Palestine Medical Center in Ramallah Dr. Ahmad Al-Beetawy said that the child [Yousef] Mahmoud Tawfiq Taha, 13 years of age, was moved to the center in a serious condition after a rubber-coated metal bullet, fired by a soldier, fractured his skull causing brain hemorrhaging. Taha was admitted to surgery before he was moved to the Intensive Care Unit due to the seriousness of his condition. The child was just walking near the Annexation Wall separating Qotna from occupied Jerusalem. A civilian car rushed him to the Medical Center.
2 teens injured in Jenin clashes
JENIN (Ma‘an) 4 Nov — Two teenagers were injured on Monday during clashes with Israeli forces south of Jenin, official news agency Wafa reported. Muhammad Alawneh, 19, was shot in the foot with live fire and Muen Alawneh, 18, was injured by rubber bullets, security sources said. Locals told Ma‘an that six Israeli military vehicles raided Jaba‘ village at around 1 a.m., leading to clashes in the center of the village. Israeli soldiers fired tear gas canisters, rubber-coated steel bullets and live ammunition at villagers with dozens of people suffering from tear gas inhalation. Israeli forces deliberately damaged several cars in the village, locals added.
Jerusalem man succumbs to 4-year-old wounds
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 4 Nov – A young Palestinian man from Shu‘afat refugee camp in Jerusalem on Monday succumbed to wounds he sustained four years earlier during clashes with Israeli forces in the camp. Jerusalem activist Thaer Abed Rabbo told Ma’an that 27-year-old Rami Bajis Zalabani died Monday evening. He highlighted that Zalabani was hit with a rubber-coated steel bullet to the chest four years ago. Since then, Zalabani has been receiving treatment in hospitals after one of his heart’s valves was hurt.
Hundreds gather for funeral of Jerusalem man
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 5 Nov — Hundreds of Palestinians joined the funeral procession for 27-year-old Rami Bajis Zalabani, who died Monday evening from wounds sustained in clashes with Israeli forces four years ago. Funeral prayers took place in the Al-Aqsa mosque before the body was carried to al-Mujahidin cemetery on Saladin street. Mourners shouted slogans and waved Palestinian flags during the procession as Israeli security forces followed the march.
Witnesses: Israeli forces fire tear gas at Hebron schools
HEBRON (Ma‘an) 4 Nov — Israeli military forces fired tear gas and sound bombs at two schools in Hebron on Monday, locals said. Witnesses told Ma‘an that Israeli soldiers fired tear gas canisters and sound bombs at a primary school and a United Nations school located on Tareq Ben Ziyad street. Dozens of students suffered from smoke inhalation.
IOF soldiers raid ‘Arub refugee camp triggering clashes
AL-KHALIL (PIC) 5 Nov — Israeli occupation forces (IOF) raided ‘Arub refugee camp to the north of Al-Khalil on Tuesday, triggering clashes with young men. Eyewitnesses said that IOF soldiers stormed Jawabra suburb and the camp’s center firing metal bullets and teargas at civilians and houses, triggering clashes with young men during which a number of them suffered from breathing difficulty …
Earlier at dawn Tuesday, a number of young men threw five homemade firebombs at vehicles and buses carrying settlers near Halhoul town to the north of Al-Khalil. The Israeli 10th TV channel said that a Knesset member was among the settlers, adding that the incident took place near Karmi Tzur settlement, which was built on Halhoul land. It said that no casualties were reported but only minor damages to the vehicles and buses.
Israel detains 5 Palestinians in Hebron, Abu Dis
HEBRON (Ma‘an) 4 Nov — Israeli forces raided houses and detained four Palestinians in the Hebron region and one near Jerusalem overnight, locals said. The raids took place in the city of Hebron as well as in the village of Tarqumiya west of Hebron … Israeli forces also raided several houses in Abu Dis, east of Jerusalem, overnight and detained Issa Jafal, 19.
Israeli forces detain 2 in Nablus village
NABLUS (Ma‘an) 4 Nov — Israeli forces detained two Palestinians from the Nablus village of Awarta on Monday, a local official said. Israeli military vehicles raided several homes in the village and arrested Ayman Hani Darawsheh, 24, and Mutasem Nabil Awad, 19.
Israel jails young Palestinian over ‘illegal phone call’
HEBRON (Ma‘an) 5 Nov — An Israeli military court at Ofer detention center on Monday sentenced a young Palestinian man to a month in jail after he was found guilty of making an “illegal phone call,” according to a Palestinian prisoners group. Twenty-one year-old Musab Nidal Zghayyar from Hebron was jailed on charges of talking to a Hamas dignitary over the phone, according to a statement released by Ahrar Center for Prisoners Studies and Human Rights on Tuesday. Zghayyar studies journalism and media at Hebron university and was detained in a midnight raid on his home by Israeli forces on Oct. 28. The statement highlighted that the Israeli occupation treated the phone call as “threat” to Israel’s security … In September, 23-year-old Razi Nabulsi from Haifa was detained by Israeli police for posts he made on Facebook.
Young Palestinian prisoner dies in Israeli jail
NABLUS (Ma‘an) 5 Nov — Palestinian prisoner Hasan Turabi, 22, from a Nablus-area village died Tuesday morning at Afula Medical Center in northern Israel, according to local Palestinian sources. Sources from the village of Sarra in the northern West Bank told Ma‘an that the Israeli prison service officially notified Turabi’s family of his death. Turabi, according to lawyer Hiba Masalha of the Palestinian Authority ministry of prisoners affairs, was suffering from leukemia. She warned recently that he was in real danger after a blood vessel burst. She added that Turabi was vomiting blood and was moved to the intensive care unit where medics found that he had blood clots in the neck, the chest and the abdomen. Israeli forces had transferred Turabi from Megiddo prison to Afula Medical Center for medical treatment. Palestinian Authority minister of prisoners’ affairs Issa Qaraqe responded to the report saying that Israeli prison service is responsible for the death of Turabi and accusing them of “negligence.” Qaraqe said that the negligence had started at Megiddo prison, pointed out that ten days before Turabi was transferred to Afula hospital, he had severe bleeding and started to vomit blood. “Prison medics treated the case recklessly and did not give him any medicine until he collapsed and lost consciousness on March 16, 2013.” At that point, added Qaraqe, the Israeli prison service released Turabi and transferred him to Afula Medical Center where he fell as a “martyr.” … Turabi’s death, added the minister, brings the death toll among Palestinian prisoners in Israel’s custody to 205 since 1967.
Palestinian prisoners protest death of inmate, 20 injured
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 5 Nov — Twenty Palestinian prisoners were injured on Tuesday after Israeli forces suppressed a protest following the death of inmate Hassan Turabi, who died Tuesday morning at Afula Medical Center. Palestinian detainees in Israeli jails declared a day of mourning for Turabi and sent back meals provided by the Israeli Prison Service, the PA Ministry of Prisoners said. Prisoners also refused to take daily breaks in the prison yard. Israeli prison guards attacked detainees in Megiddo prison who were protesting Turabi’s death, injuring at least 20 detainees, the PA Ministry of Prisoners said. Detainees being held in Nafta jail launched a two-day hunger strike in response to the death, while lawyers who work for the PA Ministry of Prisoners boycotted Israeli courts in protest against Israel’s “systematic” medical negligence. The PLO on Tuesday released a statement calling for an international investigation into the conditions of Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails.
Activism / BDS
Protest against Israeli chemical factories in Tulkarem
TULKAREM, Occupied Palestine (ISM) 5 Nov by Nablus Team — On the 4th of November, associations, officials and activists protested against the chemical factories that sicken the population of Tulkarem. The construction of Israeli factories on Palestinian land near Tulkarem started in 1987. At the time locals were told these installations were a good will gesture that would provide employment. 26 years later the women’s group MIFTAH, surrounded by speakers from the Palestinian Government, Ministry of Health and local campaigners raised concerns about the high rates of cancer, respiratory diseases and skin ailments close to the factories. All of them condemned the factories. It was reported that the factories do not operate when east winds would carry the fumes into Israel and that toxic waste had been buried on agricultural land in a nearby Palestinian village. International activists then joined a protest march to the high wire topped wall that marks the boundary to the industrial complex. The protest passed peacefully without the security forces attending.
Ireland: Israeli products marked with yellow sticker
Ynet 5 Nov by Itamar Eichner — BDS movement places yellow stickers on Israeli products reading ‘For justice in Palestine – Boycott Israel’. Israeli Foreign Ministry : Yellow sticker – reminiscent of dark days of racism, incitement — A pro-Israeli activist residing in Dublin, Ireland, was shocked this week when he discovered that a Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) organization had taped yellow stickers on Israeli products reading “For justice in Palestine, Boycott Israel”. [Why then is it that the color chosen for Israeli car license plates was yellow? They allow a vehicle to use Israeli-only roads in the West Bank. Cars with Palestinian plates, white with green numbers, ordinarily can’t use them.]
UN halts work on Gaza projects due to Israeli building materials ban
GAZA (Reuters) 5 Nov by Nidal al-Mughrabi — The U.N. said on Tuesday it had halted work on all but one of its 20 Gaza building projects as a result of an Israeli ban on importing building materials into the Palestinian enclave. Israel imposed the ban after discovering on October 13 a 2.5-km (1-1/2-mile) tunnel which it said militants planned to use for attacks inside its territory. Islamist Hamas, which has run the Gaza Strip since 2007, claimed it dug the tunnel. “We are in now in the fourth week (in which) we are not allowed to bring in construction material,” Robert Turner, director of Gaza operations for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), said. “We do not know when we will be allowed to restart these projects,” he said, calling for the ban to be lifted. He told reporters that the only building project still under way, a bridge, was also running out of building materials. The others included 12 schools and a health center.
IOF artillery shells border areas in Gaza
GAZA (PIC) 4 Nov — Israeli occupation forces (IOF) opened artillery fire at a number of border areas in the Gaza Strip at a late night hour on Sunday. A field observer told Quds Press on Monday that the IOF artillery fired a shell at Juhr Al-Deek area to the southeast of Gaza city with no casualties reported. He said that a similar shelling was reported targeting a deserted area to the east of Jabaliya, in the north of the Strip. Meanwhile, the IOF “Iron Dome” anti-missile system fired a number of projectiles to the east of Khan Younis, in the south of the Strip, while no rockets were being fired from Gaza. Israeli warplanes and reconnaissance planes did not stop flying over the besieged enclave amidst anticipation on the part of the people and resistance factions of an Israeli reprisal act to the operation near Khan Younis a couple of days ago.
Palestinian student discovers pesticide to combat tomato losses
Middle East Monitor 5 Nov — EXCLUSIVE PHOTOS A Palestinian master’s student from the besieged Gaza Strip has discovered a pesticide to combat the anti-tuta absoluta moth, which causes the Palestinian farmers in the Strip huge losses. This worm, which appeared in the Gaza Strip 5 years ago, damages tomato crops and in certain seasons, crops are actually lost to the pest. There is currently a severe shortage of tomatoes in Gaza causing severe price hikes. One kilo of tomatoes is now sold for $1.5. Student Hala Moheesin, a master’s student at the Islamic University of Gaza, spent hours conducting experiments despite shortages of lab tools and chemical materials. Moheesin is a student in the department of chemistry that was targeted by Israeli warplanes in 2012. It was completely destroyed and all equipment and chemicals were damaged. She discovered the new invention through the use of the Beauveria Bassinana fungus. It spreads around all the branches and leaves of the tomato plant and resisted the tuta absoluta moth. [See also (another) Gazan student shows that necessity is the mother of all inventions]
Children as young as three have seen bombs destroy their homes and neighborhoods
Islamic Relief 5 Nov — Muna Abed, Coordinator of Islamic Relief’s psychosocial counseling centre in Gaza, reports on the toll the ongoing crisis is taking on children: Children living in the Gaza Strip have been exposed to, and are suffering from, a range of trauma and abuse which put them at high risk. Children as young as three have seen bombs destroy their homes and neighbourhoods, and their friends and family killed and maimed. Islamic Relief works with children to reduce mental health problems. If the problems are neglected, they continue into adulthood and the next generation of parents. Children usually come to the centre suffering from psychological disorders caused by trauma. Disorders include phobia, anxiety, behavioral difficulties, aggression, nightmares — which really limit the child’s ability to thrive. Some of the children we see demonstrate a normalised attitude to violence … Results are very positive: a lot of children have successfully overcome their problems. However, there are a lot of children on the waiting list — so we are keen to expand our services so we can help even more vulnerable children.
Hamas appoints 1st female English-language spokesperson
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 4 Nov — The government in the Gaza Strip appointed a woman as their first English-language spokeswoman on Sunday, offering the Hamas-led authority a fresh new face to represent itself on the world stage. Israa Al-Mudallal, 23, a journalist who spent years as a child in the United Kingdom, said in an interview that she would “address Western and Israeli media” and would “work to change media discourse, painting a different picture of Palestine and Gaza.” She added: “The Western media has begun to realize that the Israeli media falsifies the facts, and so we have to make a great effort to debunk Israeli falsehoods.”
Photos: A hero returns to Gaza
GAZA (ISM) 5 Nov by Charlie Andreasson — …Suddenly the murmur raised to a cheer as the crowd rushed through the open gates to meet 51-year-old Mohammed Abu Amsha, married with eight children, who had just been released after seven years in prison. It was his third prison term, and he has been denied adequate medical care for his heart and lung problems. But now he was a free man, and soon he was sitting in a car followed by us, among the narrow streets in the nearby village of Beit Hanoun, while children and adults alike curiously lined the walls and hung out of windows. Women ululated as a tuk-tuk drove forward with big, booming speakers. A large celebration tent had been raised outside Abu Amsha’s family home.
Visualizing Palestine Infographic: How the Syrian crisis created a disaster for Palestinian refugee children
Mondoweiss 5 Nov — Among the continuing flurry of global media coverage on the crisis in Syria, the situation of the estimated 6 million displaced by conflict has gained only sporadic reportage. Meanwhile, the second large scale displacement of the longstanding Palestinian refugee population in Syria has been little mentioned. By September 2013, close to 60% of this 500,000-strong community had been displaced. It is increasingly difficult for them to leave Syria, but of the bordering countries – including Turkey, Jordan, Lebanon and Iraq – these refugees have been completely barred from taking refuge in only one, Israel, built on the same regions of historic Palestine from which they and their families were expelled in 1948.
Palestinian and Syrian refugees stage sit-in in Lampedusa, Italy
ROME (PIC) 3 Nov — More than three hundred Palestinian and Syrian refugees staged a sit-in on the Italian island of Lampedusa on Saturday to protest against the poor living conditions in the refugees’ camp on the island. The protesters appealed to the human rights organizations and the international community to intervene and end their “disastrous” living conditions on that island.
Refugee committees to shut down UNRWA offices
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 4 Nov – The popular committees of the Palestinian refugee camps in the northern West Bank will shut down UNRWA’s offices Tuesday protesting reductions in services provided to Palestinian refugees in the region. The decision came after UNRWA decided to end the UN Money for Work program in Jenin district in the northern West Bank. The program offered temporary job opportunities to 23,000 family providers across the West Bank suffering dire economic conditions. The popular committees of Palestinian refugee camps in the northern West Bank added that the UNRWA decided suddenly to end the program in villages and cities by the beginning of 2014. The program will continue for a few months in 2014 but only in the West Bank refugee camps “in an attempt to somehow calm the angry refugees.” More than 50 coordinators who worked on the program were discharged “under the pretext that the UNRWA doesn’t have enough money to employ them.”
Four Palestinian refugees killed in Syria clashes
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 5 Nov — Four Palestinian refugees have been killed in ongoing clashes in Syria, says a Palestinian group. According to a statement by the Workforce for Palestinians in Syria, Raed Ahmad Muwas was killed in clashes in Daraa refugee camp on Monday. Three other refugees were killed in Khan Danoun refugee camp near Damascus. According to the statement, Muhammad Qasim Omar, his brother Ghayyath, and Bahjat Yaakub died of torture in Syrian regime jails. The statement also highlighted that several mortar shells landed in Sbeina refugee camp in the outskirts of Damascus. A university student from the Yarmouk refugee camp has been missing since Thursday, the statement added.
Israel, PLO negotiators in row over settlements ahead of Kerry visit
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 6 Nov by George Hale — Talks between Israeli and Palestinian negotiators broke down in a row over settlements on Tuesday, hours before Secretary of State John Kerry arrived in Jerusalem hoping to ease tensions between the two sides, Palestinian officials said. PLO negotiators present at the secret meeting in Jerusalem accused Israeli officials of trying to discredit the Palestinian leadership by linking new settlement plans with the staged release of 104 prisoners. “There was an explosion in the meeting,” according to one Palestinian official close to the talks who requested anonymity to discuss sensitive discussions under a US-imposed media blackout. Officials from both sides are increasingly ignoring Washington’s insistence that they keep a lid on the first direct negotiations since talks broke down in September 2010 over settlement construction.
Peace talks ‘set to collapse unless US acts’
RAMALLAH (AFP) 4 Nov — Nascent Israeli-Palestinian peace talks are likely to collapse without urgent US intervention, voices on both sides warned ahead of a new visit by Washington’s top diplomat. US Secretary of State John Kerry, who is due to arrive late Tuesday for the latest round of talks with Israeli and Palestinian leaders, has kept up a positive front, insisting he is “hopeful” progress can be made “within the next months.” But Israel’s top-selling Yediot Aharonot newspaper said Kerry has realised the talks will not result in a deal within nine months and is working on a proposal for an interim agreement to be presented to the two sides early next year … Reports of a new US approach were strengthened on Monday when Zehava Gal-On, head of Israel’s leftwing Meretz party, said Washington would unveil its own diplomatic plan in January. “The Obama administration plans to achieve a diplomatic breakthrough at the beginning of 2014,” she told Haaretz newspaper, quoting US, Palestinian and Arab officials. “The Americans want to move from coordinating between the two sides to a phase of active intervention.” US officials have denied the existence of any plan for an interim agreement, insisting that Washington is still hoping to broker a comprehensive peace deal.
Abbas: Negotiations made zero progress so far
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 4 Nov – Peace negotiations with Israel haven’t made any progress so far despite all the meetings between Palestinian and Israeli negotiators, President Mahmoud Abbas said Sunday. Speaking at a meeting for his Fatah movement’s consultative council in Ramallah, Abbas added that he expected some ‘tension’ in the offing because Israel is trying to connect settlement expansion to the release of veteran Palestinian prisoners. ‘Israel is saying that after prisoners have been released, settlement expansion should continue,’ Abbas said. This connection, he added, and this parity might blow up the situation while negotiations have achieved nothing yet.
Israel conducts DNA tests to identify Palestinian fighters
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 5 Nov — Israel has completed DNA tests to identify the bodies of 36 Palestinian fighters held in Israeli custody, a spokesperson from a campaign to retrieve the bodies said. Salim Khilla from the Palestinian national campaign to restore martyrs’ bodies told Ma‘an Tuesday that relatives of the fighters traveled to the Tayba crossing in Tulkarem to give DNA samples which Israel will match with the remains of the bodies it holds in custody. The results will be announced in two to eight weeks, at which point Israel is expected to return the fighters in groups. In August, the Palestinian Authority refused to receive the remains of Palestinian fighters held by Israel because its request for DNA testing was denied. Since the 1960s, Israel has withheld the bodies of hundreds of Palestinians, interred in numbered, rather than named, graves in a cemetery in the occupied West Bank’s Jordan Valley. The PA is aware of at least 288 Palestinian bodies being held by Israel, Khilla said, despite Israel claiming it only has 80 bodies. Following are the names of the 36 Palestinians expected to be delivered to their families following DNA tests.
Committee investigating Arafat’s death receives Swiss autopsy results
RAMALLAH (WAFA) 5 Nov — The special Palestinian committee investigating reasons for the death of Yasser Arafat received Tuesday the Swiss autopsy results done on Arafat’s remains almost a year ago. A statement by the committee said the Swiss center handed the results to the committee in Geneva. Swiss, Russian and French forensic experts took samples of Arafat’s remains after exhuming his body on November 27 of last year. The committee said the Russian team has already handed in its results on November 2. Nothing was said as to when the French are expected to submit their results. The committee said that experts are studying the results in order to inform the Palestinian people of the findings
West Bank fuel crisis ‘resolved’
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 5 Nov — Israeli companies have resumed fuel supplies to West Bank gas stations resolving a fuel crisis that has plagued the region for the last few days, deputy speaker of the union of gas station owners said Tuesday. Nizar al-Jaabari told Ma‘an that some gas stations are still short of fuel as demand is still high after West Bank stations ran out of fuel over the last two days … Fuel was originally cut off after the Palestinian Authority’s accumulated debts to Israeli providers exceeded 600 million shekels ($170 million), the agreed-upon limit at which Israel has threatened to cut off fuel in the past.
Analysis / Opinion
For Palestinian citizens, 1956 massacre is not a distant memory / Amjad Iraqi
972blog 2 Nov — If Israel was able to inflict fatalities in 2000 just as it did in Kafr Qasim in 1956, with no accountability to the victims and affected families, how can Arabs feel safe about their rights as citizens? — …In the months after the Kafr Qasim massacre in 1956, Palestinians across Israel held large demonstrations in anger at the brutal deaths and in protest of the discriminatory policies that were growing in the nascent Israeli state. My grandfather, who lived in Tira at the time, told me how he watched the town’s demonstration from the roof of his home: as the peaceful marchers approached the military roadblocks, police opened fire at the crowds to disperse the protest. Other villages faced the same response. Fifty-seven years later, in 2013, I watched as Israeli police violently broke up Arab demonstrations against the Prawer Plan with clubs, tear gas and stun grenades and arbitrarily arrested dozens of Palestinian participants. The police gave them only one hour to protest and argued that the demonstrators were trying to block major junctions. What they did not explain was why a social justice protest organized by Jewish citizens in Tel Aviv that same week, which blocked the Ayalon highway, was allowed to continue late into the night without hindrance. The differences in the state’s treatment of Jews and Arabs are widespread and well known, but there are still many Israelis who do not comprehend the impact of this pervasive and historic discrimination. By allowing these forms of mistreatment to continue, Palestinian citizens are being told to accept their inferior status: that we are not allowed to enter the public sphere, that we should fear for our freedom of expression, and that we will not find justice for any actions taken against us.
The Palestinian negotiator who cried wolf / Amira Hass
Haaretz 4 Nov — Saeb Erekat isn’t to blame for his serial resignation threats; he wasn’t the one who decided to negotiate under such humiliating circumstances — Heartless Palestinians have been expressing scorn for the latest resignation of the Palestinian negotiating team in the renewed talks with the Israelis, especially for its head, Dr. Saeb Erekat. In contrast with his colleague on the team Dr. Mohammad Shtayyeh, Erekat is seen as a serial “I threaten to resign” person, just as he is seen as the perpetual negotiator in the Palestinian-Israeli talks that give the impression that they will go on forever. The letter of resignation, circles in Ramallah are saying, was submitted early last week. Two interconnected issues sparked Erekat’s latest resignation: Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s declaration that thousands of additional housing units would be built in West Bank settlements as a response to the second stage in the release of Palestinian prisoners from Israeli prisons, and the dissemination of the claim that Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and the Palestinian negotiating team knew about, and thus tacitly agreed to, the additional construction activity. That is absolute nonsense. Does anyone think that Netanyahu would not have made that declaration if he had not been given the green light from the PA?