Land, property theft & destruction / Ethnic cleansing
New Peace Now/APN report: Bibi’s settlements boom — March-November 2013
UPDATE 12 Nov by Lara Friedman — Settlement boom even bigger than was known — …Over the past 8 months, tenders have been issued for 3,472 new settlement units. Of these, 1,457 are in the West Bank and another 2,015 are in East Jerusalem. Assuming a settler family size of 5 people, this means housing for more than 17,000 new Israeli settlers. (For full data/details, see tables at the end of the full document.) Over the past 8 months, the Netanyahu government has promoted plans for 8,943 new settlement units. Of these, 6,521 are in the West Bank and another 2,422 in East Jerusalem. Assuming a settler family size of 5 people, this means housing for more than 44,000 new Israeli settlers.(For full data/details, see tables at the end of the full document.) …Construction without Tenders As Peace Now documented, the first six months of 2013, bridging between the two Netanyahu governments, saw a 70% increase in new construction starts in settlements, as compared to the same period in 2012. This comprised starts on 1,708 new settlement units, 180 of which were in illegal outposts (compared to 995 for the same period in 2012). Peace Now documented, too, the completion of 1,794 settlement units. In total, 2,840 housing units were started, under construction, or completed during this period. Assuming a family of five, this translated to more than 14,000 new settlers.
Housing Ministry publishes massive settlement plan, Netanyahu orders review
[with map] 972mag 12 Nov by Mairav Zonszein — Israel’s Ministry of Housing and Construction (run by Jewish Home MK Uri Ariel, who lives in a West Bank settlement) published tenders last week for 20,000 new settlements units, including a tender to build 1,200 units in the southern part of the highly controversial E-1 area, Haaretz (Hebrew) reported Tuesday. According to Haaretz’s Chaim Levinson, the tenders call for construction in 23 settlements, the largest scope in the last decade, at a cost of NIS 50 million. Just minutes after the report came out, Haaretz followed up with the news that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ordered the housing minister to immediately halt any constructions plans for E-1, a move that proves just how sensitive and controversial this area is … The reason E-1 is so sensitive is because it is the main artery between the northern and southern West Bank. According to a report by Ir Amim,a non-profit focusing on the occupation’s effects on Jerusalem: “Israeli control of the E-1 area would prevent any option of developing Palestinian portions of East Jerusalem and create a barrier between East Jerusalem and the rest of the West Bank, precluding the possibility of its functioning as the capital of a future Palestinian state.” Since 2004, strong American intervention during the Bush administration has prevented construction in E-1.
Abbas: talks over if Israel doesn’t cancel new settlement tenders
Ynet 12 Nov by Elior Levy — Responding to reports that Israel issued tenders for 20,000 additional housing units in territories, PA president says if tenders are not canceled, negotiations will stop. US slams Israel’s move, says settlement planning ‘does not create positive environment for negotiations’ — …The Palestinians threatened Tuesday to appeal to the UN Security Council over Israel’s quickening settlement drive in the West Bank and to step up efforts to join UN agencies.
Israel PM cancels settlement homes after US, Palestinian criticism
JERUSALEM (AFP) 13 Nov — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu late Tuesday canceled plans to build 20,000 new settler homes in the West Bank, hours after their announcement sparked US and Palestinian criticism. Netanyahu ordered Israeli Housing Minister Uri Ariel “to reconsider all of the steps for evaluating planning potential (for the settler homes) that he distributed without any advance coordination,” a statement from Netanyahu’s office said. Netanyahu told Ariel the plan was “meaningless” legally — “and an action that creates an unnecessary confrontation with the international community at a time when we are making an effort to persuade elements in the international community to reach a better deal with Iran,” according to the statement. Ariel was said to “accede” to Netanyahu’s “request”. The prime minister’s order came after President Mahmoud Abbas warned the construction plans, announced earlier Tuesday by Ariel’s ministry, would prompt him to declare the peace process over if they went ahead. Washington expressed “deep concern” at the move, which threatened to add sharply to the 550,000 Israeli settlers already living in the occupied West Bank, including annexed East Jerusalem.
Controversial West Bank tender in E1 area issued behind Netanyahu’s back
Haaretz 12 Nov by Jonathan Lis et al. — The Housing Ministry admitted Tuesday afternoon that the tender it issued for the construction of 1,200 housing units in the E1 area was done behind Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu‘s back. Just hours after the news broke, Netanyahu ordered a halt to the construction plans in the E1 area. The Prime Minister’s Office issued a statement: “There is no reason to pay an international price for a planning process that isn’t that significant.” This tender is part of a plan for over 20,000 housing units throughout the West Bank, the largest in the last decade. Officials close to Housing Minister Uri Ariel said publishing the tenders without Netanyahu’s knowledge is not out of the ordinary.
PLO officials weigh response to settlement plans
CAIRO (Ma‘an) 13 Nov — PLO officials will hold an urgent meeting to discuss a response to plans disclosed Tuesday for Israel to build thousands of settlement units across the occupied West Bank. PLO negotiator Saeb Erekat told Ma‘an that “all options are open” in response to the plans, and he said that the US, Russia and EU had been notified. He said an emergency meeting would be held soon to discuss the issue.
South Hebron Hills outpost of Havat Ma’on continues to expand. Despite documentation, Israeli official deny knowledge of expansion
At-Tuwani 11 Nov by Operation Dove — The Israeli outpost of Havat Ma’on (Hill 833) in the West Bank’s South Hebron Hills is growing at a phenomenal rate since the beginning of October. On Saturday November 9, the activist group of Ta’ayush (an Arab and Jewish grassroots nonviolent movement) and international peace activists entered the outpost in order to document the illegal works taking place and to ask the Israeli authorities to stop the expansion. The activist group videotaped a large construction site, but settlers and the Israeli police and army prevented them from fully documenting the expansion of Havat Ma’on. Furthermore two masked settlers attacked the activists, throwing stones at them. In spite of the presence of the Israeli police, there were no consequences for the attackers … Despite receiving several notices of this expansion, when an Israeli activist informed the Israeli official responsible for the infrastructure of Hebron and the South Hebron area from the District Coordination Office (DCO), the official declared that DCO officers inspected the area and did not see any construction work. From Havat Ma’on outpost come a lot of violence and threats against the local Palestinian communities. Just in the lands surrounding the outpost, Operation Dove volunteers have recorded a total of 43 incidents since the beginning of the 2013 in which local settlers are involved: 13 cases of Palestinian property damages (primarily olive trees); 13 violent attacks and 17 harassments and threats against Palestinians, Israelis and internationals.
Israeli plan for Jewish Negev town ‘racist’
JERUSALEM (AFP) 12 Nov — An Israeli human rights organization on Monday accused the government of promoting “racist” policies in its decision to establish a Jewish town in the place of a Bedouin village. The cabinet on Sunday approved the establishment of “two new communities in the Negev” in southern Israel, naming them as Kesif and Hiran. But according to Suhad Bishara, director of the land and planning unit at Israeli Arab rights group Adalah, “in order to build Hiran it will accelerate the demolition of the unrecognised Umm el-Hieran village in the Negev and evict its residents.” Bishara said this reflected a “racist policy,” noting “it is a residential area but the state is telling the Bedouins that they are unfit for this land and will bring in Jewish residents instead.”
Israel plans more house demolitions in Shufat camp
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 12 Nov — Israeli intelligence agents on Tuesday escorted representatives from the Jerusalem municipality on a tour of Shu‘fat refugee camp and took photos of several buildings in Ras Khamis and Ras Shehada neighborhoods. Jerusalem activist Thaer Abed Rabbo told Ma‘an that more than 120 intelligence agents were seen in the camp. Jamil Sanduqa, who chairs a local committee to develop the Ras Khamis neighborhood, highlighted that municipality officers took photos of 28 buildings each consisting of 20-50 apartments. They measured the buildings from the outside, writing marks on maps they had. Sanduqa said Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas should stop peace negotiations with the Israelis in response to the “racist” procedures against the Palestinians in Jerusalem. A member of a committee representing owners of a building slated for demolition Khader Salameh highlighted that the Jerusalem municipality had delivered demolition warrants on October 31 for dozens of residential building housing more than 15,000 Palestinians in Shu‘afat. He described the Israeli move as “a frenetic ethnic cleansing campaign” seeking to evacuate the indigenous residents of Jerusalem in order to make them a minority in the city.
Israel demolishes Jerusalem home while family trying to demolish it
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 12 Nov — Bulldozers belonging to the Israeli municipality on Tuesday morning demolished a Palestinian family’s mobile home in the Beit Hanina neighborhood of Jerusalem after the family had already begun trying to disassemble and remove it. Afif Castero told a Ma‘an reporter Tuesday morning that bulldozers escorted by a large number of Israeli forces surprised his family in the early morning and started to demolish his family’s mobile homes, which he and his brother Ayman had started to disassemble Monday afternoon. Castero’s family had previously received an order for his home’s demolition. However, because when the Israeli municipality demolishes a Palestinian home they force the owner to pay the cost, Castero had been trying to demolish his own home in order to avoid exorbitant fees. Castero highlighted that his family moved to live in the trailers after Israeli bulldozers demolished the family’s two-story building in February because it was built without license from the municipality. He added that his family started the procedures to obtain a license for installing a mobile home, but the Israeli municipality turned down their application.
Jewish settlers bulldoze land south of Nablus
NABLUS (PIC) 12 Nov — Armed Jewish settlers bulldozed cultivated land lots in Qaryut village, south of Nablus, at noon Monday. Village sources told the PIC that the settlers were paving the way for annexing those land lots to their settlements established on Palestinian land in Qaryut and other nearby villages. They said that the armed settlers closed the village’s main road and started bulldozing the land while threatening any Palestinian citizen trying to approach the area.
Report: Jordan rejects Israeli request for prayers at Aqsa
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 13 Nov — Jordan has rejected an Israeli request to allow Jews to pray at the al-Aqsa Mosque compound, the Israeli newspaper Maariv reported Tuesday. Maariv quoted Jordan’s envoy for holy sites in Jerusalem Abdel Naser Nassar as saying that Jewish “extremists” would not be allowed into the mosque compound. The request was an attempt to divide al-Aqsa as part of the Jerusalem “Judaization” plans, he said. Knesset member from The Jewish Home party Zvulun Kalfa said he was not aware that “any organization or religious group made this request from Jordan.” The report added that the peace treaty signed between Jordan and Israel states that each part must allow the other access to religious and historic sites.
Restriction of movement
Notice to foreign nationals with Judea and Samaria only visa — Please circulate widely
New Profile group 12 Nov — Foreign nationals residing in the West Bank who have received a ‘Judea and Samaria only’ stamp on their visa are advised to immediately bring this problem to the attention of their Country’s Consulate or Representative office in Jerusalem or Ramallah. Upon receiving numerous complaints regarding this restriction, the US Embassy was successful in its efforts to have the stamp voided by the Israeli authorities for a significant number of US citizens, thereby restoring their access to Jerusalem and Israel. Action can and should be taken by other States to secure such remedies for their affected nationals. Foreign nationals issued a ‘Judea and Samaria only’ limitation should also be aware that their own governments do not, and cannot, accept the exercise of Israeli civilian authority in occupied territory, or the application of Israeli domestic legislation to those territories. Their governments will have to consider whether they can accept Israel’s placement of a “Judea and Samaria only” stamp in their passports in this light.
Violence / Attacks / Raids / Illegal arrests
Jerusalem man in coma after settler attack
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 13 Nov — A Palestinian man from the al-Isawiya neighborhood of East Jerusalem was seriously wounded after being attacked by Israeli settlers near the Al-Aqsa Mosque on Tuesday, relatives said. Kamil Dawood Basila, 48, was walking near the Western Wall on the Moroccan Gate road when two settlers threw a large rock at him from a height, family member Daoud Basila told Ma‘an. Basila was hit on the back and collapsed to the ground. He was taken to Shaare Zedek Medical Center in West Jerusalem where doctors say he sustained fractures to his chest and spine. He is currently in a coma. Basila’s boss witnessed the attack and immediately called Israeli police, who arrested one of the assailants. The other attacker fled the scene. Basila is married and has six children.
Palestinian teen stabs, kills Israeli soldier
OCCUPIED JERUSALEM (AP) 13 Nov by Aron Heller — A Palestinian teenager stabbed an Israeli soldier to death at a bus station in northern Israel on Wednesday, police said, in a rare nationalistic attack far from the usual West Bank flashpoints. The soldier was stabbed multiple times in the neck and upper body and was evacuated to hospital in critical condition where he died of his wounds, police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said. The attacker, a 16-year-old Palestinian from the West Bank town of Jenin who was working in Israel illegally, was apprehended and was being investigated, Rosenfeld said. The knife he used to stab the soldier was confiscated. The stabbing took place on a Tel Aviv-bound bus as it made a stop in the northern Israeli town of Afula.
B’Tselem investigation: grave suspicion Ahmad Tazaz’ah was killed by Israeli soldiers using unlawful lethal force
[with videos] 11 Nov — On the morning of 31 October 2013, at about 5:30 AM, Ahmad Tazaz’ah, 20, who worked in a vegetable market, was hit in the chest by live ammunition. The ammunition was allegedly fired by an Israeli military force present in the market near the Palestinian town of Qabatiya, south of Jenin. Tazaz’ah was rushed to the Jenin government hospital. He was dead on arrival … According to B’Tselem’s inquiries, the soldiers were not in any real danger during the incident. This gives rise to a grave suspicion that there was no justification for the use of live ammunition, let alone of aiming directly at Tazaz’ah’s chest. Stone-throwing during arrest operations is a predictable and recurring scenario. The military must be prepared to handle such situations with crowd control weapons and without resorting to lethal force. The Israeli military’s claim that the soldiers responded to the stone-throwing with stun- and tear-gas grenades is incompatible with Tazaz’ah’s fatal injury from a live bullet to the chest, or with testimonies and other evidence found at the scene. B’Tselem contacted the MAG Corps, demanding a criminal investigation into the circumstances of the incident.
Woman accused of stabbing attempt, arrested at checkpoint
NABLUS (Ma‘an) 12 Nov — A woman was arrested and physically abused at Zaatara checkpoint on Monday afternoon, witnesses said. Wiam Sameeh Aseeda, 22, was beaten to the ground and taunted by Israeli soldiers before she was handcuffed and taken in a police car, an eyewitness told Ma‘an. Aseeda, a student from Tel village near Nablus, was charged with attempting to stab a soldier at the checkpoint, her family said. Aseeda’s father told the Ahrar center for prisoners studies that he was not aware of her arrest until he was informed by lawyers. She was detained at the checkpoint for several hours, then she was take to Ariel police station, before she was moved to Hasharon prison on Tuesday after interrogation.
Clashes in Jerusalem as Israeli forces shut down Arafat event
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 11 Nov — Israeli forces and intelligence officers stormed a sports club in the Silwan neighborhood of Jerusalem and dispersed Palestinians who were commemorating the ninth anniversary of late president Yasser Arafat’s death. Witnesses told Ma‘an that large numbers of Israeli officers stormed the club and forced commemorators to leave immediately. The forces presented an order signed by the Israeli minister of interior banning the commemoration … Clashes broke near the club between Israeli forces and young Palestinian men. The Israelis fired stun grenades at the commemorators and as a result a motorcyclist, who was driving nearby, was injured by shrapnel.
Israeli army assaults Arafat memorial march
KAFR QADDUM (ISM Nablus Team) 12 Nov — The residents of Kafr Qaddum held their annual anniversary demonstration marking Yasser Arafat’s death, despite strong repression from the Israeli army. At approximately 2:30 pm, Palestinian demonstrators and international activists assembled in front of the illegal settlement of Qedumim. After about 30 minutes, the Israeli army began shooting a huge amount of tear gas into the fields and on the main road, trying to prevent the demonstrators to exercise their right to protest and express their opinion. After one hour of sustained tear gas fire, part of the demonstration slowly moved back to the middle of the street as the soldiers were taking position on the top of the hill in order to better target the demonstrators. A few demonstrators stayed on the road, facing the rest of the soldiers. Suddenly, the Israeli army started throwing stones, followed by more stun grenades and tear gas rained down on the Palestinians citizens of Kafr Qaddum. Despite the continued Israeli assault, the demonstration lasted until 5:00 pm. Two Palestinian citizens were injured, both on the legs. One of them, directly hit by a tear gas canister, has been admitted to Nablus hospital.
Thousands mark Arafat’s death across the West Bank
HEBRON (Ma‘an) 11 Nov — Thousands of people took to the streets across the West Bank on Monday to mark the 9th anniversary of Yasser Arafat’s death. Large rallies were held in Jenin, Qalqiliya and Ramallah and other West Bank cities to commemorate the late president’s death in 2004, with crowds of people waving Palestinian flags and carrying portraits of Arafat. In Hebron, at least three people were injured by rubber-coated steel bullets after clashes broke out during a commemoration march. Young men began throwing rocks at an Israeli military base at the entrance to Shuhada street in the center of Hebron, with soldiers firing tear gas canisters and rubber bullets. An Israeli army spokeswoman said that “during the day, small-scale, violent and illegal riots took place” throughout the West Bank, “involving rocks hurled at soldiers.” … On Sunday, President Mahmoud Abbas said that the PA was determined to uncover the truth of how Arafat died, regardless of the consequences.
Israeli forces detain 7 teens in West Bank arrest raids
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 11 Nov — Israeli forces detained seven teenagers in arrests raids across the West Bank overnight Sunday, locals and Israel’s army said. Witnesses told Ma‘an that over 10 Israeli military vehicles raided the al-Jabal al-Shamali, Khilleh al-Amoud, and al-Maajeen neighborhoods of Nablus and detained Bara Ghassan Thawqan, 18, Asem Mustafa al-Shinar, 16, and Yazan Zameer al-Nouri, 18. In Tuqu‘ village, southeast of Bethlehem, Israeli forces detained Moath Ibrahim al-Oumour, 18, Baha Aref al-Oumour, 18, Omar Sulaiman al-Oumour, 18, and Ahmad Mohammad al-Oumour, 18, locals said.
An Israeli army spokeswoman said 13 people were detained across the West Bank for engaging in “illegal activities.” Four were detained in Tuqu‘, six in Ramallah, one in Nablus, one in Tulkarem and one in Jenin, she added.
Israeli forces fire tear gas at 2 schools in Beit Ummar
HEBRON (Ma‘an) 11 Nov — Israeli forces fired tear gas canisters into a school and a kindergarten north of Hebron Monday after protesters nearby threw rocks at an Israeli patrol in the area while marking the death of Yasser Arafat nine years ago. Palestinian protesters were throwing rocks at an Israeli military patrol passing through the Aseeda neighborhood of Beit Ummar when Israeli forces responded by firing rubber bullets and launching large numbers of tear gas grenades onto the main street of the southern West Bank city. Zahrat al-Mada’in Girls’ School and a nearby kindergarten were evacuated after tear gas canisters were fired by Israeli troops towards the buildings.
Israel detains 2 children at Nablus checkpoint
NABLUS (Ma‘an) 11 Nov — Israeli forces detained two children at a checkpoint in Nablus on Monday, a local official said. Head of Beit Furik municipality Aref Hanini told Ma‘an that Yaqout Mohammad Jawhar, 13, and Alaa Mustafa Hanini, 12, were detained during clashes at the checkpoint. Israeli soldiers detained the boys after Palestinians threw rocks at military forces, Hanini said.
Israeli forces raid towns across northern West Bank
JENIN (Ma‘an) 11 Nov — Israeli forces raided a number of residential areas across Jenin on Monday, temporarily detaining numerous Palestinians and ransacking a home in al-Zawiya village in the process. Israeli patrols raided the northern West Bank city of Jenin as well as other towns and villages in the north, including Bir al-Basha, al-Yamun and Ya‘bad.
Israel forces detain 10 in West Bank arrest raids
QALQILIYA (Ma‘an) 12 Nov — Israeli forces carried out multiple raids across the West Bank overnight Monday, detaining 10 Palestinian men and teenagers in a series of sweeps and attacks on villages across the Palestinian territory. Israeli forces stormed the northern West Bank village of ‘Azzun east of Qalqiliya after midnight Monday and detained five young men … Israeli forces also raided the Bethlehem district in the southern West Bank and detained four teenagers from al-Ubeidiya in the east. Locals said they saw eight Israeli military vehicles storming the town at 1 a.m. before they detained four 16-year-old boys … Separately, Israeli forces ransacked the home of Ghazi Salah in Dar Salah village near al-Ubeidiya and handed a summons to his son Thaer, ordering him to go to Israeli intelligence offices in the Israeli settlement of Gush Etzion for interrogation.
Israeli forces detain 6 after clashes in Nablus village
NABLUS (Ma‘an) 13 Nov — Israeli forces raided the northern West Bank village of Burin overnight Tuesday and detained six people, a Palestinian Authority official said. Ghassan Daghlas, who monitors settlement activity in the northern West Bank, told Ma‘an that Israeli forces raided the village following clashes between young Palestinians and Israeli soldiers. Locals told Ma‘an that young men had showered an Israeli jeep with stones while it was chasing them, causing damage to the jeep and wounding an Israeli soldier. Israeli forces then raided Burin and detained several young men in the street, releasing some while taking others into custody.
Palestinian police torture detained journalist
IMEMC 11 Nov — Radio Bethlehem 2000 announced on Monday that its director George Qanawati, was beaten up and tortured while being under police custody. Qanawati was arrested by Palestinian police and secret service officers from his home in the southern West Bank city of Bethlehem on Sunday night. According to his neighbors, officers stormed his home violently searched it then attacked Qanawati and his family slightly injuring his mother during the arrest. Today Qanawati appeared in the local court in Bethlehem city; according to radio Bethlehem 2000 he was seen beaten up and tortured. His lawyer was not allowed to attend the court hearing with him, witnesses added. The radio station on its website announced that the police accused Qanawati of slander and public insulate of officials during his weekly show Amar Yabalad – building our country in English.
Captive Abu Sisi partially paralyzed
NABLUS (PIC) 11 Nov — Prisoner Dirar Abu Sisi, who has been held in isolation since his kidnapping by Israeli intelligence agents [on a train in Ukraine] in early 2011, is suffering partial paralysis, lawyer of the prisoners ministry Rami Al-Alami said on Monday. Alami said after visiting Abu Sisi that his condition worsened in Eshel solitary confinement and could not move his feet properly due to improper treatment of his “slipped disc”. He said that the Israeli prison doctors were only giving him sedatives.
Urgent action: Demand release and proper medical care for ill Palestinian prisoners
Samidoun 11 Nov — Hundreds of Palestinian political prisoners are suffering from serious illness and disease inside Israeli prisons. The most severely ill patients are held at Ramle prison hospital, where ill-treatment and medical neglect are so common that Palestinian prisoners refer colloquially to it as “the slaughterhouse.” Medical neglect and the use of painkillers instead of adequate medical treatment is repeatedly reported as a policy inside Israeli prisons. Click here to take action to demand the release and proper medical treatment of ill Palestinian prisoners.
Gaza under blockade
Families powerless in Gaza
GAZA (IRIN) 12 Nov — Since the beginning of November, Gaza’s only power plant has been shut due shortages of industrial diesel. The result has been a major increase in power outages for Gaza’s 1.7 million inhabitants, with electricity now absent for around half of each day. The humanitarian coordinator for the Occupied Palestinian Territory, James W. Rawley, says the shutdown and fuel shortages will “impact all essential services, including hospitals, clinics, sewage and water pumping stations.” The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights says the move has “left serious consequences on the humanitarian conditions of the Gaza Strip’s population.” The plant was only reopened last year after rehabilitation following an Israeli airstrike in 2006. According to the Gaza Energy Authority, it generates around 30 percent of Gaza’s electricity supply, the rest coming from Israel (120 megawatts) and Egypt (27 megawatts). Since June, a security clampdown on the Egyptian side of the border has drastically cut the importation of fuel through smuggling tunnels, and the Energy Authority in Ramallah, in the West Bank, has stopped sending fuel because of a dispute over taxes. To get an idea of the impact of the outages on Palestinians living in the Gaza Strip, IRIN met with the Balaha family in Beach Refugee Camp.
PHOTOS: Gaza’s weekly rally in solidarity with the Palestinian prisoners
GAZA (ISM) 11 Nov by Rosa Schiano — On Monday morning, many relatives of Palestinian detainees, political representatives and solidarity activists attended the weekly rally at the International Committee of the Red Cross in Gaza City. In the first part of the sit-in, families of Fateh prisoners commemorated the ninth anniversary of Yasser Arafat’s death. Some of them held portraits of Arafat, waved Palestinian flags, and chanted slogans in homage to Arafat.During the second part, women from Hamas rallied outside the Red Cross building … Like every Monday, mothers, wives, sisters, sons and daughters showed the pictures of their relatives, some of whom they hadn’t seen for years. “Mohammed has been in prison for six years,” said Rawda al-Najjar, mother of Mohammed Ismail al-Najjar, as she held his picture. “I have only seen him twice.”Despite current negotiations and the recent release of some prisoners, Israeli forces are still kidnapping and arresting Palestinians, included children, and using administrative detention.
Gaza, Tunisia activists hack 13,000 Israeli Facebook pages
TEHRAN (FNA) — Arab activists in social network websites have hacked thousands of Israeli Facebook accounts, get the personal information and spread it, the Israeli Channel 10 reported Tuesday.
Palestinian refugees elsewhere
Egypt: Syria refugees detained, coerced to return
NEW YORK (Human Rights Watch) 11 Nov — Egypt has detained over 1,500 refugees from Syria, including at least 400 Palestinians and 250 children as young as two months old, for weeks and sometimes months. Security officials have acknowledged that the refugees will be held indefinitely until they leave the country. Palestinian refugees from Syria are especially vulnerable because Egyptian policy prevents them from seeking protection from the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), contrary to UNHCR’s mandate under the 1951 Refugee Convention. Egyptian authorities tell detained Palestinians that their only alternative to indefinite detention is to go to Lebanon, where they are only permitted to legally enter on a 48-hour transit visa, or to return to war-torn Syria. “Egypt is leaving hundreds of Palestinians from Syria with no protection from Syria’s killing fields except indefinite detention in miserable conditions,” said Joe Stork, deputy Middle East and North Africa director … Human Rights Watch also spoke with two survivors of the September 17 incident, in which Egyptian forces fired on a boat carrying between 170 and 200 Syrians and Palestinian-Syrians, killing two and injuring two others. They described how the Egyptian Navy surrounded the boat soon after it left the coast and fired shots into the hull, into which dozens of refugees had been tightly packed.
PLO secures ‘safe passage’ agreement for Yarmouk refugees
DAMASCUS (Ma‘an) 11 Nov — Zakariya al-Agha, a member of the executive committee of the PLO, said Monday that “the coming hours will determine the future of Yarmouk camp” as a Palestinian delegation seeks to ensure safe passage for Palestinians displaced by fighting in and around the Damascus refugee camp. Al-Agha said in a statement that Monday afternoon will witness the transfer of weapons and armed men out of Yarmouk camp and the inflow of workers to rebuild the camp and make it ready for the return of refugees. “We called on the Syrian government to open a security passage for residents to allow for medicine and food to pass urgently to people and to rebuild the camp,” said al-Agha, who is also the head of the Palestinian delegation currently visiting Syria. “Our request was approved and in the next few hours it will be implemented in coordination with the representative committee of the camp.”
Senior PFLP-GC leader killed in Yarmouk refugee camp
DAMASCUS (Ma‘an) 12 Nov — A senior commander of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command was killed in the Yarmouk refugee camp in Damascus on Tuesday, the group said. Major General Nur Addin Ibrahim, nicknamed As-Sabi or ‘beast of prey’, was killed during a routine tour after a truce had been announced in an attempt to end a months-long crisis in the Palestinian camp. The PFLP-GC said Ibrahim was murdered by a “terrorist group,” claiming that the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, a group fighting the Syrian government, planted an explosive device in Ibrahim’s car and detonated it from a distance.
Two Palestinians killed in Syria
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 12 Nov — Two young Palestinian men have been killed in the ongoing clashes in Syria, says a Syria-based Palestinian group. The Workforce for Palestinians in Syria reported in a statement, received by Ma‘an Tuesday morning, that Ahmad Khalil Zeidan from the Yarmouk refugee camp in Damascus was killed Monday as several shells landed in the camp near Palestine Mosque. Fierce clashes broke out at the same time between Syrian regime forces and militants of the Free Army in the vicinity of Palestine Street. Separately, Mahir Ahmad Nassar, also from Yarmouk camp, is reported to have died of torture in Syrian jails. According to the statement, Nassar has been detained nine months ago, and his family was notified of his death Monday when his identity card and personal belongings were delivered to the family.
Israel agrees to recognize EU ban on funding institutions in settlements
Haaretz 13 Nov by Barak Ravid — Participation in European R&D program could bring hundreds of millions of euros into the coffers of Israeli research institutes and high-tech companies — Israel has given the European Union a final proposal for the wording of the agreement governing Israeli scientific cooperation and participation in the joint Horizon 2020 initiative. Israel’s participation in the European Union’s R&D program for the years 2014-2020, known as Horizon 2020, has become controversial because of the new European sanctions against Jewish settlements beyond the Green Line. In the new wording given to senior EU officials in Brussels, Israel has agreed for the first time to recognize the EU’s policy of not allowing the transfer of EU funding to bodies in the settlements and to accept it.
Deals linked to settlements in occupied territories could be ‘criminal’, UN expert warns
UN News Centre 30 Oct — An independent United Nations human rights expert today warned that financial institutions and real estate companies involved with housing settlements in occupied Palestinian territory – which are considered illegal under international law – may be held criminally accountable. Addressing journalists at UN Headquarters, the Special Rapporteur on human rights in the occupied Palestinian territories, Richard Falk, reiterated that the settlements are unlawful according to the Fourth Geneva Convention. He said that his office has been trying to inform companies, among them the European banking group Dexia and the United States-based real estate company Re/Max, that continuing their practices in the territories could be “problematic.”
Palestinians: No Mideast deal better than bad deal
AFP 11 Nov — Top Palestinian negotiator says no more temporary deals with Israel, ‘We are not looking for an extension of the interim period’ — Failure to reach a peace deal with Israel would be better than inking an agreement which allows it to continue its settlement building, a top Palestinian negotiator said on Monday. “In the absence of political will from the Israeli side to take the negotiations seriously, we believe that it is better not to reach a deal than to reach a bad deal,” Mohammed Shtayyeh said in a statement.
Knesset’s Left in uproar: ‘Lieberman as FM – bomb in peace process’
Ynet 11 Nov by Moran Azulay — After his acquittal from charges of fraud and breach of trust last week, MK Avigdor Lieberman’s return to the post of foreign minister has been given the green light. On Monday evening, Lieberman was sworn in to the role he was forced to resign due to the legal process against him. Meretz Chairwoman MK Zahava Gal-On said before the swearing in ceremony that “appointing Lieberman as foreign minister is like planting an explosive device in the peace process.”
Global Palestinian ‘Right to Education Week’ kicks off at Birzeit
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 12 Nov by Alex Shams — A week of events focusing on the Palestinian Right to Education kicked off Monday afternoon at Birzeit University as part of a global campaign in solidarity with Palestinian students. Right to Education Week at Birzeit University commenced Monday with a workshop on the education of Palestinian prisoners in Israeli occupation jails. Events will be held on campus throughout the week highlighting the obstacles faced by Palestinians under occupation in their pursuit of education … As part of the week, Birzeit University students will participate in events that help students abroad see the obstacles Palestinian students face under occupation, including video conferences.
Massive ‘Question of Palestine’ mural unveiled in Nablus
NABLUS (Ma‘an) 11 Nov — A giant mural measuring about 1,000 square meters was unveiled in Nablus in the northern West Bank Monday. Jibril al-Bakri inaugurated the piece of art, which was painted on the outer wall of Nablus stadium and represents main landmarks in the history of the question of Palestine. Majdi Muhsin, spokesman of “Athens,” the group which produced the mural, told Ma‘an that it was the biggest in the Arab world, and the fourth biggest in the world. He highlighted that it measured 130 by 7 meters. Muhsin added that 25 Palestinian artists had been working on the painting for over a month.
Analysis / Opinion
Transforming our vision of Palestine into reality / Sam Bahour
Al-Shabaka 12 Nov — Can we envision a Palestine free from Israeli apartheid, military occupation, economic domination, house demolitions, arbitrary detentions – and from the threat of being denied entry or harassed when trying to go home? I can and, perhaps more importantly, my daughters’ generation can. The challenge is how to get from present-day reality to realizing that vision … The first step towards the vision of the future must confront the present-day myths regarding peace, justice, and development in Palestine. Myth #1 is thinking that the world can ignore the majority of the Palestinian people who happen to not live under military occupation and pretend that progress is being made. Whether they are in Jerusalem, the Galilee, Lebanon, or the U.S., the Palestinian people will never disappear or accept their predicament as refugees and exiles, second class citizens in Israel, internally displaced persons within Israel and the occupied territories, being warehoused under military rule, or involuntarily forced into a Diaspora. Myth #2 is thinking that throwing money at a political problem – in fact the political problem par excellence – can solve it.
US, Israel break not only on Iran, but on Palestine, too / Larry Derfner
972mag 12 Nov — In the last week, things have changed between the U.S. and Israel. Kerry may have the guts to continue refusing to lie for Israel’s occupation – which is all that’s needed to shake its foundations. This is no tiff. — If it hadn’t happened on the same day, last Thursday, that the breakthrough came in the Geneva talks on Iran’s nuclear program, John Kerry’s joint interview on Israeli and Palestinian TV – and the chain reaction it would have set off – would still be dominating the news from the Middle East. Instead, it was a one-day story, overtaken by the chain reaction from the Geneva breakthrough, notably Netanyahu’s furious attempt to block what he calls this “bad deal” with Iran. If it hadn’t been overshadowed by the Iran story, Kerry’s interview, coming on the heels of a report that the U.S. was going to present an Israeli-Palestinian peace plan in January, would have been seen for what it was: a very high-profile signal that the Obama administration has decided to stand up to Netanyahu, to tell him publicly what it thinks of his policy and to make clear that until he changes direction, the United States views him, not Mahmoud Abbas, as the main obstacle to peace. I don’t know of a precedent for a U.S. secretary of state, or a president, publicly attacking Israel’s policies toward the Palestinians like Kerry did – and in front of not only the Israeli public, but the Palestinian public as well. Just look at what he said:
Netanyahu’s greatest fear: Linkage / Annie Robbins
Mondoweiss 11 Nov — Before heading to Geneva this weekend for the P5+1 negotiations with Iran, John Kerry was in Israel, where he gave a lengthy interview on Channel 2, harshly criticizing Israel’s settlement expansion policy. According to Haaretz, that was the reason Kerry traveled to Israel “to try and deal with the crisis that resulted in Israel’s announcement of settlement expansion.” The next day Kerry met with Netanyahu about Iran. The meeting, which went on for two hours, was described by multiple outlets as tense, and a scheduled joint appearance with the media was canceled. Haaretz reported Netanyahu exhibited “disturbing outbursts“. The Washington Post reported Netanyahu left “little doubt that the fate of the Palestinian talks is linked to the outcome of negotiations with Iran.” The “ferocity of Netanyahu’s rage” was surely compounded by Kerry’s warning about settlement expansion, and a third intifada if Israel continues to colonize Palestinian territory, and the secretary of state’s impatience with those, e.g. Israel, using “fear tactics” to stop the P5+1 Iran negotiations.
The Palestinian economy’s hard road out of isolation / John Reed
Financial Times 6 Nov — Political uncertainty looms large over a $4bn plan to revive the economy — Taybeh, a Palestinian brewer owned by the Khourys, a Christian family, makes a crisp and flavoursome tipple much loved by residents and expats in Jerusalem and the West Bank. With light and dark beers, the company describes its product as “the finest in the Middle East”, hosts a popular Oktoberfest and exports small quantities as far as Japan. But the brewery’s path to markets – even down the road to Jerusalem – is a tortuous one. Delays at Israeli checkpoints can add hours to delivery times and expose the beer to long waits in the sun. The West Bank has no port, so Taybeh’s imported Czech and Bavarian hops, Belgian malt and English yeast arrive in the Israeli port of Ashdod, where the bags are subject to security checks at a cost of about 2,000 shekels ($566) a delivery, and are sometimes sliced open. Exporting beer involves hauling the barrels by Palestinian truck through land under Palestinian Authority control, then shifting it on to an Israeli one.
Why is no one addressing the real reason for the weak Palestinian economy? / Amira Hass
Haaretz 10 Nov — When a journalist was invited to a meeting, asked a question, and the distinguished speakers invoked their right to remain silent — I never expected that Dr. Rajiv Shah, the administrator of United States Agency of International Development, would ignore my question completely, but he did. I thought he would make some general statement or perhaps say that the answer was too complex to be given in the short time available. But he chose to act as though the question had not been asked, as if I was not there. In my opinion — which, of course, is not objective — the question was nothing but invited by the sign hanging behind him in the classroom at Tel Aviv University. Its headline read: “Transforming the Palestinian Economy.” Beneath it was written: “USAID through the Compete Project in the West Bank is strengthening the competitiveness and export potential of key sectors essential to the future prosperity of the Palestinian economy.” I introduced my question by mentioning that only recently, a World Bank report calculated that the Palestinian economy was losing $3.4 billion per year — roughly 35 percent of its 2011 gross domestic product — due to Israeli control of 61 percent of the West Bank (Area C). My question was: Does USAID have the recipe on how to transform the Palestinian economy without 61 percent of the West Bank?
Can Palestinians advance their rights through UNESCO? / Valentina Azarov & Nidal Sliman
Foreign Policy 11 Nov — Fully engaged in U.S.-sponsored peace talks with Israel, the Palestinians have sidelined alternative strategies to achieve their rights, including their right to self-determination. As U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has recently affirmed, Palestinian negotiators have pledged not to contest the Israeli occupation through the United Nations during the period of negotiations. However, not all roads are blocked. By leveraging Palestine’s existing, hard-won membership in the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), the Palestinians could take action to combat the Israeli occupation and expanding settlement enterprise. Their task may be facilitated by the United States and Israel’s recent loss of voting rights in the UNESCO General Conference — a development stemming from the two countries’ refusal to pay membership dues since Palestine became a member in October 2011. The question, then, is to what extent does UNESCO offer a strategic platform for Palestinians especially as international law has proved toothless on the question of Palestine? On numerous occasions in the past, states have successfully leveraged UNESCO memberships to assert their sovereignty and defend their territorial rights. Now, the Palestinians can do the same.
Imploding the myth of Israel / Chris Hedges
Truthdig 4 Nov — Israel has been poisoned by the psychosis of permanent war. It has been morally bankrupted by the sanctification of victimhood, which it uses to justify an occupation that rivals the brutality and racism of apartheid South Africa. Its democracy — which was always exclusively for Jews — has been hijacked by extremists who are pushing the country toward fascism. Many of Israel’s most enlightened and educated citizens — 1 million of them — have left the country. Its most courageous human rights campaigners, intellectuals and journalists — Israeli and Palestinian — are subject to constant state surveillance, arbitrary arrests and government-run smear campaigns. Its educational system, starting in primary school, has become an indoctrination machine for the military. And the greed and corruption of its venal political and economic elite have created vast income disparities, a mirror of the decay within America’s democracy. And yet, the hard truths about Israel remain largely unspoken. Liberal supporters of Israel decry its excesses. They wring their hands over the tragic necessity of airstrikes on Gaza or Lebanon or the demolition of Palestinian homes. They assure us that they respect human rights and want peace. But they react in inchoate fury when the reality of Israel is held up before them … There are very few intellectuals or writers who have the tenacity and courage to confront this reality. This is what makes Max Blumenthal’s Goliath: Life and Loathing in Greater Israel one of the most fearless and honest books ever written about Israel. Blumenthal burrows deep into the dark heart of Israel.