Land, property, resources theft & destruction / Ethnic cleansing
Landslide threatens 40 homes in East Jerusalem
[photos] BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 13 Dec — Landslides occurred Friday in an East Jerusalem neighborhood as a result of heavy snow accumulation, threatening at least 40 nearby houses located on lands previously weakened by Israeli authorities’ excavations nearby, a local group said. Landslides led to the degradation of hillsides in the Ain al-Lowza neighborhood of Silwan, opening cracks and threatening 40 nearby houses with potential destruction, the Wadi Helwa Information Center said. A statement from the group said previous excavations by Israel to build a wall through the area have caused extensive damage to the ground, and the effects of the storm have exacerbated the negative effects. The majority of the landslides occurred in a large plot of land owned by local resident Abu Tayeh where 40 homes have been built. Abu Tayeh said it was the first time he had experienced such a severe problem on his land, blaming Israeli authorities for failing to complete work they had started on a neighborhood wall.
IOF soldiers raze Palestinian house in Jordan Valley
JORDAN VALLEY (PIC) 11 Dec — Israeli occupation forces (IOF) razed a Palestinian house in Duyuk village in the central Jordan Valley near Jericho city afternoon Wednesday. Local sources said that IOF soldiers in a number of army vehicles escorted a huge bulldozer into the village, adding that they encircled the home of Nidal Bililat and destroyed it at the pretext it was built without permit in area C. Bililat told the PIC reporter that the Israeli occupation authorities did not notify him of the demolition beforehand as is the practice.
In West Bank, Arab home faces demolition while Jewish ones get stamp of approval
Haaretz 12 Dec by Chaim Levinson — Defense Ministry changes housing regulation according to whether the houses belong to Jews or Palestinians — The Defense Ministry’s Civil Administration on Tuesday rejected a request to legalize a Palestinian house, claiming it was too close to a main West Bank road. A day earlier, the administration approved the construction of homes in the West Bank settlement of Ofra, after revoking the very ban on which the Tuesday decision was based. The administration’s planning heads, architects Natalia Averbuch and Daniel Halimi, said their considerations were purely professional. But observers maintain that the administration’s planning is politically motivated and aimed at pushing the Palestinians off their land … The administration is in the process of legalizing some of Ofra’s illegal construction, in terms of a new master plan it has drawn up for the settlement. Ofra was built without a master plan, as required, and most of its houses were built without permits on private Palestinian land. The objective of the new plan is to legitimize some 200 illegal houses and authorize the construction of some 50 new homes.
UN slams demolition of West Bank properties
AFP 11 Dec –The United Nations Wednesday slammed Israel’s demolition of 30 Palestinian properties in the West Bank, saying it displaced some families for the second time in less than two weeks. “I am concerned about the destruction of Palestinian structures in the Jordan Valley yesterday (Tuesday),” UN Humanitarian Coordinator James Rawley said in a statement. “The demolitions resulted in the displacement of 41 people, including 24 children, and affected another 20. Both refugee and non-refugee families were affected.” the statement said. “Some of the families were displaced for the second time this month and a number of donor-funded structures were among those demolished.” The civilian administration of the West Bank had no immediate comment on the demolitions. A group of 36 NGOs last week urged Israel to stop demolishing Palestinian homes, hours ahead of a visit by US Secretary of State John Kerry aimed at revitalizing Middle East peace talks.
Susia inhabitants make urgent appeal for relief
AL-KHALIL (PIC) 12 Dec — Inhabitants of Susia village, east of Yatta town to the south of Al-Khalil, appealed for bringing them relief after their tents flew away due to the high winds and heavy rain that hit the region on Wednesday night. Jihad Nawaja, head of the village council of Susia, appealed in a press statement for offering help to the residents of the area of Msafer Yatta. “There are 45 families living in the region. Many lost their tents last night and we fear that the rest of the tents will also fly away”, he said, pointing out that the great majority of the populations are children.
Bedouin face eviction as Israeli builds new towns
UMM AL-HEIRAN (AFP) 13 Dec — Some 50 years after Israeli authorities gave them the land, the Bedouin of Umm al-Heiran village face eviction to make way for two modern towns. Located in the Negev desert, the village is home to some 150 Palestinian Bedouin families — 1,000 inhabitants — who live in small, concrete buildings, relying on solar panels for electricity and raising livestock. But more than half a century of calling Umm al-Heiran home now looks set to end. On Nov. 10, the Israeli cabinet approved the establishment of two new communities in the Negev — Kesif and Hiran — that will almost exclusively cater to Jews. In order to make way for the two new towns, the Bedouin village, which is currently unrecognized by the authorities, must first be removed. “In order to build Hiran, (Israel) will accelerate the demolition of the unrecognized village of Umm al-Heiran in the Negev and evict its residents,” said Suhad Bishara, a lawyer for the Arab-Israeli rights group Adalah. The village is on some 1,700 acres of land an Israeli military governor gave to the Bedouin after the tribe of Abu al-Qiyaan was displaced in the 1950s … The Supreme Court has for now frozen demolition orders on Umm al-Heiran’s structures pending the filing by Dec. 15 of additional documents by Adalah. But should the court rule against them, their case will be lost … Ghiyahib Abu al-Qiyaan, 73, remembers the day when Israeli forces moved the family onto the land which would become Umm al-Heiran in 1956, eight years after the creation of the Israeli state. “I was about 16 years old. Israeli patrols came and evicted us from our homes (in nearby Zubala) to make way for a kibbutz, and put us here without shelter, in the desert,” she said. “But we built and we’ve made it our home with the land they gave us.”
Israeli government kills plans to uproot Bedouin
Mondoweiss 12 Dec by Alex Kane — The “Day of Rage” protests held last month by Bedouin Arabs and their allies to protest the Prawer Plan were met with defiant rhetoric from Israeli officials. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowed to move forward with the Israeli government’s initiative to demolish Bedouin villages, uproot their inhabitants and build Jewish towns on top of them. But two weeks after the protests, the plan has been scrapped. In a big reversal, Netanyahu’s office announced today that the plan has been killed after Benny Begin, the co-author of the plan, recommended that course of action … The big question mark hanging over the news that the plan is scrapped, though, is what comes next. The drive to solve the “Bedouin problem,” in the rhetoric of Israeli officials, won’t be stopped because the Prawer Plan has been scrapped. Likud’s Levin has suggested that a new plan should be implemented: … Meanwhile, the status quo for unrecognized Bedouin communities – unconnected to water or electricity and bracing for demolition orders to make way for Jewish National Fund forests and new Jewish communities – holds steady.
Sheikh Sayah returns to his village
Alternative Information Center 11 Dec by Carolin Smith — Skeikh Sayah Atouri returned Tuesday to his home in the Naqab (Negev)-area village of Al Araqib after winning his appeal in a Be’er Sheva court. For the past three weeks Sayah has been prohibited from entering his village following a court order issued after Sayah’s detention during a home demolition. “I feel like a newborn”, said Sheikh Sayah as he entered his village late Tuesday morning, after nearly three weeks away from home. Sayah was held in an Israeli jail for ten days before spending a further ten days in a protest tent pitched near a police station in the Naqab town of Rahat. His release from jail was contingent upon him not re-entering his village until the court had reached its verdict. “This case establishes precedence”, states Sheikh Sayah Atouri about his current success before the Israeli court. He hopes that in future, judges will acknowledge the right of Bedouins to remain on their land and fight for their rights. “But the next time”, he adds, ”I would rather go to prison than agree to stay away from my village”.
For the first time since 1948, Christmas tree lit in displaced village
IMEMC 12 Dec — For the first time since Israel was established in the historic land of Palestine, in 1948, and the resulting destruction and displacement of hundreds of villages and towns, there, a group of Palestinians managed to set up a Christmas tree in the displaced village of Kufur Birim, in the Galilee … Four months ago, a group of young Palestinians started sleeping in the village, as part of an extended campaign to affirm their right in their own lands, and recently installed a Christmas tree in the yard of a local church, affirming their Right of Return following 65 years of displacement. Talking to the Sonara News Agency, Zatam Zahra, a member of one of the displaced families, said that this Christmas tree, the first in 65 years, is a symbol for the Right of Return for all refugees displaced from their lands, villages and towns. He added that the tree is also a symbol of hope to the millions of externally displaced refugees living in dozens of refugee camps in the West Bank, the Gaza Strip and several Arab countries.
Video: Rampant agriculture in the Jordan Valley
Israel Social TV 11 Dec — Settlement agriculture in the Jordan Valley is prosperous, but it critically undercuts the water and land resources of the Palestinians …”Springs that were once natural springs and were once used, don’t exist today because they were dried up by Mekorot’s (national water co.) drainage system and other private companies working in the settlements”
Violence / Raids / Attacks / Suppression of protests / Illegal arrests
PCHR Weekly Report: Israeli forces kill one child, wound 4 people including a child
IMEMC 13 Dec — In its Weekly Report On Israeli Human Rights Violations in the Occupied Palestinian Territories for the week of 05-11 December 2013, the Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR) found that Israeli forces killed a Palestinian child at the southern entrance of al-Jalazoun refugee camp, north of Ramallah. Also, a Palestinian child was wounded in Hebron. Israeli forces have continued to open fire at the border areas in the Gaza Strip. Israeli forces opened fire 4 times at the east of Khan Yunis, but no casualties were reported. Israeli forces have continued to use excessive force against peaceful protesters in the West Bank. 3 Palestinian civilians and an international journalist were wounded … During the past week, Israeli forces conducted 56 incursions into Palestinian communities in the West Bank, abducting at least 27 Palestinians … As part of using military checkpoints and border crossings as traps to arrest Palestinian civilians under the pretext they are wanted, Israeli forces abducted at least 8 civilians, including 3 children, in the West Bank … Israeli forces have continued to support settlement activities in the West Bank and Israeli settlers have continued to attack Palestinian civilians and property. Israeli forces demolished a house and 3 livestock barns in Samadi area, north of Jericho. Israeli settlers demolished 9 residential tents, 5 tents to shelter livestock, 2 kitchens, a store and a cow barn in the northern Jordan Valley. Full report
Despite snow, hundreds gather for funeral of man shot by Israel
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 12 Dec — Hundreds of mourners from the Bethlehem district on Thursday gathered for the funeral of a man who succumbed to wounds inflicted by Israeli forces nine years ago. Despite heavy rain and snow, dozens of vehicles led a funeral march for Muin al-Atrash, from Duheisha refugee camp, who was shot by Israeli soldiers on Mar. 22, 2004. His body was buried in Artas village near Bethlehem. Al-Atrash died late Wednesday at al-Maqasid Hospital, where he was taken a week ago after a sudden collapse into critical condition. Israeli forces shot al-Atrash in 2004 during a demonstration against Israel’s assassination of Hamas leader Sheikh Ahmad Yasin.
Soldiers invade Shweika village near Tulkarem
[Friday, Dec 13] Despite the extreme snowstorm hitting different parts of occupied Palestine, dozens of Israeli soldiers invaded the Shweika village, near the northern West Bank city of Tulkarem, broke into a home and violently searched the premises. The Palestine News Network (PNN) has reported that the soldiers invaded the village at approximately 1:30 AM, and raided the home of Yahia Mahdawy. PNN said that the soldiers conducted violent searches in the home, causing anxiety attacks amongst family members, especially the children, as the soldiers were shouting and pointing their guns at them before forcing them into a room, as they searched the rest of the property for several hours. Mahdawi told PNN that the soldiers left his home at approximately 5:30 AM, leaving excessive damages to furniture and family belongings. He added that the soldiers did not even allow the family to ask them about the cause of the raid, or what they were searching for … Such invasions frequently end with several arrests and excessive property damage to dozens of homes and cars. Israeli soldiers frequently detonate the doors of the invaded homes, instead of knocking or simply breaking the doors.
Israeli forces disperse protests in Kafr Qaddum
QALQILIYA (Ma‘an) 13 Dec — Dozens of Palestinian protesters braved inclement weather in Kafr Qaddum to protest against the Israeli occupation and separation wall on Friday, before being dispersed by Israeli forces. Dozens suffered from excessive tear gas inhalation as Israeli forces attacked the protest in the northern West Bank city with tear gas canisters, amid record low temperatures as a storm front moved south across the region. Israeli forces erected a checkpoint at the entrance of the village in the morning and declared it a closed military zone, a tactic used frequently to prevent the weekly march from taking place. The closure prevented crews of the Palestinian Red Crescent from entering the village and providing necessary first aid to the injured during the march.
IOF soldiers round up five Palestinians
NABLUS (PIC) 12 Dec — Israeli occupation forces (IOF) rounded up five Palestinian citizens in Nablus and Jenin at dawn Thursday in line with its daily arrest campaigns in lines of West Bankers. Local sources said that IOF soldiers stormed the village of Beita, south of Nablus, shortly after midnight Wednesday and took away three young men. They said that the soldiers terrorized civilians, especially women and children, with their savage break-ins into their homes. The sources said that two of the arrestees were teenagers. Meanwhile, local sources in Jenin said that IOF soldiers raided five villages south of Jenin and nabbed two Palestinians.
They said that the soldiers roamed the streets of Qabatiya, Maythalon, Zababde, Sanur, and Seer villages before taking away the two citizens from Qabatiya after breaking into their families’ homes.
Israeli forces detain 6 in ‘Aida refugee camp
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 11 Dec — Israeli forces detained six Palestinians in Bethlehem overnight Tuesday, locals said. Witnesses told Ma’an that several Israeli military vehicles stormed ‘Aida refugee camp after midnight and detained Khalil Abu Akar, 21, his brother Mustafa, 24, Hamdi Ali Ayyad, Muhammad Adil Jado, Jawad Muhammad, 20, and Khadir Akram Abu Khdreir, 18 … Eyewitnesses said that at least 50 Israeli soldiers were seen entering Bethlehem near Aida camp just after midnight.
IOF detains citizen to force his sons to give themselves up
RAMALLAH (PIC) 12 Dec — Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) detained on Wednesday morning the citizen Mahmoud al-Kadhi, 47, in order to force his sons to give themselves up to Israeli Intelligence. IOF soldiers stormed on Monday the al-Kadhi family house, in Bireh city in Ramallah, to arrest Mahmoud’s two sons Baraa, 21, and Mohammed, 18, but they were not at home. The family confirmed that IOF detained the father for several hours and obliged him to call his two sons to hand themselves over; however they refused to do so.
PA security forces continue political arrest campaign against Hamas members
West Bank (PIC) 13 Dec — The Palestinian authority security forces have continued their arrest campaign against Hamas cadres, especially university students, in the occupied West Bank. PA security forces have continued targeting senior members of the Islamic bloc at West Bank universities, especially Birzeit university, where they stormed two of its leaders’ houses, renewed the arrest of another one, while they continued to detain another member of the bloc. In Ramallah, the PA preventive security apparatus broke into and ransacked the house of Mohammed Kadoumi, the Islamic bloc coordinator at Birzeit university, in a failed arrest attempt. Mohammed’s family confirmed that the PA preventive forces violently searched their house and confiscated three computers and Mohamed’s personal items … Meanwhile, the PA intelligence agency continued to detain Ahmed Barghouti, a student at Birzeit university, for nearly a month, without leveling charges. In Tulkarem, a PA court extended the detention of Moeman Hattab, a student at Birzeit university, for 15 additional days, pending investigation. The faculty of engineering at Birzeit university have organized few days ago a protest against the continued detention of Hattab. In Nablus, the magistrates’ court rejected an appeal for the release of four members of the Islamic bloc at Najah University.
Gaza under blockade
Israel ‘opens dams’ flooding Gaza Strip near Deir al Balah
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 13 Dec — The Gaza Government’s Disaster Response Committee announced late Friday that Israeli authorities had opened up dams just east of the Gaza Strip, flooding numerous residential areas in nearby villages within the coastal territory. Committee chairman Yasser Shanti said in a press conference that Israeli authorities had opened up dams just to the east of the border with the Gaza Strip earlier in the day. He warned that residential areas within the Gaza Valley would be flooding within the coming hours. He said that the move by Israeli authorities would flood areas in Moghraqa and other parts of Deir el-Balah in central Gaza, and he called upon residents of areas near the Gaza Valley to evacuate their homes in preparation for the anticipated flooding. The Gaza Strip is currently under a state of emergency due to severe weather conditions caused by a historic storm front moving south across the Levant.
Widespread flooding in Gaza forces thousands to flee homes
[with photos] BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 13 Dec by Alex Shams — The Gaza Strip was pounded by fierce winds and rain again on Friday as flooding reached dangerous levels in many areas, forcing thousands to flee their homes amid widespread power outages as temperatures plunged into the single digits. The flooding was worst in the northern Gaza Strip, where hundreds fled their homes and water levels reached 40-50 cm in some parts, forcing residents to use boats to navigate their neighborhoods. The Gaza government said in a statement on Friday that so far 2,825 people have been evacuated from their homes, reaching a total of 458 families. The evacuated were being sheltered in schools across the Strip, the statement was reported by Gaza-based Safa News Agency as saying, as Hamas civil defense authorities rushed to evacuate flooded homes. Gaza Minister of Health Mufid al-Mukhalalati declared a state of “extreme emergency” as all emergency devices and ambulance crews were put on a state of high alter in all regions of the Gaza Strip … Ezz al Zanoon, a photographer based in central Gaza, described to Ma‘an how the flooding was affecting daily life in the Strip … Zanoon stressed that the storm had compounded the already dangerous conditions Gaza residents were living under as a result of severe fuel shortages over the last few months. “Electricity is only on for one or two hours a day,” he said, pointing out that in the days before the storm’s arrival daily electricity availability had dropped drastically from previous levels of six to 12 hours. “People are suffering as they wait up all night for the electricity and water to come on,” he added, pointing out that water availability was dependent on the availability of electricity with which to pump it. “There is no movement, no one goes out. Even those who work can’t go out.” “The people hold Hamas and Fatah responsibly, both Haniyeh and Abbas,” he added. “How could they let the situation of the children in this country become like this?”
Photos: Gaza Strip flooded after torrential rains, blustery storm
Vancouver Sun 13 Dec — Hundreds of houses were flooded following a rain storm in Gaza forcing the closure of schools and banks. Early snow has surprised many Israelis and Palestinians as a blustery storm, dubbed Alexa, brought gusty winds, torrential rains and heavy snowfall to parts of the Middle East.
Israel transfers water pumps to Gaza due to flooding
Ynet 13 Dec by Yoav Zitun — Israel set up a joint command center with Palestinian security in the West Bank to handle storm-related traffic and electricity problems. Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories verified a Mekorot transfer of water pumps to the Gaza Strip due to heavy flooding across the strip. Pumps were transferred through the Kerem Shalom crossing following UN request (see video). Flurries of snow surprised residents in the Gaza Strip, but heavy rain also hit the Palestinian territory, making many roads impassable. Emergency workers used fishing boats to evacuate 700 people from their homes and provide food, blankets and torches to hundreds of others caught in high water … The IDF said on Friday it had opened a crossing with Gaza in response to a UN appeal to let in aid supplies. UN relief teams offered emergency services to the worst-hit communities in the West Bank and Gaza. In Gaza, which was experiencing its first snow in a decade, more than 500 people were evacuated from their homes, according to Hamas spokesman Ihab Ghussein.
Freezing and canoeing in Gaza
[with video and photos] Mondoweiss 13 Dec by Fidaa Abuassi — …Gaza is drowning today. You will see people kayaking and canoeing not the type of fun activities the world knows. Houses are flooded by water. People are freezing there. No power. No water. No heat. No fuel. This is a catastrophe. A CATASTROPHE. I need to do something to help. I felt so helpless that I wanted to call 911, Red Cross or Amnesty International. Anyone! I want to tell the world that Gaza is living an unspeakable disaster and in a bad need for your help. I cannot be silent. You cannot be silent. Please we need to take action to stop this inhuman punishment of an entire population!
Soldiers kidnap two Palestinians in Gaza
IMEMC — [Wednesday Dec 11] Israeli sources have reported that the army has kidnapped two Palestinians who crossed the “border fence” between the Gaza Strip and Israel. The sources said that the two were unarmed, and likely tried to enter Israel searching for work. The two have been moved to an interrogation facility in an Israeli settlement close to the border with the besieged and impoverished Gaza Strip.
Video: Gazans with disabilities ‘lost between 2 governments’
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 11 Dec — On the International Day of People with Disabilities, Palestinians in Gaza marched in solidarity with over 100,000 disabled fellow citizens, who are regularly denied basic services. According to the Palestinian Center for Human Rights, a law passed in 1994 requires that the government provide people with disabilities access to education, employment, rehabilitation, and health services. However, the law has not been implemented on a grand scale in Gaza or the West Bank. Disabled Palestinians in Gaza in need of regular treatment say they feel lost between the Hamas government and the Palestinian Authority government in the West Bank, regimes which routinely duck healthcare responsibilities and point the finger at one another.
Under Israeli fire, Gaza fishermen plan protest tent to ‘free the Holy Land sea’
GAZA (Free the Holy Land Sea) 12 Dec — On Tuesday, 17 December, Palestinian fishermen will pitch a protest tent in the Gaza seaport. The structure, which will stand for three days and be decorated with pictures of fishermen attacked or captured by the Israeli navy, is a demonstration against Israel’s naval blockade of the Gaza Strip and its military attacks on Palestinian fishermen. Fishermen who have previously been attacked or captured, as well as representatives of fishing and human rights organizations, will be available for interviews. Palestinian and international supporters speaking Arabic, Catalan, English, French, German, Italian, Portuguese, Spanish and Swedish will also participate. “As fishermen, we want people to stand in solidarity with us, to free Gaza waters and guarantee our full enjoyment of the fundamental right to sail freely, and to stop Israel’s massive violations against us,” said fisherman and activist Zakaria Baker. “It’s time to stop all kinds of war crimes against fishermen. It’s time to end the illegal siege, a form of collective punishment forbidden under international humanitarian law.”
Rafah crossing open Wednesday, Thursday
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 11 Dec — Egyptian authorities will keep the Rafah crossing with Gaza open for two days this week, Gaza’s Ministry of Interior said Wednesday. [On Monday, the first of three days of a planned opening, the crossing was shut down early because of a computer malfunction]
Hamas cancels Friday events
GAZA (PIC) 13 Dec — The Hamas Movement said it cancelled all marches and popular activities it had planned to hold on Friday in different places of the Gaza Strip to mark its 26th anniversary due to the stormy weather. In a brief press release, Hamas called on the Palestinian people to help those affected by the storm. The Palestinian weather service warned that the Palestinian territories will witness strong winds up to 70 kilometers per hour, torrential rains and floods in low areas accompanied by a cold spell.
Mockupation Israel: IDF trains in Ashkelon playground because it ‘looks like Gaza’
Mondoweiss 12 Dec by Allison Deger — In late November the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) ran a Gaza ground invasion training exercise by occupying an Ashkelon playground—explosions by the swing set and all. The mock raid was a surprise to suburban residents who awoke to find their town invaded. Haaretz journalist and artist Roy Chicky Arad was tipped off in advance the military would practice a ground incursion for the besieged coastal Mediterranean strip near a manicured recreational play area. [Says Arad:] …It wasn’t clear why a playground had been chosen as a place to establish a position in occupied Gaza, as it were. I assume it was someone’s bad joke. The very fact of the exercise demonstrates aggression, given the relative quiet lately; we certainly wouldn’t be pleased to know that in Gaza or in any other Arab city they were practicing the conquest of Ashkelon.” We’re reported extensively on IDF training exercises in the West Bank. Large swaths of villages in the Jordan Valley are frequently used for live-fire exercises. As one would imagine, these exercises terrify local Palestinians who are unable to immediately distinguish between an actual raid, and a mock raid. Mock raids include parachuting soldiers, tents in the village’s mosque, and even shooting Palestinian residents.
Gaza’s women have karate moves
GAZA STRIP (The Media Line) 10 Dec by Omar Al-Ghraieb — Women in this densely populated area have a surprising new hobby — karate. Women of different ages, heights, social classes and backgrounds can be found at Gaza’s Karate Sports Club dressed in the classic white karate uniforms (known as Karategi in Japanese). They stand tall and barefoot. Some wear headscarves, some don’t. They all have different colored belts around the waists, marking their progress. Emad Hammad, Gaza’s most famous and prominent karate instructor — or master, as many call him — studied the martial art while living in Egypt. “I started teaching karate in Gaza 12 years ago. I was known by then, too, and people trusted me so they sent me their children to learn discipline, self-confidence and self-defense,” Hammad told The Media Line. “Teaching girls started a number of years ago but only spiked and bloomed recently, in the past couple of years or so. At first, it was hard to assemble a group of girls to form a class, so I trained them with the boys. Their parents trusted me enough to do that. Compared to now, I can easily form a class of 25 girls in a month or so. Times have changed.” Now, Hammad teaches all kinds of classes, both mixed and separated by gender.
Administrative detainees to go on strike
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 11 Dec — Palestinians in administrative detention in Israeli jails will hold a hunger strike on Thursday in protest of their detention, the minister of prisoners affairs said. Issa Qaraqe‘ said that detainees will continue their protest steps despite the arbitrary punishments imposed on them by the Israeli prison administration. Over 300 Palestinians are held without charge in administrative detention in Israeli prisons, using laws dating back to the British Mandate period.
Prisoner visits canceled due to clashes in Israeli jail
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 11 Dec – Family visits for Palestinian detainees in Israel’s Megiddo jail were canceled on Wednesday after clashes broke out between prisoners and Israeli prison guards. Relatives of prisoners told Ma‘an that their visits were canceled due to the clashes, with witnesses saying that Israeli guards fired tear gas into prison courtyards. Israeli media reported that detainees began throwing objects at guards and set a laundry room on fire in protest against the transfer of two inmates from a wing of the jail. Three detainees were injured during the clashes.
IPS deprives Raddad of chemotherapy doses
RAMALLAH (PIC) 11 Dec — The Israeli Prison Services deprived cancer patient Mutassim Radad, held in Hadarim prison, of his dosage of chemotherapy for 20 days, the prisoner’s mother said. During a sit-in in solidarity with patient prisoners, Radad’s mother pointed to her son’s serious health deterioration … In their turn, the participants demanded the international community and human rights institutions to work for the release of patient prisoners held in Israeli jails under inhuman detention conditions. On the other hand, Palestinian prisoners in Ashkelon prison called for providing them with winter supplies in light of the fierce winter storm that is sweeping the region, pointing out that depriving them of covers was part of the Israeli penalties imposed on them over two months ago. The prisoners said they were suffering from overcrowding within the prison rooms in addition to the presence of cockroaches and rodents.
Dutch water firm cuts Israel ties after tense PM visit
THE HAGUE (AFP) 11 Dec — Dutch water supplier Vitens has ended a partnership with Israeli water company Mekorot due to the “political context”, the Dutch company said on Wednesday. The abrupt decision comes days after a visit to the Mekorot offices in Israel by the Netherland’s trade minister Lilianne Ploumen was abruptly canceled. In a statement, Vitens said it had come to the conclusion that it was “extremely hard” to work with Mekorot on future projects “because they cannot be taken out of the political context.” … Mekorot, which provides water to Israeli towns and to Jewish settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories, has been accused by Dutch media of denying water access to Palestinians. According to the World Bank, a third of Palestinian territories are cut off from the Israeli water system and Israelis draw out a far bigger share of the water supply than agreed in the 1995 Oslo 2 accord. Israeli deputy Foreign minister Zeev Elkin said he was “blindsided” by the pullout “and a few more European companies have made similar decisions in the past months, which have blindsided us exactly in parallel with the peace process.”
Thousands of students ‘evicted’ in pro-Palestinian solidarity campaign
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 11 Dec by Graham Liddell — Thousands of University of Michigan students woke up Tuesday morning to faux eviction notices slipped underneath their dorm room doors. “If you do not vacate the premises by 13 DEC 6PM, we reserve the right to demolish your premises without delay,” the notices read. “We cannot be held responsible for property or persons remaining inside. Charges for demolition will by applied to your student account.” The mock eviction was orchestrated by the student organization Students Allied for Freedom and Equality to raise awareness about the actual Israeli-directed evictions that are carried out on a regular basis in the Palestinian West Bank and East Jerusalem, in addition to the Negev. “When Palestinians lose their homes to unjust and illegal demolition/eviction notices, they are also robbed of their dignity, human worth, and livelihood,” SAFE said in a statement. Michigan students carry some responsibility for Israel’s “unjust” actions, the statement said, as portions of the university’s hefty endowment fund are invested in “companies that profit from housing demolitions and all other aspects of the illegal Israeli occupation.”
Analysis | | Swell of boycotts driving Israeli into international isolation
Haaretz 12 Dec by Barak Ravid — Western activists and diplomats are gunning for Israel’s settlements in the Palestinian territories, and if peace talks fail, the rain of boycotts and sanctions could turn into a flood — A senior European diplomat met with an Israeli counterpart a few weeks ago and one of the topics they discussed was the continued European Union sanctions against the settlements. They raised in their conversation the possible scenario that Israeli produce from the West Bank would be marked as such in European supermarkets. The conversation points to one of the gravest threats Israel will face in the coming year, namely its growing international isolation. “The marking of produce from the [Palestinian] territories is on hold at this stage,” the European diplomat said to his Israeli interlocutor. “However, should the negotiations with the Palestinians run aground you should expect a deluge of sanctions.” The Israeli official was taken aback by the sharp words.
Group report death of 8 Palestinian refugees including mother and her child
DAMASCUS (PIC) 12 Dec — The Action Group for Palestinians in Syria announced that six Palestinians were killed in Syria on Wednesday while a mother and her child drowned while trying to reach Greece in a boat. The group said in a statement on Thursday that six Palestinians were killed in an attack by armed men on a roadblock manned by the Palestinian Liberation Army in Reef Damascus on Wednesday. It said that in another incident Palestinian refugee Maha Al-Saadi and her child Abdulrahman drowned off the coasts of Greece after Greek coastguards forced a boat carrying refugees to return back to Turkish regional waters.
Civilians caught up in Egypt’s counter-terrorism operations
AL-MOQATAA/AL-MEHDIYA, SINAI (IRIN) 10 Dec — Despite the Egyptian government’s deployment of additional troops to its restless northern Sinai region, attacks by Islamist militants continue, and almost inevitably civilians are being caught in the violence. Last month, a suicide bomber rammed his car into a bus carrying off-duty soldiers, killing 10, including the civilian driver. Although no one claimed responsibility, the attack bore the hallmark of the al-Qaeda inspired militants the Egyptian army has been trying to suppress. The marginalized Sinai Peninsula has been unstable for years. Growing Islamist militancy announced itself with a string of sabotage strikes on gas pipelines to Israel in 2011, and attacks on security forces. After attackers killed 16 Egyptian soldiers at the border with Israel in August 2012, Israel allowed Egypt to send additional troops to the area, a measure usually forbidden by a peace agreement between both countries. A period of relative calm under former president Mohamed Morsi ended with his ousting in July, leading to a spike in violence. The government stepped up its military response after the attempted assassination of Interior Minister Mohamed Ibrahim in September. But the army has struggled to locate its enemy in Sinai – a combination of Egyptian or foreign jihadists and local Bedouin tribesmen with grievances. Army sweeps through some villages have been accused of killing and injuring civilians uninvolved in the insurgency.
Economic life slows to a crawl amid crackdown in North Sinai
AL-ARISH (IRIN) 12 Dec — This is the third installment of a four-part series on the impact of militancy and counter-terrorism in Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula. A state of quasi-war in Egypt’s North Sinai Governorate has brought economic life to a standstill, residents say. Many people in the impoverished Sinai Peninsula have been out of work since the army began a crackdown on armed groups in the area, following the July ouster of President Mohamed Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood movement. Both militants and local people depended on the smuggling of goods to and from the neighbouring Palestinian enclave of Gaza as their main source of income, but security forces have in recent months targeted the area’s smuggling tunnels, which numbered an estimated 1,200 at their peak. “There is no work,” said an inhabitant of the border town of Rafah, who refused to give his name for fear of reprisal. “It depended on smuggling, and now it has stopped.”
EU set to offer massive aid to Israel, Palestinians for peace deal
Haaretz 13 Dec by Barak Ravid — The European Union is expected to announce on Monday that it will offer an unprecedented assistance package to Israel and the Palestinians, if the two parties sign a final-status agreement. The organization also promised to upgrade relations with both parties to the highest level possible for nonmember nations in the event of a peace treaty … The draft resolution, a copy of which was obtained by Haaretz, details the economic, political and military aid the EU hopes will encourage Israel and the Palestinians to agree to the painful compromises that a peace agreement will inevitably entail … The proposed EU assistance package to Israel and the future Palestinian state will include the following incentives: 1. Increased access to the EU market. 2. Closer cultural and scientific ties to the EU. 3. Facilitation of trade and investment. 4. Promotion of business-to-business relations. 5. Enhanced political dialogue with both states. 6. Enhanced security cooperation with both states. The value of the European package of incentives to Israel is genuinely priceless. In addition to its monetary worth, which has been estimated in the billions of euros, the deal would vastly improve Israel’s international standing, rescuing Jerusalem from the international isolation from which it is suffering. The package will also provide international guarantees on such crucial security issues as Iran, the war against terror, intelligence cooperation and much more.
Kerry ‘hopeful’ can strike final Mideast peace deal
JERUSALEM (AFP) 13 Dec — US Secretary of State John Kerry said Friday he hoped to help achieve a peace agreement encompassing Israeli security needs and Palestinian sovereignty, as he wrapped up his regional visit … “We are working on an approach that both guarantees Israel’s security and fully respects Palestinian sovereignty,” Kerry told reporters in Tel Aviv before boarding a plane to Vietnam. Kerry insisted the goal remained for the sides “to reach a final status agreement – not an interim agreement”, and said Israel will release as planned a new group of Palestinian prisoners on December 29 … But Abbas rejected US proposals for Israel to keep a military presence in a future Palestinian state along its strategic border with Jordan, a source close to the president told AFP … Israeli and Arab media reports say the plan envisaged by Washington would see Israel maintain a military presence on the border after a peace agreement with the Palestinians. According to pan-Arab daily Al-Quds al-Arabi, the plan also includes the deployment of early warning stations on the highest point in the West Bank, an Israeli right to deny entry to anyone through the Jordan Valley border crossing and joint Israeli-Palestinian patrols in the area. An international force would be acceptable to the Palestinians, but Israel opposes such a solution.
Israel negotiator warns right-wingers seeking to derail peace
JERUSALEM (AFP) 12 Dec — Israel’s chief peace negotiator on Thursday accused a key coalition partner of deliberately seeking to sabotage talks with the Palestinians by ramping up settlement construction. Speaking just hours before the arrival of US Secretary of State John Kerry on his second visit within a week, Justice Minister Tzipi Livni accused the far-right national religious Jewish Home of deliberately promoting settlement projects in a bid “to derail” the ongoing negotiations. “More building, more announcements of building in isolated settlements are meant to prevent us reaching peace,” she told an audience at Tel Aviv University in remarks broadcast Thursday on public radio. “That is their deliberate intention, to derail the negotiations. To cause the other side to walk out of the room,” she said. Jewish Home controls the housing ministry, giving it a key role in promoting Israeli construction on land the Palestinians want for a future state.
At Mandela funeral, Abbas says he opposes boycott of Israel
Al-Monitor 13 Dec by Daoud Kuttab — The question to Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas was appropriate in time and place. At a news conference in Johannesburg where he was attending Nelson Mandela’s funeral, Abbas was asked about his position regarding the international campaign for boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) of Israel. Abbas’ answer, while not surprising for many considering that he’s involved in negotiations, angered supporters of the BDS movement. The Palestinian leader said flat out that he doesn’t support the boycott of Israel, but that he calls for people around the world not to deal with Israeli settlers and their products. “No, we do not support the boycott of Israel,” Abbas said. “But we ask everyone to boycott the products of the settlements. Because the settlements are in our territories. It is illegal.” The distinction puts Abbas in the same camp as former Israeli Knesset member Uri Avneri, whose movement Gush Shalom makes this difference loud and clear.
Auditors: EU aid to PA needs ‘overhaul’
BRUSSELS (AFP) 11 Dec — EU aid to the Palestinian Authority worth billions of euros needs an “overhaul” and major changes in some areas, the bloc’s Court of Auditors said Wednesday. If the circumstances are difficult, there are still “a number of aspects of the current approach in need of an overhaul,” said Hans Gustaf Wessberg, who wrote the report for the court. “There is a need for major revisions such as encouraging the PA to undertake more reforms, notably in relation to its civil service,” Wessberg said in a court statement. Additionally, a way needs to be found so that Israel takes “the necessary steps to help ensure (the aid program) is effective,” he added. “Both parties remain committed to fulfilling their obligations to stay at the table and negotiate hard during the nine-month period that we set for that” when talks were launched at the end of July, said Kerry.
EU ‘must stop paying Gaza officials – auditors
BBC 11 Dec — European auditors say the EU should stop paying the salaries of thousands of Palestinian civil servants in the Gaza Strip who are not going to work. The auditors examined about 1bn euros (£840m; $1.3bn) of EU spending in Gaza between 2008 and 2012. They called for a major review, saying money spent on civil servants there should go to the West Bank instead. Many Gaza civil servants had not worked since the Islamist movement Hamas came to power in 2007, the auditors added … When Hamas took control of Gaza, President Abbas decided to keep paying the salaries of the estimated 61,000 civil servants and members of the security forces who stopped reporting for the jobs, so long as they stayed home and did not work for the rival administration. The European auditors did not have overall figures for the number of civil servants in Gaza who were currently not working, but they found that in one office 90 out of the 125 staff were absent.
PA says still sending patients abroad despite costs
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 11 Dec – Sending Palestinian patients to receive medical treatment abroad at the expense of the Palestinian Authority’s treasury is a costly process but necessary due to a lack of local hospitals and medical centers. The Palestinian Authority has been trying to rely on local medical centers and skilled specialists have reduced the financial burden of referrals to hospitals abroad and in Israel which costs the PA millions of shekels, says Midhat Taha, who heads a health committee affiliated to the president’s office.
‘Worst storm in decades’ batters Jerusalem
Times of Israel 13 Dec — Jerusalem on Friday night was in the midst of a storm feared to be “three times worse” than the snows that had hit Thursday and earlier Friday, and much of the rest of the country was grappling with stormy conditions expected to last into Saturday … Beginning at approximately 16:00pm local time, heavy snow began to fall in the capital after several hours of respite. Municipality officials told The Times of Israel that it would be “three times worse” than the storms of previous days. They urged all residents of Jerusalem and the surrounding areas to stay indoors as weather conditions worsen. As the city turned white at nightfall, most of the streets were completely empty. Earlier, the Israel Electric Corporation declared a nationwide state of emergency as tens of thousands of homes in Jerusalem and the surrounding region remained without power amid the severe winter storm besieging the area. The Mateh Yehuda Regional Council in the Jerusalem district said it was preparing to evacuate thousands of people in the area who have been without power since Thursday night.
And in the US, for example, about 1500 women a year are killed by their husbands or boyfriends…what is the solution?
Palestinians see worrisome trend in ‘honor’ killings rise
AQQABA, West Bank (Reuters) 11 Dec by Noah Browning — A silvery green olive grove set in the red soil of a Palestinian village is a crime scene – testament to a practice so sensitive that it is spoken of only in whispers. One night in late November, Rasha Abu Ara, a 32-year-old mother of five, was beaten to death and strung from a gnarled tree branch as a gruesome badge of “family honor” restored. The woman’s alleged sin was adultery, and her killer was either her own brother or husband, security sources told Reuters. Both are behind bars while an investigation continues. Her murder brought to 27 the number of women slain in similar circumstances in Palestinian-run areas this year, according to rights groups – more than twice last year’s victims. The rise has led Palestinians to question hidebound laws they say are lax on killers, as well as a reluctance to name and shame in the media and society, which may contribute to a feeling of impunity among perpetrators … A week after the crime, Aqqaba mayor Jamal Abu Ara, who is a member of the victim’s extended family, and his brothers sat in their village home, smoking cigarettes and choosing their words carefully. “This act has no religion – it comes from closed, tribal thinking left over from an age of ignorance. People here are walking around in a haze; they want to know who did it and why. Of course, it’s the first time it’s happened here,” he said.
Ethiopian community outraged after MK refused blood donation
Ynet 12 Dec — Members of the Ethiopian community were bewildered and outraged after Knesset Member Pnina Tamano-Shata was refused a blood donation on the grounds she had ” the special kind of Jewish-Ethiopian blood.” … Yesh Atid Chairman Yair Lapid issued a harsh response: “Pnina Tamano-Shata is very upset. We’re trying to figure out how in 2013 Israel, a Magen David Adom volunteer can tell her she won’t draw blood because she’s from Ethiopia. “She just came returned from South Africa, where she represented Israel in the memorial for Nelson Mandela, the man who taught the world you cannot stay silent in the face of racism. We will not stay silent. Whoever needs to be fired will be fired.”
IOA shuts down local radio station in al-Khalil
AL-KHALIL (PIC) 11 Dec — Israeli Occupation Authorities (IOA) decided to shut down a local radio station in al-Khalil under the pretext of jamming on planes at the Ben-Gurion airport. Director of Dream Radio Station affirmed that the Palestinian liaison office informed the local station of the Israeli decision to storm and close its office under the pretext that its radio signals were affecting communications of planes at Ben-Gurion airport in Tel Aviv. The radio station’s staff decided to leave their offices in order to avoid the confiscation of their equipment or their arrest till solving the problem by the Israeli-Palestinian liaison office. He underlined that Dream Radio Station has been broadcasting in al-Khalil for ten years after obtaining permit from the Palestinian Authority.
Israeli forces exchange gunfire on Lebanese border
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 12 Dec — Israeli forces exchanged gunfire on the Lebanese-Israeli border on Thursday after shots were fired from the Lebanese side, Israel’s army said. “Fire was opened near the Lebanese-Israeli border in the northern Galilee. Israeli soldiers responded with fire to the source of the shooting,” an Israeli army spokeswoman said. No injuries or damage was reported.
The source of the gunfire was most likely Lebanese poachers, the spokeswoman added.
On Saturday, a bomb was detonated along the border in the Golan Heights as patrolling Israeli troops passed by. No casualties were reported from the explosion, which Israeli media said occurred on the Syrian-held side of the fence separating it from the Israeli-occupied zone. Israel seized 460 square miles of the strategic plateau during the 1967 Six Day War and annexed it in 1981 in a move not recognized internationally. Syria has always insisted on its return as part of any peace treaty with Israel.
Opinion / Analysis
What does ‘Israeli apartheid’ mean, anyway? / Amira Hass
Haaretz 9 Dec — What do those who say “Israeli Apartheid” mean? They definitely don’t mean the official and popular biological racism that ruled South Africa. True, there is no lack of racist and arrogant attitudes here, with their attendant religious-biological undertones, but if one visits our hospitals one can find Arabs and Jews among doctors and patients. In that regard, our hospitals are the healthiest sector of society. Those who say “Israeli Apartheid” refer to the philosophy of “separate development” that was prevalent in the old South Africa. This was the euphemism used for the principle of inequality, the deliberate segregation of populations, a prohibition on “mixing” and the displacement of non-whites from lands and resources for their exploitation by the masters of the land. Even though here things are shrouded by “security concerns,” with references to Auschwitz and heaven-decreed real estate, our reality is governed by the same philosophy, backed by laws and force of arms. What, for instance?
There are two legal systems in place on the West Bank, a civilian one for Jews and a military one for Palestinians. There are two separate infrastructures there as well, including roads, electricity and water. The superior and expanding one is for Jews while the inferior and shrinking one is for the Palestinians. There are local pockets, similar to the Bantustans in South Africa, in which the Palestinians have limited self-rule. There is a system of travel restrictions and permits in place since 1991, just when such a system was abolished in South Africa. Does that mean that apartheid exists only on the West Bank? Not at all, it exists across the entire country, from the sea to the Jordan River. It prevails in this one territory in which two peoples live, ruled by one government which is elected by one people, but which determines the future and fate of both. Palestinian towns and villages suffocate because of deliberately restrictive planning in Israel, just as they do in the West Bank.
The real cycle of violence / Roger Sheety
Palestine Chronicle 12 Dec — On December 7, 2013, two seemingly dissimilar events occurred, an ocean apart. The first was that a Palestinian teenager, Wajih Wajdi al-Ramahi, was murdered by the Israeli “defense” forces at al-Jalazun refugee camp near Ramallah, occupied Palestine. As reported by Ma’an News Agency, “Wajih Wajdi al-Ramahi, 14, was shot with live bullets in the back by an Israeli sniper in front of his school.” … There was hardly any mention of the murder of al-Ramahi in the world press. Although the Telegraph, the BBC, and Haaretz, among a few others, did indeed report the story, all these accounts without exception attempted to justify the killing of al-Ramahi in some way.
That same day, December 7, 2013, John Kerry, the current Secretary of State and mouthpiece of U.S. President Barack Obama, spoke at the Saban Center for Middle East Policy (a Zionist “think tank”) in Washington, D.C … “Now, I want to come back to the peace process for a moment, because there is another existential threat to Israel that diplomacy can far better address than the use of force. And I am referring to the demographic dynamic that makes it impossible for Israel to preserve its future as a democratic, Jewish state without resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in a two-state solution” … In plain language, Palestinians having children — certainly a basic right to all peoples of the world — are an “existential threat” to poor, nuclear-armed Israel; they are a “demographic time bomb.” Additionally, according to Kerry, Palestinian children are merely the second major “existential threat” to poor, U.S.-funded and protected Israel, the first being Iran, a state which has never attacked or invaded another in its modern history … However, unlike the killing of Wajih Wajdi al-Ramahi, Kerry’s racist anti-Palestinian rant was, in fact, widely reported on by “serious” journalists, none of whom bothered to ask Kerry this most basic of questions: “Would you ever speak of any other national, ethnic, or religious group as a demographic time bomb and an existential threat?” The dehumanization of Palestinians has, of course, been a mainstay of Zionist thought from its very beginnings. The use of zoological terms, in particular, to describe Palestinians has been common among Israeli leaders over the years. For example: • Menachem Begin: “[The Palestinians] are beasts walking on two legs.” • Yitzhak Shamir: “[The Palestinians] would be crushed like grasshoppers…heads smashed against the boulders and walls.” • Ehud Barak: “Palestinians are like crocodiles, the more you give them meat, they want more.” • Moshe Dayan: “We have no solution… You [Palestinians] shall continue to live like dogs, and whoever wishes may leave, and we will see where this process leads.” • Raphael Eitan (former Chief of Staff of the Israeli Defence Forces): “When we have settled the land, all the Arabs will be able to do about it will be to scurry around like drugged cockroaches in a bottle.”