Land, property theft & destruction / Ethnic cleansing / Restriction of movement
Israel approves new town in Negev
BEERSHEBA (Ma‘an) 3 Dec — The Israeli planning and building committee on Tuesday approved the construction of a new town in the Negev, as the state continues to implement the Prawer plan to displace the Bedouin population. Shizaf will be part of the Ramat Negev Regional Council, and it will include 250 housing units for young couples, the Ministry of Interior announced. Ramat head Shmulik Rifman praised the decision and thanked the minister of interior, “who understood the importance of establishing this town which will house religious and secular Jews.”
Israel to build 3000 new settlement units
IMEMC — [Tuesday, December 3, 2013] Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon has decided to approve 3,000 new units in illegal Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank and occupied East Jerusalem … The decision came despite a statement made by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who alleged that Tel Aviv “will not rush new plans” and “will not issue new bids at the current stage.” Israeli sources said that Yaalon issued several similar decisions, and that most of these decisions were made in July of this year, when he approved the construction of 2,487 units for several settlements in the occupied West Bank. Israeli Peace Now Movement said that Yaalon is waging an extensive campaign to expand various illegal settlements, including Alia Zahav, Shilo, Kedumim, Givat Zeev, and Talmon.
Israel ‘clears West Bank land for settler homes’
RAMALLAH (AFP) 3 Dec — Israel has bulldozed land slated for settler homes in the West Bank, a local official said Tuesday, ahead of a visit by the top US diplomat to boost peace talks. “The occupation (Israeli) authorities informed us, through notifications to landowners, that new settler homes would be built in the village of Al-Mazra‘a al-Qabaliya [Ramallah district],” Abdallah Lawadeh told AFP. The 255 homes are among some 800 slated for construction by Israel since October. Palestinian landowners were given two months to “present objections to the decision,” Lawadeh said, but “the authorities did not wait for those to be filed, already bulldozing the land and setting up temporary housing for Israelis,” he said.
Haaretz editorial: ‘Judaization’ of the Galilee means racism
2 Dec — The government must develop the Negev and the Galilee for all its citizens, Jews and Arabs alike — Living in Israel are the members of two peoples, Jewish and Arab, majority and minority. All are citizens who must be treated equally. This basic truth, the cornerstone of any democratic regime, is being undermined yet again. The World Zionist Organization’s Settlement Division, part of the executive branch of the government, is formulating a plan to “Judaize the Galilee” and create a “demographic balance” vis-à-vis the Arab population. Zafrir Rinat reported yesterday in Haaretz that the goal is to attract 100,000 new Jewish residents to the Galilee, with the objective, in the agency’s words, of “giving expression to Israeli sovereignty through settlement activity.” This program must be scrapped immediately. Israeli sovereignty over the Galilee is not being questioned in any way. Whether most of the residents are Jews or Arabs, every resident of the Galilee is a citizen of the state and must be treated as such. A state that encourages members of one people to settle in any region, while at the same time imposing harsh restrictions on the growth of the other, is acting in a racist manner. There is no other way to describe such behavior. Since 1948, Israel has blocked the establishment of new Arab communities in the Galilee, even though the older communities are bursting at the seams for lack of land reserves, while it has expropriated huge tracts of Arab land.
Jordan Valley demolitions leave 50 Palestinians homeless
NABLUS (Ma‘an) 2 Dec — Israeli forces on Monday demolished four houses and eight agricultural structures in the southern Jordan Valley, leaving at least 50 Palestinians homeless, a local official said. Fathi Shqaier, head of a campaign to support communities in the Jordan Valley, told Ma’an that Israeli forces demolished the properties in al-Auja village. The residential and agricultural structures were built on land belonging to the Islamic endowment, or waqf, he added. Local resident Imad Najada said that three bulldozers accompanied by at least 15 Israeli military vehicles arrived in the village and demolished the properties early Monday … Najada added that some residents filed an appeal in Israeli courts and have official documents proving that the land belongs to the Islamic endowment. Guy Inbar, spokesperson for the office of the Coordinator for Government Activities in the Territories, or COGAT, could not be reached for comment. The Jordan Valley forms roughly a third of the occupied West Bank, with 94 percent of the area off limits to Palestinian use and development. Israel has declared around 56 percent of the total area to be part of closed military areas.
Israeli forces demolish water wells and tents in the Jordan Valley
JENIN (Ma‘an) 2 Dec — Israeli bulldozers demolished water wells and tents belonging to local Palestinian residents in a number of districts across the northern Jordan Valley on early Tuesday morning. Aref Daraghmeh, the mayor of al-Malih and neighboring Bedouin villages in the Jordan Valley, told a Ma‘an reporter that two Israeli bulldozers demolished two water wells in the area of Barza, as well as tents in the areas of al-Bqaia and al-Adasa in al-Malih. Daraghmeh noted that most of the residents whose property was demolished did not receive any advance warning from Israeli forces
An unending settler pogrom
Haaretz 3 Dec by Michael Sfard — It’s time we listened to the sounds emanating from the Palestinian shtetl of Burin. We might recognize familiar sounds from our own collective past — It is night time and the children are sleeping. The tranquility is broken by a group of masked men rampaging through the village, yelling obscenities. Stones are thrown, breaking windows. The children wake up in terror. A Molotov cocktail is thrown into the house, engulfing the curtains in flames. South of Nablus, between the settlements of Yitzhar and Har Bracha, the village of Burin is groaning. How many of you have heard of Burin, or know that it’s been assaulted 2-3 times a week in the last month, some of the attacks occurring at night? The perpetrators are groups of Israeli youths whose aim is to make the villagers leave. Of course you haven’t heard of Burin. Why would you? Burin was once a magnificent village, with thousands of acres of tilled and productive land, with thousands of residents living peacefully as they made their living off the land … Every settlement is surrounded by a cordon of land, often including Palestinian farming land, in which travel is restricted or completely prohibited. Some of the extreme settlements serve as bases from which assailants emerge to harass their neighbors, destroying their property or defiling their places of worship, preventing them from leading their traditional way of life. Israeli settlements also suck up all natural resources in the area for the benefit of Israel’s economy, leaving Palestinians with the only option of performing manual labor in the service of this robbery, all for a pittance in wages.
Settlers take over building near Hebron mosque
HEBRON (Ma‘an) 3 Dec — Israeli settlers moved chairs and furniture into a building in Hebron’s Old City on Tuesday in an attempt to take over the property, official news agency Wafa reported Tuesday. Hijazi Abu Sneineh, an official at the Ibrahimi Mosque, said that settlers brought hundreds of chairs into the building, indicating that they intend to turn the Budairi building into a Jewish prayer area. The settler presence in the area could cause tension with local Palestinians as the building is located on a road leading to the mosque. Hebron is a frequent site of clashes due to the presence of 500 Israeli settlers in the Old City, many of whom have illegally occupied Palestinian houses and forcibly removed the original inhabitants. They are protected by thousands of Israeli soldiers. In 1994, an Israeli settler opened fire on Muslim worshipers in the Ibrahimi Mosque, killing 29 and injuring more than 100 Palestinians.
Hundreds of settlers escorted to Joseph’s Tomb near Nablus
NABLUS (Ma‘an) 3 Dec — Hundreds of Israeli settlers escorted by Israeli troops arrived at Joseph’s Tomb near Balata refugee camp east of Nablus early Tuesday morning. Local sources told a Ma‘an reporter that ten Israeli military vehicles escorted dozens of settlers’ buses to visit the site at dawn in northern West Bank. Settlers performed religious rites throughout the early morning hours. While the settlers visited the site, a number of Palestinian young men gathered in the area hurling stones and empty bottles at Israeli soldiers. No casualties were reported.
Israeli settlers frequently visit Joseph’s Tomb under the protection of Israeli forces, who regularly raid local Palestinian villages and fire tear gas into the neighboring Balata refugee camp during these visits. Despite lying in an area under Palestinian authority deep in the West Bank, Israeli forces maintain control at the site and prohibit Muslims from praying there. Palestinians believe that Joseph’s Tomb is the funerary monument to Sheikh Yusef Dweikat, a local religious figure. Others believe that the tomb belongs to the Biblical patriarch Joseph.
Israeli settlers invade yards of Al-Aqsa Mosque
IMEMC — Tuesday morning [December 3, 2013] Head of the Media Unit of the Al-Aqsa Foundation for Waqf and Heritage, Mohammad Abu Al-Ata, stated that more than a 140 settlers broke into the yards of the mosque and conducted a provocative tour. He added that Israeli soldiers kidnapped two Palestinians in the mosque, including Husam Seder, an employee of the Al-Aqsa Reconstruction Committee. Abu Al-Ata further stated that hundreds of Palestinian worshipers are currently in the yards of the Al-Aqsa Mosque, especially amidst calls by extremist Israeli groups to invade the mosque. He said that the police have surrounded the area, preventing dozens of Palestinians from entering the mosque, and that resident Abdullah Abu Bakr has been served with an order preventing him from entering the mosque for six months.
Israeli court extends ban on entry of Sheikh Ra’ed Saleh to J’lem
NAZARETH (PIC) 3 Dec — The Israeli magistrates’ court in occupied Jerusalem on Monday extended a ban on the entry of Sheikh Ra’ed Salah, head of the Islamic Movement, into occupied Jerusalem for 10 more days, ending on Wednesday, December 13. According to Mohamed Aghbariya, the lawyer of Al-Mizan center for human rights, the court accepted a police request to extend the ban on Sheikh Salah, who has been prevented from entering the city for three months. Sheikh Salah was detained last September as he was en route to a news conference held in Jerusalem on the Aqsa Mosque. The court verdicts against Sheikh Salah were based on police claims that he incited to violence during a Friday khutba (sermon) he had previously delivered in Kafr Qara village, southeast of Haifa city.
Prawer Plan protests
Beaten, arrested, threatened: A personal account from the anti-Prawer protest
972blog 4 Dec by Alma Biblash (translated by Dimi Reider) — She was clubbed and dragged while her friends were beaten and arrested during a demonstration against the planned expulsion of thousands of Bedouin in the Negev — On Saturday night at the anti-Prawer demonstration in the village of Houra, a policeman swung a club against my leg when I tried to persuade him to let go of a girl he was holding by the throat. Another policeman grabbed me by the arms and dragged me off. A moment later he grabbed a little boy standing next to me, shoved his face into the dirt and screamed at him that he is going to kill him. A young woman shouted at a policeman to calm down and stop beating people up, and he slapped her so hard she fell onto the ground. I’m running, escaping the jet of putrid water, a man is running next to me. Police on horseback appear out of the dark and trample him down, sending him flying into the air. Click here for a photo essay from the anti-Prawer protests
Battling Israel’s ‘bad Bedouin’
Haaretz 3 Dec by Zvi Bar’el — A chasm, deepening: Israel’s Arab citizens are well aware of the facts behind the government’s ‘demographic balancing.’ — “An Arab manipulation,” “Tyranny and oppression within Bedouin society,” “The Islamic Movement is the one trying to undermine the discussions,” 80 percent of the Bedouin agree to the plan,” “Arab MKs are attempting to connect the Negev Bedouin population to the Galilee Arabs and the Palestinians,” “There are those in the Bedouin opposition who think every shack should be eternalized – not to preserve Bedouin society, but to create territorial continuity between Hebron and Gaza.” These are just some of the reasons proposed by Doron Almog, head of the agency implementing the Bill on the Arrangement of Bedouin Settlement in the Negev, to explain the stark opposition of the Negev Bedouin to the noble program of which he is the head. In Almog’s view, apparently, the Negev Bedouin are divided into two groups: The first is nice, loyal, unaffiliated with Islamic movements, lacking any national ideology and above all obedient. The other is warmongering, a “fifth column,” insubordinate to the law, radical Muslim, seeking to attach the Negev to the West Bank and in general to the Arab Middle East.
[with links to 15 videos] Popular Resistence blog (Mazin Qumsiyeh) 3 Dec — On Friday, all demonstrations in many Palestinian villages had the theme against the Prawer Plan. On Saturday in 30 countries, events were held to counter the Prawer plan to ethnically cleanse 40,000 Palestinians from the Negev in the 65 year colonial Zionist program to make Palestine a “Jewish state”. The demonstrations locally in Palestine were held in Haifa, the Triangle, Jerusalem, AlBireh, and the Negeb with the same message: Prawer shall not be passed or implemented and we emphasize the unity of all 12 million Palestinians. All local demonstrations were attacked viciously by the apartheid forces. I personally noted the absence of the key symbols of the Palestinian authority which should have joined the demonstration in Jerusalem (many of the leaders have VIP cards and can travel to Jerusalem). Will these “leaders” finally listen to the people? …
Israel police order media to hand over all photos from Bedouin protests in Negev
Haaretz 2 Dec by Shirly Seidler — Haaretz and Israel’s two biggest news networks, Channel 10 and Channel 2, say they will challenge the order in court — Police ordered Israeli media outlets on Monday to turn over all photographs taken at Saturday’s Negev demonstrations against plans to resettle 30,000 of the area’s Bedouin. Police provided no explanation for the unusual order, but they are investigating violent clashes between stone-throwing demonstrators and police, who employed stun grenades, tear gas and water cannons during the protests against the Prawer plan.
Violence / Raids / Clashes / Illegal arrests
Thousands join funeral of Palestinian worker shot dead by Israelis
NABLUS (Ma‘an) 2 Dec — Thousands of mourners on Monday followed the funeral procession of Antar al-Aqraa from the northern West Bank village of Qabalan near Nablus who was shot dead Saturday by a volunteer in the Israeli border guard police. Al-Aqraa was shot dead near a cemetery in Petah Tikva … “When he left home in the morning he took with him wedding invitation cards he wanted to hand to his fellow workers and to his Israeli bosses,” Antar’s father Shibli al-Aqraa told Ma’an. He highlighted that the Israeli claims that Antar tried to stab an Israeli officer were “completely false.” “Why would a young man scheduled to be wedded in two weeks, and carrying invitations, attempt to attack an Israeli soldier?” the bereaved father wondered. “These are pure lies and fabrications.” The bereaved mother wept as she showed reporters the clothes her son had planned to wear on his wedding day.
Video: Officer fires tear gas canister at B’Tselem videographer, causing injuries
B’Tselem 2 Dec — Last Wednesday morning, November 27, 2013, Muhmmad ‘Awad (Abu Ahmad), a B’Tselem volunteer videographer, and a resident of Beit Ummar, documented clashes between Palestinian youth and soldiers near the entrance to the town. The first video he shot depicts the soldiers standing by a jeep, and a stone landing near them. An officer is then seen firing several tear gas canisters from a “Ringo” type launcher, to the area of the stone throwers, in a position behind and to the right of the cameraman. The soldier then reloads the launcher and when another stone lands near the jeep, fires another volley or canisters: The second clip depicts the same officer firing several canisters in an arch, to a point behind Abu Ahmad’s position. Then, he is clearly seen pointing the launcher towards B’Tselem’s volunteer, and fires a canister that hit him in the chest: Abu Ahmad was bruised in the chest and evacuated to a clinic in the town, and was later taken to ‘Alia Hospital in Hebron, then released. This is not an isolated incident. The firing of tear gas canisters directly at individuals is a routine practice by soldiers and border police officers in the West Bank. It has already claimed the lives of two people and has injured dozens of others in recent years. The military, however, continues to deny such a practice exists and avoids addressing it systematically.
To B’Tselem’s knowledge, no member of the security forces has yet been indicted for serious injuries caused by directly aiming tear gas canisters at individuals …. A composite image of video stills shows the canister’s trajectory. Click to view all images.
PHOTOS: This tear gas brought to you by the USA
Activestills 3 Dec Text by Ryan Rodrick Beiler — On the same day that Bethlehem’s minister of tourism noted that the US government provided $400,000 to decorate the city for Christmas, local activists brought a few more US-sponsored ornaments to show to visitors in this West Bank town at the height of its tourist season. The activists delivered used tear gas grenades — that had been fired by Israeli forces at Palestinian youth less than two kilometers away in ‘Aida Refugee Camp that same day — and hung them on a tree in Manger Square. One activist from ‘Aida Camp was arrested for his participation in the action by Palestinian police, but released after a few hours. Most of the crowd control weapons deployed by the Israeli military against Palestinians are part of the Combined Tactical Systems (CTS) product line made by a US company, Combined Systems Inc. (CSI). Pick up a used tear gas cartridge or concussion grenade at any demonstration, and you’re likely to find the initials “CTS” stamped on them somewhere (though the rest of the labeling is typically in Hebrew). But during recent clashes in ‘Aida Camp, Israeli forces have been leaving behind cartridges labeled completely in English. These labels contain complete CTS contact information, including the Pennsylvania mailing address, telephone, and fax numbers. They also bear that proud slogan, “Made in U.S.A.” … In addition to the used grenades, the activists hung signs reading, “This is the USAid to the Palestinians,” and “US military industrial complex, stop making our Christmas hell by sending us your aid and sending Israel your guns.”
1 arrested, 1 injured in clashes in Kafr Qaddum
QALQILIYA (Ma‘an) 3 Dec — A man was injured and another arrested in clashes between Palestinians and Israeli forces in Kafr Qaddum on Tuesday, a local activist said. Spokesman of the popular resistance committee Murad Eshtewi said Israeli forces raided the village on Tuesday afternoon firing tear gas, stun grenades, and rubber-coated steel bullets. Ahmad Eshtewi, 22, was hit with a tear-gas canister in the hand, and Ghalib Hilmi Eshtewi, 21, was arrested in front of his home, the spokesman added. Eshtewi explained that these raids come after threats by the Israeli army to retaliate against villagers with tear gas in response to their two-year-long protests.
Three Palestinians injured in Bethlehem
IMEMC — Tuesday morning [December 3, 2013] Palestinian medical sources have reported that three young Palestinians have been shot and injured by rubber-coated metal bullets, fired by Israeli soldiers invading the ‘Aida refugee camp, in Bethlehem. Local sources report that the soldiers, stationed at a military tower overlooking the camp, fired dozens of rubber-coated metal bullets and gas bombs during clashes with local youth, causing three injuries, while dozens have been treated for the effects of tear gas inhalation. The clashes occurred after the soldiers fired gas bombs into the overcrowded camp. Sources say that the army frequently fires gas bombs into the camp without any provocation, an issue which causes much suffering for dozens of residents.
IOF soldiers clash with village inhabitants south of Al-Khalil
AL-KHALIL (PIC) 3 Dec — Israeli occupation forces (IOF) clashed with dozens of young men in Tabaka village, south of Al-Khalil, afternoon Monday. Eyewitnesses told the PIC that IOF soldiers burst into the village, near Dura town, and started firing metal bullets and teargas canisters prompting youth to throw stones at them.
Five children kidnapped in East Jerusalem
IMEMC 3 Dec — The Israeli police said that it arrested five Palestinian children from Sur Baher town, south of occupied East Jerusalem, on suspicion of throwing stones at a settler’s vehicle, causing an injury to a settler’s child. The police said the incident took place a few days ago, and that the children “confessed” to the crime during the interrogation, and recreated the scene in front of their interrogators. Similar to previous cases involving dozens of detained Palestinian children, no family members or lawyers were present during the interrogation. Israeli sources said that the police would likely be arresting more children who were either directly involved in the incident or involved in alleged similar attacks.
IOF detain two citizens during raid
AL-KHALIL, (PIC)– Israeli occupation forces (IOF) detained two citizens during a raid on ‘Arub refugee camp to the north of Al-Khalil city at dawn Tuesday. Eyewitnesses said that the soldiers raided the camp and roamed the streets of two suburbs before detaining two citizens. They said that the soldiers also burst into the home of Sa’ed Al-Badawi and served him a summons for intelligence interrogation. The Arub refugee camp has been recently the target of repeated IOF incursions and settlers’ attacks.
Four Palestinians kidnapped in Hebron
IMEMC — Tuesday, at dawn [December 3, 2013] — Local sources have reported that the army has invaded the home of Mohammad Issa Manasra, in Bani Ne‘im town, east of Hebron, kidnapping him and confiscating his car. Soldiers also kidnapped Tamer Jaradat, after invading and searching his home in Sa‘ir town, east of Hebron. Furthermore, soldiers have also invaded the southern part of Hebron city, kidnapping Mousa Abu Turky. His family said that the soldiers stole 3,000 shekels that the family kept in the home. Resident Dia’ Marwan Sa’id, 18, was also kidnapped near the Ibrahimi Mosque in Hebron, and was moved by the soldiers to an unknown destination. On Tuesday morning, soldiers installed a military roadblock at the entrance of the Al-Fawwar refugee camp, south of Hebron, and several roadblocks close to the Halhoul town, north of the city.
In related news, a number of Israeli settlers attacked several homes in Khirbit Um Al-Kheir village, east of Yatta town south of Hebron. Another group of settlers, from the illegal Etnael settlement, invaded Emresh and Raboud villages, south of Doura town, southwest of Hebron, and attacked several homes.
IOF arrests Jerusalemite MP Ahmad Attoun’s two sons
OCCUPIED JERUSALEM (PIC) 3 Dec — Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) have arrested the Jerusalemite MP Ahmed Mohammed Attoun’s two sons after being summoned for investigation in Israeli interrogation centers in occupied Jerusalem. IOF had earlier stormed MP Attoun’s house in Sur Baher town, south of Jerusalem, on Monday to arrest his two sons Mujahid, 16, and Mohammed, 15, but they were not at home at that moment. The two minors were at school when Israeli soldiers came to pick them up, the sources said, noting that their grandfather had taken them to the nearest police station yesterday evening. In its turn, Wadi Hilweh Information Center stated on Tuesday that the occupation forces released Mujahid Attoun and extended the arrest of Mohammed for one day.
Israeli forces detained 110 Palestinians in Hebron in November
HEBRON (Ma‘an) 3 Dec — Israeli forces detained 110 Palestinians in Hebron district in the southern West Bank over the course of November 2013, a report released by the Hebron office of the Palestinian Prisoners’ Society says. The report pointed out that the total number of detained included 25 patients, 30 children under 18, and two women. “More than 20 family members of the detainees confirmed that Israeli troops tortured both the detainees and other family members during the night raids,” chairperson of the society’s Hebron office, Amjad Najjar, said in the report. “The soldiers attacked detainees and family members with rifle butts, and in several cases, gathered all family members in one room while they messed up the interior of the houses.” Since 1967, more than 650,000 Palestinians have been detained by Israel, representing 20% of the total population and 40% of all males in the occupied territories.
Detainees / Court actions
Captives in Eshel ask for medical committee to examine effects of jammers
NABLUS (PIC) 3 Dec — Captives in the Israeli Eshel jail urged international human rights bodies, World Health Organization and all medical institutions to form a legal and medical committee to examine the effects of the jammers installed in the jail, and which have become a threat to the prisoners’ lives. Dr. Amjad Qabha told Ahrar Center for the Studies of Prisoners and Human Rights that serious symptoms appeared on the prisoners; including allergy, headaches and sleep disorders, after the installation of jammers on mobile phones inside the prison. For his part, director of Ahrar Centre Fouad Khuffash said in a statement on Tuesday that these symptoms are very serious and need medical and legal follow-up.
Deterioration in Palestinian prisoner’s health due to torture
RAMALLAH (PIC) 3 Dec — The health condition of prisoner Samer Ahmad Zakarneh , 34, from Qabatiya town south of Jenin has significantly deteriorated on Monday after being subjected to severe torture in Israel’s Jalama interrogation center. The prisoner’s family said that the Israeli occupation authorities informed them that he was transferred from the interrogation center to Afula Hospital to undergo a surgery. Samer’s brother told the PIC reporter that Samer had been transferred recently to Jalama center for interrogation although he has been detained for more than 8 months. The brother expressed concern over Samer’s health condition, holding the occupation fully responsible for his life.
Israeli Arab pleads guilty to Tel Aviv bombing
Ynet 2 Dec — An Israeli Arab pleaded guilty on Monday to planting a bomb on a Tel Aviv bus a year ago, during Operation Pillar of Defense, an Israeli court said Monday. The bomb detonated as the bus was driving near the Israeli defense ministry, wounding around 30 people. The Tel Aviv District court accepted a plea deal from Mohammed Mafarja, 19, and convicted him of attempted murder, attempting to assist the enemy and assault, the ruling said. Mafarja, who was accused of working on behalf of Hamas, will be sentenced at a later date, the court said.
Gaza under blockade
UNRWA plans to cut aid for 60 thousand refugee families in Gaza
GAZA (PIC) 3 Dec — Private sources told Hamas’s Department of Refugee Affairs that UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees (UNRWA) in Gaza plans to cut food aid for more than 60 thousand refugee families in the Gaza Strip at the beginning of the next year. UNRWA, according to the sources, attributes this reduction in aid to its budget deficit, and considers that these families have exceeded the poverty line. UNRWA had already excluded 11 thousand families of Gaza refugees of food aid for the same reasons.
[Palestinian and] International activists launch sea flotilla to break siege of Gaza
Middle East Monitor 3 Dec — EXCLUSIVE IMAGES — About 200 Palestinian and foreign activists launched a protest flotilla in the Gaza Sea on Monday, sending a message to the world about the continuing Israeli siege of Gaza. The Intifada Youth Coalition along with international activists, dozens of them from Europe, organised the action in solidarity with the fishermen in Gaza. They boarded about 20 fishing boats and sailed beyond six nautical miles, the boundary that the Israeli occupation enforces on the fishermen of Gaza.During their protest, they raised Palestinian flags and a number of different posters with anti-Israeli blockade slogans written on them. Some of the slogans called for the international community to do more to help the Palestinians in Gaza … In a press conference before the flotilla set off, the Intifada Youth Coalition affirmed that the main aim of the protest was to break that six mile limit. “The siege imposed on fishermen has to be lifted,” a spokesperson noted. “This is a humanitarian necessity.”
link to www.middleeastmonitor.com
Five schools to be equipped with solar power in Gaza
GAZA (PIC) 3 Dec — The Gaza Education Ministry has signed an agreement with Islamic Relief to build five new schools across Gaza Strip equipped with solar power, at a total cost of approximately six million dollars donated by Kuwait Fund for Arab Economic Development to support the Palestinian people in cooperation with the Islamic Development Bank-Jeddah … The schools are expected to be built in different districts of the besieged Strip. Two primary and secondary schools are scheduled to be built west of the Strip, while two other secondary schools are planned to be built in central Gaza. In addition, a primary school is going to be built in Rafah. The new schools are scheduled to open classes in December 2014; however the acute shortage of building materials may hinder their construction timetable.
Turkish culture popular among Gaza Palestinians
GAZA CITY (Al-Monitor) 2 Dec by Rasha Abou Jalal — The deadly raid by the Israeli navy on May 31, 2010, against the Mavi Marmara marked the beginning of a push by Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan to support an end to the Israeli blockade against the Gaza Strip. His stance led to a widespread belief among Gazans that their savior might arrive in the form of a Turkish man. Soon after, “Turkmania” swept the Gazan street. To this day, Palestinians in Gaza remain captivated by Turkish culture. Relations between the Turkish and Palestinian peoples go back centuries, with Palestine for a time being part of the Ottoman rule. According to Hani Agha, director of the Turkish Yardim Eli (Helping Hand) Foundation, which is active in Gaza, relations were reinvigorated by Erdogan’s public stance on Israeli policy toward Gaza, when the prime minister put Israeli President Shimon Peres in an awkward position at the Davos economic summit in January 2009, accusing him of killing Palestinian children in Gaza. Erdogan’s popularity skyrocketed among Gazans, some of whom named newborns after him.
Pottery making an endangered Gaza craft
GAZA CITY (Al-Monitor) 29 Nov by Asmaa al-Ghoul — Gaza’s local pottery industry is yet another victim of the Israeli-Egyptian siege, as exportation is all but impossible, and electricity cuts hinder production — Using two fingers, 24-year-old Abdel Salam al-Arabi shapes a lump of clay as it rotates on an electric pottery wheel, transforming the solid mass into a vase or pot within minutes. He then dips his fingers in water to soften the sides of the emerging vessel and mold the shiny soft clay before leaving it to dry. “Pottery relies on the rotation of the wheel and the movement of the fingers. I can form whatever I want with a mass of clay. I am now making a bird’s nest,” Arabi told Al-Monitor. Arabi, who works with his father in a pottery shop on al-Nafaq Street in Gaza City, said that there had been five pottery shops on his street five years ago, but now theirs is the only one left. Even then, they are struggling to survive.
17 ‘attempt suicide’ over unpaid Gaza war compensation
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 4 Dec — Seventeen members of families who lost relatives in Israel’s 2008 war on Gaza staged a mass suicide attempt in protest over unpaid compensations from the Hamas government, a representative said. Alaa al-Barawi, speaking on behalf of the families, told Ma‘an that 17 people related to those who died in the fighting attempted to hang themselves after a 39-day sit-in went unanswered. Witnesses said ambulances arrived at the scene and took a number of the family members to Shifa Hospital in Gaza City. Al-Barawi added that the families would continue seeking promised financial compensation from the government, which has paid families who lost loved ones in the 2008-2009 war. Israeli attacks killed over 1,400 Palestinians in the “Cast Lead” operation which began in late 2008 and lasted three weeks.
Boycott / Divestment / Sanctions
BDS: Hebrew U conference dealt two blows
Alternative Information Center 3 Dec — We are pleased to announce that the planned June 2014 “International Oral History Conference” being organized by Hebrew University of Jerusalem has been rendered a double blow with the withdrawal of their two international keynote speakers: Alessandro Portelli (Italy) and Mary Marshall Clark (USA). The university’s claim to be hosting the “first international oral history conference” was unfounded when they made it; it is even less true now. We welcome the principled stand that Portelli and Clark have now taken, thereby denying Hebrew University the opportunity to use their names to cover up its deep complicity in violations of international law and human rights … The initial campaign launched four months ago by Palestinian, Israeli, North American and British oral historians — among other academics — has now been endorsed by almost 400 academics – one-third of whom are oral historians – from 27 countries in Europe, South Africa, Asia and Oceana, as well as North and South America.
Despite EU settlement guidelines | | Dutch government’s new business initiative includes Israeli companies in West Bank
Haaretz 3 Dec by Amira Hass — At least five Israeli companies with ties to the settlements and Israeli rule in the West Bank are registered as participants for the launch event of the Netherlands-Israel Cooperation Forum, which will take place in Herzliya next week. The names of the companies appear on the website of the Dutch embassy in Tel Aviv. The participation of these companies contradicts the guidelines set forth by the European Union with regards to cooperation with Israeli companies active in the West Bank, and also runs counter to Holland’s policy of discouraging Dutch firms from having business contacts beyond the Green Line.A representative from the Netherlands’ Socialist Party is expected to raise the issue today in parliament, and ask that the Dutch government explicitly exclude the “settlements economy” from the economic cooperation agreement with Israel. The wording of the agreement defining the activity of the forum has not yet been finalized, and the outcome is expected to be an important test of the applicability of the EU guidelines, and of the political will behind the Dutch government’s declarations.
Source: 14 EU countries in favor of banning settlement products
Ynet 3 Dec by Elior Levy — A source with the European Union said on Tuesday that if negotiation between Israelis and Palestinians do not yield an agreement, the EU’s ties with both the Palestinian Authority and Israel may suffer. According to the source, if the peace talks fail, the EU might discontinue its annual donations to the Palestinian Authority and expand its ban of Israeli products manufactured in the West Bank. The issue of marking products manufactured in Israeli settlements has spread across Europe, as 14 EU states, including Britain and France, have noted they would be willing to mark products of Israeli settlements. Until recently, only two countries were in favor of boycotting settlement products
US to present Israel plan for security arrangements with future Palestinian state
Haaretz 4 Dec by Barak Ravid — Kerry hopes that if he comes to an understanding with Netanyahu on the security issue, the premier will be obliged to present a clear position on borders — The United States has developed a plan for security arrangements in the West Bank following the establishment of a Palestinian state. Retired U.S. Gen. John Allen, who developed the security concept, will present it during a meeting in Jerusalem on Thursday between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, according to informed sources. Against the backdrop of tension between Israel and the United States over the Iranian nuclear issue, Netanyahu will try to focus the talks with Kerry on the nuclear issue and preparations for permanent agreement negotiations between Iran and the major powers. Kerry, who will land in Israel on Wednesday evening, will attempt to focus his visit to Jerusalem and Ramallah on the peace process between Israel and the Palestinians. Negotiating teams for the two sides are in fact continuing to meet twice a week, with the special American envoy, Martin Indyk, also in attendance. The talks are not making progress, however, and the sides are engaged primarily in mutual accusations over construction in West Bank settlements by Israel and incitement by the Palestinians.
Report: Palestinian, Israeli negotiators met despite PA resignations
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 3 Dec — Palestinian and Israeli negotiators met last week despite an alleged negotiations crisis, according to a report in Hebrew published on Walla news site Monday. The report claimed that several meetings were held between both sides in the period since the Palestinian negotiation team announced its resignation. Chief negotiator Saeb Erekat met last week with his Israeli counterpart alone, the report added, highlighting that Muhammad Ishtayya did not attend the meeting … The Hebrew language website quoted Western diplomats as saying that the Palestinians would ask US Secretary of State John Kerry when he arrives in the region next week to seek the international community’s intervention in the negotiations. Kerry, according to American sources, will try his best to make sure negotiations make progress before a third group of veteran Palestinian prisoners jailed by Israel since before the Oslo Accord are released by mid-January, a result of past agreements.
Israel FM to hold US talks hot on heels of Kerry visit
JERUSALEM (AFP) 3 Dec — Israel’s foreign minister is to hold Washington talks with John Kerry later this week hot on the heels of a new visit to the region by the US diplomat, an Israeli official said Tuesday. Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman will also meet UN chief Ban Ki-Moon and address the Saban Center for Middle East Policy, his deputy Zeev Elkin told public radio. Lieberman’s meetings will come straight after a new visit to the region by Kerry for talks with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas, which is to start on Wednesday, according to Israeli media.
Abbas to act against Israel at UN if peace talks fail
RAMALLAH (AFP) 3 Dec — President Mahmoud Abbas has warned the Palestinians will take action against Israel through international bodies if peace talks fail, ahead of a visit by US Secretary of State John Kerry. “The talks are going through great difficulties because of the obstacles created by Israel,” Abbas told visiting Arab journalists late Monday at his headquarters in the West Bank city of Ramallah. “If we don’t obtain our rights through negotiations, we have the right to go to international institutions,” he said. “The commitment to refrain from action at the UN ends after the nine-month period agreed for talks.”
Palestinian security forces defend Nablus crackdown
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 3 Dec — Recent security campaigns carried out across the West Bank by Palestinian national security forces have been largely successful, security forces spokesman Adnan Dmeiri told Ma‘an Tuesday. The security activities have had an 80 percent success rate, Adnan Dmeiri said, despite the the fact that several wanted fugitives have fled to locations in Area C, where Israel has complete security control … The elite security squad is sent to different districts to provide support to the Palestinian security apparatus in that specific area, he added. The security campaign in al-Ram led to the arrest of 60 wanted criminals, Dmeiri told Ma‘an. Locals, however, said that the campaign failed to achieve its goals because wanted fugitives simply fled to nearby East Jerusalem towns of Eizariya and Anata, where PA forces can not enter. On Monday, 500 officers from the Palestinian national security service arrived in Nablus as part of a campaign to restore order to the northern West Bank city.
Teachers launch open strike
NABLUS (Ma‘an) 2 Dec — The Palestinian teachers union decided to launch an open strike a few hours after the High Court of Justice ruled that a strike was illegal and must be called off. “We would like to announce to our great people that we care about our children more than anybody else, and so we will have intensive make-up classes,” a statement by the teachers’ union read. The statement announced an open strike highlighting that the Palestinian government would be held responsible if the school year is disrupted as a result of the strike.
French experts rule out Arafat poisoning
PARIS (AFP) 3 Dec — French experts have ruled out a theory that Yasser Arafat was killed by poisoning, a source close to the investigation into the Palestinian leader’s 2004 death told AFP. “The report rules out the poisoning theory and goes in the sense of a natural death,” the source said. The French experts’ findings differ significantly from those of Swiss scientists, who said last month that their research offered some support for the suggestion Arafat was killed by polonium poisoning.
Qatar to grant PA $150 million
IMEMC 3 Dec — Palestinian Prime Minister in the occupied West Bank, Rami Hamdallah, stated that Qatar has promised to transfer $150 million to the Palestinian Authority (P.A.) to help ease its sharp financial crises. Hamdallah said that he held extensive talks with Prince Tamim Ben Hamad Al Thani, in Qatar, asked him to grant the P.A. $150 Million, and said that the prince agreed to make the transfer. Hamdallah added that he hopes the transfer will be done as soon as possible, to enable the P.A. to perform its duties, pay salaries and provide services — especially since Qatar did not set a date for this transfer … He further stated that Qatar also promised to ease restrictions imposed on employing the Palestinian work force in the country.
Palestinian-grown basil on its way to Los Angeles
TOUBAS (WAFA) 2 Dec – A Palestinian farmer’s dream is about to come true. A cargo of home-grown red basil is on its way to Los Angeles in the United States. While Minister of Agriculture Walid Assaf believes that export of such products should not take more than 24 hours to reach their destination, this particular journey is nevertheless expected to take 48 hours, starting from Toubas in northern West Bank, and crossing seas and oceans to land in Los Angeles. Meanwhile, a group of skilled male and female workers, in addition to an official assigned by the Ministry of Agriculture, worked around the clock to handle the packaging of these goods. They are responsible for following up on all instructions in order to make sure the receiving country’s requirements are met. When an expert agronomist felt that the red basil was ready, he gave the green line for export of over 400 kilograms of this crop. The leaves were stuffed in cans in a very delicate way, given that they are the most expensive type of herbal medicines … Growing medical herbs and spices is a recent and new trend in the Palestinian agricultural community.
Group calls for return of TV equipment seized by Israel
PARIS (WAFA) 2 Dec – Reporters Without Borders (Reporters Sans Frontières, RSF) Monday called on the Israeli government to release TV equipment its forces seized from Wattan TV during a raid on its Ramallah office in February of last year, according to a press statement. The Israeli High Court is supposed to examine on December 4 the Palestinian broadcaster’s petition asking for the return of transmission equipment seized during the raid … The army returned part of the equipment in January but most was damaged beyond any possibility of repair. It, however, decided to confiscate the transmission equipment, which Wattan is now trying to get back.
Syria shell hits town in Israeli-occupied Golan
MAJDAL SHAMS (AFP) 2 Dec — A mortar shell fired from war-torn Syria struck the outskirts of a town in the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights on Monday, witnesses told AFP. The shell landed on the western edge of Majdal Shams, some 50 meters from a house, but caused no injuries or damage, they said. An Israeli military confirmed the incident but refused to give specifics on exactly where the shell landed … Majdal Shams is the largest town in the Golan Heights, with a population of about 9,900, all of whom are Druze. The spokeswoman said there had also been small arms fire in the central Golan towards Israeli troops during the morning. “Troops returned fire and confirmed a hit,” she said, without giving further details.