Palestinian groups call on NBC to cancel filming in occupied E. Jerusalem

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Land, property theft & destruction / Ethnic cleansing / Apartheid

Palestinians urge NBC to cancel show that aids Israel’s Jerusalem land grab
Electronic Intifada 16 Dec by Ali Abunimah — Palestinians are calling on the American media network NBCUniversal, owners of NBC television, to cancel the filming of a new drama series in eastern occupied Jerusalem. In a statement, the Civic National Commission on Jerusalem – a coalition representing dozens of Palestinian organizations – says that the production of the series scheduled to air in the autumn “will give legitimacy to Israel’s policies of apartheid, ethnic cleansing and colonization in occupied Palestinian Jerusalem.” Dig, according to The New York Times, will be “an action series set (and shot) in Jerusalem and based in the world of archaeology” that will run on NBCUniversal’s USA cable channel. Jeff Wachtel, chief content officer for NBCUniversal, told the newspaper he hoped it would be “the big, buzz-worthy project” that USA has been looking for … The NBC series is to be filmed in Silwan, a Palestinian neighborhood where Israeli occupation forces are systematically demolishing homes and displacing families in order to build Jewish-only settlements and facilities, particularly the so-called “City of David National Park” run by the extremist settler organization Elad. Elad is directly involved in the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians from Jerusalem.
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Prawer Plan may not be shelved after all
972mag 16 Dec by Mairav Zonszein — The Prawer Plan may not be shelved after all. Just four days after the co-author of the proposed law, Benny Begin, announced the halting of the bill that would see the internal displacement of some 40,000 Bedouin in the Negev, the former IDF general who heads the unit which is to implement the “relocation” told Haaretz Monday that he has not received any instructions to shelve the plan and is continuing efforts towards its implementation. Major General (res.) Doron Almog added that Begin can claim whatever he wants, but that bill is still in the legislative process.
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Bedouin in Israel calling for recognition, rather than relocation
WADI AL-NAAM (JTA) 16 Dec by Ben Sales —  In this unofficial Bedouin town of 14,000 not far from Beersheva in the Negev Desert, families live in clusters of shanties with intermittent electricity provided by generators or solar panels. A communal structure has soft plastic walls and dirt floors, with a small pit at one end for an open fire that provides the room’s only heat. Roads in many places are demarcated only by piles of rocks. For decades, Bedouin tribes like those living in Wadi al-Naam and similar settlements all over southern Israel have waged a battle with the Israeli government over land rights, with the government refusing to recognize the unofficial settlements or give them electricity or infrastructure and the Bedouins refusing to move. Ismail Barfash, a local locksmith, says if he wanted to move to the nearby recognized Bedouin town of Segev Shalom, he would have long ago. “I like the quiet here,” Barfash said. “No one comes here to ask what you’re doing. I prefer to die here and not move somewhere else.”
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Israel confiscates private Palestinian land near Nablus
NABLUS (Ma‘an) 17 Dec — Israeli authorities confiscated ten dunams and restricted access to 500 dunams of private agricultural Palestinian land in the village of Qusra south of Nablus on Tuesday, an official said. Ghassan Daghlas, a PA official who monitors settlement activities in the northern West Bank, told Ma‘an that the Israeli liaison department in Nablus officially notified its Palestinian counterpart of the confiscation order. The land, he added, is located between the village and an illegal Israeli settlement outpost called Esh Kodesh. Daghlas added that the Israelis told their Palestinian counterparts that farmers were not allowed access to an area of more than 500 dunams around the confiscated land. “This means,” he said, “they are confiscating 500 more dunams.”

10 homes to be demolished in Barta‘a
IMEMC — [Tuesday, Dec 17] (WAFA) – The Israeli military authority has notified 10 residents of the village of Barta‘a al-Sharqiyeh, south of Jenin [and right on the Green Line], of its intention to demolish their homes, under the pretext that they were built without permission, according to a local official. Head of the village council, Tawfiq Kabaha, told WAFA that Israeli forces, along with staff from the military government’s planning department, has served 10 residents notices for the demolition of their homes, some of which are still under construction. Others are already inhabited.

Israeli military drills besiege Rashayda
IMEMC — [Tuesday, Dec 17] Hundreds of heavily armed Israeli soldiers stormed the village of Rashayda, south of Bethlehem, early Tuesday morning and started a wide scale military drill. This came after a day of occupying a nearby nature reserve and displacing the families who were living there, the Palestinian News Network (PNN) has reported. Chairman of the village council, Fawaz al-Rashayda, told a Palestinian outlet that troops arrived in groups and started military drills between the houses, while large military vehicles were deployed around the village. Checkpoints were erected and locals notified that they would be unable to leave their houses after 10 a.m. The PNN reports that, on Monday afternoon, Israeli forces were deployed in a nature reserve, east of Rashayda village, displacing nearby families and declaring it a “closed military zone.” The troops warned the neighboring semi-nomadic Palestinian residents that they should evacuate the area before 5 p.m. or that they would be evacuated “forcibly.” About 80 families live in tents near the reserve, where they tend herds of sheep and goats. The mayor has warned that dozens of students will not be able to access their schools in the coming days.

Israeli forces leave Bethlehem village following military drill
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 17 Dec — Israeli forces vacated the Bethlehem village of ‘Arab al-Rashayida on Tuesday after conducting military drills in the area for several hours, locals said. Fawaz al-Rashayida, head of the local village council, told Ma‘an that 5,000 heavily armed Israeli soldiers arrived in the village at dawn on Tuesday. Locals are used to Israeli forces performing drills on the outskirts of Arab al-Rashayida, but this is the first time they have raided homes and local institutions in the village, Fawaz al-Rashayida said. The drills, which took place in between residential homes, caused damage to the village’s water grid, he added.
Israeli forces also issued demolition orders for six properties belonging to Ali Awda Mohammad Rashayid.
During military drills, Israeli forces can enter Palestinian homes and involve Palestinian civilians in their operations without warning them that the raids are mere practice. In November, Israeli human rights group Yesh Din said Israeli troops had been using a Muslim cemetery in Hebron as a location for military drills and practice.

Leaked water from settlement swamps agricultural land in northern Jordan Valley
JORDAN VALLEY (PIC) 17 Dec — Agricultural lands in Jeftlek village in the Jordan Valley were swamped by water that leaked from a neighboring Israeli settlement established on Palestinian lands. A pond exploded in the Israeli settlement on Monday, which led to the flow of water toward Jeftlek village, flooding more than 100 agricultural acres. The agricultural crops were completely submerged and damaged while the Israeli settlers did not care less about what happened.
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Isolated by winter storm, thousands of Jewish settlers abandon their homes
Haaretz 16 Dec by Yair Ettinger and Jack Khoury — Thousands of settlers have left their homes in the West Bank due to the winter storm that dumped more than a foot of snow in some areas of the region. Tens of thousands of settlers are still afflicted by blocked roads, blackouts and disruptions to the water and telecommunications networks. Children were not expected to return to school Monday in most West Bank settlements. Since Saturday night, evacuated communities include a large number of illegal outposts and neighborhoods. Settlers have left both prefab homes and permanent housing, aided by the Israel Defense Forces and volunteers. Dozens of communities were completely cut off, including more established ones with good infrastructure. During the Sabbath, an IDF helicopter evacuated a family in the Benjamin region; all members were suffering from hypothermia.

VIDEO: Traveling on ruins
Israeli Social TV 15 Dec (Hebrew, English subtitles) — Ayalon Canada Park is full of cyclists and hikers who enjoy the scenery and the weather, but few know the story of the three Palestinian villages that were demolished in 1967 on which the park sits.

Mental segregation: Mapping Jews and Palestinians into separate worlds
972mag 16 Dec by Haggai Matar — In a short news piece (available so far only in Hebrew), Haaretz reported this morning of the damage caused by the recent storm to both settlers and Palestinian in the West Bank. The wording of the article gives us the opportunity to examine the difference in news coverage for Jews and Arabs living under the same regime in the same stretch of land. Reports of settler suffering take up five paragraphs, while Palestinians get one. More importantly, however, is the way in which the spaces the two peoples inhabit are described. The text (as well as the headline, at least in the printed version) entirely separates the area into two: the first part of the reports deals with “settlements in Judea and Samaria” whereas the latter begins with the words “The storm also caused extensive damage in the West Bank.” This, to me, is a remarkable example of the mental maps that many Israelis imagine when thinking about the occupation…. Read more: The world’s only ethnic time zone
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Jordan wants Israel to remove Aqsa-mosque surveillance cameras
Ynet 18 Dec — Jordan, the custodian of Muslim holy sites in Jerusalem, demanded on Tuesday that Israel remove surveillance cameras at the city’s sensitive Al-Aqsa mosque compound. “Jordan rejects Israel’s installation of surveillance cameras on December 8 to monitor waqf officials and worshippers, particularly women,” Information Minister Mohammad Momani told state news agency Petra. “Jordan does not accept that Israel has set up a police station inside the compound. It is a flagrant military violation of the freedom of worshippers as well as an interference in the affairs of the Jordanian Islamic waqf” (Islamic endowment). The kingdom, which has a 1994 peace treaty with Israel, “calls for removing all such military measures.,7340,L-4466756,00.html

Restriction of movement

Warnings of permanently banning Sheikh Salah from entering Jerusalem
RAMALLAH (PIC) 16 Dec — The Islamic movement in 1948-occupied Palestine has warned of Israeli plan to permanently block entry of Sheikh Raed Salah into Jerusalem following the Magistrate Court’s decision to ban his entry to the city for 14 additional days. Movement spokesman Zahi Njeidat said that the Israeli occupation authorities wanted to block Sheikh Salah from entering Jerusalem permanently for his tireless activism in exposing Israeli Judaization schemes in al-Aqsa mosque. Sheikh Salah was detained for two days on the 4th of September for allegedly inciting violence. Following his release on a bail of 14 thousand dollars, he was barred from Jerusalem for two months. On December 2nd 2013, the Magistrate Court extended the ban on the Sheikh for 10 more days that were extended again for 14 additional days.
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Want to see nature? For Palestinian convicts, it’s a no go at West Bank reserve
Haaretz 17 Dec by Zafrir Rinat  — Palestinians convicted of security offenses are being barred from entering the Ein Prat Nature Reserve in the Judean Desert, even though visitors’ security records aren’t checked at other West Bank nature reserves. Inspectors from the Israel Nature and Parks Authority kept two Palestinian visitors out of Ein Prat, also called Ein Fara, two weeks ago, said Dror Etkes, a researcher who monitors settlement construction and was with them at the time. This is in keeping with recent practice at the site, according to the mayor of the nearby Palestinian town of Anata … Yasser Mohammed Hamdan, one of the two Palestinians with Etkes, said the parks inspector “approached me and said I couldn’t enter,” adding: “I didn’t get any explanation. This is a difficult feeling, because I have land inside the reserve, but I can’t go there.” Hamdan spent seven years in an Israeli jail for terrorist offenses committed during the first intifada, but said he has not been denied entry to a public place on account of his record in years. The other Palestinian who was barred from entering Ein Prat served a jail sentence of just 10 days.


Occupied Palestinian Territory: Winter Storm Situation Report (as of 16 Dec 2013, 1500 hrs)
UN OCHA — A winter storm, among the strongest recorded in recent decades, struck the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt) and Israel on 11 December. It was characterized by strong winds, heavy rains, low temperatures and, in some areas, heavy snowfall. It is estimated that between 8 and 13 December, the Gaza Strip received about 75 per cent of its normal winter rainfall. The storm exacerbated the already poor humanitarian situation for large segments of the population, particularly those living in the Gaza Strip and in herding communities in Area C of the West Bank. Although abating on 15 December, the adverse impact continues with more flooding possible as the snow melts.  [Details follow, including relief efforts by ICRC, Islamic Relief-Pal, Save the Children, Catholic Relief Services, MoSA and UNRWA, World Food Program….]
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Storm disaster in Gaza ‘man-made’
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 17 Dec by Alex Shams — As thousands in the Gaza Strip remain displaced and streets across the coastal enclave are still flooded Tuesday, it is increasingly clear that the devastation caused by storm Alexa was not a purely natural phenomenon. Emergency response crews have been crippled by a lack of electricity to pump water and a lack of fuel to operate generators. But these conditions of scarcity are not a result of the storm. They were a fact of life even before the rain started falling, due to the Israeli-led siege and the severe limitations placed by Israel on imports and exports. The severity of the storm’s effects and the seven years of siege the region has endured are connected by a near-total economic blockade that has led to a slow but steady collapse of infrastructure as well as a deeply weakened capacity for emergency response, a United Nations official charged Sunday. “Long term de-development of Gaza is the context in which (the storm) occurred,” Chris Gunness of the UN’s Palestine refugee agency UNRWA said in an interview … “”We in the UN have always said that this policy is unsustainable … When the natural disaster ends, we need to look at long-term solutions,” he added, stressing the need for limitations on exports from Gaza to be lifted. “Gaza would not be so aid-dependent if it could export. People would have disposable incomes to buy the things they need,” he added, pointing out that if the limitations of trade were lifted Gaza would be “transformed.”

Tunnels closure cost Gaza $500m in 5 months
World Bulletin 17 Dec — The Egyptian military destroyed scores of tunnels along the border with Gaza following the July 3 ouster of elected president Mohamed Morsi — The Gaza Strip has incurred $500 million in losses since the Egyptian army launched a crackdown on a network of smuggling tunnels on the borders between the isolated Palestinian enclave and Egypt, a new study has concluded. “Losses incurred by the Gaza Strip have proved catastrophic and unprecedented in scale,” economist Maher al-Tabaa, the study’s author, told Anadolu Agency on Monday. The study concluded that the closure of the underground tunnels between Egypt and the Gaza Strip had brought economic activities to a standstill. According to the study, the strip’s gross domestic product (GDP) has dropped by 60 percent in the past five and half months. It added that Gaza’s construction sector, which relies heavily on construction materials smuggled via the underground tunnels, had come to a total halt. The construction field is the biggest labor-absorbing sectors in Gaza and contributes about 27 percent of the strip’s GDP (nearly $135 million).
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Cars seized in smuggling tunnel in Rafah
CAIRO (Ma‘an) 17 Dec — Egyptian border guards on Tuesday took over a large tunnel suspected of being used for smuggling cars into Gaza, a military spokesman said. Ahmad Mohammad Ali said that three cars and a motorcycles were seized in the tunnel. It was closed and placed under guard. Meanwhile two people from Gaza were caught trying to illegally enter Egypt from a tunnel in Rafah.

Gaza factory workers protest closure amidst fuel, power crisish
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 17 Dec — Hundreds of workers protested Monday in front of al-Awda biscuit factory in Deir al-Balah after the plant was closed as a result of the ongoing power and gas crisis in the Gaza Strip. 450 workers demonstrated at one of the Gaza Strip’s few remaining large factories after managers were forced to steadily reduce working hours due to lack of fuel and electricity. Factory director Muhammad Telbani says the crisis started about a month ago when providers stopped supplying the factory with gas as fuel ran out across the Gaza Strip.  He highlighted that his factory needs 45 tons of domestic-use gas per month. As of late, however, “we have lately been receiving only 8 tons every month,” even though the factory could still afford to purchase the required fuel. Additionally, the factory receives only six hours of electricity a day, similar to other parts of the Gaza Strip. As a result, he said, the factory has been working only four days a month, detrimentally affecting the wages of 450 workers. They have now launched a picket in protest against their inability to earn enough to feed their families. Telbani explained that his factory used to produce 40 tons of biscuits a day … Before Israel imposed an economic siege of the Gaza Strip, Al-Awda used to export 60 percent of its products, mostly to the West Bank. Israel’s ban on both imports and exports, however, has cut this trade off, while ingredients necessary to make the factory’s biscuits are difficult to acquire.

VIDEO: The future for Gaza’s children: an interview with Dr. Eyad al-Sarraj
Dr. Eyad al-Sarraj, president of the Gaza Community Mental Health Program, died 17 Dec 2017. Here he is being interviewed on 22 April about the impact of war on the children of Gaza, looking toward the future for those children. Produced by Pam Bailey for the “Child’s View from Gaza” art exhibition.

Gaza has all the potential it needs, with one exception
GAZA 16 Dec (ISM) by Charlie Andreasson — Long beaches with white, soft sand. A swim in the warm and clear waters. Surfing. Water skiing. Diving among wrecks from Roman times. The allure of small rays’ silent flights, and the luck of seeing turtles and leaping dolphins. Beach cafes with plaited palm leaves as protection against the sun. Restaurants with seafood, caught in the golden light of dawn. Or historical walks among remains from the Roman, Persian or Ottoman eras. A quiet walk along the narrow streets, visits to markets, meetings with friendly, smiling people. The Gaza Strip, the Palestinian coastal enclave, has the potential for all of this, with one exception. The occupying power does not permit flight lands in to Gaza. They have even bombed the airport to prevent it. And they use military force to prevent every attempt to get here, or out, by boat. The fishermen risk their lives, their boats and gear, their livelihood, every day. The freshly caught fish or shellfish may never land on your plate. And bringing in materials to build those restaurants is highly uncertain. It could have been so beautiful here. It could have been so rich. But it is not allowed….
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Gov’t urges Arab and Islamic states to follow Qatar’s steps and help Gaza
GAZA (PIC) 16 Dec — The Palestinian government in Gaza called on the Arab and Islamic countries to follow the lead of Qatar and stand by the storm-hit Gaza Strip. Emir of Qatar Sheikh Tamim Al-Thani had channeled 10 million dollars to solve the fuel crisis temporarily until the arrival of Qatari fuel shipments sufficient to operate the Gaza power plant for about three months. Sheikh Tamim also allocated five million dollars to aid the Gaza population affected by recent rainstorms. Spokesman for the government Ihab Al-Ghussein told a news conference on Sunday that Qatar was the only Arab country which felt the suffering of the Gaza people and hastened to help them.
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Violence / Raids / Clashes / Illegal arrests

Palestinian young man wounded in IOF shooting
GAZA (PIC) 17 Dec — A Palestinian young man was wounded on Monday night when Israeli occupation forces (IOF) opened fire at a group of people east of Jabaliya, north of the Gaza Strip. Ashraf Al-Qudra, the health ministry spokesman, told the PIC reporter that a 19-year-old youth was injured with a bullet in his foot. He said that the young man was hospitalized in moderate condition.
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Palestinian child wounded by Israeli gunfire while harvesting potatoes in Gaza
GAZA (ISM) 17 Dec by Rosa Schiano — On Sunday, 15th December, a young Palestinian was injured by Israeli gunfire in Beit Lahia in the northern Gaza Strip. Mohammed el-Shanbary, age 17, was harvesting potatoes. “I went to work at 9 am,” el-Shanbary said. “After about 30 minutes, the soldiers started shooting.” He was working with the owner of the land and another person about 500 meters from the wall that separates the Gaza Strip from territory occupied by Israel in 1948. El-Shanbary and his father Rafiq think the bullets were fired from control towers situated along the separation barrier, inside of which there are automatic machine guns. A bullet wounded El-Shanbary in his left shinbone. After he fainted, the landowner called his father and asked him to summon an ambulance. The ambulance took him to Kamal Odwan hospital. The bullet entered and exited, causing a fracture. El-Shanbary would have surgery 30 minutes after our visit. The doctor said they would insert a tibial fixation. El-Shanbary started working in the area one month ago. The work depends on the harvest season. His father does not have a stable job, leaving el-Shanbary and his 21-year-old brother to work to support a family of ten. He can earn from 25 to 40 shekels per day, depending on how many crates of potatoes he collects. For each crate, he receives two shekels. “Some time ago, they were shooting just to scare us, not directly at our bodies,” el-Shanbary said….
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Clashes in the neighborhoods of Bi’er Ayoub and Ein Al-Lozeh
Silwan, Jerusalem (SILWANIC) 16 Dec — Violent clashes broke out on Monday night in the neighbourhoods of Bi’er Ayoub and Ein Al-Lozeh in the town of Silwan. Wadi Hilweh Information Center was informed that Israeli forces randomly fired sound bombs and rubber bullets towards the houses of the locals and their properties in Ein Al-Lozeh resulting in material damages in several houses owned by Abbasi family. The forces also fired sound bombs and rubber bullets in Bi’er Ayoub, assaulted the passers-by and beat them with batons which led to the injury of one young man with bruises in his leg; the young men responded by throwing stones and Molotov cocktails towards police cars.

Undercover Israeli forces raid Tulkarem in broad daylight
TULKAREM (Ma‘an) 16 Dec — An undercover Israeli force on Monday raided Tulkarem in broad daylight and detained a former Palestinian prisoner staying at a guesthouse hotel in Tulkarem in the northern West Bank. Palestinian security officials told Ma‘an that undercover Israeli agents in plainclothes raided Nasif Pension in the city center in broad daylight and detained 25-year-old Muatasim Iraqi from the Izbat al-Jarad neighborhood.  Iraqi was staying in the pension with his mother. He was freed from Israeli jails in the prisoner swap deal between Israel and Hamas in 2011.

Five Palestinians kidnapped in West Bank
IMEMC — [Monday at dawn, Dec 16] Israeli soldiers have invaded various Palestinian communities in different parts of the occupied West Bank, kidnapping five Palestinians. Local sources have reported that one invasion took place in the Qalqilia district, in the northern part of the occupied West Bank, and that three Palestinians were kidnapped. One of the kidnapped was taken from his home in Hijja village, and the second was kidnapped from his home in Jayyous village. The Israeli army said that a third Palestinian was also taken prisoner in the Qalqilia district, but did not reveal any further information, and only claimed the kidnapped are wanted for “security violations”.
Furthermore, dozens of soldiers invaded Jaba‘ village, south of the northern West Bank city of Jenin, while several military jeeps also invaded Zabbouba and Rommana, nearby. Local sources in Jaba‘ village said that the soldiers kidnapped Ibrahim As‘ad Baddad, 38, and Morad Waleed Malaysha, 23. Eyewitnesses said that the army forced the families out into the cold, amidst the snowstorm, and searched their homes. Furthermore, several Israeli military jeeps invaded the Rommana village, and were deployed around the village’s mosque while the residents headed there for dawn prayers.

Israeli forces detain man near Ramallah
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 17 Dec — Israeli forces on Tuesday detained a man north of Ramallah, locals said. Ammar Zuheir Asad, 28, was arrested while traveling to ‘Ein Siniya, north of Ramallah, and taken to an unknown destination. Asad, a journalism student, was detained for the first time in 2003 and spent eight years in an Israeli jail for being affiliated with Hamas. He was arrested again in 2011 for four months, before being released.

PA forces arrest 6 Palestinian students
WEST BANK (PIC) 17 Dec — PA Intelligence Service arrested on Monday six Palestinian students at Kadoorie University in Tulkarem and confiscated their car, before taking them to its headquarters. The detained students were on their way to Nablus city to see the snowfall accumulation. Once they reached the city, they were arrested at a Palestinian police roadblock. They were taken to PA Intelligence headquarters in Tulkarem after the confiscation of their car.
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MP Barghouthi holds Israel fully responsible for tragic conditions of detainees
OCCUPIED JERUSALEM (PIC) 17 Dec — Palestinian lawmaker Mustafa Barghouthi, head of the national initiative, held Israel and its jailers fully responsible for the tragic incarceration conditions of the Palestinian detainees who suffer greatly as a result of the cold spell, which hit Palestine. In press remarks on Monday, Barghouthi said that the conditions of the Palestinian detainees in Israeli jails are extremely difficult because of the heavy cold winter and the absence of enough blankets, protective clothing and heating appliances. He added that this miserable situation in jails caused many prisoners to suffer cold-related diseases and increased the suffering of others with previous medical conditions. The lawmaker appealed to human rights groups, especially the Red Cross, to urgently move and pressure the Israeli prison authority to provide the prisoners in its jails with enough protective means and appropriate medical care to help them survive the harsh winter.
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At Gaza sit-in for detainees, Um Rami and Um Dia’a hope sons will be released next week
GAZA (Resistenza Quotidiana, Silvia Todeschini) 17 Dec — Every Monday, activists and relatives of political prisoners in Israeli jails attend a solidarity sit-in inside the courtyard of the International Committee of the Red Cross in Gaza. The perseverance of these women and men, who have met here every week for eighteen years, is admirable, but this Monday was animated by a special hope. Um Rami is waving a small Palestinian flag and holding a sign with a picture of a teenager. The teenager is Rami, her son. He was taken by the Zionist occupation forces 20 years ago, when he was 15 and a half years old, before the Oslo accords. After the prisoner exchange for Shalit, she was able to visit him in prison four times. Before, for twelve years, she had been forbidden to see him … But this Monday, there was an atmosphere of hope. Um Rami is confident that her son will be released in a week, with the third group of Palestinian political prisoners Israel has agreed to free.
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Israeli court adjourns trial of Jordanian child for 16th time
RAMALLAH (PIC) 16 Dec — An Israeli court adjourned on Sunday the trial hearing of Jordanian child Mohammed Mahdi for one week to listen to more testimonies. Salman Mahdi, the father of the child, quoted his son’s lawyer as saying that the court only listened to two witnesses. He expressed concern over the bad incarceration conditions of his son, who is held in Megiddo jail, and the fact that his trial was adjourned for the 16th time. Israeli occupation forces arrested Mohammed on 13/5/2013 after charging him with throwing stones at an IOF patrol and injuring seven soldiers.
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2 Palestinians killed, elderly woman dies of cold in Syria
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 17 Dec — Two Palestinian refugees were killed in the Yarmouk refugee camp in Damascus as a result of the ongoing clashes in Syria and an elderly woman died from exposure to cold, according to a Palestinian group. The Workforce for Palestinians in Syria said in a statement received by Ma‘an Wednesday, that Yousif al-Khateeb and Muatasim Abdul-Ghani were killed Tuesday evening as a result of shelling in the Yarmouk camp. Several others were injured, and material damages were reported … Palestinian refugees in Yarmouk, Deraa, al-Huseiniyya, Khan al-Sheikh and al-Aedin refugee camps have been suffering during the winter storm which hit the Middle East this week, while those Palestinian refugees who have fled to other countries have suffered in poorly-equipped makeshift refugee camps. The main problem faced by refugees is the lack of fuel, gas and electricity for heating, in addition to the violence from the ongoing Syrian civil war. More than 1,500 Palestinians have been killed in the ongoing Syria conflict, and around 250,000 Palestinian refugees have been forced to leave their refugee camps in Syria due to violence in the country.

Official: Peace agreement foiled in Yarmouk as PFLP-GC redeploys
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 17 Dec — Efforts by the Palestinian Authority to maintain the neutrality of the Palestinian refugee camps in Syria and shield them from ongoing clashes in Syria were foiled on Tuesday after gunmen affiliated to Palestinian and Syrian factions redeployed in the Yarmouk camp in Damascus. Member of the PLO executive committee Ahmad Majdalani told Ma‘an on Tuesday that the plan to offer relief to the besieged Yarmouk camp was foiled by the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command, a Palestinian militant group closely allied to the Syrian regime. Majdalani explained that PFLP-GC gunmen re-entered the camp after having initially exited it, and as a result of their entrance gunmen from other groups also redeployed.

Video of migrants sprayed for scabies stirs outrage in Italy
ROME (Reuters) 17 Dec by Steve Scherer — A video showing migrants standing naked in the cold while being sprayed for scabies stirred outrage in Italy on Tuesday and underscored what many have criticized as the European Union’s failure to tackle its immigration crisis humanely. State television station RAI2 showed the video, which it said was shot by a migrant with a cell phone, late on Monday. It shows young boys and men being told, with voice and gestures, to strip naked outdoors so they can be sprayed for mites. RAI 2 interviewed one of the migrants, identified only as Khalid, who said they were lined up and treated “like animals” … The video was shot in the immigration center on the island of Lampedusa, RAI 2 and Khalid said. In October, Lampedusa was the scene of one of the worst disasters in the two-decade long EU immigration crisis when a boat sank near shore, drowning at least 366 people … Syrians, Eritreans and even some of the survivors of the October shipwreck were among those subjected to the humiliating disinfestation, according to the RAI 2 report.
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Activism / BDS

Demonstration in C Major
Israeli Social TV 15 Dec (Hebrew/Arabic, English subtitles) — Omar Saad, a young Druze viola player from the village Mghar, was sentenced for refusing to serve in the army and was ordered this week to Prison 6. On the day of his draft in Tiberias, a demonstration took place accompanied by a concert by Omar and his family members.

Mandela’s S. Africa boycott success sparks Israel debate
JERUSALEM (AFP) 16 Dec  — Recent successes in the campaign to boycott illegal Jewish settlements have given fresh impetus to calls for sanctions against Israel like those that brought down apartheid in South Africa. Since the European Union said it would block grants and funding for any Israeli entity operating over the 1967 lines, a growing number of international bodies have taken similar steps to cut ties, in a move that has sparked alarm in Israel. “This has happened in recent days,” commentator Chemi Shalev wrote in the newspaper Haaretz, listing a series of steps as proof that the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement was gaining ground.

Bibi’s boycott: Will 2014 be the year that Israel divorces the world?
Haaretz 17 Dec by Bradley Burston — Make no mistake. Whatever gains BDS scores this coming year, this will be Bibi’s boycott, the only real achievement he can point to. This will be Israel’s doing —  …If Israel were actively trying to support a worldwide boycott against it, could it possibly do a better job than it’s doing right now?
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Other news

Sources: Hamas agrees to join unity government ahead of elections
NABLUS (Ma‘an) 17 Dec — Hamas has officially notified Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas of the movement’s decision to join a national unity government which will prepare for upcoming presidential and parliamentarian elections, sources told Ma’an on Tuesday. The sources, allegedly privy to the details, said that Abbas had previously received two phone calls from Hamas’ chief Khalid Mashaal and from prime minister of the Hamas-run government in Gaza Ismail Haniyeh. The sources pointed out that Hamas requested that the national unity government serve for six months instead of three as agreed in the 2012 Doha Agreement, one of numerous attempts at reconciliation between the rival Palestinian factions. Abbas might ask current Palestinian Authority prime minister Rami Hamdallah to lead the unity government, sources said. The Palestinian president will issue the needed presidential decrees announcing elections after attending a meeting of Arab countries’ foreign ministers scheduled on December 21, sources added.

‘US security plan included IDF troops on West Bank highway’
[with map] Times of Israel 18 Dec by Adiv Sterman — The Palestinian negotiating team rejected an American peace plan that would involve Israeli military presence along the Jordan Valley highway, located five kilometers (three miles) from the Jordanian border, after the establishment of a future Palestinian state. Contrary to earlier reports, the proposed final-status arrangement would see IDF control of a broad corridor in the Jordan Valley — not just a minimal stationing of Israeli soldiers along the border — for the first 10 years after the signing of a peace deal, Channel 10 News reported Tuesday.
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Poll: Majority of Palestinians oppose continuing negotiations
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 17 Dec — A poll released by the Palestinian Center for Public Opinion on Sunday shows that a majority of Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip are pessimistic about the current round of peace negotiations with Israel and oppose their continuation. The poll also revealed that most Palestinians surveyed are “worried” about the potential for another confrontation with Israel amid general pessimism regarding Israeli intentions in the peace process. “A majority of the Palestinians feel that the running negotiations between the Palestinians and the Israelis launched on July 30, 2013 have reached an impasse and that there is no need to continue, particularly due to the Israeli intransigence and the continuation of building settlements and the expansion of the existing ones, said the center’s president Nabil Kukali in a statement.

Israeli police beef up security for Beitar-Sakhnin soccer match
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 17 Dec — More than 300 Israeli police officers in addition to private security guards deployed around Doha Stadium in the Palestinian city of Sakhnin in northern Israel on Tuesday afternoon ahead of a soccer match between rival teams Bnei Sakhnin and Beitar Jerusalem. Tensions are high in Sakhnin in anticipation of the match, as besides being major rivals, Beitar Jerusalem is notorious in Israel for the anti-Arab racism of its fans as well as for being the only Israeli team to have never had an Arab player. Bnei Sakhnin, meanwhile, is the only Palestinian squad in the Israeli premier league … Following a match between the two teams in Sakhnin in 2012, Beitar fans rioted and assaulted Sakhnin players. Beitar fans have repeatedly rioted following games and during rallies and targeted Palestinian passerby for assault, most recently in Jerusalem in July.

Nablus residents block major roads in protest against lack of power
NABLUS (Ma‘an) 16 Dec — Dozens of residents blocked a major traffic intersection in the northern West Bank in protest against the continued lack of electricity to their homes on Monday. Protesters blocked the Bizariya junction northwest of Nablus with large rocks, preventing traffic towards the major cities of Nablus, Jenin, and Tulkarem. Residents of four villages took to the streets in protest as the lack of electricity in their villages continued for a fourth day, as a result of the destruction caused by winter storm Alexa. He added that the four villages still affected by the lack of electricity are Burqa, Bizariya, al-Fandaqumiya, and Jaba … Ghassan Daghlas, a PA official who monitors settler activities in the northern West Bank and head of the village and local councils in Nablus governorate, told Ma‘an that residents were protesting against the national Electricity Company because it is responsible for the electricity network and so far had not been proactive in ensuring the network’s repair.

Police arrest asylum seekers who left ‘open prison’, marched to J’lem
972mag 18 Dec by Haggai Matar — Update (4:15 p.m.): Police and immigration authorities detained all of the Sudanese and Eritrean asylum seekers who left the ‘Holot’ open prison on Sunday and marched to Jerusalem. The detainees were put on buses and driven away. After deserting from a so called ‘open prison‘ facility in large numbers, refusing meals for two days and marching almost non-stop for another two, a group of 150 Sudanese asylum seekers reached the Prime Minister’s Office and then the Knesset in snowy Jerusalem Tuesday morning. The asylum seekers spent the night at Kibbutz Nahshon, having been taken in by kibbutz members and in the morning proceeded by buses to Jerusalem, accompanied by dozens of Israeli activists and a large number of police and immigration inspectors.   Upon reaching Jerusalem they were joined by several dozen other Sudanese and Eritrean asylum seekers who also left the facility for to Be’er Sheva earlier in the week and took buses directly to Jerusalem. An unknown number of other detainees from the new “open facility” are reportedly roaming the Negev individually, not taking part in the “March for Freedom” protest but looking for ways to survive outside prison. Haaretz reports that some have reached Tel Aviv and have been arrested by authorities..Read +972′s full coverage of refugees in Israel
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PHOTOS: Asylum seekers march to Jerusalem to protest government policies
Activestills 17 Dec — In a mass act of civil disobedience, over 150 Sudanese asylum seekers chose not to show up for the evening roll call Sunday night at an ‘open prison’ in Israel’s south. Instead, they set out on a march to Be’er Sheva, more than 50 kilometers (30 miles) away, where they spent the night at the central bus station in freezing wintery conditions. According to law, the detainees must check in with prison authorities three times a day. On Monday morning they continued marching toward Jerusalem in order to protest their continued detention without trial and to demand recognition as refugees.
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African migrants march on Jerusalem in protest against detention
LAHAV JUNCTION, Israel (AFP) 17 Dec — Hundreds of undocumented African migrants on Monday began a protest march to Jerusalem after fleeing a detention center in the south where they were being held, an AFP correspondent said. The group, all men, could be seen marching northwards along a highway near Lahav junction in southern Israel, holding up signs reading: “Recognize us as refugees” and “Holot (detention) facility is a prison,” the correspondent said.  Under legislation passed on December 10, undocumented migrants entering Israel can be held for up to a year without trail.

Hebrew radio: Historic meeting between Saudi and Israeli officials
NAZARETH (PIC) 16 Dec — The Hebrew radio claimed on Sunday evening that a “historic” meeting was held between Saudi and Israeli officials in Monaco. The radio said in its evening news bulletin that the meeting was held on the sidelines of a conference in the Principality of Monaco. It said that former Saudi ambassador to the USA prince Turki Al-Faisal shook hands with former Israeli ambassador to Washington Itamar Rabinovich and Knesset (parliament) member Meir Sheetrit. The broadcast said that Turki urged the Israelis to accept the Saudi initiative to solve the Middle East crisis. It quoted the Saudi former ambassador as doubting the credibility of American president Barack Obama regarding the Palestinian-Israeli negotiations. It also quoted Turki as saying in response to an invitation by Sheetrit to address the Israeli Knesset that such a step was not of any benefit as long as Israel did not accept the Saudi peace initiative.
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Slain soldier drove unarmored car too close to Lebanon border
Ynet 16 Dec by Yoav Zitun —  An IDF investigation revealed that Petty Officer 1st Class Shlomi Cohen who was killed Sunday night at the hands of a Lebanese sniper drove an unarmored car and did not enter the IDF outpost from the main gate, opting rather to take a side route, and thus leaving him exposed to the Lebanese side of the border. Senior Israeli, Lebanese and United Nations military officers met on Monday to defuse tension after the cross-border shootings … Meanwhile, Israeli troops shot two Lebanese soldiers early Monday, hitting one. The incident was not a retaliation but rather because the two were acting “suspiciously.” … Sunday’s incident jarred the relatively stable standoff between the two neighbors,7340,L-4466123,00.html

Analysis / Opinion

Stealing Palestine: interview with Richard Falk / Stuart Littlewood
Redress 16 Dec — As the international conspiracy to rob Palestinians of their freedom and homeland is exposed a little more each day, observers and activists still puzzle over the duplicity of the United Nations in the decades-long illegal occupation and ethnic cleansing of the Palestinian territories, not to mention the true intent of Palestinian leaders. So when Richard Falk, Professor of International Law at Princeton and UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights in Occupied Palestine, visited Norwich recently, I took the opportunity to put some questions to him.
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Power in prison / Farah Stockman
Boston Globe 17 Dec — The silver lining of leaders’ long prison sentences — The 27 years that Nelson Mandela spent in prison were marked by hard labor, barely edible porridge, and limited access to the outside world. At one point, he could only receive a single visitor each year, for just 30 minutes. But, somehow, Mandela and his fellow political prisoners managed to turn their captivity into an advantage. They studied. They strategized. They mastered self-discipline. Through the shared experience of prison, they bridged the dangerous divide between the African National Congress and the Pan Africanist Congress, two rival liberation movements … Are the prisoners of today’s intractable conflicts following his example? Supporters of Marwan Barghouti, the popular Palestinian figure, say that he is. Barghouti, a leader of the second Intifada, was sentenced to five life terms for his militia’s role in a deadly attack on a seafood market in Tel Aviv. In prison, he has studied Hebrew and earned a doctorate in political science. He has also tried to bridge the gulf between Hamas (which openly advocates the use of violence) and Fatah (which doesn’t). In 2006, Barghouti got the imprisoned leaders of both groups to agree to cease attacks on civilians inside Israel, and limit their violent actions to the occupied territories. Although the deal fell apart outside the prison walls, he still appears to be a rare unifying figure for Palestinians. When Hamas negotiated a prison exchange with Israel, it asked for Barghouti, even though he’s a member of Fatah.
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For Arab citizens, Israeli government suffers from split personality / Ron Gerlitz
972blog 16 Dec — “The earth shook during the events of October 2000.” These are the words that introduced the Or Commission recommendations, published exactly ten years ago. The commission was formed to investigate the violent clashes between the police and Israeli Arabs during October 2000, the most violent between the government and Israel’s Arab citizens since the establishment of the state. The events lead to the death of 13 young Arabs at the hands of the police, as well as the death of a Jewish civilian who was killed after a rock was thrown at his car. The Or Commission stated firmly that “Israel’s Arab citizens live in a situation in which they are discriminated against as Arabs” and that “the state must work to wipe out the stain of discrimination against its Arab citizens, in its various forms and expressions.” But ten years on, has the stain been erased? Has it faded or become smaller? Has the state even tried to erase it? Based on an ongoing monitoring of government policy towards Arab citizens, it is impossible to avoid the conclusion that when it comes to implementing the commission’s recommendations, the government has taken contradictory steps, as if it suffered from split personality disorder.
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20 years since Oslo: Palestinian perspectives
Articles by Edward Said (1993), Diana Buttu, Sam Bahour, Saree Makdisi, Abir Kopty, Nabil Shaath, others.hlink to (listserv) (archive)

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Ugh. Boycott NBCUniversal! The gall/hubris of it. Yet more disgusting murder/assaults/maimings by the IOF here: “Israeli forces killed one Palestinian and wounded four others on Wednesday in clashes that erupted during a special arrest operation in the West Bank city of Jenin. A special Israel Defense Forces and Israel Police… Read more »

Ugh. Boycott NBCUniversal! The gall/hubris of it.

See PLO asks NBC to call off production of new TV show: Official says Gideon Raff’s ‘DIG’ will help Israel ‘ethnically cleanse’ Jerusalem.