Three-year-old Palestinian girl, Hala Abu Sabikha, killed in Israeli raid on Gaza

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Gaza under blockade

Palestinian girl killed in Israeli strike on Gaza
GAZA CITY (AFP) 25 Dec — A three-year-old Palestinian girl was killed in an Israeli raid on the Gaza Strip after the fatal shooting Tuesday of an Israeli near the Gaza border, in the latest uptick in Israeli-Palestinian violence. Cross-border exchanges between Israel and Gaza have increased in recent days, and Israel said Tuesday it held Islamist movement Hamas responsible, as rulers of the Palestinian enclave, for any fire directed from there at the Jewish state. Palestinian medics named the dead girl as Hala Abu Sabikha from a refugee camp in the central Gaza Strip. They said at least six other people had been wounded in the series of tank and air strikes throughout Gaza, including on militant positions. [IMEMC: Hala’s mother, her brothers Bilal, 3, and Mohammad, 6, were injured when the army bombarded a house near a chicken farm] The Israeli army said its aircraft, tanks and infantry “targeted terror sites in the Gaza Strip.”  “The sites included a weapon-manufacturing facility and a terror infrastructure in the southern Gaza Strip, a terror site and another terror infrastructure in the central Gaza Strip and a concealed rocket launcher in the northern Gaza Strip.” The army said the attacks were in retaliation for the shooting of an Israeli man who was engaged in maintenance work on the Israel-Gaza border fence in the northern Gaza Strip. A police spokeswoman identified him as Saleh Abu Latif, 22, a Bedouin from the southern town of Rahat. The army said Abu Latif was the “first Israeli civilian killed in the vicinity of the Gaza Strip” since a major eight-day outbreak of fighting in and around Gaza in November 2012.
Just ahead of the air strikes, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned that Israel would respond “forcefully” to the attack. On Monday, the army said troops had fired at an individual “trying to place a bomb” near the fence in northern Gaza.
Earlier the same day, police reported a rocket fired from the Hamas-ruled coastal enclave had hit southern Israel without causing any casualties or damage.
A Palestinian was shot and wounded by Israeli soldiers on Friday in southern Gaza, a day after another Palestinian was killed and four wounded along the heavily fortified fence.
Israeli Defence Minister Moshe Yaalon stressed on Tuesday that “in Gaza, Hamas is ruler, and we hold it responsible for the shooting today from the Strip and the rocket launches in the past two days at Israel.” “I advise Hamas to not test our patience,” he said in a statement. “If there won’t be quiet in Israel, there won’t be quiet in Gaza either.”
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Escalation on two fronts | | Israel hoping to settle current round of violence with one swift attack
Haaretz 24 Dec by Amos Harel — From the standpoint of the average Israeli news consumer, the escalation along the Gaza Strip border began at noon on Tuesday, when a Palestinian sniper killed a civilian employee of the Israel Defense Forces near Kibbutz Nahal Oz. But in fact, it seems the current round of violence began last Friday, with a series of incidents in which IDF forces shot at Palestinians approaching the border, killing one and wounding four. Two days later, another Palestinian was wounded by IDF fire along the Gaza border. The army said all these incidents involved Palestinian attempts to plant bombs near the border fence under the cover of civilian demonstrations. Gaza’s Hamas-run government usually maintains a large police force in the area whose sole purpose is to prevent Palestinians from coming too near the Israeli border and to thwart rocket launches from the Strip. This time, however, it permitted the demonstrations, apparently out of a desire to allow Gaza residents to let off steam in light of the worsening situation in the Strip …
The Palestinians’ dead and wounded over the weekend spurred them to settle accounts on Tuesday via the sniper attack on the border. But as usual in this region, that merely opened a new account: Israel responded with air strikes that killed two Palestinians, one of them a 4-year-old girl. The group that claimed responsibility for killing the Israeli was the Popular Resistance Committees, a Gaza organization that has for years maintained a complicated relationship with Hamas, but also has an eye for the even more extremist ideology of Al-Qaida, and is currently fragmented among several subsidiary organizations.

Gazan killed by IDF was collecting scrap, says brother
Haaretz 25 Dec by Amira Hass — Oudeh Hamad’s brother, who was wounded by the IDF firing near the border fence, says there were no warning shots — Last Friday, Israel Defense Forces soldiers killed Oudeh Hamad, a resident of Beit Hanun in the northern Gaza Strip. Hamad’s brother Radaad was injured. Statements made to the media indicated that the two brothers were attempting to damage the security fence marking the Israel-Gaza border. Radaad, however, told a Palestinian human rights organization that at the time they were collecting scrap metal and plastic from a junk yard. Oudeh Hamad, 27, and Radaad Hamad, 22, are known among Beit Hanun residents as scrap collectors making their living off of discarded metal and plastic. Radaad Hamad told a field investigator from the Palestinian Center for Human Rights that on Friday, December 20 at midday the two brothers went to the junk yard east of their town, where the northern Gaza municipalities dispose their trash. They worked for roughly three and a half hours, and the area was very quiet. According to Hamad, they were 50 meters away from the fence at around 3:30 P.M. when IDF soldiers opened fire on them without first firing any warning shots into the air. Oudeh Hamad was hit in the head and fell.

Family of slain Defense Ministry employee: Israel doesn’t care about a Bedouin boy
Haaretz 24 Dec by Shirly Seidler — The family of Salah Abu Latif, the 22-year-old Israel Bedouin who was killed on Tuesday by sniper fire from the Gaza Strip, lashed out at the police on Tuesday for forcing them to wait hours before releasing the body for burial. Latif, who was shot while carrying out contract work for the military on the Gaza border, was pronounced dead at 2 P.M. Tuesday in Soroka Medical Center in Be’er Sheva. The body was held for four additional hours, until Talal Al-Karinawi, mayor of Latif’s hometown of Rahat, personally requested its release. “The parents wanted to bury their son today, but the police were holding things up,” said Al-Karinawi. “It took hours before we got a call from any official party.” “We waited for hours at the hospital,” said his Salah’s uncle, Majad Abu Latif. “We didn’t even get a phone call from the army.

Family members of border shooting victim slam PM
Ynet 24 Dec by Matti Siver — Salah Abu Latif, 22, is the man who was shot to death near the Gaza border fence on Tuesday … Abu Latif was working for a drilling company that was hired by the Defense Ministry to repair the fence. His grieving family told Ynet that Tuesday was his first day in his job. “We received the news with great pain,” said Khaled Abu Layef, the victim’s uncle. “He was planning a life and was renovating his house as he was about to get married in the summer. He was a flower picked before its time.” The uncle said Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was to blame for the region’s security escalation due to the stalemate in the peace talks. “Salah had his trust in the State, but it can’t be trusted.,7340,L-4469233,00.html

Palestinian injured by army fire in northern Gaza
IMEMC — [Monday evening, Dec 23] Palestinian medical sources have reported that a Palestinian man [NAME?] was severely wounded by Israeli army fire in northern Gaza … A young man in his twenties was shot in the stomach and leg, as he was walking in a field northwest of Beit Lahia, in the northern part of the Gaza Strip. He was moved to the Kamal Adwan Hospital after suffering serious injuries, and was then moved to the Shifa Medical Center. The Israeli army claimed that the Palestinian “attempted to plant an explosive charge” along the border fence”.

Rafah crossing open, operating very slowly due to computer problem
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 24 Dec — Egyptian authorities opened the Rafah crossing between Egypt and the Gaza Strip in both directions on Tuesday morning and plan to keep it open until Thursday evening, Palestinian sources said. An official in the crossings department of the Gaza Ministry of Interior told Ma‘an Tuesday that the crossing was open in the morning, but passengers were processed very slowly due to a computer problem on the Egyptian side of the terminal. The Gaza Ministry of Interior decided to give priority on Tuesday to passengers who had previously registered to leave at its offices in November.

In video: Gaza streets still flooded a week after storm
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 23 Dec — A video shot on the streets of Gaza City shows extensive flooding more than a week after the region was hit by a massive storm. Taken on December 21, the video from the Institute for Middle East Understanding’s Jehad Saftawi shows streets, cars, and homes still completely flooded, revealing the devastation the Gaza Strip suffered in the wake of winter storm Alexa in mid-December. The footage is shot from a camera placed on a raft as the driver navigates the streets of the al-Nafaq neighborhood in Gaza City. Due to widespread fuel and electricity shortages, disaster response crews have been unable to pump water out of the many flooded areas across the Gaza Strip. Additionally, a number of sewage pumps at plants across the Gaza Strip had stopped working due to lack of fuel prior to the storm, causing sewage to spill into the streets. As a result, the water currently flooding many parts of Gaza is a mixture of cold water and sewage. Flooding caused by the historic winter storm displaced at least 10,000 people in Gaza, while record low temperatures and electricity availability that fell to two hours a day caused great hardship for local residents.

WHO: Permit for child awaiting cancer treatment delayed 3 months
JERUSALEM (WAFA) 23 Dec — Sabrin, a 16-year-old patient from Khan Younis who suffers from thyroid cancer, was called for a security interview causing her to lose her appointment in Maier hospital in Israel on the same day, where she was to receive radioactive iodine treatment that is unavailable in Gaza, a World Health Organization (WHO) report said Monday. Delays in radioactive iodine treatment for cancer can lead to recurrence of the disease and metastasis and can triple the probability of complications if more than six months after surgery, it said. In its monthly report on referral of Gaza patients to hospitals in Jerusalem, the West Bank and Israeli, WHO said five male patients were denied permits to cross the Israeli Erez checkpoint between Gaza and Israel. It said 115 patients – 37 females and 78 males (8.54% of total applicants) – received no response to their applications, including 17 children, which delayed their medical treatment.

Gaza’s freezing veins
GAZA STRIP 22 Dec by Mohammed Omer — Fuel and Supply Shortage Causing Crises — They wind through Gaza’s autumn streets, lines of waiting men and women. A young man wearing pajamas, behind him a thin elderly man wearing a white jalabiya, in front of a young mother holding the hands of her two children and an elderly woman, toothless, tired, and desperate. The first of hundreds behind them carrying empty gas cylinders as they wait for the fuel truck at Salah al-Din Road so they can buy propane gas necessary for cooking. It’s a commodity easily available in Tel Aviv, but almost impossible to get in Gaza. “Filling a gas cylinder means I can cook for my children,” explains 34-year-old Umm Kareem. A widow, she must bring her children everywhere with her. After waiting in vain yesterday, she has spent seven hours standing in line today, and fears she may again have to return home with an empty cylinder. If so, she will be back in line tomorrow.

Gaza: ‘Free the Holy Land sea’
GAZA (ISM) 23 Dec by Rosa Schiano — ‘Free the Holy Land sea’ was a three-day protest by fishermen in Gaza which began on Tuesday, 17th November. The fishermen, supported by the Palestinian Center for Human Rights and al-Mezan Center for Human Rights, set up a tent at the Gaza seaport in which photographs showing Israeli violations were exhibited, along with banners in solidarity with the fishermen … “Since last year, massive attacks against Palestinian fishermen have become a practice of the Israeli naval forces,” said Khalil Shaheen, director of the economics and social rights unit at the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights. “The attack on the fundamental rights of the fishermen, their livelihoods, makes the lives of thousands of fishermen impossible. From September 2009 until the current day, two Palestinian fishermen have been killed, 24 injured, at least 150 arrested, 49 boats seized by the Israeli forces, and at least 120 boats destroyed partially or totally, including during the last military operation, Pillar of Defense, in which harbors were also bombed.”“Palestinian fishermen are losing 85% of their annual income due to the restrictions in the maritime area and the naval blockade,” Shaheen added. ”I think it’s very important to send a clear message in support of the fishermen. For Christmas and the New Year, Palestinian fishermen ask their friends and brothers in the rest of the world to convince the Israeli occupation to end the illegal blockade in Gaza, and to free the Holy Land sea, to grant them their rights.”

Turkey reduces demand for Israeli Gaza flotilla compensation
JNS 23 Dec — Turkey has agreed to accept a lower compensation amount from Israel for the Turkish citizens killed in the 2010 Gaza flotilla incident, a senior Israeli official said. The Mavi Marmara was a Turkish ship that sailed to Israel in an attempt to break the Jewish state’s blockade of the Gaza Strip. After militants attacked Israeli soldiers as they boarded [this is not what happened], the soldiers fatally shot nine Turkish citizens on the ship. Before Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu apologized to Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan for the incident in a phone call this March, relations had soured between the two countries. Earlier in December, Turkey and Israel resumed negotiations on compensation for the flotilla victims in Istanbul, according to Haaretz. Turkey had been demanding $1 million for the family of each victim, but has since made a lower offer.“The agreement is ready; all that’s left is to fill in the blank with a number. There are still differences regarding the amounts, but they have narrowed,” the senior Israeli official said.

Christmas 2013

610 Gaza Christians travel to West Bank for Christmas celebrations
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 24 Dec — Christian residents of the Gaza Strip on Tuesday left to the West Bank where they will participate in Christmas celebrations in Bethlehem, Palestinian sources said. Officials in the Palestinian liaison department told Ma‘an that Israel allowed 610 Gaza Christians to travel to the West Bank to join Christmas celebrations. Two-week permits were given to young people under 16 and adults over 35 years old.  Public information officer of the Church of Saint Porphyrius in Gaza City Kamil Ayyad told Ma‘an that Christmas celebrations in the Gaza Strip are “restricted to religious rites.” He highlighted that previously, a Christmas tree used to be lit every year at the Square of the Unknown Soldier in Gaza City. “Nowadays, we celebrate inside the church only due to the siege and the dire economic and political conditions.” Around 1,500 of the Gaza Strip’s 1.7 million residents are Christians, while the rest are Muslim. Christians make up around 10% of the worldwide Palestinian population more broadly.

Patriarch arrives in Bethlehem marking start of Christmas celebrations
[with photos] BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 24 Dec — Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem Fouad Twal arrived on Tuesday to the Church of the Nativity to start the celebration of Christmas. Twal was greeted by Bethlehem governor Abd al-Fattah Hamayel, Minister of Tourism Rula Maayah, Bethlehem Mayor Vera Baboun, and Presidential Adviser for Christian Affairs Ziad Bandak. Thousands of residents, tourists, and Christian pilgrims waited at Nativity Square for the start of the celebrations, greeted the Patriarch as he arrived. After his arrival, Twal gave a message spreading peace and love to all the nations of the world.  President Mahmoud Abbas, European Union Foreign Policy Chief Catherine Ashton, and Jordanian Foreign Minister Nasser Judeh are also expected to arrive in Bethlehem later Tuesday to participate in the celebrations and attend the annual midnight mass. Every year on Dec. 24, the Latin Patriarch marches from Jerusalem to mark the beginning of Christmas celebrations.

Christmas in Bethlehem
Tales of a City by the Sea 25 Dec by gazaheart — Christmas in Bethlehem (Beit Laham, Aramaic for House of Laham, the Canaanitic God of Sustenance) is still a very special and meaningful time even under the brutal Israeli apartheid occupation.  We are not talking about the visual aspects and the unique religious services at the Church of Nativity (you can now follow these live stream for example on the link shown below).  It is special because reflection here is special.  Nowhere is there an exhibit of “Occupation Art” shown in a “Peace Center” in front of a large Christmas tree in front of one of the holiest places in Christianity. Nowhere on earth do people pray that the wall suffocating them is dismantled then watch and listen to Christmas carols from around the world after admiring such exhibits. No where can we hear the same singers mix Christmas and patriotic songs in the manger square and the Shepherds’ field. In my town of Beit Sahour, the Shepherds’ field, we just concluded two nights of the three nights called “Shepherds’ Night”.  Yesterday Reem Al-Banna the famous Palestinian singer entertained hundreds.  Today a magician entertained children and hundreds of them (Muslim and Christian) received gifts from Santa Clause.  Later in the evening the crowds enjoyed the patriotic music of Thaer Barghouthi who gained fame as the musician and composer for the 1987-1991 uprising (of which Beit Sahour was then at the forefront).

Ringing the bells of Bethlehem a fading tradition
AP 23 Dec by Mohammed Daraghmeh — A Palestinian college student is one of the last keepers of a fading tradition — ringing the bells of Bethlehem. Twice a week, Khadir Jaraiseh climbs to the roof of the Church of the Nativity, built over the grotto where tradition says Jesus was born. He pulls the ropes of four bells in a rooftop tower for a total of 33 times to symbolize the number of years Jesus was believed to have lived. Jaraiseh rings the bells for prayer services of the Armenian Apostolic Church, one of three denominations that administer the basilica, one of Christianity’s holiest shrines. The Roman Catholic and Greek Orthodox denominations at the Nativity church — each of which has its own set of bells — have switched to automatic bell-ringing. But there’s something special about the traditional approach, said Jaraiseh, who uses both hands and a floor pedal to pull the ropes.

Bethlehem’s Church of the Nativity: saving the angels at Jesus’s birthplace
BETHLEHEM (The Guardian) 23 Dec by Matthew Kalman — Italian craftsmen have begun urgent repairs to the centuries-old roof of the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem, first constructed in the fourth century over the grotto where tradition says Jesus was born 2,000 years ago. “Water leaks, earthquakes and incidents that happened here in Bethlehem had a negative impact on the whole structure and especially on the roof of the church,” said Ziad Bandak, head of the Palestinian committee overseeing the work. “The leakage of the water affected the structure, the wood, the walls and the frescoes and mosaics inside.” Marcello Piacenti, head of a family business that has been lovingly restoring the ancient shrines of Europe for six generations, said he was honoured to have won the international tender issued by the Palestinian Authority to repair crumbling pine and cedar timbers up to 800 years old and a lead roof donated by Edward IV of England in 1479 … The leaky roof has sparked regular clashes between mop-wielding monks from the Greek Orthodox, Armenian and Catholic churches over who has authority to clean which parts of the shrine, which is shared between the three denominations under a brittle arrangement known as the status quo … In 2009, the Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas, fearful that the church might collapse, issued a decree to repair the building which the warring parties that run the church finally accepted. But despite the church being declared a Unesco heritage site in 2012, the Palestinians were able to raise only €2m of the €15m (£12.5m) required for the full renovation of the building. [Google “Church of the Nativity restoration” for many good photos]

In video: PLO releases Christmas animation
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 23 Dec — The Palestine Liberation Organization on Sunday released a video commemorating the Christmas holiday. “Every Christmas Palestine celebrates the birth of one of its own, Jesus Christ,” the video’s YouTube description says. The animation features a pope-like figure wandering Palestine’s streets, passing Israeli checkpoints, barbed wire fences, and incidents of settler violence. Pope Francis is scheduled to visit Palestine and Israel in May.

Violence / Raids / Clashes / Illegal arrests (West Bank)

Living in fear – new video highlights settler terror against Palestinian families
Electronic Intifada 24 Dec by Ali Abunimah — Children too frightened to sleep or woken by the sounds of rampaging settlers. Molotov cocktails through living room windows. Settlers firing guns, protected by soldiers. Hateful slogans daubed on walls. Settler children throwing rocks. These are some of the daily experiences Palestinian children and parents describe in this new short documentary Living in Fear: In the shadow of Israeli settlements, from Defence for Children International – Palestine Section (DCI-PS). The video focuses on attacks by settlers from Yitzhar, a colony established in 1983 on lands stolen from surrounding villages in the northern occupied West Bank. The attacks are frequent and ongoing as the settlers seize more land. In 2011 alone, UN OCHA recorded 70 attacks by Yizhar settlers, “the largest figure recorded from a single settlement” that year. Why is this happening? “They want us to leave our homes. That’s what they want,” says one mother. Here’s DCI-PS’s description with more information: The Jewish settlement of Yitzhar is described by The New York Times as “an extremist bastion on the hilltops commanding the Palestinian city of Nablus in the northern West Bank.” Its roughly 1,000 radical Jewish settlers terrorize 20,000 Palestinians from the surrounding villages of Burin, Madama, Asira al-Qibliya, Urif, Einabus and Huwara.

Israel closes probe of private guard who shot and killed Palestinian
Haaretz 25 Dec by Nir Hasson — A criminal investigation of a private security guard who shot and killed a Palestinian man in 2009 has been closed. The victim’s family believes the probe was closed due to negligence and investigative failures. They also claim the testimony of an eyewitness was ignored. Last week, attorney Ester Bartor filed a petition on behalf of Hanadi Sarkhan, widow of Samer Sarkhan, against the Jerusalem district prosecutor’s decision to close the investigation into the death of Sarkhan, a resident of Silwan in East Jerusalem, who was killed by a private security guard in September 2009. Sarkhan’s death was one of the causes of a wave of violence in Silwan and surrounding neighborhoods for over a year … Shortly after Sarkhan’s death, security footage was found that document the minutes prior to the shooting. The images in the footage contradicted the security guard’s testimony … Next week, the High Court of Justice will rule on the petition filed by the Association for Civil Rights in Israel and the Palestinian residents of East Jerusalem against the private security firm that operates in the area. For the past 20 years, Jewish settlements in East Jerusalem have been guarded by private security guards, funded by the Housing and Construction Ministry. The budget for security in East Jerusalem has been set at over 50 million shekels ($14 million) per year. Security includes guard posts, patrols and armed escort for residents. According to the petition, over the years the security guards have assumed authority and privileges they are not entitled to, and have begun to serve as a private police force.

Checkpoints and closures near Ramallah after Israeli officer stabbed
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 23 Dec — Israeli forces tightened security procedures in the central West Bank on Monday evening after an Israeli security officer was stabbed by an unidentified attacker in a nearby settlement. Israeli forces closed a checkpoint near the Palestinian village of Jaba‘ southeast of Ramallah to Palestinian cars after reports of a stabbing in Geva Binyamin settlement. The closure caused major delays for Palestinian commuters on one of the West Bank’s busiest north-south roads, although Jewish settlers traveling on the roads were free to pass through the checkpoints.

Israeli troops erect tents near Ya‘bad
JENIN (Ma‘an) 24 Dec — Israeli troops erected three military tents near the main road of the northern West Bank town of Ya‘bad on Tuesday morning. Eyewitnesses told a Ma‘an reporter that they saw three military tents on Palestinian olive trees near the main road between Jenin and Tulkarem.  Large numbers of Israeli soldiers deployed in the area, they added. Locals said that they believe the Israeli military activity was in response to an attack with stones at an Israeli settler’s vehicle traveling on the main road. The vehicle’s windshield was smashed as a result of the attack. In response, Israeli forces had threatened to occupy local houses if stone throwers continue to attack Israeli vehicles.

While you were sleeping: The systematic terrorization of Burin
[with video of army watching settlers throw stones] 972blog 23 Dec by Yesh Din, written by Yossi Gurvitz — Israeli civilians terrorize the village of Burin; as usual, they are aided by the strongest army in the Middle East — To paraphrase Tolstoy, every village in the West Bank is miserable in its own way. The curse of Burin, in the Nablus region, is that it neighbors two particularly troublesome settlements, Har Bracha and Yitzhar. Attacks by Israeli civilians coming from these settlements against the residents of Burin are almost daily occurrences; in one recent week, no fewer than four such attacks were documented. (More about Burin, see here). The problem with these attacks has less to do with the Israeli civilians and more with the fact that they are generally accompanied by IDF soldiers who protect them even when they carry out pogroms. There’s a standard procedure for these attacks: the Israeli civilians descend on the village in order to attack it, sometimes attacking the school or some of the outlying, isolated buildings; the villagers organize themselves for self defense and throw stones at the invaders; and then, the strongest army in the Middle East rushes in and fires tear gas canisters, stun grenades and from time to time rubber-coated, or even live bullets, at the villagers. All of which happens not while the Palestinian residents attack or raid a settlement, but when they are trying to defend themselves and their homes … So, in sum: we’ve seen a break-in to a house by threat, the arrest of a minor without an adult present (which Israeli law is strict about), the abuse of a helpless minor, an attempt to make a minor into a police informant against his will and the abandoning of a minor on the road. All of the above is the result of collaboration between the army and Jewish hooligans

The poor man’s sheep
Yesh Din blog 18 Dec by Yossi Gurvitz — Soldiers break into the wrong house at night, go on a rampage – and make off with a woman’s savings from 15 years of work — One night in early September, the members of the Kavajeh family in Tarqumiya were woken by IDF troops breaking into their house. According to the despicable custom of the last few years, some of the soldiers wore ski masks; before our apathetic eyes what used to be the premier line of fashion among criminals has become common military attire. From this moment on, everything went as per the routine – a routine known to every soldier who has ever served in the occupied territories: the soldiers gathered all the family members in one room, not giving them time to dress properly. They then searched the house, found nothing, and as they left, the head of the family, ‘Issa, heard the soldiers say to one another that they had raided the wrong house. Needless to say, the soldiers did not apologize to the family. The soldiers told them not to leave the house while they were still present. When the family realized the soldiers were gone, they began to estimate the damage. Here the words of ‘Issa are worth quoting: “We began moving around the house and saw the horror.” The contents of the cupboards had been spilled, and the soldiers had thrown bedding, clothes and equipment onto the floor. The kitchen was the real calamity zone: the soldiers made certain to spill the flour on the floor, mix the sugar, the lentils and the salt together, poured the tahini into the kitchen sink, and, finally, broke the eggs. But as the family members finished examining the results of the small green storm that passed mistakenly through their home, the real disaster was discovered: the savings of one of the family members, Thahani, had been stolen. These were two gold bracelets and a gold ring. Thahani had saved the money to buy the jewelry from working in a seamstress shop since 1998. Fifteen years of savings. Fifteen years of painstakingly gathering, day by day, an ounce of meager pay … Looting is a war crime. It is defined as such in the Fourth Geneva Convention.

IOF arrests 11 Palestinians
RAMALLAH (PIC) 23 Dec — Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) arrested at dawn today (Monday) 11 youths in occupied West Bank and took them to unknown detention centers. IOF arrested five youths from ‘Anabta town in Tulkarem after Israeli troops stormed the town and raided the detainees’ houses. IOF arrested two other Palestinians from Jenin city, one of them was summoned for investigation in Salem military camp before his arrest.
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Soldiers kidnap eleven Palestinians in West Bank
IMEMC 24 Dec — Israeli soldiers invaded, between Monday evening and Tuesday morning, several areas in the occupied West Bank, kidnapping eleven Palestinians, including six in the northern West Bank district of Nablus. Eyewitnesses have reported that dozens of armored Israeli military vehicles invaded the Old City of Nablus, kidnapping Imad Halawa, 20, and Raed Hamdan, 20, after breaking into their homes and violently searching them. They added that the soldiers invaded the Dahia Al-Janoubiyya area, in Nablus, and kidnapped Rami Kilbany and Bashir Raji Taqtouq, 21. Soldiers also invaded the Askar refugee camp, east of Nablus, and kidnapped Ziad Al-Maghreby.  Another resident, identified as Wajdy Qanadeelo, has also been kidnapped in the northern mountain of Nablus city. All kidnapped residents were moved to the Huwwara military base, south of Nablus.
In related news, soldiers invaded ‘Ein Yabroub town, east of the Central West Bank city of Ramallah, kidnapping two Palestinians.
Two more Palestinians were kidnapped in Betunia town, west of Ramallah, local sources have reported. Furthermore, soldiers invaded Beit Fajjar town, south of Bethlehem, and kidnapped Ahmad Saleh Thawabta, after violently breaking into his home and searching it. Also, dozens of soldiers invaded Beit Awwa town, west of Hebron, in the southern part of the occupied West Bank, and handed the residents military documents threatening to impose further collective punishment measures.

IOA re-arrests 23 prisoners released in Wafa al-Ahrar deal
NAZARETH (PIC) 24 Dec — The Israeli Occupation Authorities (IOA) have re-arrested 23 liberated prisoners released in the Wafa al-Ahrar deal in 2011 and threatened to arrest more liberated prisoners, Palestinian Department of Statistics in the West Bank reported. The department confirmed that 23 liberated prisoner, including women, have been re-arrested under flimsy pretexts after being released in the Wafa al-Ahrar exchange deal in total violation of the agreement’s terms. IOA have threatened the liberated prisoners to re-impose their old sentences on them or to be deported to Gaza or abroad, the Department of Statistics added. Six liberated prisoners of those who were re-arrested after Wafa al-Ahrar deal including Samer al-Issawi were released while four of them have been deported to Gaza, identified as Ayman Sharawna, Iyad Abu Fannouneh, Ayman Abu Dawood, and the female captive Hana Shalabi, after being engaged in long hunger strikes. Meanwhile 12 liberated prisoners are still held in Israeli jails, in addition to the female captive Mona Ka’adan.
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Report: 1,120 arrests since talks’ resumption
RAMALLAH (PIC) 23 Dec — The Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) have arrested approximately 1,200 Palestinians, including MPs, since resumption of PA-Israeli negotiations, Palestinian human rights sources said … The center’s report affirmed that Palestinian and Israeli authorities have not addressed during negotiation meetings either the Israeli continued arrests against Palestinian citizens, academics and national leaders, or the improvement of prisoners’ detention conditions in Israeli jails. The report clarified that IOF had arrested since talks’ resumption two Palestinian MPs, Nizar Ramadan and Mohamed Bader, and dozens of academics and Hamas cadres, including Dr. Adnan Abu Tbana, Sheikh Jamal Hadaida, Sheikh Jamal al-Tawil, Sheikh Hussein Abu Kuweik, and Faraj Romana, after raiding their houses.
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AOHR: PA’s security services arrest 256 citizens monthly in West Bank
LONDON, BETHLEHEM (PIC) 24 Dec — An international report issued by the Arab Organization for Human Rights in UK (AOHR) showed that the Palestinian Authority’s security services have carried out 256 political arrests monthly during 2013. The organization said in its report that most of the targeted detainees are ex-prisoners in the Israeli occupation jails and university students. It added that the Palestinian Authority after failing to address the occupation daily violations and to protect its citizens, it has adopted a dangerous security policy based on permanent coordination with the occupation forces to arrest Palestinian citizens. 599 citizens were arrested every month during the year 2013, 256 of them were arrested by the PA security apparatuses … Meanwhile, local sources in Bethlehem reported that a prisoner held in the PA Preventive Security apparatus’s jail died by hanging in mysterious circumstances in his cell. Bethlehem governor Abdel Fattah Hamayel said in statements that the detainee Nawaf Kawazba, from the village of Sa‘ir in al-Khalil, “had been chased for months by the security services. He was recently arrested, together with other wanted men, after his wife was killed by mistake.”
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Land, property theft & destruction / Ethnic cleansing / Discrimination / Apartheid

High Court mulls demolition of illegal houses in legal West Bank settlement
Haaretz 25 Dec by Chaim Levinson — The High Court on Wednesday will consider a petition demanding that nine houses illegally built on Palestinian land in the legal settlement of Ofra in 2008 be demolished. The original landowners and the Yesh Din human rights group have petitioned the court via attorneys Michael Sfard and Shlomi Zecharia. Although the state says illegal structures on private Palestinian land must be demolished, it notes that the Ofra construction is inside the boundaries of a recognized settlement, so the fate of the nine buildings should be decided with that of the entire settlement.

Israeli bulldozers destroy 15 Palestinian homes near Ramallah
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 24 Dec — Israeli bulldozers on Tuesday destroyed 15 houses in Palestinian villages west of Ramallah, a Ma‘an reporter said. Early Tuesday, three Israeli bulldozers accompanied by 10 military jeeps raided the Bedouin villages of Ras Karkar and Deir Ammar and started demolishing buildings, reportedly without giving a warning. Locals said the demolitions were carried out under the pretext of security concerns, due to the fact the villages are located near Israeli settlements.

Israeli forces demolish Palestinian properties in Jordan Valley
NABLUS (Ma‘an) 24 Dec — Israeli forces demolished a residential house and four steel agricultural structures in Fasayil al-Wusta in the Jordan Valley Tuesday morning. Spokesman of the local Campaign to Save the Jordan Valley Fathi Shqeirat told Ma‘an that more than fifteen Israeli military vehicles escorted two bulldozers into the neighborhood. Bulldozers then wrecked a house and two steel structures owned by Mahmoud Ibrahim Abu Kharbeish, in addition to two livestock farms owned by Hasan Muhammad Zayid and his brother Hussein.

Jerusalem issues demolition orders to displace 19 Silwan residents
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 23 Dec — Inspectors of the municipal council of Jerusalem on Monday handed a demolition warrant to a Palestinian family notifying them that two residential buildings are scheduled to be demolished, potentially displacing 19 people. The Siyam family were told that the buildings in Silwan neighborhood would be demolished “because they were constructed without the needed license.” The buildings, according to family members, belong to Hammudah Siyam and his brother Mahran. Their brother Dawood told a Ma‘an reporter that the buildings were constructed ten years ago. The first building is a two-story building and consists of four apartments measuring 540 square meters belong to his brother Hammudah who has a family of twelve, he said. The other building, which consists of one apartment measuring 135 square meters, is inhabited by his brother Mahran’s seven family members. Siyam highlighted that his mother, who passed away two years ago, had funded the construction ten years ago and had earlier paid a fine of 650,000 shekels ($187,000) after the municipality of Jerusalem issued a demolition order previously.

WATCH: Al Walaja – the story of a shrinking Palestinian village
972blog 23 Dec by Julie Land and Alison Morgan (2.48 minutes) — Beginning with the 1948 war and continuing with the illegal annexation of land to Jerusalem, the canton-like divisions created in the Oslo Accords and now with the separation barrier, Israel has, piece by piece, chipped away at al-Walaja’s village lands for 65 years. This is the story of how it happened.

Photos: Denied service by Jerusalem, Palestinian villagers form emergency response team
Activestills 24 Dec Photos & text: Yotam Ronen, Oren Ziv, Shiraz Grinbaum — Although it is hidden away from the view of most the city’s residents by a separation barrier, the Shuafat refugee camp is officially part of Jerusalem. Therefore, like every other neighborhood in Jerusalem, Shuafat’s residents (who pay municipal taxes) depends on the city for their infrastructure and sanitation services. So what happens when the municipality simply ignores its own residents? They take matters into their own hands. Three months ago, several young residents of Shuafat decided to take initiative and start an emergency response team (which they named “Taqam Taware’ Assalam,” or Emergency Peace Team) in order to fill in for the lacking infrastructural services. They began training in first aid and rescuing skills and started to work together as a group. Thus, when the biggest storm in years hit the region last weekend, the team quickly understood that they would be the ones to clear Shuafat’s roads from the snow, as well as provide needy families with food and clean water.

Detainees / Releases

PHOTOS: Israel releases former Palestinian hunger striker Samer Issawi
Activestills 23 Dec Text by Michael Omer-Man Photos by Oren Ziv and Tali Mayer — Former hunger striking Palestinian prisoner Samer Issawi was released to his home in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Issawiya Monday night, exactly eight months after he agreed to resume eating as part of a deal with Israeli authorities. Issawi staged an intermittent hunger strike for nearly nine months until April 23, 2013. Over 2,000 people awaited his release on the main road leading into Issawiya. Revelers carried him on their shoulders to the Issawi family home, where a tent was erected in the morning. Earlier in the day the family hosted guests who came to celebrate. Israeli security forces visited the Issawi family twice in the past few days, warning them not to hold any celebrations.
Issawi was released as part of the Gilad Shalit prisoner exchange in October, 2011, having served 10 years of a 30-year sentence. He began his hunger strike nine months later, shortly after the IDF re-arrested him. Issawi began his hunger strike to protest the legal mechanism that put him in prison without access to due process. He was re-sentenced by a military tribunal using secret evidence that neither he nor his lawyers were allowed to see, and therefore was unable to mount any defense in court.

Israeli jailers allow prisoner Abu Sisi to see his family on TV for first time
GAZA (PIC) 23 Dec — The solidarity foundation for human rights said that Palestinian prisoner Dirar Abu Sisi was able to see his family through a television show for the first time since he was kidnapped from Ukraine about three years ago. Senior official of the foundation Ahmed Al-Beitawi said that Abu Sisi was allowed to see his Ukrainian wife and his six children on a TV show broadcast live by Palestine satellite channel. During a visit by the solidarity foundation’s lawyer to the jail, Abu Sisi expressed his great happiness for seeing his family for the first time. “How happy and delighted I was. It has been difficult moments to me because they have evoked feelings of nostalgia and love. Those moments passed like I was in a dream I did not like to wake up from, and my tears of joy went down my face hoping for a reunion soon,” Abu Sisi told the lawyer. Beitawi noted that an Israeli court hearing is slated to be held on January 7, 2014 to determine the legality of the statement forcibly taken from Abu Sisi. Dirar Abu Sisi, deputy engineer of the Gaza Strip’s only power plant, was kidnapped from an overnight train in Ukraine, his wife’s native country, on 18 February 2011.
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Report: Israel to release more veteran Palestinian prisoners next week
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 24 Dec – Israeli daily Maariv on Tuesday published names of some of the veteran Palestinian prisoners Israel intends to release next week as a third group of 104 Palestinian prisoners held in Israeli jails before the Oslo Accords of 1994. Maariv titled the piece “A new group of terrorists will be released next week.” The report published names and details of Israelis killed in operations carried out by the prisoners scheduled to be released.

Palestinian refugees elsewhere

Property rights scarce for Palestinians in Lebanon
QASMIYEH, Lebanon (IRIN) 24 Dec — “If they throw us out, we will end up in the sea,” Zahar Sayed Ghadbaan says, her anger not entirely disguised by the joking tone. “We have nowhere else to go but here,” she says, gesturing towards the small hand-built home with a corrugated iron roof. The Ghadbaan family is one of 75 in the Palestinian gathering, or informal settlement, of Qasmiyeh in south Lebanon, where they are living with the prospect that their homes might be destroyed. Like many of Lebanon’s estimated 280,000 Palestinians, the family came to the country in 1948 after being evicted from their homes by Israelis. Now, 65 years later, they could be facing a second eviction. Qasmiyeh, unlike other areas where Palestinians have established homes, is not part of an official refugee camp run by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) … In 2001 the Lebanese government passed law 296, adjusting the rules on foreign ownership of property. The law does not specifically mention Palestinians, but it prohibits “any person who is not a national of a recognized state… acquiring real estate property of any kind”, and serves to ban Palestinians living in Lebanon from buying or selling their homes. The only safe havens are the official camps, where although they do not formally own the houses, there is a widespread perception of ownership. But the camps are suffering from severe overcrowding, made worse in the last two years by the influx of over 50,000 Palestinian refugees fleeing the civil war in neighbouring Syria.

Grandi: UNRWA cannot deliver aid to the besieged camp of Al-Yarmouk
DAMASCUS (PIC) 23 Dec — UNRWA commissioner-general Filippo Grandi has warned that the lives of thousands of Palestinian refugees in Yarmouk refugee camp in Damascus are at risk due to the ongoing blockade imposed by the Syrian regime forces. “It is my responsibility to inform the international community that the humanitarian conditions in the besieged refugee camp of Yarmouk are worsening dramatically and that we are currently unable to help those trapped inside. If this situation is not addressed urgently, it may be too late to save the lives of thousands of people, including children,” Grandi stated in a press release. “20,000 remaining Palestinians have been trapped inside Yarmouk
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Other news

Israeli army said to hamper West Bank pollution cleanup
Haaretz 25 Dec by Zafrir Rinat — Efforts to deal with environmental problems in the West Bank are being severely hampered by the inability of the defense establishment and the Environmental Protection Ministry to reach an agreement on the latter’s enforcement powers. For about a year, the ministry has been seeking the power to enforce environmental laws over the Green Line. But this would require the Israel Defense Forces to issue an order applying the Environmental Enforcement Law – which authorizes inspectors from both the ministry and the local authorities to enforce legislation – to the West Bank. So far, it hasn’t happened.

Why Israeli police don’t automatically assume that a bombing was done by Palestinians:
Father, son seriously injured in assassination attempt
Ynet 23 Dec by Eli Senyor — A powerful car explosion struck central Israeli city of Rehovot Monday morning, in the heart of a residential neighborhood. A father and his son, aged 45 and 25, were seriously injured …  The assassination attempt Monday took place after two months of many efforts by the police to battle organized crime families. In early November, a man was critically injured in an assassination attempt in Ashkelon, when a device that was attached to his car detonated. Police officials said that the assassination target belonged to a well-known criminal group. Ten days earlier, a courier for the same criminal group was killed in a car explosion near a school in Ashkelon’s downtown. Hours prior to that there was another assassination attempt in Yokneam, where a man was seriously injured.,7340,L-4468600,00.html

Analysis / Opinion

Yes, Boogie, there are Palestinian partners for peace / Harvey Stein
Times of Israel blog 23 Dec — The repeated Israeli refrain gets a bit ridiculous, uttered this time by Moshe “Boogie” Ya’alon, the Israeli Defense Minister appointed by Bibi Netanyahu, “We have no partner on the other side.” Ali Abu Awwad, a Palestinian non-violent activist, has been a partner for peace for over 10 years. After Ali’s brother was killed – shot in the head by an Israeli soldier during the Second Intifada in October, 2000 – Ali and his mother joined the Bereaved Families Forum, whose members (Palestinian and Israeli) have all had family members killed by the conflict here. Later Abu Awwad, together with Robi Damelin (an Israeli mother whose son was also killed in the violence of the Intifada) made presentations around the world, about reconciliation and non-violence being essential tools towards peacemaking. Boogie has probably never shared the stage with a Palestinian, or had one visit his home. Abu Awwad, on the other hand, had Israeli visitors from the Bereaved Families Forum visit his home in 2002. He told me, “That was the first time I saw an Israeli cry…before that, I was convinced I am the only victim, and they are the enemy.” Abu Awwad is trying to raise funds to finish writing and self-publishing his book, “Painful Hope,” stories and thoughts about his experiences of the past ten years. He wants to print 5000 copies, in Arabic, Hebrew and English. He told me he plans to give away 1000 of these, “To Palestinian local leaders, to soldiers at checkpoints, and elsewhere.”

Attack on Tibi is not just tempest in a teapot / Moshe Negbi
Haaretz 24 Dec — The attack on MK Ahmed Tibi while he was demonstrating in Be’er Sheva for Bedouin rights is far from a tempest in a teapot. It should not be disconnected from the campaign of incitement and delegitimization by Knesset members who concocted the non-profit organization law against critics of government policy in general, and against those protesting its harm to human and civil rights specifically. Whoever wants to impose legal sanctions on those who express loud public criticism against Israel, and justify it by saying such criticism is tantamount to hostile subversion and treason, should not be surprised if someone decides to punish and silence with his own hands these same “subversives” and “traitors.” Such things have already happened. In 1996, extreme right-winger Yisrael Lederman threw hot tea at the face of then-MK Yael Dayan, who was also identified with struggles for human rights. But that was by no means the first attack against an elected official because of his or her beliefs, either. Forty-five years ago, only four months after the Six-Day War, Holocaust survivor Avraham Ben Moshe attacked the Communist Knesset member Meir Wilner with a knife. (listserv) (archive)

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I guess Israel holds three year old girls responsible for any fire directed from Gaza or the other Occupied Territories at the “Jewish state”.

From one of Kate’s stories of today, details of what happened after a Palestinians’ home was raided, ransacked and robbed by IDF soldiers wearing masks. Apparently the soldiers had raided the wrong house as described last week on Yesh Din blog by Yossi Gurvitz : “… “We began moving around the house and saw the horror.” The contents of the cupboards had been spilled, and the soldiers had thrown bedding, clothes and equipment onto the… Read more »


Blessings to Hala Abu Sabikha and her family. May those responsible be punished.

Blessings to Hala Abu Sabikha and Saleh Abu-Latif and their families. May those responsible be punished.