Land, property theft & destruction / Ethnic cleansing
High Court asks Palestinians to drop land case against settlers
Haaretz 23 Dec by Amira Hass — A High Court of Justice panel has asked farmers from the West Bank village of Yatta to withdraw a petition against settlers who allegedly seized their lands – despite the state’s admission that the Palestinians proved their legal attachment to the land. The State Prosecutor’s Office said the Palestinians should pursue the matter by civil legal action, and the High Court panel’s request that they withdraw the petition indicates that it agrees. This could signal a change in the High Court and State Prosecutor’s Office position of recent years, and it comes amid repeated, increasing incidents of settlers seizing control of Palestinian land … While admitting that the Palestinian petitioners had proved “substantial administrative” attachment to the lands, the state argued that the use of the land by the settlers hasn’t changed since the 1990s, and therefore decrees allowing army commanders to evacuate trespassers within five years of their takeover of the land should not be issued. The petitioners presented evidence that the land seizure did not occur as early as the 1990s, but Naor said she would not hear evidence regarding ownership, but only examine whether the IDF and Civil Administration should take administrative steps to evacuate the settlers.
Making the desert bloom with new Jewish settlements
Haaretz 21 Dec by Zafrir Rinat — Recent right-wing complaints that the government is impotent when it comes to implementing plans to settle Jews in the Negev, supposedly out of fear of public criticism, are unfounded. Facts on the ground make it clear that the government is working tirelessly to make the desert bloom. Since the beginning of the last decade, the government has approved the establishment of more than 20 new communities in the Negev and another three communities in the Lachish region, which borders the northern part of the Negev. Some of the communities have already been established, among them Giv’ot Bar, north of Be’er Sheva, and Merhav Am, in the center of the Negev. In the region of Nitzana, the government approved the establishment of another three communities. North of Nitzana, it gave its seal of approval to dozens of ranches spread out over the area, which in practice are little spots for Jewish settlement … Jewish settlement in the Negev reached a new high about two weeks ago, when the National Planning and Building Council approved the establishment of the community of Sheizaf, near the offices of the Ramat Hanegev Regional Council.
After Palestinian pressure | | NBC denies plans to shoot TV series in East Jerusalem
Haaretz 23 Dec by Nir Hasson — NBC denies it ever intended to shoot ‘Dig’, co-written by Gideon Raff of Homeland fame, at City of David National Park — Palestinian pressure has caused American media and entertainment company NBCUniversal to announce that it will not shoot a new suspense series in the City of David National Park and Silwan. The series, “Dig,” will be produced by the Israel-based Keshet Media Group and co-written by Gideon Raff of Homeland fame. Some six weeks ago, Keshet and the municipality of Jerusalem announced that the series, which will deal with an FBI agent investigating the murder of a female archeologist, would be set in Jerusalem. The press release stated that “the project would be shot in the City of David and present the exciting history of the Old City.” The Israeli-American project is supported by Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat, and Economy Minister Naftali Bennett. Following the announcement, PLO Executive Committee Hanan Ashrawi called on NBC not to shoot the series in the City of David. “Such a production will legitimize the annexation of Jerusalem and the destruction of the authenticity and character of the occupied city,” Ashrawi told the Ma‘an Palestinian news agency. The City of David National Park is immensely popular with visitors, but its management by Elad, a group that encourages Jewish settlement in the Palestinian neighborhood of Silwan, makes it highly controversial. Silwan residents claim that Elad is using the National Park archaeological excavations as a means of promoting Jewish settlement and eradicating the Arab and Islamic narratives from the history of the site.
Bethlehem Christians unable to celebrate Christmas as they fight for their existence
BETHLEHEM (WAFA) 21 Dec – As Christians from all over the world get ready to celebrate Christmas in Bethlehem, the cradle of Christianity, Palestinian Christian residents of this holy city are busy fighting to protect their land and their homes from Israeli takeover. Since its occupation in 1967 by Israel, the landscape of the biblical city of Bethlehem and its area towns such as Beit Jala to west and Beit Sahour to the east, all Christian towns, has changed dramatically. Bethlehem is now surrounded by not only an 8-meter high concrete wall with barbed wire on top that separates it from its historical northern neighbor, Jerusalem, and most of its fertile agricultural land, but also by a series of Jewish only settlements that have suffocated the city and expropriated almost all its land … The Cremisan monastery to the northwest of Beit Jala found itself gradually losing most of its land to that wall, and so is the Salesian school and monastery, which is waiting for an Israeli court to decide if the wall is going to cut right through church land or not. Under the pretext of security, the court is expected to rule in favor of the wall. In addition to the 12 percent taken from the Bethlehem district to the segregation wall, almost 76 percent were expropriated over the years to build four major town-like settlements – Har Homa, Gilo, Har Gilo and Givate Hamatos, not mentioning the cluster of smaller settlements built on land taken from Bethlehem-area villages, including the Gush Eztion settlement block that is gradually growing to reach Jerusalem.
As a result, what is left for Bethlehem today is a mere 13 percent of its original area, and even that much Israel is trying to reduce with checkpoints, army installations and major highways to facilitate movement of Jewish settlers to Jerusalem and maybe in the future to the Dead Sea.
IOF notified the demolition of 3 houses in the Jordan Valley [and building in Ariel]
TUBAS, SALFIT, (PIC)– The Israeli occupation forces (IOF) on Sunday notified three Palestinian families living in the Jordan Valley to demolish their homes. Aref Daraghmeh, head of the local council of Wadi al-Maleh, said that the IOF informed the citizens that they must evacuate their homes in Khirbet al-Farsia within a week. He pointed out that the so-called Israeli organization teams conducted a survey of the area inhabited by shepherds and farmers in preparation for giving them notifications to evacuate their lands.
While the occupation authorities are demolishing Palestinian houses, they allow settlers to build more housing units at the expense of Palestinian lands. Eyewitnesses in Salfit reported that settlers from the settlement of Ariel north of the city began building new apartments at the expense of Palestinian farmers’ lands. The witnesses said that huge Israeli bulldozers are preparing lands in Ariel settlement for the construction of multi-story buildings. For his part, researcher Khalid Ma’aly said that building operations are taking place in the area of Wade Abdul Rahman owned by Salfit farmers.
link to www.palestine-info.co.uk/
Arabs leasing JNF-owned land face delays in registering homes
Haaretz 23 Dec by Jack Khoury — Despite state assurances to the contrary, Arab citizens of Israel who buy apartments on land owned by the Jewish National Fund are still having a hard time registering their homes in the Land Registry (Tabu), Arab residents of Carmiel claim. Nizar Bakri and his brother Qassem both bought apartments in a Carmiel building three years ago and began the process of having the property registered in their names. To their chagrin, while their Jewish neighbors had no problem completing the process in a timely fashion, their apartments have yet to be registered. The Israel Lands Authority makes no bones about the reason. In a letter Bakri received from the ILA, the agency writes: “At issue is a minority lessee and the land on which the apartments are built belongs to the Jewish National Fund, and there is a need to implement a swap between the authorities. There has been a request to execute what was requested but it will take considerable time.” The source of the problem is that the fact that the JNF insists that its lands be sold only to Jews, since historically its lands were purchased with money from Jewish donors for the purpose of settling Jews in the Land of Israel. The issue of Arabs purchasing assets on JNF land, including in Carmiel, has come up before the High Court of Justice and is the subject of a petition filed nine years ago by Adalah, the Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights, that is still pending.
Restriction of movement
Israel refuses entry to 5 Arab ministers for Christmas celebrations
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 22 Dec — Israel refused entry to five tourism ministers who planned to visit Palestine from various Arab states, a Palestinian Authority official said. Israel refused to issue entry permits to five ministers who were expected to start arriving on Monday in order to attend Christmas celebrations in Bethlehem, PA Minister of Tourism Rula Maaya told Ma‘an. Among other events, Maaya said they were scheduled to attend the Christmas Eve midnight mass at the Church of the Nativity, the traditional site of Jesus’ birth. She said Israel is attempting to damage Palestinian industries, especially the tourism sector, which saw drastic growth this year.
Bethlehem eyes tourist boom after dark decade
BETHLEHEM (AFP) 22 Dec — After a decade of unrest, Bethlehem has seen a surge in visits to Christ’s traditional birthplace, raising hopes of a tourism bonanza in the West Bank town despite Israel’s separation barrier. The Palestinian territories’ top tourist destination is a victim of the barrier which cuts off the town from nearby Jerusalem, just 10 kilometers (six miles) away … Palestinian tourism minister Rola Maayah sees the barrier as a key obstacle to encouraging visitors to the town. “Bethlehem, one of our main tourist attractions is circled by 27 settlements. As a result, we are surrounded by high walls, fences and menacing checkpoints which put tourists off,” Maayah said. “We could develop tourism, attract people from all over the world, but it’s not possible because of the Israeli occupation,” she added. The expansion of nearby Israeli settlements has deliberately helped to isolate the city, Palestinians say. But since a UNESCO decision in June 2012 to grant world heritage status to Bethlehem’s Church of the Nativity — hailed as a “historic” diplomatic victory by the Palestinians — the town has been eyeing a tourist bonanza that could boost the local economy … Palestinian tourist guides have also complained they suffer because of the favorable treatment granted to their Israeli competitors. Some 150 Israelis are authorized to work as guides in Bethlehem, compared with 42 Palestinians permitted to work in Israel and east Jerusalem, the chamber of commerce said. “They take more than 80 percent of the market,” complained Mohammed Awadallah, a Palestinian guide.
Israeli forces prevent students from reaching school near Qalqiliya
QALQILIYA (Ma‘an) 22 Dec — Israeli soldiers stationed near a Qalqiliya-area village prevented students from reaching school on Sunday morning, a local official said. Israeli soldiers stationed at the checkpoint at the entrance to ‘Azzun ‘Atma village in the northern West Bank prevented students from neighboring Beit Amin village from attending their school inside ‘Azzun ‘Atma, chairman of Beit Amin village council Taqi Omar told Ma‘an. He said that on Sunday morning students had left for school in ‘Azzun ‘Atma like on any other day, but Israeli soldiers stationed at the entrance to the village prevented the male students from passing, even as they allowed the female students to go. Omar added that they had informed the education directorate in Qalqiliya as well as the Palestinian liaison of the incident … Although ‘Azzun ‘Atma and Beit Amin are located directly next to each other, the Israeli settlement of Sha’are Tiqwa was built on a small hill between them, thus cutting the villages off from each other. ‘Azzun al-‘Atma is encircled by Israeli settlements and restricted zones, much of which are on land confiscated from local farmers. However, the school for Beit Amin students is located inside ‘Azzun ‘Atma, forcing local students to pass through the checkpoint in order to attend.
IDF barred Israeli activists from West Bank
Haaretz 22 Dec by Amira Hass — On commander’s orders, group that came to protect Palestinian farmers was turned back at border — Soldiers prevented activists from Ta’ayush Arab-Jewish Partnership from entering the West Bank on Saturday, by order of the regional commander. For 13 years members of Ta’ayush have been accompanying dozens of Palestinian shepherds and farmers on the southern West Bank every Saturday, to help protect them from Jewish settlers who regularly try to keep them from reaching their private lands … Some of the Ta’ayush members did manage to reach the southern Hebron Hills, but at five different Jewish communities where they planned to help nearby Palestinian villagers they were shown documents declaring the areas closed military areas and signed by Judea Brigade commander Col. Avi Balut.
Violence / Raids / Clashes / Repression of protests / Illegal arrests
Whilst peace talks are in progress, Israel kills 31 Palestinians and detains 500
MEMO 21 Dec — Member of Fatah Executive Committee Mohammad Shtayyeh has said that Israel has killed 31 Palestinians, arrested 500 and destroyed 208 Palestinian houses since July when the Palestinian-Israeli peace talks resumed. Speaking to diplomats and journalists in Bethlehem, Shtayyeh said: “The talks aimed at ending the occupation and setting up a Palestinian state on the 1967 borders with East Jerusalem as its capital.” He added: “This is against what Israel wanted.” He said that the international community has agreed on the solution sought by the Palestinians. He accused Israel of jeopardising that solution and “considering talks a tactic before the international community in order to expand settlements.”
link to www.middleeastmonitor.com/
Child killed after being struck by settler’s vehicle in Jerusalem
IMEMC — [Sat evening, Dec 21] Palestinian medical sources have reported that a Palestinian child has died of severe injuries sustained after being rammed by an Israeli settler’s car, near Al-Eesawiyya town, north of occupied East Jerusalem. The sources said that the child, Amin Al-Faqeer, 13, lived in a Bedouin community in ‘Anata town, and was riding a donkey when the incident took place. Eyewitnesses said that the settler deliberately rammed the child, and fled the scene, Radio Bethlehem 2000 has reported. The child was initially moved to Hadassah Hospital, in Jerusalem, and was admitted to the Intensive Care Unit, but died of his wounds later on. His uncle, Khalil Sweilim, told Ma‘an News Agency that the family could not get any information about the incident, and were informed later, on Saturday evening, that the child died of his wounds. The family refused to perform an autopsy, and said that the body of Amin will be handed over to them on Sunday, for prayers and burial ceremonies. The uncle added that the child rode his donkey as he usually does when he was killed, and that his donkey was badly injured.
Murad Eshtewi, head of Popular Committee of Kafr Qaddum, has been arrested
KAFR QADDUM, Occupied Palestine (ISM – Nablus Team) 21 Dec — Yesterday morning, Murad Eshtewi, the head of the Popular Committee of Kufr Qaddum and leader of the Friday demonstrations was arrested and is still being held by Israeli forces. At around 3:00 on Friday morning, Israeli soldiers entered the village of Kafr Qaddum, in Qalqilya district, arresting two citizens on the accusation of having taken part in the regular Friday demonstrations held in the village. The men were released the following morning without charges. The house of Murad Eshtewi, the head of the Popular Committee of Kafr Qaddum, was also raided during the night incursion and he was subjected to aggressive questioning. Later, at approximately 10:00 on Friday morning, two hours before the demonstration was due to begin, Mr Eshtewi was walking on the outskirts of the village and was ambushed and arrested by soldiers. He did not resist this arrest and yet Israeli forces were extremely aggressive in their use of both pepper spray and stun grenades. He has not yet been released. His attorney, Lymor Goldstein, stated that, “Contrary to the fundamental principles of due process we have not been presented with the accusations against Murad nor has he been interrogated since his arrest. “
In recent weeks there has been a steady escalation of night raids, increasingly violent repression of Friday demonstrations, flying checkpoints and seemingly arbitrary arrests. In the past month alone there have been more than twenty night raids on houses in the village. Last month a new army commander responsible for the area gave a verbal warning to villagers stating that, unless they suspend their Friday demonstrations, the military harassment outlined above would be increased. A typical night raid will involve up to around fifty soldiers surrounding and entering a particular house. Tear gas is often released and live ammunition may be fired into the air to intimidate residents. Israeli soldiers may break windows and doors in order to enter the houses.
Israeli forces detain 1, injure 4 Palestinians in clash near Jerusalem
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 21 Dec — Four Palestinians were injured and one was detained east of Jerusalem on Friday when violent clashes broke out between residents and Israeli forces, an official said. Hani Habiya, spokesman of the local popular committee, told Ma‘an that clashes broke out in the village of al-Eizariya between Palestinians and Israeli soldiers. Locals threw stones and Israeli forces fired rubber-coated steel bullets, injuring four Palestinians, Habiya said. Israeli forces climbed to the roofs of Beit Anieh Church, al-Azar Tomb, and al-Eizariya mosque, and fired tear gas grenades directly toward Palestinians, Habiya said. Dozens suffered from excessive tear gas inhalation. He said the clashes started when Israeli soldiers tried to close a hole in the separation wall that activists had drilled two days before.
Israeli forces raid 4 West Bank cities overnight, 2 detained
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 22 Dec — Israeli forces raided four areas across the northern West Bank on Sunday morning, including the cities of Hebron, Nablus, and Ya‘bad as well as the village of ‘Araqa west of Jenin. Israeli forces on Sunday detained two Palestinians from Hebron after raiding their houses and causing extensive property damage, locals said. In Nablus, Palestinian security sources told Ma‘an that more than ten military vehicles raided the Balata refugee camp east of the city around 3 a.m., entering from all of the camp’s entrances. No arrests were reported. Palestinian security sources also told Ma‘an that dozens of Israeli forces had raided the village of Ya‘bad near Jenin. Sources also confirmed that special Israeli forces had raided the village of ‘Araqa south of Jenin Sunday morning with three vehicles. No arrests were reported there either.
IOF arrests seven citizens in West Bank
RAMALLAH (PIC) 22 Dec — The Israeli occupation forces (IOF) arrested at dawn Sunday seven citizens in different provinces of the West Bank, including the son of a martyr from the Qassam Brigades. The WALLA news website reported that the IOF arrested a citizen from the city of Bireh, and 4 others from al-Khalil [Hebron], claiming they were wanted. The soldiers claimed that they found during the arrests weapons and ammunition, according to the news website. The IOF also arrested two students at Palestine Polytechnic University, including the son of the martyr Saleh Talahmeh, after raiding their homes in Dura town near the city of al-Khalil. The detained students were transferred to an unknown destination. In Nablus to the north of the West Bank, two other young men from Balata refugee camp, east of the city, were arrested and taken to an unknown detention center.
link to www.palestine-info.co.uk/
Police: Explosion on Israeli bus, no casualties
JERUSALEM (AFP) 22 Dec — A suspicious object found on an empty Israeli bus near Tel Aviv exploded on Sunday but caused no casualties, police said. “After examining the explosives retrieved from the scene, we have concluded that this was a terrorist attack,” police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld told AFP. “An investigation has been opened and our forces have been deployed in the area to try to identify suspects,” he added. Police had said earlier that a sapper was examining a suspicious object found on the empty bus in the seaside town of Bat Yam when it exploded, but was unhurt. The driver of the bus had spotted an unattended bag on board, stopped the vehicle and ordered passengers to disembark, Rosenfeld said. But bus company Dan said the driver had been tipped off by a passenger. “The passenger opened the backpack and saw wires,” news website Ynet quoted Dan spokesman Eitan Fiksman as saying. The authorities had initially suggested the attack might have been connected to an often violent power struggle among gangsters in the Bat Yam area.
Jews, Muslims, Christians rally in Jerusalem against price tag attacks
Jerusalem Post 22 Dec by Tovah Lazaroff — “Price-tag” attacks must be classified as acts of terrorism, said a small group of Israeli Jews and Arabs as they jointly rallied Sunday morning in front of the Prime Minister’s Office during the weekly cabinet meeting, in hopes of swaying the government to further clamp down on such incidents. “We are here across from the PM to call for him and the government to stop the price tag attacks. It can’t be that for four years Jewish terror cells have run amuck in the state of Israel without being disturbed,” said Gadi Gvaryahu, who heads the grassroots organizations Tag Meir, that combats Price Tag attacks.
According to informal numbers collected by Tag Meir, there have been at least 176 incidents in the last three years in which Jewish extremists have targeted Arab or Christian property including mosques and churches on both sides of the pre-1967 lines, and in some cases, executed personal attacks. Migrants have also been targeted, according to Tag Meir. Gvaryahu added that these numbers are very low, because many incidents are unreported or not formally characterized as price tag attacks
At least 3608 Palestinians injured in 2013
IMEMC 21 Dec — According to a new report by the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), at least 3,608 Palestinians were injured by Israeli soldiers, this year. Furthermore, the report states that at least 145 Palestinians were injured in 91 reported attacks by Jewish settlers, World Bulletin writes. The depressing numbers continue and describe how there have also been 300 attacks by settlers, which targeted Palestinian-owned property and land. 10,510 Palestinian olive trees were damaged by the settlers, which means a 25% increase in this type of attack. It is explained, in the report, that violence by settlers in the West Bank includes physical assault on individuals, harassment, takeover of and damage to private property, obstruction of access to agricultural land and water resources, along with attacks on livestock, agricultural land and places of worship.
Detainees / Court actions
Imprisoned brothers granted trial after 38-day hunger strike
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 22 Dec — Two Palestinian men ended a 38-day hunger strike on Sunday after Israeli prison authorities agreed to send them to court after being held for nearly two months without trial, family members said. Brothers Muhammad Salih Bader, 25, and Islam Salih Bader, 20, ended their 38-day hunger strike after Ofer prison authorities decided to transfer them to court for trial. The brothers had been held since October 28, when undercover Israeli forces abducted the two at gunpoint in two separate incidents on the same day from Beit Liqya village west of Ramallah.
Israeli forces raid prisoner Samer Issawi’s house day before release
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 22 Dec — Israeli authorities raided the house of Samer Issawi, a Palestinian prisoner who engaged in one of the longest hunger strikes in history, on Sunday. Authorities are expected to release Samer Issawi from Israeli prison on Monday, the Palestinian Prisoners’ Society said. Issawi will be released as part of an agreement in which he ended a 266-day hunger strike in April, during which time he became an international cause célèbre who focused attention on the plight of the thousands of Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails. But on Sunday, Israeli forces raided Issawi’s house and handed notifications to his brother and his father to meet with Israeli intelligence, according to the Palestinian Center for Prisoners’ Studies. The Israeli intelligence officer who led the raid threatened Issawi’s father and warned him against causing problems, they said. Shireen Issawi, Samer’s sister, posted on her Facebook page Sunday morning describing the raid….
Minors, female prisoners suffer from extreme cold in Israeli jails
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 21 Dec — Palestinian minors and female prisoners in Israel’s Hasharon prison are suffering from extreme cold as the Israeli prison service continues to refuse to provide them with enough blankets, a prisoners’ representative said Saturday. Amin Ziyadah told lawyer Fawwaz Shalloudi, who works for the Palestinian Prisoners’ Society, that both minors and female prisoners were told they had to buy extra blankets from the prison’s shop, despite the unusually severe cold weather the region is currently experiencing. The prices were too high, and as result they were unable to buy any, Ziyadeh said. Ziyadah, who is himself a prisoner, quoted an underage prisoner as saying, “Uncle, I couldn’t sleep all night due to severe cold.”
Patient prisoner’s family appeals for his release from Israeli jails
AL-KHALIL (PIC) 21 Dec — The family of the patient prisoner Walid Ghaith, from al-Khalil, has appealed on Saturday for his release after he has recently undergone cardiac surgery. The family called on all international human rights institutions to intervene for the release of their son especially that he had undergone cardiac surgery few days ago after suffering a sudden heart attack. Walid is still currently held in intensive care unit and deprived of family visits, his family affirmed. The captive Walid Ghaith, 40, was sentenced to seven and a half years. He is the father of two disabled children.
link to www.palestine-info.co.uk/
Gaza under blockade
Israeli forces fire at Gaza farmers, injure young man
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 21 Dec — Israeli forces opened fire early Saturday at Palestinian farmers in their fields in the southern Gaza Strip, injuring a young man, medics told Ma‘an. Palestinian medical sources told Ma‘an that 22-year-old Ismail Najjar was injured when Israeli troops surprised farmers east of Khan Younis refugee camp with gunshots. An Israeli army spokeswoman said Palestinian “terrorists” tried to conceal an explosive device near the border area with Israel … Israeli forces frequently shoot at farmers and other civilians inside the Gaza Strip if they approach large swathes of land near the border that the Israeli military has deemed off-limits to Palestinians. The “security buffer zone” extends between 500 meters and 1500 meters into the Strip, effectively turning local farms into no-go zones.
Gazan child wounded in renewed Israeli gunfire
GAZA (PIC) 22 Dec — A Palestinian child suffered a bullet injury when the Israeli occupation forces (IOF) randomly opened fire at a populated area to the east of Rafah district in the Gaza Strip. An eyewitness reported that Israeli troops stationed at Sofa military post, to the east of Rafah, opened fire on Saturday evening at Palestinian homes and wounded a 13-year-old child in one of his thighs. Other eyewitnesses reported on the evening of the same day that the Israeli navy fired projectiles at the shores of Gaza city, while Israeli warplanes overflew the eastern airspace of the city. They said that Israeli warships fired more than 10 shells at a coastal area to the west of Gaza city, without any reported injuries.
link to www.palestine-info.co.uk/
Thousands attend funeral of Gaza man killed by Israeli forces
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 21 Dec — Thousands of Palestinians gathered in northern Gaza Saturday for the funeral of a man who was shot dead by Israeli forces the day before. Various Palestinian political factions were present at the funeral of Odeh Jihad Hamad in Beit Hanoun, and some of the factions threatened to retaliate against Israel for killing the 29-year-old. An Islamic Jihad leader urged all Palestinian factions to respond boldly to the “ongoing Israeli assaults” against Palestinians in Gaza. Khalid al-Batsh said in a statement: “The Israeli occupation is responsible the escalation of killings in Gaza and we have to confront these violations.” Hamad’s brother told Ma’an Saturday that Hamad was a kilometer away from the border when Israeli soldiers shot him in the head. He said Israeli forces did not allow ambulances to the scene for an hour and a half after the shooting. The brother added that he himself was shot in the hand. Hamad’s family said he was struggling financially and looking for a job before he was shot.
Palestinian NGO decries Israel’s ‘excessive force’
GAZA CITY (AFP) 22 Dec — A Gaza-based human rights group on Sunday expressed “deep concern” at what it called Israeli troops’ use of excessive force in Friday’s fatal shooting of a young Palestinian. The Palestinian Center for Human Rights said in a statement that soldiers shot dead Odeh Jihad Hamad, 27, and wounded his brother Raddad, 22, as they picked through scrap in wasteland next to the Gaza-Israel frontier at Beit Hanun in the north of the coastal strip. “Israeli forces used excessive force and directly opened fire at them, although it was clear that the two civilians were collecting steel and plastics from the landfill near the border fence,” the PCHR said. The Israeli military said it opened fire at Palestinians near the border in response to Palestinian violence, including the firing of a mortar round that hit southern Israel and throwing rocks at soldiers.
Israeli gunboats fire on Palestinian fishermen north of Gaza
GAZA (Ma‘an) 22 Dec — Israeli gunboats fired two shells toward Palestinian fishing boats in the Sudaniya area in the northwestern Gaza Strip on Saturday evening, a witness said. The eyewitness added that no injuries were reported from the shelling … Palestinian fishermen are only allowed to go 3 nautical miles from Gaza’s shore, even though Israeli-Palestinian agreement previously agreed on 20 nautical miles. Israeli naval forces frequently harass Palestinian fishermen who near the 3-mile limit, as well as those inside the zone.
Hamas version of the Sudaniya event:
Resistance frustrates attempt by Israeli navy to kidnap one of its fighters
GAZA (PIC) 22 Dec — The Palestinian resistance was able on Sunday morning to thwart the kidnapping of one of its members by the Israeli navy in As-Sudaniya area to the northwest of Gaza city. An Informed source told the Palestinian information center (PIC) that special naval troops aboard motor gunboats encircled, amid intensive gunfire, a group of fishermen in an attempt to kidnap one of the resistance fighters wanted by the Israeli army. He added that other resistance fighters on shore showed up and started to fire mortar shells near the assault gunboats as they were surrounding three fishing boats off the northern coast of Gaza. He said that the mortar attacks forced the Israeli naval forces to withdraw without being able to detain anyone on board of the fishing boats, including the resistance fighter.
Meanwhile, a Palestinian security source told the PIC that Israeli gunboats were seen in the morning intercepting, amid intensive gunfire, a fishing boat off the coast of Az-Zahra’a town in northern Gaza. He added that the fate of the fishermen is still unknown.
link to www.palestine-info.co.uk/
Rafah border terminal closed for tenth day
GAZA (PIC) 22 Dec — Egyptian authorities continued to close the Rafah border crossing with Gaza Strip for the tenth day running despite promises of opening it. Maher Abu Sabha, the director of borders and crossings in Gaza, said on Sunday that contacts were ongoing with the Egyptians on re-opening the crossing. He said that the Egyptians did not specify a date for re-opening the terminal despite earlier statements that it would be open in the course of the past week. The director appealed to the Egyptian authorities to open the terminal and alleviate the suffering of passengers, some of whom are very ill and are facing slow death.
link to www.palestine-info.co.uk
Venezuela to send humanitarian aid to Gaza via PA
CARACAS (Ma‘an) 21 Dec — The government of Venezuela is to send $100 million in humanitarian aid to Gaza via the Palestinian Authority in order to help the Strip’s suffering civilian population in the wake of winter storm Alexa. The Venezuelan move was the result of intensive efforts taken by the Palestinian ministry of foreign affairs to obtain aid for Gazans, the ministry said, after the besieged coastal enclave was hit by a heavy winter storm that caused widespread flooding, cut already-limited power supplies, and displaced between 10,000 and 40,000 people. Following the storm, Palestinian ambassador to Venezuela Linda Suboh appealed to Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro and his foreign minister Elias Jaua, the statement said.
Multinational aid convoy to head for besieged Gaza next month
AMMAN (PIC) 21 Dec — A Jordanian delegation from the Lifeline for Gaza committee intends to participate in the multinational aid convoy slated to head for the besieged Gaza Strip on January 3, 2014 to deliver humanitarian assistance. 30 Jordanian figures, including members of trade unions and political parties, are expected to join the national aid convoy, which is composed of foreign and Arab activists representing different aid convoys from European, Arab and Islamic countries. Organizers of the international aid convoy appealed in a statement to the Egyptian government to open the Rafah border crossing and contribute to their relief efforts aimed at alleviating the suffering of the Gaza people, who were afflicted lately by devastating rainstorms.
link to www.palestine-info.co.uk/
Raw sewage from Gaza polluting Ashkelon beaches
Haaretz 22 Dec by Zafrir Rinat — Repeated failures of sewage treatment plants in the Gaza Strip has caused significant beach pollution in and around Ashkelon and endangered water quality in the Mediterranean Sea, recent testing by Israel’s Environmental Protection Ministry has found … The sewage in the sea is not a threat to the operation of Ashkelon’s water desalination plant, which is capable of filtering the pollutions, but it could endanger marine plants and animals, as well as lead to the concentrated growth of fecal bacteria. Widespread algal blooms can also increase turbidity in the water, which reduces the amount of sunlight reaching plants in the sea.
Israeli army hopes extreme storm damaged Gaza tunnels
Haaretz 22 Dec by Gili Cohen — Storm damage is something people usually seek to avoid, but this year the army is hoping the storm that struck the region last weekend has indeed caused damage – to underground tunnels leading from the Gaza Strip into Israel. Soldiers are canvassing Israeli territory near the Gaza border for signs of so-called attack tunnels, which make it possible for Palestinian militants to enter Israel and carry out a terror attack or abduct Israelis. It’s no accident that another such tunnel, whose opening was located near Kibbutz Nir Oz, was found during the last rainy winter season, in January. That tunnel collapsed because of the extra precipitation, and the Gaza Division of the Israel Defense Forces is hoping the recent storm will have a similar effect this winter as well. Israel’s security establishment has put a lot of money into developing technology that could help locate underground tunnels that can give terrorists a foothold in Israel, but so far it is low-tech solutions that have worked best, like flooding an area to see what the changes in the ground say about what may be hiding below.
Prof. Abdul-Fattah: Having relations with Hamas is not guilt
CAIRO (PIC) 21 Dec — A noted Egyptian academic said the decision to prosecute president Mohamed Morsi and a number of his aides and fellow leaders of the Muslim Brotherhood group for their communication with the Hamas Movement “invites ridicule and laughter.” Seif Addin Abdul-Fattah, a political science professor at Cairo university, added that making such accusations are aimed at smearing Morsi and his aides and portraying them as traitors. “The Egyptian people is fully aware that the Palestinian resistance movements, like Hamas, play a national role in liberating their land, and thus to have relations with them cannot be guilt, not to mention the Egyptian people’s strong bond with the Palestinian cause and the Egyptian historical role in supporting this cause,” Abdul-Fattah said in a statement to the Palestinian information center (PIC).
link to www.palestine-info.co.uk/
VIDEO: Welcome back electricity
19 Dec — As Samah Sabawi says, no need to understand the lyrics to laugh. Gaza’s latest song “welcome back electricity” is about how the people celebrate when the electricity comes back on.
Palestinian refugees in Syria
Hamas condemns the targeting of Palestinian refugee camps in Syria
BEIRUT (PIC) 22 Dec – Hamas movement strongly condemned the “brutal massacre” in Dira refugee camp on Saturday that killed eight refugees. Hamas renewed in a statement on Sunday its call for neutralizing refugee camps in the current armed conflict in Syria and for providing safe shelters for families fleeing areas of confrontations. The movement called on the Arab League and human rights groups to intervene urgently to protect thousands of Palestinian refugee families in face of siege and murder inside Syria and to provide them with a dignified stay in countries to which they sought refuge away from death and destruction.
For its part, the action group for Palestinians in Syria said in a press release on Sunday that 12 Palestinian refugees were killed in Syria over the past 24 hours including eight in Dira. It said that Syrian warplanes shelled the refugee camp killing eight refugees including four women and a baby girl. The group said that four other young men were killed in Yarmouk refugee camp due to the continued clashes in and around the camp.
link to www.palestine-info.co.uk/
Israel lobby launches fierce counterattack against American Studies Association
Electronic Intifada 22 Dec by Ali Abunimah — Israel lobby groups are marshaling their formidable forces for a fierce counterattack against the American Studies Association (ASA), including calls for repressive legislation, boycotts and other measures to punish and silence solidarity with Palestinians. Earlier this month, members of the ASA voted overwhelmingly in a referendum to endorse the Palestinian call for the boycott of Israeli academic institutions which are complicit in Israel’s occupation and other violations of Palestinian rights. Individuals supporting the boycott have also been targets of intense vilification and hate campaigns. Last week anti-Palestinian group StandWithUs, which works closely with the Israeli government, sent out an email blast calling on its followers to “Urge university presidents, donors and government to denounce the ASA and sever ties with the organization.” … Under such pressure two universities, Brandeis University and Penn State Harrisburg, have canceled their institutional memberships of the ASA … Now, New York University (NYU) is under intense pressure to follow in their footsteps.
Don’t buy Israeli toys this Christmas
Electronic Intifada 18 Dec by David Cronin — My 11-month-old daughter has impeccable taste in music. When I played the Motown Christmas album on Spotify, she starting bobbing her head to some vintage Stevie Wonder. I was delighted, then, that she received a bag of small instruments as an early Christmas present. That was before I picked up one of them and saw the dreaded words “Made in Israel.” Halilit, the manufacturer of this “baby band,” is headquartered in Or-Yehuda in the Tel Aviv district. Or-Yehuda was built on land belonging to Saqiya, a Palestinian village forcibly depopulated during the Nakba, the vicious ethnic cleansing that led to Israel’s foundation in 1948. I’m sure there are many shoppers who have bought Halilit goods without being aware they are Israeli. It would be easy to do so: I checked the entries for some Halilit products on the Amazon website and didn’t see any information about where they were made.
Official: Kerry to present framework peace agreement by Dec. 31
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 22 Dec — US Secretary of state John Kerry will present Palestinian and Israeli leaders with a framework peace agreement by the end of the month, an Arab League official said … Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas informed the Arab League about the upcoming proposal, saying it would contain US suggestions regarding the borders of the future Palestinian state, Sbeih said. Abbas told the League that “once he receives the American proposal he will not respond but will present it to Arab nations to make a joint decision.” Sbeih said Abbas articulated his exact position on the peace agreement, which were as follows: – Abbas would accept a Palestinian state with the entirety of East Jerusalem as its capital, with limited land swaps as long as the lands being traded were of equal value. – He would accept an incremental withdrawal of Israeli troops from Palestinian land, allowing them up to three years to leave. – He would reject the idea of any permanent Israeli military presence in the Jordan Valley, but would welcome an international peacekeeping presence. – He would refuse to recognize Israel as a Jewish state. – He would reject any interim agreement, calling instead for a final solution. – He would reject any proposal that required Palestine to be an unarmed state, but said he would not get involved in an “arms race.” Sbeih said the Arab League sent Kerry an urgent message that detailed the League’s vision of the peace process.
Arab League slams US security ideas for Palestine
Reuters 21 Dec — Arab League rejects US security proposals for future Palestinian state which would allow IDF presence in eastern border, calling them ‘an American retreat.’ Arab League promises there will not be even one soldier in Palestine … Palestinian sources have detailed a US plan to allow a continued Israeli military presence for the next 10 years in the Jordan Valley. Israel says its troops have to remain there to prevent arms and militants entering the West Bank.
Abbas concludes visit to Egypt
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 21 Dec — Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas will leave Egypt on Saturday evening following a two-day visit. During the trip, Abbas met with foreign ministers from Arab League countries at the organization’s headquarters and briefed them on the latest updates from the current round of peace talks with Israel, as well as Israeli violations of past agreements.
Abbas also met with Egyptian President Adli Mansour in the Ittihadiya presidential palace and discussed the recent events in the region, negotiations with Israel, bilateral relations with Egypt and ongoing efforts to achieve reconciliation with Hamas. Abbas thanked the Egyptian president for his country’s “continuous efforts” to support Palestinians and their rights.
Factions meet in Gaza to discuss national Palestinian reconciliation
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 22 Dec — A meeting between three factions was held in Gaza Saturday for a discussion about national Palestinian reconciliation, one of the factions’ leaders told Ma‘an. Leaders from Hamas, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, and the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine were present, PFLP leader Kayed al-Ghoul said. Hamas called the meeting to discuss ways in which reconciliation with the Palestinian Authority could be achieved, al-Ghoul said. He added that the PFLP called for PA President Mahmoud Abbas to form a unity government and hold elections within the next six months. The leaders also discussed a program for proportional representation of each faction in the legislative council, guilds, and other institutes.
Heads of Jerusalem churches send message of peace on Christmas
JERUSALEM (WAFA) 21 Dec – Patriarchs and heads of Churches in Jerusalem Saturday sent a message of peace as Christians around the world celebrate Christmas. “It is sometimes easy to forget that the first Christmas took place in a context of considerable political instability,” said the statement. “The occupying Roman Empire was a powerful reality and here in the Land of the Holy One there was a wide range of groups with competing claims and differing loyalties. The story of Herod’s retaliation against the children of Bethlehem reminds us that violence was common,” said the church leaders. They added: “The world into which Jesus came was not altogether different from the current situation here in the Middle East where we find ourselves today. Violence is seen as the only way to impose order and achieve security by some or as the only way to resist oppression and injustice by others.” However, they said, “We firmly believe that violence is not the way and that the Jesus as the Prince of Peace came to show us not only how to be reconciled to God, but how to be reconciled to one another. Peace has to begin in the human heart as we recognize the common humanity which we share with every single person who has been created in God’s image.” … The statement was signed by Patriarch Theophilos III, Greek Orthodox Patriarchate, Patriarch Fouad Twal, Latin Patriarchate, Patriarch Norhan Manougian, Armenian Apostolic Orthodox Patriarchate, ….
Rafidia hospital shuts down for 2 hours in protest against minister
NABLUS (Ma‘an) 22 Dec — Doctors at the Rafidia Surgical Hospital in Nablus shut down operations for two hours on Sunday morning in protest against “punitive decisions” made by Palestinian Authority health minister Jawad Awad, doctors said. The strike was joined by several public hospitals in Salfit, Qalqiliya, Jericho, and Jenin … Mahmud al-Ramahi, a doctor who works at Rafidia, told Ma’an that all workers in the hospital including doctors had decided to shut down all clinics and services planned from 8 to 10 a.m., although exceptions were made for humanitarian and emergency cases. The move came in protest against “punitive decisions” that the health minister has made against doctors, including a decision banning doctors who work in government-run hospitals from working in private clinics.
Senior PLO official detained for 3 hours by Israeli police
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 21 Dec — Former Palestinian prime minister Ahmad Qurei was released after Israeli police detained him and his guards for three hours near Ma’ale Adummim east of Jerusalem on Saturday, a source privy to details told Ma‘an. Qurei, who served as prime minister of the Palestinian Authority from 2003 to 2006, was detained around 1:30 p.m. in the central West Bank after Israeli police claimed that his driver had exceeded the speed limit and was driving at 140 km/h, the source said. Qurei refused to give the Israeli police the driver’s identity card as requested, and he was subsequently detained … The director of Qurei’s office told Ma‘an earlier that Israeli police had attempted to arrest one of his guards without giving a reason.
Israeli lawyer is effective voice for Palestinians
JERUSALEM (AP) 22 Dec by Karen Laub — …since opening his own law practice, Sfard has emerged as one of the most effective defenders of Palestinian rights, arguing and winning high-profile cases in Israel’s Supreme Court. Major victories include forcing the government to dismantle a large rogue settlement in the West Bank and rerouting Israel’s separation barrier along some stretches to restore farmland to Palestinian villages. The unlikely champion of the oppressed says he is trying to make Israel better, not advance the Palestinian national cause. “I’m not a Palestinian freedom fighter,” Sfard said. “I’m an Israeli human rights attorney who fights to strengthen human rights in Israel and in the territories it occupies and represents my clients the best I can.” … increasingly, Sfard’s for-profit practice in gritty south Tel Aviv is becoming the go-to address for important cases, especially against settlement outposts and the separation barrier. His biggest clients include Yesh Din, funded by European governments, as well as settlement monitor Peace Now and Breaking The Silence, a group that collects testimonies from soldiers about their West Bank service.
Analysis / Opinion / Interviews
To keep Gaza on brink of disaster is security interest of Israel / Iqbal Jassat
Palestine Chronicle 22 Dec — A startling new revelation by Wikileaks claims that Israeli officials told their American counterparts of a secret policy to keep Gaza on brink of humanitarian crisis. Classified ‘Secret’ it is addressed from US Embassy in Israel to Department of the Treasury, Secretary of State as well as Egypt, Cairo. Though the revelation is 5 years old [dated November 3, 2008] the shocking decision to punish Palestinians in Gaza is as raw and brutal as today. In its summary, it records that since the Hamas takeover, Israel has designated Gaza as a hostile entity and maintained an economic embargo against the territory. This designation is used to justify a vicious stranglehold by keeping the Gazan economy functioning at the lowest level possible … These revelations coupled with earlier ones point to a deliberate and calculated plan to not only punish Palestine’s Gaza population, but also to inflict the most terrible form of suffering on the world’s only open-air prison. It underlines an inexplicable paranoia by a regime that is nuclear-armed in addition to its army being rated the 4th most powerful in the world.
link to www.palestinechronicle.com
Richard Falk interview: Stealing Palestine / Stuart Littlewood
Veterans Today — 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. SL – Can we start with the so-called peace process, please? Does the resignation of the Palestinian negotiation team, and the reasons given, effectively end the already discredited ‘peace talks’? Should the Palestinians walk away or carry on playing a pointless game for another 6 months? Richard Falk – It is difficult to know how to assess the current suspension of peace talks. The Palestinian Authority seems always ready to bend to pressure, although with some outer limits. In this respect, the future of this phase of ‘peace talks’ will be determined not in Ramallah, but in Washington and Tel Aviv. It should be evident 20 years after Oslo that the peace talks serve Israel’s interest in ‘creeping annexation’ of the West Bank and ethnic cleansing in East Jerusalem, while diminishing Palestinian prospects, and even harming the Palestinian image by disinformation that blames the Palestinian side for the breakdown of the process when and however it occurs. It would be a welcome sign of PA independence if they come forth and denounce this peace process for what it is. The sad reality is that this is almost certain not to happen
Taking direct action against Israel’s racist marriage law / Patrick O. Strickland
RAMALLAH (Electronic Intifada) 17 Dec — Activists have launched a new campaign to challenge Israeli laws which prevent many Palestinians from marrying each other. “We were all friends through different forums, and we decided to do something to tackle this racism,” Najwan Berekdar, a founding member of the campaign, told The Electronic Intifada. Launched in March this year, the campaign — which the activists are calling Love in a Time of Apartheid — focuses on Israel’s Citizenship and Entry Law, a temporary order that prevents the reunification of Palestinian families based on the type of identification card they carry. Love in a Time of Apartheid consists of some thirty members who work on a voluntary basis. The group undertakes direct action protests and raises awareness about the Citizenship and Entry Law and its effects on Palestinians both at home and abroad.
The migrants aren’t the problem – Israel’s racism is / Gideon Levy
Haaretz 22 Dec — Israel should allow the migrants already here to rebuild their lives, and offer them the prospect of becoming citizens. That’s how it’s done in normal countries — …We’re all Regev and Ben Ari now. The consensus reflects their racist spirit and populist language. It’s Israel vs. the migrants. Some 50,000-60,000 Africans have turned into a national problem and existential threat. Xenophobes exist in every country, but they achieve legitimacy in very few of them, and in fewer still has their discourse become government policy. From their heights Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who has never been caught expressing compassion, and Interior Minister Gideon Sa’ar, who seems to enjoy being cruel, project the kind of attitude that in Europe comes from down below, from gangs of skinheads. The sad and inevitable conclusion is that Israeli society is so tainted by racism that the agitators of the extreme right reflect its spirit almost without question.