Violence / Raids / Clashes / Suppression of protests / Illegal arrests
Thousands mourn child shot dead by Israeli sniper in al-Jalazun
[photos] RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 8 Dec — Thousands of mourners turned out on Sunday for the burial of Wajih Wajdi al-Ramahi, a 14-year-old Palestinian boy who was shot dead by Israeli forces near al-Jalazun refugee camp while he was walking home from school on Saturday. Al-Ramahi was shot with live bullets in the back by an Israeli sniper from a watchtower in the nearby settlement of Bet El. Following an autopsy on his body at the Institute of Forensic Medicine at the Al-Quds University in nearby Abu Dis, his corpse arrived in al-Jalazun refugee camp, where al-Ramahi lived before his life was cut short. At the refugee camp, his body was met by thousands of mourners. The young boy’s body was carried on shoulders to his family home, where his family members said their last goodbyes. His mother, sisters and other relatives wept as his body passed by the door to his home as his body was moved to the refugee camp’s mosque for funeral prayers. His body was finally laid to rest in the camp’s cemetery, with a gunfire salute into the air as his body was lowered into the ground. Al-Ramahi’s father said that his eldest son had been playing soccer with his friends before heading to the store to buy soft drinks on Saturday. While walking in front of his school, a single bullet pierced his back. His father described the killing as an “assassination” and “cold-blooded murder.” Although Israeli army spokespeople originally denied knowledge of the boy’s slaying, they have since acknowledged responsibility according to Israeli media sources, but have not given a reason for the shooting. An army spokeswoman told Ma‘an that an “investigation” had been launched into the incident.
Report: Israeli police volunteer ‘changes story’ about border killing
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 8 Dec — The Israeli border police volunteer who shot and killed a Palestinian worker on Nov. 30 has retracted his original claim that the Palestinian tried to stab him with a sharp object, Israeli media reported Saturday. According to Haaretz, the unnamed border police volunteer “changed his story, saying there was no sharp object, but he had nevertheless been attacked.” A border police spokesman told Ma‘an Sunday that police had opened an investigation into the incident, but refused to name the Israeli volunteer or provide further details.
Israeli forces open fire on protests in Nabi Saleh, 5 injured
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 7 Dec — Five Palestinians were injured when Israeli forces opened fire with with rubber-coated steel bullets on protestors in the northern West Bank village of Nabi Saleh on Saturday. Three Palestinians were detained and many others suffered from excessive tear gas inhalation in clashes that took place in the afternoon in the village north of Ramallah. Nabi Saleh villagers had organized an event to commemorate Rushdie al-Tamimi and Mustafa al-Tamimi, who were killed by Israeli forces in clashes in the village in 2011. The people of Nabi Saleh have been protesting weekly for four years, demanding that their lands confiscated by Israeli forces to build the separation wall be returned. The clashes followed similar protests on Friday across the West Bank
Hundreds celebrate, vow to strengthen Palestinians popular struggle
972mag 8 Dec by Haggai Matar — The popular committees coordinating much of the unarmed struggle against the wall and settlements in the West Bank started a new campaign on Saturday. In addition to the weekly Friday protests in Bil‘in, Ni‘ilin, Nabi Saleh, al-Ma‘asara, Qaddum and other places, each of which focuses on local issues, activists are now planning to hold a central gathering and protest in one of the villages once a month on Saturdays. These gatherings, organized also with Israeli activists (myself included) are meant to solidify existing forces and enhance them in order to promote the culture, tradition and tools of popular resistance. The first event of this kind took place Saturday in Nabi Saleh. It was a symbolic date: 26 years since the beginning of the First Intifada, which many in the movement see as a point of reference, four years since the start of demonstrations in Nabi Saleh, and two years since the killing of Mustafa Tamimi at a demonstration
Month-old child injured during Israel raid on Kafr Qaddum
QALQILIYA (Ma‘an) 8 Dec — A 1-month-old child from the northern West Bank village of Kafr Qaddum was seriously hurt after Israeli forces fired tear gas at his family’s home on Saturday night. A spokesperson for the village’s popular resistance committee Murad Ishteiwi told Ma‘an that four Israeli military jeeps and a bulldozer stormed the village east of Qalqiliya overnight. The Israeli forces fired tear gas haphazardly at houses during the raid, he said. As a result of the excessive use of tear gas, a month-old child named Khalid Majid Jumaa began to choke and vomit from the tear gas. Jumaa received first aid immediately in his village but had to be evacuated to Darwish Nazzal hospital in Qalqiliya after the severity of his injuries were realized.
Settlers assault a Palestinian child in Hebron
IMEMC — [Saturday Evening, December 7, 2013] A number of Israeli settlers attacked a Palestinian child in the heart of the Old City of Hebron, in the southern part of the occupied West Bank, the Palestinian News & Info Agency (WAFA) has reported. The child’s uncle, Mofeed Sharabaty, said that more than twenty settlers of the illegal Beit Hadassah settlement, in the center of Hebron, attacked the child as he was heading to a nearby store. The child has been identified as Yazan Zeidan Sharabaty, 13; he suffered cuts and bruises to various parts of his body. The uncle said that he heard the child screaming while the settlers were attacking him and cursing at him. “I rushed and grabbed my nephew and ran away as fast as I could”. The uncle added, “The settlers then tried to break into my house, but we managed to stop them”.
Explosive device ‘left by Israeli forces’ injures Palestinian teen
HEBRON (Ma‘an) 8 Dec — A teenager was seriously injured on Sunday after an unidentified device exploded south of Hebron, medics told Ma‘an. Medics said that a device left by Israeli forces in an area east of Yatta exploded and injured 16-year-old Maher Adil Najajra, without providing further details. Najajra was rushed to Hebron Governmental Hospital.
Israeli forces detain 3 Palestinians in Jenin village
JENIN (Ma‘an) 7 Dec — Israeli forces entered a Palestinian village in the northern West Bank district of Jenin late Friday and detained three men, locals told Ma‘an. Soldiers in the the northernmost West Bank village of Zububa detained Hasan Abu Zaytoun, Ahmad Fathi Amarnah, and Saad Muhammad Jaradat after raiding their houses, witnesses said. Locals said they saw four Israeli military vehicles driving around the village before the arrests took place. The detainees reportedly live near Israel’s separation wall, which surrounds Zububa on three sides. The village is also close to Israel’s Salem military base. Following the arrests, witnesses said clashes broke out between local Palestinians and Israeli forces. No injuries were reported.
IOA holds detainee Rehan in administrative detention
NABLUS (PIC) 8 Dec — The Israeli occupation authority (IOA) ordered the administrative detention, without trial or charge, of detainee Mutasem Rehan for six months. A press release by the Palestine prisoners center for studies on Saturday said that Rehan was arrested for the fourth time on 27/11/2013 during an arrest campaign in Till village in Nablus after searching and ransacking his home. It said that Rehan, 30, has been studying at Najah university in Nablus since 2003 but could not complete his studies due to his repeated arrest at the hands of the Israeli occupation forces.
Gaza under blockade
Gaza power crisis worsens as winter approaches
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 8 Dec — The Gaza Strip Power Authority is worried that electricity will be available for less than six hours a day in Gaza as winter approaches, an official announced during a news conference on Sunday. Director of public relations for the main electricity authority in Gaza Jamal Dardasawi warned that the company would fail to meet even a minimum of six-hour electricity distribution a day as winter approaches due to increasing demand. Dardasawi said that the electricity available in Gaza is now down to 25 percent of what is needed and is expected to fall to 20 percent or even less due to weather conditions. “It has become impossible for the electricity company to meet the minimum power needs of the population of the Gaza Strip,” he added. Dardasawi pointed out that the Egyptian grid which supplies power to Rafah and southern Khan Younis in the south was disconnected Saturday and the Gaza company was unable to provide electricity to these areas.
Farra: Gaza’s fuel crisis obstructed municipal work in flooded areas
GAZA (PIC) 7 Dec — Palestinian minister of local government Mohamed Al-Farra said that the acute shortage of fuel supplies as a result of the blockade has prevented the municipal authorities in Gaza from assuming their duties properly and helping the citizens and the neighborhoods affected by the heavy rainfall in the area. During a check visit to the affected districts on Thursday, Farra said that the municipalities in Gaza are in dire need of fuel supplies and special equipment to save the flooded areas. He affirmed that the blockade and the resultant fuel and power crises made it difficult for the municipalities to deal with the situation and prevent the flooding of homes and their sewage systems.
Israel and Netherlands in row over security scanner at Gaza border
Haaretz 8 Dec by Barak Ravid — High-tech machine was supposed to offer solution to Israel’s security concerns about Gazan exports — Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte has canceled a gala ceremony planned for Sunday to inaugurate a new container scanner donated by the Netherlands to Israel’s border crossing with the Gaza Strip, due to Israel’s refusal to view the high-tech machine as grounds for allowing exports from Gaza to the West Bank to resume. The dispute over this issue, which erupted about a week ago, is weighing on Rutte’s impending visit to Israel, which was supposed to have taken place in a positive atmosphere. Rutte is expected to ask Israel to reconsider its position when he meets with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday night. Dutch Foreign Minister Frans Timmermans, who will accompany Rutte, is similarly expected to raise the issue of exports from Gaza at his meeting with Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon … Defense Ministry officials explained that for security reasons, Israel wants to isolate the West Bank from the Gaza Strip, and allowing goods from the Strip into the West Bank would contradict this policy. Dutch officials countered that the new machine was supposed to provide a solution to Israel’s security concerns about Gazan exports. Nevertheless, the Defense Ministry remained adamant. Israel’s refusal infuriated the Dutch government
Egypt to open Rafah crossing for three days next week
CAIRO (Ma‘an) 7 Dec — Egyptian authorities will open the Rafah crossing between Egypt and the Gaza Strip for three days next week, a Palestinian diplomat said Saturday. Palestinian Ambassador to Egypt Barakat al-Farra said in a statement that an agreement was reached to open Rafah on Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday of next week. The decision, he said, was a result of coordination between Palestinian and Egyptian officials.
Israeli tanks fire at farmers in northern Gaza
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 7 Dec — Israeli tanks fired several shells at Palestinian farmers in the northern Gaza Strip Saturday, witnesses said. Locals told Ma‘an that farmers fled their fields east of Beit Hanoun after hearing the shelling. Also Saturday, Israeli media reported that three rockets fired from Gaza exploded on the Palestinian side of the border with Israel, without causing casualties.
Israeli forces open fire at farmers near Khan Younis
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 8 Dec — Israeli forces on Sunday opened fire toward Palestinian farmers in the southern Gaza Strip, locals said. Witnesses told Ma‘an that soldiers shot at the farmers near Khan Younis refugee camp from a watchtower at the border between Israel and Gaza. No injuries were reported.
Fishing under fire off the Gaza coast
The Observer 7 Dec by Alex Renton — Harassed by Israeli gunboats, Palestinian fishermen are chasing dwindling shoals in the heavily guarded six-mile fishing limit off the Gaza coast. Alex Renton goes aboard to see what it’s like to be a fisherman in some of the world’s most contested waters — Sometimes the sea calms at sunset: and so it is here in the bottom corner of the eastern Mediterranean. The little fishing boat has been tugging on its anchor rope like an excited puppy. But now, as the waves ease, the deck steadies. We’re going to catch sardines. It’s an all-night trip. So in the afternoon we’d loaded the boat with £190-worth of diesel, sweaters, lots of cigarettes, water, pitta bread and some nuts and dates. That’s it, I asked? No VHF radio? No safety equipment? No lifejackets? The fishermen laughed. “Lifejacket? In Gaza, there’s no need for a lifejacket!” That’s the kind of joke that goes down well here. Skipper Abu Nayim, big, sun-dried, smiling, sniffed the wind. “It’s from the north. Good for sardines,” he said. “Yalla! Let’s go.”
House fire injures 3 children in southern Gaza
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 7 Dec — Three children were hospitalized Friday evening following a house fire in the southern Gaza Strip. Eyewitnesses told Ma‘an they saw smoke rising from Amjad Omran’s home in Khan Younis refugee camp before fire fighters arrived and contained the fire. Three children from the family were taken to Nasser hospital in Khan Younis to be treated for smoke inhalation, locals added. A knocked-over candle was the cause of the fire, a Ma‘an reporter said. Due to regular power cuts, candles are commonly used in Gaza as a source of light.
IOA blocks entry of construction materials into Gaza for 49th day
GAZA (PIC) 8 Dec — MP Dr. Jamal Al-Khudari has said that the Israeli occupation authority (IOA) was blocking entry of construction materials into Gaza Strip for the 49th day running Saturday. Khudari, who is heading the popular committee against siege, said in a press release that all construction projects for international and local agencies were frozen. He said that the IOA announced it was facilitating entry of construction materials into Gaza but was doing the contrary on the ground. International projects to the tune of 200 million dollars were suspended and thousands of workers were laid off, the independent MP said.
Israel to allow entry of construction material into Gaza
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 8 Dec — Israel will allow the entry of construction materials for projects planned by the United Nations agency for Palestinian refugees into Gaza Strip starting Tuesday, a Palestinian Authority official said. Nathmi Muhanna, PA director of border crossings told Ma‘an that Israel will allow cement, iron, and gravel into Gaza for the continuation of UNRWA projects.
Tens of thousands rally in Gaza to mark PFLP 46th anniversary
PFLP.ps 7 Dec — The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine marked the 46th anniversary of its founding with a mass rally in al-Katiba courtyard in Gaza City, with tens of thousands of participants, including leaders, cadres and members of the Front, women’s, student and youth organizations, with the participation of representatives of the national and Islamic forces … Comrades Hani Thawabteh and Shireen Abu Oun chaired the rally, at which Comrade Jamil Majdalawi delivered the keynote address. He saluted the martyrs, the prisoners, and the masses of Palestinians at home and in exile, particularly those in Jordan, Lebanon and Syria facing continued repression and new displacement, and to our people in the Naqab who are confronting the Prawer plan, the new Zionist scheme to displace Palestinians.
Palestinians spoof Volvo’s ‘epic split’ ad
ABC News 8 Dec by Ben Gittleson — Palestinians in the Gaza Strip last week showed that Jean-Claude Van Damme isn’t the only one who can do an “epic split,” and are using a viral video to highlight Gaza’s infrastructure issues. A comedy troupe in the packed, poverty-ridden Palestinian territory on Thursday released a spoof of a viral Volvo advertisement that featured Van Damme, a Belgian martial artist and actor, doing a split between two moving trucks. The Gazans put a Palestinian twist on the video … with a voiceover in Arabic that decries Gaza’s poor infrastructure. “The electricity cuts off for 12 hours,” 28-year-old Mahmoud Zuiter, a member of Tashwesh Productions, says in the video, which has English subtitles. “The water turns on when the electricity cuts off. I miss taking a shower!” In the Volvo ad, which has over 58 million, the camera zooms out to show Van Damme suspended between two trucks, which are driving parallel to each other, slowly move apart as the actor drops into a split. In the spoof, Zuiter stands on the hoods of two Kia cars. “All of this doesn’t make Van Damme better than me,” Zuiter says of the infrastructure problems. “But unfortunately, there is no gas in town.” The camera zooms out to show five men pushing the cars, and Zuiter lowers himself into a split of sorts.
Land, property, resources theft & destruction / Ethnic cleansing
Israel minister proposes partial West Bank annexation
JERUSALEM (AFP) 8 Dec — Economy Minister Naftali Bennett on Sunday proposed that Israel annex parts of the West Bank under its full military control where most Jewish settlers live. “I favor implementation of Israeli sovereignty over the zone where 400,000 (settlers) live and only 70,000 Arabs,” said the head of the far-right Jewish Home religious party in the ruling coalition … More than 500,000 Israeli settlers live in settlements across the West Bank and East Jerusalem, in contravention of international law.
IDF seized West Bank house despite court ruling for Palestinian owners
Haaretz 9 Dec by Chaim Levinson — It has emerged that the officer commanding Central Command in the Israel Defense Forces, Maj. Gen. Nitzan Alon, signed an order appropriating a West Bank house just 10 days after a court ruled that it belonged to Palestinians. The house, which is near the settlement of Ofra and is currently being used as a yeshiva for married men, was appropriated for “security purposes.” The house is on Road 60, the main north-south road in the West Bank. It was separated from the rest of the houses of the village of Yabroud in the 1990s, when a section of the road was paved to bypass the city of Ramallah. The bypass left the house on the east side of the road, near to the houses of Ofra. The Shehadeh family continued living in the house, until settlers changed the locks in 2003, claiming that it had been purchased from its Palestinian owners by Al-Watan, a company controlled by the Amana settlement agency
IOF soldiers threaten to fire at Yatta landowners
AL-KHALIL (PIC) 8 Dec — Israeli occupation forces (IOF) threatened on Sunday to open fire at landowners in Yatta town, south of Al-Khalil, if they ventured into their land. Local sources said that IOF soldiers told Nawaja family members from Susiya near Yatta that they would not be allowed to access their land at the pretext it was under Israeli control according to the Oslo accords. They said that the soldiers threatened to confiscate agricultural equipment from the family members. Other sources said that the soldiers blocked farmers from tending to their land to provide security for settlers in the nearby Susiya settlement.
Documentary shows scenes of home demolitions by Israel in Negev
BEERSHEBA (Ma‘an) 8 Dec — A Palestinian organization based in the Negev has released a documentary depicting what the organization called the “ongoing Nakba (catastrophe) against the population of the Negev since 1948.” The film brings to light the suffering and embittered lives of the Palestinian Bedouin residents of Negev, especially those villages which the government of Israel doesn’t recognize. Those residents, according to the film “Negev … Land and Man,” have been deprived of basic life requirements including water and electricity networks as well as schools and clinics. The documentary warns of Israeli plans to displace the population and “steal their land” through heavy restrictions to make their lives unbearable. The film warns in particular of the Prawer displacement plan which will “bring back the Palestinian Nakba on the land of Negev” while the world watches.
The high cost of Israel’s water policies
Mondoweiss 7 Dec by Nancy Murray — As Massachusetts officials and businessmen prepare to launch water industry collaborations with Israeli companies, they should be aware of certain facts about “Israel’s innate understanding of water issues” (as Boston Globe reporter Erin Ailworth put it in a November 17 front page article). Both Palestinians under occupation and Palestinian citizens of Israel are paying a heavy price for what Ailworth terms “the modern version of the land of milk and honey.” The Israeli government has created one integrated water system for both ‘Israel proper’ and the occupied Palestinian territory that benefits Israeli Jews, while depriving the Palestinian population in both areas of their right to access water … “Water is a nightmare in Palestine,” we were told by Issa Amro, a Palestinian resident of Hebron, who led us through a once vibrant part of the West Bank city that has been largely emptied of Palestinians by Israeli restrictions and Israeli settler aggression. “There is not enough for basic needs or agriculture. Settlers get the majority of the water. In the summer, water comes through the pipe every three or four weeks, while settlers get as much as they want.” Wherever we went in the West Bank we encountered this stark inequality in water distribution. For instance, while the fortress-like Israeli settlements surrounding Bethlehem have swimming pools and irrigated landscaping and lawns, Bethlehem can go for 10-15 days without flowing water, as residents are forced to pay for ‘empty pipes.’
Hundreds rally in Jaffa against Prawer Plan
JAFFA (Ma‘an) 8 Dec — Hundreds of supporters of the Islamic Movement in Israel rallied in Jaffa in protest against the Prawer Plan on Saturday. Palestinian members of the Israeli parliament Ibrahim Sarsour, Masud Ghanayim and Talab Abu Arar participated in the rally, as well as Sheikh Hammad Abu Daabis, the leader of the Islamic Movement in southern Israel. The rally marched from Ajami Mosque to the Gazan Park in Jaffa with the protesters waving flags of the Islamic movement as well as signs denouncing Prawer Plan. Israeli police and special units deployed heavily in the area in response, but no clashes or detentions were reported. “The Arab population of Negev declares here from Jaffa that they will never abandon their land no matter what the toll is,” Knesset member Ibrahim Sarsour said during the rally … Talab Abu Arar, a Bedouin Knesset member from the Negev town of Ararah, greeted the people of Jaffa for hosting a rally against the Prawer Plan. “We have never been united before as we are now against this plan,” he said.
Police, courts take extreme measures against anti-Prawer Plan arrestees
972mag 8 Dec by Haggai Matar — It has been more than a week since dozens of [Jewish Israeli?] demonstrators were arrested in clashes between police and anti-Prawer Plan activists in the Negev town of Hura and in Haifa. Protesters detained at demonstrations in Israel are usually released the same day as the arrest or in the worst case scenario, the morning after. In the case of the anti-Prawer arrestees, police are asking the courts to hold 12 of these protestors, including five minors, in custody through the end of legal proceedings (criminal trials can take months if not years to make their way through the courts). In a show of solidarity with the detainees and in an effort to maintain resistance to Prawer, some 400 people marched through and blocked streets in central Tel Aviv Saturday evening. One of the detainees, a young man from Tel Aviv who works in education and has no previous criminal record, was charged with rioting and shoving a police officer while already in the police station. The Be’er Sheva court has extended his detention several times already, the latest of them on Sunday morning. “Compared with everything we know about arrests in demonstrations it is simply unbelievable that he is still inside,” the activist’s attorney, Smadar Ben Natan, said.
Al-Aqsa and other Islamic sites
finally some of the MSM pay attention to this situation
Jewish activists want to pray on Jerusalem’e Temple Mount, raising alarm in Muslim world
[map/graphics] JERUSALEM (Washington Post) By William Booth and Ruth Eglash — A small but growing movement by Jewish activists demanding the right to pray at the site of their destroyed temple, in the heart of this disputed capital’s Old City, is creating a potentially explosive clash with the Muslim world, which considers the spot holy and bans Jews from public worship there. Each week, hundreds of Jews ascend the creaky wooden ramp built above the Western Wall and enter what is often called the most contested real estate on earth Many then embark upon a game of hide-and-seek with their police escorts — whispering forbidden prayers while pretending to talk into cellphones, and getting in quick but banned bows by dropping coins and then bending to pick them up. Their proposals, long dismissed as extremist, are now being debated in the Israeli parliament and embraced by an expansionist wing in the ruling coalition government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu … “We’re looking for it to be divided between Jews and Muslims,” said Aviad Visoli, chairman of the Temple Mount Organizations, which claims 27 groups under its umbrella. “Today, Jews realize the Western Wall is not enough. They want to go to the real thing.”
Palestinian mosque in Israel vandalized with anti-Islamic graffiti
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 8 Dec — A mosque in the northern Israeli Arab village of Baqa al-Gharbiya [NE of Tulkarm] was vandalized with anti-Islamic graffiti on Sunday morning. The mosque in the village was covered with graffiti in Hebrew reading, “Muhammad is a pig,” as well as “mutual responsibility,” and “terror stones,” slogans which suggest the attack was carried out by Jewish right-wing extremists as part of a “price tag” attack. Mosque imam Sheikh Kiri Achsander told Israeli media on Sunday that “after Fajr (dawn) prayers we exited the mosque and found the graffiti on the wall. These types of incidents keep happening again and again, this time it happened in Baqa.” “Unfortunately, the government still does not take proper care of such incidents, thus encouraging racists to continue actions, which damage the sanctity of holy places and the Prophet Mohammed,” he was quoted as saying by Ynet.
Restriction of movement
IOA blocks travel of writer Lama Khater
AL-KHALIL (PIC) 7 Dec — The Israeli occupation authorities (IOA) blocked the travel of Palestinian writer Lama Khater via Allenby bridge to Jordan on Friday night. The writer said that she was on en route to Qatar to attend a conference on the Palestine question hosted by the Doha-based Political Research and Studies Center. Khater said that the IOA blocked her travel without giving reasons, adding that she waited for long hours at the crossing before Israeli soldiers returned her papers saying she was not allowed to travel. Khater is a vociferous critic of Israel and the Palestinian Authority’s political stands. Meanwhile, Palestinian sources said on Saturday that IOF troops manning the Karame crossing with Jordan refused to allow travel of 20 Palestinian citizens over the past week citing “security reasons”.
Israeli authorities refuse Dutch FM access to Hebron Old City
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 8 Dec — Dutch Foreign Minister Frans Timmermans’ visit to Hebron on Sunday was marred by the refusal of Israeli authorities to allow him to visit the Old City without an Israeli military escort, the Palestinian ambassador to the Netherlands told Ma‘an. Ambassador Nabil Abuznaid told Ma‘an in an interview on Sunday that the Dutch minister had planned to visit sections of Hebron’s Old City but Israeli authorities imposed conditions on his visit. When the foreign minister refused these conditions, which the ambassador described as “unprecedented” for visiting dignitaries, he was forced to cancel his visit. “The occupation (authorities) tried to make some conditions, but he did not accept them,” Abuznaid told Ma‘an on Sunday. “We appreciate that he fought for his principles,” by refusing to accept the Israeli authorities’ condition, he added. Abuznaid highlighted that by refusing to visit the Old City of Hebron under Israeli escort the Dutch minister made it clear that “he did not want to set a precedent” of only entering escorted by the Israeli military.
Syrian refugees find shelter in Gaza Strip
8 Dec — Syria’s neighbouring countries may be struggling with the number of refugees heading their way, but one place is actively trying to attract them. Up to 1,500 refugees have arrived in the Gaza Strip, the tiny coastal enclave home to 1.5 million Palestinians, since the war began nearly three years ago. Al Jazeera’s Phil Lavelle reports from Gaza City.
Diplomat: UK to donate 15.5 million pounds to UNRWA
BEIRUT (Ma‘an) 7 Dec — The United Kingdom will donate £15.5 million (over $25.3 million) to the United Nations agency for Palestinian refugees, a British official announced during a visit to Lebanon Saturday. Simon Gass, political director of the UK’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office, told reporters that the financial contribution to UNRWA would provide vital support to Palestinian refugees in Syria. The donation will additionally support Palestinian refugees who have fled Syria for neighboring countries as a result of the ongoing Syrian civil war, Gass said. He added that he had visited Dbayeh refugee camp east of Beirut and witnessed daily difficulties as Palestinian refugees continued to flood in from Syria.
Action group: Four Palestinian refugees were killed in the last 24 hours
DAMASCUS (PIC) 7 Dec — The action group for the Palestinians in Syria said that four Palestinian refugees were killed by the Syrian regime during the past 24 hours. In a press release on Saturday, the group stated that three Palestinian refugees were killed on Friday afternoon by the Syrian regime forces and their militias at the main checkpoint of Al-Yarmouk refugee camp … Its statement also declared the death of another Palestinian refugee named Riyadh Qasem after his exposure to excruciating torture at the hands of interrogators in a Syrian jail. The group warned that the humanitarian situation in the Palestinian refugee camps has deteriorated very badly as a result of the tight blockade that caused an acute shortage of all vital needs.
Canadian Protestant church launches West Bank settlement boycott
TORONTO (JTA) 7 Dec — Canada’s largest Protestant church launched a campaign to boycott goods made in the West Bank. The United Church of Canada campaign, dubbed “Unsettling Goods: Choose Peace in Palestine and Israel,” encourages “economic action” against three Israeli companies: Keter Plastic Ltd., SodaStream and Ahava, which all have factories in the West Bank. “With these efforts, we join with many others striving to bring peace with justice to the Holy Land,” the church’s moderator, Gary Paterson, wrote in a November letter to church members announcing the launch of the campaign. Churchgoers are also urged to avoid retailers carrying the products, such as Canadian Tire, The Bay, Home Depot and Walmart. The church effort is “nothing less than an assault on the Jewish people,” said a statement from the Toronto-based Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Center.
West Bank settlement firms not invited to Dutch-Israeli cooperation forum
Haaretz 6 Dec by Amira Hass — Torn between interests of Israeli hosts and commitments given to public, Holland feels the heat ahead of economic cooperation forum — Only days before the Netherlands-Israel Cooperation Forum kicks off in Herzliya, the Dutch government is being pushed to publically clarify its policies against cooperation with Israeli businesses in the settlements – or those who are connected to Israeli rule in the West Bank — and to declare that such businesses will not be invited to participate in the Forum seminars. The forum is intended to deepen the economic relations between Holland and Israel, with a focus on the fields of agricultural technology, water and energy. Senior government officials from both countries – including the prime ministers, the Dutch foreign minister and other Israeli ministers – are due to attend, evidencing the importance each nation attributes to the forum. But the Dutch government now finds itself facing a severe conflict of interests. Their Israeli peers – Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman and Economy Minister Naftali Bennett – are pushing the economic interests of the settlements, while Holland has promised its public that it will avoid any economic cooperation with West Bank settlement entities.
President Abbas to visit South Africa for Mandela memorial servicet
JOHANNESBURG (Ma‘an) 8 Dec — Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas will participate in the memorial service for the iconic South African leader Nelson Mandela in South Africa next week, sources told Ma‘an. A high-level Palestinian delegation will accompany Abbas to South Africa for the services, which begin on Tuesday and are scheduled to continue until the late South African leader’s burial next Saturday in the Eastern Cape. In statements on Friday following Mandela’s death, Abbas said, “The Palestinian people will never forget his historic statement that the South African revolution will not have achieved its goals as long as the Palestinians are not free.”
High costs prompt PM not to attend Mandela funeral
Ynet 9 Dec by Moran Azulay — Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his wife Sara will not attend the funeral of Nelson Mandela, apparently because of the high cost of the visit – estimated at around NIS 7 million ($2 million). The announcement came only three hours after Netanyahu’s office announced the contrary, despite fears he would be met by angry pro-Palestinian protesters and hints from South Africa that Israeli President Shimon Peres was their preferred choice.
Palestinian churches to hold Sunday services in honor of Mandela
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 7 Dec — Churches across the West Bank will hold special services in honor of anti-apartheid leader Nelson Mandela on Sunday, according to a statement released by the Palestine Liberation Organization. “Catholic, Orthodox and Protestant congregations will dedicate their prayers to the South African Leader, who embodied the struggle against colonialism and oppression,” the PLO statement read.
Hamas requests permission to hold anniversary celebration in Nablus
NABLUS (Ma‘an) 8 Dec — Chief of the Coalition of Nonpartisan Palestinian Dignitaries in the West Bank Khalil Assaf said on Sunday that the Hamas movement had officially asked him to obtain permits from the Palestinian Authority in order to organize a major commemoration of the 26th anniversary of Hamas’ founding in Nablus on December 14. Assaf told a Ma‘an reporter in Nablus that he had yet to speak to any official in the Palestinian Authority about what he referred to as “Hamas’ strange request.” Instead, Assaf asked the Hamas official who made the request for an explanation as to the motive behind celebrating Hamas’ anniversary in Nablus instead of Gaza City, where the movement currently holds control. Assaf highlighted that Hamas had earlier said that there would be no anniversary celebrations in Gaza because of the dire economic conditions there, referring to a Nov. 29 statement by a Hamas official in charge of mass activities, Ashraf Zayed, canceling the main celebrations and restricting the commemoration to local events.
Palestinian city Rawabi rises in West Bank
AP 5 Dec by Karin Laub — ON ONCE desolate hills in the West Bank, a modern city is being built which is fast becoming a symbol of Palestinian pride. A huge Palestinian flag flies over Rawabi, a signal to Israeli settlers living nearby that the first new Palestinian city to be constructed since Israel captured the West Bank in 1967 isn’t just about property development. “It’s a message … that we can also put facts on the ground,” said Palestinian-American developer Bashar Masri, using a phrase associated with Israel’s settlement construction on lands Palestinians want for a state. The city looks like the large Israeli settlements in the West Bank, with neat rows of flats, and will have amenities unheard of in most Palestinian towns. They include an open-air shopping mall, a convention centre, restaurants, three cinemas, a gym, a five-star hotel, a science museum, a medical centre, an amphitheatre seating 5,000 as well as a football stadium. It’s the first Palestinian city built according to a master-plan, in contrast to the crowded and often chaotic West Bank towns and refugee camps. Construction in Rawabi began in 2011, with 5,000 labourers working in two shifts. Eventually, Rawabi is to have 30,000 residents in 6,000 homes. Flats in two of 23 neighbourhoods and parts of the town centre have been completed, and the first tenants are to move in by May.
Israel, Jordan, PA sign historic Red Sea-Dead Sea canal deal
Ynet 9 Dec by Nahum Barnea — In a ceremony held in the Washington headquarters of the World Bank on Monday, Israel, Jordan and the Palestinian Authority will sign an agreement green-lighting the construction of Red Sea-Dead Sea pipeline, Yedioth Aharonoth journalist reported. The Red Sea–Dead Sea Conduit also known as the Two Seas Canal will carry some 100 million metric cubes of water to the north annually, thus hopefully slowing down the process Dead Sea’s desiccation. As part of the cooperation, a joint water purification plant will be formed and Israelis, Jordanians and Palestinians will share the water.
China offers to start projects in the West Bank
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 8 Dec — China has offered to work with the Palestinian Authority on joint economic projects and is studying a variety of potential projects, a Fatah official said on Saturday. Abbas Zaki, a member of the Fatah Central Committee and the movement’s general commissioner for relations with Arab countries and with China, told Ma’an that the PA and China have a history of strong commercial exchange and economic cooperation.
Anti-narcotics forces detain 2 settlers in Nablus for selling drugs
NABLUS (Ma‘an) 7 Dec — The Palestinian Anti-Narcotics General Administration in Nablus has apprehended two Israeli settlers from nearby Taffuh settlement for selling drugs in Nablus a few days ago, the local director revealed on Saturday. Shehadeh Amer told Ma‘an that the anti-narcotics body detained two settlers in the village of Beta south of Nablus and subsequently turned them over to Israeli police. The two detained settlers sold drugs primarily in Nablus and Jericho, Amer added. Amer said that drugs sold in the West Bank primarily come from Israel and are transferred through West Bank laborers who work inside Israel, Palestinians living in Israel, and settlers. He added that settlers have only recently became active in drug distribution.
Arafat widow to challenge French forensic probe
RAMALLAH (AFP) 7 Dec — The widow of Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat pledged Friday to challenge a French inquiry which found his death to have been from natural causes, rather than poison as Palestinians suspect. “A request for further expert opinion will be submitted in the next few days to investigating judges in (the Paris suburb of) Nanterre,” Suha Arafat’s French lawyer Pierre-Olivier Sur told AFP … On Wednesday she said she was “shocked” by the French findings, announced the day before. “I’m still completely convinced that the martyr Arafat did not die a natural death, and I will keep trying to get to the truth,” Suha said. “How the French haven’t found anything is completely illogical,” she added, pointing to conflicting conclusions reached by Swiss experts who studied the same samples.
A traveling exhibition of a Palestinian exodus
Haaretz 6 Dec by Gideon Levy — Photos from the UNRWA archives are on display in Jerusalem, telling the ongoing story of Palestinian refugees — A picture is worth a thousand words. This one shows three Palestinian refugees in Cairo, sitting in front of an ancient television set, on which images of Yasser Arafat, Yitzhak Rabin and Bill Clinton flicker in black and white. The scene is the signing of the Oslo Accords and the expression on the faces of the refugees says it all. They show despair, in stark contrast to the ceremonious signing of the “historic” agreement broadcast on the screen. That was 20 years ago and the despair of the Palestinian people has not become any more bearable in the interim, nor has their suffering. A new exhibit opened last week in the beautiful and well-designed gallery run by the Al-Ma’mal Foundation for Contemporary Art. Situated in a refurbished old tile factory next to the New Gate in East Jerusalem, the gallery is a venue for showcasing Palestinian art. The exhibit is called “The Long Journey” and features photos from the archive of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees. From a collection of half-a-million photos that document the Palestinian odyssey almost from its beginning, curator Yazan Khalili, born in the Yarmuk refugee camp in Syria and currently a resident of Ramallah, has chosen only a few dozen images.
Assassinated Hezbollah commander wreaked havoc in Israel’s drone program / Richard Silverstein
Tikun Olam 4 Dec — Bibiton (aka Yisrael HaYom) ironic headline, “Mysterious Assassination.” Nothing mysterious about it at all. Hezbollah senior commander, Hassan al-Laqqis, assassinated yesterday by the Mossad in Beirut, responsible for the group’s sophisticated drone program. This included a robust hacking effort which had rendered Israel’s own most advanced drones helpless in the face of multiple crashes, hacks and other catastrophic failures. Further, one of his drones had badly embarrassed Israel’s home defense effort by penetrating 30 miles into Israel, just short of the Dimona nuclear plant. Al Monitor quotes a trusted Hezbollah source describing al-Laqqis’ role:
Germany to sell two destroyers to Israel
BERLIN (AFP) 7 Dec — Germany will sell two destroyers to Israel for one billion euros ($1.3 billion), the Bild daily reported Saturday. The torpedo-carrying war vessels will be used to protect Israeli pipelines, the paper said, without citing a source.
Opinion / Analysis
Former Shin Bet chief: Ending internal conflict key for Israel / Ben Caspit
Al-Monitor 6 Dec — The public debate on the peace process between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and former Shin Bet Director Yuval Diskin has sharpened a bitter point: The “implications of failing to solve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict are far more existential than the Iranian nuclear issue.” — An unbridled public debate erupted this week on Dec. 4 in Israel between two main approaches dividing the Israeli public in connection with the peace process, diplomatic isolation and the Jewish state’s other geostrategic struggles. Characteristically standing on the right side of the spectrum is Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. On the left side, with another surprising and brave foray, is former Shin Bet Director Yuval Diskin. The two exchanged public verbal blows that slid into charged mud-slinging. That aside, this long-standing fundamental dispute has riven Israelis for a very long time. Diskin delivered a talk on the occasion of the 10th anniversary of the Geneva Initiative that saw the participation of some 600 people in Tel Aviv. The following is the thrust of what he said: It is time to prefer the sanctity of the people to the sanctity of the land, making Israel a home that does not require occupying another people. Israel must freeze the settlements. The number of settlers in the West Bank has reached such levels that no government will be able to evict them.
Mandela’s mission is not yet complete / Gideon Levy
Haaretz 8 Dec — Shimon Peres and Benjamin Netanyahu have no right to eulogize Nelson Mandela — South African President Nelson Mandela, in his address for International Solidarity Day with the Palestinian People on December 4, 1997, said: “We know too well that our freedom is incomplete without the freedom of the Palestinians.” And Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said after Mandela’s death: “Nelson Mandela was among the greatest figures of our time … a man of vision and … a moral leader of the highest order.” The sharp-eyed surely noticed the picture in the background when Netanyahu delivered his statement: an Israeli flag and the walls of Jerusalem’s Old City. There he was, eulogizing the “moral leader” against the background of the occupied city, whose Palestinian residents are oppressed and dispossessed. It’s a city where a separation regime prevails – an example of Israeli apartheid, even if it’s not the worst example. The sharp-eared must have noticed how false his flowery words sounded. President Shimon Peres also offered high praise for the “leader of immense stature,” and his words were no less hypocritical. The man who was involved up to his neck in the disgraceful cooperation between Israel and apartheid South Africa, who hosted its prime ministers with pomp and circumstance while Mandela languished in prison, is suddenly admiring the man who symbolized the struggle with that regime.