Restriction of movement
Demeaned at Ben-Gurion airport: ‘Now you know what Jews endured’
Haaretz 6 Jan by Amira Hass — Security staff allegedly stoop to new low when they referenced the Holocaust during an invasive search — Only half an hour before her flight from Israel, D. was standing almost completely naked while an Eastern European-looking security inspector touched her arms, legs and hips. “She also put her fingers in the inside top rim of my underwear,” the young and – may I add, brilliant – doctoral student wrote to me …“she was also very interested in my hair,” D. wrote, “and worked her fingers along my scalp to see if there was anything in my hair.” As the female officer touched her, D. wrote that the woman said, “‘Sorry for the inconvenience, ma’am.’ I told her not to call it an inconvenience. ‘Do not call it that. This is humiliation.’ She responded, ‘I’m sorry this is how you see it.’ I responded: ‘This is not how I see it. This is what you are doing. You are humiliating people.’ “And then, in all seriousness, she responds, ‘Well, now you know what they did to us in Germany.’ At that stage my back was to her. I had to stop and turn around to face her. I just glared at her and said ‘Really? And what does that make you then?’ With a blank face she responded, ‘I don’t know, ma’am.’”
Freed prisoner [finally] moved to Jordan for medical treatment
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 6 Jan — Recently released prisoner Naim Sharamrah was transferred to Jordan late Sunday for medical treatment after Israel authorized the move, the Palestinian Prisoners Society said. Director of the Hebron office of the PPS, Amjad al-Najjar, told Ma‘an that Israel’s previous refusal to allow the transfer had nearly created a crisis within the Palestinian Authority. After “high-level coordination” Israel finally permitted Sharamrah’s transfer … Shawamrah developed muscular dystrophy while in jail and during his final days in prison was unable to walk.
Greennumberplate 31 Dec by Ali Morgan, Ecumenical Accompanier — It is 3.45 a.m. and my team-mate and I arrive for our regular monitoring duty at Israeli Checkpoint 300, which allows entry through the Separation Barrier, from Bethlehem to East Jerusalem. Nearly 200 men are already queuing for the checkpoint to open and hundreds more are swarming in to join the crush at the bottom of the main entrance lane – a huge cage, 1m wide and about 300m long, totally enclosed by iron bars … The men queue for up to 80 minutes each morning. Young and old, crammed together like cattle in the blue cage, shuffling slowly up the lane to a single turnstile. If someone should be taken ill, or injured, there is no chance of getting out until he reaches the turnstile … This morning is worse than usual. The soldier controlling the first turnstile keeps locking it every few minutes. The bars rebound jarringly in the face of an old man and the queue halts for the fifth time. The crush of bodies intensifies for the next 20 minutes. Men begin shouting and complaining. Many climb over the top of the cage and queue-jump through gaps in the corrugated tin roof, desperate not to miss their buses and lose a day’s pay. When the turnstile finally opens again, 500 men surge through in 10 minutes calling ‘Yalla, yalla!’ (Go,go) to those ahead. One man stumbles, falls and is nearly trampled by the crowd pushing up behind. He is saved by another man who braces himself across the line whilst others haul the man to his feet … And after enduring this systematic inhumanity and humiliation day in, day out, these Palestinians pass me at the exit with a smile and ‘Good morning’ – many kneeling for morning prayers on the exit slope – refusing to be humiliated, refusing to be dehumanised.
Detainees / Prisoner releases
What about those who murdered innocent Palestinians?
Haaretz 6 Jan by Anat Matar — Unlike the prisoners released this week, the Israeli soldiers and settlers who have blood on their hands never even served time in jail — The murderers of Nibin Jamjum, a 14-year-old girl, were not released this week. Neither were the murderers of Yousef Fahkri Ikhlayl, 15. Neither was the soldier who fired a tear gas canister at point blank range at Mustafa Tamimi; nor the soldier who killed Bassam Abu Rahma during a quiet demonstration, or the pilot who dropped a one-ton bomb on the home of [Hamas military commander] Salah Shehadeh in Gaza, killing, in addition to Shehadeh himself, 14 civilians, including three-year-old Muhammad Khweiti, three-year-old Ahmad Ashwa, five-year-old Dinia Matar and her three younger brothers Muhammad, Iman and Radia. No, none of these murderers was released this week. How can it be that none of these killers was included in any of the prisoner releases and not one is expected to be released in the near future? The answer, of course, is that they were never put on trial. They did not serve long prison sentences, cut off from their families and communities. They did not fight the occupation; they were its strong arms. The police, who had access to much more than sporadic clues, did not arrest the settlers who killed Jamjum in her home.
Israeli interrogators torture Bethlehem man, relatives say
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 6 Jan — A Palestinian prisoner has been seriously tortured while in Israeli prison custody, his family said Monday. The father of Abd al-Salam al-Hreimi, 22, from Bethlehem told Ma‘an that during a court hearing in Israel’s Ofer military center on Sunday his son had visible signs of torture and marks from beatings were evident on his face, chest and legs. Two Israeli soldiers had to help al-Hreimi into the court as he was struggling to walk. He told the Israeli judge that his interrogators had “escorted him to unknown direction away from the interrogation rooms, and started to beat him until collapsed.” A lawyer for the prisoner has filed legal proceedings against Israeli interrogators and police officers. Al-Hreimi was detained 35 days ago from his home in Bethlehem. Israeli forces accuse him of throwing stones and fire bombs at Israeli soldiers near al-Khader south of Bethlehem.
Negev prison administration detains old mother of prisoner
JENIN (PIC) 6 Jan — The administration of the Israeli Negev jail detained the 75-year-old mother of prisoner Waddah Abu Oun during a visit on Sunday. Activist Eman Al-Seelawi said in a statement that the prison guards claimed they found a mobile phone with Fatehiya Abu Oun, who hails from Jaba‘ village near Jenin. Fatehiya’s daughter, Khadeja Abu Oun, said that her mother was not in good health condition as she underwent catheterization only a couple of days earlier. She said that her mother is always absent-minded and has forgotten her personal mobile phone in her possession during the visit. The prison administration, following the incident, prevented Khadija from visiting her brother and transferred him to solitary confinement as a punitive measure, believing that the mobile phone was intended to be smuggled to him.
link to www.palestine-info.co.uk/En/
Land, property theft & destruction / Ethnic cleansing
Israel publishes 272 more tenders for settlement apartments
AP 6 Jan — An Israeli official confirms that Israel has promoted plans for 272 new apartments in two isolated West Bank settlements. The final step in the approval process came as US Secretary of State John Kerry wrapped up another Middle East trip as part of his attempt to forge a peace deal. The anti-settlement group Peace Now said Monday that Israeli authorities published the building plans for the settlements of Ofra and Karnei Shomron a day earlier. Peace Now says construction could begin in coming weeks.
Report: The IOA seized 14,204 dunums of Palestinian land in 2013
RAMALLAH (PIC) 6 Jan — The land research center in Bethlehem said that the Israeli occupation authority (IOA) had seized 14,204 dunums of Palestinian land in 2013 in the occupied territories of Jerusalem and the West Bank and registered them in the names of Jewish settlers, settlement groups and companies. In a report, the research center stated that the IOA had demolished during last year 371 Palestinian-owned facilities and structures and issued demolition orders against 510 others in addition to the demolition of 246 homes accommodating 1,200 Palestinian citizens, including 650 children. The center noted that the IOA issued demolition orders against 3,131 homes during the reporting year. According to the report, the IOA and its settlers uprooted and destroyed under military protection 19,083 Palestinian-owned fruitful trees in different areas of the West Bank. The IOA had also finished the building of 625 settlement units, approved the construction of 7,000 units and declared plans to build 25,000 others.
In a related context, Palestinian specialist in settlement affairs Khaled Ma‘ali stated on Sunday that the Israeli commander of the central region Nitzan Alon had given orders to turn the illegal outpost of Brochan into an official settlement under the jurisdiction of the regional settlement council, pointing out that Alon had already declared the building of 550 new housing units in this colony. Ma‘ali added that Palestinian famers and eyewitnesses reported that settlement construction is already in the works in this outpost. He noted that the name of this settlement is derived from the Palestinian village Bruqin and the settlers made changes to the real name in order to delude themselves into believing that they have a historical claim on the area.
link to www.palestine-info.co.uk/En/
Israeli forces issue demolition orders in Nablus village
NABLUS (Ma’an) 6 Jan — Israeli military forces issued demolition and stop-work orders to Palestinians in the Nablus village of ‘Aqraba on Monday, a Palestinian Authority official said. Ghassan Daghlas, who monitors settlement activity in the northern West Bank, told Ma’an that Firas Abu Khader was ordered to remove a steel structure, while Bahha Abdul-Ghani was issued orders to destroy a small house. Another man, Atiyhe Bani Fadl, was ordered to remove an electricity pole. Israeli forces also issued a stop-work order to a contractor who was refurbishing a street near the village school. Days earlier, Israeli forces confiscated a bulldozer belonging to the contractor.
[Closing of southern road between Nablus and Ramallah]
NABLUS (PIC) 6 Jan Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) and settlers stormed on Monday morning several towns in Nablus, where they handed over a number of demolition orders, while the settlers performed Talmudic rituals … In ‘Awarta town, IOF stormed at late hours Sunday the town’s neighborhoods and served summonses to the Imam of its mosque and two brothers after breaking into their houses. Eyewitnesses confirmed that Israeli settlers and rabbis stormed the town under IOF protection and performed Talmudic rituals in an unusual visit to the religious shrines in the town. In Qaryout town, settlers in cooperation with the Israeli occupation authority (IOA) on Sunday closed the southern road that links between Nablus and Ramallah aiming to establish a settlement road to connect between Shiloh and Eilih outposts built on Qaryout land. According to PIC reporter, the IOA confiscated earlier 42 dunums near the mentioned road and threatened to confiscate more lands in the area. The IOA decision to close the road has deepened the villagers’ suffering, where they are obliged to cross through five villages to reach their destinations. The IOA also prevented the villagers in Qaryout town from using their vehicles while crossing the road, forcing them to walk approximately 50 to 60 kilometers on foot, without taking into account the humanitarian cases. More than 30 houses in the town are threatened to be demolished under the pretext of being established in area C which is under IOA control.
link to www.palestine-info.co.uk/En/
IOF kidnap Sheikh Bakirat from Aqsa Mosque
OCCUPIED JERUSALEM (PIC) 6 Jan — The Aqsa foundation for endowment and heritage said that the Israeli occupation forces (IOF) kidnapped on Monday morning Sheikh Abdul-Rahman Bakirat, a senior teacher at the Aqsa Mosque, during his presence at Al-Asbat Gate. Imarat Al-Aqsa foundation, in turn, slammed the detention of Bakirat as part of the arrest campaign which the Israeli occupation regime wages against Palestinian students and teachers of the religious sessions held at the Aqsa Mosque.
Meanwhile, 19 Jewish settlers desecrated today morning under police protection the main courtyard of the Aqsa Mosque. Four women of the settlers tried to perform Talmudic prayers in the courtyard and lie on the ground as part of the rituals, but the Palestinian guards of the Mosque prevented them immediately and the Israeli police escorts hastened to evacuate the settlers in order to avoid any violent reactions.
link to www.palestine-info.co.uk/En/
Israeli-Arab guesthouse opens, now all it needs is guests
Haaretz 6 Jan by Roy (Chicky) Arad — It’s a holiday in Jisr al-Zarqa, one of the poorest villages in Israel: Last week, after months of preparation, the first guesthouse opened here – the only Arab village remaining on the Mediterranean coast. I was summoned twice to write about this village: Once after the Mekorot Water Company cut it off from the water system for several hours a day, over a period of a few weeks – because some residents had not paid their bills – and once when Education Ministry placed Jisr at the bottom of the national list of average grades on matriculation exams. People almost always write about the village when bad things happen there. But when the Juha Guesthouse opened I rushed there and was one of the first guests, actually the second guest to sleep there. I won’t be exaggerating if I write that the modest guesthouse is a miracle for this beaten and battered place, which has only the beach for consolation.
Violence / Raids / Clashes / Illegal arrests
Crushed to death: Palestinian man dies at overcrowded West Bank checkpoint
Mondoweiss 6 Jan by Annie Robbins — Ma‘an news reports a man was crushed to death on Sunday at the Ephraim/Taybeh checkpoint near the Palestinian city of Tulkarem in the West Bank. He was on his way to work. Witnesses told Ma‘an that 59-year-old Adel Muhammad Yakoub from the northern West Bank village of Balaa died as a result of extreme overcrowding inside the Ephraim/Taybeh checkpoint. “They highlighted that some 10,000 Palestinian workers cross through the checkpoint every day and that inspection procedures at the checkpoint go very slowly causing dangerous levels of overcrowding inside the checkpoint. The victim left behind a wife and seven children, aged 11-16. He is reported to have suffered from heart disease.[many of the comments on this article add information about checkpoints and deaths through links to other accounts]
Israel: No evidence that boy killed by soldiers posed any threat
JERUSALEM (Human Rights Watch) 5 Jan — Second ‘Ambush’ Killing of Child Near Schools in 2013 — No evidence has been presented by the Israeli authorities that a 15-year-old boy fatally shot in the back by Israeli soldiers near his school on December 9, 2013, posed any threat to life that would justify such a killing. It was the second incident involving the lethal shooting of a child in the back by Israeli forces deployed near a school in 2013. A soldier shot Wajih al-Ramahi in the Jalazone refugee camp, witnesses told Human Rights Watch. The evidence obtained by Human Rights Watch is inconclusive as to whether al-Ramahi, who was shot in an area between the school and a market, had joined Palestinian youths nearby who were throwing stones toward the soldiers, but the soldiers were approximately 200 meters away and not at any risk of being hit by stones, the witnesses said. “Twice this year, Israeli soldiers hiding near schools, apparently to make arrests, have killed children who posed no apparent threat,” said Joe Stork, deputy Middle East and North Africa director at Human Rights Watch. “If the past is any guide, these boys’ families can look forward to a prolonged, opaque, and fruitless process that does not hold perpetrators to account or deliver justice.” [contains details on both killings]
Settlers attack school, water reservoir near Nablus
NABLUS (Ma‘an) 6 Jan — A group of settlers attacked a school and water reservoir in the Nablus village of ‘Urif early Monday before clashing with local Palestinians, a PA official said. Ghassan Daghlas, who monitors settlement activity in the northern West Bank, told Ma‘an that six settlers from Yizhar tried to damage an electricity box connected to the water structure. The settlers also attacked a school in the village before Palestinian crowds gathered and clashed with the Israeli extremists. Israeli forces arrived in the area and fired tear gas at the Palestinians.
Palestinian farmers clash with settlers in south Hebron hills
HEBRON (Ma‘an) 6 Jan — Four people were injured on Monday during clashes between Palestinian farmers and Israeli settlers in the south Hebron hills, locals said. The clashes occurred after settlers attacked a group of farmers tending their land. Ismail al-Adra said that ten settlers attacked him and several other farmers while they were on their way to tend their fields. Locals told Ma‘an that a Palestinian farmer and three settlers were injured during the brawl. One farmer, Sabir al-Adra, was hit in the face with a steel pipe. Another farmer, Mousa al-Adra, was also attacked and injured, together with a foreign solidarity activist who was filming the settler attack. Israeli forces arrived at the scene and detained a number of farmers, accusing them of attacking settlers. An Israeli army spokeswoman confirmed the clashes and said four people were injured, one Palestinian and three Israelis. Two Palestinians and seven Israelis were detained and transferred to the custody of the Israeli police, she added.
Israeli forces injure 2 with rubber bullets in Beit Ummar
HEBRON (Ma‘an) 6 Jan — Israeli forces opened fire on Palestinians during a raid in the village of Beit Ummar north of Hebron on Monday, injuring two with rubber bullets and causing dozens to suffer from excessive tear gas inhalation. Spokesman for the popular struggle committee against settlements and the wall in Beit Ummar. Mohammad Ayyad Awad said clashes started in Safa area after two Israeli military vehicles raided the area and fired tear gas and rubber-coated steel bullets at people. “These actions by the occupation forces aim to prevent farmers from reaching their lands in Ein al-Bayad area near the Gush Etzion settlements,” Awad said, referring to a large block of Israeli settlements built on confiscated Palestinian lands. The attack comes five days after Israeli forces killed an 85-year-old Palestinian man by launching excessive amounts of tear gas into his village of Kafr Qaddum, in the northern West Bank, during a raid.
Citizens suffer breathing difficulty in IOF raid on refugee camp
AL-KHALIL (PIC) 6 Jan — A number of Palestinian citizens suffered breathing difficulty afternoon Monday in an Israeli army raid on ‘Aroub refugee camp north of Al-Khalil. Eyewitnesses said that confrontations broke out in the camp after Israeli occupation forces (IOF) stormed it in six army vehicles and fired teargas canisters at young men who threw stones and bottles at the invading troops. They said that the soldiers deliberately fired teargas at Palestinian houses causing a number of suffocation cases among the inhabitants. The confrontations lasted for hours, the sources said
link to www.palestine-info.co.uk/En/
Israeli forces arrest three youth in Hebron
HEBRON, Occupied Palestine (ISM Khalil Team) 6 Jan — This morning in Khalil (Hebron), a large group of Israeli border police and soldiers gathered outside checkpoint 29. Israeli forces fired several tear gas grenades towards a school, detained four Palestinian youth and arrested three of them, taking them to Kiryat Arba police station. At approximately 10:30am, at least 30 Israeli border police and soldiers stood outside checkpoint 29 and fired one tear gas grenade. The grenade was aimed towards a school; there were no children in the streets and no youth throwing stones. Israeli forces entered through the checkpoint and proceeded towards the school. A further tear gas grenade was fired seemingly without purpose and away from any people. A group of young Palestinians, all under the age of 10, were forced to hide in a local shop due to fear at the aggressive border police. Israeli forces fired a final tear gas grenade towards the school before heading back towards checkpoint 29.
IOF soldiers arrest five citizens during raid campaigns in WB
OCCUPIED WB (PIC) 6 Jan — Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) arrested on Monday five Palestinians from different parts of occupied West Bank. Local sources confirmed that IOF stormed Kafr Na‘ima town in Ramallah and arrested two youths, in addition to detaining a third one in al-Khalil after searching his house. IOF also carried out raid campaigns in Bethlehem and Jenin, where they stormed a number of citizens’ homes and took them to Israeli detention and investigation centers, claiming that they are wanted for the Israeli intelligence. The sources added that IOF summoned three citizens from Yatta town in al-Khalil, including Rateb Jabour the coordinator for the National Committee against Apartheid Wall and Settlement. Meanwhile, IOF detained two Palestinians from al-Khalil and tried to arrest a 9-year-old child under the pretext of stoning Israeli settlers. IOF stormed Beit Umar town in al-Khalil and arrested the citizen Zuhdi Sherif Awad, 37, after failing to arrest his 9-year-old son Mohammed. Mohammed started screaming and crying when the Israeli soldiers tried to push him into the military vehicle, but the neighbors intervened and managed to free him.
IOF also arrested another citizen from the Old City in al-Khalil, while settlers stoned Palestinians passing through Aldabuya area and Shalala Street.
IOF soldiers stormed different towns in al-Khalil and erected military checkpoints at the entrance to Idna town and Halhul Bridge.
In the same context, the occupation forces stormed the prisoner Hamza al-Stiti’s house in Burqin and interrogated his family members, inflicting a big mess on the house. The sources said that the soldiers used police dogs during their search operation and humiliated the family members. Al-Stiti was arrested on the 30th of December 2013 and was taken to Jalama detention center after storming his workplace.
link to www.palestine-info.co.uk/En/
Israeli forces detain Palestinian journalist near Ramallah
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 6 Jan — Israeli forces detained a Palestinian journalist after raiding his home in Kafr Nima village west of Ramallah on Monday morning. The media office of the Palestinian Popular Struggle Front said 24-year-old Muhammad Omar al-Dik, a journalist who works in the office, was detained. They added that al-Dik is a graduate student at Birzeit University and that he has an undergraduate degree in political science and media. “Targeting Palestinian journalists on a regular basis by Israeli forces is evidence to Israeli racism and oppression,” said Husni Shilo, an official from the syndicate of Palestinian journalists. He highlighted that the detention of al-Dik brings the number of Palestinian journalists currently jailed in Israel to 12. An Israeli army spokeswoman said he was detained for participation in “illegal activities,” but could not give any specifics.
Palestinian admits to stabbing 9-year-old in West Bank settlement
Haaretz 6 Jan by Gili Cohen — Girl was wounded last October in Psagot, north of Jerusalem; Shin Bet, IDF disagree over motive for attack — A man from the Palestinian village of El Bireh has confessed to the stabbing of a 9-year-old girl in the West Bank settlement of Psagot four months ago. The suspect is 21-year-old Abdullah Abu Kabita, who was arrested by the Israel Defense Forces last week based on police intelligence. The victim, 9-year-old Noam Glick, survived the attack with light injuries; it had not been immediately clear if she was stabbed or shot. The news of the arrest was approved for publication Monday. Abu Kabita, who confessed during questioning by the Shin Bet security service, said he had planned to break into the home in Psagot to steal weapons, which he said were for resolving a private dispute … Later that night — Saturday October 5 — Abu Kabita returned to Psagot, this time on his own. He entered through the hole in the fence and approached the farthest house in the community. As the 9-year-old was returning home she encountered Abu Kabita, who, according to the Shin Bet, “was taken by surprise, stabbed the little girl in the shoulder and fled back toward Ramallah.”
Gaza under blockade
Miles of Smiles sends delegation to Egypt to discuss entry to Gaza
AMMAN (PIC) 6 Jan — Chairman of the Jordanian Lifeline Committee Wael al-Sakka said that a delegation of Miles of Smiles convoy is scheduled to travel to Egypt in the coming days to find out reasons behind the Egyptian rejection to the convoy’s entry to Gaza. Egyptian authorities had approved earlier the entry of the aid convoy to the besieged Strip, al-Sakka explained in a press statement, adding that Miles of Smiles convoy includes different international delegations including the Jordanian Lifeline Committee. “We were surprised by Egypt’s decision to suspend its previous approval”, he said, pointing to the international convoy’s intention to send a delegation to discuss the Egyptian new decision. Al-Saka stated that there was an Egyptian approval to allow the entry of the relief supplies needed in the Strip especially after the latest winter storm, without allowing the entry of the aid convoy’s members.
link to www.palestine-info.co.uk/En/
Israeli gunboats fire at Palestinian fishing boats
GAZA (PIC) 6 Jan — Israeli navy gunboats opened heavy machinegun fire at Palestinian fishing boats off the coast of northern Gaza Strip on Monday morning. Eyewitnesses said that the shooting forced the fishermen to abandon their ships and go back to land. No casualties were reported.
link to www.palestine-info.co.uk/En/
Union of fuel companies accuses Palestinian Authority of being behind fuel crisis in Gaza
Ahlul Bayt News Agency (Iran) 6 Jan – The union of fuel companies in Gaza accused the Palestinian Authority (PA) in Ramallah of being behind the stifling fuel crisis that has afflicted the besieged Strip for two weeks after it refrained from paying the Israeli company for the fuel shipments. “The petroleum authority and the finance ministry in Ramallah did not assume their role in communicating with the Israeli supplier of fuel to provide the Gaza Strip with the requested amounts,” head of the union Mahmoud Al-Shawwa said. “The finance ministry in Ramallah claims that it has a cash crunch and thus is unable to pay the Israeli company, although we funnel all funds to it on a regular basis,” Shawwa added.
In a related context, Awraq news network disclosed an official document proving that the PA had sold the remaining Qatari fuel aid sent to Gaza to the Egyptian authorities.
Palestinian refugees / UNRWA
Activists: 30 Palestinian refugees died in Syria over the past week
DAMASCUS (PIC) 6 Jan — Activists in Palestinian refugee camps in Syria documented the names of 30 Palestinians who died in Syria over the past week more than one third of them due to malnutrition and dehydration. The action group for Palestinians in Syria said in a statement on Monday that Syrian army shelling on the refugee camps of Yarmouk, Hindarat, Diraa and Khan Al-Sheeh continued for the past week. The group underlined that 11 Palestinian refugees died in Yarmouk camp out of hunger due to the 170 days of tight siege imposed on the camp with no food or medicine allowed into it. The group added that dozens were suffering from dehydration and death from hunger was spreading. It said that inhabitants of Husseiniya and Sabbina refugee camps are still waiting for permission to return to their camps four months after the Syrian regular army and allied Palestinian factions regained control over them.
link to www.palestine-info.co.uk/En/
Palestinian refugee camps suffering under UN strike
IMEMC 6 Jan by Chris Carlson — 51,000 children have been out of school for over a month, over 40 health clinics have been closed and garbage is piling up around the camps, due to the recent UN-employee strike. Yet, there are no signs of a solution to the dispute, reports the Palestinian News Network (PNN). “Where are the rights of the refugees?”, asks Khalil Bal’awi, resident of Al Dheisheh refugee camp in Bethlehem. “Our children are now on the streets. There is no medicine and trash is blocking the streets of the refugee camps. UNRWA doesn’t care about us or about the employees. It’s not enough that we are under siege and apartheid wall, and that we have been deported from our lands.” 5,000 employees at the UN refugee agency, UNRWA, in the West Bank, have been on strike since December 3rd of last year, demanding higher salaries and permanent contracts instead of short term contracts. Yesterday, UNRWA employees in Gaza also went on strike, in demand of higher salaries. UNRWA spokesperson Christopher Gunness states that UNRWA is paying, on average, 20 percent above the comparable salaries at the Palestinian Authority which, he says, is totally within the agency’s salary policy. “It is such an unjustified strike. I think that punishing refugees, who are already punished by the occupation in the West Bank and the blockade in Gaza is completely unjustifiable”, says Gunness.
Protests in Bethlehem as UNRWA hunger striker taken to hospital
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 6 Jan — Demonstrations were held on Monday for the second day in a row in Bethlehem in protest against policies of the UN’s Palestine refugee agency as one of 27 hunger strikers was taken to the hospital. An UNRWA employee was taken to the hospital as five local employees continued their hunger strike for the fifth day running in protest of the termination of their contracts.
Popular committees in West Bank camps halt services in protest
JERICHO (Ma‘an) 6 Jan — A spokesman for the popular committees in the West Bank refugee camps, Imad Abu Simbel, said that the committees closed their offices and halted services on Monday in protest against UNRWA policies and the government’s failure to transfer funds to them for the last three years … Abu Simbel explained that Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah did not “fulfill his promise” to the directors of committees in their last meeting to transfer the earnings. This harms the services provided by the popular committees, he said, especially “in light of the UNRWA strike ongoing for 32 days.”
Political, other news
Netanyahu: Israel will not evacuate Hebron, Beit El as part of peace process
Haaretz 6 Jan by Barak Ravid — Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told his Likud Knesset faction on Monday that he opposes evacuating settlements like Hebron and Beit El, which are outside the major settlement blocs but are “important to the Jewish people,” MKs present at the meeting said. He also said he has “no solution” for how to prevent Israel from becoming a binational state while also ensuring that a Palestinian state won’t become a base for Iran or Al-Qaida.
Jordan official: Netanyahu ready for land swap with Palestinians
Ynet 6 Jan by Elior Levy, Roi Kais — A senior Jordanian politician said Monday that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has expressed willingness to a land transfer with the Palestinians, a plan touted Sunday by his foreign minister, Avigdor Lieberman. The Jordanian official said Netanyahu was ready to give up 52 square kilometers of land inhabited by 300,000 Arabs in the Wadi Ara area, a piece of land northwest of the Green Line located in the southern part of the Haifa District. The territory would form the northern border of the future Palestinian state in the West Bank. The statement came as a result of US Secretary of State John Kerry’s desire to announce that there was progress on both sides in the negotiations. The Jordanian official said that otherwise there would not be an additional round of talks. The politician also said Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas had agreed to Kerry’s offer to have an American-Israeli force with Palestinian observers along the Jordan Valley for three years. Kerry, however, is pressuring Abbas to remove his timeframe demand on the condition. Palestinian sources denied that Abbas agreed to an Israeli military presence, and they said the Palestinian Authority is insisting that there will be no form of military presence in the Jordan Valley.
Israeli Arab leader: Lieberman’s land swap proposal is delusional
Haaretz 7 Jan by Jack Khoury — ”We are unwilling yo act as pawns in the service of Lieberman and the Israeli right,’ says Israeli Arab MK Ahmed Tibi — Israeli Arab leaders brushed aside Foreign Minister Avidgor Lieberman’s proposal of land and population swaps with the Palestinian Authority on Monday, calling it delusional and immoral. The city of Umm al-Fahm published a statement after a meeting of the city council branding Lieberman’s proposal as a “second Nakba,” using the Arabic word for the “catastrophe,” and referring to what happened to Palestinians during Israel’s founding in 1948. Lieberman said Sunday he would only support a peace agreement with Palestinians that involved transferring Jewish settlement blocs in the West Bank over to Israel in return for parts of Israel with predominantly Arab populations. Umm al-Fahm city council members rejected the comparison between Arab towns in Israel’s Wadi Ara and Triangle region and settlements beyond the Green Line. “We are the children of this land. We inherited it from our ancestors, and nobody can speak or negotiate on our behalf in any future agreement with the Palestinians,” the statement read.
Tufkaji: Kerry’s greater Jerusalem makes up 10 percent of the West Bank
CCUPIED JERUSALEM (PIC) 6 Jan — Khalil Tufkaji, director of the mapping department of the Arab studies society in occupied Jerusalem, said that the project of “greater Jerusalem” as a capital for two states which was proposed by US secretary of state John Kerry constitutes 10 percent of the West Bank area … He said that this greater Jerusalem, according to Kerry, would extend from Gush Etzion settlement units in southern Bethlehem to the settlement of Ma’aleh Adumim in east Jerusalem and the settlement of Givat Ze’ev in the northern part of the holy city as well as to Palestinian villages and towns near Bethlehem. The mapping expert noted that the Palestinians have only 13 percent of Jerusalem area, which makes up 1.2 percent of the total area of the West Bank after the Israeli occupation regime had seized 87 percent of east Jerusalem.
link to www.palestine-info.co.uk/En/
Kerry ends Mideast trip without framework deal
JERUSALEM (AFP) 5 Jan — After four days of intense diplomacy, US Secretary of State John Kerry was heading home Monday, insisting progress has been made despite failing to agree a framework to guide Israeli-Palestinian talks. During his tour, Kerry spent hours locked in separate meetings with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Mahmoud Abbas, as well as making a surprise day trip to key Arab allies, Jordan and Saudi Arabia … With the US remaining tight-lipped about the details, little news has filtered out about Kerry’s proposals to bridge the huge gaps between the two sides as they seek to draw up the contours of two states living side-by-side. But talks appear to have focused on security in the Jordan Valley, on the border between the West Bank and Jordan, as well as the fate of Jerusalem, which both sides claim as their future capital. Jordan and Saudi Arabia will be key to any deal. Not only does Jordan border the occupied West Bank, it also has a historic role in the guardianship of Muslim sites in Israeli-annexed East Jerusalem which is recognized under their 1994 peace treaty. Saudi Arabia authored a 2002 peace plan which is the basis of Arab aspirations for any settlement with Israel.
Hamas, Fatah resume talks secretly
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 6 Jan — Hamas and Fatah have secretly resumed reconciliation talks in an attempt to finalize an agreement, a Fatah spokesman said on Monday. Ahmad Assaf said in a statement received by Ma‘an that Fatah official Azzam al-Ahmad, who is in charge of reconciliation talks, spoke on Sunday with his Hamas counterpart Mousa Abu Marzouq. The two followed up on discussions that began in Doha between al-Ahmad and Hamas chief-in-exile Khalid Mashaal. Assaf’s statement emerged following news reports claiming that Hamas and Fatah have already reached agreement on a unity government. He made it clear that no agreement had yet been reached as of yet, while stressing that efforts are ongoing.
Haniyeh phones Abbas to push forward reconciliation talks
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 6 Jan — Gaza Strip Prime Minister Ismael Haniyeh phoned Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas on Monday in an effort to push forward reconciliation talks.
The phone call comes only hours after Haniyeh announced a decision to allow Fatah members to return to the Gaza Strip, in addition to the release of Fatah members who had been previously arrested for “security” reasons … Earlier in the day, AFP reported Haniyeh as saying that “The (Hamas) government will allow all Fatah members who are from Gaza and who left the Strip (in 2007) to return, without any preconditions,” apart from those accused of killing Hamas members during intense factional fighting that year. The statements came amid an outreach campaign by Hamas leaders towards Fatah over the last few months
Palestinians become first customers of Israel’s Leviathan gas field
Haaretz 6 Jan by Eran Azran — The first customer to sign up to buy gas from Israel’s giant Leviathan field is the Palestine Power Generation Company, which is developing an electric power plant near Jenin. The three Israeli partners in Leviathan – Avner, Delek Drilling and Ratio — told the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange on Sunday that PPGC had agreed to buy $1.2 billion worth of gas over a 20-year period that will begin when the field begins producing. The 4.75 billion cubic meters of gas the Palestinian utility is buying is relatively small compared to the contracts a host of Israeli gas consumers have signed for gas from the Tamar field. Nevertheless, it marks the first-ever contract for Leviathan gas.
Palestinians: Weapons found at Czech embassy were legal
AP 6 Jan — A senior Palestinian diplomat is denying that weapons discovered at the Palestinian Embassy complex in Prague, where a booby-trapped safe killed the ambassador, were illegal. Following last Wednesday’s blast, Czech police said they found an unspecified cache of weapons. The explosion has led to a deterioration in ties between the Palestinians and the Czech Republic. In a radio interview from Prague on Sunday, the deputy Palestinian foreign minister, Taysir Jaradat, said the weapons had been with the embassy for years, and had either been licensed or received as gifts. He said none were in use.
US Embassy in Tel Aviv shuts down after tens of thousands of African asylum seekers protest
[photos] Mondoweiss 6 Jan by Allison Deger — Tens of thousands of African asylum seekers in Tel Aviv protested in front of eight embassies and United Nations and European Union offices as part of a three-day strike against Israel’s policy of imprisonment for those requesting refugee status, causing the U.S. Embassy to shut down. Israeli onlookers jeered at the marches, shouting “Go home!” and “back to Africa!” as the protesters met for a second day of actions beginning this morning at Levinsky Park near the city’s central bus station, the hub for Israel’s refugees … But not all Tel Avivians were enraged at the sight of Africans chanting “freedom, not prison” and “we are refugees, we want asylum.” Many were stunned at the amount of demonstrators, “this is not normal, we’ve never seen anything like this,” said a young Israeli barista. “Justice. They deserve rights, they deserve freedom and they deserve to be treated as any Israeli citizen,” said Yossi Cohen, 32, from a corner store while filming the march on his iPhone.
Patriarchs arrive in Bethlehem for Orthodox Christmas
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 6 Jan — The Orthodox, Assyrian, Coptic, and Ethiopian patriarchs arrived in Bethlehem on Monday to commence the celebration of Eastern Orthodox Christmas, which takes place on Tuesday … Most Eastern Orthodox Christian denominations celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ on January 7th, in contrast to the Western Christian tradition of celebrating on December 25. Armenian denominations, meanwhile, celebrate Christmas on January 6th. The Eastern Orthodox date is in accordance with the Julian calendar, which predates the current Gregorian calendar. The majority of Palestinian Christians are Greek Orthodox and follow the Orthodox Patriarchate of Jerusalem, which celebrates Christmas on Tuesday. There are around 200,000 Palestinian Christians in the West Bank, Gaza Strip, and inside Israel, while hundreds of thousands more live abroad as well.
Israeli teacher says she was denied jobs because of her hijab
Haaretz 6 Jan by Yarden Skop — A teacher filed a complaint last week against the Education Ministry and the Eilat municipality, maintaining she was repeatedly turned down for jobs as an Arabic teacher in the city’s schools because she wears a traditional Muslim head scarf. The teacher, A., contends that despite an acute shortage of Arabic teachers in Eilat, and although she sat for several interviews and successfully handled classes of students, she was rejected time and again for three years.
Georgetown students connect with Gaza counterparts
Al Bawaba (Jordan) 6 Jan — It is a typical sight in modern offices. People sitting around a large, institutional office table, looking into the digital camera that sends images and voices across time and space through the convenience of video conferencing, to another group sitting around yet another large, institutional office table. But this isn’t any ordinary video conference. And these aren’t ordinary office workers. They’re Palestinian college students, huddled in a borrowed conference room at the UNDP building in Gaza, sharing their stories of struggle and survival under Occupation with their peers at Georgetown University Qatar (GU-Q).
Jewish and Arab 10-year-olds hear the other side has a story too
Haaretz 2 Jan by Kobi Ben-Simhon — The patriarch Abraham/Ibrahim is the focus of a project in the Bible Lands Museum, initiated by director Amanda Weiss — Why do you think it’s right to have a religious figure at the heart of an encounter between children? We are not engaged in encounters with a religious factor, but are looking at the history shared by the two religions. The patriarch Abraham in Judaism, or Ibrahim in Islam, is a symbol for both religions. We can see Abraham/Ibrahim as an important historical figure, a leader whose life choices influenced the generations that followed. I think the “Image of Abraham” project offers children, teachers and parents an opportunity to break down existing political barriers.
Soccer shirt ignites feud between Chile’s Jewish, Palestinian communities
AP 6 Jan — A soccer shirt is igniting a war of words between Chile’s Jewish and Palestinian communities. The Palestino soccer Club of Chile’s first division recently released its new jersey, but many are outraged because shirts that include the number “1” show the numeral in the shape of Israel and the Palestinian territories, implying all the land is Palestinian. Gerardo Gorodischer, president of Chile’s Jewish Community, told The Associated Press that the group is demanding an apology from the club and asking Chile’s soccer association not to allow the shirts because they don’t recognize the Israeli state. Chile’s Palestinian Federation said in a statement Monday that it backs the club’s choice of the shirt. The country’s Palestinian community is among the world’s largest, with about 350,000 immigrants and their descendants.