Israel’s appalling crime-sheet for 2013 . . . Friends of yours, Mr Cameron? / Stuart Littlewood
Intifada Palestine 4 Jan — Killed 56, injured 1385, carried out 8636 raids and attacks, demolished 172 homes…– The Palestinian Embassy, for once, has done something useful and released figures that paint a shocking picture of Israel’s mega-crimes against their helpless Palestinian neighbours over the past year. The Palestinian Mission UK: The year 2013 witnessed over 20,000 severe violations against the occupied State of Palestine and its people, who have suffered a number of violent attacks and incursions at the hands of Israel, the occupying power. These violations include attacks by both Israeli authorities and settlers, along with home demolitions, arbitrary arrests and the ongoing construction of illegal settlements. Since the resumption of negotiations at the end of July 2013, Israel has announced almost 6200 new settlement units, throughout the occupied State of Palestine. Please find below a Media Brief prepared by the NSU summarizing Israel’s violations of International Law during 2013, with a particular focus on violations committed since the beginning of negotiations, a process which is supposed to lead to a just and lasting peace. [with tables; list of Palestinians killed, by name; new settlement units announced, etc.]
Land, property theft & destruction / Ethnic cleansing / Occupation / Judaization
Israel earmarks Golan lands for agriculture
Haretz 13 Jan by Eli Ashkenazi — The government approved on Sunday a plan to develop hundreds of new agricultural plots in the Golan Heights. Under the plan, over the next five years 750 new families will receive agricultural plots, and over 375 million shekels ($107 million) will be earmarked for preparing the land, improving water infrastructure and clearing mines. The plan will make some 30,000 dunams (about 7,400 acres) of land near existing communities fit for farming. As part of the development plan, the Defense Ministry will clear mine fields from about 10,000 dunams (2,500 acres) of land allocated for the agricultural program.
Israel seizes emergency tents provided by UN
IMEMC Monday 13 Jan by Chris Carlson — Israeli authorities have seized emergency tents provided by the United Nations to shelter families whose homes were demolished by the army last week, according to a UN press release. The Palestinian News & Info Agency (WAFA) reports that the release, issued by the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs in the occupied Palestinian territories (OCHA), states that the tents were provided to the Bani Manieh families from Jiftlik, in Jericho, after the Israeli army demolished all their residential and livelihood structures on Wednesday. 13 structures, belonging to three families of the Bani Manieh community, were destroyed by the army, displacing 26 people, including 15 children. The army claims that the area was a military training zone.
IOF maneuvers launched in Jordan Valley
JORDAN VALLEY (PIC) 13 Jan — Israeli occupation forces (IOF) launched military exercises in the Jordan Valley on Sunday despite the presence of Palestinian Bedouins in the vicinity. Local sources said that hundreds of soldiers and dozens of armored vehicles were deployed in the northern Jordan Valley areas, adding that the exercises included simulating storming of Bedouin tribal areas. They said that the IOF announced the area closed military zone and blocked traffic in and out of it, adding that the maneuvers progressed without taking into consideration the proximity of Bedouin tribes. The IOF had turned almost 70% of Wadi Al-Malih area in northern Jordan Valley into military training areas and planted land mines in several parts of it. Furthermore, the Israeli occupation authorities had authorized the building of three settlements and four army barracks in the same area.
link to www.palestine-info.co.uk/En/
Protesters block entrance to Gush Etzion settlement
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 13 Jan — Protesters blocked the main entrance to an Israeli settlement near Bethlehem on Monday in order to remind settlers that their homes were built on illegally confiscated Palestinian land. A spokesperson for the Bethlehem region’s popular campaign against the wall and settlements told a Ma‘an reporter that more than 30 Palestinian and international activists blocked the entrance to Elazar settlement, which is a part of the Gush Etzion settlement bloc. Muhammad Brejiyeh highlighted that the settlement was built illegally on private Palestinian lands south of Bethlehem. Such protests, he added, are held to reiterate that settlers are unwelcome on Palestinian lands. Similar activities will continue across the West Bank to protest the ongoing Israeli occupation’s policy of expanding settlements and confiscating Palestinian lands, added Brijiyeh. The activists also planted olive trees in a private Palestinian field near the settlement. The protest caused a major traffic jam until Israeli forces dispersed demonstrators, detaining three Palestinian activists in the process. Participants in the protest identified them as Munthir Amirah, Mazin al-Azzah and Sari al-Azzah. Elazar was built in 1975 on land confiscated from a number of Palestinian families in nearby al-Khader. A 2007 report by Israeli organization Peace Now says that 32 percent of the settlement land sits directly on top of private Palestinian property.
IDF facing tough battle to convince career officers to move to southern Israel
Haaretz 12 Jan by Gili Cohen — One high-ranking officer sniffs that benefits aren’t so attractive, with the army gearing up for fight to persuade high-tech soldiers to relocate — The Israel Defense Forces is offering career soldiers various benefits in a bid to tempt them to move to new army bases being established in the south. The benefits include mortgage payments, fewer requirements for academic studies and moving expenses. The IDF held a gathering last Tuesday for 400 officers who are supposed to be stationed in the new training camp center in the south. The first base, a school for army personnel management, is expected to move to the Negev next December. Some 7,300 career officers – about a quarter of those currently serving in the IDF – and some 25,000 conscripted soldiers will serve in the new bases.
Settlers cut down olive trees in Hebron
IMEMC Monday, Jan 13 — Local sources have reported that a number of Israeli settlers cut down nearly 50 Palestinian olive trees, east of Yatta town, south of the southern West Bank city of Hebron. Rateb Jabour, coordinator of the Popular Committee Against the Wall and Settlements, stated that the settlers cut fifty olive trees belonging to resident Khader Al-‘Amour, in the Shweiha area. Jabour added that Israeli settlers have recently escalated their attacks against the residents, their lands and property. in various areas east of Yatta, in an attempt to push the residents out of their lands.
Israeli forces prevented the residents of Jeb el Theeb from accessing their lands
Palestinian Grassroots Campaign 12 Jan — On January 7, 2014 Israeli occupation forces prevented the citizens of Khirbet Jeb El Theeb east of Bethlehem and a group of activists from reaching their lands that have been threatened with confiscation for 13 years, during the Million Tree program titled “Home Seedlings” that is led by the Palestinian Farmers Association and the anti-apartheid Campaign Stop the Wall, with the support of the Arab Society for the Conservation of Nature and funded by the Welfare Association. After the occupation forces prevented them from reaching their lands, the residents and the volunteers planted olive seedlings near the threatened and fenced lands; affirming that they insist on staying in their lands despite the occupation and settlers’ attempts to displace them … Khirbet Jeb El Theeb, which lies east of the city of Bethlehem, [is] inhabited by 800 Palestinian citizens [who] are constantly exposed to harassment by the occupation forces and settlers, where the settlement “Astepar” was built on the lands belonging to Khirbet Jeb El Theeb. The land threatened with confiscation and which the occupation had fenced has an area of 1000 dunums.
Palestinians barred from appealing property confiscation in Israeli military courts
Haaretx 13 Jan by Chaim Levinson — They can still appeal through the Supreme Court, but the process is cumbersome and costly — Judicial review of West Bank confiscations is now in the hands of the Supreme Court, which the military says is consistent with long-standing government policy. Under Israeli security legislation governing the West Bank, the military commander or anyone he authorizes can confiscate property or money implicated in illegal activity. The property or money goes to the regional treasury and is appropriated for public use. While the law allows the military and police to impound funds believed to belong to terror groups, it’s also used to confiscate vehicles that illegally transport laborers into Israel as well the equipment used by thieves. Until now, Palestinians could appeal confiscations in Israel’s West Bank military courts. The authority of the military courts to consider such appeals was anchored in a 2010 decision by the Ofer Military Appeals Court, which ordered the return of a pneumatic drill to a Palestinian after police had taken it.
Rightist Israelis tour Aqsa, 4 Palestinian women denied entry
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 14 Jan — A group of right-wing Israelis led by US-born Jewish extremist Yehuda Glick toured the al-Aqsa compound on Tuesday, witnesses said. The group consisted of around 25 people.
Meanwhile, Palestinian tour guide Ehab al-Jallad was detained by Israeli police while touring the compound with a group of students. The reason behind his arrest is unclear. Four Palestinian women were also denied entry to the mosque compound by Israeli forces, with no reason given.
Area C of the West Bank and the future of the Palestinian economy
WASHINGTON, DC (World Bank) — Watch a live discussion on the potential impact of the Palestinian ‘restricted land” on January 15, 2014 at 17:30 GMT. The event will be chaired by World Bank Chief Economist for the region, Shanta Devarajan — Overview: More than half the land in the West Bank, much of it agricultural and resource rich, is inaccessible to Palestinians. The first comprehensive study of the potential impact of this ‘restricted land’ sets the current loss to the Palestinian economy at about US$3.4 billion. Area C constitutes 61 percent of the West Bank and is the only contiguous land connecting 227 smaller separate and heavily residential areas. Furthermore, this is a very resource rich area. The 1993 Oslo Peace Accords stipulated that Area C be gradually transferred to the Palestinian Authority (PA) by 1997. This transfer has never taken place.
Violence / Raids / Clashes / Illegal arrests
In pictures: a recap of 2013
Silwan, Jerusalem (SILWANIC) 12 Jan — Wadi Hilweh Information Center’s cameras monitored the Israeli violations in the city of Jerusalem during the year 2013 which included break-ins at Al-Aqsa Mosque, praying in the streets of the city after the Israeli forces prevented the young men from entering Al-Aqsa and the demolition of houses and displacement of dozens of residents. The cameras also monitored the suppression of various activities in the city and the clashes in the neighbourhoods in addition to raiding neighbourhoods and distributing demolition orders.
To the self-righteous among us: The bleak statistics on West Bank attacks
Haaretz 13 Jan by Amira Hass — The blood and gore of the latest attack in Qusra turned heads, but it wasn’t unique — The frightened eyes and bloody noses of a few pogromchiks really do it for us. Suddenly, the army disclaims any connection to them, the defense minister describes their actions as terrorism that must be eliminated and the media rehash the item time and again. We have become so addicted to power that a pogromchik who was beaten up in Qusra makes us feel angry and disgusted. If those goons had just attacked a farmer, uprooted trees or torched cars, it would have been business as usual: The army would have invoked its right to ignore it, stand aside and use tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse the Palestinians under attack. The police would have deliberately dragged its feet in the investigation and closed the case. The reporter would have wondered whether to bother writing a report like the 107 other reports he or she wrote over the past year … Here are some bleak statistics: From January 3, 2011 to September 15, 2013, the pogromchiks who went down from the outpost of Esh Kodesh perpetrated 28 attacks of various kinds. Fifteen of them involved beating and shooting, nine involved damage to olive trees, one case involved the killing of animals, one mosque was torched, one car was set ablaze, and one case involved threats. Of the 28 attacks, two were directed against the village of Jalud, one against Qaryut and — get this — 25 against Qusra, according to the list kept by Yesh Din.
Israeli forces ‘assault’ mentally challenged man near Hebron
HEBRON (Ma‘an) 13 Jan — Israeli forces beat a mentally disabled Palestinian man while he was waiting for his mother on Monday at the entrance to al-‘Arrub refugee camp north of Hebron, an official said. The coordinator for the Red Crescent volunteers’ department in the camp Mohammad Khamis said that man was waiting for his mother at the entrance of the camp when Israeli forces beat him with their rifle butts. Khamis said that Israeli forces tried to arrest the man but residents in the area prevented them from doing so, Khamis said. He added that an ambulance arrived at the scene but Israeli forces prevented them from reaching the wounded man. As a result, clashes broke out as Palestinians threw rocks at the Israeli soldiers and occupation forces responded with tear gas. Eight protesters suffered from excessive tear gas inhalation as a result of the clashes and were treated on the spot. It was unclear what provoked the attack on the mentally disabled man. An Israeli army spokeswoman said the incident “did not happen.”
WATCH: Settlers hurl rocks at Palestinians in the presence of IDF soldiers
972mag 14 Jan by Mairav Zonszein — Over 20 masked settlers armed with slingshots invaded the West Bank village of Burin on Tuesday afternoon, a field worker from human rights organization Yesh Din reported. The settlers, some of whom appear to be minors, hurled a large amount of rocks at Palestinian residents who were working on a house on the edge of the village. This area has been attacked by settlers many times in the past. In the photo above, Israeli soldiers can be seen standing with the masked settlers. In the first video, the soldiers appear to chase after the settlers throwing stones but make no attempt to arrest or detain them. They do not use of tear gas or other crowd control means to disperse the settlers, which is almost always the case when dealing with Palestinian stone throwers. It took over an hour for army and Border Police forces to take control of the situation, according to Yesh Din. The Israeli authorities ordered the Palestinians to stop working at the site, which is inside the village and under Palestinian civil control (Area B). A number of Palestinians, including the cameraman, were lightly injured in the attack.
Soldiers kidnap five Palestinians in Hebron
IMEMC Monday, Jan 13 — Israeli soldiers invaded various areas in the southern West bank district of Hebron, and kidnapped five Palestinians. Three more Palestinians were kidnapped in Bethlehem, and two Palestinian children in Jerusalem.
Local sources have reported that the army invaded town of Doura, near Hebron, violently broke into a number of homes, and searched them before kidnapping two Palestinians. The two kidnapped Palestinians have been identified as Mohammad Raef Masalma and Hammam Abu Threi’. Soldiers also kidnapped Ahnaf Yousef Al-Faroukh, 26, from Sa‘ir town near Hebron, as he was near Kfar Etzion military base and settlement, and kidnapped resident Ahmad Yasser Awad, from Yatta town. In the city of Hebron, soldiers kidnapped one resident identified as Mahmoud Abu Daoud, and took him to an unknown destination.
In related news, soldiers kidnapped three Palestinians identified as Monther Ameera and Mazen Al-Azza and Sary Al-Azza, near Bethlehem. Furthermore, according to local sources, soldiers also invaded the Old City of occupied East Jerusalem, kidnapping two Palestinian children.
Soldiers kidnap 17 Palestinians in West Bank
IMEMC Tuesday at dawn, Jan 14 — Israeli soldiers invaded various districts in the occupied West Bank, kidnapping seventeen Palestinians, including 11 in ‘Azzoun, near the northern West Bank city of Qalqilia — Local sources in Nablus, in the northern part of the occupied West Bank, have reported that dozens of Israeli military vehicles invaded the eastern area of the city, searched homes, and kidnapped a young man identified as Mohammad Issa. Furthermore, dozens of soldiers invaded ‘Azzoun town, east of Qalqilia, kidnapping eleven Palestinians after breaking into their homes and searching them. Furthermore, soldiers invaded various areas in the West Bank district of Bethlehem, kidnapping a schoolteacher and his brother in Al-Obeydiyya town, east of Bethlehem. Local sources said that the soldiers broke into the home of Ayman Mahmoud Abu Assa, searched the property and kidnapped him before breaking into his brother’s house and kidnapping him also. The sources said that the soldiers also confiscated computers and mobile phones from the two families. In Bethlehem city, soldiers kidnapped Issam Ata Ash-Sha’er, and Eid Kamel, and took them to an unknown destination. Dozens of soldiers also invaded Beit Fajjar town, south of Bethlehem, and handed Mohammad Issa Taqatqa a military warrant ordering him to head to the Gush Etzion military base for interrogation. Late on Monday at night, soldiers kidnapped former political prisoner, Mahmoud Abu Daoud, from the Al-‘Arroub refugee camp, north of Hebron city, in the southern part of the West Bank. The invasion led to clashes with dozens of local youths in the camp who hurled rocks and empty bottles at the invading soldiers who fired rounds of live ammunition, gas bombs and rubber-coated metal bullets.
Next three articles mention with the Israeli tactic of not allowing video or photographs of their misdeeds
Israeli policemen break into building in Ras al-Amod, terrorize inhabitants
OCCUPIED JERUSALEM (PIC) 14 Jan — Israeli policemen and undercover agents used dogs in breaking into and searching a building in Ras Al-Amod neighborhood in occupied Jerusalem on Monday. Local sources said that the Israeli forces destroyed a warehouse inside the building while attempting to search it and terrorized inhabitants with their savage search methods. The sources pointed out that policemen entered an apartment where only a woman and her children were present spreading fear among them from the sight of dogs and weapons. The policemen prevented citizens from taking photos of the violent storming of the building in an attempt to conceal their brutal practices.
link to www.palestine-info.co.uk/En/
Israeli soldiers raid shops near Bethlehem
BETHLEHEM (WAFA) 13 Jan – Israeli soldiers Monday raided shops in al-Khader to the south of Bethlehem, said a local activist. Ahmad Salah, of the anti-settlements movement, said soldiers broke into several shops and a bakery on the main Jerusalem-Hebron road. He said the soldiers seized the camera of a local photojournalist and erased all the pictures he took of the raids. There were no reports of arrests
NGO condemns detention of photographers by Palestinian security forces
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 14 Jan — A Palestinian civil rights monitor condemned Palestinian security forces for allegedly detaining photographers and deleting video footage off their cameras during recent protests in Ramallah. The Palestinian Center for Development and Media Freedoms said that the actions violate “freedom of opinion and expression,” and demanded authorities “enable journalists to exercise their professional duty freely,” in a statement released on Sunday. According to the statement, “members of the Palestinian National Security and the police detained Raya Media Agency photographers Samer Nazal and Shady Hatem,” while they were covering clashes between security forces and residents of al-Jalazun refugee camp on Sunday. Security forces confiscated their cameras during the detention. Photographer Samer Nazal was quoted by the statement as saying: “After about a quarter of an hour they returned our cameras, but they deleted all footage and told us not to capture the faces of the security men or film their attacks on the people of the camp.”
Detainees / Court actions
Palestinians face 20 years inprisonment for allegedly throwing stones
AL-KHALIL (PIC) 13 Jan — An Israeli military court has issued Sunday tough sentences against two brothers from Halhoul, north of al-Khalil, for allegedly stone-throwing. Ofer military court sentenced the two brothers Iyad and Hassan Bajes Albou for 12 and 20 years respectively on charges of throwing stones at a settler’s car. The two brothers’ family said that they did not expect the court’s harsh sentence, calling on international human rights organizations to appeal against the court’s verdict. Iyad Albou, a father of 4 children, was detained on October 2011, while Hassan, 32, was arrested a few days after his brother’s arrest.
Meanwhile, Ofer military court sentenced the prisoner Samer Mattar to 13 years imprisonment and imposed on him a fine of 10 thousand shekels for stabbing a Jewish rabbi during the recent Israeli aggression on Gaza. Palestine Center for Prisoners’ Studies said that Mattar, from Idna town in al-Khalil, is charged with stabbing a rabbi, and placing an explosive device at the central bus station, in Beit Shemesh, during the latest Israeli aggression on Gaza last year.
link to www.palestine-info.co.uk/En/
Prisoner ‘beaten’ by jail doctor
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 14 Jan — A Palestinian prisoner in an Israeli jail claimed that he was assaulted by a prison doctor while in an infirmary. Alaa al-Hams, who is at Eshel prison, said that on Dec. 2 he suffered from severe pain in the stomach, was unable to move his limbs, and started foaming from his mouth. Al-Hams was then transferred to the prison infirmary where the doctor repeatedly beat and threw him on the ground, he said. He added that the incident happened between 10 and 11 a.m., and was recorded by a camera in the room. Al-Hams, who started a hunger strike on Jan. 6, said he suspended the strike after they agreed to transfer him to Ashkalon prison in order to receive proper treatment.
Gaza under blockade
Child injured as army bombards Gaza
Gaza (IMEMC) Monday evening, Jan 13 — Palestinian medical sources said that a three-year-old child was injured after the Israeli army bombarded central Gaza. Soldiers also fired shells into several areas in the besieged coastal region. Dr. Ashraf Al-Qodra, spokesperson of the Ministry of Health in Gaza, said that the child was injured in the head and face, and was moved to a local hospital suffering moderate injuries, the Palestine News Network (PNN) has reported. The attack took place near the Gaza Power Company in central Gaza. Furthermore, the army bombarded two training centers that belong to the Al-Qassam Brigades, the armed wing of the Hamas movement, and the Al-Quds Brigades of the Islamic Jihad in Deir Al-Balah in central Gaza. Israeli sources said that Palestinian fighters fired a Grad missile into the Western Negev causing no damage or injuries. The sources added that two mortars were also fired into Sderot in the Negev, and that the shells landed and detonated in an open area, causing no damage or injuries. Earlier on Monday, an Israeli military commander warned that should shells be fired during the funeral of former Prime Minister, Ariel Sharon, Israel will retaliate “and teach Hamas a lesson”. Sharon was buried Monday, at his ranch, only 10 kilometers away from Gaza. Fighters in Gaza previously targeted the ranch.
Report: 2 Gaza rockets hit Israel during Sharon’s funeral
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 13 Jan — Israeli media reported that two rockets were fired from the Gaza Strip into Israel on Monday during the funeral of former Israeli leader Ariel Sharon near the border. A Ynet report said that there were no injuries or damage as a result of the rockets, which landed in an open area near the border fence. The report added that Israeli forces were not “planning to respond.” The rockets came towards the end of Sharon’s funeral, which took place at his ranch near Sderot in southern Israel.
Egypt destroys 10 Gaza smuggling tunnels
CAIRO (Ma‘an) 13 Jen — Egyptian security forces demolished 10 smuggling tunnels under the shared border with Gaza on Sunday, Egyptian security officials said. The tunnels were located in the city of Rafah … Egyptian officials said last September that more than 90 percent of the smuggling tunnels with Gaza have been destroyed.
Closure of tunnels deprives Gaza of $230 million per month, says government
GAZA CITY (IPS) 13 Jan by Khaled Alashqar — The border between Egypt and the Gaza Strip used to buzz with activity until a few months back as traders brought in an array of Egyptian goods — from food supplies to raw material — through hundreds of tunnels. But these underground structures between Rafah in Gaza and Sinai in Egypt, have fallen silent. Things came to a grinding halt after the Egyptian army came to power in July last year. Calling them a security threat, it launched a systematic military campaign against the tunnels, destroying them, along with the houses under which they were built on its side of the border. For the 1.7 million people in Gaza, the closure of the tunnels has choked a lifeline. Thousands of tunnel operators, traders and workers have been hard hit. “Never before have we faced this kind of pressure from the Egyptian army and, it seems, things are going to get worse,” said Abu Nabil, a Gaza resident who gave only his nickname for security reasons.
Israeli military vehicles cross Gaza border; navy fires at fishermen
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 14 Jan — Israeli military vehicles crossed into the northern Gaza Strip for surveillance activities on Monday, witnesses told Ma‘an. The limited incursion took place in a border region near Beit Lahiya, the witnesses said. Separately, Israeli warships opened fire at Palestinian fishermen off the coast near al-Sudaniyya west of Beit Lahiya. No injuries were reported, but the fishermen fled and were unable to continue fishing.
PA fuel delivery policy to Gaza could ‘shut power plant’
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 14 Jan — The power and natural resources authority of the Gaza Strip government on Tuesday slammed the Palestinian Authority’s petroleum authority over its policy in delivering fuel to run Gaza’s sole power plant. In a statement received by Ma’an, the Gaza-based body said that the Ramallah-based petroleum authority is providing the Qatari-bought fuel to Gaza on a day-to-day basis, leaving the supply open to disruptions. The statement also stressed that the implementation of a day-to-day policy is unnecessary given “the fact that they have already received a Qatari grant to supply bigger fuel quantities,” and could thus send larger amounts of fuel.
Exclusive: With Muslim Brotherhood crushed, Egypt sets sights on Hamas
CAIRO (Reuters) 14 Jan by Yasmine Saleh — After crushing the Muslim Brotherhood at home, Egypt’s military rulers plan to undermine the Palestinian militant group Hamas, which runs the neighboring Gaza Strip, senior Egyptian security officials told Reuters. The aim, which the officials say could take years to pull off, includes working with Hamas’s political rivals Fatah and supporting popular anti-Hamas activities in Gaza, four security and diplomatic officials said. Since it seized power in Egypt last summer, Egypt’s military has squeezed Gaza’s economy by destroying most of the 1,200 tunnels used to smuggle food, cars and weapons to the coastal enclave, which is under an Israeli blockade. Now Cairo is becoming even more ambitious in its drive to eradicate what it says are militant organizations that threaten its national security. Intelligence operatives, with help from Hamas’s political rivals and activists, plan to undermine the credibility of Hamas … According to the Egyptian officials, Hamas will face growing resistance by activists who will launch protests similar to those in Egypt that have led to the downfall of two presidents since the Arab Spring in 2011. Cairo plans to support such protests in an effort to cripple Hamas….
Palestinian refugees in Syria, Lebanon
Video: Yarmouk Camp: A powerful wake-up call from Palestinians to a shameful sleeping world
DAMASCUS (Fajer Press) 11 Jan — A little Palestinian boy starving under the Assad regime’s siege of Yarmouk says that he is hungry would like one slice of bread, a cup of milk, food, that he has nothing, no food. The children’s mother [in Arabic] tears a verbal hole in Assad, Obama, Abu Mazen, the leaders and the world who watch silently as the Palestinians of Yarmouk and the people of Syria are starved and slaughtered. She sarcastically asks the world’s animal rights campaigners to protest so that that those being starved to death by Assad can have the same living conditions as animals since that this would be far more than what they have now. She points out that Palestinians and Syrians stand together against their oppression, whether from Assad or Israel, as they have stood together for thousands of years. She challenges Assad and the other cowardly and hypocritical leaders, both in Palestine and the rest of the region and world: “Okay, if you don’t want us here, send us back to our land, Palestine,” knowing the leaders’ moral bankruptcy and hypocrisy all too well.
Amid gunfire, relief convoy turns back from Syria’s besieged Yarmouk camp
Electronic Intifada 14 Jan by Ali Abunimah — On 13 January, another attempt was made to take a humanitarian aid convoy into the besieged refugee camp of Yarmouk in Damascus, where about 20,000 people are trapped, including women and children. The convoy was from UNRWA, the UN agency for Palestine refugees, which serves over half a million Palestinian refugees in Syria, although about 70,000 of them have fled the fighting into Lebanon, Jordan and elsewhere. Amid reports of widespread malnutrition in Yarmouk, of women dying during childbirth because of shortages of medical care, and of children eating animal feed to survive, this is what happened to the UNRWA convoy. This account was provided by Chris Gunness, spokesperson for UNRWA, and is reproduced verbatim: “The relief convoy which tried to get in to Yarmouk was an UNRWA convoy led by UNRWA staff and carrying humanitarian supplies loaded from UNRWA’s central warehouse in Damascus – six small trucks with food for 6,000 people along with 10,000 doses of polio vaccine and some medical supplies. Syrian authorities provided us with a security escort enabling us to reach a last government-controlled checkpoint at the southern entrance of Yarmouk. The convoy was cleared to proceed beyond the checkpoint and the Syrian authorities provided a bulldozer to go ahead to clear the road of debris, earth mounds and other obstructions. The bulldozer was fired upon, hit by direct gunfire and forced to withdraw, though with no casualties. Thereafter, bursts of gunfire, including machine-gun fire, erupted close to the trucks and UNRWA vehicles, suggesting a firefight. Also, one mortar exploded very close to the convoy. The convoy withdrew at this point following the advice of the security escort and returned safely to Damascus….
PLO aid convoy to Yarmouk ‘fired upon’ while entering camp
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 13 Jan — Palestinian activists from inside Syria’s besieged Yarmouk refugee camp said that PLO supply trucks loaded with medicine and food were unable to enter the camp after shells were fired at them Monday. Six truckloads of aid prepared by the PLO had been prepared to enter Yarmouk camp under UNRWA auspices earlier on Monday, but activists said that the attack on the convoy prevented the aid from reaching the camp. The trucks were fired upon in the al-Buwayda area and subsequently were forced to return to al-Sabiena area. It was unclear who was firing upon the trucks, but in the past both anti-regime groups like al-Nusra front as well as pro-regime groups like PFLP-GC have acted to undermine attempts to lift the siege on the camp.
Group: 8 Palestinians killed in Syria’s Yarmouk and Khan al-Sheikh
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 14 Jan — A Syria-based group on Tuesday identified a number of Palestinian refugees who have either died of hunger or have been killed in two refugee camps near Damascus in recent days. The workforce for the Palestinians in Syria said in a statement received by Ma‘an on Tuesday that 80-year-old Jamil al-Qurabi, 40-year-old Hasan Shihabi and a 50-year-old woman identified only as Noor had died of malnutrition in the besieged Yarmouk refugee camp in recent days. The group added that 10-year-old Mahmoud al-Sabbagh, 19-year-old Majid Imad Awad and Ziad al-Naji were shot dead while participating in a rally protesting the ongoing blockade on the camp. The deaths come amid a number of attempts by the PLO to deliver supplies to the blockaded camp that have been thwarted by militant groups inside.
Separately, Muhammad Ibrahim Dhahir from Khan al-Sheikh refugee camp southwest of Damascus died of torture in Syrian regime custody. Additionally, Hasan Younis Nofal was killed by an explosive barrel which landed near his house in the camp. The group quoted locals in Khan Al-Sheikh camp as saying that two explosive barrels had landed in the camp. Locals highlighted that the attack was unexpected given that no militant groups are currently operating in the camp, and they expressed their fear that the Yarmouk camp crisis might be repeated in Khan Al-Sheikh.
Lebanon charges punitive registration fees to Palestinians fleeing Syria war
BEIRUT (IPS) 8 Jan by Mutawalli Abou Nasser — Over the past year, more than 50,000 Palestinian refugees have fled violence, chaos and destitution in Syria to seek sanctuary in Lebanon. The vast majority have found themselves living in dire poverty and trapped in chronic insecurity. Denied assurances of legal residence, many are unsure if and how they can continue to live in the country during 2014. “Who from the Palestinian families can pay $200 for the papers for every family member? If the average family is five people, then that is $1,000. This is impossible as we know most Palestinian refugees aren’t even sure how they are going to feed their children one day to the next,” said Mahmoud Assir Saawi, president of the Council for Palestinian Refugees Fleeing from Syria. Such sentiments are reiterated time and time again within the squalid camps and overcrowded ghettos throughout Lebanon. Palestinians arriving from Syria find themselves in an administrative morass … Securing residency papers remains one of the biggest problems for Palestinian refugees from Syria. Upon arrival Palestinians fleeing war and hunger are only granted a one-week visa in Lebanon, which they must then extend.
Finding a home in Bekaa
LEBANON (UNRWA) 14 Jan — There is only one Palestine refugee camp in Lebanon’s Bekaa Valley, and Palestinians fleeing Syria have, in many cases, had no choice but to scatter among the orchards of Bekaa, along with others seeking safety from the ongoing conflict. Um Tareq, who arrived in the Bekaa from Syria, settled in a piece of land with cracked walls and no roof. It turned out to be a chicken coop, built to raise poultry, but she covered the open space with nylon and cardboard to keep it dry. Though she cannot use the fireplace and has to walk with her children to the UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) school in Bar Elias, she is determined to find some normalcy for her children … Some refugees have made it to urban areas in Bekaa, like the town of al-Marj, where an unpaved piece of land on the outskirts of town has filled up with canvas tents. The size of the influx means that each tent can become home to five or more members of a family – like that of Um Ahmed, who fled Yarmouk, in Syria, with four children. They can barely stand up in their tent, but manage to sleep, sit, eat and live there. One daughter, Hana, says simply, “I thank God that we are not homeless.” … As of January 2014, around 51,000 Palestine refugees from Syria have reached Lebanon and registered with UNRWA, which needs US$ 90.4 million to respond to their humanitarian needs alone.
Israeli firm SodaStream hires Scarlett Johansson as its new face
Haaretz 12 Jan — The Jewish-American actress is a loyal user of the Israeli home-carbonation system; their partnership will kick off in a TV advertisement on Superbowl Sunday.
SodaStream plummets on profit warning
Globes 13 Jan by Shiri Habib-Valdhorn and Globes’ correspondent — SodaStream CEO Daniel Birnbaum: We failed to deliver our profit targets and are disappointed in fourth quarter performance — SodaStream International Ltd. (Nasdaq: SODA) has published a profit warning, and its share price has fallen 17% in premarket trading on Nasdaq to $41.40.
Soldiers and settlers impeding passage of official PA vehicles
Settlers attack PA health ministry vehicle with rocks
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 14 Jan — A group of settlers hurled rocks at a vehicle belonging to the Palestinian Authority Ministry of Health on Tuesday, an official said. Wahid Shamasneh, central maintenance director at the ministry of health, said the incident occurred near the Palestinian village of al-Sawiya, near Nablus, as a group of seven ministry staff members were returning to Ramallah. The vehicle’s windows were smashed and several passengers suffered light injuries from broken glass, Shamasneh added. PA Minister of Health Jawwad Awwad called the attack “barbaric and atrocious” and said it showed the “lowliness of occupation and its inhumane actions, which are rejected by all international agreements and principles.”
Israeli soldiers, settlers stop Palestinian premier at checkpoint
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 14 Jan — A group of settlers escorted by Israeli soldiers on Tuesday stopped interim prime minister Rami Hamdallah at a checkpoint near the town of Turmusayya north of Ramallah. Hamdallah told Ma‘an via telephone that settlers and soldiers stopped his car and tried to force his guards and driver to step out. He highlighted that Israeli soldiers escorted the settlers, who he said had planned to assault him. Israeli news site Ynet quoted an unnamed Israeli official as saying Hamdallah was pulled over due to “reckless driving.” The official also told Ynet that the Palestinian Authority premier “swore at one of the police officers calling him a ‘dog’ and said that he was standing in occupied territory.”
Israeli forces stop Hamdallah again
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 14 Jan — Israeli forces for the second time Tuesday stopped the convoy of interim Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah as it was traveling in the occupied West Bank. Spokesman for the government Ehab Bseiso said that Israeli forces near Zaatara checkpoint in Nablus blocked the path of Hamdallah’s car and asked for the ID cards of those with him. They did not respond and continued on their way, Bseiso said. It was the second time Hamdallah was stopped in less than 12 hours. Bseiso said that Israeli forces intentionally impede the movement of the prime minister as part of the series on violations against Palestinians.
Israel defense minister lambasts Kerry over security plan
JERUSALEM (AFP) 14 Jan — Israel’s defense minister has lashed out at US Secretary of State John Kerry, saying a security plan he presented is “not worth the paper it was written on,” an Israeli newspaper reported Tuesday. “The American plan for security arrangements that was shown to us… provides neither security nor peace,” Moshe Yaalon was quoted by Yediot Aharonot as saying. The plan “isn’t worth the paper it was written on,” Yaalon reportedly said in private conversations with Israeli officials, accusing Kerry of being naive and implying that he is a nuisance. Kerry has tried to push Israelis and Palestinians towards an elusive peace deal after decades of conflict, shuttling back and forth in 10 visits to the region since March. His proposals include a security plan for the Jordan Valley, where the occupied Palestinian West Bank borders Jordan, including the use of satellite technology to monitor the situation on the ground, local media say. Israel insists on maintaining a long-term military presence in the Jordan Valley, but the Palestinians reject that, instead urging deployment of an international force. Yaalon criticized what he said was Kerry’s naivety, and insisted that having boots on the ground was the only way to guarantee Israel’s security.
US slams reported Israeli criticism of Kerry plan as ‘offensive’
ROME (AFP) 14 Jan — The US State Department on Tuesday condemned as “offensive and inappropriate” reported comments by Israel’s defense minister criticizing a security plan put forward by US Secretary of State John Kerry. “The remarks of the defense minister if accurate are offensive and inappropriate especially given all that the United States is doing to support Israel’s security needs,” spokeswoman Jennifer Psaki told reporters following a visit by Kerry to the Vatican.
Israeli defence minister apologizes to Kerry over diatribe
JERUSALEM (AFP) 14 Jan – Israeli Minister of Defence Moshe Yaalon apologised Tuesday to US Secretary of State John Kerry for accusing the American of having an “obsession” with Middle East peace. In a statement, Yaalon said he “had no intention to cause any offence to the secretary, and he apologises if the secretary was offended by words attributed to the minister.”
Activists block Ramallah roads in renewed UNRWA dispute protest
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 12 Jan — Dozens of young Palestinians blocked major roads in Ramallah on Sunday morning in protest against the lack of public services resulting from the ongoing strike by employees of the UN’s Palestine refugee agency. A Ma‘an reporter said main roads near al-Jalazun and al-Amari refugee camps as well as the village of Surda in the Ramallah area were blocked with rocks and flaming tires in the latest protest to hit the West Bank amid a month-long dispute between UNRWA and local employees. According to the Ma‘an reporter, when Palestinian security forces tried to disperse the protest in Surda, a number of security officers and protestors were hurt … The protests come amid weeks of demonstrations, strikes, and hunger strikes as local employees across the West Bank and the Gaza Strip demonstrate against UNRWA layoffs of local employees and other policies. The hunger strikes — carried out by dozens of former employees from Jerusalem, Hebron, Bethlehem, and Nablus — are in protest of UNRWA’s layoff of 55 employees in late 2013. Solidarity strikes have been ongoing since they were laid off, leading to major service closures in the West Bank’s 19 refugee camps. UNRWA schools have been closed for over a month due to the dispute.
Sharon dies without facing justice – Human Rights Watch
RT 12 Jan — As world leaders send their condolences to Israel following the death of former PM Ariel Sharon, there are no tears shed among those who suffered most from his policies. Human Rights Watch says he evaded prosecution for crimes against humanity. Ariel Sharon died Saturday at the age of 85, after spending eight years in a coma following a stroke in 2006. Lauded as a great military commander and politician by many in Israel, he is described as war criminal by many others. Palestinians reacted to the news of the demise of their former arch-foe without any sadness. Some cheered and distributed sweets, while some prayed for divine punishment of the former Israeli leader who masterminded military offensives against Palestinians in Lebanon, the West Bank and Gaza. Meanwhile, Human Rights Watch (HRW) issued a statement on Saturday, stressing that Sharon “died without facing justice for his role in the massacres of hundreds and perhaps thousands of civilians by Lebanese militias in the Sabra and Shatilla refugee camps in Lebanon in 1982.” .. .“His passing is another grim reminder that years of virtual impunity for rights abuses have done nothing to bring Israeli-Palestinian peace any closer,” said Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East and North Africa director at Human Rights Watch.
Ambassador: Qatar to grant work visas to 20,000 Palestinians
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 14 Jan — Qatari Emir Sheikh Tamim Ibn Hamad Al Thani has given orders to grant work visas to 20,000 Palestinians, the Palestinian ambassador to Qatar told Ma‘an on Monday. The move comes after 20 years in which Palestinians were prevented by Qatari authorities from acquiring visas to work in the prosperous Persian Gulf emirate, according to the ambassador. Muneer Ghannam told Ma‘an that Palestinian Authority prime minister Rami Hamdallah, who met with Sheikh Tamim two weeks ago, had requested that Qatar allow Palestinian specialists to work in Qatar in order to help reduce unemployment rates in Palestine. The Emir of Qatar responded positively and eventually approved the entry of 20,000 Palestinians to work in his country. The Palestinian ministries of labor and foreign affairs will coordinate with their Qatari counterparts to determine what specialists the Qatari labor market can absorb, according to the ambassador. The two ministries will soon begin publicizing a list of vacancies in Qatar.
Palestinian Christians ‘not really Arabs’, says senior Israeli lawmaker
Electronic Intifada 13 Jan by Ali Abunimah — A senior Israeli government lawmaker proposes to give Palestinian citizens of Israel who are Christian special privileges in order to set them against their Muslim compatriots. “My legislation will grant separate representation and treatment for the Christian public, which will be separated from the Muslim Arabs,” says Yariv Levin, the leader of the government coalition in the Knesset, the Israeli parliament. Levin’s comments were reported on 8 January by NRG, the Hebrew-language website of the newspaper Maariv. “This is an important historical move that could balance the State of Israel and connect us and the Christians, and I am careful not to call them Arabs, because they are not Arabs,” Levin adds. Levin is a member of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud Yisrael Beitenu faction.
PA official apologizes for illegal arms at Prague embassy
PRAGUE (AFP) 14 Jan — Palestinian diplomats have apologized for hiding illegal weapons at the Prague embassy where a blast killed the ambassador on New Year’s Day, the Czech foreign ministry said on Tuesday. “A high-ranking Palestinian foreign ministry official… issued an official apology from the Palestinian side for the illegal presence of weapons on the premises of the Palestinian embassy,” the ministry said in a statement. After the deadly blast, police found 12 firearms at the embassy, including sub-machine guns and sidearms that were not officially registered in the Czech Republic. They have refused further comment on the weapons pending the results of an official probe. The DNES newspaper said police found Skorpion VZ61 sub-machine guns and VZ82 sidearms produced in the former Czechoslovakia and supplied to the Palestine Liberation Organization before communism fell in Czechoslovakia in 1989. The Palestinians also apologized “for the incident that resulted in the tragic death of Palestinian ambassador Jamal al-Jamal on January 1,” the ministry statement added.
Former PLO leader dies in Amman
AMMAN (Ma‘an) 13 Jan — The former PLO ambassador to Yemen, Muhammad Amin Ahmad Nimir al-Nasr, passed away in Amman on Monday, Fatah announced in a statement. Al-Nasr was the brother of late PLO field commander Abu Ali Iyad. He served as a PLO representative in Tanzania and later became ambassador to Yemen. He will be buried on Monday and Fatah will hold a three-day wake in the West Bank to receive condolences. Al-Nasr died of natural causes.
Analysis / Opinion
Who incites more hatred: Abbas or Netanyahu? / Peter Beinart
Haaretz 8 Jan — Their textbooks may sometimes preach hatred, but it is the humiliation of occupation that creates the most Palestinian rage against Israel — …Netanyahu’s new focus on incitement largely misses the point. I’ve met many Palestinians who hate Israel. But I’ve never met one who attributes that hatred to street signs or textbooks. Instead, they talk about parents evicted from their homes, cousins jailed, lands taken, travel permits denied. One Palestinian friend, born inside the green line, told me about being unable to live with his West Bank-born wife inside Israel. Another told me that her husband, born near Bethlehem, has five brothers, all of whom have been shot by Israeli soldiers. I’ve lost count of the number of Palestinian, Arab and Muslim acquaintances who have recounted humiliating experiences at Ben Gurion Airport. In my experience, at least, Palestinians explain their anger toward Israelis in roughly the same way my hawkish acquaintance explained Jewish anger toward Palestinians: as the product of bitter, personal experience. Benjamin Netanyahu can do something about that. Channel 10 recently reported that over the second half of last year, Israel increased its budget for the settlements tenfold. That means countless, fresh Palestinian stories of suffering and fury. When it comes to combating the incitement that leads Palestinians to hate, Netanyahu need not wait for Abbas. He can start with himself.
Jordan Valley produces conflicting dates / Pierre Klochendler
JORDAN VALLEY, Israeli-occupied West Bank (IPS) 13 Jan – Israeli settler Gadi Blumenfeld distributes machetes to 15 Palestinian labourers and instructs them to cut the thorns off of his dates’ fronds. “I might be stabbed in the back,” he says, “but thanks to farming, we keep the area safe from terrorists.” Yet the fate of this arid strip of land that is home to 56,000 Palestinians and 7,000 settlers is uncertain as the rain. A U.S. blueprint of a framework agreement for a two-state solution is said to put an end to Israel’s settlement enterprise in the Jordan Valley but to maintain an Israeli military presence for 10 years – contingent on the capacity of the future Palestinian state to protect not just itself, but Israel. Meanwhile, Blumenfeld prides himself on his dates – “fruit of our brains and their hands.” Israeli minds and Palestinian hands, he means … Many Palestinians living here are semi-nomadic sheepherders and seasonal farmers. Most are wretchedly poor; most work land they don’t own. “If you don’t work for settlers, you don’t work at all,” seethes a Palestinian picking bell peppers in Patsa’el. About 6,000 Palestinians work in settlements. Sheepherder Ayman eDeis is homeless. His shack and sheep enclosure were demolished twice this year – last time just before winter. “The Israeli authorities won’t give you a permit, not in a lifetime,” he says, standing on the rubble of his home. Israel counters that the dearth of building permits stems from the valley being a sensitive security area. A water reservoir is under construction in the closed military zone to increase the irrigation capacity of four Israeli reservoirs and 12 artesian wells. Settlers get sweet water from the West Bank’s deep aquifer, from the Jordan River, from flash floods. Palestinian farmers wait for the rain, making use of the seasonal Ein Shibli spring and four licenced artesian wells. They can dig only 400 metres deep into the shallow aquifer, where water is saline … A World Bank report estimates that if Palestinians could exploit Dead Sea minerals in the southern Jordan Valley, their economy would derive up to 918 million a year. Access to more farmland and water would deliver a further 704 million dollars to the economy. The Jordan Valley could become a Palestinian breadbasket.
Did Israel’s apartheid wall really stop suicide bombings? / Ben White
Electronic Intifada 10 Jan — The decision this Christmas by a prominent London church, St James’s of Piccadilly, to build a replica model of Israel’s apartheid wall as part of the festival “Bethlehem Unwrapped“ provoked a predictable hasbara — propaganda — offensive by the Israeli government and Zionist lobby groups. When Israel lobby group BICOM ”fellow” Alan Johnson appeared (from 37’40) on BBC Radio 4’s Sunday show last weekend to discuss the issue, he made two main points. Firstly, the wall was built purely because of suicide bombings, and secondly, that it “works,” with a 90 percent drop in attacks cited. This line of argument was repeated by, for example, the Board of Deputies of British Jews. Even if that were all true — that the wall was only built as a response to suicide bombings, and that it was solely responsible for a 90 percent reduction in attacks — criticism of the barrier from a human rights and international law perspective remains valid. As the Red Cross put it, the wall — and settlements — “are not compatible with Israel’s obligations under international humanitarian law.” In other words, you can’t just do what you like in the name of “security.” That being said, since these are the same lines repeated by pro-Israel advocates, it is worthwhile explaining how this position is misleading and disingenuous…
The big problem for those claiming that the wall was just built to stop suicide bombings is its route … Eighty five percent of the route runs inside the occupied West Bank…
90 percent reduction? This second myth used by Israel’s apologists with regards to the wall has been critiqued less than the first, but is just as disingenuous. Construction on the wall began in the summer of 2002, a year which saw a record 55 suicide bombing attacks inside Israel (according to the Israeli government’s own data). In 2003, this fell to 25 such attacks, with 14 in 2004, seven throughout 2005, four in 2006, and one in 2007. So doesn’t that show that the wall worked? Not quite. Have a look at the graph above, prepared for this post, using Israeli government and UN data. You can see in mid-2003, the wall was only 20 percent completed, while by mid-2006, it had only reached 50 percent completion. Was a wall whose route was never more than half finished solely responsible for such a drop in attacks? The answer lies in two events marked on the graph’s timeline: “Operation Defensive Shield” in the spring of 2002, and a unilaterally declared Hamas ceasefire in the West Bank from 2004/2005 onwards … In January 2006, Shin Bet’s annual statistics showed a considerable drop in “terror attacks” for 2005, with “the main reason for the sharp decline,” Shin Bet said, “the [Hamas-called] truce in the [occupied] territories.” Haaretz commented that “the security fence is no longer mentioned as the major factor in preventing suicide bombings, mainly because the terrorists have found ways to bypass it.” The “main reason for the reduction in terrorist acts,” the report emphasized, was the Hamas truce, and the organization’s “focus on the political arena.”