Land, property theft & destruction / Ethnic cleansing
Watchdog: Israel plans 261 settler homes deep in West Bank
JERUSALEM (AFP) 22 Jan — Israel on Wednesday moved forward with plans for 261 new homes in two settlements located deep in the occupied West Bank, a watchdog said, drawing strong European condemnation. It was the fifth such move in just over two weeks and raised to 2,791 the number of new settler homes announced since the start of the year, threatening to derail faltering US-brokered peace talks with the Palestinians. Israel’s rapid settlement expansion has angered Palestinian negotiators and drawn condemnation from the international community, threatening peace talks that US Secretary of State John Kerry kick-started in July.
EU envoy to Israel Lars Faaborg-Andersen said continued settlement building would isolate Israel, which he warned would be held accountable for a failure of peace talks … “If the talks are wrecked as a result of Israeli settlement announcements, then the blame will be put squarely on Israel’s doorstep,” he said. “You are eating away at the cake that you are discussing how to slice up.”
Israel backs plans for 381 new settler homes
JERUSALEM (AFP) 21 Jan — Israel’s government has approved plans to build 381 new homes in a settlement near annexed East Jerusalem, settlement watchdog Peace Now said Tuesday. “The Israeli civil administration, which falls under the defense ministry, has published plans for the construction of 381 extra units in Givat Zeev,” said spokesman Lior Amihai, referring to a settlement just south of Ramallah. Peace Now said the new construction proved the government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was “not serious about the two-state solution and that its actions are contradictory with the negotiations.” It was the third such announcement in as many weeks, and followed Israel’s release on Dec. 31 of 26 veteran Palestinian prisoners, in accordance with commitments under the US-led peace talks.
Soldiers demolish Palestinian property in Hebron, kidnap two Palestinians
IMEMC Monday morning 20 Jan — Israeli soldiers invaded various areas in the southern West Bank district of Hebron, demolished Palestinian property, including shops, and kidnapped two Palestinians. Local sources have reported that dozens of soldiers invaded the Deir Samet town, southwest of Hebron, and demolished a scrap metal shop. The army destroyed equipment, metal, and other supplies worth thousands of shekels before demolishing the property. The Palestinian News & Info Agency (WAFA) said the shop that belongs to resident Salama Atallah Abu Zneid. He only received property destruction notices a few days ago. Media sources in the town said that the store is not only in the heart of the town, but also far away from Israel’s illegal settlements or any of its military camps. It stood on two dunams of land. Furthermore, soldiers demolished a number of walls and a store for electrical supplies that belonged to merchants near Beit ‘Awwa town junction, close to a military tower installed at the entrance of the town.
Soldiers demolish residential, agricultural structures near Tubas
IMEMC Wed 22 Jan — Dozens of Israeli soldiers have invaded a Palestinian community northeast of Tubas, in the central West Bank, demolishing agricultural and residential structures. The Palestinian News & Info Agency (WAFA) has reported that the soldiers demolished a home built in 1967, residential structures, and two barns in Khirbit Ibzeeq, northeast of Tubas. Soldiers also demolished a number of residential structures which had been rebuilt after being previously destroyed by the army. Furthermore, the army also destroyed a solar cell used for generating electricity, in a small village close to ‘Aqraba nearby town. Several residential and agricultural structures have also been demolished in Khirbit Yezra village, east of Tubas.
Israeli police, inspectors storm home of Samir Issawi
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 21 Jan — Israeli police officers on Tuesday raided the East Jerusalem home of freed Palestinian prisoner Samir Issawi along with inspectors from the Jerusalem municipality. Issawi’s father told Ma‘an that a large number of police officers and municipality inspectors broke into his home and took photos of both the interior and the exterior before they left. He pointed out that his two-story house was built in 1998 and that his family had previously paid a fine of 60,000 shekels ($17,200) for building it without a license. The family, he added, has been trying “in vain” for years to obtain a construction license. Issawi’s father added that he is worried that the Israeli municipality of Jerusalem might demolish the building and displace the 14 members of his family that live there. He added that an apartment belonging to the family was demolished in 2013, prior to completion.
Israelis ‘force bulldozer driver to damage road’ in Abu Dis
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 20 Jan — A Palestinian man whose bulldozer was seized by Israeli forces two weeks ago was forced to dig up a road in the village of Abu Dis in order to get it back, the man told Ma‘an. A native of Eizariya village east of Jerusalem, Badr Dahdoul was removing roadblocks from a road near al-Quds University in Abu Dis two weeks ago when Israeli forces detained him and confiscated his bulldozer. The road had originally been closed by Israeli forces while they were demolishing a Palestinian house near the separation wall as it passes through Abu Dis. Dahdoul explained that he was taken into custody while removing the roadblocks and was ordered to pay a fine of 12,000 shekels ($3,400). On Sunday, Israeli authorities forced Dahdoul to damage the road with his bulldozer before they would agree to return it to him. Member of Abu Dis local council Abdul-Salam Ayyad, however, blamed Dahdoul for damaging the road.
Army razes land near Hebron
HEBRON (WAFA) 22 Jan — An Israeli army unit Wednesday razed agricultural land in the village of Qalqas to the south of Hebron, according to local residents. They told WAFA the force used a bulldozer to level land and opened a 400-meter-long and 3-meter-wide road close to a bypass road and an Israeli military office in the area
Settlers prevent farm access
IMEMC Tuesday 21 Jan — Israeli forces and settlers, on Tuesday, prevented two Palestinian farmers from Husan, west of Bethlehem, from accessing their farmland located in the middle of the illegal settlement of Bitar Illit, said a local official. Member of Husan local council, Muhammad Shusha, said the two farmers wanted to plant olive seedlings in their land when soldiers and settlers prevented them from entering it, the Palestinian News & Info Agency (WAFA) has reported. Shusha said that Israeli forces first told the famers that they must get an army permit to enter their land but, then, told them they could enter but without the seedlings. He added that soldiers attacked Mahmoud Ellayan, a photojournalist with al-Quds newspaper, when he tried to take pictures of the incident.
Settlers uproot hundreds of trees near Ramallah
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 22 Jan — Israeli settlers uprooted over 600 recently planted olive and almond saplings in a village north of Ramallah on Wednesday, a Palestinian Authority official said. Ghassan Daghlas, an official who monitors settlement activity in the northern West Bank, told Ma‘an that a group of settlers from Givat Ariel and Maale Levona uprooted newly planted saplings in the village of Sinjil. Daghlas said Israeli police opened an investigation into the incident. The saplings were planted by the International Committee of the Red Cross to support Palestinian farmers, Daghlas said. More than 70 families would have benefited from the trees, he added…
Since 1967, more than 800,000 olive trees have been uprooted in the occupied West Bank, resulting in a loss of around $55 million to the Palestinian economy, according to a report by the PA ministry and the Applied Research Institute Jerusalem. The olive industry supports the livelihoods of roughly 80,000 families in the occupied West Bank.
Settlers sue Bedouin over outdoor oven fueled by livestock manure
Haaretz 20 Jan by Amira Hass — Judge says Israel ought to grant retroactive building permit for taboun, which Bedouin say is 20 years old — A couple from the settlement of Carmel in the South Hebron Hills is suing the adjacent Bedouin community, Umm el Kheir, for 100,000 shekels ($28,650) in damages, for the damage and aggravation they say has been caused them by a taboun oven for baking bread. The couple, Yaakov and Bareket Goldstein, are also asking the Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court to order the destruction of the oven, which is used by dozens of people. The couple, aged 30 and 28, moved to their home in Carmel in 2008. They argue that “a number of years ago” the Bedouin residents of Umm el Kheir trespassed on state land some 50 meters from their home and built a large stone structure with inner ceramic walls. The couple says that because livestock manure is used to keep the oven lit constantly, the awful smell reaches their home and those of their neighbors and disturbs them and their four children. The Palestinian residents of Umm el Kheir have been living in the region since the 1960s on land they purchased from residents of Yatta. They belong to the Hadalin tribe that Israel expelled from Tel Arad in the early 1950s. The Carmel settlement was built near Umm el Kheir in 1981 and has gradually expanded … Residents of Umm el-Kheir claim that the oven has been there for 20 years, and the demolition order was issued only after a new settler neighborhood was built nearby … settlers have twice raided the Umm el Kheir camp and poured buckets of water on the taboun to shut it down.
Settlers vandalize Palestinian vehicles near Nablus
NABLUS (Ma‘an) 21 Jan — A group of settlers attacked and damaged several Palestinians vehicles in the Nablus village of Qabalan on Tuesday, a Palestinian Authority official said. Ghassan Daghlas, who monitors settlement activity in the northern West Bank, told Ma‘an that settlers stormed the main entrance of the village and punctured the tires of eight vehicles. The settlers also smashed the windshields of several cars and sprayed graffiti on walls in the village.
Foundation: Israeli excavations in Silwan demolish Islamic antiquities
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 22 Jan — Israeli excavations at the entrance to Wadi Hilweh in the Silwan neighborhood are destroying deep-rooted Islamic antiquities from the Umayyad and Abbasid caliphate eras, says a Palestinian Jerusalem-based group. The Al-Aqsa Foundation for Endowment and Heritage highlighted in a statement that previous excavations adjacent to the area had demolished an Islamic cemetery from the Abbasid era. “The Israeli occupation has started new excavations carried out by the so-called Israel Antiquities Authority and funded by Gilad Organization which supports settlements. The excavations are on Palestinian lands the Israeli occupation confiscated and has been used as a parking lot for visitors of the settlement outpost called the City of David,” the statement said. Israeli archaeologists from the Emek Shaveh organization confirmed that there were Islamic antiquities in the area being excavated, according to the statement. The excavations, according to the foundation, lay the grounds for construction of a giant 8-floor Jewish center to be called the Biblical Temple. It will serve as a main entrance to the tunnel network which Israel has excavated under Silwan and under the Western Wall of the al-Aqsa compound, it says.
Jewish settlers attack cemetery in Jerusalem
OCCUPIED JERUSALEM (PIC) 22 Jan — Jewish settlers have attacked Maman Allah cemetery in occupied Jerusalem, which includes the remains of companions of the Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, and Islamic landmarks, Jerusalemite sources said. Wadi Hilweh Information Center confirmed that Israeli municipality of Jerusalem has established a new cafeteria, pools, and a garden for dogs at the expense of the cemetery lands. Mustafa Abu Zahra, Head of Waqf Committee caring for the Islamic cemeteries, said that occupation authorities have scattered wood shavings over the southern region of the cemetery, nearly 15 dunums, in order to cover up remaining graves. Maman Allah cemetery has been subjected to Israeli systematic violations and attacks aiming to Judaize its Islamic cultural heritage.
link to www.palestine-info.co.uk/En/
Rightists, security forces enter Aqsa compound
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 21 Jan — Israeli rightists accompanied by Israeli forces on Tuesday entered the al-Aqsa compound through the Moroccan gate, witnesses said. They said that 46 Israelis, including a group of 33 led by extremist leader Yehuda Glick, roamed around the compound before leaving from the Chain gate. Witnesses added that over 100 security forces entered the compound.
Restriction of movement / Separation of families
So near and yet so far
[with VIDEO] Implications of Israel-imposed seclusion of Gaza Strip on Palestinians’ right to family life — HaMoked & B’Tselem January 2014 — After the 1967 occupation, Israel enabled Palestinians to travel relatively freely between the West Bank, the Gaza Strip and Israel. Residents of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip who married Israeli citizens or Israeli residents (i.e., East Jerusalem Palestinians with Israeli ID cards) could receive permanent residential status in Israel through the family unification process. This policy facilitated the renewal of family ties and the creation of new ties of marriage, work, etc. However, once the first intifada began in late 1987, Israel started imposing restrictions on the freedom of movement of West Bank and Gaza Palestinians. At present, it is practically impossible for Palestinians to travel between the West Bank and Gaza. There is also absolutely no possibility for Gaza residents to receive official status in Israel or East Jerusalem and live there with a local spouse. Israel’s restrictions on entering and exiting Gaza sentence family members to separation, and force mixed Gaza-West Bank or Gaza-Israel couples to live without a normal routine, governed by a host of bureaucratic constraints. Tens of thousands of people must live with this impossible reality in which the state infringes on the most intimate aspects of their lives through many procedures with strict criteria that are virtually impossible to meet.
Violence / Raids / Clashes / Suppression of protests / Illegal arrests
Israeli soldiers shoot, injure 2 Palestinians near Nablus
NABLUS (Ma‘an) 22 Jan — Israeli soldiers shot and injured two Palestinians during clashes after settlers attacked the Nablus village of Beit Furik on Wednesday, a Palestinian Authority official told Ma‘an. Ghassan Daghlas, who monitors settlement activity in the northern West Bank, said that settlers from Itamar raided the al-Judoo neighborhood of Beit Furik and began damaging Palestinian homes and other property. Clashes broke out after locals confronted the attackers. Israeli forces in the area fired tear gas and rubber bullets at the Palestinian villagers, with locals saying that Mahmoud Shukri Imleitat, 20, was hit in the back with live fire and Rashad Nimir Rasasi, 21, was shot in the hand.
Israeli border police shoot, injure Palestinian near Hebron
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 20 Jan — An Israeli border police officer shot and wounded a Palestinian man near the illegal settlement of Telem in Hebron on Monday. Israeli police spokesman Mickey Rosenfeld told Ma‘an that a Palestinian man approached a female border police officer at a base outside Hebron. After being told to stop in Hebrew and Arabic, the female officer fired a warning shot in the air. The man then approached another a second officer in the area, who called on the suspect to stop before firing a warning shot in the air and shooting the man. The man, who was not identified, is in a moderate to serious condition and the “background to the incident is being investigated,” Rosenfeld added.
Child seriously injured by bomb dropped by the army
IMEMC 22 Jan — Palestinian medical sources have reported that that a Palestinian child suffered serious injuries after a bomb dropped by Israeli soldiers during training exploded in his hands, in the Jordan Valley. The sources said that the child, 12 years of age, found the bomb, and carried it not knowing what it is, and that the bomb detonated in his hands. The child was moved to a local hospital suffering life-threatening injuries. In February of last year, a Palestinian child was killed and three other children were injured, in two separate incidents, when unexploded Israeli military bombs detonated near them, in northern Gaza.
Palestinian injured by army fire in Bethlehem
IMEMC Tuesday evening 21 Jan] Israeli soldiers shot and injured a young Palestinian man in the ‘Aida refugee camp, north of the West Bank city of Bethlehem, medical sources said. The sources added that the soldiers fired dozens of rubber-coated metal bullets at a number of homes in the camp, wounding in the head Mohammad Al-Azraq, 25 years of age. He was moved to the Beit Jala Governmental Hospital, in the city, suffering a moderate injury.
On Tuesday, at dawn, soldiers invaded various Palestinian communities in the occupied West Bank, stormed homes and violently searched them, installed roadblocks, and kidnapped at least eight Palestinians.
Israeli forces raid Abu Dis campus, clash with students
[with photos] BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 22 Jan — Israeli forces raided the Abu Dis campus of Al-Quds University on Wednesday and fired tear gas and rubber bullets at students, witnesses said. Eyewitnesses told Ma’an that clashes began after Israeli soldiers positioned themselves in front of the main entrance to the university and began stopping students and asking for their identity cards. Israeli forces then began firing multiple tear gas canisters onto the campus, causing students to retaliate by throwing stones. Soldiers then breached the perimeter of the university campus and continued to fire tear gas and rubber bullets at students. Witnesses said Israeli forces in full riot gear were seen on campus and the Red Crescent set up an area to treat wounded students. “This is more major than anything last year or the year before,” a witness told Ma‘an, adding that the only way to leave the university was to cross the line of fire of Israeli soldiers. A popular committee spokesman told Ma‘an that over 100 Palestinians, including university students, faculty, and staff, suffered from excessive tear gas inhalation. Others were injured by rubber-coated steel bullets, said Hani Halabiya.
Israeli troops detain 2 teenage shepherds
HEBRON (Ma‘an) 20 Jan — Israeli forces denied Palestinian shepherds in the southern West Bank access to their lands on Monday and detained two teenage shepherds. A spokesman for the local committee against the Israeli wall and settlements in the south Hebron district told Ma‘an that Israeli troops stopped several shepherds from Um el-Kher village east of Yatta while they were steering their herds to pastures. The soldiers then detained Husam Suleiman al-Hathalin, 16, and his brother Omar, 17, who are from the Hathalin tribe. The spokesperson added that the pair were taken to a detention center in the Israeli settlement of Kiryat Arba, near Hebron.
Israeli troops detain 2 teenagers in East Jerusalem
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 22 Jan — Israeli forces detained two teenagers from the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Silwan on Wednesday, locals said. Witnesses told Ma‘an that Yazan al-Rajabi, 14, and Muhammad Gheith, 15, were detained after Israeli forces raided a central area of Silwan. The boys were taken to an Israeli interrogation center.
Undercover Israeli forces detain jailed Hamas leader’s son
JENIN (Ma‘an) 21 Jan — Undercover Israeli intelligence officers detained Imad Abu al-Hayja, son of jailed Hamas leader Sheikh Jamal Abu al-Hayja, in the northern West Bank on Tuesday. Palestinian security sources told Ma‘an that Israeli agents in plain clothes broke into a gas station on Haifa Street near Jenin refugee camp and detained 25-year-old Abu al-Hayja. Locals in Jenin city, meanwhile, said that an undercover Israeli force stopped a minibus with Palestinian registration plates and broke into a supermarket in Haifa Street. The local sources added that the force detained Abu al-Hayja and left within a few minutes after confiscating computers and videotapes. Imad’s father, Sheikh Jamal Abu al-Hayja, is currently in Israeli prison serving multiple lifetime sentences, and is one of the fighters who led Palestinian resistance during the Battle of Jenin in 2002, when Israeli forces invaded the refugee camp as part of Operation Defensive Shield.
Israeli intelligence detains Palestinian lecturer at Allenby Bridge
NABLUS (Ma‘an) 21 Jan — Israeli intelligence forces detained a Palestinian university lecturer from Nablus at the Allenby Bridge on Monday while he was on his way back from Malaysia via Jordan, a human rights group said. Solidarity Foundation for Human Rights reported the detention of 35-year-old Ahmad Muhammad Daraghmah, a lecturer at An-Najah National University in the northern West Bank, on its website. According to the group, he was detained at the crossing while on his way from Jordan to Nablus after completing his PHD in engineering at a Malaysian university. Israeli intelligence officers stopped him for a short period of time before an officer informed his wife that he had been taken into custody. Daraghmah’s wife and three children were with him at the time of the detention.
Soldiers kidnap eleven Palestinians in West Bank
IMEMC Monday, 20 Jan — Israeli soldiers invaded various districts in the occupied West Bank, violently broke into and searched Palestinian homes, kidnapping eleven Palestinians. Palestinian security sources said that the army interrogated legislator Khaled Sa‘id Yahia, 56, in his home in the northern West bank city of Jenin, and kidnapped a woman identified as Woroud Adel Boshnaq, 48. Soldiers also invaded Qabatia and Jaba‘ towns, near Jenin, and conducted military searches before withdrawing from the two towns. Furthermore, soldiers invaded Halhoul town, north of the southern West Bank city of Hebron, broke into and searched several homes, kidnapping three Palestinians, including two brothers … Dozens of soldiers also broke into homes in Shuhada Street, in the center of Hebron, and searched them, causing anxiety attacks among several children … Also, dozens of soldiers invaded the Rantees village, west of the central West Bank city of Ramallah, and kidnapped Mohammad Torky, Sa’ad Wahdan, and Soheib Ash-Shabah, after searching their homes. Eyewitnesses stated that several Israeli military jeeps also invaded Beiteen village, northeast of Ramallah, kidnapping Abdullah Hamed and Tareq Ahmad Hamed.
Army kidnaps several Palestinians in West Bank
IMEMC Tuesday 21 Jan — Israeli soldiers invaded various districts in the occupied West Bank, broke into dozens of homes, searched them, and kidnapped several Palestinians. Local sources in Bethlehem have reported that dozens of soldiers invaded Beit Fajjar nearby town, broke into the home of Ibrahim Thawabta and violently searched it before kidnapping his son Mahmoud, 18 years of age. Soldiers also invaded the Al-Obeydiyya town, east of Bethlehem, kidnapping one resident identified as Fawzi Abu Sarhan, 27. Also on Tuesday, at dawn, soldiers invaded the Rommana village, west of the northern West Bank city of Jenin, kidnapping three Palestinians identified as Na’el Amro, 55, No’man Nayef Jarban, 45, and Khairy Younis Sbeihat, 35 … On Monday evening, soldiers stopped a Palestinian car at the Aqbat Hasna junction, between Husam and Al-Khader towns in the Bethlehem district, and kidnapped two Palestinians who remained unidentified.
Two Palestinians kidnapped in Jenin, one in Ramallah
IMEMC Tuesday evening 21Jan Israeli soldiers kidnapped two Palestinians at a military roadblock, near the northern West Bank city of Jenin, and one near the central West Bank city of Ramallah. Eyewitnesses said that a number of soldiers installed a roadblock at the Jenin-Jaffa road, close to the Salem Israeli military base, and kidnapped one Palestinian after detaining and interrogating him at the roadblock for more than an hour. The kidnapped Palestinian has been identified as Mahmoud Jamal Mahameed, 27 years of age, from Rommana village, near Jenin. His arrest comes less than 24 hours after the soldiers kidnapped three Palestinians in the village…
On Tuesday night, more than four armored military vehicles invaded Msalya village, south of Jenin, and fired gas bombs at local youth, who hurled stones at them. Furthermore, soldiers kidnapped the son of Hasan Al-‘Oury, a legal affairs adviser of Palestinian President, Mahmoud Abbas, in Beit Ur al-Tahta village, west of Jenin. Al-‘Oury said that the soldiers kidnapped his son, Anas, 16, and took him to an unknown destination.
Army kidnaps several Palestinians in West Bank, Jerusalem
IMEMC Wednesday 22 Jan — Israeli soldiers invaded various Palestinian communities in different parts of the occupied West Bank, broke into and searched homes, and kidnapped several Palestinians, including children … Israeli Police officers also kidnapped a Palestinian cameraman near Al-Magharba Gate, in occupied East Jerusalem. Eyewitnesses stated that an Israeli harassed Palestinian women in the area and, when the cameraman started documenting the attack, Israeli police officers attacked and kidnapped him … The Palestinian News & Info Agency (WAFA) has reported that several army jeeps invaded Ein Beit Al-Maa’ refugee camp, west of Nablus, broke into and searched the home of resident Rida Khaled before kidnapping his son, Anwar, 19. WAFA said that the father is a former political prisoner who was released from an Israeli detention center just a few weeks ago, and that the army interrogated him in his home before kidnapping his son. In addition, soldiers invaded Beita and Burin villages, south of Nablus, also violently searching several homes and kidnapping Majed Hamayel from Beita, and Issam Ma’moun Najjar from Burin. Palestinian security sources said that the army also kidnapped a Palestinian laborer from Al-Ferdees village, near Bethlehem, as he was working in Jerusalem … In Bethlehem, dozens of soldiers invaded the Wady Ma’aly neighborhood and violently searched the homes of residents ‘Aahed and Hussein Al-Kamel, and Mohammad Salem Salah. In addition, several Israeli military jeeps invaded Dar Salah village, east of Bethlehem, and violently searched the homes
Peaceful protest ends in deportation and imprisonment
Occupied Palestine (ISM) 20 Jan — On Saturday 18th January during a peaceful protest in the Jordan Valley, 19-year-old Ahmad Walid Atatreh, a Palestinian activist and 24-year-old Sven W, a German activist who lives in Switzerland, were arrested and beaten after a march held in Jiftlik Adam Junction. Ahmad is a law student, studying at Al-Quds University in Jerusalem. The march in Jiftlik was organized in protest against a legislation bill recently approved in the Knesset to annex the Jordan Valley to the current state of Israel. While the Israeli government declares that the move is purely for security reasons, the large number of illegal agricultural settlements and theft of Palestinian water rights demonstrate that the motives are largely economic … Approximately 60 people gathered in the Jordan Valley and began a protest holding banners and chanting against the Israeli occupation of Palestine. As the march ended, Israeli forces invaded the area and began to arrest Palestinian demonstrators. Sven W and a British volunteer succeeded in stopping the detention of a Palestinian youth and in the process were both arrested by the Israeli army. The two international activists were violently pushed to the ground by an Israeli soldier and handcuffed. The British activist managed to escape detention, whilst Sven was blindfolded and forced to kneel on the ground. One Israeli soldier purposefully pushed Sven’s face in dirty water before taking him behind a military jeep and repeatedly kicking him in the ribs. Ahmad was also beaten after his arrest and received injuries to his knee. The British activist received a similar assault before escaping detention. When Sven is deported this week, he will be the third international activist in less than two weeks to be arrested and deported by Israeli forces. Vincent Mainville and Fabio Theodule were arrested on the 8th January and deported a week later….
Press release: Six arrests in three days in South Hebron Hills
AT-TUWANI (Operation Dove) 20 Jan — Between January 18-20, four Palestinians and two Operation Dove (OD) volunteers were arrested by the Israeli police and army while Palestinian shepherds were grazing their flocks. On January 18 at 1.04 pm seven settlers came out from the illegal outpost of Havat Ma’on (Hill 833), entered the Humra valley while two of them crossed the Palestinian-owned fields, trespassing in an area to which entry is prohibited for Israeli citizens. In the meanwhile two Palestinian shepherds, accompanied by three OD volunteers, were grazing their sheep in this area. At 1.14 pm the shepherds left for their homes and encountered another group of five settlers. After one minute Israeli soldiers arrived, telling the settlers to move away and declaring the area a closed military zone. Subsequently arriving to the area were an additional nine settlers, several Palestinians and Israeli activists, the Israeli police, Border Police and officials from the District Coordination Office (DCO). Once the Israeli forces start to push the people away from the area the shepherd, Mfaddi Ahmed Rabai, refused to leave the area, claiming his right to remain on his own land. While a policeman and a group of soldiers tried to arrest him, he collapsed on the ground. At 13.43 the Israeli army forced everyone to leave the area….
Gaza under blockade
Israeli airstrike kills 2 Palestinians in Gaza
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 22 Jan — An Israeli airstrike on Wednesday killed two Palestinians in the northern Gaza Strip including one accused by Israel of ordering rocket attacks, officials said. Eyewitnesses said Israeli aircraft fired a missile at a car in Beit Hanoun carrying Ahmed Zaanin, 21, and [his cousin] Mahmoud Zaanin, 23, killing them both … The Israeli army described Ahmed as a “terrorist operative” belonging to the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine and involved in recent attacks against Israel and in the planning of “further attacks in the coming days.” The army accused him of organizing rocket attacks against Israel during the funeral of former prime minister Ariel Sharon on Jan. 15 … Islamic Jihad’s military wing said in the a statement that both men were affiliated with the group … Israeli army figures show eight rockets have struck Israeli territory since Jan. 1, and another five were intercepted by the Iron Dome anti-missile system. [IMEMC: The assassination of the two fighters comes only two days after the army assassinated Ahmad Sa’ad, of the Al-Quds Brigades]
Netanyahu: Hamas will learn lesson from Israel ‘very soon’
AFP 21 Jan — Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned Tuesday that Israel would teach Hamas a “lesson” and “very soon” over increased rocket fire from the Gaza Strip on Israel’s southern communities. Speaking at a joint press conference with his visiting Canadian counterpart Stephen Harper, Netanyahu observed that Israel will always retaliate to attacks … There has been an intensification in rocket fire from Gaza over the last weeks: On Monday, at least one rocket hit open ground in the Eshkol Regional Council in the Negev, and two more rockets struck open areas near Eilat. Fearing a strong Israeli response, Hamas has taken fresh steps to calm the situation, setting up roadblocks in an effort to prevent members of other militant Palestinian groups such as Islamic Jihad from launching rockets.
Islamic Jihad: Hamas asked officials to maintain ceasefire
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 22 Jan — Hamas recently contacted officials in the Islamic Jihad movement to ensure the group observed the terms of a ceasefire agreement brokered by Egypt in November 2012. Jihad spokesperson Daoud Shihab told Ma’an that Gaza prime minister Ismail Haniyeh telephoned Islamic Jihad secretary-general Ramadan Abdullah Shallah and his deputy Ziad al-Nakhalah to ensure the group maintained the ceasefire. Egyptian officials have also been in contact with senior Hamas and Islamic Jihad officials concerning ceasefire arrangements, Shihab said. “Israel gives itself the right to intervene in the Gaza Strip and take action against any resistance fighter, which is an attempt to disavow the ceasefire agreement of 2012,” Shihab added. Palestinian factions are “not interested in escalation, but if Israel insists and continues with targeted assassinations, they have to bear the consequences,” the Islamic Jihad official said. An Israeli airstrike on Wednesday killed two Palestinians in the northern Gaza Strip.
Hamas deploys forces to prevent rocket fire on Israel
Ynet 21 Jan by Elior Levy — The security services of the Hamas-run government in the Gaza Strip have deployed forces along the major roadways leading to the border fence with Israel and across the eastern stretch of the Strip. The move is an attempt by the terrorist organization to prevent an escalation in the scale of hostilities with Israel. Hamas forces are searching vehicles approaching the security fence to avert any additional rocket fire on Israel. A Gazan source familiar with organization’s movements said there were hundreds of security personnel deployed in the area. The same sources refused to comment on which Palestinian faction was responsible for the rocket fire over the last week, though the IDF has pointed a finger at Islamic Jihad. Last Friday, after five rockets were fired on Ashkelon, Hamas passed a message to Israel — through Egypt — claiming the organization was not interested in breaking the status quo. A Palestinian security source told Ynet that all the different factions in the strip met on Saturday. The meet was a Hamas initiative, and the participants were clearly told they must show restraint in order to prevent additional Israeli strikes on the strip.
Hamas denies deploying additional troops at borders
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 22 Jan — The Hamas-run government in Gaza denied reports Tuesday claiming that it had deployed additional forces at the Gaza Strip border to stop attacks on Israel. Spokesman for the Gaza government Islam Shahwan told Ma‘an that “there was no increase to the numbers of security forces deployed at the borders”. Shahwan added that the resistance would continue acting on behalf of Palestinians. The official was responding to reports in Israeli media that Hamas has deployed hundreds of forces to stop violence against Israel and prevent Israeli reprisals. Israel Radio reported that the government was trying to stop rogue groups from firing rockets toward Israel.
IDF targeting ‘freelance rocket launchers’
Ynet 22 Jan — Like a basketball team moving to man-to-man defense, Israel‘s defense establishment has moved from an automatic response to rocket fire from the Gaza Strip to specific assassinations. If possible, targeted assassinations of activists involved in rocket launching, and if necessary “hot” assassinations of launching cells as they prepare to fire rockets or immediately afterwards. The reason for this shift is the fact that the automatic punishment and deterrence responses Israel hit the Hamas and Islamic Jihad with every time rockets landed in the Negev were inefficient and wrong. That is also the reason why no deterrence was achieved and the rocket fire continued … the targeted assassinations … have several advantages: They hit the involved people directly – if not the launching cells themselves, then those involved in tying the ends which eventually make a launch possible. Secondly, they have international legitimacy – the Americans use the same method against al-Qaeda.
Egypt opens Rafah crossing after 12 days of closure
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 21 Jan — The Rafah crossing between Egypt and the Gaza Strip was opened on Tuesday after 12 consecutive days of closure, according to Palestinian officials. Officials of the Palestinian crossings department confirmed in a statement that the crossing was open on Tuesday morning and a first bus had already crossed into the Egyptian side of the terminal. Egyptian authorities had decided to open the terminal for three days beginning on Tuesday. The statement highlighted that the Egyptians would give priority to patients, holders of foreign citizenship and Egyptian citizens.
Egyptian army destroys tunnels, arrested suspected militants
EL-ARISH, Egypt (Ma’an) — The Egyptian army on Tuesday destroyed four smuggling tunnels on the Gaza border in a new military campaign, security sources said. The sources said that three tunnels were destroyed in the al-Shalafa area and a fourth in al-Duhniya area. Egyptian forces also arrested three suspected militants who allegedly had grenades with them. Army Apache helicopters destroyed two houses suspected of housing militant leaders along with seven motorcycles and a truck. They also arrested a suspected militant in al-Sakaska village west of el-Arish and five people in Beir al-Abed. [these events took place in Egypt, not Gaza]
Photos and video: Israeli forces’ gunfire blocks Palestinian farmland in Gaza
GAZA (Resistenza Quotidiana, Sil) 22 Jan — Since the Zionist occupation forces’ bulldozers had destroyed part of Khaled Qudaih’s field in Khuza‘a, east of Khan Younis, he and his family went out to sow it again. The military responded with about half an hour of gunfire, threatening to strike Qudaih directly if he had not moved away. Qudaih had sown wheat a little less than a month ago. It was growing, it was green and in May would be ripe. On 19th January, he went to his lands with his family to spray fertilizer. Samiha, his twelve year old daughter, wanted to get closer to the separation barrier, but she knew that it was forbidden : mamnua in Arabic. She came as close as she could, until she reached foreign activists with yellow jackets. She approached and, with the voice of a twelve-year-old child, with the slightly clumsy behavior of those approaching foreigners for the first time, explained that the land is forbidden to her. “I am forbidden to approach the barrier more than this,” she said. “Over there, there are the Israelis and they shoot. That land is prohibited (mamnua). It is my family’s land and is prohibited. Sometimes the Israelis shoot even when we are away from the barrier, but today it is quiet. Will you come back when we will harvest? For the harvesting, the whole family will come.
Explosive charge detonates near Gaza
IMEMC Tuesday, 21 Jan — An explosive charge detonated nearly 200 meters east of the Gaza border fence, on a border road used by the Israeli military, east of Khan Younis, in the southern part of the Gaza Strip. The Ma‘an News Agency has reported that a loud explosion was heard in an area located between the Kissufim military base and a border area east of Al-Qarara town, of Khan Younis. Ma‘an added that several Israeli military vehicles rushed to the site of the explosion and conducted military searched in the area. The Israeli army confirmed the explosion, and said that the explosive charge detonated as soldiers were conducting “routine activities” along the border area. The army said that the explosion did not lead to any casualties or damage.
In related news, Israeli media sources said that three shells were fired from Gaza into the Eshkol Regional Council, in the western Negev, causing no damage or injuries.
Detainees (alive and dead)
Thousands lay Jenin man to rest 12 years after his death
[with photos] JENIN (Ma‘an) 20 Jan — Thousands of Palestinian on Monday participated in the funeral procession of Majdi Khanfar, whose remains were handed over by Israel 12 years after his death. Mourners raised Palestinian flags and some fired shots in the air as he was laid to rest in his village of Silat al-Dhahir in the West Bank’s Jenin district. Jenin governor Talal Dweikat said burying Khanfar was a basic right and long overdue.
Mourners bury 2 Palestinians after remains held 12 years in Israel
NABLUS (Ma‘an) 22 Jan — Hundreds of Palestinian mourners on Wednesday gathered for the funerals of two Palestinians whose remains had been held in Israel for more than 12 years, a Ma‘an reporter said. A military funeral procession carried the remains of Fathi Ameera from nearby Rafedia Hospital to a cemetery in eastern Nablus, where he was buried. Ata Ibrahim Samhan Samahna‘s remains were taken to a cemetery in the village of Beit Hasan northeast of Nablus. Mourners from Beit Hasan and surrounding villages gathered to pay respects to Samahna, who left behind a wife and five children … Ameera [from al-Nasiriya near Tubas] was killed by Israeli forces when he was 18, his uncle told Ma‘an. He died on Mar. 30, 2002 after carrying out “an operation at an Israeli military checkpoint in Baqa al-Gharbiya, killing an Israeli soldier,” his uncle said. Samahna was a Palestinian activist who was wanted by Israel, said Abd al-Latif Shtayyeh. Shtayyeh said he was present when Samahna died [at 60 years old]. Samahna and other activists “were hiding in an orange grove (when) Israeli forces attacked them,” Shtayyeh said. “Israeli military helicopters started to bombard the grove from all directions. Ata Samahna was killed immediately by a direct hit.”
Israel to return remains of Palestinian killed in 2002
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 21 Jan — Israel will return the remains on Sunday of a Palestinian killed by soldiers over a decade ago, a human right groups said. Israeli rights group HaMoked, or Center for the Defense of the Individual, said in a statement that the remains of Shadi Hamamrah, from Husan, will be returned via the Tarqumiya checkpoint west of Hebron at 8 p.m. on Sunday. The remains matched DNA samples taken from relatives, HaMoked said. Family members say the Palestinian Authority has not officially informed them about the decision to return Hamamrah’s remains. Hamamrah was shot dead near the Malha neighborhood in Jerusalem on March 26, 2002. Khalid Mousa from al-Khader village was killed in the same incident. Israel has held their remains since the killings.
Prisoner may lose leg, life if not treated, says Prisoners Club
RAMALLAH (WAFA) 22 Jan – A prisoner arrested in 2003 and serving a 14-year sentence may lose his leg, if not his life, if not given proper treatment, the Palestinian Prisoner Club said Wednesday. It said in a statement that Mohammed al-Say’areh was also diagnosed with cancer, which may lead to his death. Say’areh’s health is extremely difficult as he is suffering from enlarged blood vessels since 2004 and a leg injury caused during interrogation in 2003, said the Prisoner Club.It said a lawyer for the Prisoner Club who visited Say’areh at his detention in the Naqab desert said that according to initial diagnosis, the disease could lead to the spread of cancer and the amputation of a leg in the event treatment was not given to him in time. The lawyer said that the prisoner must buy medicine from his own pocket worth over $1000 a month. In addition, he requires special food also at his own cost. If Say’areh, from the village of Kharas in the Hebron area, has to undergo surgery, it would cost him at least $30,000, said the Club, which his family cannot afford.
Gaza families visit relatives jailed in Israel
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 20 Jan — Fifteen family members from the Gaza Strip visited relatives jailed in Israel on Monday, an official from the International Committee of the Red Cross said. Nasser al-Najjar told Ma‘an that 15 people, including three children, left the coastal enclave via the Erez Crossing to visit 11 Palestinians detained in Israeli jails. There are around 5,000 Palestinians being detained in Israeli prisons and detention centers, according to Addameer.
PHOTOS: Rally to save sick prisoner Ibrahim Bitar follows Gaza sit-in for detainees
GAZA (ISM, Gaza Team) 20 Jan — Dozens of Palestinians joined a rally organized by the Popular Campaign to Save the Life of the Captive Patient Ibrahim Bitar outside the International Committee of the Red Cross’ Gaza office this morning. The gathering followed a weekly sit-in by families and supporters of Palestinian detainees that has been held in the ICRC courtyard every Monday morning since 1995. Bitar, a resident of Khan Younis in the Gaza Strip, has been sentenced by Israeli forces to 17 years and is held by them in Nafha prison. He has been diagnosed with blood disorders and leukemia, and recently underwent back surgery to remove a tumor, according to Samidoun: Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network. The Hussam Association, a Gaza-based society of current and former Palestinian detainees, reports that Israeli forces have prevented his family from visiting him for the past two months.
Hamas lawmaker on hunger strike to protest detention
NABLUS (Ma‘an) 22 Jan– Hamas-affiliated lawmaker Sheikh Yasser Mansour entered his sixth day on hunger strike Wednesday to protest being detained without trial by Israel since November 2012. Yasser Mansour started hunger strike action on Friday in Israel’s Negev prison and is also refusing to take medicine, his brother Samir told Ma‘an. Mansour, 47, was detained on Nov. 24, 2012, after Israeli forces raided his home in Nablus. He has served two six month terms of administrative detention and a third term was recently renewed by Israeli authorities. Mansour is a member of the inactive Palestinian Legislative Council, representing Hamas. Israel is currently holding over 140 Palestinians in administrative detention, a procedure which allows Israeli authorities to hold detainees indefinitely on secret information without trial or charge.
Palestinian refugees in Syria
Second batch of aid enters Syria’s Yarmouk camp
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 20 Jan — A second batch of medical supplies and food entered the besieged Yarmouk refugee camp on Monday, a leader of a pro-regime Palestinian faction said. Hussam Arafat of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command said that 550 baskets of food, children’s formula, and medical supplies entered the camp while a number of sick and elderly people were evacuated. Arafat said that supplies entered through Rama street after a bulldozer cleared dirt heaps blocking it. Arafat denied that militants agreed to leave the camp, and he said that a reconciliation committee met with militants on Monday at 2 p.m but “they were stalling.” [a drop in the bucket compared to the need, surely?]
Syrian army slows Yarmouk food aid to a trickle
Electronic Intifada 22 Jan by Ali Abunimah — …An eyewitness told The Electronic Intifada that distribution of relief supplies in recent days has been extremely slow as a result of a time-consuming process of identification and list-checking by government forces at the distribution point. On 18 and 20 January, for instance, numerous civilians were turned away and only a fraction of the available relief was distributed each day. On 21 January, according to the eyewitness, UNRWA staff arrived at the northern Batikha entrance of Yarmouk before 11 AM. At 11:30, the team was permitted by government forces to enter the camp under the same government clearances that had allowed access for UNRWA staff on 18 and 20 January. UNRWA brought several dozen food parcels and other supplies to the to the Sama Street distribution point, approximately one kilometer south of the Batikha entrance and about 100 meters north of the front line. However, the distribution of the supplies was delayed for several hours by Syrian government forces as nine civilians were being evacuated. Finally the distrubution began at 2:45PM, but was again interrupted when an injured Palestinian man unsuccessfully tried to seek clearance to leave Yarmouk. Distribution then resumed, but at 4:45PM government forces shut the process down. By the end of the day, only about two dozen food parcels had been distributed in total and the UNRWA team left. The reason the distribution was so slow is that that military personnel would only allow food parcels to be given to people whose name is on a list of 5,000 Yarmouk residents supplied to it by a Palestinian charity. Any other civilians approaching the distribution area seeking food were turned away.
Group: 6 Palestinians killed in airstrikes on Syria’s Daraa
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 21 Jan — Six Palestinian refugees were killed on Monday in airstrikes by Syrian regime forces on Daraa refugee camp in southern Syria, a Palestinian watchdog said. The Syria-based Workforce for Palestinians in Syria said in a statement received by Ma‘an that the victims of the strikes were four children and two men.
The statement also discussed the entry of aid into Yarmouk refugee camp, highlighting that 400 food packages had been sent into the camp. However, the statement added that only 62 families had received food aid because of the “complicated security procedures” that accompany the distribution process.
Nablus children collect $33,000 for Syria camp
NABLUS (Ma‘an) 21 Jan — A group of Palestinian children in Nablus district managed to collect around $33,000 in donations for the besieged Yarmouk camp in Syria. The group of children opened the donation boxes they used in public after a week of fundraising in Nablus. Nablus governor Jibril al-Bakri praised the actions of the children on behalf of the Yarmouk camp.
Activism / BDS
Activists remove Israeli flags from settler roads near Bethlehem
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 20 Jan — Palestinian popular resistance activists removed Israeli flags from two Israeli bypass roads near Bethlehem on Monday morning as part of a new nonviolent campaign to ‘resist’ settlements. Activists targeted bypass roads in two areas near the Israeli settlements of Teqoa, east of Bethlehem, and Neve Daniel, in the Gush Etzion bloc west of Bethlehem. Coordinator for the popular resistance committee against the wall and settlements in Bethlehem Mohammad Brejia said the action was a part of activists’ plan to make 2014 the ‘year of resisting settlements and settlers’. Coordinator for the resistance of settlements Hassan Brejia said that such actions emphasize ‘our commitment to our land and rights and our rejection of the expansion of settlements as well as settler attacks’. “In 2014, we will be moving forward to make settlers feel unsafe on Palestinian land, roads and streets within the 1967 borders,” he added. Settlement bypass roads are Israeli-only roads that connect Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank to each other as well as to Israel proper. These roads limit Palestinian entrance and usage through a number of means, including checkpoints and physical obstructions that prevent travel into or out of Palestinian areas but facilitate movement between Israeli settlements.
Norway: Boycotting Israel will not promote positive change
Ynet 20 Jan by Eldad Beck — Country with record of enmity towards Israel is now assuming more balanced policy in region, enhancing cooperation in various fields such as energy, television. Norway’s prime minister is expected to make first visit to Israel this year … Despite calls made in recent years in Norway – inter alia among local artists – to boycott Israel, the new Norwegian Culture Minister Thorhild Widvey said: “We don’t see the boycott as an effective tool to promote positive change. The Norwegian government is interested in tighter cultural relations between the two countries. I am certain that a deeper mutual understanding is a prerequisite for achieving progress on political matters.” Last week, Widvey opened a conference for Norwegian television producers, which was dedicated to the success of the Israeli television industry in exporting drama series.
Political, other news
Palestinians will not agree to Israeli presence in Jordan Valley
The Media Line 22 Jan — Netanyahu says control over Valley acts as buffer to prevent attacks on Israel, senior Palestinian security expert says ‘only peace deal will stop terrorist attacks (on Israel)’
Erekat: PA won’t negotiate with Israel past the agreed-upon 9 months
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 21 Jan — The Palestinian Authority will not agree to continue ongoing negotiations with Israel even one day after the agreed upon nine-month time frame is over, the chief of the Palestinian negotiation team told Ma‘an on Tuesday. Saeb Erekat told Ma‘an via telephone that the issue of extending negotiations past the nine month deadline has not been posed nor requested, and would not be accepted. He added, “we will not agree on an extension even for one day, nor shall we agree on any temporary solutions. We resumed negotiations under clearly defined terms about the final status and within a nine-month time frame.” Erekat also denied that there have been any negotiations through secret channels in Washington.
2 Fatah-affiliated lawmakers who fled Gaza in 2007 return
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 21 Jan — Two Fatah-affiliated lawmakers who fled the Gaza Strip in 2007 returned to the coastal enclave on Tuesday in a sign of warming relations between the two main Palestinian factions. Hundreds of Fatah supporters gathered near Erez crossing to welcome Majid Abu Shammalah and Alaa Yaghi, two elected members of the Palestinian Legislative Council representing the Fatah movement. The lawmakers crossed the border escorted by senior Fatah official Sufyan Abu Zaydah, and it was the first time that they had returned to the Gaza Strip since clashes between Fatah and Hamas across Palestine drove them out in 2007. Since 2007, the two have been living in Ramallah in the Palestinian Authority-controlled West Bank. Their return to Gaza is part of a series of good will gestures by Hamas-run Gaza Strip government premier Ismail Haniyeh to enhance reconciliation between Hamas and Fatah, which leads the Palestinian Authority. Hamas deputy foreign minister Ghazi Hamad was at the reception near Erez crossing along with Fatah lawmaker Ashraf Jumaa.
Hamas criticizes appointment of new elections chief
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 23 Jan– Hamas on Wednesday criticized President Mahmoud Abbas’ decision to appoint Samih Shbib as the new secretary-general of the Palestinian Central Elections Commission. “This decision contradicts the Cairo agreement which states that an elections committee should be formed in coordination” between factions, a Hamas statement said. Hamas called on Abbas to rethink the decision. Shbib replaced Rami Hamdallah as the new secretary-general.
Bennett: Palestinian state will destroy Israel’s economy
Ynet 20 Jan by Omer Benjakob — Economy Minister Naftali Bennett slammed threats of a potential economic boycott, branding it as another one in a string of excuses used over the past decades to justify the desires to reach a two-state solution and divide post-1967 Israel. Speaking at the Habayit Hayehudi party faction meeting, a clearly agitated Bennett said that far from being in Israel’s economic benefit, “Israel’s economy will be decimated by a Palestinian state,” should one ever be formed. To his visual aid, Bennett came armed with a map of Israel — West Bank included — in which he portrayed Judea and Samaria as a mountainous shield protecting central Israel from West Bank Palestinians.
Protesters back UNRWA employees in Bethlehem demo
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 20 Jan — A demonstration was held on Monday in Bethlehem to pressure the UN’s Palestine refugee agency into responding to the demands of employees who have been on strike for almost 50 days … Various demands have been cited by Palestinian UNRWA employees in the past 45 days of the strike, including wage increase, a change in UNRWA’s policy regarding staff members who have been detained by Israel, and the reversal of December’s layoffs. Strikes have been ongoing since the time of layoffs, leading to a major reduction of services in the West Bank’s 19 refugee camps.
Streets in Arab towns to get names, under new bill
Haaretz 23 Jan by Jonathan Lis — A bill requiring local authorities to name all the streets in their jurisdiction has been submitted to the Knesset Wednesday. The bill’s sponsor, MK Basel Ghattas (Balad), said it aims to address the problem that many Arab localities lack street names. Ghattas said the many nameless streets in more than 95 percent of Arab towns and villages nationwide make it difficult for residents to receive mail and other services, and for ambulances and fire fighters to respond to distress calls. He also said Arab community residents spend NIS 20 million a year on cellular phone calls to Bezeq technicians to guild them to their homes, which have no clear address.
Israel will be hard-pressed to respond to Sinai rocket attack
Haaretz 21 Jan by Amos Harel — As of Monday evening, Israeli security forces have yet to discern the source of a series of explosions heard near the southern port city of Eilat. Judging by the force of the explosions, the most logical assumption is that they were caused by two Katyusha rockets landing in open areas near the city. It seems that the rockets were fired from the Sinai Peninsula by one of the global jihad-affiliated factions, many of which also have ties to Al-Qaida. What still remains unclear is the context of this attack: Is it a by-product of the ongoing struggle between Egyptian security forces and militant groups in Sinai? Or was the attack a response to a different conflict, the dispute that Gaza’s Palestinians have with Israel and Egypt? … Israel has less information about these new players in the world of terrorism, in comparison to the stores of data it has on organizations like Hamas and Hezbollah. Second, it’s difficult to strike back at those who carry out such attacks, because even if their identities become known, they generally do not have any camps out in the open, nor any other infrastructure that can be targeted openly; and in any case, Israel would find it difficult to operate on Egyptian soil.
Israel busts East Jerusalem ‘Qaeda’ cell
JERUSALEM (AFP) 23 Jan — Israel has arrested an al-Qa‘eda-run militant cell in annexed East Jerusalem which was planning to bomb the US embassy, a spokesman for the Israeli prime minister’s office said on Wednesday. The US State Department said it had been in touch with the Israeli authorities about the alleged plot but was not able to corroborate it independently … In a joint operation, the Shin Bet and Jerusalem police uncovered “a global jihad group from east Jerusalem which was operated from the Gaza Strip with the aim of carrying out major terror attacks in Israel,” a Shin Bet statement said. It said the attacks the group were plotting included bombing the US embassy in Tel Aviv, a double suicide bombing at Jerusalem’s International Convention Center, a kidnapping of soldiers from the city’s central bus station and a bombing of a block of flats. Two of the suspects — Iyad Abu Sara and Rubin Abu Nagma, both in their early 20s — were from East Jerusalem, while the third — Alaa Anas, in his early 30s — was from Jenin in the northern West Bank, it said.
UNESCO Jewish exhibit delayed for 6 months
AP 22 Jan — The UN’s cultural agency says it’s delaying for six months a disputed exhibit on Jewish connections to the Holy Land after objections from Arab countries. The exhibition, which is called “People, Book, Land – The 3,500 Year Relationship of the Jewish People to the Holy Land,” was scheduled to open Monday at UNESCO’s headquarters in Paris. Earlier this month UNESCO abruptly announced it was delaying the exhibit after 22 Arab member states said in a letter that it could disrupt the Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations.
Canadian prime minister visits Bethlehem, Ramallah
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 20 Jan — Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper visited Bethlehem and Ramallah on Monday as part of a four-day visit to the Holy Land. Harper met with President Abbas in Ramallah, where he was received in an official ceremony. Abbas and Harper inspected the honor guard as delegations from both sides met. A Canadian business delegation accompanied Harper and will meet with their Palestinian counterparts to discuss join ventures and investments, official news agency Wafa reported. It is expected that Harper will pledge over $60 million to support the Palestinian private sector. Earlier, Harper’s visit to the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem was mired in controversy as local journalists claimed that the premier’s bodyguards assaulted them as they tried to cover his visit … The Palestinian Union of Journalists said that one journalist was punched in the face and Amir Hijazi, who works for a local TV station, was hit with a metal object.
Analysis / Opinion / Reviews
Hopes for Fatah-Hamas reconciliation grow, despite ongoing repression / Rami Almeghari
GAZA STRIP (Electronic Intifada) 21 Jan — Suad al-Najjar and Khitam al-Muqayyad are two grieving Palestinian mothers from the Gaza Strip. Their sons, Tariq and Muhammad, were killed in 2007 as a result of the divisions between Fatah, the faction of Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas, and its rival Hamas. In 2006 and 2007, following Hamas’ victory in January 2006 legislative elections in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, which Fatah leaders and their international supporters were unwilling to accept, armed clashes led to the deaths of dozens of supporters of each group. In June 2007, fearing a US-sponsored coup by forces loyal to Abbas, Hamas drove Fatah forces out of Gaza. Abbas, in turn, accused Hamas of carrying out a “coup.” Both mothers want the rival parties to patch up their differences. “Years after Tariq’s death, my grief remains the same,” al-Najjar, a Fatah supporter, said. “We are all doubtful that they will reach an agreement as this is not the first time they have claimed to be getting near to one,” she added. “Yet we are hopeful they will make it eventually.” … One factor that may make the current effort more credible in some eyes is that Hamas feels more isolated than ever in Gaza, as the Egyptian military regime which seized power last July has intensified its crackdown on the supply tunnels under its border with Gaza … Salem Salama, a Hamas member of the Palestinian Legislative Council elected in 2006, said that Haniyeh had made some goodwill gestures towards Fatah. These have included the release of Fatah prisoners. Also, this week, two Fatah-affiliated members of the legislative council who fled to the West Bank amid the armed clashes in 2007, were permitted to return to Gaza, another sign of warming relations.
‘Just a Child’ shows how prison leaves mental scars on Palestinian boy / Daryl Meador
BETHLEHEM (Electronic Intifada) 20 Jan — Mohammad al-Azza pointed to his right cheek, where an Israeli rubber bullet hit his face, breaking many bones. Only six months after he was shot, the scars were miraculously hard to see. “The space between the soldiers and me was ten meters,” the Palestinian photographer and filmmaker said. “One of them shouted at me and I didn’t hear him, so I took the camera down and asked him what he said. ‘Don’t take pictures and go inside.’ Usually I don’t listen to them … but this time, I didn’t argue, I just said ‘okay.’ I closed the window and went to close the door of the balcony, and as I was trying to close it I saw a flash, moved my face to the left and was shot through here.” The 23-year-old Palestinian is from the Aida refugee camp near Bethlehem. This camp hosts the Lajee Cultural Center, where al-Azza began his explorations in photography in 2005, at the age of 15. Soon after he began, Mohammad realized that photography could be his form of resistance to the occupation … As a young, largely self-taught media maker, al-Azza has created a large body of work focusing on life in Palestine and especially in Aida camp. His photographs and films have been shown internationally, spreading a glimpse of life in Palestine from Palestinian eyes. The Electronic Intifada caught up with al-Azza in Boston in October, where his photographs were on display at Tufts University and his film Just A Child was screened at the Boston Palestine Film Festival. Just a Child is a heartwarming short documentary film about the arrest and release of a 14-year-old Palestinian boy, Raghad. The film captures the nine-month wait which his family has to endure as Raghad’s release continues to be delayed.
Canada’s relationship to Palestine: Two seldom-mentioned issues / Kyle Farquharson
Facticitybrief 20 Jan — Canada’s prime minister, Stephen Harper, is in the Middle East right now—he met recently with Israeli elected officials, and Mahmoud Abbas, the leader of the Palestinian Authority. This morning I read a news article in the Calgary Herald about Canada’s relationship with Israel and Palestine, and I noticed that a couple of crucial issues are omitted from the piece—indeed, commonly omitted from news articles in the Western MSM in general. But we need to be aware of them if we’re to have a properly informed conversation on the issues confronting the region. Issue # 1: Mahmoud Abbas is technically still President of the Palestinian Authority (PA), but his term in office expired in 2009 … Issue # 2: Prime Minister Harper has pledged an additional $66 million in aid to the PA, but it is misleading to state (as many members of the Western press do) that this aid is earmarked for “the Palestinians.” Instead, Canadian aid to the PA is largely devoted to the maintenance of Israeli security—which accounts for why the Israeli government urged Canada to continue its Palestine aid program when Abbas advanced a bid for Palestinian statehood in 2011. (The Harper government had apparently contemplated severing financial support for the PA in retaliation for the statehood bid.) One of the foremost objectives of Canadian aid for the PA is the establishment of a security force in the West Bank that is both complicit in settlement activity, and active in quelling popular dissent among the restive West Bank Palestinian population. Canada has also deployed soldiers, RCMP and various other state officials to the West Bank, as part of Operation PROTEUS , which has absorbed most of the foreign aid funding the Harper government has pledged to the PA since 2008.
Ahmad Tibi: Why I walked out on Stephen Harper’s speech / Laura Payton
CBCnews 20 Jan — An Arab-Israeli legislator who stormed out during Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s speech to the Knesset on Monday says he did so as a form of protest against Harper’s bias. Speaking to Evan Solomon, host of CBC News Network’s Power & Politics, Ahmad Tibi said Harper’s speech was “biased” and that he described Israel in “a very unbalanced way.” [Links to:” Watch and read Stephen Harper’s Knesset speech; Stephen Harper vows loyalty to Israel in speech to Knesset; Stephen Harper in Israel gets the red-carpet treatment] “We are 20 per cent of the population, we are suffering discrimination,” Tibi told Solomon. “That democracy of Israel is a selective democracy, ethnic democracy. Canada is a democracy and people are equal without relation to their ethnic background. Here, there’s a problem with that,” he said … Canada’s foreign policy toward Israel is “biased, non-balanced, and that’s why Canada has a very marginal role in the Middle East,” Tibi said … Harper was speaking out against what he says is a more subtle form of anti-Semitism than what the world saw ahead of the Holocaust. “Some civil-society leaders today call for a boycott of Israel.… Most disgracefully of all, some openly call Israel an apartheid state. Think about that. Think about the twisted logic and outright malice behind that,” Harper said….