Supreme Court okays highway bisecting Arab neighborhood in Jerusalem
Haaretz 26 Jan by Nir Hasson — The Supreme Court rejected on Sunday an appeal against the construction of a multilane highway that would cut in half an Arab neighborhood in Jerusalem. The Jerusalem municipality is building a six-lane highway running through the Arab neighborhood of Beit Safafa, cutting the pastoral area in the south of the city into two … The residents asked the Supreme Court to order the state to either stop building the road, or to cover the Beit Safafa stretch of the highway. On Sunday, the Supreme Court rejected the residents’ appeal. Plans for the highway, which would connect Jerusalem’s Begin Highway with the so-called tunnels road linking the Gush Etzion settlement bloc to Jerusalem, were approved more than 23 years ago. If built as planned, the highway will pass a few meters by some residents’ homes and cut off several dozen families from the center of the village, forcing them to drive or walk a long way to reach essential locations such as the neighborhood mosque, grocery store and kindergarten.
Land, property theft & destruction / Ethnic cleansing / Residency / Restriction of movement
The ethnic cleansing of Jerusalem
Middle East Monitor 26 Jan by Madia Saad Al-Din — An executive committee member of the Palestine Liberation Organisation said recently that Jerusalem will be lost permanently if Israel continues its settlement projects while Arab-Muslim support for the city remains weak. “Jerusalemites should be valued,” urged Ahmed Qurei, “and they should be supported so that they can remain steadfast in their homes and on their land.” Israel, insisted the senior Fatah official, has long been engaged in an “ethnic cleansing” project in the Hole City and it is enlarging its settlements daily. “The occupation authorities have spent the equivalent of the budgets of two Arab states for the Judaisation of Jerusalem in order to prevent the city from being divided with the establishment of a Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital.” Until now, he added in a statement to Al-Ghad newspaper, US Secretary of State John Kerry has yet to provide any solution that would be accepted by Palestinians. Qurei warned that Jerusalem is undergoing so many drastic changes that soon “nothing in the city will be Arab” if the current situation remains as it is. In fact, Al-Ghad published data and maps prepared by the Department of Jerusalem Affairs which revealed the gravity of Jerusalem’s ever-changing features due to the occupation. They disclosed the expansion of 15 settlements, housing approximately 200 settlers in the Arab towns and villages that constitute Jerusalem and its surrounding area. These settlements are being established on nearly one-third of Jerusalem’s traditional land, which has been annexed by Israel since 1967. Two neighbourhoods and eight outposts have been dismembered in order to house 2,000 Israeli settlers among Arab Jerusalemites and their homes.
Two East Jerusalem Palestinians made ‘illegal’ by Interior Ministry win reprieve in court
Haaretz 27 Jan by Nir Hasson — For years, Amir Salima and Mohammed Nabulsi, Palestinian residents of East Jerusalem, have not been able to work, travel, obtain medical insurance or otherwise live normal lives because the Interior Ministry exploited loopholes in the law to deny them residency permits. They were facing deportation. However, their predicament should finally be coming to an end following recent rulings in their separate cases by Jerusalem courts. Both cases involve the special legal situation of Palestinian residents of East Jerusalem, who have permanent residency status but not citizenship. Residency status, as opposed to citizenship, can be fairly easily revoked, leaving such individuals without legal standing in their own city.
The first case is that of Salima, 21, who lives in the Old City. The absurdity of Salima’s situation, who has legal status neither in Israel nor in the Palestinian Authority, was amplified by the fact that his parents and five siblings all hold Israeli identity cards. The reason is simple: Unfortunately for him, he was born in a hospital in Ramallah, and not in Jerusalem, after his mother began having labor pains while visiting her sister, who lives in Ramallah. He has no identity card, no passport, he cannot register for university studies, apply for a job, sign up for an health maintenance organization or open a bank account. He cannot visit the West Bank or anywhere else outside of Jerusalem. In fact, he can barely leave his house, for fear of being caught by the police…
In the second case, Jerusalem District Court Judge Nava Ben-Or instructed the Interior Ministry to restore residency status to Nabulsi, a native of East Jerusalem who married a Jewish citizen of Belgium. In 1998, the couple went to Belgium, where their daughter was born and Nabulsi obtained Belgian citizenship. In 2007 the couple divorced and Nabulsi returned to live in Israel. However, the Interior Ministry refused to return his identity card to him, claiming that by moving to Belgium he had given up his residency.
Israeli forces demolish 3-story building in East Jerusalem
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 27 Jan — Israeli forces demolished a 3-story building under construction in East Jerusalem on Monday, a local official said. Muhammad Abu al-Hummus, a local committee official, told Ma‘an that Israeli forces escorted bulldozers to the al-Isawiya neighborhood at around 6 a.m. and demolished a three-floor building belonging to Abdul-Hayy Dari. Israeli forces closed the main roads in the neighborhood during the demolition, preventing students and employees access to their schools and work places. Inspectors from Israel’s Jerusalem municipality toured the neighborhood last week and took photos of several buildings.
Balata: A camp of transitory permanence
BALATA, oPt (Al Jazeera) 22 Jan by Jonathan Brown — Palestinian refugees face the paradoxical nature of ‘temporary’ shelter which has lasted 63 years, with no end in sight — What does a refugee camp look like? Images of Syria’s displaced millions have crystallised the common features, the stereotypes. Zaatari in northern Jordan is a poignant example. After it opened in July 2012, its population swelled to more than 200,000 in less than a year. It became Jordan’s fourth-largest “city”. One-and-a-half years later, it is still all tents and temporary structures – the prevailing image is one of impermanence. So what does a permanent refugee camp look like? One-hundred kilometres west of Zaatari is Balata, the West Bank’s largest refugee camp. But, hovering just beyond Nablus in the northern West Bank, it defies the stereotypes. The United Nations opened Balata in 1950, in what was then the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, and unlike its younger counterparts, Balata’s humanitarian crisis is not at the fore of its character. Rather, Balata is renowned as a hub of armed resistance to both Palestinian and Israeli military intrusion, and unexpectedly, it’s famed for fostering tremendous football talent. Sentimental ties Ramsis is in his early 20s and still at university. His origins are a delicate issue. Ramsis is careful to make the distinction, he is “from Jaffa; born in Balata”. Most refugees here are from Jaffa, near Tel Aviv in Israel.
IOF bars travel of 42 Palestinians in one week
RAMALLAH (PIC) 25 Jan — Israeli occupation authorities (IOA) barred the travel of 42 Palestinian via the Karame crossing linking the West Bank to Jordan over the past week. The crossing police in Jericho said in a statement on Saturday that more than 30,000 Palestinians traveled through Karame crossing over the past week in both directions. It pointed out that the IOA denied travel for 42 male and female Palestinians at “security pretexts” in a noticeable increase in the number compared to the week before.
link to www.palestine-info.co.uk/En
Violence / Raids / Attacks / Clashes / Suppression of protests / Illegal arrests
Worker shot by police, minor beaten by settlers
IMEMC Sunday 26 Jan by Chris Carlson — Israeli police have shot a Palestinian man, aged 41, while he was in Israel for work, according to medical sources. Director of the Red Crescent in Jenin, Mahmoud Saadi, said that Israeli police shot Abdullah Zyound, 41, from the village of Silat al-Harithiya, near Jenin, on Sunday, injuring him in his leg and arm during a pursuit of workers in Israel, the Palestine News & Info Agency (WAFA) has reported. He was transferred from Salem military compound to the north east of Jenin, to a hospital, for medical treatment.
WAFA also reports that, on Saturday night, Israeli settlers severally beat a 13-year-old Palestinian in central Hebron, according to the child’s father. The father told WAFA that settlers assaulted Yazan al-Shirbati while he was passing near Beit Hadasa settlement, causing several bruises throughout his body. He said that Israeli police arrested them both, following the incident, and detained them for five hours in Ja‘bara police station, where police accused them of trying to assault the settlers and other soldiers.
They were later released after signing a pledge to appear before court if summoned.
Settlers attack Palestinians, including 4 elders, in Hebron area
HEBRON (WAFA) 25 Jan – Israeli settlers from Karmiel and Beit Ayin settlements attacked Saturday several Palestinians, including four elderly men, in Um Al-Khair and Beit Ummar, located to the south and north of Hebron respectively, according to local activists. Ratib Jabour, Coordinator of the Popular Committee against the Wall and Settlements in southern Hebron, said that Israeli settlers from the illegal Karmiel settlement, under the protection of Israeli forces, attacked and severely beaten several shepherds from Um Al-Kair village, including Maliha Al-Hathlalin, 57, and Suleiman Al-Hathalin, 65, who fainted after being hit on the head. He was transferred to hospital for treatment.
Meanwhile, Mohammad Awad, the Spokesperson of the Popular Committee against Settlement in Beit Ummar, said that Israeli armed settlers from the illegal Beit Ayin settlement, under the protection of Israeli forces, attacked, chased and prevented several Palestinian farmers, including two elderly men aged 80 and 70, from farming their land located in a nearby area. He added that settlers attack farmers in that area almost on daily basis as an attempt to drive them out of their land in order to take over the land for the benefit of settlement expansion.
Israeli forces prevent farmers from grazing their sheep near Hebron
HEBRON (WAFA) 26 Jan – Israeli forces Sunday prevented Palestinian farmers from grazing their sheep in Umm al Khair area, east of Yatta to the south of Hebron, according to a local activist. The Popular Committee Coordinator in Yatta, Rateb al-Jabour, told WAFA that forces, chased after the farmers, detained a number of them, including two elderly men and a teenager, and prevented them from grazing their sheep
Settlers attack Palestinian farmers in Beit Ummar
HEBRON (Ma‘an) 26 Jan — Israeli settlers attacked Palestinian farmers and their families in the Wadi Abu al-Reesh area in the southern West Bank near Beit Ummar on Saturday evening, a local spokesperson said. Muhammad Ayyad Awad, a spokesman for Beit Ummar’s local committee against settlement activities, told Ma‘an that settlers wearing masks and white uniforms threw stones at farmers and swore at them both in Arabic and Hebrew. Awad highlighted that some of the attackers carried rifles. The farmers had to leave their fields immediately because many of them were accompanied by their children and they were worried for their safety, added Awad. Israeli troops arrived, he said, to protect the attackers. The soldiers watched as settlers vandalized olive trees and instead of stopping them, the soldiers inspected the identity cards of the Palestinian farmers and prevented them from taking photos with their mobile phones. The mayor of Beit Ummar Nasri Sabarnah arrived along with officers from the Palestinian military liaison who documented the attack and received an official complaint from the mayor.
Group of settlers assaults two Palestinians in East Jerusalem
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 25 Jan — A group of Israeli settlers cornered and assaulted two young Palestinian men from the Beit Hanina neighborhood of Jerusalem on Friday night as they drove past the nearby illegal Israeli settlement of Pisgat Zeev. A family member told Ma’an that a group of settlers armed with clubs blocked their vehicle and attacked 18-year-old Yazan Hani Ramadan and 18-year-old Majd Zaki Ramadan as they were driving just before midnight. The young men’s uncle Amjad Ramadan told a Ma‘an reporter that the two young men left the Wadi al-Jouz neighborhood near the old city of Jerusalem around 11 p.m. in order to return to their homes in Beit Hanina. As they passed a mall near the Pisgat Zeev settlement in East Jerusalem, a vehicle obstructed their car and two other vehicles closed their way from behind. Fifteen settlers then stepped out and started to beat the two young Palestinians. “They attacked them while they were inside the car, then again while they were outside, causing bruises and fractures all over their bodies,” he said. “After they fainted, the settlers fled the scene and passersby called an ambulance which evacuated the victims to Hadassah Ein Kerem Hospital,” he added.
Ultra-Orthodox Jews hurl stones at Palestinian vehicles in Jerusalem
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 26 Jan — Dozens of ultra-Orthodox Jews hurled stones at cars traveling on Route 1 highway in Jerusalem on Saturday evening, in what victims claimed were racially-motivated assaults targeting Palestinians. Eyewitnesses told a Ma‘an reporter that about 60 ultra-Orthodox Jewish men hurled rocks at vehicles driven by Palestinians with Israeli registration plates and assaulted a bicyclist before stealing his bike. Muhammad Abu al-Hummus, a Palestinian Jerusalem resident whose vehicle was attacked, said that some of the attackers were hurling stones from balconies and windows while others were on the road itself. Abu al-Hummus added that when his car was hit, he stopped and stepped out, but attackers continued to pelt him with stones injuring his foot. Abu al-Hummus confirmed that a bicyclist was attacked with stones and his bike was stolen. A group of Israeli troops and police horsemen arrived on the scene, Abu al-Hummus said, but they merely watched the assailants and did not intervene. Abu al-Hummus said that the police told the victims to file complaints at Israeli police stations. [IMEMC: Abu Al-Hummus also said that several children suffered anxiety attacks after the extremists hurled stones at their father’s vehicle in the area.]
Settlers torch protest tent
[good photo of mosque of Nabi Samuel] AIC 26 Jan — Israeli settlers torched Saturday a protest tent set up in Nabi Samuel, a Palestinian village to the northwest of Jerusalem. The tent served residents to protest Israeli confiscation of lands. According to a local activist, Eid Barakat, settlers raided the village in the morning and torched tires inside the tent. Barakat added that residents would continue their protest in order to convey to the world the message that they are being ethnically cleansed by the Israeli occupation forces. The village of Nabi Samuel has a population of 300 residents.
Update – Settlers uproot trees, soldiers kidnap Palestinians
BETHLEHEM (IMEMC) Sunday, 26 Jan — After dozens of settlers uprooted Palestinian trees and farmlands near Wad Rahhal village, south of Bethlehem, Israeli soldiers kidnapped the coordinator of the Popular Committee Against the Wall and Settlements, and detained two journalists. Palestine TV has reported that tension has been mounting in the area since early morning hours, Sunday, after the settlers uprooted Palestinian trees belonging to resident Ahmad Ayyash, in Khallit An-Nahla area. It added that the soldiers kidnapped Hasan Breijiyyah, as he and a number of nonviolent activists and residents, tried to stop the settlers. Soldiers also detained Ahmad Mizher, a cameraman working for the Palestinian News & Info Agency (WAFA), and Abdul-Rahman Hashlamoun who works for the Associated Press. Mizher told WAFA that the residents tried to stop the settlers who were uprooting Palestinian trees, in Khallit An-Nahla area, belonging to Wad Rahhal, south of Bethlehem. Fifteen minutes before his arrest, Breijiyyah told WAFA that around 15 Israeli settlers carrying handheld saws and digging equipment, invaded the Palestinian orchard — approximately 700 dunams (172.97 acres) – and initiated their attack in an attempt to illegally confiscate it and install an outpost. He added that dozens of residents scuffled with the settlers in an attempt to stop them before the soldiers invaded the area and assaulted the Palestinian villagers.
Military Advocate General: Palestinians need to be protected as well
Ynet 26 Jan by Yoav Zitun — Danny Efroni, Chief Military Advocate General (MAG), the man in charge of investigations conducted in the IDF – both interrogations of soldiers and questionings of hostile sources – spoke with Ynet after a series of incidents in the West Bank. “IDF troops are present in the territories in order to protect the Palestinian population as well. It’s outrageous that soldiers fail to intervene in the case of disturbances, regardless of who performs them,” Efroni told Ynet, addressing recent settler violence, including settlers’ vandalism of a jeep belonging to a Samaria Brigade Commander and the hurling of stones at a house in the village of Ourif, while IDF solders stood by without intervening.
Weekly protest at Kafr Qaddum met with exceptional violence
KAFR QADDUM, Occupied Palestine (ISM, Nablus Team) — On Friday 24th January, 2014, the weekly demonstration in Kafr Qaddum, in the Qalqilya district, was repressed by excessive force, to a much greater extent than on most Fridays. By 11:00 a.m., clashes had already broken out between local youths and Israeli soldiers and border police on the outskirts of the village. The demonstration was not due to begin until 12:00 p.m. During the demonstration, Israeli forces fired high-velocity tear gas canisters at head height, as well as rubber-coated steel bullets. Five people were injured as a result. A further seventeen people were treated for tear gas inhalation as canisters were fired both at protesters and into residents’ houses. Among those treated were an elderly woman and a two-month old baby. In addition, Israeli border police detained one Palestinian for the duration of the demonstration. The man was in Kafr Qaddum on a social visit to his fiancée, and was captured in an ambush by Israeli forces. He was later released. The people of Kafr Qaddum responded to the repression with stones. Kafr Qaddum has held weekly demonstrations since July 2011 to protest against the closure of the road leading to Nablus, as well as the broader issue of the occupation itself. In recent months, the town has seen an escalation in the number of night raids and arrests of its inhabitants.
IOF soldiers storm Palestinian cities, arrest two young men
AL-KHALIL (PIC) 25 Jan — Israeli occupation forces (IOF) arrested two Palestinian young men on Saturday, one of them during confrontations in ‘Arub refugee camp, north of Al-Khalil, and the other from a village south of Al-Khalil. Eyewitnesses said that IOF soldiers broke into the refugee camp and were confronted by stone-throwing youths. They added that the soldiers left the camp after arresting a young man. The witnesses noted that the soldiers were on alert during their raid on the camp and searched a number of houses in Teeti neighborhood and nearby areas. Meanwhile, IOF soldiers manning a roadblock near Bethlehem arrested a young man from Samu‘ village, south of Al-Khalil. Local sources said that Mohammed Abu Akeel, 23, was taken from a vehicle passing through the Container checkpoint, adding that he was searched and blindfolded then taken away. In another incident, IOF soldiers in 20 patrols raided the Old City of Nablus and Al-‘Ain refugee camp. Eyewitnesses told the PIC reporter that more than 60 soldiers were seen in three suburbs in the city accompanied by police dogs and an intelligence officer and were taking shots of alleys and yards.
link to www.palestine-info.co.uk/En/
Army invades various West Bank communities, kidnaps three Palestinians
IMEMC Sun 26 Jan by Saed Bannoura — …Local sources in Bethlehem have reported that soldiers invaded a bakery in the ‘Aida refugee camp, in Bethlehem, and conducted searches. The soldiers kidnapped Ahmad Ma’moun, who works at the bakery, after breaking into his home and searching it. Another resident was also kidnapped from his home in the Al-Obeydiyya town, near Bethlehem, and was taken to an unknown destination. Furthermore, dozens of soldiers invaded the As-Samoa‘ [or al-Samu‘] town, south of the southern West Bank city of Hebron, broke into homes and searched them, kidnapping one Palestinian. Local sources said that the soldiers broke into the home of resident Odah Al-Mahareeq, age 31, and kidnapped him. Also in Hebron, soldiers invaded Yatta town, south of the city, invaded several homes and searched them before handing a number of Palestinians military orders to head to a nearby military base for interrogation. Furthermore, an Israeli military jeep installed a roadblock on a bypass road close to the Al-Fawwar refugee camp, south of Hebron, stopped and searched several Palestinian cars … Dozens of soldiers also invaded the Qabatia and Ejja [or ‘Ajja] towns, south of the northern West Bank city of Jenin, broke into and searched several homes. Palestinian security sources in Qabatia said that the army invaded the homes of Nasser Khuzaymiyya and his brother, Makhzoom, interrogating them and their families. The sources added that the soldiers also invaded homes in Ejja town, photographing their exterior and interior before invading Jaba‘ town, nearby.
Official: Undercover Israeli forces arrest man near Hebron
HEBRON (Ma‘an) 26 Jan — Undercover Israeli forces on Sunday arrested a young Palestinian man at the entrance of Beit Ummar village. Spokesman for the popular resistance committee Mohammad Awad said that Sakhr Hisham Khalil Abu Maria, 21, was apprehended after a white car with Israeli license plate stopped beside him. Awad said three armed people stepped out of it and forced him into the car before taking him to a military site in the Gush Etzion settlement area. Abu Maria has two brothers, Habis, 26, and Jihad, 24, who are awaiting trials in Israeli jail. [PIC: Abu Maria was a cab driver waiting for fares when he was kidnapped]
Prisoners / Prison system / Return of bodies to families
Israel returns body of man killed in 2002
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 26 Jan — Israel on Sunday evening delivered the body of Shadi Hamamra from Husan village west of Bethlehem to his family, the head of the Palestinian military liaisons office said. Jihad al-Jayousi told Ma‘an that Hamamra’s body was delivered at Tarqumiya checkpoint west of Hebron. Hamamra was shot dead by Israeli forces along with Khalid Mousa from al-Khader in al-Malha in Jerusalem in 2002.
Family to receive remains of Palestinian from Israeli authorities
NABLUS (Ma‘an) 25 Jan — Israeli authorities are scheduled to return the remains of a Palestinian man from the northern West Bank on Tuesday, a Palestinian group said in a statement. A campaign to retrieve the remains of Palestinians held in Israel said that the family of Ahmad Hafith Saadat Abd al-Jawwad would receive his remains on Tuesday at the Taybeh checkpoint near Tulkarem. Abd al-Jawwad’s family lives in ‘Askur refugee camp near Nablus in the northern West Bank, according to the statement.
The man was killed after he clashed with Israeli security guards near the illegal Israeli settlement of Alon Moreh near Nablus on March 28, 2002. He was 19. So far this year, four Palestinian families have received the remains of relatives who were killed by Israeli forces and whose bodies had been held in Israel.
Prisoner Hamza Kaluti waiting for surgery since 2009
OCCUPIED JERUSALEM (PIC) 26 Jan — The Tadamun (solidarity) foundation for human rights said that Palestinian prisoner Hamza Al-Kaluti, from occupied Jerusalem, is medically neglected by Israeli jailers and has been waiting to undergo a hernia operation since 2009. The foundation’s lawyer, who visited Gilboa prison recently, stated that prisoner Kaluti, 44, suffers from deteriorating health conditions, including hernia, poor eyesight, gout and stiffness in his bones and joints that cause him to hardly move. The lawyer added that the jailers at Gilboa prison had given Kaluti heavy medication, normally taken by patients with more serious conditions, which affected the functions of his kidneys and liver and caused him blood and breath problems. Kaluti was kidnapped by the Israeli occupation forces in mid-2001 and he has been serving six life prison terms ever since on charges of his affiliation with the armed wing of Hamas.
link to www.palestine-info.co.uk/En/
Who Profits report: Corporations profit from Israeli prisons
Samidoun: Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network 26 Jan — Who Profits released the following report on the involvement of Israeli and multinational corporations in the Israeli prison system: On December 2013, the Israel Prison Service (IPS) responded to a freedom of information request by Who Profits, which was submitted three months earlier, regarding twenty-two corporations that provide services to Israeli prisons.These companies mainly provide security equipment and services to incarceration facilities that hold Palestinian prisoners and detainees inside Israel and in the occupied West Bank. These incarceration facilities hold Palestinian political prisoners in violation of international law, and torture and systematic violations of human rights take place within their walls. According to Addameer’s latest monthly detention report (December 2013), there are 5033 Palestinian political prisoners in the Israeli prisons, 173 of whom are minors and 145 are administrative detainees. The following table is an English translation of information provided by the Israel Prison Service to Who Profits, regarding twenty-two corporations that provide services to Israeli prisons and detention facilities.
Gaza under blockade
Army bombards area near Khan Younis
IMEMC Sat at dawn 25 Jan by Saed Bannoura — Israeli soldiers fired several shells and rounds of live ammunition into Palestinian farmlands east of Al-Qarara town, northeast of Khan Younis in the southern part of the Gaza … Local sources have reported that the soldiers targeted several Palestinian residents, including farmers and workers, forcing the farmers out of their lands.
Late on Friday at night, Israeli navy warships fired dozens of rounds of live ammunition at Palestinian fishing boats docked in the Sudaniyya area, in Gaza.
On Friday evening, Israeli soldiers shot and killed one Palestinian, and wounded seven others, in Palestinian lands close to the border fence, along the coastal region.
Israeli warships fire at Gaza fishermen
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 25 Jan — Israeli warships early Saturday fired at Palestinian fishing boats off the coast of Gaza City, fishermen told Ma‘an. The fishermen said Israeli ships fired machine guns at them, and that many were forced to sail back to shore. No injuries were reported.
Gaza: Life beneath the drones
GAZA (Corporate Watch, Tom Anderson and Therezia Cooper) 25 Jan — In the Gaza Strip there is no escape from Israel’s drones. Nicknameed ‘zenana’ by Palestinians because of their noisy buzzing, the drones (remote control aircraft) are omnipresent. Sometimes they are there to carry out an extra judicial killing and sometimes they are there for surveillance. If you are on the ground you do not know which and you have no choice but to try to ignore them.
Report: Israel to allow storm recovery materials into Gaza
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 26 Jan — Israeli media reported on Sunday that Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon had approved plans to allow construction material into the Gaza Strip in order to help repair buildings destroyed in December’s severe winter storm. Israeli news site Ynet said that the plan to allow 1,000 tons of cement and “construction materials” into the besieged coastal enclave followed coordination between Israeli officials, the Palestinian Authority, and officials from the international community. The decision was taken by the Defense Minister and its implemented will be directed by the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories, Eitan Dangot. It was not clear when the transfer would take place. An historic winter storm struck the Levant in December, leading to major flooding in the Gaza Strip and displacing 40,000 from their homes.
Israel allows 230 aid trucks into Gaza
GAZA (Bahrain News Agency) 26 Jan — Israeli occupation authorities opened the Karam Abu Salem crossing today and allowed the export of a truckload with strawberries and flowers to Europe and the entry of 230 truckloads with aids and goods for commercial, agricultural and transportation sectors into Gaza. Head the Coordination Committee for entry of goods in the Gaza Strip Raed Fattouh said that the occupation authorities will also allow the pumping of quantities of industrial diesel for power plant in the sector, transportation fuel and cooking gas through the terminal.
Egypt exceptionally reopens Rafah crossing to allow Gaza pilgrims
World Bulletin 26 Jan — Egyptian authorities on Sunday exceptionally reopened the Rafah border crossing to allow Palestinian pilgrims leave the Gaza Strip on the way to the holy lands in Saudi Arabia and also allow other Gaza residents to re-enter the strip. Gaza Minister of Endowments and Religious Affairs Minister Ismail Radwan said the crossing would be reopened two days every week.Accompanying 530 Gaza pilgrims to the crossing on the way to Saudi Arabia on Sunday, Radwan said 450 more pilgrims will be allowed out of Gaza on Monday. He added that the Gaza pilgrims will travel to Saudi Arabia from Cairo airport.
Gaza teen dies of wounds sustained in explosion
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 27 Jan — A Palestinian teenager died Monday from wounds sustained a day earlier in an explosion in al-Bureij refugee camp in the central Gaza Strip. Ashraf Thahir Muhammad Farajallah, 18, died after being injured late Sunday in an “internal” explosion in the camp, Gaza medical official Ashraf al-Qidra said, without providing further details. Farajallah was taken to the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Hospital and pronounced dead shortly after arrival.
Havoc for Gaza strawberry growers amid storms and siege
Ma‘an 26 Jan by Abdulrahman Murad — For years, Israeli restrictions and unexpected closures of the Gaza Strip’s lone commercial crossing have caused severe losses for strawberry growers in the coastal enclave, whose produce is mainly destined for European markets. But in the current growing season, which began in November and continues through February, the losses have been doubled, as a heavy winter storm hit the region in December, damaging their fields and ripe crops. Among those coping with the loss is Khader al-Khatib, 58, who planted a patch of nearly two acres with strawberry, hoping to provide for his 20-member family.
“Half of my strawberries have been swamped with water and the other half damaged by severe cold,” he told Ma‘an.
Second baby born in Gaza using smuggled sperm of jailed father
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 25 Jan — The wife of a jailed Palestinian from the Gaza Strip gave birth to a baby boy after her husband smuggled his sperm out of an Israeli prison, the mother said. Maryam Abu Salah told Ma‘an that after using sperm smuggled from her husband, Fahmi Abu Salah, she had given birth to a son, whom she named Asaad after his grandfather. Abu Salah has been held in Israeli prisons for six years, his wife said. This is the second reported time a baby has been born in Gaza using smuggled sperm from an imprisoned Palestinian. On Jan. 11, the wife of Tamer Zaanine gave birth to a baby boy using her husband’s smuggled sperm. There are approximately 5,000 Palestinian prisoners held by Israel, and they are denied conjugal visits.
Sperm smugglers score a victory in Gaza
BEIT HANOUN, Gaza Strip (Al Jazeera) 20 Jan by Fares Akram — Strategy has been swimmingly successful for some wives of Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails — When the Israeli army arrested Palestinian Tamer al-Zaanin a month and a half after his marriage in 2006, his wife, Hana, was still studying Sharia at the Islamic University in Gaza City. Her husband had been sentenced to 12 years in prison on charges of being an operative with Islamic Jihad. Having plenty of time with no children, Hana enrolled again in the same university after graduating; this time she is majoring in math. But she won’t have nearly as much free time in the coming years. Last week, she gave birth to a baby boy, Hassan, through in-vitro fertilisation, marking the first case in Gaza in which a prisoner managed to impregnate his wife with sperm smuggled out of prison, following six successful births in recent years in the West Bank. “I can’t describe how happy I am,” said the 26-year-old mother from behind a black veil. “It’s an indescribable feeling that seven years on since my husband was arrested, I gave birth from a smuggled sperm,” she added as women and relatives sat around her bed in the family hometown of Beit Hanoun. “Sperm smuggling from inside the jails constitutes a challenge to the Israeli jailer,” said Fouad al-Khafsh of the Ahrar Centre of Prisoners’ Studies. Khafsh told Al Jazeera that dozens of prisoners, especially those serving long or life sentences, try to have children using in-vitro fertilisation.
Hundreds protest reduction of UNRWA services in Gaza
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 26 Jan — Hundreds of Palestinian refugees rallied on Sunday in the central and southern Gaza Strip protesting reductions in services by UNRWA in Palestinian refugee camps across the coastal enclave. Witnesses told Ma‘an that protestors closed the offices of the UN’s Palestine refugee agency in Nuseirat refugee camp in the central Gaza Strip during the protest. Demonstrators waved black flags and signs denouncing service reductions and calling upon director of UNRWA operations Robert Turner to leave the Gaza Strip. An official from the popular committee of al-Bureij refugee camp in the central Gaza Strip Suleiman Saymah said during the protest that the agency continued to reduce services to Palestinian refugees despite the dire economic conditions and high rates of unemployment in the blockaded Gaza Strip. Saymah highlighted that UNRWA had promised to “reconsider 54,000 cases that receive social welfare assistance.” About 26,000 cases are expected to receive assistance through the same programs they used to benefit from, while the rest will be moved to other programs. Hundreds of refugees also rallied in Rafah camp in the southern Gaza Strip urging the UNRWA to resume providing services which have been reduced.
Goodbye Gaza: our correspondent reflects on her time in the Middle East
Observer 25 Jan by Harriet Sherwood — After three years reporting on the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, our Middle East correspondent is coming home to the UK. With heavy heart she pays a farewell visit to Gaza and pays tribute to the resilience, creativity and humour of its people — …I arrived eager to learn more about what is frequently called the world’s most intractable conflict, and to try to understand the powerful feelings of historical injustice on both sides. I am leaving angry about an occupation that has lasted close to half a century, weary of Israel’s grinding oppression of the Palestinian people, cynical about the political leadership on both sides and in the international community, and pessimistic that a fair resolution will be reached. Before heading home, I needed to say goodbye to Gaza, an extraordinary and unforgettable place … An indication of personal desperation and social unravelling lies in an unprecedented rise in property crime, previously almost unheard of in Gaza. Domestic violence is also increasing. The UN agency for Palestinian refugees, UNRWA, is feeding more than 800,000 Gazans – almost half the population, and a record number. But UNRWA is also facing a catastrophic 20% drop in income while need is rising. “So much pressure has built up,” Robert Turner, UNRWA’s director of operations, told me. “How far can Gaza bend before it snaps?”
Palestinian refugees in Syria
#Yarmouk highlights starvation in Syrian refugee camp
Al Jazeera America The Stream 24 Jan — Human rights activists and aid workers are using Twitter to drum up international support for the 45,000 people without food in the Yarmouk Palestinian refugee camp in Damascus, Syria. Users of the hashtag #Yarmouk, #YarmoukCamp and #SaveYarmoukCamp are sharing stories with often graphic images of men, women and children who have gone days and weeks without food.
‘Don’t forget us here’: Photos reveal devastation in Syria’s Yarmouk camp
Electronic Intifada 26 Jan by Ali Abunimah — Since July, Yarmouk refugee camp on the outskirts of Damascus has been closed to humanitarian relief. Thousands of people – Palestinians and Syrians – trapped inside have been suffering from malnutrition and a grievous lack of medical care. Dozens are reported to have died of starvation. British-Lebanese journalist Hala Jaber reported for today’s Sunday Times and The Australian, from Yarmouk, whose “150,000 inhabitants have dwindled to an estimated 18,000 after a year of ferocious fighting between Palestinian factions on opposing sides of Syria’s civil war. A seven-month army siege has compounded the misery.” [Read Jaber’s report here]
Palestinian leftists protest so-called ‘peace’ negotiations
IMEMC 25 Jan by Celine Hagbard — Left-wing groups and parties held marches in several parts of the West Bank on Saturday, challenging the negotiations currently taking place between the Palestinian Authority and Israeli officials, governed by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, as a farce that will never lead to lasting peace. Hundreds of people marched in Hebron and Nablus, rejecting the framework established by John Kerry for the talks, saying that the framework would “liquidate the question of Palestine and prolong the Israeli occupation.” … Saturday’s protest in Hebron consisted of a number of left-wing parties, who gathered at the al-Hussein Ibn Ali stadium for a rally, then marched through the streets carrying flags and banners, ending at a protest tent set up by UNRWA employees to show solidarity with the striking workers … At the Saturday protest in Nablus, demonstrators gathered at Martyr’s Circle in the center of the city, and marched through the streets with signs, flags and banners. The message at the Nablus protest was similar to that of the protest in Hebron, with speakers condemning the US proposal for a framework of negotiations that would greatly favor the Israeli agenda to further entrench their control over the whole of historic Palestine, while squeezing the indigenous Palestinians into smaller and smaller enclaves.
Israeli official: Palestine should allow Jewish settlers
AP 26 Jan — An official in the prime minister’s office says Benjamin Netanyahu believes Jewish settlers should have the option of staying in a future Palestinian state. Sunday’s comment expounded on Netanyahu’s words over the weekend in Davos, where he told the World Economic Forum that he did not intend to uproot any Israelis in a peace deal. But the official, who spoke anonymously because it was not yet Israeli policy, says Netanyahu believes there is no reason why a Palestinian state should “be ethnically cleansed.”
Fatah official: Negotiations will fail; it’s time to resume resistance
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 25 Jan — A Palestinian state in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip will not be established within the coming 20 years, a member of the Central Committee of the Palestinian Authority’s ruling party Fatah said on Saturday. Tawfiq Tirawi told Beirut-based al-Mayadeen satellite channel on Friday that “It is not possible under any circumstances that a Palestinian state will be established in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip 20 years from now.” “Those who believe a state can be established are misled, as negotiations will bring nothing,” he added. Tirawi urged the Palestinians to resume resistance in all aspects as a result.
Israelis pessimistic over peace process
AFP 26 Jan — An overwhelming majority of Israelis think current peace talks with the Palestinians will not lead to an agreement, according to a poll published on Saturday. A huge 87% of respondents answered “no” when asked if they thought the negotiations would result in a peace deal … The deadline of the nine-month framework for US-brokered direct talks between Israel and the Palestinians is the end of April with no visible results, as both sides express seemingly irreconcilable demands.
Palestinian reconciliation talks reach a stalemate as Kerry frames outline for final agreement
AIC 26 Jan — In the framework of the Palestinian reconciliation talks, and days after a Fatah delegation arrived to the Gaza Strip to meet Hamas leaders, Hamas issued a statement Saturday calling upon Fatah to withdraw from negotiations with the Israeli occupation without further delay in light of the information leaked about US Secretary of State John Kerry’s framework agreement. In the statement issued by Dr. Sami Abu Zuhri in the name of Hamas, the Islamic movement declares that Kerry’s plans would lead to a liquidation of the Palestine cause. Abu Zuhri added that Fatah should stop adopting unilateral decisions concerning fateful issues.
Official: PLO committee agrees on steps for joining UN bodies
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 25 Jan — A political committee of 12 members representing the Palestine Liberation Organization’s various factions convened in Ramallah and agreed on recommendations to take the Palestinian plight to the UN and its various bodies, a PLO official said on Saturday. Hanna Amirah, a member of the Executive Committee of the PLO, told Ma‘an on Saturday that the committee recommended addressing the United Nations regardless of whether the ongoing peace talks make any progress or not, although he added that a date had not been set. The goal of these recommendations, he said, is to enhance the Palestinian position. However, Palestinian Authority president Mahmoud Abbas and the PLO Executive Committee need to approve them before they can be put into effect. The Palestinian Authority is currently trying to counter demands made by the United States and Israel, added Amirah.
Families: UNRWA responsible for hunger-striking employees
HEBRON (Ma‘an) 25 Jan — The families of hunger striking employees of the UN agency for Palestine refugees said Saturday that UNRWA would be held responsible for any harm to the strikers’ health. Family dignitaries told Ma‘an that they would “sue the UNRWA administration at all international levels” if necessary. The hunger strikers’ demands are “just,” and they are supported by their families, the dignitaries said. They urged the Palestinian Authority to pressure UNRWA to comply with the demands of the strikers. A group of former UNRWA employees who were laid off at the end of 2013 have been on hunger strike for as many as 28 days, demanding their jobs back and a raise in salaries for Palestinian UNRWA workers.
Palestinian photos ‘shake up’ stereotypes
21 Jan — Photojournalist Tanya Habjouqa has plenty of experience capturing Palestinians’ struggle. Her photographs are thought-provoking and somewhat controversial in the Middle East. Armed with a camera, she has captured drag queens in the holy-land and wives of Syrian rebel fighters. Al Jazeera’s Tom Ackerman met her in East Jerusalem to find out more on her latest humorous collection of the West Bank and Gaza. Some of her photos
Israeli jailed for espionage goes free after 26 months
JERUSALEM (AFP) 26 Jan — An Israeli woman convicted of spying and leaking classified military documents to the media walked free on Sunday after serving 26 months of a four-and-a-half year prison sentence. Commercial TV station Channel 2 showed former soldier Anat Kam leaving Neve Tirza women’s prison in Ramle near Tel Aviv wearing jeans and a dark sweater … Kam was convicted in October 2011 after pleading guilty to leaking documents used by Haaretz newspaper in a 2008 article which said troops were ordered to carry out targeted killings of Palestinian militants in violation of a Supreme Court order. She has said her actions were ideologically motivated and that she wanted to expose the army’s policies in the occupied Palestinian territories.
Israeli defense computer hacked via tainted email
Reuters 26 Jan — Hackers broke into an Israeli defense ministry computer via an email attachment tainted with malicious software that looked like it had been sent by the country’s Shin Bet secret security service, an Israeli cyber security firm said on Sunday. Aviv Raff, chief technology officer at Seculert, said the hackers earlier this month temporarily took over 15 computers, one of them belonging to Israel’s Civil Administration that monitors Palestinians in Israeli-occupied territory. Raff told Reuters that Palestinians were suspected to be behind the cyber attack, citing similarities to a cyber assault on Israeli computers waged more than a year ago from a server in the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip.
Report: IAF aircraft flying in Bekaa Valley
Ynet 26 Jan — Lebanese El-Nashra news website reported that IAF aircrafts are flying intensively in the area of the Bekaa Valley. Throughout the day, Lebanese media reported that IAF jets are scouring Lebanese airspace, including Beirut.
Analysis / Opinion / Human interest
The tragedy of the lost Yemenite children: In the footsteps of the adoptees / Shlomi Hatuka
Haokets 25 Jan — Between the years 1948 and 1952, thousands of Yemenite babies, children of immigrants to the newly founded State of Israel, were allegedly taken away from their parents and given up for adoption to Ashkenazi families. Now, poet and activists Shlomi Hatuka goes back and speaks to the adoptees about one of the most painful, covered-up stories in the history of the state.
Hearts on the ground: South Dakota’s forced taking of Lakota children
Lakota People’s Law Project 16 Dec — Please sign our petition at www.LakotaLaw.org/action. [Forced taking of Native American children from their parents]
What do Israel and Australia have in common? / Vacy Vlazna
Al Jazeera 26 Jan — Australia’s crimes during its colonial history resemble those of Israel — “Imperialism after all is an act of geographical violence” Edward Said — Is it just me, or do you also see a thread of colonial superiority and racism binding US, Australia, and Canada to Israel? Think about it. All are ex-British colonies and like Israel, have a dark history of atrocities committed against their respective indigenous peoples and all continue to treat them as third class citizens. I can’t speak for the US and Canada, but, apart from realpolitik and arms trade, an underlying colonial arrogance goes a long way to explain why my “civilised” “democratic” Australian government is complicit in granting Israel impunity to perpetrate war crimes and crimes against humanity on a daily basis against generations of Palestinian families. The tragic past and near narratives of the suffering of unspeakable colonial atrocities against Indigenous Palestinians and Indigenous Australians bear close resemblance and are written in blood and great injustice. Just as Israel’s Independence Day and the Palestinian Nakba (Catastrophe) have a bloody symbiosis, Australia Day or Invasion Day, on the January 26th, is celebrated or mourned according to the victors or the vanquished [Add Northern Ireland to this list]
Jordan and Palestinian refugees / Daoud Kuttab
AMIN 23 Jan — An interesting development is taking places in Jordan: Forty years after the Rabat Summit, which declared the PLO as the “sole legitimate representative” of the Palestinian people, one aspect of representation is being challenged. Jordanian officials, including the prime minister, the speaker of the Parliament and the foreign minister, were recently quoted as demanding a greater role for Jordan in the peace talks. In addition to insistence on a role on the future of Jerusalem, Jordanian officials are saying that no final status agreement regarding refugees can be finalised without Jordan’s say. The Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan has over two million registered Palestinian refugees, and many more unregistered. According to the Parliament Speaker Atef Tarawneh, since Jordan gave these Palestinian refugees citizenship, it should have a say in their future, whether in terms of return or compensation, or both. Jordan also insists that as a host country to 42 per cent of the world’s Palestinian refugees, its decades old effort must be recognised and compensated.