Video: Military accompanies settler attack
B’Tselem press release ‘Urif Monday 8 Jan — Military appears to have served as security entourage for Hilltop Youth — On the morning of Monday 6 January 2014, a group of masked settlers, coming from the direction of the settlement of Yitzhar, arrived at the village of ‘Urif, near Nablus. They reached the eastern outskirts of the village, going to the construction site of a water reservoir being built with USAID funding. The settlers smashed the electricity meter and threw stones at the home of the Safadi family, adjacent to the construction site. They also threw stones at the school, located about 100 meters away. The settlers were accompanied by soldiers as well as by at least one armed settler equipped with a two-way radio, who is apparently one of the settlement’s security guards. Usama Safadi, a local villager, filmed the incident and gave the footage to B’Tselem. The footage he shot shows settlers throwing stones, while soldiers stand beside them. The soldiers took no measures to arrest the settlers, to remove them from the area, or at the very least to put an end to the stone-throwing. Several students at the school threw stones back at the settlers and the soldiers fired teargas at the students.
Land, property theft & destruction / Ethnic cleansing
Israeli Arabs: Palestinian citizenship is for us to decide, not Liberman
TAIBEH (Times of Israel) 9 Jan by Elhanan Miller — …Earlier this week, Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman stated that he will not endorse any peace agreement that does not stipulate the annexation of this city of 40,000 to the future Palestinian state, along with its predominantly Arab environs; stretching from the western slopes of Samaria in the north to the eastern outskirts of Ra’anana in the south. In return, Israel is to annex majority-Jewish areas lying beyond the Green Line. Taibeh’s political connection to the West Bank ended 65 years ago … At cafe Al-Ustaz in the city center, Abu-Jubran and Abu-Aref sit and smoke cigarettes, Hebrew tabloids scattered on the coffee table in front of them. “Only someone whose head is screwed up would think like this,” Abu-Jubran, the elder of the two, told The Times of Israel, referring to Liberman’s statement. “Does he really think this is the way to solve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict? If he does, let him go back to Moldova.” …the sense of insult felt by Liberman’s remarks — a figure the men repeatedly note is an outsider, an immigrant — is palpable. “Who is he to decide for us? Anyway, when did he come to this country? How can someone like that decide for someone whose grandfather’s grandfather was born in Taibeh?” (The Moldova-born Yisrael Beytenu leader immigrated in 1978.) “We can have a referendum here and the majority will decide. It’s not for him to say. Just as he decided [freely] to leave Russia and come here, we’ll decide freely.”
Hebron archaeological dig financed by Culture Ministry, Civil Administration
Haaretz 9 Jan by Nir Hasson — Critics on left blast project as cover for expansion of city’s Jewish settlement — The Culture Ministry and Civil Administration are financing the construction of an archaeological park on the ancient site of Tel Rumeida, near the tiny Jewish settlement in Hebron. A joint delegation of the Antiquities Authority and Ariel University are due to begin construction work on Sunday at the site, located in the heart of the Palestinian city. The work is expected to continue at least until the end of the year at an estimated cost of NIS 7 million. Since the 1990s no significant excavation has been carried out in Tel Rumeida, the city’s historic core. In recent months the Jewish settlers approached several senior archaeologists and urged them to renew the digs. Many turned them down … The six-dunam excavation site is owned by Jews, but until the second intifada the Palestinian family of Abu Haikal, who was a protected tenant, farmed the lands in the area. However, following the deterioration in the security situation, the family was banned from farming the land … “It’s expanding the settlement under the guise of archaeological digs,” said Yariv Oppenheimer, secretary general of Peace Now. “Under Kerry’s nose the defense minister is allowing the settlers to expand and change the status quo in the most explosive spot in the West Bank.” “The dig in Tel Rumeida is another case of exploiting an antiquities site for the political struggle,” said archaeologist Yoni Mizrahi of Emek Shaveh, a group of left-leaning archaeologists. “Like the sites of Ir David and Sussia, now they’re using Hebron’s ancient site as a political means to strengthen the Israeli settlement. We cannot understand how they can dig in one of the most conflicted cities in the region and claim the dig is not political,” said Mizrahi.
Israel destroys shepherding community in Jordan Valley
NABLUS (Ma‘an) 8 Jan — Israeli authorities destroyed an entire community of rural Palestinians in the Jordan Valley on Wednesday, demolishing their homes and leaving 25 people homeless, human rights group B’Tselem said. The demolition took place at 6.30 a.m., with Israeli military and civil administration officials arriving at the village of Khirbet Ein Karzaliyah and proceeding to demolish all of the community’s buildings. Israel’s military also demolished the only water pipe available to the community. “Israel has once again forgotten that control entails responsibility. The Jordan Valley cannot be addressed as a merely theoretical issue, discussing its future while completely disregarding the fate of its residents,” B’Tselem Director Jessica Montell said. “At the moment, the authorities must set aside their political ambitions and consider the fate of 25 individuals, who do not know how they’ll get through the night and how their flocks, their only source of income and livelihood, will fare.”
Bedouin ‘will be consulted’ over resettlement plan in Negev
Haaretz 8 Jan by Shirly Seidler — Agriculture minister cites the Bedouins’ better conditions in recognized villages and wants to spread this living standard wider — The minister now responsible for the controversial plan to resettle Negev Bedouin pledged Tuesday to cooperate better with the Bedouin leaders and people. The new man in charge, Agriculture Minister Yair Shamir, said he would hold weekly meetings with Bedouin leaders, including council heads. He would then submit a new plan to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the latest bid to get Negev Bedouin to live in recognized villages. “This is a complex and loaded issue that requires a fundamental and comprehensive solution,” said Shamir, who toured the Negev on Tuesday. The authority to draw up a new plan was transferred to the Agriculture Ministry after the government said Sunday the Prime Minister’s Office would no longer be responsible. The new format would be a better way for all bodies involved to cooperate, it said. Meanwhile, the Knesset Interior and Environment Committee said the bill on the issue would be changed, but it didn’t give details.
Israel defies World Bank, refuses to let Palestinians use landfill
Haaretz 9 Jan by Zafrir Rinat — The Defense Ministry’s Civil Administration refuses to allow the operation of a landfill funded by the World Bank and intended to serve the Palestinian population south of Jerusalem. The administration is demanding that the Palestinians agree to let the region’s settlements use the site as well, but the Palestinians refuse. The Al-Minya landfill east of Bethlehem was built in the last two years with funds the World Bank gave the Palestinian Authority. It is the first modern landfill in the southern West Bank, with means of sealing the earth to prevent waste from leaking into the groundwater. Another modern landfill, also set up with international funding, is already operating in the Jenin area. Since Al-Minya is in Area C, its construction required the Civil Administration’s approval. Currently the waste from the Hebron and Bethlehem communities is dumped in pirate sites that constitute serious environmental hazards. Some Palestinian communities dump the garbage in open areas and occasionally burn it to reduce its volume. Anti-settlement activist Dror Etkes said he visited the Al-Minya site this week and spoke to one of its operators, who told him the site is not operating even though its construction is completed because the Civil Administration insists on dumping the settlements’ garbage in it, too … However, the World Bank made it clear in the talks about the landfill’s operation last year that the funds it gave the Palestinian Authority are intended for the Palestinian population. Traditionally, the Palestinian Authority does not cooperate in the use of infrastructure facilities with the settlements, which it sees as illegitimate.
Activists plant trees to protect land from takeover
BETHLEHEM (WAFA) 7 Jan — Palestinian activists Tuesday planted olive seedlings in land east of Bethlehem threatened by Israeli takeover, according to one of the activists. Hasan Breijeh, from the anti-settlements, anti-wall committee in Bethlehem, said the activists and farmers joined hands in planting 500 olive seedlings in their land located near the village of Freidis to prevent Israel from taking the land for settlement purposes. He said Israeli soldiers attempted first to stop them but that after insisting, they were able to continue with their work.
Restrictions on movement
Army arrests Gaza patient on way to hospital in West Bank
GAZA (WAFA) 7 Jan – Israel arrested on Monday a Gaza resident while he was on his way to receive treatment in his eye at a hospital in the West Bank, a Gaza human right group said Tuesday. The Palestinian Center for Human Rights said in a statement that Yousef Khalaf Abu al-Jidian, 28, from Deir al-Balah, was arrested when he arrived at Beit Hanoun (Erez) crossing with Israel on his way to a West Bank hospital. It said Abu al-Jidian, who was accompanied by his 67-year-old mother, arrived at Erez with an Israeli army issued permit to cross the checkpoint and that after passing through all security procedures to cross into Israel, he was taken away by two Israeli security men in civilian clothes. According to the mother’s testimony, she waited for him to return for one hour, but then a soldier came and told her that her permit was revoked and she should return to Gaza. The family was later informed that their son was arrested and taken to prison without giving a reason for his arrest
IOA deprives Jerusalemite ex-prisoner form accompanying his wife to hospital
NABLUS (PIC) 8 Jan — Tadhamun Foundation for Human Rights said that the Israeli occupation authorities (IOA) prevented on Tuesday a Jerusalemite ex-captive, freed in Wafa Ahrar deal, from accompanying his wife to a hospital in Nablus, where she gave birth to triplets. The liberated prisoner Mansour Shamasneh, from the Jerusalemite town of Qatna, told the foundation that the IOF is still preventing him from leaving his hometown for the 3rd year … Shamasneh added that the occupation has been banning many liberated prisoners from leaving the area where they live. For his part, researcher at Tadhamun Foundation Ahmed Beitawi stated that the IOA imposes tight restrictions on the majority of the Palestinian captives who have been freed in the swap deal, and that the Israeli forces re-arrested a number of them under the pretext of breaching the conditions set for their release.
link to www.palestine-info.co.uk/En/
Arab States Broadcasting Union holds first Palestine conference
RAMALLAH (WAFA) 8 Jan – The Arab States Broadcasting Union (ASBU) opened Wednesday in Ramallah the 17th meeting of the Higher Committee for Coordination among the Arab Satellite Channels. This is the first time Palestine hosts an ASBU meeting, which came at the invitation of the Ministry of Information and the Public Broadcasting Corporation (PBC). However, not all invited Arab members were able to attend the meeting, which will continue through Sunday, because Israel, which controls the borders, refused to issue them entry visas. Head of the PBC, Riyad al-Hassan, expressed regret in his opening remarks over the absence of some media members who were not allowed in by the Israeli authorities. “This is a tax that we pay at different levels as long as the occupation is sitting on our land, stifling us and disrupting our life,” he said
‘Price tag’ attacks
Palestinian villagers capture settlers carrying out ‘price tag’ attack in West Bank
Mondoweiss 8 Jan by Annie Robbins & Kate — Palestinians from the village of Qusra captured a band of invading setters yesterday who had come to raid their village and uproot their olive trees. Ma’an reports 18 settlers were captured, Haaretz reports ten. The invading masked and gloved settlers “marched into the village and attacked a young boy, who sustained head injuries as a result.” The villagers chased down the settlers, beat them up and called the Israel forces to have them come pick up the settler invaders. Israel rarely prosecutes these fanatics. Reuters reported the the incident was triggered by an Israeli police evacuation of an “unauthorized building” at Esh Kodesh (Holy Fire), an illegal outpost (although Reuters described it as a “settlement”). That would make this a “price tag” attack, where settlers vow retribution on Palestinians for any perceived infringement by the state. These began in 2009 as payback for the “settlement freeze”. Last year there was a pogrom in Qusra. Yossi Gurvitz reported at the time that “a group of settlers, coming from the direction of one of the most notorious outposts, Esh Kodesh, raided”. Yep– the same illegal outpost, and they are still there tormenting the locals. According to a senior officer in Israel’s Central Command a price tag attack is a ”religious terror attack,” and the perpetrators rarely get arrested. Ahmad Talat Hasan offers a look at some of these religious marauders.
PA: Qusra residents sent a warning to violent settlers
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 8 Jan — Palestinians who appended a group of settlers in the Nablus village of Qusra on Tuesday have sent a stern warning to their attackers, a Palestinian Authority official said Wednesday. “They managed on Tuesday to defy groups of settlers who assaulted farmers in the village and tried to damage their property,” PA media spokesman Ehab Bseiso said. “They chased them in the fields until they surrounded them in a building under construction before they handed them to Israeli forces through the Palestinian liaison department.” The official said it was a clear case of self defense after living in daily fear that they will be attacked by extremist settlers. The villagers “brought water to the detained settlers and gave them tissues to mop up their blood,” Bseiso said. However, the incident was also a message to the settlers to say: “stop your assaults on our children and properties, or otherwise you will pay a toll for your criminal acts.”
Settlers torch 2 Palestinian vehicles near Nablus
NABLUS (Ma‘an) 8 Jan — Settlers torched two Palestinian cars in the Nablus village of Madama on Wednesday in an apparent revenge attack after a group of settlers was held captive by villagers in Jalud a day earlier. Ghassan Daghlas, a Palestinian official who monitors settlement activity, told Ma‘an that a group of masked settlers exited a car by a bypass road in Madama and set fire to the vehicles. The cars were owned by Rami Nassar and Samih al-Qit. The attackers also sprayed “racist price tag” at the scene before fleeing. Several signs were also found at a crossroads near Zatara village threatening Palestinians from Qusra and Jalud.
Extremists damage cars, spray ‘death to Arabs’ in Jaffa
JAFFA (Ma‘an) 7 Jan — Locals awoke on Tuesday to find the tires of six vehicles damaged and racist graffiti sprayed on Bat Yam street in Jaffa, an historically Palestinian city in central Israel. The graffiti, sprayed on a building near the site of the damaged vehicles, read “Death to Arabs,” “No to Coexistence,” and “Arabs = Murderers.” Spokesman for the Israeli Police Luba Samari said that the attacks occurred early on Tuesday morning. Locals told a Ma’an reporter that a star of David was also spray-painted on the walls of a house in the area, indicating the involvement of Jewish right wing extremists. The Jaffa-Yiftah district police are investigating the details of the incident. Jewish extremists often target individual Palestinians’ property as well as Christian and Muslim religious sites in what are called “price tag” attacks. These attacks are committed in retribution for any perceived slight against the settlement enterprise, including decisions made by the Israeli government or other political actors. Hundreds of attacks occur every year.
Defense minister denounces extremist settler ‘terror’
Times of Israel 8 Jan by Stuart Winer — A day after violent encounter with Palestinians, alleged perpetrators of botched ‘price tag’ attack insist they were ambushed during a hike — In the wake of an incident that saw a group of settlers beaten and held by Palestinians after they allegedly attempted to carry out a “price tag” attack, Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon on Wednesday vehemently condemned extremist Jewish violence as “terror.” In a statement, he vowed that authorities would pursue the perpetrators of such attacks. “The unacceptable trend known as ‘price tag’ is in my opinion terror in every sense of the word, and we are acting and will act against the perpetrators, firmly and with zero tolerance, in order to eradicate it,” Ya’alon said. “It is a stain on Israel and it undermines the settlement enterprise.” The IDF was on heightened alert in the West Bank on Wednesday as a precaution against a possible violent backlash to the run-in between settlers from the Esh Kodesh outpost and Palestinian residents of the nearby village of Qusra … In its statements, the army supported the version of the events put forward by the Palestinians, who said that the settlers were stopped en route to Qusra, where they intended to carry out an attack in protest over the Israeli Civil Administration’s uprooting earlier in the day of a settler olive grove near the West Bank outpost of Esh Kodesh … Ziad Odeh, a prayer leader in the village and one of the elders involved in the incident, said he intervened to protect the settlers and was among those who prevented an angry mob from killing the captives. “It’s wrong to kill a person; it doesn’t matter if they’re Jewish or Muslim,” he told Israel Radio, insisting that the settlers couldn’t have been hiking because they were carrying clubs and a sledgehammer and some had veiled their faces.
The price of a price tag
Times of Israel 8 Jan by Joshua Davidovitch — After several days of wall-to-wall coverage of migrant protests, newspapers turn their attention Wednesday to another issue: West Bank settlers, or more specifically West Bank settler violence. A botched attempt to raid an Arab village by a group of settlers leaves them bloodied both by Palestinians and Israeli papers, who see no justice in their revenge attacks — An apparent attempt by a group of settlers to attack an Arab village, seemingly as retribution for an army operation against their outpost’s olive trees, turned out badly (at least for the settlers) as they came up against an armed and angry group of Palestinians. Only the intervention of a few kind souls saved them from becoming “10 new Gilad Shalits,” and “lynch victims,” according to hyperbole-laden headlines in Israel Hayom. The settlers for their part, say they were on a hike. “I don’t know what the Arabs are complaining about,” Pinchasi Bar-on is quoted saying in Haaretz. “Of the 30 Jews who went on the hike, all 30 were injured.” Despite their claim, pretty much everyone and his mother reports that the group was on its way to commit a “price tag” attack (you don’t wear a ski mask for a hike, unless you live in a Minnesota during a polar vortex), and pretty much everyone and his mother is PO’d at the group. “Time is of the essence and we need to get the tiger back into the cage, not try to ride it,” Erel Segal writes in Maariv. “Price tag attacks are not only a stupid double-edged sword, but they are unethical actions whose only purpose is indiscriminate destruction and waste. The Jewish right to the land has nothing in common with this thoughtless bullying.”
Gaza under blockade
Gaza militant killed ‘by Israeli drone’: medics
GAZA CITY (AFP) 8 Jan — An Islamic Jihad militant was killed near Gaza City on Wednesday in what medics and family said was an Israeli drone strike, although the Israeli army denied any involvement. “A Palestinian militant was killed by an Israeli drone in Shejaiyeh,” said Ashraf al-Qudra, spokesman for the Hamas-run health ministry, referring to a district near the Israeli border with Gaza. He named the dead man as Mohammed al-Ijlah, 32, and said his body had been torn apart by the blast, the limbs ripped by shrapnel. Family sources in the neighbourhood said Ijlah was a militant from Islamic Jihad’s Al-Quds Brigade and was killed by a drone. The militant group issued a statement confirming Ijlah was one of its members but said he had been killed “in a Zionist shelling” on the area. But the Israeli military denied carrying out any strike on Gaza and said its troops had not been involved in any other shooting incidents.
Palestinian killed by Israeli shell in Gaza, two children injured
IMEMC — [Wed 8 Jan] Palestinian medical sources have reported that one Palestinian has been killed, and two children injured, one seriously, when Israeli soldiers fired shells into the Al-Kassarat area, east of Gaza city. Dr. Ashraf Al-Qodra, spokesperson of the Palestinian Ministry of Health in Gaza, said that that the body of slain resident Mohammad Salama al-Ajla, 32, was severely mutilated due to the blast, and his remains were moved to the Shifa Medical Center in Gaza. Al-Qodra added that two children were wounded in the Israeli attack; one of them suffered serious injuries. The Al-Quds Brigades, the armed wing of the Islamic Jihad, said that Al-Ajla is one of its members
Palestinian injured during funeral of slain fighter in Gaza
IMEMC — [Wed afternoon, 8 Jan] Palestinian medical sources have reported that at least one Palestinian was wounded after Israeli soldiers attacked the funeral procession of a Palestinian fighter killed earlier in the day, east of Gaza city. The sources said that the soldiers, stationed across the border fence, fired gas bombs at dozens of residents during the funeral procession of Mohammad A-‘Ajla, a member of the Al-Quds Brigades, the armed wing of the Islamic Jihad. The wounded resident, 20 years of age, was moved to a local hospital suffering moderate injuries, the Safa News Agency has reported. The assassination of Al-‘Ajla led to the injury of two Palestinian children, one of them was seriously hurt. Safa said that the soldiers also fired rounds of live ammunition into an area close to the border fence to prevent the Palestinians from approaching it. The Al-Quds Brigades vowed retaliation for the assassination of Al-‘Ajla and Israel’s ongoing violations and assaults against the Palestinians and their property in occupied Palestine.
Israeli navy boats open fire at Palestinian fishing boats
GAZA (PIC) 7 Jan — Israeli navy boats opened machinegun fire at Palestinian fishing boats off the coast of northern Gaza Strip on Tuesday morning. Palestinian sources said that no casualties were reported in the shooting that took place while the fishermen while trying to fish in Gaza’s regional waters.
link to www.palestine-info.co.uk/En/
Egyptian army shoots 2 Palestinians crossing through Gaza tunnel
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 7 Jan — The Egyptian army shot and wounded two Palestinian youths as they exited a tunnel from the Gaza Strip on Thursday evening. Security sources told a Ma‘an reporter in Cairo that after the two youths exited the tunnel, Egyptian border police chased them and subsequently opened fire. The youths were taken under heavy guard to the Rafah General Hospital. A military source said that the two youths were “smugglers” and would be taken for interrogation in order to discern the reasons for their crossing to the Egyptian side. Until July of this year, tunnels connecting Gaza to Egypt provided a vital lifeline for the territory amidst the otherwise crippling Israeli blockade. Since the coup against Egyptian president Morsi in July, however, Egypt has strictly enforced the blockade and targeted the tunnels.
Egypt to open Rafah crossing for 2 days
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 8 Jan — Egyptian authorities opened the Rafah crossing with Gaza on Wednesday after a closure of more than two weeks. Mahir Abu Sabha, Hamas’ director of border crossings, said Egypt decided to open the terminal Wednesday and Thursday from 9 a.m. until 3 p.m. after talks with Egyptian authorities. The terminal will only be open for two days. Passengers who registered to travel on Dec. 22 and 23 will be given priority, Abu Sabha said, and he advised others to avoid using the crossing to prevent overcrowding.
Miles of Smiles 24 arrives in Gaza
IMEMC — [Wednesday 8 Jan] The “Miles Of Smiles 24” humanitarian convoy arrived in the Gaza Strip through the Rafah Border Terminal, between the besieged Gaza Strip and Egypt … The Committee added that the convoy brought to Gaza urgently needed medical and humanitarian supplies, including medical equipment, especially since the recent snowstorm in Palestine caused damage to medical equipment and medical centers, in addition to severe damages to property and infrastructure.
It said that only seven members of the convoy were allowed into Gaza, as Egypt refused to allow access to the remaining convoy members calling on Egypt to allow convoys, and urgently needed supplies into the Gaza Strip.
In related news, an Italian convoy of 19 persons left the coastal region on Wednesday, after visiting the Gaza Strip for four days.
Israel’s attacks on Palestinian fishermen in Gaza flaunt international conventions
GAZA (ISM, Charlie Andreasson) 7 Jan — On Saturday, 4th January, the Israeli navy shot at five fishermen and their boat, a hasaka, three nautical miles from the shore of Gaza, well within the highly restricted part of Palestine waters in which the occupation forces officially allow them to fish. Despite damage to the boat, and water that flooded it, Majed Baker, age 55, and his four relatives managed to return to port and get the boat onto shore. A total of nine bullet holes were counted, some below the waterline. Previously, according to the Palestinian Ministry of Information in Gaza, the Israeli military had restricted waters in the north. It thereby expanded the nautical “buffer zone” by Israeli waters through military force, and without declaring its intentions in advance. Nor has it made any statement in retrospect. The restriction of the fishing waters in the north is confirmed by the affected fishermen. The same pattern can be discerned in the rest of the increasingly narrowed zone. According to Zakaria Baker, coordinator of the Union of Agricultural Workers Committees (UAWC)’s fishermen’s committee, all boats that tried to sail further than four miles from the coast have been attacked since the beginning of the year, and the “buffer zone” in the south, by Egyptian waters, has been curtailed drastically. This means boats in Rafah must sail north along the coast for some distance before they can venture into fishing grounds.
Gaza Palestinians wish for electricity in 2014
GAZA CITY (Al-Monitor) 6 Jan by Hazem Balousha — …All the Palestinians that Al-Monitor met at the start of the new year agreed that one of their primary wishes is to enjoy electricity at their homes and businesses without the repeated interruptions. They all wish for the electricity problem that has plagued the sector for more than seven years be solved … The political rivalry between the two largest factions in Palestine — Fatah and Hamas — continues to worry their supporters in Gaza … Other hopes for the new year have to do with societal constraints, whether imposed by the Hamas government in Gaza or those that have accumulated as a result of the differing social beliefs … Palestinian national causes were among the wishes that Palestinians in Gaza expressed to Al-Monitor. Imad Bahr, 47, wished that in 2014 more Palestinian prisoners would get released from Israeli jails and that the Rafah crossing linking the Gaza Strip and Egypt would be opened permanently and without restrictions.
So, did you see the malls in Gaza?
Haaretz 8 Jan by Daniella Peled — “So did you see the malls?” That was one of the first questions an Israeli asked me, half-an-hour or so after leaving Gaza, as I sat having coffee in the service station near Yad Mordechai last week. Ah, the Gaza malls. That phenomenon beloved of right-wing bloggers and the hasbara machine, who like to report glitzy openings in the beleaguered Gaza Strip, beach volleyball matches and shops bursting with fine foods. According to this trope, Gaza is more akin to a seaside holiday camp than a vast open-air prison. I was sorry to disappoint my questioner. Obviously, I didn’t see the most famous – or rather notorious mall – the one the Israel Defense Forces used as to illustrate a blog post (which was then quickly edited) from last August which sneered at the supposed humanitarian crisis in Gaza. That one was actually in Kuala Lumpur. But I could reassure him that I had indeed met people with iPhones, Galaxy tablets, and wearing branded clothing. I even visited a beauty salon-cum-gym, where women could grab a haircut, a mani-pedi, work out on exercise machines or attend an aerobics class. And I spent a night in one of the fanciest hotels in Gaza…
So what is the significance of all these apparent riches in such an unlikely setting? The answer is simple: absolutely none. In any impoverished country around the world, any war zone, amid any humanitarian crisis, these pockets of luxury can and will be found … But the only constituencies these fancy hotels and lavishly-stocked supermarkets serve are a tiny elite minority who can afford them – oh, and in Gaza’s case, the hasbara trolls. For most of its 1.7 million people inhabitants, life is utterly different. Seventy percent of them rely on humanitarian aid; at least a third are unemployed.
Post-June 30 Egypt puts Palestinian solidarity on hold
Al-Akhbar 8 Jan by Randa Ali — Mahmoud Ismail has been studying in Cairo for the past four years. However, living in Egypt has become inconvenient for the 23-year-old after the ouster of President Mohamed Mursi on July 3. “I am being harassed, exposed to humiliating and embarrassing questions whenever I say where I am from,” he said. Ismail is from Gaza, Palestine. Several Egyptian officials and media figures, most of whom are affiliated with the deposed Hosni Mubarak regime, have led an intense campaign against Hamas, the ruling government in the Gaza Strip. They accuse Hamas, which is ideologically affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood, of being behind the unrest in Egypt. According to Ismail, the negative discourse has not only targeted Hamas but Palestinians, too. “The political chaos caused due to Hamas’ support for the Muslim Brotherhood is justifying the oppressing of Palestinians in Egypt, making us all members of Hamas,” said Ismail, adding that two of his compatriots were forced to leave their apartment in downtown Cairo because the neighbors refused the presence of Palestinians. According to Ismail, the current hostile situation has also made the staging of any pro-Palestine event impossible.
Hamas, Egypt ties hit new low
Al-Monitor 7 Jan by Adnan Abu Amer — Relations between Hamas and Egypt have reached unprecedented levels of tension since the movement was founded more than 26 years ago … Egyptian Interior Minister Mohammed Ibrahim’s declaration last week, however, constitutes a leap in finger-pointing at Hamas, accusing the Palestinian group of carrying out armed operations on Egyptian territory and training members of the Muslim Brotherhood to use weapons and manufacture explosives … Accusations from Egypt did not stop there. Another Egyptian official told Al-Monitor in a phone conversation, “Labeling the Muslim Brotherhood a terrorist organization has left Hamas two choices: split from [the Brotherhood] or join it in its classification as a terrorist group, since it organizationally belongs to it.” “This choice has dangerous implications, however, for the Palestinian people, despite what is seen as Hamas’ overstepping in Egypt. There are risks associated with the movement being listed as a terrorist organization both domestically and abroad. It is a fatal blow to the issue of Palestinian reconciliation, which has been mediated by Egypt in recent years…” A senior Hamas official denied to Al-Monitor the latest accusations from Egypt, asking Cairo to cease what it referred to as “offenses.” The movement regards these accusations as dangerous indications that serve to delude the Egyptian people and distract them from the truth and scale of the crisis being endured by the ruling regime. It also claims Egypt is trying to place the blame for an internal crisis on external forces.
Violence / Raids / Clashes / Illegal arrests (West Bank)
Five Palestinians kidnapped in Nablus, Hebron
IMEMC — [Tuesday at dawn, 7 Jan] Israeli soldiers invaded the northern West Bank district of Nablus and the southern West Bank district of Hebron, kidnapping five Palestinians. Several Palestinians [were] kidnapped in Jerusalem on Monday. Local sources in Nablus have reported that dozens of soldiers and police officers invaded the Balata refugee camp, near Nablus, and broke into several houses. The sources said that the army also illegally confiscated some cars and motorcycles, in addition to snatching spare car parts. During the invasion, the soldiers also kidnapped two Palestinians identified as Mohammad Thieb, 43, and Jamal Hannoun, 33, and interrogated several residents after forcing them out of their homes, into the cold .
The army also invaded Rafidia area, west of Nablus, broke into the home of Mohammad Sameeh Olewy, 25, and kidnapped him after confiscating mobile phones and computers from his home.
Furthermore, dozens of soldiers invaded Doura town, west of Hebron, and kidnapped two Palestinians. The two kidnapped residents have been identified as Mohammad Darabee’ and Khalil An-Nammoura. Clashes but no injuries have been reported between the invading soldiers and local youth, who hurled stones and empty bottles at them.
On Monday, dozens of soldiers and police officers kidnapped several Palestinians in from different neighborhoods and towns occupied East Jerusalem. Local sources said that seven of the kidnapped Palestinians are former political prisoners who spent years in Israeli prisons and detention camps. The seven have been identified as Haitham Al-Jo’ba, from the Old City; he was taken from his work in the Industrial Area in Jerusalem, Khalil Ghazzawy, kidnapped from his home in Ath-Thoury neighborhood in Old City, Jouda Jouda from the Old City, Mohammad Al-Hadmy from Wady Al-Jouz, Moayyad Beibouh, Hamed Beibouh, and Abdullah Bkeirat from Sur Baher village.
UPDATE: Palestinian activist arrested in night raid on Nablus
Updated 8th January: Sireen was released today from Salem Court. More details to follow.
NABLUS (ISM Nablus Team) 7 Jan — At 2:30am on Tuesday morning, Israeli soldiers and secret service agents entered a house in the city of Nablus and arrested Sireen Khudairi, a 24-year-old schoolteacher and activist. No arrest warrant was given, although Sireen was threatened with physical violence if she did not accompany the soldiers. This is the second time in a year that Sireen has been arrested without a warrant. On May 14th 2013 she was arrested and held for two months on the charge of having written a Facebook page that “compromised the security of the state of Israel”. Her detention included 22 days of solitary confinement and no access to a lawyer or her family. She was eventually released from prison but placed under house arrest, having paid bail of NIS 7000 and on the condition that she refrain from using the internet. On 16th September, the Israeli military court found Sireen not guilty but ordered her to refrain from activism for five years. Sireen’s family home has been raided various times since then, as it appears that she is wanted to testify against other activists. This is yet another event in the ongoing campaign of intimidation against non-violent Palestinian activists, and the criminalization of protest by the Israeli state. For more information on Sireen’s case and how to act, please visit: http://freesireen.wordpress.com/
15 Palestinians injured near Hebron
IMEMC — [Tuesday evening, 7 Jan] Palestinian medical sources have reported that at least fifteen young Palestinian men have been injured after Israeli soldiers invaded Al-‘Arroub refugee camp, north of Hebron, in the southern part of the occupied West Bank. The sources said that the soldiers fired dozens of rubber-coated metal bullets, leading to the injury of at least fifteen Palestinians who received medical treatment by local medics, the Palestinian News Agency (SAFA) has reported. Local sources said that clashes took place between local youth and Israeli soldiers after the army stopped and harassed several residents, at a roadblock installed at the entrance of the camp. The sources added that the soldiers also prevented the residents from leaving the refugee camp or entering it. The attack led to violent clashes between the soldiers and local youth who hurled stones and empty bottles at them, while the army fired rubber-coated metal bullets and concussion grenades.
Israeli forces raid homes of Islamic Jihad members in Jenin
JENIN (Ma‘an) 8 Jan — Israeli forces and intelligence officers raided the homes of two Islamic Jihad members in Jenin overnight Tuesday. Khader Adnan, a former long term hunger-striker, told Ma‘an that an Israeli intelligence officer escorted by a large number of soldiers ransacked his house, after trying to shake hands and talk to him. After Adnan refused to shake his hand or talk with him, the Israeli officer told Adnan’s father that he had been recently appointed as head of the Jenin area and wanted to get acquainted with Adnan. Tariq Quadan, another ex-hunger striker, told Ma‘an that an Israeli intelligence officer introduced himself as “Captain Ghazi” and inspected his house while asking questions. Israeli forces also raided the home of Jaafar Izz Addin and threatened him with arrest if he carried out any activities which would harm Israel’s security. Israeli officers then inspected the home before leaving. All three men live near the village of ‘Arraba in Jenin.
Israel detains Fatah leader, 5 others
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 8 Jan — Israeli forces raided the Jerusalem home of Fatah leader Anwar Badr on Wednesday and detained him, relatives said. Badr’s sister told Ma‘an that Israeli border guards raided the Abu Dis property and ransacked the home before arresting Anwar. They treated the family “savagely” while inspecting the house and deliberately damaged furniture and other contents, she added. Witnesses said they saw Israeli forces searching the outside of Badr’s home before clashes broke out with young locals, who threw bottles and rocks at the invading Israeli forces. Israeli soldiers fired gunshots in the air to disperse the young men. Badr’s sister denied claims by Israeli police that an explosive device and a firearm were found in the property.
Meanwhile, Israeli forces detained four Palestinians from the Hebron village of as-Samu‘ overnight. Local resident Haytham Abu Seif told Ma’an that Israeli troops detained 19-year-old Ahmad Mousa al-Khalayla, 20-year-old Maamun Muhammad al-Khalayla, 18-year-old Amin Abdul-Karim al-Tawil and 22-year-old Alaa Muhammad Badarin.
Khairi Burhan Daraghmah from the northern Jordan Valley was also detained by Israeli forces.
Pipe bomb thrown near Bethlehem, one wounded
Ynet 6 Jan by Noam (Dabul) Dvir — Two security incidents took place near Bethlehem Monday, highlighting the volatile quiet currently prevalent in the West Bank. One person was lightly wounded, suffering scratch wounds to his face, after a pipe bomb was thrown at the parking lot near Rachel’s Tomb, just north of Bethlehem … Earlier Monday, Palestinians threw an improvised grenade towards an IDF base near Bethlehem. There were no casualties and no damage caused to the base.
Palestinian ill prisoner Ali Dana on hunger strike for 31 days
Samidoun 4 Jan — Ali Fahmi Ibrahim Da’na, 35, has now been on open hunger strike for 31 days amid worsening health, reported lawyer Fares Ziad of Addameer Prisoner Support and Human Rights Association. Ziad visited with Da’na in the Ramle prison clinic, noting that he suffers from poor health, low blood sugar; he has vomited blood on three occasions and continues to refuse all medical tests. Da’na is striking in protest of medical neglect by the prison administration. The director of intelligence in the prison agreed to some of Da’na’s demands including visits with his mother and daughter, ending sanctions upon him for striking and transfer to Hadarim prison as well as providing treatment for his illness, during a meeting with Da’na, asking him to end his strike. However, an agreement was not made
Israel releases 80-year-old woman after 2-day detention
JENIN (Ma‘an) 8 Jan — Israeli forces on Wednesday freed an 80-year-old woman after she spent two days in custody, the Palestinian Prisoners’ Society said. The woman, Fathiyya Abu Own, was detained by Israeli forces Monday after she allegedly smuggled a mobile phone to her son, who is an inmate in a Negev prison, a PPS official said. Her son, Waddah Muflih Abu Own, has spent more than 10 years in Israeli jails, according to PPS. The Israeli army has recently been arresting prisoners’ family members “to oppress prisoners’ families,” the official said. Over 5,200 Palestinians are being held in Israeli jails according to the Palestinian Authority’s Ministry of Prisoners’ Affairs … Under international law, it is illegal to transfer prisoners outside of the occupied territory in which they are detained, and the families of Palestinian prisoners’ face many obstacles in obtaining permits to see their imprisoned relatives.
Family says whereabouts of detained daughter unknown
HEBRON (WAFA) 8 Jan – The family of Raghda Azzam Qawasme, 24, said Wednesday that even though two days have passed since Israel has arrested their daughter, her whereabouts remain unknown, according to a prisoners support group. It said Qawasme, from Hebron, went with her mother on Tuesday to visit her detained husband in a prison in the Naqab desert but was arrested after prison guards found a cellular phone on her during inspection at the gate. The family said the guards took Qawasme away without saying where they were taking her and that they still do not know anything about her or where she is. Qawasme has two children, the youngest is one-and-a-half years old. Her husband, Mutaz Qawasme, was arrested in 2012 and is serving a 27-month prison sentence.
Palestinian refugees in Syria
Official: Al-Nusra among factions preventing Yarmouk siege relief
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 7 Jan — Four militant factions remain in Yarmouk in violation of an agreement to secure peace for the beleaguered Palestinian refugee camp in Damascus, a PLO official said Tuesday. PLO executive committee member Ahmad Majdalani told Ma‘an that four factions remain in the Yarmouk camp in Damascus, despite the fact that nine factions — including the four — previously signed an agreement promising to withdraw. The factions are Jebhat al-Nusra, Daish, Ibn Taymiyya, and a fourth unnamed faction, he said, referring primarily to a number of Wahhabi militant groups opposed to the Syrian regime. The withdrawal of the factions is meant to allow the camp to become a neutral zone and to pressure the Syrian regime to end the 7-month-long siege of the camp, which has led to at least 30 deaths from starvation. Al-Majdalani added that militants refuse to leave the camp because of their “political agendas,” in an attempt to scuttle any possible agreement and thus to keep the camp in their hands. Al-Majdalani announced that a delegation including himself, the head of the PLO refugees’ department Zakaria Agha, and Jordanian PLO member Bilal Qassim, will head to Syria in an official visit on Tuesday. They will meet political and security officials, Palestinian officials and Palestinian faction leaders as part of the visit. “The delegation will try to pressure (officials) into opening safe passages for the entrance of medical and food supplies to the camp’s population of around 20,000 Palestinian refugees,” he said.
Militants prevent patients from leaving Yarmouk camp
DAMASCUS (Ma‘an) 8 Jan — A group of sick refugees who were to leave Yarmouk camp for treatment were unable to be transferred out of the camp after rebel militants opened fire at the camp’s popular committee members and Palestinian militants on Wednesday, a committee source said. Snipers from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant fired at the popular relief committee and members of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command, a committee member said. He said the ISIL snipers critically wounded the director of the relief committee in the chest, and that they fired at medics. Along with their families, the 100 patients who were scheduled to leave for treatment returned to the camp. Around 300 Palestinian refugees from Yarmouk camp were due to be transferred for medical treatment in Damascus, a PFLP-GC official said Tuesday. The PFLP-GC is small militant faction that is aligned with Syrian President Bashar Assad. Reports of widespread starvation and a general lack of supplies in Yarmouk refugee camp have intensified in recent months.
Starving refugees: How we disowned Palestinians in Syria
Palestine Chronicle 9 Jan by Ramzy Baroud — A worst case scenario is unfolding in Syria, and Palestinian refugees, particularly in the Yarmouk refugee camp, are paying a heavy price for Syria’s cruelest war. They are starving, although there can be no justification, nor logistical explanation for why they are dying from hunger … .A minor Palestinian group, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine–the General Command, has tried to control Yarmouk on behalf of the Syrian government, an act that the refugees rejected. There has been a semi-consensus among Palestinians that they should not be embroiled in Syria’s war. However, the warring parties – the Syrian government, the rebel Free Syrian Army (FSA) and other Islamic groups – desperately tried to use every card in their disposal to weaken the other parties. The result has been devastating and is taking place at the expense of innocent refugees … But the latest disaster is the worst to strike the refugee camp. In Dec 2012, rebels of the FSA tried to gain control over the camp. Fierce fighting ensued, followed by aerial bombardment of Yarmouk by government airplanes on Dec 16. Dozens were reportedly killed, and thousands fled for their lives. Despite the obvious signs of danger surrounding Palestinian presence in Syria, only then did the Palestinian leadership attempt to negotiate a special status for Yarmouk so that the stateless Palestinians were kept out of a conflict that was not of their making. Some Palestinian factions were used by other regional powers to declare political stances regarding the conflict in Syria. The refugees should have never been used as fodder for a dirty war and all attempts at sparing the refugees have failed. The failure has been across the board.
Hamas frees Fatah prisoners to mend Palestinian ties
GAZA CITY (AFP) 8 Jan — Gaza’s Hamas government freed seven imprisoned Fatah members Wednesday, as part of efforts to mend relations between the Islamist movement and its West Bank-based Palestinian rival, officials said. “The release of these condemned men comes as part of the prime minister’s decisions to strengthen national reconciliation,” Gaza interior ministry spokesman Islam Shahwan told reporters. “More positive steps will follow,” he added, without elaborating. The releases came two days after Gaza Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh reached out to Fatah, saying that those of its members who had fled Gaza when Hamas seized the territory in 2007 would be allowed to return, except for those accused of killing Hamas members. It was the latest in a series of overtures by Hamas to Fatah, which dominates the West Bank-based Palestinian Authority, as Israel and Egypt have tightened a blockade on Gaza.
Fatah proposes unity government plan to Hamas
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 8 Jan — The Fatah reconciliation team has made a proposal to Hamas regarding a national unity government, a Fatah spokesman told Ma‘an Wednesday. The proposal stipulates that Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas set dates for new presidential and legislative elections, Osama al-Qawasmeh said. Al-Qawasmeh told Ma’an that the head of Fatah’s reconciliation team, Azzam al-Ahmad, informed Gaza Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh of the proposal via telephone call on Tuesday.
Haniyeh requested time to discuss the proposal with other Hamas officials, Qwasmeh said, adding that al-Ahmad is arranging to visit Gaza to meet with Hamas leaders.
Head of Fatah reconciliation team to visit Gaza
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 7 Jan — An official from Fatah’s reconciliation team is due to visit the Gaza Strip on Tuesday to discuss progress on unity talks, Fatah Central Committee member Muhammad Shtayeh said. “Azzam al-Ahmad and I met the head of Hamas’ political bureau Khalid Mashaal about 15 days ago in the Qatari capital Doha and discussed the reconciliation file,” Shtayeh said at a conference organized by the Press House in Gaza. “We are prepared for reconciliation and to end the division. Ismail Haniyeh is putting a lot of effort in the reconciliation issue, and the steps he announced yesterday were in the right direction. We welcome them and hope they continue.” Hamas’ proposals include organizing elections in 6 months, which Fatah would agree to, the official added.
Dutch pension manager divests from Israeli banks
AP 8 Jan — PGGM of the Netherlands, one of the 20 largest pension asset managers globally, said Wednesday it has divested from five Israeli banks because they are involved in financing the construction of Jewish settlements in the West Bank. In financial terms the move is not that significant, given that PGGM had only several tens of millions invested in the banks out of the more than $170 billion in assets it manages. Yet it is the latest in a string of rebuffs to hit Israel over its settlement policies.
American Studies Association tax-exempt status challenged
NEW YORK (Jerusalem Post) 8 Jan by Maya Shwayder — The American Studies Association is having its nonprofit, tax-exempt status as a 501(c)(3) organization challenged, based on its decision to participate in an academic boycott of Israeli universities and academic institutions. Cornell professor and lawyer William A. Jacobson announced Monday on his blog, Legal Insurrection, that he had filed a complaint with the Internal Revenue Service, requesting that it review the ASA ’s status. To qualify as a nonprofit organization under regulation 501(c)(3), Jacobson said, “both as an organization and in its operations, a group has to exist solely for their stated tax-exempt purpose, and the purpose [claimed] here is educational.
Israel minister: Peace talks deadline may be extended
JERUSALEM (AFP) 7 Jan — Middle East peace talks could be extended beyond their April deadline, Israel’s defense minister said Tuesday, insisting current negotiations were aimed solely at providing a framework for final talks. The remarks came a day after US Secretary of State John Kerry left following four days of intense meetings with Israeli and Palestinian leaders, during which he failed to broker agreement on a framework to guide the talks forward. “We are now trying to reach a framework to continue negotiations for a period beyond the nine months some thought would suffice for reaching a permanent accord,” Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon told reporters during a tour of a military base. “We are not working on a framework agreement, but on a framework for negotiations, for continuing negotiations for a longer period,” Yaalon was quoted as saying in a statement from his office.
Hamdallah meets with UNRWA as strikes ‘devastate’ refugee life
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 8 Jan — Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah on Wednesday met with an official for the UN agency for Palestine refugees to discuss an ongoing general strike by the agency’s Palestinian employees, officials said. In his Ramallah office, Hamdallah spoke with UNRWA Commissioner General Filippo Grandi about the urgency to reopen UNRWA schools, which have been closed for 36 days due to a teacher strike. The “crisis” in UNRWA schools threatens the future of 300,000 students, Hamdallah said. Grandi said UNRWA is committed to supporting the education sector in Palestine, and is working hard to end the teacher strike.
Ambassador killed in Prague explosion buried in Ramallah
RAMALLAH (WAFA) 8 Jan – Jamal al-Jamal, the Palestinian ambassador killed in an explosion in Prague last week, was buried in Ramallah on Wednesday. The family of Jamal asked for his burial in Palestine. Jamal, who became ambassador in Prague in October, was killed by an explosion after he opened an old safe in his residence. Foreign Minister Riyad Malki and other Fatah official attended the burial ceremony.
Israel MP says Christian citizens ‘not Arabs’, pushes for discriminatory policy
Al-Akhbar 8 Jan — A member of the Israeli Knesset is pushing forward legislation that would discriminate between Christian and Muslim Palestinian citizens of Israel, media reported on Wednesday. MK Yariv Levin, the coalition chairman for the governing conservative Likud-Yisrael Beitenu faction, is proposing a series of bills over the status of Palestinian Christian citizens of Israel, notably identifying them as “not Arabs,” Maariv newspaper reported. One of the suggested bills would give Christian Arabs the possibility to put down their nationality as simply “Christian” on their Israeli identification papers, as opposed to “Arab Christian” … “This is an important, historic step that could introduce balance to the State of Israel, and connect us [Jews] with the Christians,” he added. “I make sure not to refer to them as Arabs, because they’re not Arabs.” Another bill up for discussion would give Christian citizens of Israel different representation in municipal and government councils than Muslims, Maariv reported.”
Chilean soccer team puts Palestine front and center
Mondoweiss 7 Jan by Adam Horowitz — Actually, they put Palestine on the back, but it’s still getting plenty of attention. The Palestine Football Club, Deportivo Palestino, based in Santiago, Chile recently redesigned their jerseys replacing the number 1 with an image of Palestine (number 11 really lucked out). The Chilean Jewish community is freaking out. The JTA reports that the Wiesenthal center is taking its usual understated approach and has referred to the jerseys as “fomenting terrorist intent”: … The team was originally founded in 1920 by Palestinian immigrants to the country, and Chile now has one of the largest Palestinian communities in the world.
10,000 Africans rally in Jerusalem, Knesset speaker thwarts talks with MKs
Haaretz 8 Jan by Ilan Lior and Jonathan Lis — An estimated 10,000 asylum-seekers protested Wednesday in the Wohl Rose Park across from the Knesset, as their nationwide strike entered its fourth day. Representatives of striking African asylum-seekers tried entering the Knesset for a pre-arranged meeting with MKs, but were barred entry .Explaining his decision to refuse entrance to the Africans, Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein said he was concerned that “the infiltrators’ entrance into the Knesset would cause a provocation and could lead to violence and disturbances.” MKs Michal Rosin (Meretz), Shimon Ohayon (Yesh Atid) and Dov Khenin (Hadash), who had invited the activists to a meeting, blasted Edelstein’s decision as narrow-minded. The protest was joined by author David Grossman who, in a spontaneous speech in English, said that for him the concept of Israel encompasses the idea of people seeking shelter.
Israel has examined only 250 out of 1,800 asylum requests – and has granted none
Haaretz 8 Jan by Ilan Lior — Israel has not granted refugee status to a single Eritrean or Sudanese national, even though European states have granted such status to more than 70 percent of asylum-seekers from those countries … Although Israel has chosen not to deport the Eritrean and Sudanese nationals collectively to their countries of origin, it is doing its best to make them leave. In addition to prolonged imprisonment, last month Israel established the Holot detention facility and began ordering the Eritrean and Sudanese nationals who live in the cities to report there within 30 days or face imprisonment.
Jerusalem: Ultra-Orthodox protesters hurl stones at police
Ynet 9 Jan by Noam (Dabul) Dvir — Rioters protest early closing hours of Jerusalem cemetery where Rabbi Ovadia Yosef is buried, say it interferes with paying respects to Rabbi. Three protesters arrested … A police car was damaged after it was hit with a stone. Rioters have also set fire to trash cans and tried to block the road … According to another protester, police arrived at the cemetery since the gates were broken.
Analysis / Opinion / Nakba memoirs
I am from Jaffa, was only five when we were displaced / Saed Bannoura of IMEMC
IMEMC 8 Jan — I was video chatting with my family back in Beit Sahour, in the West Bank district of Bethlehem, chatting with my mother and family members back there, despite the 10-hour time difference, we try to do that whenever we can. My mom sounded happy about something, of course, I felt happy for her happiness, after all she is my mother, who gave birth to me and, along with my father, raised me and my three brothers, and always put us first. Mariam, my mother was carrying a copy of the Al-Quds daily Newspaper, my father Naji standing next to her, and she showed me a feature story about the destroyed Palestinian village of Al-Khairiyya in the Jaffa district, one of hundreds of villages and towns destroyed and depopulated by Zionists in 1948. “I was only five years old when they came into our village and forced us out, we lost our home and land, our life where my late father worked”, she said, “We went to ‘Aboud village, near Ramallah, but the village was so small, people unable to find work to feed their families”.
“We then left ‘Aboud heading to Jordan where I lived with my family there from 1949 – 1967, my father died when I was young”, Mariam added, “On February 25 1968 I got married to your father, and came to live with him in Beit Sahour, and here I am”. “In 1963 I studied to be a nurse and became a midwife, I used to be fluent in English, I later learnt French, and spoke some Russian”, she said, “I am from Jaffa, but I cannot go there any more, they [Israeli soldiers] destroyed our village, our home and displaced us to create their state”. “When I saw the article about my village, my destroyed and depopulated village, I felt happy to hear about the forgotten village, but very sad for what happened to it, for the displacement and destruction they did, for my expulsion from my land, my home”, Mariam said, “This is my village, my village that once stood filled with life, where I took my first steps… now it’s gone.”
It is worth mentioning that, similar to thousands of unrecognized refugees, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA), only recognized my mother as a refugee three years ago. … Al- Khairiyya village was small, but full of life, in 1922, around 546 Palestinians lived there, then 914 in 1939, 1940 persons in 1945. It was completely displaced, and destroyed by the Zionist armed forces in 1948 when Israel was established in the historic land of Palestine, a land with great culture, people and life, but the Zionists wanted it without its natives, the Palestinians, the indigenous. Israel, the newly born state established on the ruins of Palestine and its people, built two illegal settlements where Al-Khairiyya once stood; Ramat Bin Kaas and Ramat Efal, where immigrants called what once stood as a Palestinian village, home. The first settlement was built in 1952, and the second in 1969. Now, anyone who visits that area, as well as any part of historic Palestine, mainly sees Jewish neighborhoods, cities, and does not have a clue about what happened here, what happened to the native indigenous Palestinians, their hundreds of villages and towns.
The myth of an undivided Jerusalem is collapsing under its own weight / Daniel Seidemann
The Guardian 8 Jan — As John Kerry’s Israeli-Palestinian peace initiative moves into a decisive stage, two Jerusalem truths are becoming crystal clear. First, either the two-state solution will also take place within Jerusalem, or there will be no two-state solution at all. Second, any attempt to reach a permanent status agreement regarding Jerusalem that ignores the already existing, deeply rooted urban realities of this bi-national and divided city is doomed to failure. These truths were on display on 22 October 2013, when Jerusalem held mayoral elections. The incumbent mayor, Nir Barkat, an up-and-coming political star in Israel’s ideological right, was re-elected. His victory was convincing: Barkat received 51.9% of the vote, in comparison with the 44.6% received by his closest rival … A more careful look at the numbers, however, tells a very different story. There are approximately 157,382 eligible voters among the Palestinians of East Jerusalem. Of these, a total of 1,101 voted in the 2013 election – meaning a Palestinian voter turnout of only 0.7%. Barkat received 46.9% of these votes – a total of 516 votes, a mere 0.3% of the total vote of all eligible Palestinian voters. In short, Barkat’s assertion that he “represents” all residents of Jerusalem is without basis in fact…
The results in Israel’s national elections for the Knesset, which took place on 22 January last year, are no less illuminating. In those elections, 28.4% of eligible Palestinian voters in East Jerusalem cast a ballot, a seemingly respectable number. A more careful look, once again, tells a different story – in this case a story of formal disenfranchisement. Out of the approximate 157,382 Palestinian residents of Jerusalem of voting age, only 10,431 actually have the right to vote in Israel’s national elections (a number that is artificially high, since it includes thousands of Israeli Arab citizens who moved to Jerusalem from areas in pre-1967 Israel, rather than native Palestinian East Jerusalemites). This means that the number of East Jerusalemite Palestinians entitled to vote in national elections hovers at around 5% of the voting-age Palestinian population of the city. Only 2,965 of the East Jerusalem Palestinians – 1.9% of the Palestinian population – voted in Israel’s 2013 national elections, with another 95% denied the right to vote. This bizarre situation exists because most Palestinians in “undivided Jerusalem” are legally classified as “permanent residents”, rather than citizens of Israel. As such, they do not enjoy the right to vote in national elections. An estimated 13,000 Palestinians of all ages, out of a total Palestinian population of 293,000 (37% of Jerusalem’s total population), have received Israeli citizenship.
Recognizing Israel as a Jewish State is like saying the US is a WhiteState / Juan Cole
6 Jan – Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu is adding a fifth demand to his negotiations with US Secretary of State John Kerry and Palestine President Mahmoud Abbas: That the Palestinians recognize Israel as a “Jewish state.” For Netanyahu’s demand to make any sense, he first has to define “Jewish.” “Jewish” has a number of possible meanings … So either way Netanyahu defines Jewishness, it disenfranchises substantial numbers of self-identifying Israeli Jews. If it is a matter of maternal descent, it leaves 300,000 or so out in the cold. If it is a matter of belief and observance, it leaves nearly 2 million Israeli Jews out of the club. In addition, of course, 1.7 million Israelis, about a fifth of the population, are Palestinian-Israelis, mostly Muslim but some Christians. They are, in other words, a somewhat greater proportion of the Israeli citizen population than Latinos are of the US population (Latinos are about 17% of Americans). If current demographic trends continue, Palestinian-Israelis could be as much as 1/3 of the population by 2030 … Netanyahu’s demand is either racist or fundamentalist and is objectionable from an American point of view on human rights grounds either way (and I’m not just talking about the human rights of Palestinian-Israelis).
Hatred of African migrants is Israel’s Stockholm Syndrome / Gideon Levy
Haaretz 8 Jan — Instead of developing a sense of justice based on their traditions, Israeli Jews have developed a strange sense of identity with their abusers of yesteryear — Behind all this evil hides a warped psychological motive; behind all this nationalism and racism hides a dark and embroiled national spirit. That’s the only way to explain the dirty wave that threatens to sink the Zionist enterprise. The evil in the name of nationalism is rearing its head everywhere. The attitude toward the Palestinians is the evil of yesterday. There’s no way to understand how, in such a short time, a society of refugees and migrants has turned into such an evil society, with the evil government at its head. How is it that a country designed to be a place of refuge, with pretensions of a just society – a light unto the nations and a chosen people – is destroying its immune system? …How can the children of the refugees of yesterday, who grew up on the horror stories of their parents and the stories of rescue by a handful of righteous gentiles, seal their hearts and not see the parallels? Their forefathers knocked on the gates of the world, and now others are knocking on the sealed gates of their own country. Not only are the gates sealed, most of the hearts are closed and the brains washed. The conclusion: Stockholm Syndrome. The Israelis have come down with it … This isn’t only a loss of a sense of justice, it’s suicidal behavior. The foundation of Israel’s strength was always its moral justification. Thanks to this Israel was established – and became established. The world’s attitude toward Israel stemmed first and foremost from the guilt feelings toward the Holocaust victims. On top of that was the military might, the flourishing economy, the science and the influence of world Jewry. But without the moral justification, this lighthouse could collapse