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Israeli government will add 35 isolated settlements to ‘national priorities map’

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Land, property, resources theft & destruction / Ethnic cleansing / Judaization

Anticipating court decision, Israel builds wall around Abu Dis hotel
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) Sun 16 Feb – Anticipating a negative decision by the Israeli Supreme Court, Israeli authorities on Sunday started to build a section of its separation wall around a hotel in East Jerusalem. Locals told Ma‘an that bulldozers escorted by large numbers of Israeli troops arrived in the morning and started to erect a wall made of huge T-shaped concrete blocks around the Cliff Hotel. The hotel will be separated from the East Jerusalem Palestinian town of Abu Dis to be eventually confiscated under Israel’s law of absentee property.  The Cliff Hotel is a four-floor building 50 meters from the Palestinian parliament in Abu Dis. Its original owners are members of the Ayad family, have been waging a legal battle to stop construction of the stretch of the separation wall around the hotel. All the owners hold Palestinian identity cards.

Israel to add 35 West Bank settlements to new ‘national priorities map’
Haaretz Mon 17 Feb by Jonathan Lis –”Border proximity’ criterion gets more weight in new system — The Israeli government approved Sunday new criteria for granting government assistance to communities, adjusting the regulations in a way that government officials said would add 35 isolated West Bank settlements to the list of favored communities, or “national priorities map.” None of the settlements expected to be included are in the settlement blocs that, it is widely assumed, will be annexed to Israel if an agreement with the Palestinians is ever reached. Most of the beneficiaries are in the Jordan Valley and the Hebron Hills. The plan contravenes understandings between Israel and the United States that prohibit the granting of government economic incentives to encourage people to move to the settlements. The new criteria, drawn up by Finance Minister Yair Lapid, give preference to population centers within two kilometers of a hostile border as well as urban centers in the Negev. They will receive tax breaks as well as government benefits for housing, infrastructure, education, security and culture. The benefits will begin in 2015 and their scope will be determined in the budget talks for next year.

Video interview: From Palestine: a story of resilience
posted 16 Feb — Ibrahim Ibraigheth tells how he was cheated out of land in Beit Ummar near Gush Etzion after his father’s death – with forged documents purporting to prove the land was sold to settlers. Although after a long struggle the Israeli High Court agreed that the documents were forged, the land is still at risk of confiscation.

Palestinians: Settlers fraudulently bought land from dead man
Haaretz Sun 16 Feb by Chaim Levinson — Human rights lawyers want the police to launch a criminal probe on suspicion that various purchases have been forged  — The real estate purchasing arm of Amana, a cooperative that builds houses in West Bank settlements, bought parts of a disputed area in the Beit El settlement in 2013 from a man who has been dead for years, local Palestinians say.  The allegation is detailed in documents sent to the police in a request to investigate the purchasing arm, Al-Watan. In the summer of 2012, five buildings in Beit El’s Ulpana neighborhood were demolished following a petition to the High Court of Justice by Palestinians who owned the two lots at the site. Last week Army Radio reported that Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon had given Al-Watan a permit to register parts of one of the lots under its name … Al-Watan has claimed that it bought a Palestinian house on the outskirts of the settlement of Ofra, but the district court ruled that the deal was forged. Al-Watan also says it bought land at Giv’at Asaf, Amona and Migron. All of these transactions are being investigated by the police.

Israel confiscates Palestinian land near Nablus
NABLUS (Ma‘an) Sun 16 Feb — Israeli forces confiscated Palestinian land in the northern West Bank on Sunday, a Palestinian official said. Ghassan Daghlas, a Palestinian Authority official who monitors settlement activity in the northern West Bank, told Ma‘an that the Israeli Civil Administration seized four dunams (one acre) of land in the al-Wafra area between the villages of Burin, Tal, and Madma south of Nablus. The confiscation will prevent Palestinian residents from reaching 300 dunams (74 acres) of their land, Daghlas said, without elaborating.

Israeli forces prevent farmers from planting near Bethlehem
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) Sun 16 Feb — Israeli forces prevented Palestinian farmers and international solidarity activists from planting olive trees on private lands southeast of Bethlehem on Sunday. Local land owner Hussein Asakra told Ma‘an that the farmers headed to their private lands accompanied by dozens of solidarity activists in order to plant olive trees in the Ghozlan area near the Israeli settlement of Teqoa. After the group had planted a hundred olive trees, Israeli forces approached them accompanied by settlers and forced the Palestinian farmers to leave their private lands at gunpoint. An altercation occurred between the Palestinian farmers and Israeli forces when the farmers brought official papers proving their ownership of the lands, including a document issued by the Israeli administrative office. Despite this, the Israeli officers insisted that the farmers and solidarity activists leave the scene, Asakra said. The farmers said that the lands in question are 90 dunams (22 acres) and are owned by four families living in al-Asakira village. They said they had worked with an Israeli lawyer to acquire a warrant in order to access the lands, but that Israeli authorities had refused to abide by the court’s decision and instead cooperated with the settlers to take control over the lands.

Palestinian activists successfully plant 100 olive trees in fields targeted by settlers in South Hebron Hills
Susiya, Occupied Palestine (Operation Dove) On February 15th, 2014, more than 60 Palestinian men, women and children from the South Hebron Hills and city of Hebron gathered in the Palestinian village of Susiya and together with international and Israeli activists, participated in a nonviolent action  organized by the South Hebron Hills Popular Committee. The action consisted in planting some 100 olive trees on Palestinian-owned land near the settlement of Susiya. At around 11:00 a.m. Palestinian activists started to plant olive trees in the Palestinian-owned fields close to the gravel road in front of the settlement of Susiya.  An army car was already there and after some minutes additional Israeli forces arrived on the spot for a total of ten border police officers, sixteen soldiers and two policemen … At 11:14 a.m. the soldiers declared the area a “closed military zone” and after some minutes started pushing the activists away. A group of Palestinians slowed the Israeli forces’ action, giving other Palestinians time to continue planting olive trees along the gravel road. In some cases border police officers used harsh manners, even jostling some women.  The Israeli forces were able to make Palestinians move about 100 meters away. As soon as the soldiers stopped pushing, Palestinian women began singing while other activists took pictures in front of the soldiers. The planting of olive trees continued. At 11:49 a.m. an army vehicle with a water cannon arrived and some activists moved away. However, a small group of activists faced the vehicle, standing in front of it and waving placards and chanting slogans against the Israeli occupation. At 12:16 a.m. when the planting was over, the Palestinians slowly returned to the Palestinian village of Susiya. Among the Palestinian activists was Mustafa Barghouti, member of the Palestinian Legislative Council (Palestinian Parliament) since 2006 ( That action was a direct reply to the uprooting of eighty olive trees in Palestinian fields near Susiya, which happened only five days previously (

Bedouin in northern Israel protest evacuation
Haaretz Sun 16 Feb by Jack Khoury — Dozens of residents of a Bedouin neighborhood in northern Israel on Friday vowed to continue a public struggle against efforts to evacuate them from their land. Residents of Ramya, who live in tin shacks and sheds within Carmiel, waged a protest in the city center urging neighbors to support their battle against the authorities. The state expropriated Ramya residents’ land in 1976, and their efforts to thwart evacuation have been going for decades. Demonstrators at Friday’s protest near city hall included residents and their families, Arab and Jewish activists who support the cause and Knesset members including Hadash chairman Mohammed Barakeh, MK Haneen Zoabi (Balad) and Masud Ganaim (United Arab List-Ta’al), among others. One of the protest leaders, Saleh Sawad, addressed the crowd, saying, “The time has come to face us. Why do they want to evict us? We have lived here for hundreds of years, and we want to live with you as human beings. The nation of Israel suffered greatly in Europe, so don’t transfer that to the residents of Ramya. What is happening is unacceptable – all we are asking is that we and our children have a roof over our heads.”

Israeli official calls for halting Adhan in Haifa
NAZARETH (PIC) Sat 15 Feb — A state of tension has prevailed in the 1948 occupied lands over an Israeli official’s call for halting Adhan (Islam’s call to prayer) in Haifa. During a meeting held by the Israeli municipal council, Haifa deputy mayor Julia Shtraim called for banning Adhan in mosques throughout the city, claiming that the number of wild boars’ [?] increased in the city and there is no need for “any additional noise” in reference to Adhan. Second deputy mayor of Haifa Suhail Assad, in turn, considered Shtraim’s statements racist and stupid comments, demanding an apology for such remarks. He stressed that Adhan and church bells have been an integral part of the city for very long centuries.
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Israel cuts off water supply to several Jerusalem homes
IMEMC Sun 16 Feb by Chris Carlson — Israeli authorities Sunday completely cut off the water supply of 14 houses in the old city of Jerusalem, under the pretext of accumulated debts, bringing the number of houses without water to 44 homes, according to an official. Ashraf al-Zorba, responsible for following up on water issues in the old city of Jerusalem, told WAFA that a staff of the Israeli Electric Company began, last week, the process of cutting off the water supply of a number of houses in Jerusalem; it cut off the water supply to 30 houses at once in two locations in the old city. He stressed the difficult situation of residents living without water for several days now; residents now depend on neighbors to provide them with some of their water needs. He said that the accumulated debts amount to hundreds of thousands of dollars and that the debt accumulation, in addition to millions of tax debts on residents, are all methods which Israel uses to displace Palestinians and force them to leave their land as an attempt to take it over.

In photos: Rooftop garden flourishes atop Bethlehem refugee camp
Ma‘an Sun 16 Feb — In 1948, three-quarters of a million Palestinians were expelled or fled from their homes inside what is today Israel. Since then, decades of Israeli land confiscation and occupation have increasingly severed the ties to the land of what was historically an agricultural society. A new project in a Bethlehem-area refugee camp seeks to help reverse this history of forced urbanization and revitalize connections to agriculture, while at the same time increasing Palestinians’ control over their food sources, especially organic vegetables. Refutrees launched its pilot rooftop garden in late January in ‘Aida camp in collaboration with the local Lajee Center. Volunteers have planted onion, lettuce, and radish in the greenhouse, and organizers hope many more rooftop gardens will soon flourish atop homes across the camp … If all goes according to plan, ‘Aida could soon be home to a network of rooftop gardens that could serve as a model for refugee camps across the region. Refutrees founder Lamya Hussain highlighted that the project takes into account the specific political circumstances of the Palestinian situation as well as the camp itself.  The garden is watered completely by “gray water” collected from rainfall, in part due to Israeli restrictions on Palestinian use of water. The greenhouse structure itself is necessary to protect the plants from the tear gas frequently fired by Israeli forces from a nearby watchtower.

The Israeli ‘watergate’ scandal: The facts about Palestinian water
Haaretz Sun 16 Feb by Amira Hass — Israel has adopted a drip-feed approach to providing the Palestinians with water instead of letting them control their own natural resource — …So here are the facts: * Israel doesn’t give water to the Palestinians. Rather, it sells it to them at full price. * The Palestinians would not have been forced to buy water from Israel if it were not an occupying power which controls their natural resource, and if it were not for the Oslo II Accords, which limit the volume of water they can produce, as well as the development and maintenance of their water infrastructure. * This 1995 interim agreement was supposed to lead to a permanent arrangement after five years. The Palestinian negotiators deluded themselves that they would gain sovereignty and thus control over their water resources. * The division is based on the volume of water Palestinians produced and consumed on the eve of the deal. The Palestinians were allotted 118 million cubic meters (mcm) per year from three aquifers via drilling, agricultural wells, springs and precipitation. Pay attention, Rino Tzror: the same deal allotted Israel 483 mcm annually from the same resources (and it has also exceeded this limit in some years) … * The agreement’s second major scandal: Gaza’s water economy/management was condemned to be self-sufficient and made reliant on the aquifer within its borders. How can we illustrate the injustice? Let’s say the Negev residents were required to survive on aquifers in the Be’er Sheva-Arad region, without the National Water Carrier and without accounting for population growth. Overpumping in Gaza, which causes seawater and sewage to penetrate into the aquifer, has made 90 percent of the potable water undrinkable. Can you imagine? If Israelis had peace and justice in mind, the Oslo agreement would have developed a water infrastructure linking the Strip to the rest of the country.

Court orders state to provide water for sheep in unrecognized Bedouin village
Haaretz Mon 17 Feb by Eli Ashkenazi — The Water Authority and Agriculture Ministry must allow a sheep farmer in an unrecognized Bedouin village to extend his water connection to the herd’s paddock, giving the animals easy access to water, the Water Affairs Court in Haifa ruled last week.  The panel, headed by Haifa District Court Vice President Ron Shapiro, said that not only does a lack of access threaten the herd owner’s livelihood, it is liable to harm the animals. The court was ruling on an appeal submitted by Hassan Masudin, who lives with his family in an unrecognized Negev village near Be’er Sheva. Masudin has a herd of 200 sheep and 100 lambs. The family has a connection to drinking water, but the spout is a considerable distance from the paddock. Every time Masudin needs to water his animals, he must take them out of the corral and bring them to the spout … the court ruled that once the state had approved Masudin’s herd and a water allotment, it could not evade its responsibility to make the water accessible.

Violence / Raids / Clashes / Illegal arrests

PCHR weekly report on Israeli human rights violations in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (6-12 Feb 2014)
Thurs 13 Feb — Israeli forces continued to open fire at border areas in the Gaza Strip. 4 civilians were wounded in the northern Gaza Strip. A member of an armed group and 2 civilians were wounded in an extra-judicial execution attempt in the central Gaza Strip. 7 Palestinian civilians, including 2 children, were wounded in different shooting incidents. Israeli forces continued to use excessive force against peaceful protesters in the West Bank.  4 Palestinian civilians were wounded in Kofur Qaddoum protest, northeast of Qalqilia. 20 civilians were wounded in other protests in the West Bank. Israeli forces conducted 74 incursions into Palestinian communities in the West Bank and a limited one in the Gaza Strip. At least 28 civilians, including 4 children, were arrested. Israel has continued to impose a total closure on the oPt and has isolated the Gaza Strip from the outside world. Israeli forces established dozens of checkpoints in the West Bank. At least 5 Palestinian civilians, including 4 children, were arrested at checkpoints. Israeli navy forces continued targeting Palestinian fishermen at sea. Israeli naval forces opened fire 6 times at Palestinian fishing boats. Three fishermen, including a child, were arrested and 2 fishing boats were confiscated….

Palestinian journalist assaulted by Israeli soldiers near Bethlehem
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) Sat 15 Feb — Israeli soldiers reportedly assaulted a Palestinian photojournalist while he was filming a documentary in the village of Wadi Fukin, southwest of Bethlehem on Saturday, family members told Ma‘an. Yousef Shakarnah was filming a documentary about the plight of locals who work inside Israel when soldiers assaulted him, causing him bruises and injuries all over his body. Shakarna was subsequently transferred to al-Yamamah Hospital following the attack. The Palestinian Journalists Syndicate condemned the attack on Shakarna and accused Israeli occupation forces of “targeting journalists to try to conceal the truth.” The union said in a statement to Ma‘an that it would file a formal complaint to the international federation of journalists about the incident. An Israeli military spokesperson said they were looking into the incident.

Palestinian shot by live ammunition during demonstration in Tura
(with video) TURA, Occupied Palestine  (ISM, Nablus Team) Sat 15 Feb — On Saturday, February 15th, Demonstrators gathered at 11:30 a.m. by the village of Tura near the annexation wall to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the DFLP (Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine). People began chanting and marching in the direction of the checkpoint. After 20 minutes of demonstrating, protesters decided to get back to the village, and the Israeli forces began shooting tear gas grenades and canisters, quickly followed by live ammunition. Several people suffered severely from tear gas inhalation. One man, close to the group of soldiers, was targeted and shot in the leg. He was immediately removed from the demonstration and taken to the hospital. As the protest was ending, another young man was shot in the stomach by a tear gas canister. The condition of those injured is unknown at this time. Tura is located next to the two illegal settlements of Shaqed and Hinnanit. This proximity combined with the violence of the occupation brings weekly confrontations between the local population and the Israeli army. The Israeli forces occupying this area are known for their extremely violent repression.

Israeli forces turn house into military post
JENIN (WAFA) Sat 15 Feb –The Israeli forces seized Saturday a house in the Jenin area village of Tura, located  near the segregation wall, and turned it into a military outpost, local and security sources said. The Israeli soldiers took over the house owned by Ahmad Qabaha and confined the family into one room, said the sources. Residents clashed with the soldiers when they attempted to help the family get out of the house, said the sources. Soldiers fired tear gas causing scores to suffer from gas inhalation. Soldiers also arrested an 18-year-old high school student after raiding and search his family home in the same village.
They also have severely beaten a 20-year-old resident who required hospitalization.

Israeli troops shoot, injure Palestinian teen at flying checkpoint
NABLUS (Ma‘an) Sat 15 Feb — Israeli forces on Saturday opened fire at a vehicle traveling on a main road near an Israeli settlement south of Nablus, injuring a 17-year-old Palestinian girl, security sources said. Palestinian security sources told Ma‘an that Israeli troops operating a flying checkpoint near the illegal settlement of Yitzhar fired at a Palestinian car that allegedly refused to stop at the soldiers’ request. A bullet hit Nahad Kamal Aqil in the thigh, and she was taken to a nearby hospital, the sources said, adding that the teen is a resident of Kafr Qaddum in the northern West Bank. Israeli troops detained the driver of the car, the sources said. An army spokeswoman said that the Israeli border police was responsible for the area where the incident occurred.

Two arrested, three summoned in West Bank
IMEMC Sat 15 Fev by Chris Carlson — Israeli occupation forces, on Saturday at dawn, arrested two young men from Hebron and Jenin and summoned three others to an intelligence office, including two ex-prisoners. Local sources said that the Israeli forces arrested Mahmoud Fallfah, 19, from Tarqoumia town, west of Hebron, at the military “Container” checkpoint and detained him for hours before transferring him to an unknown location. In Jenin, occupation troops arrested Bashir Qabha, 18, in a home raid, searching and tampering with the home’s contents, an Al Ray correspondent reported.  Also on Saturday morning, Israeli forces summoned ex-prisoners Alaa al-Barghouti and Tariq Rimawi, both from Beit Rima town, located near Ramallah. Another patrol raided the home of Ammar al-Khatib, 27, serving him with a summons to report to an intelligence facility in colonial Gush Etzion settlement, south of Bethlehem.

Israeli forces raid Jenin-area villages, detain young Palestinian man
JENIN (Ma‘an) Sun 16 Feb — Israeli forces stormed three Jenin-area villages in the northern West Bank early on Sunday and detained a young Palestinian man, locals said. Locals told Ma‘an that Israeli military vehicles stormed the villages of Silat al-Harithiya, al-Yamoun and ‘Ajjah in Jenin district, unleashing police dogs and ransacking several homes in the process. In Silat al-Harithiya, Israeli troops detained 28-year-old Fuad Abdul-Rahman Jaradat. An Israeli army spokeswoman confirmed the detention, adding that the “suspect was transferred for security questioning.”

Soldiers kidnap Palestinian shepherd near Hebron
IMEMC Fri 14 Feb by Saed Bannoura —  Coordinator of the Popular Committee against the Wall and Settlement in Hebron, Rateb Jabour, stated that Israeli soldiers kidnapped a Palestinian shepherd east of Yatta city …  Jabour said that the soldiers assaulted and kidnapped Nael Khalil Abu Arram, 18, taking him to an unknown destination.  Abu Arram was taken prisoner in the Eqweibes village, east of Yatta. The soldiers kidnapped him after a number of Israeli settlers attacked him in a land which belongs to the village. The village is surrounded by three illegitimate Israeli settlements, built on privately owned Palestinian lands. Settlements built in that area are Susia, Avigal and Mitzpe Yair.

Clashes with IOF in Ya‘bad cause 30 civilians to suffer tear gas injuries
WEST BANK (PIC) Sun 16 Feb — Clashes erupted on Saturday afternoon in the town of Ya‘bad, to the south of Jenin when the Israeli occupation forces (IOF) prevented the village’s anti-wall march from reaching an area close to the wall. Local sources said that the occupation forces roamed the streets of the towns of Ya‘bad and Tarm [or Khirbat al-Tarim] and attacked the demonstrators, while young men responded by throwing stones at the Israeli soldiers. They reported that a young man from the town of Ya‘bad was shot in the leg, while more than 30 civilians, including a foreign solidarity activist, suffered suffocation. The sources added that the IOF closed the entrances to the village during the march and stopped the vehicles for long hours.
Other confrontations broke out on Saturday in ‘Arroub refugee camp, north of al-Khalil, between dozens of young people and Israeli soldiers, during a raid into neighborhoods in the camp. Eyewitnesses said that the IOF fired tear gas canisters and metal bullets at the citizens and their houses, wounding a number of youths and children and causing others to suffocate. Meanwhile, a group of young men were able to reach a military tower adjacent to the main street and broke surveillance cameras placed to monitor the citizens’ movements.
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Israeli forces arrest Fatah leader at Nablus checkpoint
NABLUS (Ma‘an) Mon 17 Feb — Israeli forces on Sunday arrested Fatah leader and preventive security officer Jamal al-Nabulsi at Zaatara checkpoint south of Nablus. Lawmaker Naser Jomaa, who was with al-Nabulsi, told Ma‘an that Israeli forces stopped them at the checkpoint on their way to Ramallah and an Israeli intelligence officer told them they were under arrest. Jomaa said that he refused to sign any papers regarding his arrest so he was let go. Jomaa explained that al-Nabulsi is a major in the Preventive Security Force, and he was released from Israeli jail several months ago after spending 10 years behind bars. He declined an order to meet Israeli intelligence several days ago and informed them that they should contact the Palestinian security forces, Jomaa added.

Settlers install cameras in their vehicles to facilitate arrests
IMEMC Sun 16 Feb by Chris Carlson — Dozens of Israeli settlers, in recent months, have installed cameras on their vehicles’ license-plates in order to capture Palestinians and record the shooting and incidents of throwing stones or Molotov cocktails in a West Bank road, [the Israeli Hebrew-language newspaper] Maariv reported. Maariv added that these cameras reacently helped the occupation forces to capture a group of Palestinians who were throwing stones in the village of ‘Azzun in Qalqiliya, according to the PNN. There has been a decline in the number of incidents in recent weeks, due to the arrest of the stone-throwers who began throwing stones at passing vehicles, Maariv claimed.

Gaza under blockade

Egyptian army launches campaign to create buffer zone on Gaza border
CAIRO (Ma‘an) Sat 15 Feb — Egyptian border forces destroyed 10 tunnels and seven homes in the Sinai on Saturday as part of new campaign to create a buffer zone along the border with the Gaza Strip that would extend 500 meters in some places. The campaign began with a military operation in the border town of Rafah, where tunnels leading into the Gaza Strip were targeted in the neighborhoods of al-Brahma, al-Sarsuriya, Salahudeen, al-Helwat, and Zoraba, an Egyptian security source said. The security source added that the tunnels were destroyed and the homes they were located in were subsequently blown up. He explained that the move was part of a wider campaign to set up a buffer zone along the border with Gaza in Rafah that would extend 300 meters in populated areas and 500 meters in open areas. The zone would potentially threaten dozens of homes in the city, which has been divided by the international border since the 1982 Camp David peace accord. Thousands were displaced in the early 2000s when Israel demolished homes to build a buffer zone on the Palestinian side.

Rafah crossing closed for 5 days in a row
IMEMC Sun 16 Feb by Chris Carlson — Egyptian authorities have closed the Rafah crossing for five days in a row, now, says Director General of Borders and Crossings in Gaza Maher, Abu Sabha. He has called on Egypt to open the crossing permanently, to reduce the suffering of Palestinian people in Gaza, reports Al Ray News Agency. Abu Sabha confirmed, in a statement, that he contacted the Egyptian side, demanding them to open the crossing for humanitarian cases.

Locals: Israeli tank fires shell at open area in Gaza City
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) Sat 15 Feb — An Israeli tank on Saturday fired shells [PIC: a shell] at an open area in Gaza City, locals said. Witnesses told Ma‘an that Israeli tanks were stationed along the border facing the city’s Shuja‘iyya neighborhood, and that one fired a shell into a Palestinian field. No injuries were reported. An Israeli army spokeswoman told Ma‘an that no such event occurred.

Israel sends the kiss of death on Valentine’s Day
Palestine Chronicle Sun 16 Feb by Julie Webb-Pullman — While the rest of the world sends expressions of love on Valentine’s Day, Israel sends the kiss of death to Gaza. A man now lies clinging to life in Kamal Adwan hospital after being shot in the stomach by Israeli soldiers east of Jabaliya on Friday, while another five also receive treatment for bullet wounds. A seventh is nursing injuries from tear-gas canisters. An Israeli army spokeswoman confirmed to Ma‘an News that Israeli soldiers fired live bullets towards the legs of the young men. Tear-gas and ‘anti-riot’ methods were also used, she said. Palestinian youth have been gathering on Palestinian land east of Jabaliya in northern Gaza every Friday for the last two months, to assert their rightful possession of it. Resentful of the crippling Israeli blockade that restricts their movement outside of the Gaza Strip, the young men manifest their legal right to assemble on their own land in their own territory, and to move freely within it.

Gaza gets its first private security firm
GAZA CITY (AFP) Sun 16 Feb by Sakher Abou El Oun — As hordes of excited fans scramble to reach Arab Idol winner Mohammed Assaf, they are pushed back by a group of men in shades, the face of Gaza’s first private security firm. Guarding the young singer on a rare trip back to his hometown is the very first assignment for Secure Land, a newly formed team of bodyguards whose mandate covers everything from minding VIPs, securing hotels and businesses to ensuring the safe delivery of cash in transit … It’s a family business and Mr Al Arabid’s father, Abdel Kader, serves as its chief executive. “We thought seriously about this service after we talked to institutions, companies and people, and found they accepted the idea because this sort of service is just not available in Gaza,” Mr Kader said. But getting a permit to operate such a business from the Hamas-run government was not easy, largely because none of the employees belong to any of Gaza’s many armed factions … For some international groups, the appeal of a private firm is that it allows them to sidestep the politically tricky need to interact directly with the Hamas administration, which has been boycotted by most Western governments since it forcibly took over the Gaza Strip in summer 2007. [Pictures here]

Hamas denies Egyptian claims about Al-Asher incident in Ismailia
GAZA (PIC) Mon 17 Feb — Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri categorically denied new Egyptian media claims that the body of the alleged suicide bomber in the area of Al-Asher farms in Ismailia city belongs to a Palestinian leader from his Movement. Spokesman Abu Zuhri stated on Sunday that no one from Hamas died in Egypt and described the Egyptian accusation as unfounded lies. The spokesman defied the Egyptian authorities to declare the name of the dead man, and said that such accusation is part of the Egyptian media lies against the Palestinian resistance.
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Lawmaker: Hamas leader arrested in Gaza
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) Sun 16 Feb — A leader of the Hamas movement has been arrested in the Gaza Strip, a Gaza lawmaker said Sunday. Hamas spokesman Ayman Taha was arrested after breaking the law, the deputy head of Gaza’s legislative council said, without elaborating about the nature of the crime. Ahmad Bahar said in an interview with the al-Ghad al-Arabi television channel that Taha is “under investigation.” “He will be held accountable like any other citizen,” Bahar said.

Palestinian refugees in Syria

UNRWA prevented from aid distribution in Yarmouk for past week
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) Sat 15 Feb — A spokesman for the UN’s Palestine refugee agency told Ma‘an on Saturday that UNRWA has been unable to distribute aid in Yarmouk for the past week, leading to a potentially “life-threatening” situation for those trapped in the besieged camp. Chris Gunness told Ma‘an that “the fate particularly of women and children is of growing concern” as the Damascus-area camp suffers from widespread malnutrition and a lack of medical supplies after more than six months of siege by regime forces.Gunness said that although UNRWA had managed to distribute 6,500 food parcels since being given access to the camp on Jan. 18, the food parcels were only meant to last ten days. Aid distribution was suspended following clashes on the night of Feb. 7.

Rebels have left Syria’s Yarmuk: Palestinian official
DAMASCUS (AFP) Sun 16 Feb — All Syrian opposition fighters in the Palestinian refugee camp of Yarmuk in southern Damascus have withdrawn, a Palestinian official told AFP on Sunday. Anwar Abdel Hadi, an official with the Palestine Liberation Organisation, said the pullout came after an agreement between the rebels and Palestinian factions in Yarmuk.”There are no more foreign (Syrian) fighters in the camp, only the Palestinian armed men who are deployed on the outskirts of the camp to prevent non-Palestinians carrying arms from entering,” he said. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the accord could help ease a crippling army siege imposed more than 200 days ago that has trapped thousands of civilians and sparked famine.

Detainees / Released prisoners

Israel mulls bill barring welfare payments to freed security prisoners
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) Sun 16 Feb — Israeli lawmakers are considering a bill that would bar the payment of national insurance funds to prisoners with Israeli citizenship formerly held on “security” grounds but released in peace deals, according to an Israeli newspaper. The Israeli Ministerial Committee for Legislation will vote on a bill Sunday that would prevent former prisoners accused of “security” crimes, but released in prisoner exchanges or as part of peace negotiations, from receiving payments for the period to which they had originally been sentenced, Haaretz reported. According to the bill, such prisoners should not receive payments because “if it were up to the state authorities alone, they would continue serving their term.” Additionally, these former prisoners would be barred from receiving funds even if they were pardoned.

Captives perform surgery for their mate using razor blades
GAZA (PIC) Sat 15 Feb — Palestinian prisoner Rami Hassan underwent a surgery conducted by his mates in Ramon prison using razor blades, which has caused him acute pain, but he felt better after the end of the surgery. The Palestinian prisoners center for studies said on Saturday that the detainees were forced to perform the surgery, because the prison administration has been procrastinating in providing treatment for captive Rami. Rami Hassan was wounded by shrapnel in the face and one of his hands 3 years ago during a raid by the occupation forces into the prisoners’ cells, which has been causing him severe pain that prevented him from sleeping.
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Arab League to address Palestinian prisoners’ plight
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) Sun 16 Feb – The Arab League is scheduled to hold an emergency meeting Wednesday to address the situation of Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails, with special focus on sick prisoners, an official said Sunday. PA minister of prisoners’ affairs Issa Qaraqe‘ told Ma‘an that representatives of Arab countries and members of the Arab League would try to agree on a formula about Palestinian prisoners to be submitted to UN organizations so as to give momentum to their plight. The Palestinian prisoners’ plight, added Qaraqe‘, will be taken to the UN Security Council “because it is responsible for the protection of humans and so it should protect prisoners.” Asked about the last group of pre-Oslo prisoners to be freed from Israeli jails, Qaraqe‘ said the deal would be made as scheduled without any obstacles.

Repatriation of remains

Israel returns body of Dura man
HEBRON (Ma‘an) Mon 17 Feb — Israel on Sunday delivered the remains of Mohammad Mustafa Hasan Shahin al-Darabee from Dura south of Hebron 12 [years] after his death.  Amin al-Bayid, a spokesman of Hebron branch of the Palestinian Committee for Retrieving Martyrs’ Bodies, said that al-Darabee’s body was delievered at Tarqumia checkpoint and he will be buried in his hometown of Dura on Monday.  Al-Darabee was killed on Dec. 27, 2002 after he and Ahmad Ayid Faqih broke into the Israeli settlement of Otniel south of Hebron and opened fire inside a yeshiva. The attack killed two Israeli soldiers and two settlers before al-Darabee and his companion were shot dead in the ensuing firefight.


High Court hears petition against controversial Anti-Boycott Law
Ynet Sun 16 Feb by Telem Yahav — A special nine-judge panel of the High Court of Law held a hearing on Sunday on the legality of the controversial Anti-Boycott Law, which permits punishment for anyone or any organization supporting a boycott of Israel or an Israeli institution. The petition was brought by human rights organizations who claim the law violates the freedom of speech and is hurting public debate on controversial issues.   The Law for Prevention of Damage to State of Israel through Boycott was passed in the Knesset on July 11, 2011. The law defines a “boycotter” as any individual or organization who deliberately avoids having economic, cultural or academic relations with any person or body purely over affiliation to the State of Israel, a state institute or a specific region under its control.The law permits economic sanctions such as a denial of tax exemptions or participation in government contracts. The law also allows private individuals who say they were hurt by a boycott call to file for compensation.,7340,L-4488737,00.html

European boycotts begin to bite, catching Israel’s attention (+video)
JERUSALEM & ROTTERDAM (Christian Science Monitor) 16 Feb by Christa Case Bryant & Sara Miller Llana — Drive down the steep road from Jerusalem to the Dead Sea, and as the desert hills unfold toward the Jordan River the eye meets hundreds of rows of lush palms laden with succulent dates. More than a third of the world’s Medjool dates are grown here in the Jordan Valley, a narrow strip of the West Bank where Israeli agriculture is flourishing. Nearly all Israeli grape exports, as well as abundant rops of peppers and herbs, also come from this arid region. The European Union, Israel’s No. 1 trading partner, accounts for about a third of its total trade, and was long the favored destination for Jordan Valley produce. But these fruits and vegetables are grown on land that Israel has occupied since 1967. For a growing number of European consumers, that’s a problem. They say that buying such produce is supporting the illegal confiscation and control of land and water resources that should be in Palestinian hands. The campaign is starting to bite. Last year, Jordan Valley farmers lost an estimated $29 million, or 14 percent of revenue, because they were forced to find alternative markets for their exports, such as Russia, where prices are 20 to 60 percent lower. Pepper exports to Western Europe have stopped completely, and grape exports are likely to be phased out this year because of consumer pressure, says David Elhayani, mayor of the Jordan Valley Regional Council and a farmer himself. RECOMMENDED: 10 brands you’ll have to give up if you’re boycotting Israel

Meretz chief: I oppose boycotting Israel but won’t buy from settlements
Haaretz Mon 17 Feb by Sami Peretz & Zvi Zrahiya — Meretz leader Zahava Gal-On sees a direct link between ending the occupation, social justice and economic prosperity for all Israelis — …After years of being identified with the fight against the occupation and the settlements, she underwent a transformation when she returned to the Knesset three years ago, and now she is a strong advocate of social justice and economic issues. Under Gal-On’s leadership, Meretz doubled its strength to six seats in the last Knesset election, and recent polls give it 10 to 12 seats, as in its heyday under Aloni.

Citing MLK, Florida students call on school to divest
Mondoweiss Sat 15 Feb by Annie Robbins — Fantastic video from the University of Southern Florida. Titled, USF for Human Rights (Divest 2014), it is from the school’s chapter of Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP-USF). The group is asking the Board of Trustees of the school’s foundation to end involvement in human rights violations in Palestine: …Here is the group’s petition. Excerpts:  As members of a university that reveres the Civil Rights Leader Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., we strive to uphold the same values of justice, equality, and humanity that Dr. King fought for during his lifetime. To honor these values, we should strive to stop profiting from corporations with human rights violations. Our university was on the wrong side of history when it failed to divest from corporations affiliated with South African apartheid. This time we hope to be on the right side of history.

Other news

Abbas signals flexibility on Palestinian refugees
RAMALLAH (Ynet) Sun 16 Feb by Elior Levy — Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has told some 300 young Israelis visiting him on Sunday in the West Bank that he does not want to “drown Israel with millions of (Palestinian) refugees to change its nature.” Abbas’ comment was his most conciliatory yet on the fate of Palestinian refugees who were uprooted from homes in what is now Israel, including in the 1948 War of Independence that followed Israel’s creation … “There is no escape from a just solution that both sides can agree on. No one will force a solution on the other,” he said. Abbas told his Israeli visitors he seeks a “creative solution” for refugees, suggesting he is not demanding a blanket “right of return.”,7340,L-4488921,00.html

Abbas: Palestinians want to open, not divide Jerusalem
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) Sun 16 Feb – The Palestinians do not want to divide Jerusalem, but rather keep it as an open city to be a capital for two states with Arabs and Israelis living together in the city, President Mahmoud Abbas said Sunday. The president’s comments came as he hosted a group of Israeli students in his office in Ramallah. Abbas highlighted that it’s the Israeli government to be held responsible for hindering peace talks through the ongoing settlement construction on lands belonging to the state of Palestine. [Fatah Central Committee member Muhammad al-Madani told Ma‘an Saturday that Abbas would be hosting 170 student union representatives from various Israeli universities. The Israeli youth come from diverse political backgrounds, al-Madani said, emphasizing that the meeting is a part of Abbas’ outreach efforts toward Israeli society.]

Hamas: NATO force in West Bank will be treated as occupier
Ynet Sat 15 Feb by Elior Levy — Gaza rulers call on PA President Abbas to exit peace talks with Israel: ‘No one has authorized him to speak for the people.’ — Hamas has vowed to treat the deployment of any international force in Palestinian territory under the auspices of a peace accord with Israel as an occupying force, the organization’s spokesman said on Friday, Palestinian news agency Ma‘an reported. Speaking at a rally in the Gaza Strip organized by Palestinian factions opposed to the talks with Israel, Sami Abu Zuhri said Hamas would work to “defeat this initiative.” “No Arab country will agree to the desecration of one centimeter of its lands,” he said.,7340,L-4488500,00.html

Hamas: The Palestinians have the right to resist the occupation by all means
GAZA (PIC) Sun 16 Feb — The Hamas Movement said the Palestinian people have the right to resist the Israeli occupation by all available means, describing the Israeli accusation that held it responsible for the popular protests east of Gaza as “ridiculous.” “The occupation’s claim about the Hamas Movement’s responsibility for the popular  demonstrations in the eastern areas of the Strip is ludicrous and does not affect the Movement,” spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri stated in press remarks to the Palestinian information center (PIC) on Saturday. “Our people are under occupation and have the right to resist the occupation by all means possible,” Abu Zuhri underlined. The spokesman accused the Israeli army of not respecting the truce and its terms, and preventing the farmers from approaching their lands inside the so-called buffer zone, which is actually inside Gaza.
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Hamas criticizes PA decision to drop religion on identity cards
World Bulletin Sat 15 Feb — The Palestinian resistance movement Hamas on Saturday lashed out at a recent decision by the Palestinian Authority (PA) to issue identity cards for citizens in the West Bank without specifying the bearer’s religion. “Such a decision cannot be implemented in Gaza,” Hamas spokesman Ihab al-Ghusain told Anadolu Agency. “The PA justification for taking such a decision is illogical because relations between Palestinian Muslims and Christians have always been good,” he added. On Thursday, the PA Interior Ministry began to issue IDs for citizens without specifying the bearer’s religion. Interior Ministry Undersecretary Hassan Elwi argued that the move aims to avoid having citizens treated based on their beliefs. Al-Ghusain, however, said PA President Mahmoud Abbas “does not have the right to issue this decision because it falls within the mandate of the Palestinian legislature”.

In photos: ‘One Billion Rising’ march for women’s rights in Ramalllah
Ma‘an Sat 15 Feb — Dozens took to the streets of Ramallah on Saturday to take part in a rally for women’s rights and in protest against violence against women as part of a global day of action. Protesters marched under the banner of “One Billion Rising for Justice,” in a local iteration of an international movement that brought activists into the streets in dozens of countries around the world for the third year in a row. The protest in Ramallah kicked off around 2 p.m. in the city center. Protesters held signs condemning violence against women and calling for an end to crimes of honor against women. Campaign coordinator Iman Aoun told Wattan TV that “One Billion Rising” events took place in 210 countries around the world in order to “stop laws that discriminate against women” and to oppose the oppression of women by social traditions, customs, and the family.

Palestinians celebrate Valentine’s Day in Bethlehem
UPI Slideshow – 15 photos

‘Dangerously high’ rates of diabetes among Palestinian refugees
AMMAN (UNRWA) 11 Feb — Among the some 5 million Palestinian refugees registered with the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), the rate of diabetes stands at 11.4 per cent of those over 40 years old, a total of around 114,000 patients. The first UNRWA ‘Diabetes Clinical Audit’, conducted in collaboration with the World Diabetes Foundation between April and September 2012 in Jordan, Lebanon and the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt), found that out of 1,600 patients surveyed, less than 30 per cent were controlled according to internationally recommended criteria. “The prevalence of risk factors among our diabetes patients is unacceptable, with 90 per cent obese and overweight, and 20 per cent smokers (34.1 per cent males and 11.3 per cent females). Compared with similar populations around the world, this rate is dangerously high,” said Akihiro Seita, Director of the UNRWA Department of Health.

West Bank and Gaza startups pitch together for the very first time in Amman
Wamda Sun 16 Feb by Hayden Pirkle — Until this past Thursday, startups in the West Bank and Gaza had not met under the same roof to pitch to investors. At Oasis500 in Amman, however, eight of the most promising young Palestinian startups gathered to pitch their ideas before an intimate, crowded room of Jordan’s investors and supporters.  Sponsored by groups such as MercyCorps, Oasis500, and Endeavor, the event marked the first time that startups from the West Bank and Gaza met together under the same roof, despite interest on both sides in deepening exchange between the two ecosystems. “People in the West Bank are really curious to know what’s going on in Gaza, and people in Gaza are really curious to know what’s going on in the West Bank,” Iliana Montauk, the Manager of Gaza Sky Geeks, a Gaza-based accelerator run by Mercy Corps, told Wamda. “The only people who have been able to bridge the two communities are a few select businessmen who have permission to go in and out of Gaza and the West Bank, and foreigners who run startup accelerators, like myself.” The event was designed to expose the Jordanian entrepreneurial community to the latest developments among their Palestinian counterparts, and to facilitate connections between investors and startups across the three locations.

West Bank stations deny fuel to PA security vehicles over unpaid bills
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) Sat 15 Feb — Gas stations across the West Bank have begun refusing to fuel vehicles of the Palestinian Authority’s security forces after the PA failed to pay their gas bills for last six months, according to the West Bank Union of Gas Station Owners. Deputy speaker of the union Nizar al-Jaabari told Ma‘an on Saturday that the PA’s accumulated debts total 55 million shekels ($15.7 million) … Al-Jaabari highlighted that because the PA has not been paying for fuel, some gas stations have been unable to buy fuel for their daily needs.

Egypt blocking Israel ambulances from entering Taba
Ynet Sun 16 Feb by Roi Kais — Dozens of Israeli ambulances and even a medical helicopter have been waiting for hours on the Israeli side of the Taba border crossing in the hopes of aiding the wounded in Sunday’s terror attack – but Egypt will not let them enter. Eilat’s Yoseftal hospital has been waiting to aid those wounded in the terror attack on a tourist bus which left three Korean travelers and one Egyptian dead. [Hmm, usually it’s the Israelis preventing Palestinian ambulances from reaching the wounded.],7340,L-4489021,00.html

Canada welcomes Mossad assassin, offers him new identity
Tikun Olam Dun 16 Feb by Richard Silverstein — Canadian media offers a shocking new development in the intelligence wars.  This involves a honeypot security officer working for Canadian immigration.  Her assignment was to romance an alleged Iranian spy.  Sometime during their year-long romance, one night after having a few drinks too many, she told him an amazing story: that one of the 27 Mossad agents who assassinated Mahmoud al-Mabouh escaped from Dubai to Canada: “Passport Canada secretly supplied a new identity and passport to a Mossad agent living in Canada after the Israeli spy participated in the 2010 plot to kill a leader of terrorist group Hamas in a Dubai hotel…”  I’ve confirmed that the story is accurate through my own Israeli source.  When asked, he said it would be fruitless even to try to deny it since the story came straight from the horse’s mouth (Canadian intelligence).  There are many astonishing aspects of this story.  First, in light of Israel cloning passports of dual citizens of nations like France, Ireland, Australia and the UK, it didn’t even have to take the trouble with Canada.  That nation perpetrated the identity fraud on Israel’s behalf.

Portugal to open gates for descendants of expelled Jews
Times of Israel Sun 16 Feb — Portugal is preparing legislation that would grant citizenship to descendants of Jews expelled from the country in the 15th century, Lisbon’s tourism minister said, in an echo of a similar move recently announced by Spain. Portuguese Minister of Tourism Adolfo Musquite Nunes, who visited Israel this month to promote his country as a vacation destination, told a Portuguese news station Saturday night that the final version of the legislation, which has already passed one reading in the Portuguese parliament, would be ready in the summer. The new citizenship law seeks to redress the expulsion of Jews from Portugal in 1497 and their subsequent persecution during the Portuguese Inquisition, which began in 1536. Tens of thousands of Jews were killed, expelled or forced to convert to Christianity. The law, which has been in the works for several weeks, would allow Portuguese citizenship for Jews whose ancestors were forced out of Portugal or were forcibly converted to Christianity, according to a Sunday report in the Israeli daily Yedioth Ahronoth. Many of these families ended up in the Portuguese colonies or subsequently fled to other parts of Europe, especially Amsterdam. (listserv) (archive)

About Kate

American; political science major, M.A.; former ISM volunteer in the West Bank

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One Response

  1. seafoid
    February 17, 2014, 4:43 pm

    National priorities my ass. The wrong incentives. Asset misallocation. Massive risk buildup. Very low resilience. The Torah as the wrong book. Galbraith would have been more advisable.

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