Israeli government ploughs under 100s of acres of Palestinian crops in occupation

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Land, property theft & destruction / Ethnic cleansing

Israel destroys farmland in Hebron
Middle East Monitor 11 Feb — The Israeli Nature and Parks Authority and the Ministry of Agriculture sabotaged, on Monday, hundreds of square metres of farmland planted with winter crops in Masafer Yatta, south of Hebron in the occupied West Bank. The coordinator of the National Committee Against the Wall and Settlements, Rateb Al-Jabour, said in a statement that the Nature and Parks Authority and the Ministry of Agriculture ploughed citizens’ lands that had been cultivated. The areas affected are Masafer Yatta, particularly in the villages of Senter, Al-Halawah, and Jemba. The destroyed lands belong to the families of Al-Jabbareen, Abu Arram and Houshia, as well as the family of Muhammad which resulted in losing of crops. He pointed out that occupation forces chased the farmers and shepherds and expelled them from the area to carry out their attacks.

Two homes demolished in Occupied Jerusalem
IMEMC Monday morning 10 Feb by Saed Bannoura —  Local sources have reported that the Israeli police demolished two Palestinian homes in Silwan and Jabal al-Mokabber, in occupied East Jerusalem. Resident Mohammad Hasan Sawahra, 38, said that dozens of soldiers and police officers invaded his home in Silwan, at approximately 5:30 am, and forced him and his family out. The soldiers threw the furniture and belongings of the family out, as well, and demolished the 120 square/meter home. Sawahra lived in his home along with six other family members. He said he built his home 18 years ago; Israel wanted to demolish the property, allegedly for not obtaining a permit, and Sawahra filed appeals that are still pending. Yet, the army went ahead and demolished it, although Sawahra has been paying fines to the City Council.
In addition, soldiers invaded the home of resident Mohammad Hasan Ja‘afra, in Jabal al-Mokabber, and violently forced the family out. The soldiers then removed some of the furniture and destroyed the property, without allowing the family to remove all of their belongings. Ja‘afra said the Jerusalem City Council imposed a 30,000 NIS fine, and that he paid it all, yet, the City Council went on and demolished the home.

Municipality destroys East Jerusalem caravan; farmlands raided
IMEMC 10 Feb by Chris Carlson — The Israeli West Jerusalem municipality, on Monday, destroyed a mobile caravan used as a storage belonging to a Palestinian in the neighborhood of al-Tur, East Jerusalem, under the pretext that it was put there without authorization, according to the owner. According to a WAFA report, Ali Jubeh, 42, said that municipality workers broke open the door to his caravan, which he placed on his land to store furniture and clothes, removed what was inside in his absence, and proceeded to destroy it. He said the municipality had previously demolished his home in addition to a mobile home he later used to shelter him and his family…
Also on Monday, Israeli forces confiscated over 400 chickens from a poultry farm in Ya‘bad, southwest of Jenin, according to security sources. They said that Israeli forces raided the farm, owned by Ragheb Mahajna and located close to Mabo Dotan settlement, confiscating the chickens under the pretext the farm was located in Area C, which is under full Israeli military control.

IOA serves demolition notification to a citizen in southern Nablus
NABLUS (PIC) 9 Feb — The Israeli occupation authority (IOA) served a demolition notification to Musleh Al-Badawi in Qaryut village, south of Nablus, on Saturday. Activist Bashar Al-Qaryuti told the PIC reporter that the IOA ordered the demolition of Musleh’s house, which is still under construction, and water well at the pretext of lack of building permit. The activist, however, noted that the house and water well were in area B, which is supposed to be under the jurisdiction of the Palestinian Authority. Musleh said that he built the house to meet his family’s needs, complaining at the same time of repeated Jewish setters’ attacks on his family and of the Israel military’s refusal to allow him to tend to his land.
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Settlers destroy over 150 olive trees near Bethlehem
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 11 Feb — Settlers cut down 150 olive trees in the Bethlehem-area village of al-Khader on Tuesday, land owners said. One of the owners, Muhammad Shawqi al-Zayyah, told Ma‘an that settlers destroyed around 150 olive trees that his family planted two years ago. Several vines were also cut down. The fields are located near the illegal Israeli settlement of Neve Daniel and a nearby outpost called Sde Boaz. The settlers there are led by a Jewish extremist known as Hananiya, who runs an illegal outpost nearby on eight dunams (two acres) of private Palestinian land.  [PIC: Popular Committee against Apartheid Wall and Settlements confirmed that an Israeli settler had seized yesterday an agricultural land, consisting of eight acres in al-Khader village, planted with oak and olive trees.]

Israeli televised report shows Jewish preparations to destroy Aqsa Mosque
OCCUPIED JERUSALEM (PIC) 11 Feb — Israel’s channel 10 televised once again a report showing Jewish settlers making preparations for the building of the alleged temple and its altar in place of the Aqsa Mosque. The report showed Jewish settlers collecting rocks and stones from the Dead Sea for the alleged temple mount and its altar, and others claiming they raised cattle to slaughter them at the altar. According to the report, Israeli architects compete with each other for the construction of the alleged Jewish temple after the destruction of the Aqsa Mosque. One of the settlers, who was collecting stones from the Dead Sea, said he was getting prepared for the day when the Israeli authorities allow the Jews to destroy the Aqsa Mosque and build the temple in its place. Yehuda Etzion, a Jewish settler who tried once before to blow up the Aqsa Mosque, said, in turn, that Jerusalem is the capital of the Jews and thus the temple must be built there … The report also showed cattle pens being prepared by Jewish settlers in Bethlehem settlements in order to slaughter them at the temple altar.
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Israeli minister visits Aqsa compound under guard
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 11 Feb — Right-wing Israeli housing minister Uri Ariel visited the the al-Aqsa mosque compound on Tuesday under armed guard, a mosque official said. Sheikh Azzam al-Khatib, the director of Jerusalem endowments and al-Aqsa affairs, told Ma‘an that Ariel and 27 rightist settlers entered the mosque compound through the Moroccan Gate. The group toured the area and then left via the Chain Gate. Muslim worshipers and students shouted “Allahu Akbar” at the minister, and Israeli police officers collected the identity cards of Palestinians in the the area. Separately, Israeli police officers prevented the entry of equipment to fix a water pipe in the compound. Last year, Ariel said that Israel should have full sovereignty over the Al-Aqsa compound and that the site must be open “at any hour to every Jew.”

Sharon ordered expulsion of 3,000 Bedouin, new biography revealst
Haaretz 12 Feb by Anshel Pfeffer — Book: During secret 1972 military operation in Sinai, dozens of children and elderly were expelled in the bitter cold of night, and died  — It was one of the most important, expensive and creative exercises the Israel Defense Forces had ever held – an entire armored division crossing a large obstacle of water. Exercise “Oz” (valor) strengthened the Israeli strategy that envisaged crossing the Suez Canal and fighting on the Egyptian side if war was to break out again in the Sinai Peninsula. Twenty months later, that was the scenario that played out in the critical stage of the Yom Kippur War. Neither the leaders nor the thousands of soldiers taking part were aware that a few weeks earlier, the man whose idea the exercise was, head of Southern Command, Maj. Gen. Ariel Sharon, had ordered the expulsion of three thousand civilians, members of two Bedouin tribes whose encampments and grazing grounds were in the exercise area. The expulsion took place without warning, during a freezing desert cold snap, without time for the Bedouin to take their belongings, causing around forty deaths, mainly of children, babies and old people.

Restriction of movement

Pregnant Palestinian denied quick hospital access
Haaretz 11 Feb by Amira Hass — Israel’s Civil Administration in the West Bank blocks a pregnant woman at medical risk from taking the quick route to a hospital in East Jerusalem, even though she is accompanying her Israeli husband in their Israeli car, because it would entail going through a checkpoint that “isn’t meant for Palestinians.” Yara Abu Oudeh, 37, is from Nablus; her husband, Khaled, is from Jerusalem, and therefore has an Israeli identity card. Yara has both a Civil Administration permit to enter Israel and an Interior Ministry permit for permanent residency in Jerusalem. Both Abu Oudehs work in Jerusalem – he as a food vendor, she as a social worker – and they live in Anata, which is within Jerusalem’s municipal boundaries but on the other side of the separation barrier. Getting to other parts of the city therefore requires going through a checkpoint.Abu Oudeh is in her ninth month of pregnancy. Since she has juvenile diabetes, she needs frequent medical check-ups and special precautions when giving birth. But the checkpoint nearest her home, Shoafat, always entails long waits, so like many Anata residents she prefers to use the Hizme checkpoint, which is reserved for Israelis. Khaled Abu Oudeh told Haaretz that until two years ago, his wife never had any problem going through Hizme with him, since she had the requisite permits. But since then, the soldiers there often refuse to let her through, he said.

Hamdallah cancels Area C visit after Israeli ‘threats’
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 10 Feb — Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah canceled a visit to a village east of Jerusalem scheduled for Monday after Israeli authorities threatened to prevent the visit from taking place, Hamdallah said. Hamdallah and European Parliament President Martin Shulz had scheduled a solidarity visit to the Area C village of al-Khan al-Ahmar, where Shulz hoped to show his support for Palestinian statehood ambitions, he said. But an official told Ma‘an that the Israeli ministries of defense and foreign affairs threatened to use force, if necessary, to stop the visit from taking place, without providing further details. The official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said the trip would have included a visit to the Bedouin village’s school, an educational building made from tires and mud by villagers and international volunteers.  The school, in addition to several of the village’s residential structures, have faced repeated Israeli threats of demolition on the pretext that they were built without construction permits … Al-Khan al-Ahmar is a Bedouin village surrounded by the illegal Israeli settlements of Maale Adumim and Kfar Adumim.

Israel bars president of European parliament from visiting Palestinian school
RAMALLAH (PIC) 11 Feb — The Israeli occupation authority (IOA) prevented president of the European parliament Martin Schulz from visiting Al-Ittarat (tires) school in Khan Al-Ahmar district near the road between Jerusalem and Jericho cities. An informed source told the Palestinian information center (PIC) that Schulz was scheduled on Monday afternoon to visit the school along with Rami Hamdallah, head of the de facto government in Ramallah. The source added that the visit was cancelled suddenly after the Israeli side told the Palestinian Authority about its objection to it. Hamdallah, however, told a news conference yesterday in the presence of Schulz that the visit was canceled because of the emergence of some problems without stating the main reason. He did not say that the visit was canceled because Israel did not want the Europeans to witness some side of its violations against the Palestinians living in Khan Al-Ahmar area. Hamdallah did not say that the school which the president of the European parliament was supposed to visit was made of car tires because Israel prevents the Palestinian Bedouins living there from having access to building materials and keeps threatening to displace them and demolish their property. [this article almost sounds like something written by Cicero – e.g., “I will not even mention the fact that you betrayed us in the Roman people by aiding Catiline.” Fascinating.]
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Violence / Raids / Clashes / Illegal arrests

4 injured, 1 arrested in clashes in Beit Ummar
HEBRON (Ma‘an) 12 Feb — Three Palestinians were injured with rubber-coated steel bullets and dozens of others suffered from excessive tear gas inhalation in clashes with Israeli forces in Beit Ummar north of Hebron. Spokesman for the popular resistance committee in Beit Ummar Mohammad Ayyad said that clashes broke out in the village during a funeral. Ayyad added that Israeli forces were deployed at the entrance of the village, and near the cemetery where the funeral was held. They attempted to arrest a 12-year-old boy and clashed with residents who tried to stop them. Israeli forces fired tear gas, stun grenades, and rubber-coated steel bullets, he said. Mohammad Ali Khalil Sabarneh, 30, was detained during the clashes. Ahmad Mohammad Awad, 16, was struck with a rubber-coated steel bullet on his left brow, and he was taken to Aliya hospital in Hebron. Two others were shot with rubber-coated steel bullets in the feet and were treated on the spot …  Israeli forces also fired a tear gas canister into the house of Nazih Mohammad Hussein Alqam, causing family members including a toddler to suffer from inhalation, he said.

Palestinian moderately injured by army fire in Beit Ummar
IMEMC Tues evening 11 Feb by Saed Bannoura — Palestinian medical sources have reported that a Palestinian man was moderately wounded by Israeli army fire after dozens of soldiers invaded Beit Ummar town, north of the southern West bank city of Hebron. Mohammad Awad, spokesperson of the Popular Committee against the Wall and Settlements in Beit Ummar, said that the soldiers fired a rubber-coated metal bullet, wounding Abdul-Aziz Zamel Ekhlayyil, 48, in the head. Awad said that the soldiers were less the 10 meters away from Ekhlayyil, causing moderate injuries that required moving him to the Alia Hospital in Hebron. “Ekhalyyil was returning home from work, he is a construction worker, he was driving a tractor, close to the Safa Crossing, north of Beit Ummar”, Awad said. “He saw two cars parked near an abandoned fuel station, it was dark, he tried to bypass the two cars, not knowing they are actually military vehicles…”. “The soldiers did not order him to stop, but one of the soldiers, sitting in the jeep, pointed his gun at him, and fired a rubber-coated metal bullet hitting him in the forehead”, he added. The soldiers then drove away while dozens of residents gathered in the area, and took the wounded Palestinian to a medical center, before he was moved to the Alia Hospital in Hebron city.

Photographer detained during clashes in Nabi Saleh
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 11 Feb — Israeli forces on Tuesday evening detained a photographer during clashes in Nabi Saleh village west of Ramallah. Bilal al-Tamimi was banned from taking photos, beaten, and arrested before being taken to an unknown destination, witnesses said. Clashes broke out after Israeli forces raided the village and removed a flagpole with a Palestinian flag on it across from the Halamish settlement. Israeli forces fired tear gas, stun grenades, and rubber-coated steel bullets causing dozens to suffer from excessive tear-gas inhalation.

Soldiers kidnap brother of Palestinian killed on January 29
RAMALLAH (IMEMC) 12 Feb by Saed Bannoura — Tuesday, February 11, 2014, Israeli soldiers kidnapped a Palestinian from the al-Jalazoun refugee camp. The kidnapped Palestinian is the brother of a young man who was shot, and killed, by the soldiers on January 29. Local sources have reported that, on Tuesday at dawn, dozens of soldiers invaded the camp, and handed resident Abdul-Aziz Mubarak, 22, a military warrant ordering him to head to the Ofer Israeli military base, west of Ramallah, for interrogation. Accompanied by his father, Abdul-Aziz headed to the Ofer base, and the soldiers took him prisoner without providing any further details. On January 29, the army shot and killed his brother, Mohammad, 20, near the Ein Senia area, north of the central West bank city of Ramallah.  The family said that Mubarak, and other workers, were conducting repairs on the main Ein Senia road when soldiers, stationed on a nearby military tower, opened fire at him….

IOF arrests child among others near the Ibrahimi Mosque in al-Khalil
AL-KHALIL (PIC) 9 Feb — The Israeli occupation forces (IOF) arrested on Sunday a Palestinian child near the Ibrahimi Mosque in al-Khalil and a liberated prisoner immediately after his release from the PA’s jails. Local sources told PIC’s correspondent that the IOF arrested the boy Khaled Zahida from the Old City of al-Khalil, while he was near the Ibrahimi Mosque, after assaulting him, and then took him to an unknown destination. The occupation forces also arrested a citizen only few hours after his release from the Palestinian Authority jails in al-Khalil, during a raid into his house, and transferred him to an unknown destination, locals said. Israeli special units stormed Beit Ummar village, to the north of Al-Khalil, where they kidnapped two citizens and took them to the Gush Etzion military center, set up on the citizens’ lands. Two other Palestinians were arrested in the southern area of the city. They were beaten then taken to an unknown destination. IOF soldiers also closed a street in the south of al-Khalil under the pretext of providing security for settlers from the Njihut settlement, established on the lands of Khirbet Salama, eyewitnesses reported. In Bethlehem, the IOF summoned a citizen to its intelligence headquarters after storming his house.
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Israeli forces detain 12 Palestinians across West Bank
NABLUS (Ma‘an)10 Feb — Israeli forces raided several villages in the occupied West Bank and detained 12 Palestinians early Monday, Israel’s army and locals said. Israeli forces raided the city of Nablus and two neighboring villages early Monday and detained five Palestinians, locals said. Witnesses told Ma‘an that Israeli troops entered the Ras al-Ayn and Ikshekiya neighborhoods of Nablus, detaining 22-year-old Abboud Maysara Ayyub and 17-year-old Farid Suleiman Subih. Separately, Israeli soldiers raided Burin village south of Nablus and detained 20-year-old Qays Bilal Umran, who locals say is a supporter of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine. A third detention raid was carried out in the village of Beita, where soldiers arrested 24-year-old Mahmoud Maali and 21-year-old Muhammad al-Shurafa. Locals said the arrest took place at the village’s major intersection, where the two were waiting to greet a Palestinian prisoner who was to be freed from Israeli custody…
een detained and released by Israeli forces seven times in his lifetime, and was last released a month ago, the statement said.
An Israeli army spokeswoman said one Palestinian was detained in Rummana, two in Nablus, one in Beita, one in Burin, two in Ni‘lin, four in Beit Ula, and one in Tulkarem.

Soldiers kidnap two Hamas political leaders near Ramallah
IMEMC/Agencies Monday at dawn, 9 Feb — Dozens of Israeli soldiers invaded Ni‘lin town, west of the central West Bank city of Ramallah, and kidnapped two political leaders of the Hamas movement. Ahmad al-Beetawy, Coordinator of the International Solidarity Foundation for Human Rights, has reported that the soldiers kidnapped Shokry Mahmoud al-Khawaja, 46, and Abdul-Qaher Abu Srour, 42, taking them to an unknown destination. The soldiers invaded the homes of the two leaders, violently searching them and causing property damage before kidnapping the men. Al-Beetawy stated that al-Khawaja, who previously spent more than 15 years in Israeli prisons, suffers from a weakness in his vision, and nearly lost vision in one eye when he was imprisoned.  He added that Srour had heart surgery as a child, and was repeatedly imprisoned by Israel for a total of 7 years.  Sour needs bypass surgery, but Israel has been preventing him from traveling to Jordan for that surgery.  His arrest comes only a month after his release from an Israeli prison.

Israeli forces arrest 11 Palestinians in overnight raids
NABLUS (Ma‘an) 11 Feb — Israeli forces arrested 11 Palestinians in overnight detention raids across the occupied West Bank on Tuesday, locals and Israel’s army said. Locals told Ma‘an that Israeli troops stormed the northern West Bank city of Nablus early Tuesday and detained three youths. Several Israeli military vehicles drove through the al-Dahiya and al-Taawon neighborhoods in the city after midnight and detained Anan Mahir Ubeid, Majdi Akkubah, and Ismail Aukal, locals said. Meanwhile, in the Jenin district, locals said Israeli forces raided the village of Jaba‘a and detained four young Palestinians. Soldiers ransacked several homes and a bakery before arresting Ayman Fashafsha, Ahmad Khalilya, Shalash Shalash, and Hasan Khalilya.
An Israeli army spokeswoman said three Palestinians were detained in Jaba‘a, two in Nablus, two in the village of Qatanna near Ramallah, one in Dura near Hebron, two in Hebron, and one in Tubas.

Israeli raid and arrest campaigns in West Bank
WEST BANK (PIC) 11 Feb — …Israeli forces arrested at dawn today three Palestinian youths in Bethlehem city and nearby Obaidiya [or ‘Ubaydiyya] village. Two youths were arrested during the raid on Obaidiya that came as part of Israeli arrest campaign waged on the village for the past month unabated. IOF soldiers also arrested Nasr Abu Hadid, a senior member of the Islamic students bloc in Al-Khalil University, after searching and ransacking his family home. Abu Hadid was released from Israeli jails only a few months ago. IOF soldiers arrested Bilal Al-Rejoub from Dura town near Al-Khalil at dawn Tuesday after searching his home and terrorizing women and children inside it.
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Detainees / Court actions

Report: Several detainees face life-threatening conditions due to lack of medical care
IMEMC 10 Feb by Saed Bannoura — A report published by the Palestinian Ministry of Detainees in Ramallah, on February 8, revealed that several ailing detainees currently imprisoned by Israel, including cancer patients, are suffering serious deterioration in their health conditions, due to the lack of adequate and specialized treatment and care. Lawyers of the Ministry of Detainees visited a number of detainees and collected testimonies of serious Israeli violations against them, especially since those detainees require urgent specialized medical attention, as they are facing life-threatening conditions. The testimonies gathered by the lawyers are as follows:

90 Gaza families visit their sons in Nafha Prison
IMEMC 10 Feb by Chris Carlson — 90 families of Gaza prisoners left the coastal enclave, on Monday at dawn, to visit their sons in Nafha prison via Erez crossing to the north of Gaza City. Director of Media in International Committee of the Red Cross, Nasser al-Najjar, told Al Ray Palestinian Media Agency that 90 families, including 14 children, headed to Nafha prison to visit 54 prisoners. Al-Najjar pointed out that, family visits to the Israeli prisons have been resumed recently after being banned between 2007 – 2011.

IOA renews administrative detention of Hamas leader
AL-KHALIL (PIC) 10 Feb — The Israeli occupation authority (IOA) renewed the administrative detention, without trial or charge, of Dr. Adnan Abu Tabbane for four months. Abu Tabbane’s son said on Monday that the Israeli military court in Ofer endorsed the renewal of his father’s detention during a hearing on Sunday. The IOA arrested Abu Tabbane in mid-August 2013 from his home in Al-Khalil and sentenced him to four months in administrative detention that was renewed yesterday.
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Israeli Arab gets 18 months for trying to join fight against Assad
Haaretz 11 Feb by Jack Khoury — An Israeli Arab convicted of crossing into Syria and joining an Al-Qaida-linked militia fighting against the Assad regime was sentenced Monday to 15 months in prison. Abd al-Kadr Altaleh, a resident of Taibeh, was convicted by the Central District Court of joining the Nusra Front, one of the most radical groups aligned against Syrian President Bashar Assad. In her ruling, Judge Shira Ben-Shlomo said Israeli citizens who join the war in Syria pose a real danger to Israel, as upon returning they could use the military training and ideological indoctrination acquired in Syria to commit terror attacks, indoctrinate others or gather intelligence for use in attacks by anti-Israel organizations.

Suspect in West Bank military court goes free after Israeli police lose evidence
Haaretz 11 Feb by Chaim Levinson — The judge calls the negligence ‘amazing at best’; the army said it had discovered bullets and rifle parts in a Palestinian’s home — A Palestinian man has been acquitted in military court because Israeli detectives lost alleged weapons parts they had not even bothered to photograph. Last June, on a tip received by the Shin Bet security service, Givati Brigade troops raided the home of Samer Ayran in Nablus. They seized what they believed to be rifle parts and, after an interrogation by the Shin Bet, sent Ayran to the police for questioning. He was later indicted in a West Bank military court. But during the trial it turned out the evidence had gone missing. The state could only bring the testimony of a Givati soldier, who said that bullets, a sniper-rifle sight and parts of an M-16 rifle had been found in Ayran’s home. The judge, Maj. Yariv Navon, noted the mistakes of both the police and the military prosecutor. He rejected the soldier’s testimony on the grounds that he was not an expert.

Gaza under blockade

Israeli airstrikes target central, northern Gaza Strip
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 11 Feb — Israeli airstrikes rocked northern Gaza City and al-Nuseirat refugee camp early Tuesday, causing damages, security sources and locals said. Three air-to-surface missiles struck the Abu Jarad militant base in Gaza City, causing a fire to break out, the sources said. Heavy damages, but no injuries, were reported. Additionally, Israeli warplanes fired missiles at an open area near Gaza’s power plant north of al-Nuseirat refugee camp in the central Gaza Strip. Israel’s army said in a statement that a rocket fired from Gaza late Monday landed in an open area in southern Israel. It caused no damages or injuries, according to Israeli news site Ynet. The army statement said that “in retaliation the IAF targeted an underground rocket launcher in the central Gaza Strip and a terror site in the northern Gaza Strip.” “Direct hits were confirmed,” the statement said.
Recent weeks have witnessed an increase in tensions on the Gaza Strip, as Israeli forces have repeatedly opened fire on Palestinian protests near the border and launched a number of airstrikes. Israeli forces killed six Palestinians and injured 41 in attacks on Gaza in January, Gaza’s Ministry of Health spokesman Ashraf al-Qidra said in early February. Palestinian militants, meanwhile, have fired dozens of rockets toward Israel, all of which have all landed in unpopulated areas with no injuries reported.

Israeli navy arrests 3 Palestinian fishermen
GAZA (PIC) 11 Feb — Israeli navy gunboats arrested three Palestinian fishermen off the coast of Beit Lahia, north of the Gaza Strip, on Tuesday morning.  Sources in the marine police told the PIC reporter that Israeli gunboats chased two fishing boats in the allowed fishing area off the northern coasts of Gaza. They added that the gunboats forced the fishing boats to stop and arrested three fishermen on board and towed the two boats to Ashdod port.
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Israeli gunboats open machinegun fire at Palestinian fishing boats
GAZA (PIC) 10 Feb — Israeli navy gunboats opened heavy machinegun fire at Palestinian fishing boats off the central Gaza Strip coast on Sunday night. The PIC reporter in the area said that the gunboats opened indiscriminate fire at the fishing boats off Deir Al-Balah beach. He said that at the same time Israeli choppers were flying overhead and over the eastern border area. Israeli military vehicles have been moving near the Gaza borders all over the past week coupled with overflights of military choppers.
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Egyptian army destroys 5 smuggling tunnels
CAIRO (Ma‘an) 11 Feb — The Egyptian army on Tuesday destroyed five smuggling tunnels on the Gaza border, Egyptian security sources said. Border guards continued a crackdown against militants and smuggling groups near the border for the second day in a row. A border guard patrol seized a load of weapons and ammunition being smuggled into Egypt. Ninety automatic rifles and 12,000 bullets were found in two cars west of Siwa. The two drivers were also apprehended.

PA official: Israel to allow shipment of goods into Gaza
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 11 Feb — Israel has agreed to allow a shipment of goods to enter the Gaza Strip, a Palestinian official said Tuesday. Hussein al-Sheikh, the head of the Palestinian Authority’s civil affairs department, told Ma‘an that Israel agreed to allow 52 trucks carrying food, cargo, gas, and other fuel to enter Gaza. Additionally, Israel approved a shipment of supplies to develop a new chain of eye clinics in Gaza, which will be associated with Jerusalem’s St. John Hospital Group, al-Sheikh said.

Hamas-affiliated students protest Fatah visit to Gaza
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 11 Feb — Dozens of students affiliated with Hamas on Tuesday held a demonstration outside of the premises where a visiting Fatah delegation is staying in Gaza City. The protesters denounced “detention campaigns” by Palestinian Authority security forces against Hamas-affiliated students at Birzeit University. Student union chief Hani Muqbil urged the Fatah delegation to stop arrest campaigns based on political affiliation.

Israel to pay $20 million in compensation to Mavi Marmara victims
Middle East Monitor 11 Feb — According to news reports, Israel has agreed to pay $20 million in compensation to the families of the nine Turkish citizens who were killed during the 2010 Israeli army raid of the Mavi Marmara ship in international waters. However, Israeli radio quoted on Tuesday a report by Israel’s Channel 2 television stating that no date has been specified yet to sign the Israeli-Turkish reconciliation agreement due to “several senior Turkish officials’ opposition to one of its clauses”. In 2010, the Israeli army raided the Mavi Marmara ship in international waters. The ship was part of an international humanitarian flotilla carrying aid to the besieged Gaza Strip, and during the raid Israeli forces killed nine Turkish activists and injured others. The incident led to increased political tensions with Turkey

Gaza’s class divisions confronted by young writers
Electronic Intifada 11 Feb by Sarah Irving — …Translations of big names such as Mahmoud Darwish, Jabra Ibrahim Jabra and Emile Habibi have long been available, and in the last decade these have been joined by the likes of Mourid Barghouti, Adania Shibli, Ghassan Zaqtan and Samih al-Qasim. The short stories collected in Gaza Writes Back (Just World Books) are not necessarily the work of future greats such as these — although it’s far from impossible. What this selection offers is something rather different: the fresh voices of young (teenage and twenty-something), non-professional writers from Gaza, a group which is under-represented in Palestinian literature in translation … The stories also reveal the complex layers of Palestinian society in Gaza which are often brushed over in politically oriented news. Sameeha Elwan’s “Toothache in Gaza” and Elham Hilles’ “Lost at Once” both tackle the issue of class divisions. Elwan exposes the indignities faced by those who can only afford to get their medical treatment from the under-resourced clinics of UNRWA, the UN agency for Palestine refugees. “[My father] said he had to go to the clinic an hour before me so that he could get me a place before it got jam-packed. How could a place get crowded at seven in the morning, I wondered.” Hilles, meanwhile, presents a love story between an upper-class girl, and boy from Nuseirat refugee camp. Intertwining romance, pride, stubbornness and snobbery, their tale leads Eman (the protagonist) to a greater understanding of her society, even if its boundaries are destined to confine her hopes and desires. “Young wave”  It is noteworthy that a significant majority of the contributors to this book are female.

15 in Gaza
Al Jazeera Witness 10 Feb — Shurooq Mousa from Deir El-Balah, a few miles south of Gaza City, is about to turn 15 – and when she does, her life will change. She is a schoolgirl with ambitions of becoming an architect, and rebuilding houses and hospitals destroyed by bombings. But her family wants her to study medicine instead. Shurooq spends some of her time wandering the streets with her good friend Mai. But when she turns 15, her family will no longer let her do this. They think she should start wearing the abaya, a more conservative full-body garment. And they want her to consider wearing a niqab.  Shurooq does not mind wearing a hijab, but puts her foot down at anything more. In 15 in Gaza, we get an insight into the complex negotiations that await Shurooq as she stands on the brink of adulthood. Filmmakers’ views Wesam Mousa: It would be an understatement to say that I learned some very important life lessons during the making of this documentary. The subject of the film was my little sister, Shurooq, with a focus on her role within our family and her dreams and aspirations for the future. But this was not an easy project; it made me ask questions, both about myself and the society I live in, and even challenged some of the relationships within my family.

Russian wives in Gaza long for home
GAZA CITY (Al-Monitor) by Asmaa al-Ghoul — “I miss the scent of the forest. Sometimes, I feel that I can smell it.” This is what Svetlana Birova misses most from “Mother Russia” after 20 years of not leaving the Gaza Strip, even for short trips. “Although I miss my country, I consider my homeland to be where my husband, my son and my daughter Miriam are. I remember the difficulties I faced in the first years here because of the difference in cultures, but, with the help of my husband, I resisted homesickness,” Birova said. Birova isn’t the only Russian here in Gaza: There are more than 80 Russian women married to Gazan men living in the Strip. This is in addition to hundreds of other women from former Soviet states, according to the Compassionate Hearts Association, which is concerned with the affairs of these women.

Gaza’s paralysis: the story of Arab Dola
Channel 4 (U.K.) 10 Feb by Jonathan Miller — One day in April last year, Gaza’s former kung-fu champion, a powerfully-built 26-year-old called Arab Dola, was standing on the construction site where he worked when a large metal container toppled off the roof of the building above him. He did not see it coming. In a instant, Arab Dola’s future crumbled to dust, vertebrae C4, C5, C6 and C7, crushed and splintered. His spinal cord, severed. His life, irreparably altered. Today, he lies paralysed and rasping for breath in the tiny front room of a tumble-down slum dwelling in Gaza’s crowded and fetid Beach Refugee Camp, a quadraplegic, capable of making only the slightest of movements with his now wasted left arm. He needs total care, round-the-clock. Next to him, baby Asil, his two-month old daughter, coos in her cot … Gaza is full of family tragedies and after seven years of Israeli siege and a comatose economy, nearly everyone is struggling. But paralysis is what best describes the Dola family’s condition, having lost their sole bread-winner. Arab’s father, Mohammed, has not worked for years, since Israel barred labourers crossing over from Gaza. He and his wife, Yousra, have three other children; and then there’s Dalia and the baby. There was no food in their fridge, which doesn’t work anyway, as there’s no electricity … Gaza is running on empty. Condemned by the United Nations as “rapidly becoming uninhabitable,” this suffocating, over-crowded prison of a place, blockaded by land, sea and air, is a human pressure-cooker. Its 1.7 million inhabitants, many impoverished and undernourished, live in a sustained state of crisis and daily distress.

Turkey PM: No reconcilation with Israel until end of Gaza siege
Haaretz 11 Feb by Barak Ravid — Erdogan says Israel answered several Turkish demands in negotiations, but won’t agree to normalization of ties without lifting of Gaza blockade — Speaking at a press conference in Ankara alongside Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy, Erdogan said that negotiations with Israel have progressed, but have not ended. He added that Turkey has received an apology from Israel, and that talks over compensation for the families of those killed and wounded on the Mavi Marmara ship in 2010 are ongoing. However, Erdogan said the lifting of the siege over the Gaza Strip – which was one of the conditions set by Turkey for normalizing relations – has not yet transpired. “Nothing will happen without lifting the siege on Gaza,” he said.

Repatriation of remains

Dura man buried 12 years after death
HEBRON (Ma‘an) 10 Feb — Thousands of people in Dura south of Hebron participated in the funeral of Ahmad Ayid Faqih, whose remains were released after 12 year by Israeli forces Monday. The funeral procession started with a military march from al-Ahli hospital in Hebron then mourners proceeded to Dura intellectual center, and then to Abu al-Ashush cemetery where he was buried.
Faqih’s mother said the release of her son’s remains were “a great victory that brings me great joy.” Hebron Gov. Kamil Hmaid said that Israel’s initial stalling in releasing the remains aimed to spoil the joy of his family and manipulate their feelings.  He added that the release of Palestinians’ remains were national achievements, and all Palestinians buried in numbered graves must be released.

Israel returns remains of Nablus man
NABLUS (Ma‘an) 11 Feb — Israeli authorities returned the remains of a young Palestinian man to his family after keeping it for nearly 12 years since his death, an official said. The remains of Habash Hanani from Beit Furik near Nablus were delivered at the Taybeh crossing, and it was then moved to Rafidia general hospital in Nablus. Hanani’s funeral will be held on Wednesday at 11 a.m., starting with a military march from in front of the hospital to his hometown village of Beit Furik.

Palestinian refugees in Syria

Civilians to take charge of Yarmouk in latest bid to end bloodshed
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 11 Feb — A purported deal to end the siege on Yarmouk refugee camp in Syria will require the al-Nusra Front group to leave the camp and for Palestinian groups to withdrawal to a new region, an official said Monday. Ayman Abu Hasham, director of the Palestinian Refugees Support Network in Syria, said Palestinian armed groups would be required to withdraw to the al-Reja area of Yarmouk. Non-Palestinian groups like the al-Nusra Front will leave the camp entirely, he said. Abu Hasham told Ma‘n that 150 civilians, 75 from the camp and 75 Palestinians from outside it, will take charge of services in cooperation with other factions as well as the Palestine refugee agency UNRWA. He expressed optimism that the agreement would be more successful than prior deals which accomplished little.

Four Palestinian refugees killed in Syria
DAMASCUS (PIC) 10 Feb — Four Palestinian refugees were killed Sunday in Syria due to the continued shelling and siege on Palestinian refugee camps, Palestinian sources said. Action Group for Palestinian Refugees in Syria said in a statement on Monday that Khaled Abdel Halim, from Yarmouk refugee camp, was killed during bomb raids on Aleppo, while Yamen Hareb and Fadi Abwyne were killed during clashes in Aleppo’s Central prison. On the other hand, Ahmad Khan, from Yarmouk refugee camp, had starved to death due to the continued siege imposed on the camp for 211 consecutive days. The Action Group pointed out that Daraa refugee camp has been subjected to continued shelling for three days in a row, while Khan Shikh refugee camp has been subjected to barrel-bomb attacks. It also said that Syrian security forces stormed A‘adin refugee camp in Homs and carried out raid and search operations looking for gunmen.
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Israeli ministers discuss using lawyers and Mossad to fight BDS
Middle East Monitor 10 Feb — Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu convened senior ministers Sunday to discuss ways of fighting boycott and divestment initiatives proliferating in Europe and worldwide. Present at the meeting were Netanyahu, Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, Economics Minister Naftali Bennett, and Strategic Affairs Minister Yuval Steinitz. The main proposal under discussion was prepared by Yossi Kuperwasser, Director of the Ministry for Strategic Affairs, and other participants in the meeting included representatives of the Mossad, Shin Bet and the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT). Israeli media has reported that “the discussion was held in secret“, with an imposed “media blackout” meaning that even the offices of participating ministers were “not even officially willing to confirm that the meeting took place”. There is a difference of opinion between Steinitz and the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA), with the former pushing for a more proactive and confrontational approach. Steintz’s proposal means “invest[ing] substanial resources” in a public campaign, to the tune of “100 million shekels”. This would pay for “PR materials and aggressive legal and media campaigns against pro-boycott organizations”. The MFA, meanwhile, is said to prefer “quieter, diplomatic channels”, judging that “a public campaign against [BDS activists] will only play into their hands, bolstering them.” According to The Jerusalem Post, Lieberman promised last week “that within some 45 days the public would see the plan Israel has in place to fight the boycotts.” Ideas apparently discussed by senior ministers included lawsuits “in European and North American courts against [pro-BDS] organizations” and “legal action against financial institutions that boycott settlements…[and complicit] Israeli companies”. There is also the possibility of “encouraging anti-boycott legislation in friendly capitals around the world, such as Washington, Ottawa and Canberra”, and “activat[ing] the pro-Israel lobby in the U.S.” for such a purpose.

The boycott isn’t an economic warfare, it’s psychological / Larry Derfner
972mag 11 Feb — It does not have to bring the Israeli economy to its knees, or even close, to force an end to the occupation — …It’s true that the Israeli economy as a whole is hardly feeling the boycott (though a fast-growing number of companies are), and it’s unimaginable that the economic and political isolation of Israel will ever approach that of apartheid-era South Africa (for lots of reasons, including Israel’s exalted standing in the U.S.). But it doesn’t have to approach what happened in South Africa. The boycott doesn’t have to bring the Israeli economy to its knees, or anything close, for the Israeli body politic – the public, the opinion-makers and the decision-makers – to decide to end the occupation. All the boycott has to do is keep growing, drop by drop – yes, like Chinese water torture – for it to succeed. Because finally, the boycott is not an economic war against Israel, it’s a psychological war, and even the skeptics would agree that it’s already had a deep, damaging effect on this country’s will to continue fighting for the West Bank and Gaza. The experience of the last nine months, starting with Stephen Hawking’s no-show in Jerusalem for the Presidential Conference – which brought the boycott movement into the mainstream, a process that has been escalating ever since – has begun to work a profound change for the worse in Israelis’ view of the country’s future … Suddenly the future does not look like more of the same. It looks like it’s going to be increasingly worse than the way things are now. The world is turning against us, and not just in word, but in deed.

Other news

Palestinian chief negotiator says Israel may wage war against Gaza to thwart peace process
Middle East Monitor 11 Feb — The Palestinian chief negotiator, Dr Saeb Erekat, has suggested that Israel may wage a new war against the Gaza Strip in order to thwart US Secretary of State John Kerry’s peace efforts. Erekat told China’s Xinhua news agency that Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has stepped up the attacks against Al-Aqsa mosque and the Palestinians since the peace talks resumed in July in an attempt to thwart Kerry’s peace efforts; however, Kerry is determined to propose his plan. “If Netanyahu feels that Kerry’s plan is based on international law, he will wage a new war against the Gaza Strip to underminel it,” Erekat added. Erekat described the recent Israeli threats against the Palestinians in Gaza as dangerous and called upon the international community to pay more attention to the besieged Gaza Strip.

Jordan MP: Framework deal excludes foreign ID holders
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 12 Feb — A Jordanian politician says a proposed framework agreement between Palestine and Israel has a “secret term” that people who live outside the Palestinian territories are ineligible for the right to return. Mohammad al-Qatatsha told Ma’an that US Secretary of State John Kerry’s framework agreement has public and secret terms, among them one about refugees who hold foreign nationalities. Kerry met with Jordan’s King Abdullah on Monday and discussed the peace process, and he recently informed Jordan about details of the negotiations, the lawmaker said.

Israeli minister: Annex West bank and make Arabs citizens
Middle East Monitor 11 Feb — The occupied West Bank should be annexed by Israel and Palestinians allowed to participate in Israeli general elections, member of Israeli party Jewish Home Zvulun Kalfa said on Tuesday. Kalfa, who is a member of the Israeli Knesset, told The Times of Israel newspaper that Palestinians should be treated equally and given the rights of complete citizenship in Israel as part of the one state solution. He also called for giving them the right to invest in infrastructure. Renowned for his strong opposition to the two-state solution, he called for establishing one state on the whole area of ‘Israeli land” where all people, Arabs and Jews, become full citizens with equal rights. This way, the extremist MK claims, Israel would distance itself from the accusations of marginalising Arabs and that it racially discrimination against them. Kalfa refuted fears that in future the majority of Israelis would be of Arab origin saying if the one state solution was fulfilled, Jews would remain the majority.

Palestinian women make strides in high tech
Dura, West Bank (AP) 12 Feb by Karin Laub — Growing up in a traditional society, Abeer Abu Ghaith was often told a woman’s future is in her husband’s kitchen. Quietly, the 29-year-old proved everyone wrong. Abu Ghaith has become the first female high-tech entrepreneur in the West Bank, setting up an Internet employment brokerage and software development firm. Last month, the Palestinian trailblazer was recognized by regional high-tech leaders as a recipient of the Women in Technology Awards in the Middle East and Africa for 2014. Abu Ghaith has put in 16-hour days, showing how the local IT and communications sector can transform the lives of other women by giving them access to jobs and financial independence. Some say the sector, the most vibrant in an otherwise stagnant economy, could double in size over the next five years and employ thousands more. Palestinian women already make up a majority of students in many colleges and universities in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, but often have trouble transitioning into the job market. After they graduate, the traditional gender expectations usually kick in — that they should get married first and worry about a career later.

Palestinians say West Bank exit tax is too high
The Media Line 10 Feb — It has three names. But for the majority of Palestinians, it serves one purpose – as the sole gateway to the rest of the world. Known to them as Al Karameh Bridge, Israelis refer to it as Allenby Bridge and the Jordanians as the King Hussein Bridge. West Bank residents who use it have to trek to the city of Jericho. But before hopping on the first bus of three to begin their quest to Jordan, they have to pay an exit tax. It’s this $43 fee, collected by Palestinian customs authorities, that has caused a row and prompted the independent Palestinian group “Beh Karameh (With Dignity)” to file a lawsuit against the Palestinian Finance Ministry and its minister Shukri Bishara.,7340,L-4486908,00.html

Palestinians plan for airport, seaport, and railway
Haaretz 10 Feb — Palestinian Transportation Minister Nabil Dmaidi announced on Sunday that the Palestinian Authority intends to build an airport, sea ports and a railway to connect the Gaza Strip to Egypt. Dmaidi said his ministry signed a cooperative agreement with Egypt’s civil aviation authority, in an attempt to utilize the professional experience of the Egyptians in the aerospace industry. According to the agreement, Egyptian experts will travel to the West Bank to identify an appropriate location for a second airport in Area C. The first airport is to be built east of Jericho as the political peace process develops … The transportation minister also said that plans were drawn up for a railway to connect the Gaza Strip to Egypt. He added that the last train station in Egypt is only 70 kilometers (43 miles) away from the Strip. The Palestinian minister further noted that there is a plan for the construction of a future, modern sea port in the Strip. Dmaidi’s announcements of new infrastructure projects in the Strip appear unrealistic considering the freeze in reconciliation talks between Hamas and Fatah and the fact that Hamas is suffering record low approval ratings in Egypt.,7340,L-4486558,00.html

Spokesman: Israel PM to visit US on March 2
JERUSALEM (AFP) 10 Feb — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will fly to Washington on March 2 and is expected to meet US President Barack Obama, his office said on Monday.  “The prime minister will be going to the United States on March 2 for the annual meeting of AIPAC in Washington,” an official in Netanyahu’s office told AFP, referring to a powerful pro-Israel lobby group. “He is also expected to meet President Obama.”

Japan contributes USD 62 million to Palestinians
IMEMC Tues 11 Feb by Chris Carlson — The Government of Japan has decided to extend approximately USD 62 million to the people of Palestine. The Palestinian News Network (PNN) reports that the contribution is a part of Japan’s support for ongoing peace negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians in order to realize a just, lasting and comprehensive peace in the future, based on a “two-state solution”, Representative Office of Japan said to the PA in a press statement, Tuesday. In this regard, Japan calls on the Palestinian side to keep on exerting its efforts positively to proceed with ongoing negotiations with Israel, according to the statement. Japan’s new contribution of USD 62.2 million consists of 30 million for financial support through the World Bank, 16 million in support for refugees through UNRWA, 12.6 million in support for infrastructure through UNDP and 3.6 million through UNICEF.

Analysis / Opinion / Arts / History

31 unbelievable photographs Israel doesn’t want you to see! / Sana Saeed
4 Feb — Images of Palestinians being all Palestinian, doing Palestinian things and wearing Palestinian clothing in a ‘land without a people for a people without a land’. Or as the people who lived there liked to call it before being displaced and occupied: Palestine.

The reality about cease-fire violations between the Palestinians and the Israelis
Middle East Monitor 10 Feb by Muhammad Zulfikar — If we were to ask anyone, from an ordinary observer to a well-read media analyst, who breaks ceasefires more frequently, Palestinians or Israelis, they would almost certainly say the Palestinians. This is because the international media makes sure that we all know when a rocket is launched from Gaza into Israel. Western and Israeli politicians also cite this phenomenon in their interviews, press conferences and speeches as one of the justifications for Israel’s unending economic blockade of Gaza, among other things. When it comes to the situation in Gaza, almost all we hear about are the rockets. Recently, the Jerusalem Fund, a non-profit organisation based in the United States, began a study of the violence between Israel and the Palestinians in Gaza; it has compiled a list of cease-fire violations by the two sides. The main finding is clear: “Palestinian rockets are rare and sporadic, and nearly always occur following Israeli cease-fire violations.” … Yousef Mounayyer, the Jerusalem Fund’s Executive Director, explained how the dynamics on the ground usually work: the Israelis launch an attack on Gaza without accountability; that provokes a response from the Palestinians; the Israelis claim “self-defence” and hit back disproportionately. Mounayyer’s detailed explanations can be read here. John Glaser of has also written about previous incidents in which Israel violates the cease-fire with gunfire, bombings and territorial incursions, and uses the inevitable retaliation by the Palestinians as an excuse to launch an even bigger bombing campaign. It cannot be ignored any longer that Israel breaks cease-fires more frequently and with greater devastation than the Palestinians. Given the facts available for all to see, the biggest surprise about all of this is that most people still believe that the Palestinians are the main culprits. The detailed explanation of the study can be read here.

‘This is apartheid’: rapper Jasiri X on visit to Palestine / Amira Asad
Electronic Intifada 10 Feb — Jasiri X, a hip-hop emcee based in Pittsburgh, recently participated in a delegation of black American activists, academics and artists to Palestine. The weeklong trip inspired his track “Checkpoint.” Accompanied by hard-hitting breakbeats, it features the emcee detailing the types of persecution and harassment which Israeli soldiers inflict on Palestinians as a matter of routine … AA: What other similarities did you find between the treatment of the black community in the United States and of Palestinians? JX: When you talk about stop-and-frisk you are talking about police departments like NYPD and Atlanta police department that are being trained by Israeli security or Israeli military. We were over there right around Martin Luther King’s birthday and I just imagine it was like a scene that you remember reading about, like this is what the ’60s were like. Because you are this race, or this nationality, you are treated less than or really like nothing. To me, that’s how Palestinians were treated — like they were nothing. I was shocked because I guess I assumed that white supremacy in America was the worst, and you know my music deals a lot with race. But I didn’t think I could see a more virulent strand of white supremacy until I went there. Not only is this 2014 and this is happening, but also billions of our tax dollars are going to uphold this and support this. And to me the reason I think there isn’t as much of an outcry from the black community is because we just don’t know. I consider myself conscious and relatively educated and I was for the rights of Palestinians, which is one of the reasons I went. But I didn’t know it was like that.

On the ugly side of the wall / Bill Fletcher Jr.
DesertPeace 9 Feb — Last month, a small delegation of African American artists traveled through Israel and Palestine to get a firsthand look at the daily lives of Palestinians. What they saw shocked and angered them, and their eyewitness accounts are sure to spark debate here as heated as any confrontation in the Middle East. Bill Fletcher Jr., senior scholar with the Institute for Policy Studies, led the delegation and shares his perspective on the region. …In the mainstream media, we have frequently heard or read about Palestinian terrorism or military actions. Yet, in our brief experience, we felt no unease or fear when we interacted with the Palestinians. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said regarding our interactions with Israeli soldiers. The young Israeli military men and women, frequently carrying automatic weapons, were quite full of themselves and felt no need to be polite to our delegation, let alone to the Palestinians. The Palestinians were treated with the sort of contempt one would expect to be experienced by a prison population. Blink once, and you saw apartheid South Africa; blink twice, and you saw the Jim Crow South of the USA; blink three times, and you realized that you were not in the past, but in a very dangerous reality where an entire population is facing the prospect of perpetual marginalization and dispossession.

‘Are your loved ones trapped behind the wall?’ — new video of Samah Sabawi poem
Electronic Intifada 10 Feb by Benjamin Doherty —  Marta Jelec has posted a delightful animation of Samah Sabawi’s poem “Defying the Universe” … Although the poet Samah Sabawi is a long-time contributor to The Electronic Intifada, I was not aware of this poem. It reminded me of the themes of separation and exile raised in Osama Qashoo’s films Inside Outside and No Choice Basis. Jelec gives us a fine reading of Sabawi’s moving poem, which is attached below. Are your loved ones trapped behind the wall / Do they need the army’s permission / For their prayers to reach the sky / For their love to cross the ocean / And touch your thirsty heart / Are your loved ones trapped / … Do they tell you stories Of how they survive / The trees they’ve replanted / The homes they’ve rebuilt / Do they assure you life goes on / Old men still fiddle with their prayer beads / Mothers still bake mamoul on Eid /
Families still gather under the canopies / With loaded bunches of grapes / Dangling above their heads / They nibble on watermelon seeds / They drink
meramiah tea / Women perfect the art of match-making / Men talk of freedom and democracy / ….

Israel’s waiver to discriminate / Sam Bahour 11 Feb — Preferential treatment of Israel has, sadly, come to be expected in the United States. Too often, the United States turns a blind eye as Israel discriminates against American citizens, then rewards Israel for this unacceptable behavior. The so-called visa waiver bill would reward Israel by allowing Israelis to travel to the United States without a visa — a privilege that is supposed to hinge on Israel reciprocating the gesture. The bill’s main co-sponsor, Sen. Barbara Boxer of California, has defended a key provision of the bill that would allow Israel to continue discriminating against U.S. citizens. The provision, absent from the agreements that the United States has with all 37 other countries participating in the visa waiver system, gives Israel a green light to deny entry — on its own terms and for its own reasons — to any Americans whom it deems as “jeopardizing the security of the state of Israel.” No need to justify why. No need to explain. Just blanket U.S. capitulation to Israel’s discriminatory policies … The only country in the world that refuses to recognize me as an American, my only citizenship, is Israel. Once Israel defines you as a Palestinian, by way of issuing you residency status to live under their military occupation, no other paperwork matters to them, and your fate, American citizen or otherwise, becomes lumped together with all other Palestinians living under military occupation: that of collective punishment … While the Israel visa waiver bill might seem like an innocuous piece of legislation, it exposes a double standard in American foreign policy that our government should not espouse.

Video: Stone Cold Justice / John Lyons, Janine Cohen & Sylvie Le Clezio
Australian Broadcasting Co.10 Feb —  A SPECIAL FOUR CORNERS / THE AUSTRALIAN NEWSPAPER INVESTIGATION — The Israeli army is both respected and feared as a fighting force. But now the country’s military is facing a backlash at home and abroad for its treatment of children in the West Bank, occupied territory. Coming up, a joint investigation by Four Corners and The Australian newspaper reveals evidence that shows the army is targeting Palestinian boys for arrest and detention. Reporter John Lyons travels to the West Bank to hear the story of children who claim they have been taken into custody, ruthlessly questioned and then allegedly forced to sign confessions before being taken to court for sentencing. He meets Australian lawyer Gerard Horton, who’s trying to help the boys who are arrested, and talks to senior Israeli officials to examine what’s driving the army’s strategy. The program focuses on the stories of three boys. In two cases the army came for the children in the middle of the night, before taking them to unknown locations where they are questioned. A mother of one of the boys described the scene: “Every soldier stood at the door of a room. I was telling him ‘What do you want with him?’ He said ‘Shut up woman.’ And then they started hitting him and pulling him out of bed.”  “They started kicking me with their boots in my stomach, slaps on my face. They pulled me up by my t-shirt and took me out of bed.” – Arrested boy

Sentenced to life at birth – what do Palestinian refugees want? / Paula Schmitt
972blog 8 Feb — For more than 66 years, Palestinian refugees have been languishing in squalid conditions across camps in the Middle East. But do all of them agree that a return to Palestine is necessarily the best solution? Through her extensive research, Paula Schmitt finds that while different refugees may have different desires, hopelessness remains everyone’s worst enemy — There’s something almost cruel about asking a Palestinian refugee whether he would accept living peacefully with Israel were he ever allowed to return. It feels like a sadistic exercise: treat a man like a lesser human, deny him a country, a house, a profession, keep him confined for years and once he is released expect him to stand up, dust the humiliation off his clothes and shake hands with his captor. The Palestinian refugees I spoke to are not willing to shake hands with their captors – at least not if another Palestinian is watching. Pride is the last thing they still own, the tenacity typical of those who have nothing to lose on one hand, and no hope of gaining anything on the other. But what I learned once the conversations became private is that many of those refugees would just like to live in peace with dignity, and for that they are willing to give a pardon that has never been asked of them … Among all the refugees I interviewed, not a single one – even those not interested in going back to Palestine – is willing to give up the right to justice and compensation.

The Jewish settlers who would stay in West Bank under Palestinian rule / Nathan Jeffay
The Forward 9 Feb — Most West Bank settlers plan to leave — or fight — if Israel ends its occupation. But some relish the idea of staying — and say a Jewish minority could thrive under Palestinian rule — Eliaz Cohen is a second-generation Jewish settler in the occupied West Bank — and that’s where he’s determined to remain. Sitting in his kitchen in Kfar Etzion, between Jerusalem and Hebron, the yarmulke-wearing settler says that he wants to see a two-state solution and to see his home become part of the Palestinian state, with him in it … Embracing a perennial Palestinian demand — one that riles Israel — he said, “The basis of 1967 lines could be the official borders of two states.” Cohen believes that as soon as Jews in the West Bank cease to be viewed as occupiers imposing their rule and become instead a minority needing protection, they will be safe. After reciting a blessing on a cup of coffee and taking a sip, he said: “Many friends tell me that I’m naive and I’ll find myself hanged or slaughtered, and I ask them when their last time visiting a Palestinian was. I do it all the time, and when you are visiting an Arab person with his invitation, you can be sure of your life and safety 100%.” Settlers like Cohen are few and far between, perhaps only a few hundred, but they have an ear in both Jerusalem and Ramallah.

Raffoul — Tears over Palestine (Official video)
Dec 22 A bit late with this, but it’s worth it to listen to it even so. Lyrics here (listserv) (archive)

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This will take some more time to digest than I have right now. Many heartfelt thanks, Kate.