Two citizens wounded in Israeli raid on central Gaza
TEHRAN (FNA) 9 Feb — Two Palestinian citizens were wounded, one of them seriously, on Sunday morning in an Israeli aerial raid on Deir Al-Balah city in central Gaza Strip. Ashraf Al-Qudra, the health ministry spokesman, told PIC that an Israeli reconnaissance plane fired a missile at a motorbike in the vicinity of Shuhada Al-Aqsa Hospital. He added that driver of the bike was seriously wounded and had one of his hands amputated while a passerby was moderately injured. Local sources identified the driver as Abdullah Al-Khirti, a resistance fighter, adding that he was in critical condition.
IAF strikes Gaza; Israel says member of Global Jihad wounded
Ynet 9 Feb by Elior Levy — The Israel Air Force struck targets in the Gaza Strip on Sunday morning, wounding a motorcyclist who Israel said was a member of the Global Jihad. Palestinian sources said that the man was seriously injured in the attack, which followed ongoing rocket fire from Gaza at southern Israel. Israel named him as Abdullah Harti, 28, a Global Jihad activist and member of the Popular Resistance Committees. The strike was a joint operation carried out by the Israel Defense Forces and the Shin Bet domestic security service. According to Israel’s defense establishment, Harti was involved in recent years in the promotion and execution of several attacks against Israel, both in the Gaza Strip and along the Israel-Sinai border. Defense sources also said that he cooperated with Ansar Beit Al-Maqdis, the Global Jihad organization in Sinai, which was involved in a massive deadly attack near Eilat in 2011, as well as several rocket launches towards Eilat, most recently in January.
Attacks on Gaza jihadists signal quiet Israeli revival of targeted killings
Haaretz 10 Feb by Amos Harel — Three attacks in recent weeks have all targeted ‘rebel’ Gazan terrorists working independently of Hamas, following increased tensions on Gaza border region — The attempt to assassinate jihadi terrorist Abdallah Kharti in Gaza on Sunday morning indicates that the Israeli policy of targeted killings is being quietly revived. Israel never said it would stop trying to kill terror operatives, but since it launched Operation Pillar of Defense in November 2012, there has been a sharp drop in these efforts, given the relative quiet along the southern border. The attack on Kharti, who was seriously wounded by an Israel Air Force missile, was the third such assassination attempt in two weeks. The two previous operations killed another terrorist and wounded a third. What the three had in common was that they targeted members of relatively independent cells of small organizations that do not answer to the Hamas government in Gaza, or members of splinter groups. These are terrorists that Israeli intelligence describes as “rebels.” Some have ties to groups that are part of the so-called global jihad, a weak coalition of factions fueled by the radical ideas of Osama bin Laden and Al-Qaida. These terrorists are not really considered part of Hamas. As a result, the Gaza leadership generally responds with restraint when they are attacked, and often such an assassination attempt doesn’t lead to a retaliatory attack that might draw another Israeli military response. These latest cases, however, were not attacks on a cell that was preparing to fire rockets at Israel – Hamas tends to accept such attacks as part of the rules of the game – but a deliberate attack on a specific person who had been previously involved in rocket fire or other attacks. These moves had a dual purpose: settling accounts for past crimes and thwarting future terrorist activity.
Gaza under blockade
Medics: 5 injured by Israeli fire in Gaza on Friday
GAZA CITY (AFP) 8 Feb — Five Palestinians were wounded by Israeli army gunfire Friday near the separation barrier in the northern Gaza Strip, Palestinian medical sources said. Ashraf al-Qudra, a spokesman for the Hamas-run health ministry in the territory, said the five men were in their early twenties. One was in serious condition from a shot to the chest, he told AFP. Palestinian witnesses said the soldiers opened fire after they were attacked by stones hurled over the border fence … Clashes are common on Fridays, with regular protests near the border in support of Gaza farmers who say troops uprooted their trees to create a buffer zone. The buffer zone extends between 500 meters and 1500 meters into the Strip, effectively turning local farms into no-go zones.
Gaza rocket falls in open area in western Negev
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 8 Feb — An Israeli military spokesman said on Saturday night that a rocket from Gaza fell in the Western Negev region on Saturday evening, causing no damage. The spokesman said that the rocket fell in the Sdot Negev regional council, near the border of the Gaza Strip. He added that the rocket fell in an open area and caused “no damage.” The rocket strike came a day after Israeli forces opened fire on Palestinian protesters inside Gaza near the border, injuring five with live fire … The rocket came a day after three rockets were fired into Israel from Gaza.
Egyptian army destroys 7 Gaza smuggling tunnels
CAIRO (Ma‘an) 8 Feb — The Egyptian army demolished seven smuggling tunnels under the border with the Gaza Strip on Saturday, Egyptian border police sources told Ma‘an. The sources added that large quantities of clothes, pesticides, and other goods were found in a vacant house in Egypt’s El-Arish, presumably to be smuggled into Gaza.
Egyptian authorities close Rafah crossing
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 8 Feb — Egyptian authorities closed the Rafah crossing between Egypt and the Gaza Strip on Saturday after keeping the terminal open for three days, a Palestinian official said. A Gaza border crossing official told Ma‘an that Rafah would be opened again on Sunday and Monday to allow a group of Umrah pilgrims to continue their journey home from Saudi Arabia. The official said that throughout the last three days, 1,922 people left the Gaza Strip for Egypt and 1,120 arrived in Gaza from Egypt.
80% of Gaza factories now dysfunctional
IMEMC Sun 9 Feb by Chris Carlson — MP Jamal al-Khudari has stated that 80% of the factories in Gaza are fully or partially closed due to the continued siege. Khudari, who is Head of the Popular Committee against the Siege, said in a press statement, on Saturday, that the Israeli authorities are banning hundreds of raw material items from entering Gaza, causing the factories to stop working. Al Ray reports that Khudari has insisted that “the Israeli occupation carefully decides the raw material items to be denied access to Gaza so that Gaza economy would be brought to a standstill and, thus, thousands of workers and engineers active in construction sector laid off.”
UNRWA struggles to deliver as poverty rises in Gaza
GAZA CITY (Al-Monitor) 6 Feb by Asmaa al-Ghoul — UNRWA has again cut or halted food aid to thousands of Palestinians as it struggles to keep up with rising poverty rates due to the Israeli-Egyptian siege on Gaza and crisis situations elsewhere — “Please note that starting in April 2014, your status will change from ‘absolute poverty’ to ‘not poor.'” If you received this message, you might think that you had struck it rich and won the lottery. After, however, identifying the sender — the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees (UNRWA) — and then heading to the nearest UNRWA office, you would find that it really means that the food aid UNWRA had been providing you is about to stop, because in its eyes, you are now “not poor.” … Anwar al-Maghribi, 29, a resident of Gaza City, told Al-Monitor that he works as a driver at a local company and makes 1,200 Israeli shekels ($339) a month. He pays 600 shekels ($170) each month for rent, so he has only 600 shekels left to support himself, his wife and his two daughters. “They cut off the food assistance I had been receiving from UNRWA last October. This assistance included [a monthly allowance of] two kilograms of milk, 12 kilograms of sugar, a large bag of flour, four bottles of oil, four cans of meat and about six kilograms of rice,” Maghribi said. UNRWA spokesman Adnan Abu Hasna informed Al-Monitor that 11,000 families had had their food aid cut four months ago because of the relief agency’s limited budget.
2 Palestinians killed in separate explosions in central Gaza
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 7 Feb — Two Palestinians were killed and two others were injured in separate explosions in and around Gaza’s al-Bureij refugee camp late Friday, medical sources said. Gaza Health Ministry spokesman Ashraf al-Qidra told Ma‘an that 27-year-old Hani Salameh was killed in an “ambiguous” explosion in al-Buriej camp in central Gaza. His body was taken to al-Aqsa Martyrs Hospital near Deir al-Balah, al-Qidra said. Local sources told Ma‘an that Salamah was a member of al-Qassam Brigades, Hamas’ military wing. Earlier Friday, another Palestinian man was killed and two others injured in a separate explosion east of al-Bureij refugee camp, medical sources said. Ibrahim al-Saidi, 25, was pronounced dead upon his arrival at al-Aqsa Martyrs Hospital.
A long, bloody January in Gaza
GAZA (ISM, Rosa Schiano) 5 Feb — It was a bloody beginning of the new year for the Palestinians of Gaza who, in addition to suffer from more and more difficult socioeconomic conditions, continued to face Israeli military violence. During the month of January, there have been many attacks in the areas along the separation barrier surrounding the Gaza Strip, several incursions of Israeli military vehicles into Palestinian territory, precision air strikes, and almost constant attacks by the Israeli navy against fishermen. The “bloody Fridays,” attacks against the youths of the popular resistance Recently popular resistance has grown in the Gaza Strip. Every Friday hundreds of young Palestinians gather near the al-Shuhada cemetery, east of Jabaliya, in the northern Gaza Strip. Sometimes they throw stones at Israeli soldiers and try to place Palestinian flags on the fence that separates the Gaza Strip from the land occupied by Israel in 1948. Israeli forces open fire indiscriminately at these unarmed young people, sometimes injuring or killing them. In January, two young Palestinians, included a child, were killed during the popular demonstrations. And at least 14 young Palestinians were wounded by gunfire in the course of these events. In the majority of cases, injuries to their lower limbs were reported. [Details follow].
Growing herbs a remedy for some Gaza economic woes
AL-QARARA, Gaza Strip (AP) 4 Feb by Ibrahim Barzak — Gaza farmers have begun growing mint, basil and coriander, saying such herbs can serve as a remedy for some of the blockaded Palestinian territory’s economic woes … Looking for blockade loopholes, five Gaza farmers began growing herbs a year ago, most in greenhouses on land where Jewish settlers used to raise the same crops until Israel’s withdrawal from Gaza in 2005. “The motive … was to find new products that we can grow here in Gaza and that return a good income and can employ more people,” said farmer Jamal Abu Naja, 47. Output is still small. Over the past year, the Gaza pioneers exported 50 tons, compared to 10,000 tons by their Israeli counterparts and more than 2,000 tons by Palestinian growers in the West Bank. However, growers in the West Bank and Gaza believe their market share can increase, especially in Europe where several major supermarket chains have stopped buying produce from Jewish settlements in the West Bank’s Jordan Valley, war-won land the Palestinians want for their state. “There are no signs yet of (Palestinian farmers) replacing the Israeli products, but there is a big potential if we expand the sector,” said Mazen Sinokrot, the biggest Palestinian herb grower in the West Bank. Israel bars virtually all exports from the Gaza Strip, as part of the border blockade, but makes an exception for some fresh produce.
Madleen Kolab, Gaza’s only fisherwoman
GAZA (ISM, by Charlie Andreasson) 9 Feb — I asked a good friend to arrange a meeting with Madleen Kolab, 19 years old and Gaza’s only fisherwoman, for an interview. Later, she would reveal this was only to tell me face to face tell me that she does not give interviews. For almost two years, she has declined all requests from journalists because they, as she says, only writes for their careers. But she decided to make an exception when she recognized me and knew that I was involved in the rebuilding of Gaza’s Ark, and thus in work for Palestine. Her firm look told me that she was serious and I felt honored, but also a little embarrassed, and was grateful that I could lower my eyes towards my notepad.When she was six years old, she already accompanied her father when he was fishing, and she knew early what her coming profession would be. She loves her work. It gives her a sense of freedom to be on the sea, and she was careful to point out that nobody forced her to become a fisherman. Her rapt answers to my questions, that she never needed any consideration, unwavering eyes and lack of hesitation left no doubt or room for me to think otherwise … Madleen is the eldest of four siblings. She fishes with the younger of her two brothers on a hasaka, a small open boat, with an outboard motor. Earlier she had a type of boat she needed to paddle. Now she has the opportunity to go to deeper water and get somewhat better catches. Besides, it is safer. But she has been attacked by Israeli patrol boats, and she says it has been common for bullets to whiz around the boat. Once she feared she would be arrested, but when the Israeli soldiers discovered there was a woman on board the boat, they ordered her to instead head back to the harbor, obviously unsure of how they would deal with the unfamiliar situation. Madleen knows that will not save her forever, and she avoids the edge of the group of boats that go out, preferring to fight over the catch with others than try to get a bigger share for herself in more open water.
Facebook chats cause divorce in Gaza
GAZA CITY 8 Feb by Rasha Abou Jalal — Facebook has enabled a new openness in Palestinian society, but also offers temptations of infidelity — The Facebook chat that young Yasser discovered between his wife and one of her friends was reason enough for him to accuse her of infidelity and divorce her. Yasser, 27, who requested that his full name not be revealed, considered his wife’s chat with one of her Facebook friends a “cruel act of betrayal.” This was not the first time that he had seen conversations between his spouse of almost three years and strangers of the opposite sex, conversations that fall contrary to Palestinian society’s customs and traditions. “I repeatedly warned my wife against chatting with strange men, but she kept doing so,” the young man told Al-Monitor. “She claimed that it was only for fun, that nothing was out of the ordinary and that she did not disclose any personal information about herself. But I was shocked by the last chat I saw between her and another man, who called her ‘my love.’ That was the last straw that drove me to end our marriage.” [Gaza is hardly unique in having this problem, of course]
Land, property theft & destruction / Ethnic cleansing / Restriction of movement
Israeli demolition of Palestinian homes at five-year high: aid groups
RAMALLAH, West Bank (Reuters) 7 Feb — Aid agencies working in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem expressed alarm on Friday at a spike in Israeli demolitions of Palestinian property coinciding with renewed U.S.-backed peace negotiations. The statement by 25 aid organizations said the number of demolitions increased by almost half and the displacement of Palestinians by nearly three-quarters between July 2013, when the talks began, and the end of the year, compared to the same period in 2012. Of the 663 Palestinian structures torn down last year, the highest number in five years, 122 were built with international donor aid, the groups said. The International Red Cross announced this week it would stop delivering tents to Palestinians made homeless by demolitions in the Jordan border region of the occupied West Bank, citing Israeli obstruction and confiscation of aid.
Settlers vandalize 16 cars, spray graffiti in East Jerusalem
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 10 Feb — Israeli settlers on Monday punctured the tires of 16 cars and a bus in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Silwan, local residents said. Samir Shaloudi told Ma‘an that residents woke up to find dozens of private vehicles and a bus vandalized. Hebrew graffiti sprayed on the bus read: “Enough of assimilation”. The cars belonged to the Badwai, Abu Khatir, Shaloudi, Awwad, Maragha, al-Razim, and Manasrah families. Residents called the Israeli police, who arrived on the scene and opened an investigation. Muhammad Qarain, who works for the Silwan-based Wadi Hilweh Information Center, said that the settlers came from an illegal outpost on the outskirts of the Jabal al-Mukabbir neighborhood.
Settlers uproot trees in Ramallah village for second time in 3 weeks
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 9 Feb — Israeli settlers early Sunday raided private Palestinian land near Ramallah and uprooted hundreds of newly planted olive trees, locals told Ma‘an. Locals said that dozens of settlers raided fields in the village of Sinjil north of Ramallah and uprooted and stole 800 olive saplings. The saplings had been planted days earlier after settlers uprooted olive trees in the same area on Jan. 22. Those trees were planted in coordination with a project funded by the International Committee of the Red Cross … Since 1967, approximately 800,000 olive trees have been uprooted in the occupied West Bank, according to a joint report by the Palestinian Authority and the Applied Research Institute – Jerusalem. The olive industry supports the livelihoods of roughly 80,000 families in the occupied West Bank.
Israel extremists ‘vandalize Palestinian cemetery’ near Ramla
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 9 Feb – Israeli extremists have vandalized a cemetery in the Palestinian village of al-Muzayria, in the district of Ramla in central Israel, whose Palestinian population were displaced in 1948, according to a Jerusalem-based organization. The Al-Aqsa Foundation for Endowment and Heritage said in a statement Sunday that a team representing the foundation visited the cemetery to evaluate the damage. Fifteen graves were vandalized, according to the foundation which explained that the graves were unearthed and their old gravestones were smashed. Abdul-Majid Igbariyya, an Al-Aqsa official, says the Israeli authorities “are fully responsible for this ugly criminal act.”
Despite Israeli defense minister’s vow, settlement construction continues
Haaretz 10 Feb by Revital Hovel & Gidi Weitz — Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon wrote the attorney general a few weeks ago that he would show “zero tolerance” for illegal construction on private Palestinian land. Despite this pledge, a tour of the West Bank has shown Haaretz that construction is still widely ongoing. “Such construction will be treated swiftly and decisively and we are devoting many resources to this out of recognition of the importance of the rule of law,” Ya’alon wrote Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein. Nevertheless, from Mitzpeh Asael in the southern Hebron Hills to the settlement of Itamar in the northern West Bank, there are clear signs of construction: in the outposts of Havat Yair, Nofei Nehmia, Rehalim, Givat Avot and in the settlement of Tekoa. The Civil Administration is indeed following through with its task of distributing demolition notices in the area, but few structures have yet to be raised [have so far been razed?].
Ministers reject Regev proposal to annex West Bank settlements
Jerusalem Post 9 Feb by Lahav Harkov — Ministers voted down a bill to annex Israeli settlements in the West Bank Sunday. Only Housing and Construction Minister Uri Ariel and Pensioners’ Affairs Minister Uri Orbach, both of the Bayit Yehudi, voted in favor of the legislation proposed by Knesset Interior Committee chairwoman Miri Regev (Likud Beytenu) in the Ministerial Committee for Legislation meeting. Regev’s draft bill would have applied Israeli law to Israeli settlements in the West Bank as well as the roads leading to them, which would effectively mean they are being annexed. The Likud Beytenu MK has submitted a plethora of controversial legislation in recent months, attempting to pass a bill to annex the Jordan Valley and another to block the government from negotiating the status of east Jerusalem and Palestinian refugees. The first was approved by the ministerial committee but appealed by Yesh Atid and Hatnua ministers, while the second was rejected.
Olmert: Israel could evacuate 80,000 Israeli settlers
AP 8 Feb — Former prime minister discusses 2008 peace negotiations, reiterates belief that Israel can safely withdraw from West Bank, says issues will be solved to Israel’s satisfaction — Former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said Friday that if talks he held with Palestinians in 2008 had produced a peace deal, it would have forced tens of thousands of Jewish settlers to leave their homes in the West Bank. If a deal had been reached at the time, it would also not have included an Israeli presence in the Jordan Valley, Olmert said. More than five years on, the fate of the Jewish settlements and the Jordan Valley, along with recognition of Israel as the Jewish national homeland, are key sticking points in the ongoing Mideast peace talks brokered by US Secretary of State John Kerry, aimed at establishing an independent Palestinian state alongside Israel. In an interview with Channel 2, Olmert said that in his opinion, a deal in 2008 would have made “about 80,000” settlers leave their homes. Asked if Israel would be able to evacuate 80,000 settlers today, Olmert said: “I have no doubt that it is possible.”
Rights group: Israeli army using phony excuse to keep checkpoint closed
Haaretz 10 Feb by Chaim Levinson — The army cites security needs, but lawyers say tens of thousands of Palestinians are being inconvenienced — An officer in the military prosecution distorted the truth to justify the closure of a checkpoint that seriously burdens tens of thousands of Palestinians, a rights group says, based on documents that have been obtained by Haaretz. “It’s very grave when the military commander’s legal adviser lets himself submit inaccurate information and thus excuse the undermining of the human rights of 100,000 Palestinians who are not allowed to cross a checkpoint and are forced to travel on narrow, long and winding roads,” said attorney Yadin Elam for the Center for the Defense of the Individual. The Israel Defense Forces says the checkpoint in question is closed for security reasons, but the rights group has petitioned the High Court of Justice to open the road. West of Ramallah, near the offices of the Civil Administration, is the District Coordination Office checkpoint, commonly known as the VIP checkpoint. The checkpoint separates Ramallah from villages to the west, among them Deir Debwan, Beitin, and Silwad. This checkpoint is closed to Palestinians except for the 1,000 or so who hold VIP certificates. Occasionally the checkpoint is opened to the general public as well. Last April the Center for the Defense of the Individual and the heads of the villages, represented by attorneys Elam and Nitsan Ilani, demanded that Central Command open the checkpoint. They said its closure was causing tens of millions of shekels in damages to the Palestinian economy because of the huge detour that cars from the villages must take to get to and from Ramallah. But Beit El residents oppose the opening of the checkpoint because they don’t want Palestinians driving on the settlement’s access road.
Violence / Raids / Clashes / Suppression of protests / Illegal arrests
18 injured as Israeli forces raid Al-Aqsa after prayers
[with photos] JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 7 Feb — At least 18 Palestinians were injured when Israeli forces clashed with Palestinian worshipers after prayers in the al-Aqsa compound on Friday. A Ma‘an reporter said dozens of Israeli soldiers raided the compound and fired tear gas and rubber-coated steel bullets at worshipers. Director of Al-Aqsa clinic Adnan Khanafseh told a Ma‘an reporter that the 18 people were treated in the compound’s clinics for fractures, injuries from stun grenade splinters, and rubber-coated steel bullets. A child and a 40-year-old man were among the people treated, and three people were transferred to hospital for further treatment, Khanafseh added. An Israeli police spokesman said that clashes broke out after “tens of Israeli-Arabs” threw stones at Israeli police officers located at the Moroccan Gate.”Police responded by entering the Temple Mount using stun grenades to disperse rioters,” Mickey Rosenfeld said. He added that seven people were detained for involvement in the clashes, although he could not confirm any injuries. Witnesses said the arrests were made by Israeli intelligence forces as youths left the compound. Fouad al-Qiq was the only one identified from the detainees, and it was reported that he was detained from Bab al-Amoud. Clashes also broke out in Bab Hutta neighborhood at the same time. Israeli forces blocked off a gate leading to the al-Qabli mosque and pepper sprayed youths in the area.
Newspaper review: Dailies highlight police raid on al-Aqsa
RAMALLAH (WAFA) 8 Feb – The three Palestinian Arabic dailies highlighted in their Saturday issue the Israeli police raid and beating of Muslim worshippers at al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem immediately following the Friday prayers. The three papers printed pictures of the raid showing a large police force in full riot gear either spraying pepper at the worshippers inside al-Aqsa Mosque building or standing in the yards of the Dome of the Rock ready to attack the Palestinians who took shelter inside the closed buildings. Based on eyewitness and medical accounts, police barged into the worshippers who were ending their Friday prayers, most of them elderly and children, firing stun grenades at them and beating them. Dozens were hurt, including elderly people and children, and were taken to the clinic in the compound for treatment. Some were admitted to hospitals nearby.
Israeli forces open fire on protests across West Bank, injuring dozens
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 7 Feb — Dozens of Palestinians were injured on Friday as protesters clashed with Israeli military forces in villages across the West Bank. Demonstrations against the Israeli occupation took place in Kafr Qaddum, Beit Ummar, al-Jalazun, and Silwad on Friday afternoon. Israeli forces responded with force injuring more than 30 protesters with live and rubber-coated steel bullets as well as dozens more with excessive firing of tear gas. Five Israeli soldiers were also reported injured in the clashes after being struck by rocks … 12 Palestinians were injured with live gunfire and two were struck in the head by tear gas canisters in the Ramallah refugee camp of al-Jalazun. Dozens of other people were injured by rubber-coated steel bullets and four Israeli soldiers were injured when youths threw a tear canister at them. An Israeli spokesman said “300 Palestinians were throwing rocks, firebombs and burning tires. Israeli forces responded with riot dispersal means.” Live fire was used against main instigators, he added….
Child moderately injured by explosive dropped by army near Hebron
IMEMC by Saed Bannoura — Friday, 7 Feb — Palestinian medical sources have reported that a Palestinian child was moderately injured, when an explosive dropped by Israeli soldiers exploded near him, in Khirbit Sha’b al-Batm, in Yatta town, south of the southern West Bank city of Hebron. Rateb Jabour, coordinator of the Popular Committee against the Wall and Settlements, stated that Abdullah Ishaq al-Jabarin, 13, suffered various injuries, and was moved by Red Crescent Medics to the Hebron Governmental Hospital. The incident is one of scores of similar incidents that led to dozens of casualties among the Palestinians, especially since the army uses inhabited Palestinian territories for training, using live ammunition and explosives. On January 22, 2014, a Palestinian child was seriously wounded when a bomb, dropped by Israeli soldiers during training, exploded in his hands in the Jordan Valley of the occupied West Bank … Dozens of Palestinians, including children, workers and shepherds, have been wounded, and many were killed, due to undetonated explosives dropped by Israeli soldiers during repeated wars on Gaza, as well as explosives dropped by the army during training near Palestinian communities in the occupied West Bank, especially in the Jordan Valley and Northern Plains.
Soldiers take pictures of themselves abusing wounded child
JERUSALEM (IMEMC) 9 Feb by Saed Bannoura — Jerusalem – A video, captured by Rami Alarya of the Alqods Independent Media Center, showed a number of Israeli soldiers assaulting a Palestinian child, on Friday evening [February 4 2014], after shooting him with a rubber-coated metal bullet in the leg, and photographing themselves abusing him. The soldiers assaulted the child during clashes that took place in the al-Ezariyya town, east of occupied East Jerusalem. One of the soldiers tried to push the cameraman, Alarya, and his colleague, Amin Alawya, away from the scene, and was yelling at them, “Enough, enough…. go away… what do you want…” Medical sources said the soldiers shot the child, Yassin al-Karaky, 13 years of age, with a rubber-coated metal bullet which hit the 13-year old in the leg. After he fell, the soldiers began assaulting and abusing him. The attack took place after soldiers, who hid in a building near the Annexation Wall in the Qabsa area, ambushed a group of children, and one of the soldiers opened fire on the children. Several soldiers then attacked and assaulted the wounded child before kidnapping him. The soldiers took pictures of themselves with the wounded child, and one soldier picked up a Molotov cocktail from the ground, while the child shouted in Hebrew, “it’s not mine, it’s not mine”, and a soldier responded, “it’s yours, it’s OK…it’s yours”. One of the soldiers was holding him in a chokehold, and was mocking the child by imitating wrestling moves while other soldiers took pictures, although the child was barely able to breathe.
Hebron man ‘detained, left blindfolded in desert’
HEBRON (Ma‘an) 10 Feb — Israeli forces on Thursday detained a Palestinian man and released him in the middle of the Hebron desert hours later, the directorate of education in the southern West Bank area said. Bilal Rizq al-Salayma, 27, was heading to his workplace at the ceramics center at the Ministry of Education when Israeli soldiers stopped him, searched him, took his ID card, handcuffed and blindfolded him, and forced him into a military vehicle. The incident was relayed to the Hebron directorate of education by witnesses and the center’s administration. The directorate said in a statement: “We received a phone call from al-Salayma at noon telling us that he was in a barren, mountain area … It was filled with sand, and nothing near him was alive.” The directorate added: “We guessed that he was left blindfolded in the al-Masafer area near Bani Naim east of Hebron so we told him to head west, north, and south to tell us if he saw (vehicles). We asked him to head toward them before the call was disconnected after his battery ran out.” After that al-Salayma found himself in Beersheba in Israel after people helped him get to a construction site where laborers from Hebron worked. The laborers took him to Hebron, which he reached at 10 p.m.
Settler attacks Palestinian near Bethlehem
BETHLEHEM (WAFA) 9 Feb – An Israeli settler assaulted on Sunday a Palestinian youth in the town of Taqou‘, east of Bethlehem according to security sources. They said that a settler from the settlement of Tekoa, built illegally on the town’s land, attacked Fahim Hammad, hitting him in the head with his gun and injuring him. Hammad was transferred to hospital for treatment where his condition was described as moderate.
In video: Settlers beat Israeli activist protecting Palestinians
BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) 9 Feb — Footage released by a rights group on Saturday appears to show Jewish settlers beating an Israeli activist as he tries to defend Palestinian farmers while Israeli soldiers look on. The videos released by joint Israeli-Palestinian human rights group Ta‘ayush show an Israeli activist who has accompanied Palestinians to their farm lands in the village of Khirbet Shuweika in the South Hebron Hills being assaulted by Jewish settlers. The videos, which could not be independently verified, also show that after the settlers have beaten the activist, an Israeli soldier approaches the settlers but pats one of them on the back and does not attempt to detain or reprimand them in anyway. According to Israeli alternative news website +972, the assault occurred around 11 a.m. on Saturday. An Israeli activist affiliated with Ta‘ayush had accompanied local Palestinians after they had been prevented from reaching their lands numerous times in recent weeks by local settlers, even though Israeli authorities recognize the area as private Palestinian land. The Jewish settlers were from the nearby Eshtemoa outpost, and according to an activist affiliated with the group, none of them were detained by Israeli forces. Following the attack, the activist went to the Kiryat Arba police station and Israeli authorities said an investigation would be launched into the incident. Israeli news site Haaretz quoted an IDF spokesperson as saying that the video was “tendentiously edited,” and that Israeli soldiers on the scene had acted to “distance” the settlers and call on police to investigate the incident, as per protocol, according to +972.
Taking livestock: The tale of the Palestinian shepherd and his goats
Haaretz 10 Feb by Amira Hass — The abuse of a shepherd from the South Hebron Hills by Nahal Brigade soldiers will cost the state 5,501 shekels ($1,557). That is what Judge Nir Nahshon, senior registrar of the Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court, ruled last Thursday: 3,500 shekels for the goat and two kids the Israel Defense Forces soldiers confiscated for no reason, and 2,000 shekels for mental anguish after detaining the shepherd for about three hours. From this amount the judge deducted 25 percent for “contributory guilt,” and all told the state will pay the shepherd, Kamel Mahamra, 4,125 shekels. The state will also pay 1,000 shekels for his legal fees and refund a 376 shekel court fee to Mahamra, who sued the state and won. This calculation does not include the rest of the costs the state incurred because a group of soldiers did what soldiers tend to do there, in the wild, wild south: abuse – either following orders from higher up or at their own behest. But this time a precedent was set: the abuse led to a lawsuit, filed by attorney Eitay Mack, and a quick hearing in court. The indefatigable Ta’ayush activists and I tried, in real time, to follow up on the fate of the goat, two kids and a donkey.
Four Israeli soldiers injured in tear gas accident in Bil‘in
[in video and photos] BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 7 Feb — Four Israeli soldiers suffered from excessive tear gas inhalation on Friday afternoon after an accident near the central West Bank village of Bil‘in. The soldiers were injured after tear gas canisters exploded inside a military vehicle. At the time of accident, the vehicle was chasing village youths amid clashes between Palestinians and Israeli soldiers, Palestine 24 quoted media coordinator for the Popular Campaign Against the Wall in Bil‘in Rateb Abu Rahma as saying. “The tear gas began to spread inside the vehicle, leading to their suffocation because they were unable to get out quickly enough,” Abu Rahma said. “The soldiers then got out of the jeep and threw their weapons on the ground, before another military patrol came to their aid and treated them on the spot.” “After that, they continued chasing local youths,” he added.
Several towns raided by Israeli forces
IMEMC 9 Feb by Chris Carlson — Israel forces raided several towns in the Jenin district, on Saturday, provoking clashes with residents, according to security sources. Confrontations erupted between Palestinians and Israeli forces following an army raid on Silat al-Harithiya, a village located to the west of Jenin. Soldiers fired stun grenades, tear gas canisters and rubber-coated metal bullets at the stone-throwing Palestinians, causing many suffocation cases, WAFA Palestinian News & Info Agency has reported. Israeli forces had also raided Ya‘bad, a town located to the southwest of Jenin, for the second day in a row, declaring the town a closed military zone. They set up random checkpoints, launched a large-scale search campaign in the town and broke into Ya‘bad Boys School and stationed themselves, there. Elsewhere in the West Bank, Israeli forces broke into and set up military checkpoints in some residential neighborhoods in the southern city of Hebron, said security sources and witnesses. Soldiers also raided the towns of Samou‘ and Idna, in the Hebron area, setting up military checkpoints at the entrances of Dhahriya, Dura and Fawar refugee camp, located to the south of Hebron, as well as Sair, a town located to the northeast of Hebron.
Israeli forces conduct searches near Burin after settler car targeted
NABLUS (Ma‘an) 8 Feb — A large force of Israeli forces assembled south of Nablus late Saturday after a molotov cocktail was thrown at an Israeli settler’s vehicle on the road earlier in the day. Witnesses told Ma‘an that large numbers of Israeli soldiers massed on the road leading to the Israeli settlement of Itzhar near the village of Burin after the incident. According to eyewitnesses, Israeli forces fired a number of flares and began conducting searches in the area in order to detain those who had thrown the cocktail.
Two Palestinians kidnapped in Hebron
IMEMC by Saed Bannoura — [Friday at night, 7 Feb] Coordinator of the Popular Committee against the Wall and Settlements, Rateb Jabour, has reported that Israeli soldiers kidnapped two Palestinians in Beit Ummar town, near the southern West Bank city of Hebron. Jabour stated that the soldiers ambushed resident Mohammad Mahmoud Darwish, 17, in the al-Ein area in the town, and hurled concussion grenades at him before kidnapping him. The soldiers also kidnapped former political prisoner, Moath Shihda Sabarna, 22, in the same attack, and took the two Palestinians to the Etzion nearby military and security base. Hours before the attack, clashes took place in Beit Za’ta area, in the town, after dozens of soldiers invaded it and fired rounds of live ammunition, rubber-coated metal bullets and gas bombs … Also on Friday at night, dozens of soldiers invaded Wad Fokkin [or Wadi Fuqin] village, west of Bethlehem, detained and interrogated several young Palestinians.
Four arrested in West Bank, Jerusalem
IMEMC 9 Feb by Chris Carlson — Israeli forces arrested two West Bank Palestinians Sunday, including an elderly, in addition to two others from the Jerusalem area, according to local sources. They said that forces arrested a Palestinian from the city of Hebron, after raiding and searching his home. WAFA reports that forces also arrested a 70-year-old man in Umm al Khair area, east of Yatta to the south of Hebron, under the pretext of obstructing the implementation of Settlement Plans in the area. Meanwhile, Israeli police arrested two Palestinians from the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Beit Hanina, after severely beating them.
Repatriation of remains
Israel returns body of man killed 12 years earlier
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 10 Feb — Israel on Sunday evening delivered the remains of Ahmad Ayid Faqih after years of withholding them from Faqih’s family. A committee to retrieve remains of Palestinians held by Israel said Israeli authorities delivered the body, after popular and legal pressure, in the last few hours after it was announced that the delivery of the body was delayed. The campaign called for Palestinians to participate in Faqih’s funeral in his hometown of Dura, which will start with a military march in Hebron at 10 Am.
Protest villages or camps
Video: Activists erect new protest camps in W Bank
JORDAN VALLEY (Press TV) 8 Feb by Nel Burden — Palestinians, international activities and politicians are erecting new protest camps in another area of the West Bank’s Jordan valley after Israeli troops evacuated all residents from the Ein Hejleh protest camp. After the Ein Hejleh encampment was destroyed, protesters immediately began erecting two camps; the first as a decoy for the Israeli army in the village of Jiftlik and the other in a secret location. They explained that the previous evening, over 500 Israeli soldiers stormed the Ein Hejleh village, firing tear gas and stun grenades, causing over 30 injuries including serious fractures. The protesters explained that the brutal force used by the Israeli soldiers only highlighted what the residents of the Jordan Valley face on a daily basis from the Israeli army. Political analyst Khaleel Shaheen explained that the importance of this protest and the message from the camp has reached the international community. The activists stated that they will continue to erect these protest camps to bring international attention to the Israeli land grabs and Tel Aviv’s plan to annex the Jordan Valley as U-S is making efforts to mediate so-called peace talks between Israel and the Palestinian Authority. The activists explained that the Ein Hijleh protest camp was a success in bringing international media attention to the Israeli land grabs in the Jordan Valley and the violent methods which were used by the army in evicting the protesters. Although they have built a new protest camp, they claim this is to divert the attention of the Israeli army while they concentrate on building a larger camp in a secret area in the Jordan Valley.
Video: Nonviolent Palestinian protesters sing as they are forcibly evicted by soldiers from occupied village
Popular Struggle Coordination Committee Press Release 7 Feb — Hundreds of Israeli forces have raided Ein Hijleh village in the Jordan Valley and evicted all its residents violently around 1:30 am and declared the village a closed military zone. And it is estimated that between 200-250 Palestinians were in the village at the time of eviction. 35 Palestinians were injured and taken to Jericho hospital after the eviction. At the time of the raid Israeli forces fired large amounts of sound bombs to scatter the crowd that gather at the center of the village while many women and children were automatically evicted from homes and tents where they were asleep. Israeli forces have attacked the residents of Ein Hijleh by beating them up, kicking them and pushing them to the ground and into the fire. The residents of the village were transferred after the eviction with Israeli occupation military buses while being humiliated and mocked by the soldiers on the bus. The residents of Ein Hijleh where transferred to the entrance of Jericho and were received by Palestinian security forces and taken to the center of Jericho city. Israeli forces also attacked journalists and medical teams in the village at the time of eviction including a cameraman from Palestine TV who was pushed from one of the rooftops to the ground and one of the medics from the medical relief team was hit with a rifle on his chest. [includes list of the injured taken from Jericho hospital]
Israeli media ignores a week of non-violent protests
972mag 7 Feb by Haggai Matar — The Israeli media gave almost no airtime or print space to two non-violent protests this week, in the Jordan Valley and south Tel Aviv’s Levinsky Park. For Haggai Matar, it’s been a heartbreaking sight — So they destroyed Ein Hijleh. This small protest camp in the Jordan Valley, built by hundreds of non-violent Palestinian activists and kept alive for a week of resistance against plans to annex the valley to Israel and deprive a future Palestinian state of its eastern border, was been evicted over night by army and police forces. For Israelis – it won’t be missed. The whole “Salt of the Earth” campaign to protect the valley, with Ein Hijleh at its core, has been widely ignored by Israeli media as is almost always the case with non-violent Palestinian protests (Bab al-Shams was perhaps the one unique exception, shining in its singularity). Aside from the short online newsflash here and there, no serious coverage of the encampment was offered. No television crew was sent to tell its story and no newspaper sent a single reporter to interview activists about their choice of protest method or to write a colorful feature about life in the renewed village. No serious discussion took place — nor will there be in all likelihood — about the speed in which this “illegal” encampment was evicted in comparison to the hardship Palestinians face in trying to get illegal settlements off their lands.
Israeli exporters refunded for customs fees due to boycott
Al-Monitor 6 Feb by Roni Singer — An increase has been recorded in state refunds to Israeli industrialists and farmers suffering financial damage due to the economic boycotts imposed in Europe. The state has been refunding customs fees levied on exporters operating beyond the Green Line by the European Union countries, which refuse to recognize them as part of the State of Israel. According to the data released by the bodies dealing with the issue, the indemnification funds transferred by the state have increased over the last three years, and all in all, state refunds in the amount of some 20 million shekels [roughly $5.5 million] have been transferred each year.
PCHR Weekly Report on Israeli violations [30 Jan – 5 Feb]
IMEMC 7 Feb — The Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR) issued its weekly reports on Israeli violations in the occupied territories for the period between January 30 to February 5, 2014. The PCHR stated that the army carried out more than 72 invasions into Palestinian communities in the occupied West Bank, and kidnapped 58 Palestinians, including three children and one woman … The PCHR stated that eight Palestinians, including three women and two children, were injured in two Israeli Air Strikes targeting Khan Younis, in the southern part of the Gaza Strip. The strikes caused excessive property damage to several homes and structures in the area. The PCHR said a resistance center was bombarded, and partial damages were reported in four homes, a school, and a maintenance workshop, in the first air strike. While a well, a home and five hothouses were destroyed, in addition to partial damage in another home and eleven hothouses, in the second strike. Furthermore, seven Palestinian civilians were shot and wounded after Israeli soldiers, stationed across the border, opened fire at them while working in Palestinian lands close to border areas…. Full report
Group says PA arrested dozens of its members over Abbas criticism
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 9 Feb — A political organization in the West Bank said on Saturday that Palestinian Authority security forces arrested dozens of its members in the West Bank after the group criticized President Mahmoud Abbas. The media office of the pan-Islamist party Hizb al-Tahrir said the PA made the arrests in reaction to an earlier statement that criticized Abbas’ suggestion that NATO troops be deployed at the borders of a future Palestinian state. “The future Palestinian state will be disarmed and without an army and will only have a police force,” the statement said. Hizb al-Tahrir said the PA arrested its members due to the group’s refusal to recognize the legitimacy of the Israeli occupation, their rejection of the “international occupation” that Abbas had suggested, and their desire to create a united, pan-Islamic political entity. The group suggested that a NATO presence in Palestine would create a situation where Palestinians would be sent to secret American prisons instead of Israeli ones … Hizb al-Tahrir is a pan-Islamic political organization which was founded in Jerusalem in 1953 with the goal of uniting all Muslims into a united state with an elected Caliph at its head.
Fatah delegation in Gaza to address internal issues
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 9 Feb — The Fatah delegation in Gaza is looking for ways to develop the faction’s activities in the Strip, a Fatah official said Sunday. Nabil Shaath, who is heading a delegation representing the Fatah Central Committee in Gaza, told Ma’an that the delegation is attempting to make Fatah “capable of saving Gaza and achieving national unity.” The delegation will meet with Gaza Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh and other Hamas leaders at Haniyeh’s house on Sunday, Shaath said. “We will do our best to convince Haniyeh how important it is to achieve reconciliation as soon as possible,” he said. “We are optimistic.” Gaza is in a dire situation, Shaath said.
Fatah, Hamas to hold more unity talks
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 9 Feb — Hamas and Fatah will hold meetings to discuss the implementation of a national reconciliation agreement on Sunday evening and Monday morning, members of both movements told Ma‘an. Fatah official Nabil Shaath and Hamas official Khalil al-Hayya said they considered reconciliation a top priority, and that an earlier meeting between a Fatah delegation and Gaza Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh was a success. “We realize that the road to freedom and independence is still a long one and needs a lot of work, and the first step is Palestinian unity,” Shaath said. “There cannot be a state without Gaza,” he said.
Israel rejects NATO placement in Jordan Valley
IMEMC 9 Feb by Chris Carlson — Israel has rejected a proposal by the Palestinian Authority to place a NATO force in the Jordan Valley — (Al Ray/Press TV) The Washington Post, on Saturday quoted US Secretary of State John Kerry as saying that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu “has made it clear that he doesn’t want NATO” troops in the area as part of a final status agreement between the Palestinian Authority and Israel. Acting Palestinian Authority Chief Mahmoud Abbas has proposed that the NATO force stay in a future Palestinian state to ensure security.
Danish parliament leader to visit Gaza, bypass Israel
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 6 Feb — The speaker for the Danish parliament Mogens Lykketoft is set to visit the West Bank and Gaza next week, Israeli media reported on Thursday. The website for the Israeli channel 10 reported that Lykketoft will not meet any Israeli officials during the visit, which caused outrage in Israel. Israeli Knesset leader, Yuli Edelstein, criticized the Danish official for visiting Gaza and Ramallah and not meeting Israeli officials, Channel 10 reported.
Christian rivals find unity in Nativity church restoration
BETHLEHEM (AFP) 9 Feb — When Pope Francis visits Bethlehem in May he will see scaffolding covering the roof of the Church of the Nativity. It may be an eyesore, but it symbolizes a rare show of unity among rival Christian sects that are working together to restore the ancient basilica. Built in the fourth century by the Roman Emperor Constantine and restored by Justinian after a fire in the sixth century, the shrine over the cave where Jesus is believed to have been born is undergoing a major renovation. The project, which will see the entire church restored, began last September and is expected to cost $20 million. Following a historic agreement between the Palestinian Authority and the three churches that administer the site in an uneasy partnership, repairing the roof was designated as a priority … In June 2012, the UN cultural body UNESCO overrode Israeli and US objections to urgently grant World Heritage status to the Church of the Nativity and its pilgrimage route. Bethlehem lies in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, and recognition of the site was a diplomatic victory for the Western-backed Palestinian Authority, which is playing a leading role in the restoration program.
Give us this day our daily bread, Palestinian-Christian style
Haaretz 8 Feb by Ronit Vered — The breads and pastries at Laila and Ibrahim Shiban ‘s Galilee bakery are made by hand with total devotion — Sisters Jamila and Laila received the century-old stamp for the holy bread, made of beautiful ceramics, from the priest of Kafr Rama. Their grandmother, a legendary baker to whom villagers and other locals would make a pilgrimage so she would bake pitas for them, bequeathed to them the secret to baking the holy bread, and a traditional wood-burning oven built of mud bricks and straw … the blueprint that explains the meaning of the Greek letters and symbols carved into the seal, inscribed by the late priest, has been carefully preserved. The central column represents the son of God, who sacrificed himself for the sake of mankind, and whose flesh (symbolized by bread) is eaten by the faithful at mass each week; the large triangle to the left represents his mother Mary, and the small triangles to his right stand for the nine choirs of angels by the Heavenly Throne.
Analysis / Opinion
Children of the occupation: growing up in Palestine / Harriet Sherwood
The Guardian 7 Feb — Nawal Jabarin wants to be a doctor when she grows up. For now, she lives in a cave with 14 siblings, in constant fear of military raids. We meet the Palestinian children living under Israeli occupation — …Nawal is one of a second generation of Palestinians to be born into occupation. Her birth came 34 years after Israel seized the West Bank, Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem during the six-day war. Military law was imposed on the Palestinian population, and soon afterwards Israel began to build colonies on occupied land under military protection. East Jerusalem was annexed in a move declared illegal under international law. The first generation – Nawal’s parents and their peers – are now approaching middle age, their entire lives dominated by the daily grind and small humiliations of an occupied people. Around four million Palestinians have known nothing but an existence defined by checkpoints, demands for identity papers, night raids, detentions, house demolitions, displacement, verbal abuse, intimidation, physical attacks, imprisonment and violent death. It is a cruel mosaic: countless seemingly unrelated fragments that, when put together, build a picture of power and powerlessness. Yet, after 46 years, it has also become a kind of normality. For the young, the impact of such an environment is often profound. Children are exposed to experiences that shape attitudes for a lifetime and, in some cases, have lasting psychological consequences.
Israel-Palestinian peace requires realism on Jordan Valley / Akiva Eldar
Al-Monitor 5 Feb — Trilateral cooperation projects to save the Dead Sea and the Jordan River must be accompanied by transferring parts of the Jordan Valley to Palestinian sovereignty — The upcoming Israeli-Palestinian agreement outline being prepared by US Secretary of State John Kerry has put the Jordan Valley in the spotlight. That forsaken region, which is part of the Oslo Accord’s Area C, is one of the central diplomatic-security issues to be resolved between the sides. Unfortunately, nature refuses to accommodate the political timetable. The importance of the Jordan River to the three monotheistic religions, to which half of the world’s population adheres, has not prevented the human abuse of the river in the last few decades. The Christian belief that John baptized the first believers in the Jordan River, the Muslim tradition according to which the companions of the Prophet Muhammad were buried there and the Jewish story about the people of Israel who crossed the river on their way to the Land of Canaan — none of these protected the river from drying up. The water sourcing of Syria, Israel and Jordan have reduced the amount of water flowing into the river by 98% compared to the river’s flow in the 1940s. This severe water depletion has caused growing environmental, cultural and economic hardship. Perhaps it is this precise combination that will lead to the salvation of the river. At an emergency conference held in Jordan in November 2013, the heads of churches in the Middle East, of Israel’s rabbinate and of the Muslim Waqf signed an interfaith covenant calling for the river’s rehabilitation.