Land, property, resources theft & destruction / Ethnic cleansing
350 settlement units to be built in occupied Jerusalem
IMEMC 17 Feb by Chris Carlson — Israeli television Channel 7 has announced that the Israeli occupation municipality in Jerusalem approved, on Friday, the construction of 350 housing units in the settlement of Talpiot, East Jerusalem. According to a report by the Palestinian News Network (PNN), the channel added that the District Committee of the Municipality approved the settlement expansion plans to build 8 buildings within the neighborhood, which is part of the Palestinian territories occupied since 1967.
High Court allows settlers to take over 300 dunums in southern Hebron Hills
Haaretz 19 Feb by Amira Hass — The High Court of Justice on Sunday rejected a petition from 2012 against Jewish settlers taking over Palestinian lands close to the settlement of Sussia in the West Banks’s southern Hebron Hills, saying the incursion is not fresh and therefore the Israel Defense Forces and Civil Administration cannot be forced to take administrative measures against the settlers. This decision represents a reversal of the approach of prosecutors and courts in recent years. A court ruling from 2011 established that given that the IDF prevented Palestinians access to their lands for years, Israelis using the lands must prove that they are doing so in good faith and must present deeds proving that the land was legally purchased. Under this decision, Israelis cannot refer to the statute of limitations or that they have worked and maintained the land to avoid being removed. But this time, Justices Miram Naor, Zvi Zylbertal and Uzi Vogelman based their decision on the Civil Administration’s stance, according to which the settlers have controlled the land for more than five years. The petition, filed by attorneys Quamar Mishirqi-Asad and Avital Sharon from Rabbis for Human Rights, related to some 300 dunams (about 75 acres) of land claimed by Hushiye from Yatta family and located between the settlement of Sussia and the unapproved outpost Mitzpeh Yair, where access to pastureland in the area has been prevented.
Israeli forces demolish 5 Bedouin structures [in East] Jerusalem
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 17 Feb — Israeli forces on Monday bulldozed five steel structures belonging to a Palestinian community in the East Jerusalem town of al-Eizariya, locals said. A large group of Israeli forces raided the town after midnight and surrounded steel structures belonging to the Bedouin al-Jahalin community. Israeli soldiers forcibly evicted five families from the structures, leaving 55 people homeless, Sami Abu Ghaliya, a spokesman of the al-Jahalin tribe council, told Ma‘an. The demolitions took place without giving residents time to gather their belongings. The structures housed a greengrocers and a car wash which provided the main source of income for the community.
Israel to build Jewish tourist center on private Palestinian land
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 18 Feb — Wadi Hilweh Information Center said in a statement that the new center would be built east of the Silwan neighborhood and south of the Al-Aqsa mosque, without specifying when, Ma‘an News Agency has reported. The building and the land surrounding it will feature a “museum of Jewish history” and a “Jewish national park”, the statement said. The government-led project is sponsored by the Ir David Foundation, an organization which promotes a Jewish connection to parts of the Silwan neighborhood, including the “City of David” archaeological site. According to the Information Center, the tourist center will be built on 1,200 square meters of Palestinian land in the al-Ain area. Municipality crews have already issued notices to seven families in the al-Ain area, informing them that the project will be implemented on their lands, according to the statement. The families were given 60 days to appeal the decision to Israeli courts. All appeals will need to include various legal documents, such as building permits, according to the statement. Twenty-two houses on five dunams (1.2 acres), holding members of the al-Abbassi, Abu Mayala, Abu Subeih, and Abu Sneineh families, are threatened by the decision …
According to the UN, 33 percent of all Palestinian homes in East Jerusalem lack Israeli-issued building permits, potentially placing at least 93,100 residents at risk of displacement. Figures from Israeli NGO Bimkom show that 95 percent of Palestinian applications for a building permit are rejected.
Israel plans to ‘impose sovereignty’ on Al-Aqsa, isolates Beit Eksa
IMEMC 18 Feb by Chris Carlson — The Palestinian Authority and Hamas issued a warning, on Sunday, of Israeli plans to impose sovereignty on al-Asqa Mosque in Jerusalem. The PNN reports that Palestinian Minister for Religious Affairs, Mahmoud al-Habbash, told the Jerusalem Post that the only sovereignty over the site would be Palestinian. “This is the full right of the Arab, including Muslims and Christians.” He went on to claim that Israel has plans to divide al Asqa Mosque, which he argues are efforts which won’t succeed … The Knesset is set to hold a plenary discussion, on Tuesday, to discuss a proposal by Israeli MK Moshe Feiglin (Likud) to place the “Temple Mount” under Israeli supervision.
In regional news, the PNN reports that Israeli occupation forces set a military checkpoint at the main entrance of Beit Eksa [or Beit Iksa] village, northwest of occupied Jerusalem, preventing the Palestinian residents from entering into the village. A Palestine News Network reporter said that the village has been closed by the Israeli forces for over 10 days, adding that the forces stationed at the checkpoint stop the residents’ vehicles, search them and check the passengers’ IDs.
Israeli Knesset cancels session on Aqsa oversight
NAZARETH, OCCUPIED JERUSALEM (PIC) 18 Feb — Israeli Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein decided to cancel the special session that was scheduled to be held on Tuesday to discuss a proposal by MK Moshe Feiglin to impose Israeli oversight of holy sites in occupied Jerusalem. According to Hebrew media, the decision to cancel the debate was taken over the dissatisfaction of the Jordanian government and international bodies with the move. Moshe Feiglin has proposed a draft law that would impose the occupation sovereignty over al-Aqsa Mosque in order to put an end to what he called “the Muslims’ racism” that prevents Jews from entering al-Aqsa. His proposal means eventually legitimizing the Israeli incursions of al-Aqsa Mosque and other Muslim and Christian sanctities in Jerusalem and Palestine, and dividing the mosque between Muslims and Jews. Meanwhile, Jordan’s official Petra news agency reported that parliamentarians in Amman’s Majlis al-Umma “were angered” by the draft bill, which would end Hashemite guardianship over the site and break the Israeli-Jordanian peace treaty … For its part, Al-Aqsa Foundation for Waqf and Heritage said that talking about the postponement of the Knesset debate on the subject of sovereignty over al-Aqsa Mosque does not end the danger threatening al-Aqsa
link to www.palestine-info.co.uk/En/
Family stops construction of wall near property
IMEMC 17 Feb by Chris Carlson — The Ayyad family, owners of the Cliff Hotel located in Abu Dis to the southeast of Jerusalem, managed on Sunday to stop the construction of a stretch of the segregation wall near the hotel which, if completed, would have rendered that property under Israeli control, according to Wadi Hilweh Information Center. WAFA reports that the center said the Ayyad family had to go to court to stop the construction, after the army placed large cement blocks near the hotel, in order to build the section of wall left unfinished when the family contested the route in court. The family says that Israel wants to build the wall around the hotel to incorporate it into the Jerusalem side and, eventually, take it over for settlement purposes. Several attempts have been made by Israel to take over the hotel, claiming at one point that it was absentee property, as the owners live in the West Bank. The family says the Israeli High Court has not yet ruled on the route and, therefore, the unfinished section cannot be completed before then. The hotel is currently used as a border police base, since being confiscated by Israel over security claims. The family is trying to regain control of the hotel, which suffered extensive damage after it was taken over by the border police. [See here for photos]
Israeli forces prevent Hebron activists from planting trees
IMEMC 15 Feb by Chris Carlson — Israeli forces prevented, Saturday, anti-settlement activists from planting olive saplings in the villages located to the east of Yatta, in the Hebron district, according to a local official. Activists from the Popular Campaign against the Wall and Settlements, as well as the Palestinian Farmers Union, were prevented from planting olive saplings in Sussiya and nearby areas, according to Jihad Nawajeh, head of the Sussiya local council. He told WAFA that, even though the Israeli military has declared the area a close military zone to prevent farmers and land owners from reaching their land, the anti-settlement activists have succeeded in reaching the land, after getting into a fist fight with the settlers, who tried to force them out of the land. Nawajeh said that they would continue to plant olive saplings in lands threatened with confiscation by settlers, who regularly cut trees and steal Palestinian land in order to expand illegal settlements.
‘Extremists’ slash tires of 30 Palestinian cars in Jerusalem
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 19 Feb — Suspected Jewish extremists punctured the tires of 30 Palestinian vehicles and sprayed racist graffiti in East Jerusalem overnight, Israeli media and a police spokesman said. According to the website of the Hebrew newspaper Maariv, the incident occurred in the Sharafat neighborhood near Beit Safafa, and was the second of its kind in Jerusalem in two weeks. The report said the tires were slashed in a “price tag” attack against Palestinians. Additionally, anti-Arab graffiti was found sprayed on nearby walls. “Arabs = thieves,” the graffiti reads. “No coexistence.”
Settler couple suing Bedouin community over fumes from bread oven
Middle East Monitor 18 Feb by Jessica Purkiss — EXCLUSIVE IMAGES — An Israeli settler couple are attempting to sue a Bedouin community over the fumes being emitted from their bread oven. Yaakov and Bareket Goldstein from the illegal Israeli settlement of Carmel claim that the bread oven made from natural materials emits so much smoke that it is damaging the health of their family. They are hoping to receive compensation to the tune of around $28,650 from the impoverished Bedouins on whose land the settlement is built, although the couple claim that the actual damages should be more than double that amount … The bread-oven, which is used to make traditional Bedouin bread, was built 30 years ago, according to Umm el Kheir’s residents. They also say that the wind only blows in the direction of the settlement for one month of the year, casting doubt over the Goldsteins’ claims. The couple, however, claim that the Bedouin community trespassed on state land and built the structure “a number of years ago”. They also claim that the smell and smoke is affecting their daily life. “They treat this like it’s Chernobyl!” said Suleiman’s son. “We didn’t build the bread oven 30 years ago to disturb Yaakov in 2008. I want him to be a nice, quiet neighbour but some of settlers don’t want that. We won’t attack them, we never have, we never will. We are different from them, we are peaceful. But we ask that they don’t bother us. We are tired. We are already refugees from Beer Sheba.” Despite their incredibly close proximity, the Bedouin community of Umm el Kheir has not been hooked up to the electricity grid and water pipes which service settlers like Yaakov and Bareket, and instead live in homes without running water; they pilfer the only mod-con available to them, internet access, from the settlement’s wireless network.
Water torture for the Palestinians
Haaretz 18 Feb by Amira Hass — Water discrimination is another tool being used to wear down the Palestinians socially and politically — Why is the Israeli establishment so bent on denying the existence of water discrimination? Because this time the Israeli establishment cannot wrap it in the usual security excuses it resorts to with other sorts of blatant discrimination. When it comes to the water situation, the Israeli propaganda machine and its helpers, the Zionist lobbies in the Diaspora, are in big trouble. As was clearly shown when the German Martin Schulz had the audacity to inquire in the Knesset – that den of traffickers in the Holocaust – if the rumor he had heard was true [he queried whether Israelis were allotted four times as much water as Palestinians]. The systematic discrimination in water allocations to the Palestinians is no false rumor. Israelis’ water welfare is not dependent upon it, but without it the whole settlement enterprise would be way more expensive, and perhaps even impossible to sustain in its current and planned scope … In the West Bank, tens of thousands of families expend huge amounts of time, money and emotional and physical energy just to take care of basic things like showers, laundry, and washing floors and dishes. When there’s no water in the toilet cistern, even family visits become rare. Families in the Jordan Valley haul drinking water in tanks from long distances, and furtively – lest they be discovered by the Civil Administration – while they live right near the Mekorot Water Company’s pipelines that convey plentiful water to settlement farms growing herbs for export. Gaza, just on the other side of the late Ariel Sharon’s Sycamore Ranch and Kibbutz Be’eri, is dependent upon water purification plants that guzzle electricity – often in short supply; it might as well be India.
An open letter to Naftali Bennett
Haaretz 18 Feb by Nasser Nawajah — …I understood from your response to the speech of European Parliament President Martin Schulz that you find dealing with the issue of water — or, more precisely, the water shortage among the Palestinians living in the West Bank — to be something of a nuisance. You may be surprised to hear that unlike you and most Israelis, water is not something I take for granted. Instead, it is a daily existential struggle. It is no theoretical matter; it is my family’s life. The war of statistics has already begun, but I want to tell you about myself and my village. I live in the village of Susya, which is located between the settlement of Susya and the archaeological site that you have named “the ancient Hebrew city.” That “ancient city” was my home … We live from day to day, never knowing when the next expulsion will come. But even in the midst of this uncertain life, one of the major difficulties we have is the same thing that angered you so much when Mr. Schulz spoke about it: water. For generations, my family and community have lived mainly on the natural water reservoirs on our land. These are wells that my ancestors dug in the hard ground, and on rainy days we collect our year’s supply of water in them. The State of Israel, which has complete control over Area C, treats us differently from our settler neighbors and refuses to connect us to the water infrastructure. We have two options: buying water or pumping it from our wells. Does that sound simple? Access to 70 percent of our water wells is currently blocked. Demolition orders hang over our heads. To reach the wells, we need a special permit from the Israeli army. When we are lucky enough to obtain a permit, we must deal with violent attacks by settlers, who keep us from the water by force. Dozens of attacks have taught us to be careful. My children know not to go near the area by themselves lest the settlers come. When the army arrives, it disperses us and the settlers, and sometimes arrests a few of us, but in any case we cannot draw water that day. The water pipe that belongs to the settlement of Susya passes through our private land, beneath our homes, but we have no access to the water.
Restrictions on movement
Abdel Karim — the boy from Gaza who never smiles
[with excellent 5-minute VIDEO] Channel 4 News (U.K.) 18 Feb by Jonathan Miller — Three-year-old Abdel Karim suffered a relapse after treatment of his brain tumour was delayed by Israeli authorities, who suspect his Gaza family of involvement in clashes with Israeli forces — I saw three-and-a-half year-old Abdel Karim al-Dalo, in his grey flannel hoodie, before I knew who he was. He was wandering, alone, down a long white hospital corridor, clutching a half-nibbled felafel with both hands. As I walked past, I gave him a big smile. But I did not get one back. This is very unusual in Gaza, where children are always excited to see a new face. Instead, Abdel Karim stopped and just stood there, staring up at me, with deep, dark, doleful eyes. It was the saddest little face in Palestine. A long wound, stretched from the top of his forehead to the crown of his head, blue stitches tied off in a knot at the top. Abdel Karim’s skull had been cleft open – and very recently. “It’s a brain tumour,” said Dr Mohammed Abu Shaban, director of paediatric oncology, when I enquired about the little boy I’d seen in the corridor. “He had surgery one month ago. It was his third operation. He suffered a relapse because of a delay in his treatment. This is a very serious case.” And what, I asked, was the cause of this delay, if the case was so urgent? Abdel Karim’s mother, Ghada, was, it turned out, refused permission to accompany her son to a hospital in Jerusalem. They’d had to re-apply for his grandmother to travel instead. It had been a lengthy process. “During the delay, Abdel Karim’s condition deteriorated,” his father, Arafat, told me. “Instead of the transfer process taking 20 days it took nearly two months.” The boy’s father sighs, as the child sits quietly on his knee. His mother, sitting beside them, stares at the floor.. Arafat al-Dalo is not permitted to enter Israel because he had once been shot in the leg by an Israeli high-velocity bullet. Arafat, who is a tailor by trade, insisted categorically that he was not a militant. He had got caught up in a shooting incident at a border crossing, he said. Ghada thinks she was refused because one of her brothers had been shot dead in a clash with Israeli forces. This made him a ‘shahid’, a ‘martyr’ in Palestine; in Israel, it made Ghada a suspect. “There is no humanity at all in the way the Israelis deal with us,” said Dr Abu Shaban. “It is dehumanising. Now,” he says, “Abdel Karim needs radiotherapy, but we do not have the facilities in Gaza.” He signed a referral form, recommending the boy’s urgent transfer to Israel, again.Gaza does not have radiotherapy facilities because Israel prohibits the import of radioactive materials into the Gaza Strip. Israel’s control of the borders also means restrictions on other cancer medication, including chemotherapy drugs…
Violence / Raids / Clashes / Illegal arrests
Two wounded detainees, attacked and beaten by soldiers
IMEMC 18 Feb by Saed Bannoura — Hanan Khatib, one of the lawyers of the Palestinian Ministry of Detainees, visited two wounded Palestinian political prisoners held by Israel who testified to her how the soldiers assaulted them after arresting them. Khatib met detainees Murad Abu Hamdiyya, 30 years of age, and Odai Abdul-Raouf Seif, 23, currently receiving treatment at the Ramla Israeli Hospital. Abu Hamdiyya told Khatib … “On January 21, 2014, soldiers surrounded my home, and invaded it; without a warning they started firing, they shot me in my left leg, and I fell to the ground”, he said. “I lay still, but the soldiers dragged me… I was bleeding, and they then released their dogs on me, the dogs bit me in the thigh…” The soldiers also attacked Abu Hamdiyya, and started beating him all over his body, causing various cuts and bruises. They then placed him in their jeep; a soldier sat on his wounded leg, while another soldier took pictures. Abu Hamdiyya was then moved to a hospital where he underwent surgery which required installment of a rod…
The second wounded detainee, Saif, said that on February 7th, as he was heading back home from work, he was then attacked by a group of settlers near the central West Bank city of Ramallah. The settlers beat him, kicked and punched him in various parts of his body; he suffered a dislocated shoulder and was bleeding from his head, as well as other parts of his body. “Israel soldiers arrived at the scene, and took me away from the settlers”, he said. “But, then, the soldiers started beating me and took me to their base.” Saif was moved to the Ramla Hospital, and is currently receiving treatment; he still suffered with intense pain in his chest, shoulder and head.
Photojournalist assaulted near Israeli settlement
IMEMC 17 Feb by Chris Carlson — Israeli occupation forces assaulted, on Saturday evening, photojournalist Yousef Shakarneh from Nahalin village, west of Bethlehem, who worked as a freelance photojournalist with a number of local and international news agencies. Parents of the photojournalist Shakarneh told the PNN that their son was assaulted and severly beaten while shooting a report about the suffering of the Palestinian workers who work inside the Green Line, in an area located near the Beitar Illit settlement. They added that they had received the news of their son from one of the workers, who saw Yousef lying on the ground at an Israeli checkpoint near the settlement, after occupation troops assaulted him. The father of the journalist said that the worker approached his son and asked him about what happened to him, adding that the worker took Yousef’s mobile and called his family and, then, that he worked on transferring the wounded photojournalist to one of the hospitals in Bethlehem. He added that his son Yousef told him that four soldiers stopped him from shooting the report and detained him for several hours. They assaulted him and threw him near one of the checkpoints, where he was found by the worker. Yousef suffered severe bruises and fractures all over his body.
Israeli forces detain 9 Palestinians in overnight raids
HEBRON (Ma‘an) 18 Feb — Israeli forces detained nine Palestinians in overnight arrest raids across the West Bank, locals and Israel’s army said Tuesday. A spokesman for Beit Ummar‘s local committee told Ma‘an that Israeli soldiers raided the Hebron town and assaulted three teenagers before taking them to a detention center in the Gush Etzion settlement bloc. They were identified as Nasim Taha Muhammad Abu Mariya, 16, Muhammad Yosuif Khdeir Awad, 17, and Muhannad Zuheir Mahmoud al-Alami, 16. The teenagers were on land owned by their families at the time of the incident.
In Jerusalem, Israeli police detained four young Palestinians as they were leaving the Old City via the Lions’ Gate. Witnesses identified two of the men as Ziad Abu Hadwan and Muhammad Duibis. Two minors in the group were not identified.
An Israeli army spokeswoman said nine Palestinians were detained overnight, five in Ramallah, three in Hebron and one in Nablus.
Army invades Ya‘bad, several Palestinians injured
IMEMC Tuesday at dawn, 17 Feb by Saed Bannoura — Dozens of Israeli soldiers invaded Ya‘bad town, west of the northern West Bank city of Jenin, clashing with local youth causing various injuries. Local sources said that the soldiers invaded the village, fired concussion grenades, and gas bombs, causing several residents to suffer the effects of tear gas inhalation. The soldiers drove around the town, harassing several residents, according to eyewitnesses. Furthermore, soldiers based at a military roadblock, near the village, detained resident Ibrahim Zeid and his children for several hours. In related news, soldiers invaded Hebron city, in the southern part of the West bank, broke into and violently searched several homes, and kidnapped Ahmad Tareq ar-Rajaby, 17, and Mahmoud Ali Abu Sneina, 15, from the Old City. Soldiers also kidnapped resident Odai Abdul-Aziz al-Khdour, 22, from Bani Ne‘im nearby town, as he was near the Ibrahimi Mosque in Hebron. Media sources in Hebron said that soldiers also invaded the towns of Doura and ath-Thaheriyya, south of Hebron, and various neighborhoods in the city. The army also kidnapped Saif Ahmad Taha, 22, after invading Wad al-Harya, in Hebron, taking him to an unknown destination.
Seven Palestinians kidnapped in Jerusalem
IMEMC/Agencies — On Tuesday evening 18 Feb Israeli soldiers invaded the yards of the al-Aqsa Mosque, in occupied East Jerusalem, and neighborhoods in the city, and kidnapped seven young Palestinian men. Nasser Qous, head of the Jerusalem branch of the Palestinian Prisoners Society (PPS), said that dozens of soldiers stormed the yards of the mosque, and various neighborhoods in the Old City, assaulted the Palestinians, and kidnapped seven … Qous said that five of the kidnapped Palestinians were taken prisoner from the yards of the Mosque, and that the army claimed they “were using fireworks”. All of the kidnapped Palestinians were taken to the al-Qashla police station, near the Hebron Gate of the occupied Old City.
Soldiers kidnap three Palestinians in Bethlehem, Nablus
IMEMC Tues 17 Feb — Local sources in Bethlehem said that dozens of soldiers invaded the Wad Ma’ali area, in Bethlehem, kidnapping Ahmad Khader Salahaat, 20, after breaking into his home and violently searching it. Soldiers also invaded the Saff street area in Bethlehem, broke into a home and kidnapped resident Mohammad Khader Abu ‘Ahour, 20 years of age. Eyewitnesses said that Israeli military vehicles drove around in various neighborhoods in the city, and interrogated several residents. In addition, soldiers invaded the northern West Bank city of Nablus, and kidnapped a Palestinian activist in Ras al-Ein neighborhood. Local sources said the soldiers kidnapped Ramzi Abu Sa‘ada after breaking into his house and ransacking its furniture and belongings.
Five Palestinians kidnapped in Nabi Saleh
IMEMC 18 Feb by Saed Bannoura — Israeli soldiers invaded, on Tuesday at around 2 am, the village of Nabi Saleh, near the central West Bank city of Ramallah, violently searching homes and kidnapping five young Palestinian men. The Tamimi Press, in the village, quoted the soldiers claiming they are searching for what they called “wanted Palestinians”. It added that the soldiers carried photos of several Palestinians from the village. Soldiers then kidnapped Mohammad Atallah Tamimi, 25, Rami Hussein Tamimi, 36, Jihad Mohammad Tamimi, 23, Mahmoud Mohammad Tamimi, 19, and Basil Abdullah Tamimi, 16. Tamimi Press has reported that the soldiers broke into its office and confiscated photos from its wall which documented the ongoing Israeli military violations against Palestinians, their lands and orchards. The soldiers also took pictures of several homes before breaking into them and ransacking their furniture and belongings.
Israeli forces detain former Palestinian prisoner, wife
JENIN (Ma‘an) 17 Feb — Israeli forces detained a former Palestinian prisoner and his wife late Sunday, a Palestinian activist said. Ahmad al-Bitawi, an employee for the Solidarity Foundation for Human Rights, told Ma‘an that Israeli forces detained a Palestinian woman from the Jenin-area village of Ya‘bad at the Allenby Bridge crossing as she was returning from Jordan. When her husband, former prisoner Adnan Hamarsha, was on his way to the bridge to check on his wife, he was stopped at an Israeli checkpoint and taken into custody, al-Bitawi said.
Jerusalem police interrogate Palestinian journalist over Facebook post
IMEMC [Tuesday evening 18 Feb by Saed Bannoura — The Israeli Police in occupied Jerusalem kidnapped a Palestinian photojournalist, identified as Mohammad Abed-Rabbo, over a Facebook post and picture he shared. Abed Rabbo was moved to the al-Maskobiyya interrogation facility, west of Jerusalem, and was interrogated for more than one hour. The interrogators told him he was under interrogation for publishing a picture of Jerusalem City Council Head, Nir Barkat, describing him as the “mayor of occupied Jerusalem”. Abed-Rabbo told the Panet Agency that the interrogators described what he wrote as “incitement”. His Facebook post came when he was commenting on a visit by Barkat to Sur Baher Palestinian town, in occupied Jerusalem, during the opening ceremony of a public center.
Detainees / Repatriation of remains
Prisoner officials accuse Israel of ‘medical crimes’
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 18 Feb — Minister of prisoner affairs Issa Qaraqe‘ said on Monday that the treatment of Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails amounted to “intentional medical crimes.” Qaraqe‘ said in a news conference at the Ministry of Information in Ramallah that sick prisoners were being targeted through medical negligence, until they become irrevocably sick. Qaraqe‘ added that a list of 80 people with serious medical conditions that cannot be kept in prison was given to President Mahmoud Abbas to include in negotiations. Qaraqe‘ called on the Arab League to request a special UN session to discuss medical negligence of Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails. Qaraqe‘ declared April 2 as a national day for the support of sick prisoners. It coincides with the anniversary of the death of Maysar Abu Hamdia, who succumbed to cancer in Israeli prison last year. Prisoners society director Qaddura Faris expressed concern for “murders” of sick prisoners. “These murders of prisoners are done publicly and with the cover of the Israeli government,” Faris said. Qaddura warned Israel against continuing this policy, and he called on President Abbas to stop negotiations with Israel if the issue of sick prisoners was not made a priority.
Ailing disabled detainee placed in solitary confinement
Tues 18 Feb by Saed Bannoura — The Palestinian Prisoners Society (PPS) has reported that a disabled Palestinian detainee, held by Israel and facing several health complications, was moved into solitary confinement last week for demanding to be hospitalized. Yousef Nawaj‘a, 48 years of age, went on hunger strike for five days, last month, demanding to receive urgently needed medical attention, especially after facing various health complications since he was taken prisoner over a year ago. Besides his physical disability, Nawaj‘a suffers several chronic conditions and often loses consciousness … In related news, detainee Issa Jibrin, held at the Asqalan Prison, has kidney infections, starting after his arrest twelve years ago, in addition to an infection in his intestines that started nearly 18 months ago. He has lost more than 18 kilograms, repeatedly faints and feels dizzy, and is only receiving painkillers … Another detainee, identified as Mohammad Freihat, 34, has a broken leg that fractured a month ago, but the prison administration did not provide him with any medical attention.
Poor hygiene, overcrowding in Israeli prison
IMEMC 16 Feb by Chris Carlson — 80 Palestinian prisoners held in Nafha prison have complained about the ill-conditioned ward No. 3, which houses bugs and mice. A lawyer for Prisoners’ Club society, recently delegated to the check on the prisoners, said in a statement, “Nafha prison Ward No. 3 has a poor hygiene, with insects and mice spreading out”, according to Al Ray. He explained that being close to a police canine facility has got the section inviting insects, adding that a prisoner’s ear has been lately bitten by rats. Ward 3 is overcrowded, with ten prisoners currently being held in each single room; floors are damaged and wastewater floods into the rooms; beds are rife with moths as a result of the high humidity, according to the statement. 5,200 Palestinians are held in Israeli jails, according to the Palestinian Authority’s Ministry of Prisoners’ Affairs.
Eight detainees holding hunger strike in Israeli prisons
IMEMC/Agencies 18 Feb — The Palestinian Prisoners Society (PPS) has reported that eight Palestinian detainees held by Israel have been holding hunger strikes demanding to be released, as they are held without charges or trial under arbitrary Administrative Detention. The PPS said that detainees Moammar Banat, Akram al-Qaisy and Wahid Abu Maria started their open-ended hunger strike on January 9. It added that detainee Amir Shammas started his strike on January 11, while detainee Abdul-Majid Khdeirat started his strike on January 15, after the army rearrested him. He was initially released under the Shalit prisoner swap deal in 2011, and his previous sentence was reinstated. Furthermore, detainees Husam Amr and Mousa Sufan started their hunger strike on January 25, protesting their solitary confinement that started five months ago at the Majeddo Israeli prison. Sufan also needs medical attention, but is denied this right. Also, detainee Eyad Esteity, held at the Asqalan Prison, started his strike on February 1st, after Israel refused to move him to a prison close to his family so that they can visit him.
Thousands lay Hebron man to rest
[with photos] HEBRON (Ma‘an) 17 Feb– Thousands of mourners participated in the funeral procession of Mohammad Mustafa Hasan Shahin al-Darabee who was delivered Sunday to his family by Israel at Tarqumia checkpoint 12 years after his death. Monday’s procession began with a military march from al-Ahli hospital to his family home, then to Dura educational center before ending in Abu al-Ashoosh cemetery where he was laid to rest. His father, Mustafa, said that “This day is considered a happy one, and a victory to all Palestinians.” He added that Israelis stepped on Mustafa’s coffin during the delivery, pointing to footprints. His mother, Halima, said that feeling of joy overcomes all her grief after waiting for the moment to bury her son for 12 years.
Gaza under blockade
Gaza energy authority sounds alarm
World Bulletin 17 Feb — The Gaza Strip’s energy authority on Monday warned of the possible suspension of the strip’s only functioning power plant as Qatar’s fuel-tax payment scheme with the West Bank-based Palestinian Authority (PA) nears expiry. In a statement, the PA said that the power plant continued to function with the help of Qatar’s fuel-tax payment scheme, but that the arrangement was about to come to an end. The Gaza energy authority has called on the PA to cancel the taxes it imposed on Gaza’s fuel imports so that the Gaza government might be able to buy fuel for the power plant. Cut off from the rest of the world by a years-long Israeli embargo, Gaza is forced to purchase fuel for its power plant from Israel through the PA. The West Bank government, however, demands that Hamas – which since 2007 has governed the coastal territory – pay taxes of up to 40 percent of the price of the fuel, further eroding Gaza’s dwindling coffers. Gaza’s power plant stopped working for a 50-day stretch late last year due to a tax dispute with the PA, throwing the strip’s almost two million residents into darkness. To resolve the dispute, Qatar paid the PA some $10 million in taxes on the fuel needed to run the plant, which resumed operations in mid-December. Qatar’s $10 million payment, however, is about to run out, prompting fears among energy authority officials – and the wider Gaza population – of another sustained blackout. Gaza’s power plant needs around 750,000 liters of diesel fuel every day to work at full capacity. The strip receives 120 megawatts of electricity from Israel daily, purchasing a further 28 megawatts each day from Egypt.
Witnesses: Israeli forces open fire at farmers in southern Gaza
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 17 Feb — Israeli forces on Monday opened fire at farmers in an agricultural area in southern Gaza, locals said. Witnesses said gunfire came from Israeli military watchtowers north of Khan Younis, causing farmers to flee the area.
Israeli tanks, bulldozers cross Gaza border
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 18 Feb — Israeli military vehicles and bulldozers entered a border area in the southern Gaza Strip on Tuesday, witnesses said. Locals told Ma‘an that four bulldozers escorted by military tanks entered an area east of the village of Khuza‘a in Khan Younis district for 100 meters and leveled private Palestinian land. Israeli forces fired smoke bombs in the area forcing local farmers to leave their fields.
Israel airstrikes cause problems for Gaza farmers
Press TV (Iran) 19 Feb — The Israeli regime’s airstrikes have caused countless problems for Palestinian farmers in the besieged Gaza Strip, Press TV reports — The attacks have resulted in polluted farmland, creating different health risks for the farmers and their families. Nizar al-Wahidi, an official with the Palestinian Agriculture Ministry, told Press TV on Monday that the Israelis targeted the farmland in the area in the past days. He said the Tel Aviv regime claims that the land is empty, but it is not. Wahidi said that “The rockets contain poisonous chemicals like uranium which causes a number of health issues to Gaza citizens.” Officials at Gaza’s Shifa hospital have also warned about the increase of cancer patients in Gaza due to Israeli attacks. “We have noticed an increase of cancer patients in Gaza in the past three years. International reports have proven that there is huge amount of uranium in the area as a result of the Israeli aggressions and attacks,” said Khalid Thabet, head of the Oncology Department at Gaza’s Shifa hospital. Gaza’s Health Ministry said earlier in February that the Israeli regime’s use of internationally-banned weapons has sharply increased the number of cancer cases. “Thousands of tons of unconventional weapons containing carcinogenic agents were fired on Gaza in the last 14 years. Many of the weapons used by the Israeli forces are internationally banned and contain illegal substances that not only affect people but they also have long-term effects on the environment,” said Health Ministry Spokesman Ashraf al-Qudra.”
Gaza wedding singer unable to join Lebanon singing competition
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 17 Feb — A Palestinian wedding singer from the Gaza Strip is worried he will not be able to perform in the second stage of the singing competition X Factor Arabia scheduled to take place in Egypt in mid-March. “My only wish is to be able to travel and perform during stage two of X Factor,” Mahmoud Abu Dawood told Ma‘an on Monday. He explained that he has been trying to travel via Rafah crossing but it isn’t easy to travel because the terminal is closed most of the time and priority is given to other cases … the finals will be held in Lebanon and broadcasted live on MTV in April. Abu Dawood says he hopes President Mahmoud Abbas could intervene and help him travel to Egypt via the Rafah crossing so he can “realize his dream.”
Giving Israel its due — there are patients who are allowed into Israel, if they meet the stringent ‘security’ requirements. Frequently they have to come without a spouse or parent.
Israeli hospital saves lives of two pregnant women from Gaza
Arutz Sheva 18 Feb — Israel accepts medical patients from Gaza for treatment on a regular basis, often as many as 70 patients per day. [or between 40-70, acc. to a previous article from this same settler news source] But even the most seasoned Israeli doctors were surprised earlier this month when two separate, rare high-risk pregnancy cases were admitted to the same hospital, just days apart. H., 35, was the first to arrive. The Gaza native was nine months pregnant and suffering from a rare blood clotting disorder which could endanger her life if she gave birth to her twins naturally. Within a short time of her admission to Rambam Medical Center in Haifa, a medical team managed to deliver her healthy son and daughter – weighing 2.3 kilograms (5 lbs) each – by caesarean section. H. remained in intensive care for six days, but her situation could have been fatal … While the transfer of pregnant mothers from Gaza into Israel is already rare, within a week Rambam saw yet another case: another Gaza native – A., 29 – was admitted just days after H., barely 8 months pregnant and with a rare medical condition: Rh disease … A. gave birth to her infant son, premature at 33 weeks, only two days after arriving at Rambam. The infant suffers from a congenital heart problem and needed to be kept there for treatment. In the meantime, A. made the difficult decision to return to Gaza for ten days, so she could care for her other two young children. A. receives an update on her son by telephone daily.
Humanity behind walls: Visiting prisoners in Gaza
British Red Cross 17 Feb by Matilda Cooper — Matilda Cooper is a detention delegate in Gaza, where she visits prisoners to monitor their physical and emotional wellbeing. She describes her work in places of detention, and the lessons it has taught her, in a guest blog. I work in Gaza as a full-time detention delegate for the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), seconded from the British Red Cross. I speak Arabic, which I learnt during four years in Syria, and this is what enables me to communicate in my work. The ICRC doesn’t allow our colleagues from national Red Cross societies to be detention delegates in their own country because of the strict need for neutrality, and also to shield them from the risks of dealing with sensitive information linked to conflicts. In Gaza, me and my two detention delegate colleagues regularly visit prisons, police stations, and interrogation centres.
Gaza medics get official Liverpool welcome
ITV (U.K.) 17 Feb — Liverpool’s Lord Mayor, Councillor Gary Millar will welcome a group of medics from Gaza to the Town Hall on Monday. The medics [from Shifa Hospital], who are currently training at the Royal Liverpool Hospital, will have afternoon tea with the Lord Mayor. The group are being taught life changing skills to take back to Gaza so that they can perform kidney transplants for young and old who currently have to live on dialysis. [In February 2013 a volunteer medical team from the Royal Liverpool Hospital carried out Gaza’s first organ transplants]
Report: Haniyeh sent message to Netanyahu
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 18 Feb — The prime minister of the Hamas-run government in Gaza sent a secret message to his Israeli counterpart asking to avoid military action in response to rocket fire, Israeli media reported Tuesday. Ismail Haniyeh’s office denied the report by the Hebrew-language news site Walla. According to Walla, Haniyeh sent his message to Netanyahu two weeks ago via Israeli mediator Gershon Baskin who had previously organized a secret back channel between Israel and Hamas that resulted in a prisoner exchange for a captured soldier. The message, according to Walla, read that Hamas was not seeking confrontation with Israel.
Uncertain future for Gaza’s children – photo gallery
Channel 4 News (U.K.) 18 February — Foreign Correspondent Jonathan Miller and producer Thom Walker spent a week in Gaza earlier this month. Thom’s photographs tell the stories of some of the children they met.
PHOTOS: Palestinian girls learn karate in Gaza
Demotix 17 Feb by Hosam Salem — Palestinian girls enrolled in a sports club train in the martial art karate in Gaza.
Palestinian refugees in Syria
Palestinian refugee dies of torture in Syria camp
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 18 Feb – A Palestinian refugee has been tortured to death by the Syrian regime’s intelligence and three others died of malnutrition and lack of healthcare in the blockaded Yarmouk refugee camp in the outskirts of the Syrian capital Damascus, a monitoring group says. The Workforce for Palestinians in Syria said in a statement Tuesday that Mahmoud Muhammad Mawid had been detained five months ago in al-Mazza neighborhood of Damascus. He was reported dead on Monday.
The group added that 5-year-old Raghad Muhammad al-Masri, 85-year-old Hamid Salih and Muhammad Hussein Kayid Zaghmout died on Monday of hunger and lack of healthcare. The statement quoted a spokesman of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command Anwar Raja as saying that the withdrawal of Palestinian gunmen from the Yarmouk camp will start soon.
In photos: Assaf performs in Bethlehem for Yarmouk benefit
Ma‘an 18 Feb — Arab Idol winner Mohammad Assaf performed in Bethlehem on Monday, drawing a crowd of hundreds to a conference hall near Dheisheh refugee camp. The concert was held as a benefit for Yarmouk refugee camp in Syria, and a portion of ticket sales were set aside for humanitarian aid to the camp. When he performed his signature Palestinian anthem Ali al-Kuffiyeh, members of the crowd danced and clapped, swinging checkered kuffiyehs in the air above their heads. Assaf himself donned a kuffiyeh during his 20-minute rendition of the song. Abdullah al-Zaghari, the coordinator of the fundraising campaign that organized the concert, said that the event raised 60,000 shekels ($17,000) for Yarmouk camp. The money will be delivered to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, who will see the funds distributed in aid to the besieged Damascus camp, al-Zaghari said.
Remi Kanazi – This divestment bill hurts my feelings…
Demolishing the arguments against BDS – Palestinian poet on the campus struggle
Israel is losing the fight against BDS
Electronic Intifada 18 Feb by Ali Abunimah — From 24 February this year, through the month of March, campuses and organizations all over the world, including in Brazil, Europe and across North America will be marking the tenth annual Israeli Apartheid Week (IAW). IAW, an international series of events, has become a major focal point to rally support and build up organizing for boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) on Israel. The tenth IAW comes at a time when the BDS movement has seen unprecedented growth and attention from world media as well as from Israel and the governments and institutions complicit with its ongoing crimes against Palestinians. Yet Israel is losing its fight against BDS. Israel worried Just yesterday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu once more drew attention to the power of BDS by tweeting an attack on activists and falsely claiming that BDS targets Jews rather than targeting Israel’s abuses against Palestinian rights:
Israel crosses the tipping point, becomes an economic liability
972mag 18 Feb by Ami Kaufman — Over the past three months Israel has seen a surge in European firms adjusting their business ties with the Jewish State. The knee-jerk response of its politicians is telling: the point of no return has been reached — There’s been a lot of talk lately about how the BDS (boycott, divestment and sanctions) movement against Israel is gaining traction. It’s pretty much a fact no one can dispute – those three letters are seen more and more in just about every news item about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. But there has also been some speculation about a certain “tipping point” concerning the campaign, and when exactly it will arrive. That point has been reached over the past three months, based not only the number and weight of businesses imposing various sanctions, but also on Israeli reactions to them. This Economist piece from February 8th has an excellent summary of some of the latest developments … However, Since the Economist piece was published, there have been some more developments – and more importantly, Israeli reaction showing real nervousness. Just this morning, Haaretz reported that boycott pressure has caused two foreign bidders to drop out of a tender to build facilities in the ports of Haifa and Ashdod: … But what has seemed to really agitate Israeli politicians was the decision by Germany’s Deutsche Bank to “flag” Bank Hapoalim as a “morally questionable investment” on Monday. Deutsche decided to include Hapoalim on a list of companies whose conduct is ethically questionable, possibly due to its activity in the settlements.
International companies drop out of Israeli ports tender
IMEMC 18 Feb by Chris Carlson — Three leading international companies have decided to drop out of an Israeli bidding to build private seaports, due to concerns over political repercussions, and as a result of the increased boycott pressure on Israel, Haaretz has reported. The Israeli government published, last week, an international bid to build new seaports in Haifa and Ashdod. According to Haaretz, several companies submitted a proposal for the bid, but dropped out shortly thereafter. The newspaper said that the Royal Boskalis Westminster, a Dutch operator of ports has first dropped out from the bidding and was, then, followed by Italy’s Condote de Agua and Jan De Nul from Belgium.
Refrain [from] playing Israel
18 Feb — Titi Robin of France Honors Call for Cultural Boycott of Israel — Titi Robin, celebrated oud, guitar and buzuq artist wrote on his facebook page today, enthusiastically supporting the call for a cultural boycott of Israel. He has cancelled his planned concert scheduled for this September 6 and 7 at the Jerusalem Sacred Music Festival, a Zionist program seeking to normalize the occupation of Jerusalem. His act of solidarity with the Palestinian people is significant, as he has performed in the past in Israel and Palestine and was even featured, in 2005, by the Jerusalem Post in an attempt to use his music to normalize Israel. But he states “these journeys finally made me take this decision, which appears to me, after a long term reflection, the most honest one regarding the evolution of the situation.”
Hamdallah: PA to discuss new laws to encourage foreign investment
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 18 Feb — PA Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah said Tuesday that the Palestinian Authority would soon implement projects and impose laws to encourage investment in order to improve the Palestinian economy. After meeting with a group of businessmen in Jericho’s chamber of commerce, Hamdallah said at a news conference that the cabinet would discuss new laws and reconsider the taxation system in order to encourage foreign investment in the West Bank.
Hamdallah: Kerry economic plan to create more jobs
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 18 Feb — Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah said on Monday that US Secretary of State John Kerry’s economic initiative coupled with political progress will decrease the unemployment rate. Hamdallah’s comments came after a meeting with US senators Tim Kaine and Angus King, and he briefed them on developments in the peace talks. During the meeting Hamdallah discussed the importance of investing in Area C, supporting tourism, creating employment oppurtonities for recent graduates, and lifting the Israeli siege on Gaza. Kerry announced an initiative to allocate $4 billion to revive the Palestinian economy last year. Last summer, Kerry said business experts had been working to make the project “real, tangible and shovel-ready,” adding an initial analysis had predicted “stunning” results … But similarly ambitious US-led plans by past administrations have faltered, and a blanket of secrecy has been thrown up as Quartet special envoy Tony Blair and his team hammer out the details with the aid of international experts.
Fatah official: Unity talks stalled until Hamas agrees to elections
NABLUS (Ma‘an) 18 Feb — The head of Fatah’s reconciliation delegation will not travel to Gaza to discuss unity talks until Hamas agrees to hold elections, a Fatah official said Tuesday. Amin Maqboul, the secretary-general of Fatah’s revolutionary council, told Ma‘an that Azzam al-Ahmad “would not travel to the Gaza Strip before we receive official notification confirming that Hamas has agreed to general elections and a national consensus government.” Once official confirmation is received al-Ahmad will go to Gaza to reach an agreement on practical steps for implementation.
Israeli legislator trying to enlist pope to keep Christians out of army
Haaretz 19 Feb by Jack Khoury — MK Basel Ghattas (Balad) has asked Pope Francis to intervene with the Israeli government on the issue of recruiting Arab Christians into the Israel Defense Forces. Ghattas made his request in a letter to the Vatican’s envoy to Israel, Archbishop Giuseppe Lazzarotto. Ghattas said the timing of his request was linked to the pope’s two-day visit to Israel scheduled to begin on May 24. In his letter, Ghattas criticized efforts to increase the number of Christians in the IDF while Muslim Arabs are exempted. He called this “part of a divide-and-conquer policy” and a plank in the “Israelization of the Arab minority” that will erode Christians’ identity in the country. He asked the pope to intervene “to end the divide-and-conquer policy applied by Israel to harm the Palestinian minority inside Israel.” Ghattas also raised the issue of two Christian villages, Ikrit and Biram, whose residents were evacuated during the 1947-49 War of Independence. The residents were promised they could return when the security situation improved, but they have still not been allowed back in.
Assaf invited to sing at FIFA Congress ahead of World Cup
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 18 Feb — Arab Idol winner Mohammad Assaf has been invited to sing at the opening ceremony of the 64th FIFA Congress in Brazil, scheduled for two days before the start of the World Cup. FIFA president Sepp Blatter wrote in a letter to the Palestinian Football Association that Assaf had been invited to perform, days after the singer announced that he had been “banned” from singing at the World Cup’s opening ceremony. Assaf “is invited to perform at the official opening ceremony of the FIFA Congress in Sao Paulo next June,” Blatter said in the letter. “I apologize for any misunderstanding but we ensure our commitment to Assaf’s invitation to perform in Brazil,” he added. The opening ceremony the FIFA congress will be held on June 10, while the World Cup’s opening ceremony is scheduled for June 12.
Israeli drone mysteriously crashes near Lebanon
SIDON, Lebanon (Daily Star) 18 Feb by Mohammed Zaatari — More than 10 Israeli soldiers fired warning shots into the air close to Lebanese Army troops Tuesday as they recovered parts of an Israeli drone that crashed in mysterious circumstances, security sources said. Eleven Israeli soldiers crossed the barbed wire technical fence at Kroum al-Shiraki but did not trespass the Blue Line, the sources said. The troops surveyed the area for approximately 15 minutes, during which they scanned the area with a detector. The Israeli soldiers found three pieces of an Israeli spy drone that had fallen earlier that day under mysterious circumstances next to Mays al-Jabal, security sources said. As they were recovering the drone’s parts, the Israeli troops shot in the air to discourage Lebanese Army soldiers stationed by the Blue Line from approaching. The Israeli soldiers then withdrew and Lebanese Army and UNIFIL troops mobilized in Mays al-Jabal.
Analysis / Opinion / Arts
Rights of return: Spain, Jews and the Palestinians / Khaled Diab
Haaretz 18 Feb — Spain could have sent a powerful message to the Middle East had it apologized to and embraced both the Muslims and Jews expelled by the Inquisition — Spain has further opened its doors to the descendants of Jews expelled from its land half a millennium ago – though the actual application process remains as mysterious as alchemy. It is welcome that Spain is striving to right a historical wrong. However, what is overlooked in Spain’s public atonement is that it was not only Jews who were expelled during the Reconquista and the subsequent Inquisition, but also an untold number of Muslims. A decade or so after the fall of Granada and the expulsion of the Jews who refused to embrace Christianity, Muslims were given the option either to convert or leave. But even the converts, known as Moriscos, were forced out a century later. This omission has caused some anger among North African Muslims. Jamal Bin Ammar al-Ahmar, an Algerian professor at the Ferhat Abbas University in Sétif, was outraged by “the injustice inflicted on the Muslim population of Andalusia who are still suffering in the diaspora in exile since 1492.” There have actually been some low-level attempts in Spain to address this. For example, in 2006, the Andalusian parliament considered the issue of granting the Moriscos’ descendants Spanish citizenship … all these centuries down the line, there are still pockets that proudly identify as Morisco and trace their families back to Andalusia. For instance, there are even Morisco towns in Tunisia, such as Sidi Bou Said, Testour and Sloughia which maintain their unique Andalusian identity.
Spotlight shines on Palestinian collaborators / Jonathan Cook
Dissident Voice 17 Feb — Fadi al-Qatshan is one of the latest casualties of a war taking place in Gaza’s shadows, as Israel seeks ever more desperate ways to recruit collaborators while Hamas, the Islamic movement ruling Gaza, enforces tough counter-measures. The 26-year-old graduate died in November. He was killed not by a bullet or in a missile strike, but when a simple piece of medical hardware – an implant in his heart – failed. His repeated requests to the Israeli authorities over more than a year to be allowed out of Gaza for medical treatment had gone unheeded. According to his family, Israeli security services knew his life was in danger but denied him a permit to attend a medical appointment at a hospital in East Jerusalem. Gaza’s own hospitals, in crisis after years of Israel’s blockade, warned him they could no longer help. Following a request for a travel permit, his family says al-Qatshan received a call from someone identifying himself as from the Shin Bet, Israel’s intelligence service. Speaking in Arabic, the man said he knew the device in his heart “might explode any minute”. He was urged to “cooperate” in return for a permit. Al-Qatshan was told he could call the mobile phone number on his screen and arrange an appointment at Erez, the Israeli-controlled crossing that is the only way for ordinary Palestinians to exit Gaza. The agent reportedly rang off with the words, “See you in Tel Aviv”, Israel’s large coastal city. Al-Qatshan sealed his fate by deleting the number ‘Terrible choices’ Issam Yunis, director of Al-Mezan human rights organisation in Gaza City, says his group regularly records cases of Palestinians in desperate need of medical treatment being approached to collaborate. “The choice for these patients is really a terrible one. It is to cooperate with Israel or die in Gaza.” Although Israel is suspected of recruiting tens of thousands of Palestinians as collaborators since its creation in 1948, the practice has rarely attracted more than superficial attention. Palestinians are ashamed that cooperation with the Israeli security services is widespread, while Israel is loath to draw attention to the systematic violations of international law at the root of its system of rule in the occupied territories. But the issue of collaboration is finally emerging from the shadows, assisted in recent months by a spate of films addressing the subject. In the running for an Oscar at the Academy Awards ceremony next month is Omar, a Palestinian film that places the awful dilemmas faced by collaborators at the heart of its love story.
‘Price tag’ attacks are terror / Efraim Cohen
Jerusalem Post 17 Feb — As the phenomenon of “price tag” attacks grows in frequency and severity, we have seen a corresponding increase in the discussion of whether such attacks should be considered terrorism. Unfortunately, some people see them only as vandalism perpetrated by hooligans. Defining terrorism is not just a philosophical question. Any fair legal system requires predictability. Clear, understandable definitions show people how to act. Also, everyone deserves to be treated equally under the law. Terror is a tactic, not an ideology. While there is no universally accepted definition of terrorism, the following is a good starting point: “The deliberate threat or use of violence against civilian targets in order to promote/ achieve political ends.” This definition and others that have been used internationally contain common components: 1) They do not require a minimum threshold level of violence; 2) Attacks on property (e.g., cars, houses, crops and places of worship) are included if the purpose of those attacks is to instill fear in a group of people; and 3) The validity of the perpetrators’ political or ideological beliefs is irrelevant. The old saw that “One man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter” is meaningless. Price-tag attacks fit the definition of terror no less than bus bombings. Both are violent acts aimed at civilian targets to further political ends … Why should the act of setting fire to the trees be seen only as vandalism because the offender didn’t set out to kill anyone? Israelis should be concerned about a slippery slope that can lead to disaster. The day is coming when price-tag offenders will kill someone, whether intentionally or by accident. All those who have viewed price-tag attacks with a “boys will be boys” attitude will defend their prior apathy by saying, “Gosh, I didn’t think they’d do that.” The perpetrators will reasonably respond, “You didn’t object very strenuously, so we assumed you didn’t really oppose what we were doing.” At that point it won’t matter what level of punishment we impose on the price-taggers. There will be an innocent victim, and (based on our previous experiences) the likelihood of deadly retaliation. The match will have been struck. Many more innocent Palestinians and Israelis could die.
Watch: Short film reflects on mirror taken from Palestinian village in 1948
Electronic Intifada 18 Feb by Benjamin Doherty — In her short [ten minute] film Mirror Image, Israeli filmmaker Danielle Schwartz and her grandparents “negotiate the words to tell the untold history” of a large mirror in their home but also of the Nakba. Schwartz created the film for the International Film Festival on Nakba and Return organized by Zochrot in November 2013. The film beings with brief shots of a bucolic garden and a tidy home filled with memories and artifact. Aside from the Israeli flag bunting and other details, this home might remind anyone of their own grandparents’ home. Schwartz sits with her grandparents at the kitchen table and begins to read the brief story she has written about the mirror, which is known to have been previously owned by a Palestinian household. When Schwartz describes the Zionist settlement where her grandfather was born in 1931 near “the Palestinian village of Zarnuqa,” her grandmother interrupts, “In those days we wouldn’t say ‘Palestinian,’ we’d say ‘Arab’ village.” Schwartz’s grandmother is more comfortable discussing the past than her husband who displaces his own anxiety on to Schwartz. Often the grandmother’s interventions in the discussion serve to elaborate or explain the unspoken but palpable feelings of her husband Yossi about the past. When they begin to discuss the history of the mirror itself, the conversation becomes tense and her grandfather resists.
Headline of this piece has been updated to remove reference to the 350 settlement units in Talpiot.