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Activists shut down Israeli checkpoint in response to Jenin killings while militants promise ‘painful’ retaliation

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Solidarity Demo with Jenin refugee camp , Damascus Gate , East Jerusalem 22/03/2014 (Photo: Activestills)

Solidarity Demo with Jenin refugee camp , Damascus Gate , East Jerusalem 22/03/2014 (Photo: Activestills)

The story behind the wanted Hamas man in Jenin
Haaretz 23 Mar by Gideon Levy — I first met Hamzi in June 2003 when he was 11 and both his parents were in jail; two weeks ago when I saw him again, he didn’t seem like a wanted fugitive. He was killed in Jenin Saturday — I met with fugitive Hamza “Hamzi” Abu al-Haija around two weeks ago, at his home on the slopes of the Jenin refugee camp (“Twilight Zone,” March 7). Hamzi didn’t act like a wanted man. He was spending the day in his family home, acting normally; he wasn’t armed nor did he betray any signs of the nervousness typical of men on the run that I’ve met over the years. Wearing sweats, he was playing with his little niece and joined the conversation we were having with his mother. He smiled a lot and said he was not afraid …  According to eyewitnesses at the camp, Hamzi was with a few friends in a house at the top of the hill on which the camp is situated. At around 3:00 A.M. soldiers stormed the house while firing at it. Hamzi, who was armed, returned fire, but when his ammunition ran out he came out toward the soldiers, who shot him to death. That was the story going around in the Jenin refugee camp Saturday. But the more serious story going around was about the circumstances under which the other two men with Hamzi were killed: According to these testimonies, they were killed as they were carrying Hamzi’s body to his family home, which is a distance from where the gun battle had occurred. Sharpshooters in the camp killed them, even though they were not armed.

Activists shut Beit El checkpoint in protest against Jenin killings
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 23 Mar — Activists from the peaceful popular resistance movement on Saturday shut down the Beit El checkpoint north of Ramallah in protest against the killing of three Palestinians by Israeli forces in Jenin earlier in the day. Despite the small number of participants, protesters were able to force Israeli forces to shut down the checkpoint, which is commonly known as “DCO.” Protesters carried Palestinian flags and pictures of the three men killed in Jenin refugee camp, and they chanted slogans demanding an end to the Israeli occupation and to its crimes against the Palestinian people.

Militant groups threaten ‘painful’ retaliation for Jenin killings
JENIN (Ma‘an) 22 Mar — Three Palestinian militant groups on Saturday vowed to retaliate against Israel after its army killed three militants in Jenin refugee camp overnight. In a joint statement, Hamas’ military wing al-Qassam Brigades, Fatah’s al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades, and Islamic Jihad’s al-Quds Brigades threatened a “painful” retaliation against Israel. The statement also accused the Palestinian Authority of complicity in the killings.

Israel PM vows no let-up after deadly West Bank raid
JERUSALEM (AFP) 23 Mar — Israeli Prime Benjamin Netanyahu vowed Sunday that the army would use force against anybody plotting attacks against Israel, after troops killed three Palestinians in a West Bank raid. “Over the weekend, our forces struck at a terrorist who had organized attacks on Israelis and was also planning attacks on innocent civilians,” Netanyahu told ministers at the weekly cabinet meeting. “Our policy is to attack those who attack us and who are planning to attack us,” his office quoted him as saying. “Both were applicable in this case.”

Land, property theft & resistance / Ethnic cleansing / Racism

Activists hold global day of action for Palestinian right of return
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 22 Mar — Activists around the world held a day of action entitled “Return Unifies Us” on Saturday in support of the implementation of the right to return of all Palestinian refugees, especially those currently in Syria. “By insistence on the unity and cohesion of our people everywhere, the unity of their struggle, and the oneness of their destiny, the right of return to their homes of origin and other national principles can be achieved,” a call signed by more than one hundred Palestinian popular associations around the world read. Organizers hoped to raise awareness about the plight of the more than seven million Palestinian refugees, who are the descendants of the more than 700,000 Palestinians expelled from their homes by Israeli forces in the 1948 Nakba, or “catastrophe.” Israeli authorities continue to refuse to allow the refugees to return, despite UN resolution 194 mandating they be allowed to do so … Activists organized events in Damascus’ Yarmouk refugee camp, which has been besieged by regime forces since last summer, as well as in refugee camps across Syria and Lebanon. Rallies and marches by scout troops were also held in refugee camps and cities across the West Bank and Gaza, as well as among diaspora Palestinian refugee communities in Chile, Argentina, Cuba, France, the United Kingdom, and Australia.

Britain slams Israeli settlement plan in West Bank
LONDON (Xinhua) 22 Mar — Britain slammed Israel’s recent plan to build more settlement units in the West Bank, the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office has announced. “I condemn the decisions taken by the Israeli authorities to advance a number of settlement plans in the occupied West Bank,” said Hugh Robertson, British Minister of State for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. Since Wednesday, Israel has reportedly approved to build more than 1, 220 new housing units in its settlements in the West Bank, with local media reports saying the total figure could amount to 2,372 units. “The UK’s position on settlements is longstanding: they are illegal under international law, undermine trust and threaten the viability of the two-state solution,” Robertson continued, emphasizing need for “just and lasting” settlement to the conflict. The settlement issue tops the U.S.-brokered talks between Israel and the Palestinians

Tires of 34 cars punctured in East Jerusalem neighborhood
[with photos] Ynet 24 Mar by Noam (Dabul) Dvir — The tires of 34 vehicles in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Beit Hanina were punctured overnight Sunday, and the writing “Goyim in the country = enemies” was sprayed in Hebrew on a bus. Police opened an investigation into the alleged “price tag” incident.  This is not the first time a “price tag” attack strikes the neighborhood. Last month, the tires of 21 vehicles were slashed. Police has yet to apprehend any perpetrators. “We were surprised, this is a quiet area, there are good neighborly relations here,” Hossam, one of the residents in the neighborhood, said Monday morning. “We are turning into a second Abu Ghosh because of our great location that draws in Israelis on Saturdays who visit the restaurants. This is a quiet area and someone is trying to hurt the fabric of life here.”,7340,L-4502577,00.html

Right-wing Israeli flies drone above Al-Aqsa
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 23 Mar — A right-wing Jewish Israeli on Sunday took photos of the Al-Aqsa Mosque using a small drone with cameras that he flew from the cemetery near the Golden Gate. Eyewitnesses told Ma‘an that the man focused the drone’s camera on the Dome of the Rock. They added that they saw the man directing his drone and cameras remotely, from just outside the Old City near the Al-Aqsa compound. After the guards of Al-Aqsa noticed the drone, they called Israeli police who arrived and detained the settler. Director of the Jerusalem office of the Palestinian Authority Ministry of Endowment Sheikh Azzam al-Kahtib called upon Israeli police to immediately investigate the incident as such behavior, he said, poses real threats to the Al-Aqsa Mosque. Some right-wing Jewish groups call for the destruction of the Al-Aqsa mosque and the construction of a Jewish temple there, and recent calls for the extension of Israel sovereignty over the compound — which is maintained by an Islamic trust under Jordanian oversight — have inflamed tensions.

Violence / Attacks / Raids / Clashes / Illegal arrests

Bloodbath in Jenin
Mondoweiss 23 Mar by Annie Robbins — In a pre-dawn raid the morning of March 22 Israel military forces stormed the Jenin refugee camp, assassinating 3 people and wounding at least 14 others. Ma‘an News identified the deceased as Hamza Abu al-Haija, 22, Mahmoud Abu Zeina, 17, Yazan Mahmoud Basim Jabarin, 22. An estimated 15,000 mourners attended the funeral procession thru the streets of the camp later in the day, many chanting against PA President Mahmoud Abbas. “Where are you Abbas? They killed us while you watched.” Allegations have been made the operation was carried out in coordination with the Palestinian Authority. According to Ynet “security officials” said after Israeli forces surrounded the building “Palestinian security services in the area were told to stay in their offices.”  Abu al-Hija was a commander in the al-Qassam brigades, Abu Jabarin was a member of al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades and Abu Zeina was affiliated with al-Quds Brigades. According to Israeli military sources Abu al-Hija, the son of a prominent Hamas leader jailed by Israel for the last 12 years, was a “ticking time bomb” and the target of the attack. He was wanted for “shooting and bombing attacks as well as planning future attacks” and the forces enter the camp allegedly in an attempt to arrest him. Al-Hija barricaded himself in his home, a battle ensued, Israeli forces gained entry and killed him. Hamas information office issued a press release  calling for “a new era of challenge and response to the occupation” and an end to negotiations and security coordination with Israel (Google translate):

Otherwise Occupied / An open letter to Soldier X, who shot and killed a 14-year-old

Haaretz 23 Mar by Amira Hass — To Soldier X of the Armored Corps’ 77th Battalion, who shot and killed a boy named Yusef Abu Aker Shawamreh last Wednesday, When you were at dinner with your family last Friday night, did you tell them it was you and win approval from your father and mother? Or did you pick at your rice and eat your steak in silence? Did your commanding officers ask you how the deadly bullet you fired made a direct hit precisely in Yusef’s hip? Were you aiming at his legs and missed? Were you aiming at the air and missed? Did your commanders conclude that you need a refresher course on the firing range? Did you lose any sleep over Yusef? Or are you convinced that you followed an order like a good and loyal soldier, and that Yusef, who was born on December 15, 1999, and was 14 years and three months old when you shot him, was to blame? … Your superior officers (right on up to the commander) are a lost cause. They eat their steak with gusto even when their orders take the life of a boy whose only crime was going out to pick tumble thistle, akub in Arabic, to help his family make a living. … You were stationed there in an ambush on Tuesday night … Were you and your friends stationed in that ambush because your commanding officers knew perfectly well there was a large opening in the fence there that surely had been made over several days? In that area, the separation barrier is more or less on the Green Line. But — and it’s doubtful your commanding officers took the trouble to tell you this — at Deir al Asal it deviates to the east, cutting off valuable land from its owners … It was to this land — about two kilometers from their homes — that the children were heading. Poverty and the need for a livelihood are stronger than danger. At 6:30 A.M. they left their homes. At 7 A.M. shots were heard in the village. In daylight. You were about 50 or 70 meters from the children. And you opened fire. According to an official at the IDF Spokesman’s Office, you claimed you fired on a Palestinian because he had sabotaged the separation barrier. You’re not only judge, prosecutor and executioner, but also witness….

Photos: Settlers assault Palestinian NGO worker in northern West Bank
972mag 23 Mar by Edo Konrad — Settlers attacked a Palestinian NGO worker in the West Bank village of Burin on Sunday. According to Yesh Din, an Israeli human rights organization that provides legal assistance to Palestinians in the West Bank, the settlers attacked Munir Kadus (a Yesh Din investigator) as he was accompanying a group of Palestinians who were paving a road in the village Burin, south of Nablus. The settlers allegedly came from the direction of Givat Ronen, an outpost neighborhood of Har Bracha. Kadus, who sustained injuries to his arm and both ribs, was released from Rafidia Hospital in Nablus on Sunday afternoon. According to Yesh Din, the Palestinians were accompanied by a large number of soldiers, since the road work was done in accordance with the Israeli military and the Civil Administration. Despite the presence of the soldiers, the settlers were able to harass the road workers. The settlers also walked among the houses of the village, throwing stones at Palestinians.

Man injured as settlers attack Palestinian farmers near Burin
NABLUS (Ma‘an) 23 Mar — Clashes broke out Sunday morning after Jewish settlers attacked Palestinian farmers in their fields near the northern West Bank village of Burin south of Nablus. Ghassan Daghlas, a Palestinian Authority official who monitors settlement-related activities in the northern West Bank, told Ma‘an that dozens of settlers from the nearby Bracha settlement attacked Palestinian farmers in the eastern fields of Burin. The farmers fought back and clashes broke out as both sides hurled stones at each other. As a result, 30-year-old Munir Qandus was injured by a stone and was evacuated to the hospital for treatment.  [WAFA: a number of settlers attacked farmers and hurled stones at them while they were working on opening an agricultural road, at the eastern part of the village.

Israeli forces raid Nablus village after Molotov attack
NABLUS (Ma‘an) 23 Mar — Israeli forces on Sunday evening raided Burin village south of Nablus after a Molotov cocktail was thrown at a settler car, officials said.  Palestinian security sources told Ma‘an that Israeli forces fired dozens of tear-gas canisters at Palestinians who threw Molotov cocktails at a car belonging to a settler at the junction near Burin and Yitzhar settlement. Israeli forces arrived at the scene and were investigating the incident. An Israeli military spokeswoman confirmed the accounts and said troops were searching the area. There were no immediate reports of injury or damage.

School children ‘beat up’ settler after he wanders into Nablus village
NABLUS (Ma‘an) 23 Mar — A settler who mistakenly wandered into a northern West Bank village on Sunday has been returned to Israeli authorities by the Palestinian liaison office, an official said. Ghassan Daghlas, a Palestinian Authority official who monitors settlement activities in the northern West Bank, told Ma‘an that a settler from the illegal Israeli outpost of Homesh “accidentally” walked into the the village of Burqa west of Nablus. The settler “begged and cried” as he was beaten up by dozens of school children, before locals intervened and took him to the Palestinian liaison office, Daghlas said.  Liaison officials then delivered the man to their Israeli counterparts, he said. Homesh was evacuated by Israeli authorities in 2005, and in September, Israel’s military said that land confiscated in 1978 to build the settlement would be returned to its Palestinian owners in Burqa. In recent months, however, armed Jewish settlers have been trickling back to try and reestablish a permanent presence there, locals say.

Soldiers try to use journalists as ‘human shields’ in ‘Aida clashes
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 22 Mar — A journalist said that Israeli soldiers tried to use him and two colleagues as “human shields” while they were covering clashes in ‘Aida refugee camp north of Bethlehem on Saturday afternoon. Journalist Musa al-Shaer said that soldiers detained him and his colleague Abd al-Rahman Yunus, as well as an American journalist, while they were covering clashes in the camp between local youths and Israeli forces. Additionally, al-Shaer told Ma‘an that Israeli soldiers had prevented them from doing their work and tried to use them as “human shields” against local youths who were throwing rocks. Al-Shaer said that the soldiers released them and returned their press cards, but refused to give any reason for their detention. During the clashes, Israeli forces fired stun grenades and tear gas grenades into the camp, injuring several residents by excessive tear gas inhalation … The clashes come after Israeli forces killed three Palestinians during a raid in the northern West Bank city of Jenin. Aida camp is a frequent site of clashes because it is located beside Rachel’s Tomb, which is surrounded on three sides by the Israeli separation wall despite being in the middle of the Palestinian city of Bethlehem.

Forces fire tear gas into school, students suffocate near Bethlehem
BETHLEHEM (WAFA) 23 Mar – Israeli forces Sunday fired tear gas canisters inside a boys’ school in ‘Aida refugee camp, north of Bethlehem, causing several students to suffocate, according to local sources. They told WAFA that forces surprised the students and teaching staff in the early morning hours by firing tear gas canisters into the school, causing almost 30 students to suffocate and spreading fear and panic among them. They said the school administration sent the students home after the early morning attack on the school.

8 Palestinians, 2 Israeli soldiers injured in clashes in ‘Aida
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 23 Mar — Two Israeli soldiers and eight Palestinian youths were injured as clashes with Israeli forces in ‘Aida refugee camp north of Bethlehem continued for a second day on Sunday. Locals told Ma‘an that Israeli forces raided several houses in the camp, taking them over and using them as military posts while firing tear gas grenades throughout the camp. Local youths responded by hurling rocks at Israeli forces. Israeli news site Ynet reported that two soldiers “sustained light to moderate injuries” and were evacuated to the Hadassah Ein Kerem Hospital in Jerusalem. Witnesses in the camp said that two Israeli soldiers from the border police were injured in the camp after Palestinians threw bricks at them from a rooftop near the camp school. Israeli forces opened fire at the camp after the incident, and called for reinforcements in order to evacuate the injured soldiers. Director of emergency services Muhammad Awad said that eight Palestinians were injured with rubber bullets during the clashes, one of whom was shot in the head with a rubber-coated steel bullet when soldiers opened fire on protesters. He was later evacuated to the hospital. Israeli forces also opened fire on the car of Associated Press photographer Iyad Hamad as he was covering the clashes.

With growing despair, anarchy returns to Palestinian refugee camps
Haaretz 22 Mar by Amos Harel — Political disillusionment and plummeting economy make refugee camps like Jenin increasingly volatile and dangerous places – for both IDF and PA — The fatal incident Saturday morning in the Jenin refugee camp was not just one more violent disturbance. According to descriptions from the Israeli side and confirmed by Palestinian eye witnesses, there were relatively long exchanges of fire during the attempt by Border Police anti-terror unit, the Israel Defense Forces and the Shin Bet to arrest armed Hamas operative Hamza Abu al-Haija. The incident ended with the death of Abu al-Haija, the son of a senior Hamas operative imprisoned in Israel, and two other activists, plus the wounding of seven Palestinians and two members of the special forces. For more than a year now, the Palestinian Authority and its security apparatus have not been in control of some of the West Bank refugee camps. The Jenin camp was the arena of the fiercest battle in the West Bank during the second intifada. At the height of that intifada, even Yasser Arafat feared clashing with the armed men who had taken charge of the camp. Seven years ago, when the PA – under President Mahmoud Abbas and then prime minister Salam Fayyad – sought to restore law and order to the West Bank, Jenin (with considerable international assistance) was the first place where the plan was successfully implemented. However, disappointment with the PA, the continually declining economic situation in the West Bank and lack of progress with the peace talks have once again turned the refugee camps, particularly Jenin, into places where armed groups operate as they see fit.

Resistance fighters attack Israeli watchtower in Qalqiliya
WEST BANK (PIC) 24 Mar — Palestinian resistance fighters at dawn Monday opened fire at an Israeli military watchtower overlooking ‘Azzun town to the east of Qalqiliya city. Local sources said that masked gunmen opened fire at the watchtower in Al-Mantar area in Azzoun town before Israeli military reinforcements stormed and started to search the area. In an earlier incident, scores of angry Palestinian young men clashed last night with invading Israeli troops in Zababda town to the south of Jenin. According to local sources, a large number of Israeli soldiers aboard more than 15 military vehicles stormed the town last night for the second time in a few hours. Several young men suffered injuries when the Israeli occupation forces attacked them with tear gas grenades and rubber bullets. One young man sustained a fracture in his chest and was rushed to hospital. The murder of Hamza Abul Heija and two of his friends a few days ago caused widespread tension in the West Bank and aroused the Palestinian indignation further against the Israeli occupation.
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Continued Israeli attacks across West Bank
IMEMC 23 Mar by Chris Carlson — Israeli forces, Sunday, abducted two people from the West Bank and another from the Jerusalem area. Others were summoned others for interrogation, according to local and security sources. Two people, ages 25 and 35, were kidnapped by Israeli forces from the city of Hebron and the nearby town of Dora, after their houses were searched and content vandalized. Forces also handed summons to appear before the Israeli intelligence to almost a dozen people from the Hebron area, according to WAFA. On Saturday, March 22, Israeli police took Zaaid Salame Mehamre, a shepherd from the Palestinian village of Maghayr Al-Abeed, while he was grazing his sheep on Jabel Doff (the location where the Havat Ma’on outpost used to stand before the year 2000, when it was moved to Hill 833). The action was carried out under the accusation of “trespassing”, although no official documents on the ownership of the land were presented, according to the Alternative Information Center (AIC) … In the Jenin district, army forces stormed the village of Al-Yamoun amid the firing of stun grenades and tear gas towards residents, causing several cases of suffocation. The forces also handed eight people summons for interrogation. No arrests were reported.

Settlers from Havat Maon attacked Palestinian shepherds in two different places at the same time in the South Hebron Hills
BRUQIN, Occupied Palestine (ISM, Nablus Team) 22 Mar 2014 — On March 20, four settlers from Havat Ma’on illegal outpost attacked, in two different places at the same time, two internationals and seven Palestinian shepherds while grazing flocks on their own land. The settlers were armed with a gun and slingshots. At 9.58 am a settler with a gun chased two Palestinian shepherds away, while grazing between the Palestinian village of Tuba and Havat Ma’on Israeli illegal outpost. He first shouted at the shepherds and then ran after them for more than two kilometers. The harassment  lasted for about one hour, when the shepherds finally arrived to Tuba. In the meanwhile, at 10.03 am three settler teens fired a petard from the outpost in order to scare the Palestinians who were in Meshaha valley. About 15 minutes later the Israeli Police arrived to the place and spoke to the settlers and the Palestinian shepherds. The police allowed the latter to graze in Meshaha valley, south side of the outpost. At 10.40 am a masked settler and two children went to the same valley and attacked five Palestinian shepherds, three men and two women. By using slingshots, the attackers threw stones against the shepherds and the internationals, for about five minutes. During the assault the settlers entered Palestinian private land. At a later stage the Israeli police arrived to the place and the attackers ran away. The policeman saw them going back to the outpost but did not try to stop them …  both of them got in the police car and were driven to Kiryat Arba police station. The two filed a complaint against each other: the settler maintained that the shepherds were on Israeli land and Jundiya proved, thanks to his camera provided by B’Tselem organization for human rights, that he was chased away while grazing his flock on Palestinian land

Gaza under double blockade

Hamas marks 4 [10!] years since Sheikh Yassin’s assassination
New Agencies 22 Mar — Hamas supporters marched through the streets of Gaza City Saturday to mark four [10!] years since the assassination of Sheikh Ahmed Yassin, the wheelchair-bound spiritual leader of the Islamist movement who was killed during an Israeli air strike on March 22, 2004.  Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh paid a visit to Yassin’s family home to meet with the slain sheikh’s relatives. Israel confirmed at the time that its helicopters fired several rockets at Yassin and his bodyguards as they were heading to a local mosque at 5:30 am. The sheikh was killed on the spot.
Meanwhile, talks aimed at reconciling Hamas and Fatah continued in the Yemen capital of Sana‘a Saturday, with Foreign Minister Abubakr al-Qirbi saying that “a final formula was reached and Fatah agreed to it … Our brothers in the Hamas movement asked for an opportunity to consult their (leadership).”   Under the draft agreement from the Yemen-sponsored talks, Hamas and Fatah would agree to hold direct negotiations in early April about a Yemeni plan calling for the situation in the Gaza Strip to return to the way it was before Hamas took it over. The issue has been a main point of contention, with Fatah demanding that Hamas Islamists give up control of the territory, which the group seized in June after routing Fatah forces.A Hamas official said in response: “The main stumbling block is Fatah’s insistence that Hamas cease its control of the Gaza Strip.”,7340,L-3522191,00.html

Hamas sends Israelis threatening text messages
JERUSALEM (AFP) 22 Mar — The military wing of Hamas which rules Gaza sent threatening text messages to Israelis on Saturday, 10 years after the Palestinian Islamist movement’s spiritual leader was killed in an Israeli air strike. Israelis, as well as foreign reporters in Israel, received messages reading: “If Gaza will be attacked the life of the Zionists will be hell” and “In the next war all the Land of Palestine will return”. A Hamas source told AFP it was the work of the Ezzedine al-Qassam Brigades, timed to coincide with the anniversary of the killing of Sheikh Ahmed Yassin. “Al Qassam has chosen you to be the next Shalit,” another message read, referring to Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, who was abducted and held in Gaza for five years until Hamas freed him in exchange for more than 1,000 Palestinian prisoners. The messages were sent from different cell phones. The owner of the only one who answered an AFP call was an Israeli man who said his line had been hijacked.
The email account of an Israeli security-oriented newsletter, IsraelDefence, was also hacked and an email posted on Yassin’s killing. “We don’t forget the blood of our sheik, We swear again to take revenge, and this time by taking off the head of your leaders,” read an email. “Zionist killed our sheik by missile and now our missile can hit every corner of Zionist state,” it read, signing off as “Sheikh Yassin’s Followers”.

Rafah crossing to open for pilgrims on Sunday
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 22 Mar — The general directorate of the crossings of the Gaza Strip Ministry of Interior said on Saturday that the Rafah crossing would open for two days starting Sunday to allow pilgrims headed to Saudi Arabia to travel … The directorate, however, said that it had not received any information about the possibility of Egyptian authorities opening the crossing to humanitarian cases in which citizens of the Gaza Strip seek treatment abroad. Egyptian authorities have kept the Rafah crossing shut for the last 43 days, the directorate said. The statement comes just over a week after Gaza child Ahmad Ammar Abu Nahl, 3, died after he was unable to travel abroad to receive medical care due to the crossing’s closure.

Batfish return in the hundreds to Gaza shores
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 23 Mar — Gaza fishermen say that they caught large numbers of rare batfish off the Gaza shore on Sunday morning. Speaker of the Gaza association of fishing and sea sports Mahfouth al-Kabariti told Ma’an that the batfish arrived in flocks of hundreds, and he said that they weigh between 50-250 kilograms (110-550 pounds). Until last year, the fish had not been seen off Gaza’s shores since 2008.

Palestinian civilian killed and 5 others injured, including 3 children and a woman, by home-made rocket in Beit Hanoun
PCHR 16 Mar — The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR) is concerned over the death of Aisha Mohammedin and injury of 5 others, including 3 children and a woman, as a home-made rocket landed on their house in the northern Gaza Strip town of Beit Hanoun. PCHR calls upon the government in Gaza to open a serious investigation into the circumstances of the incident and take necessary measures to protect the Palestinian civilians and their property. According to investigations and examination of the scene conducted by PCHR, at approximately 19:10 on Thursday, 13 March 2014, a home-made rocket landed on a house belonging to the family of Isma‘il Abdul Fattah Mohammedin (35) on al-Wadi Street in Beit Hanoun town in the north of the Gaza Strip. The rocket made a hole whose diameter was one meter in the southeastern wall of the house and exploded inside. As a result, Aisha Atiya Mohammedin (52) sustained shrapnel injuries and amputation to the right hand, and she died because of the serious injuries at approximately 00:30 on Friday, 14 March 2014, at Shifa Hospital in Gaza City. Additionally, another 5 civilians, including 3 children, living in the house were injured: … Their wounds ranged between minor to moderate. The Palestinian police arrived and initiated an investigation into the incident.

Bi-weekly safety report Gaza Strip summary 6-19 March 2014
GANSO –The total number of incidents reported within this period was 107 which is significantly higher than the last, in which we reported on 41. Excluding the incidents reported within the spike in events between 11-14 MAR there were only four rockets, mostly tests, two incidents involving explosive devices (both accidents), a family dispute involving small arms fire and five naval fire incidents reported this reporting period, which would thus have been less active in comparison to the last. If this was [had been] the case, then it also would have been two weeks with no border fire or airstrikes reported.
However, this period has recorded in total 64 rockets, 14 mortars, 13 [Israeli] airstrikes that fired 31 missiles and five border fire incidents. Apart from three tests all other rockets and mortars were fired towards the Green Line and about 24 of the total number of rockets were reported as dropped short/exploded on site.
Looking at the casualty figures for this period, three Palestinian operatives were killed and three civilians injured due to the air strike, while the rockets that dropped short and fell on houses in NG [north Gaza] caused four civilian injuries and one fatality. In addition to this 13 injuries and one fatality were reported due to accidental explosions and two civilian injuries and one fatality due to small arms fire.

Detainees / Court actions

Jerusalem child threatened with sodomy, placed under house arrest
RAMALLAH (Defence for Children International-Palestine) 21 Mar by Patrick O. Strickland — A boy from East Jerusalem who signed a confession after Israeli interrogators threatened him with sodomy spent over two months under house arrest. Othman S, 14, was summoned for interrogation by Israeli intelligence in the early hours of November 25, 2013 and accused of throwing stones and Molotov cocktails near the Israeli Rockefeller Museum in East Jerusalem. In a sworn affidavit given to DCI-Palestine, Othman says he was forced to stand face to the wall with his hands tied for about two hours and strip-searched before being interrogated. During the interrogation, an intelligence officer accused him of throwing a stone and then a Molotov cocktail at a police car and, when Othman would not confess, the officer threatened to sodomize him. “(The interrogator) then brought a broomstick, about 1.5 meters (6 feet) long, from one of the corners and threatened to shove it up my bottom,” Othman said, adding that the interrogator said to him: “You want me to shove this stick up your ass so you’ll feel pain and tell me the truth?” The interrogator also insulted Othman’s mother and sister and warned him that he would “demolish my home if I did not talk,” he said. Scared and alone, Othman confessed under duress. “I was crying. I said everything against my will. I was scared of them. I was scared they might beat me and demolish our house,” Othman told DCI-Palestine … “Even if I had read (the confession papers), I would not understand anything because they were (written) in Hebrew,” he said.

Israeli politician convicted of assaulting right-wing activist at 2006 protest
Haaretz 23 Mar by Revital Hovel — MK Mohammed Barakeh (Hadash) was convicted Sunday of assaulting a right-wing activist at a demonstration against the Second Lebanon War in 2006, making Barakeh the first serving Knesset member to be prosecuted for actions committed during a demonstration. The Arab MK was acquitted on charges of assaulting an Israel Prison Service officer at a leftist demonstration in 2005, near the West Bank Palestinian village of Bil’in, against the construction of the separation barrier …  He was convicted, however, of assaulting Yitzhak Hanania, a right-wing activist. Hanania, who was photographing the July 2006 demonstration, began insulting the veteran Israeli peace activist Uri Avneri, in response to which Barakeh poked Hanania in the ribs with his elbow and then punched him, all according to the charge sheet. Barakeh denied having assaulted Hanania, saying he may have shouted at or sworn at the man …  Barakeh’s prosecution was the first of a serving Knesset member for conduct during a demonstration. Throughout the trial, the defense argued that it constituted persecution aimed at infringing on the legitimate political activity of Israel’s Arab citizens.

European Parliament delegation completes fact-finding mission on Palestinian prisoners despite Israeli refusal to cooperate
JERUSALEM (WAFA) 22 Mar — Israeli authorities  refused to co-operate with the European Parliament mission, effectively preventing it from fulfilling its mandate.  Nevertheless, the MEPs insisted that the  fact-finding mission  continue in the absence of co-operation from Israeli authorities, said a Statement from European Parliament Ad Hoc Delegation on Friday. European Parliament delegation has traveled to Israel to assess the conditions of Palestinian prisoners in Israeli prisons. This is the first such international mission to take up the issue of Palestinian prisoners and a clear sign of the EU’s and its Member States’ commitment to dealing with the question of prisoners in a constructive manner. The cross-party delegation included Emer Costello MEP (Chair, S&D, Ireland), Nicole Kiil-Nielsen MEP (Greens, France), Patrick Le Hyaric (GUE, France) and Jacek Protasiewicz (EPP, Poland) and held meetings in the region on 19 and 20 March 2014.

Palestinian refugees in Syria

Times Square flashmob for Syria refugee camp
BBC 21 Mar — A flashmob has taken place in New York’s Times Square to raise awareness about the conflict in Syria. People held bread in the air as an image of refugees in the Yarmouk camp was broadcast on a giant screen.

7 Palestinian refugees killed in mortar shelling on Yarmouk
DAMASCUS (PIC) 24 Mar — A mortar shell fired at the Yarmouk refugee camp, south of Damascus, on Sunday evening killed seven Palestinians including a woman. The Action Group for Palestinians in Syria said in a press release on Monday that a mortar shell slammed into the central area of the camp where refugees were gathered to receive food aid. It said that seven were killed instantly, adding that around 2000 [actually 2133 according to statement by the group on 23 Mar] refugees were killed in Syria since the start of the events in that country in March 2011.
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British architects group calls for boycott of Israeli counterparts
Ynetnews 22 Mar — The Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) voted to call on the International Union of Architects (UIA) to exclude the Israeli Association of United Architects over its refusal to oppose Israel’s settlement construction in the West Bank.,7340,L-4501513,00.html

Political, other news

Arab League summit considers withdrawing Arab Peace Initiative
KUWAIT (Ma‘an) 23 Mar — As the 25th Arab League Summit to be held in Kuwait next week draws closer, Arab officials told Ma‘an that they are considering withdrawing the Arab Peace Initiative of 2002. The initiative — which calls for two states on the 1967 borders and a “just settlement” of the refugee issue in exchange for full normalization between Israel and the Arab world — was largely rejected by Israeli officials after it was approved at the 2002 Beirut summit. An Arab official in Kuwait told Ma‘an that the initiative “would not remain forever an exhibition for Israel to watch.” He also asserted that the summit would definitely oppose recognition of Israel as a Jewish state, a key Israel demand in ongoing negotiations. The foreign ministers of Arab countries are scheduled to convene Sunday to discuss the summit’s draft report. The summit’s subcommittees confirmed to the Palestine envoy to the Arab League Muhammad Subih and ambassador to Egypt Barakat al-Farra that the Palestinian issue would dominate the summit’s agenda. Reviewing the Arab Peace Initiative will be central on the agenda alongside peace talks with Israel, the status of the occupied Golan Heights, and means for supporting Palestinian refugees in Lebanon.

Abbas looks to Arab League to revive its 2002 peace plan
Haaretz 24 Mar by Jack Khoury — PA expects Arab foreign ministers to back the Palestinian position in negotiations with Israel, says senior official — Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas is expected to call on Arab leaders to reaffirm their commitment to the Arab peace initiative, as well as to ask world leaders to view the proposal as the best plan for ending the conflict with Israel. According to senior Palestinian officials, the call by Abbas and the Palestinian Authority leadership to activate the 2002 Arab League peace plan, and to put it back on the agenda of the league’s summit in Kuwait later this week, is aimed at deflecting U.S. pressure on the PA not to withdraw from the negotiations with Israel. The plan calls for pan-Arab normalization of relations with Israel in return for an end to Israel’s occupation of Gaza, the West Bank, East Jerusalem and Golan Heights, along with its recognition of Palestinian refugees’ right of return or of compensation. A senior Palestinian source told Haaretz that Abbas does not have high expectations from the summit, but does expect the Arab foreign ministers to adopt the Palestinian position regarding the talks with Israel, including a rejection of the Israeli demand for recognition as a Jewish state. Abbas hopes that by reviving the 12-year-old Arab peace initiative, he will send a clear message to both Israel and the United States that this option will not remain on the table forever.

Palestinians, Israel ‘awaiting two very important dates’
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 23 Mar — As pressure mounts on Palestinian Authority president Mahmoud Abbas to extend US-brokered peace talks with Israel beyond the agreed end date of April 29, Palestinians, Israelis, and other observers eagerlyanticipate the next move. Israeli political analyst Audi Segal told Israel’s Channel 2 on Friday that “negotiations are about to explode, as no breakthrough has been made.”  Fatah official and Central Committee member Mahmoud al-Aloul told Ma‘an that the Palestinian side is awaiting two very important dates. Al-Aloul says that the first date is March 29, which is the day that Israel is supposed to free the last group of Palestinian prisoners who have been in custody since before the Oslo Accord of 1994. So far, Israel has released three groups of these “veteran prisoners” as part of a trust-building measure. However, Israeli officials have hinted that release of the fourth group might be conditional on Abbas agreeing to extend talks. The other date is April 29, the final day of a nine-month period agreed upon by the Palestinian Liberation Organization, Israel and the US brokers to reach an agreement in the ongoing peace talks. “There is no room for talks about renewing negotiations,” al-Aloul said, noting that “Israel has not put into effect any of the demands during the current round of negotiations.” … Asked about possible Israeli reluctance to free the last group of veteran Palestinian prisoners, al-Aloul said if Israeli breaks its commitment, the Palestinians have different choices and “will stop everything because such an Israeli move will mean a political dispute with the US.”

US diplomats meet with Israeli foreign minister
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 21 Mar — Two US diplomats met with the Israeli minister of justice in Jerusalem on Saturday, according to Israeli media. US Special Envoy Martin Indyk and Ambassador Dan Shapiro met with Tzipi Livni in a final attempt to prevent collapse of the latest round of Israeli-Palestinian peace talks, the Hebrew-language news site Walla reported. Other US officials met with chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat last week.  A Palestinian official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, told Walla that the US has been exerting heavy pressure on the PLO to extend peace negotiations. Peace talks between Israelis and Palestinians were relaunched in July under the auspices of the US after nearly three years of impasse. Israel’s government has announced the construction of thousands of settler housing units and its army has killed 60 Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza since the talks began.

US said worried at imminent collapse of Israel-Palestinian talks
Ynetnews 23 Mar — Sources tell Israel Radio that Americans may even consider possibility of freeing Jonathan Pollard — The US government is very worried that the talks between Israel and the Palestinians are on the verge of collapse and are seeking a solution that would allow for a way forward, Israel Radio reported Sunday. According to the report, Western political sources said that the US administration is searching for a proposal favorable enough for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, which would persuade his government to free Israeli Arab prisoners. US sources would not rule out the possibility of agreeing to Netanyahu’s request for the release of convicted spy Jonathan Pollard in order to keep the talks going, the radio said. The former US civilian defense worker is currently serving a life term in the US for spying for Israel.,7340,L-4502138,00.html

US senators see aid to Israeli staying firm despite cuts
Reuters 20 Mar — The United States will continue providing Israel with defense aid after a current package providing it $3 billion a year expires in 2017, and the grants are unlikely to wane despite Washington belt-tightening, two US senators said on Thursday. Kelly Ayotte and Joe Donnelly, who are members of the Senate Armed Services Committee, visited Israel to confer on security issues like missile defense, on which the allies have partnered. The previous US administration signed a 10-year deal with Israel in 2007 granting it $30 billion, most of which must be spent on American defence products.,7340,L-4501646,00.html

Chechnya leader inaugurates $10m mosque in Israel
Haaretz/AP and Nir Hasson  23 Mar — The president of Russia’s republic of Chechnya has inaugurated a new, $10 million mosque in an Arab village in Israel. Ramzan Kadyrov said on Sunday that it was an honor to visit “this good and holy land” during a stop in the village of Abu Ghosh. Isa Jabar, the village’s mayor, says Chechnya donated $6 million for the mosque … “The mosque will become a symbol of Abu Gosh,” he said, “and even though this is a religious structure, it will also be a symbol of the brotherhood between religions and peoples. Three of the minarets symbolize the three monotheistic religions and the fourth minaret represents the rest of the world’s religions.” The mosque was built in the Ottoman Turkish style, the favored architectural style in Chechnya. It is situated not far from Route 1, and features four minarets, making it the only mosque of its kind in Israel. Abu Ghosh, near Jerusalem, enjoys good ties with its Jewish neighbors and is a popular culinary destination for Israelis. Traditionally it is believed that the residents of Abu Ghosh trace their ancestry to the Caucasus region. According to Palestinian-born historian Aref Al-Aref, the first villagers came from a region called Ingusha, located between Chechnya and Georgia. They arrived here as soldiers in the army of Ottoman Sultan Selim I, who conquered Palestine in 1516. The name Abu Ghosh, according to geographer and place names expert Yehuda Ziv, is a corruption of the name Ingush.

Erdoğan removes emphasis on Gaza from election campaign
Istanbul (Today’s Zaman) 23 Mar by Cumali Önal — Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has paid great attention to Palestine, Egypt and Syria in his foreign policy discourse in recent years. However, despite the emphasis he used to place on the Palestinian issue and the humanitarian crisis in Gaza, the Turkish prime minister now never makes reference to this issue despite the worsening situation of the Palestinians. Likewise, Erdoğan makes no statements about the Muslim Brotherhood and the repressive measures introduced by the Egyptian military government against its members. This is quite unusual in the context of his previous discourse because there is growing persecution against its members in Egypt and Saudi Arabia, where the movement is now legally defined as a terrorist organization. Erdoğan makes no mention now of the 9 Gazi martyrs Gaza was one of the tactics Erdoğan used to polish his image in the eyes of the Turkish people and impress voters. He became one of the most popular leaders in the Arab world when he defied Israeli President Shimon Peres in 2009. Erdoğan also didn’t prevent the Mavi Marmara from sailing to the region in an attempt to lift Israel’s blockade of the Gaza Strip. However, a severe diplomatic crisis erupted between the two countries over the killing of eight Turkish citizens and one American citizen by the Israeli forces who raided the vessel. Erdoğan frequently drew attention to the Gaza crisis, announcing that he would pay a personal visit to the region. He would have become the third political leader to visit Gaza, after visits from Qatari and Malaysian leaders. However, the military coup in Egypt aborted this plan. Since the coup, the Turkish prime minister has made no mention of the issue and the Gaza trip.

Opinion / Analysis / Reviews

I’m a Palestinian, not an alien / Abeer Ayyoub
972blog 22 Mar — The people of Gaza don’t need the sympathy of the international community, they need to be treated like human beings — I’m a Palestinian from Gaza, not simply “a Gazan.” I’m not exactly what you see in the mainstream media: I’m no expert in firing rockets, I don’t live under rubble and I don’t rely on humanitarian handouts. Actually, I was never aware of how people outside of Gaza saw us until I was given the chance to leave the isolated enclave for the first time. The first time I left Gaza was in 2012, when I traveled to Jerusalem for some work meetings. It was strange to find out that even Palestinians who live only dozens of miles away are also mislead by the media about the truth of Palestinians in the strip. I was extremely overwhelmed to see the other parts of my homeland for the first time. I wanted to tell everyone I met that I was from Gaza, since most people never get to meet us in real life. “I’m from Gaza,” I announced to the Palestinian receptionist at the fancy East Jerusalem hotel with a wide smile. He went speechless before mockingly asking whether I had any rockets in my pockets. I expected such comments from Israelis, but never from a Palestinian … These incidents could not prepare me for the reactions I would receive when I traveled to the United States a few weeks later, where some people had no idea that Gaza even exists. So, for all those who are misled by photos of bombings and bloodshed: yes, there is an ongoing conflict in Palestine, not only in Gaza. And yes, Gaza is not an independent region, it is a part of occupied Palestine.

‘I witnessed a whole system of deception regarding the death of a Palestinian / Noam Sheizaf
[with video (Hebrew)] 972mag 23 Mar — A testimony from an anthropologist who conducted research in the Israeli Forensic Institute. Professor Meira Weiss, an anthropologist at Hebrew University, was interviewed on Channel 10 as part of a story on Professor Yehuda Hiss, who served as the head of the Israeli Forensic Institute between 1988 and 2004. Weiss observed the work at the institute for six years (1996-2002) for research purposes. Her findings were recently published in a book titled Over Their Dead Body (here is a review in Hebrew). Channel 10′s investigative reporters, Orly Vilnai and Guy Meroz, probed Weiss on the reports provided by the institute to the military and security services. Here is a transcript of the part of the interview, which deals with reports that were “necessary” (in Weiss’ words) for the authorities: “…Weiss: For example […] I witnessed a whole system of deception regarding one Palestinian. The IDF version was that he wanted to shoot them [the soldiers] and he was shot on his front side of his body. The Palestinians claimed that he was killed later on. In other words, there are two versions, meaning one needs to decide. Meroz: Like the ‘Bus 300 affair.’ Weiss: Exactly like that. Despite the fact that everyone saw… meaning that it was clear from the autopsy that it was an entry wound from behind, it wasn’t emphasized and was silenced.

Israeli book divulges details about organ thefts from Palestinian corpses
NAZARETH (PIC) 23 Mar — Israeli anthropologist Meira Weiss revealed the occurrence of mass harvesting of organs from Palestinian corpses for the purpose of using them for educational purposes or as transplants for Israeli patients. In a new book [Over Their Dead Body], Weiss said that she visited Abu Kabir forensic institute, an Israeli forensic research laboratory located in the Abu Kabir neighborhood of Tel Aviv, between the years 1996 and 2002 and researched into how the institute dealt with Israeli corpses, especially the body of Israeli premier Yitzhak Rabin after his assassination as well as the bodies of Israeli soldiers and Palestinians from the Israeli occupied lands. She found out that Israeli dissectors at the institute separated the Jewish bodies from the Palestinian ones before they removed body parts from the Palestinian corpses alone at the behest of the Israeli army. She noted that the Palestinian body organs were either transplanted into Israeli patients or used for research purposes by medical schools. The anthropologist said that in the first intifada of 1987, a lot of Palestinian bodies arrived at the institute where they were autopsied and harvested. Some employees at the institute described 1987 as the golden period because many Palestinian corpses were dissected and harvested without any problem or liability.
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About Kate

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

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7 Responses

  1. amigo
    March 24, 2014, 11:01 am

    Put a gun in the hands of an idf coward and he becomes a hero.

    Take it away and he will need toilet paper and a change of nappy.

    Brave soldiers my ass.

    • Kay24
      March 24, 2014, 10:06 pm

      They are so” brave” when they deal with unarmed civilians, mentally ill women, and most of all, the little kids who are dragged away in the middle of the night, terrified.
      It is time the Palestinians were armed, just like the IDF. In fact they should be armed like the settlers have been, by the Israeli government. Time to level the playing field.
      Then we can all see just how brave the IDF really is.

  2. American
    March 24, 2014, 11:54 am

    ” She found out that Israeli dissectors at the institute separated the Jewish bodies from the Palestinian ones before they removed body parts from the Palestinian corpses alone at the behest of the Israeli army. She noted that the Palestinian body organs were either transplanted into Israeli patients or used for research purposes by medical schools”

    And they complain about ‘blood libels’?
    If the shoe fits assholes, wear it.

  3. Kay24
    March 24, 2014, 12:48 pm

    The long list of crimes, sins by the standards of any religion, violation of any international laws, by Israel is stunning, deplorable, and almost predictable. From threatening to sodomize a kid to organ trafficking, Israel once again shows the world it deserves to be one of the most disliked nations in the world.

    When is the international community going to do something about this rogue nation?
    Wringing their hands and simply making statements condemning Israel is not changing anything. Perhaps now would be the time to boycott and sanction a nation that pretends to be “democratic” while inflicting pain on it’s neighbors, activists, and little kids, by their trained, fully armed, ruthless armed forces.

    • K Renner
      K Renner
      March 24, 2014, 3:17 pm

      I always find it hilarious how many people will go “oh, there has to be a dialogue” with Israeli politicians or “try to see it from the Israeli perspective” and then outright deny the validity of the Palestinian (or Lebanese) perspective, or say “the Palestinians are murderous Jew-haters that can’t be reasoned with”.

      What rubbish.

      If one can readily slap sanctions on Iran– and off the bat, without trying any other ideas or ways of action to address concerns over the nuclear programme– then it is imperative to sanction Israel every time it does something that shows that it doesn’t give a fig for international opinion or international laws.

      The Israeli political opposition, small as it is, should be taken into account, and especially the Palestinian bloc in Israel proper– but one has to take into account that the Iranian opposition is infinitely larger and heterogeneous. As in millions of regular people, politicians, intellectuals, anti-Khomenist clerics– and somehow these millions of people are effectively thrown under the bus, at least for the most part, and up until recently the position of America was “no dialogue with anyone in Iran and drastic increase of sanctions”.

      • just
        March 24, 2014, 8:26 pm

        We slapped killing sanctions on Iraq. Hell’s bell’s, we went in after that and killed untold numbers of Iraqis. We were nefarious and helped Saddam to kill Iranians via Iraq……….

        Oh, and now sanctions on Russia. Cuba has been punished for most of my lifetime………..

        Gross hypocrisy. No moral standing at all.

        Thanks Kate for compiling this sad report. I always hope that it will change, but it only seems to get worse.

      • Kay24
        March 24, 2014, 10:01 pm

        I agree with you. It takes only a a few minutes for our Congress to unanimously pass any resolution for sanctions, or condemnation, against other nations ( for example, Iran, that is presently cooperating with the UN), but never considers for one minute, to censure or condemn, the brutal occupation, and human rights violations, by Israel, that goes on daily. What about the illegal settlements, that they keep arrogantly building, even at a time when the US is trying to talk peace, and that is detrimental to reaching any agreement? No displeasure shown by Congress and other leaders? If these crimes were committed by Iran, we would be shocking and awing them by now, with the blessing of Congress.

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