The killing of Mo‘ataz Washaha
Muataz Washaha: Murdered by Israel as ‘peace’ talks continue
Electronic Intifada 28 Feb by Shahd Abusalama — …On the morning of 27 February, we woke up to the news of an Israeli military raid on the central West Bank village of Birzeit, near Ramallah. The village lies very close to the Muqataa compound, where the Palestinian Authority lives with a delusion of having authority, guarded by an ‘army’ unable to provide any sense of security to its people. The Israeli forces besieged a house belongs to Washaha family, forcibly evacuated its residents and those of neighboring houses, destroyed parts of it and set the rest on fire … The Israeli occupation forces had stormed the Washaha family’s house, looking for Muataz. They assaulted members of the Washaha family and detained his brother, Ramiz, as well as his friends Fadi Sedqi and Samir al-Qaisi. A few months had passed since 24-year-old Muataz Washaha was released from an Israeli jail. He knew very well what being imprisoned meant for he refused to surrender to the Israeli military. He preferred to barricade himself in a corner of his house and resist arrest. He chose to die within his home, where he had spent his childhood and youth “Do not worry” “I will be free here. Leave and do not worry about me. I will stay here and not surrender. I will not return to prison.” These were the last words Muataz Washaha uttered to a civil defense worker, who was the last person to have access to him before the house was evacuated of everyone else … According to the Israeli military, Muataz Washaha was killed because he was “suspected of terror activity.” How ridiculous to read such a statement.
Video: The body of martyr Mu‘ataz is taken from his destroyed home in Birzeit
Ajyal Radio Network (Palestine) http://www.arn.ps/ 27 Feb
Video: The mother of martyr Mu‘ataz Washaha speaks out
[Arabic] Ajyal Radio Network 28 Feb
Israeli forces kill Palestinian man during Birzeit arrest raid
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 27 Feb — Israeli forces killed a Palestinian man on Thursday after opening fire on a property in Birzeit, locals said. Muatazz Washaha, 24, was found dead inside the house following a stand-off between Israeli military forces which lasted several hours. Witnesses said that the victim was hit in the head by a rifle-fired Energa shell [anti-tank grenade]. Israeli forces were reportedly trying to arrest Muatazz for being an activist with the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine. During the dawn raid, Israeli forces stormed the house and detained his brother, Ramiz, and two other men. Earlier reports suggested Israeli forces were targeting another brother, Thaer. Palestinian firefighters rushed to the scene after the house caught on fire as a result of Israeli artillery shelling. Palestinian Authority Minister of Detainees, Issa Qaraqe, said Israeli troops raided Birzeit at around 3 a.m.
Israeli forces kill Palestinian suspected of plotting terror attack
Haaretz 27 Feb by Gili Cohen — Israeli security forces early Thursday killed a wanted Palestinian man suspected of plotting to carry out a terrorist attack. A joint force of a police special unit and a military infantry unit entered the West Bank town of Birzeit overnight and surrounded the armed militant’s home, demanding he surrender. When the suspect refused to emerge, the troops opened fire on the house with an M72 LAW and an anti-tank missile. The security forces then entered the building, and found the suspect dead. During the raid, the security forces arrested two other Palestinians allegedly involved in terrorist activity and transferred them to the Shin Bet for interrogation. The troops were met with rock-throwing by Palestinians, and responded with tear gas and stun grenades.
PFLP vows revenge, PA condemns Birzeit ‘assassination’
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 27 Feb — The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine said in a statement on Thursday that it will respond to Israeli forces’ killing of an activist affiliated with the group during an arrest raid earlier in the day. The PFLP and its military wing Abu Ali Mustafa Brigades said that the “response is undoubtedly coming,” vowing to “continue to resist until the occupation is removed from all Palestinian soil.” The statement comes hours after Muatazz Washaha, 24, was killed following a stand-off with Israeli forces in the central West Bank village of Birzeit. The PFLP also called upon the Palestinian Authority to end security coordination with Israel, and to “return to the Palestinian people.” The Palestinian Authority, meanwhile, condemned the “assassination” in a statement on Thursday and demanded the “provision of international protection to the Palestinian People,” arguing that the “crime marks further escalation and an addition to the daily killing practiced by the Israeli occupation against Palestinians.” The statement argued the killing was “deliberate,” highlighting that Israeli forces had surrounded the house, evacuated residents, and then shelled the house, knowing Washaha was inside. The statement said that such actions “undermine peace efforts” and confirm that “the Israeli government is constantly seeking to foil these efforts.” Muatazz Washaha was killed in a dawn raid on the central West Bank village of Birzeit after Israeli forces surrounded and shelled his home. Israeli forces stormed the house and detained his brother, Ramiz Washaha, as well as Fadi Sedqi and Samir al-Qaisi, during the raid. No shots were fired at any point from within the house during the hours-long standoff.
3 injured in Hebron clashes following Birzeit killing
HEBRON (Ma‘an) Thu 27 Feb — Three Palestinians were injured by Israeli forces on Thursday during a protest near Hebron following the killing of Muatazz Washaha, 24, in the central West Bank earlier in the day. Local youths in al-Fawwar refugee camp threw stones and empty bottles at Israeli soldiers, who responded by firing rubber-coated steel bullets and tear gas. Israeli forces closed the main entrance to the camp and prevented cars from passing along the road as a result.
Thousands join funeral procession for man killed in Birzeit
[with photos] RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 28 Feb — Thousands of Palestinians participated in the funeral procession of Muatazz Washaha on Friday, a day after Israeli forces killed him during a siege on his home in Birzeit. The procession started with a military march in front of the Palestine Medical Complex before he was taken to his uncle’s home near Birzeit. Washaha’s body was then carried by masked PFLP members to a local mosque, where he was laid to rest. Mourners shouted slogans calling for an end to negotiations with Israel and revenge for crimes committed against Palestinians. Washaha’s mother said she would avenge her son’s killing and called for a response to Israeli crimes.
5 injured by live bullets in clashes following Birzeit funeral
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) Fri 28 Feb — Israeli forces opened fire on protesters near Birzeit on Friday, injuring five people in clashes that broke out a day after Israeli forces killed a man in his home. Five Palestinians were injured with live bullets and dozens of others suffered from excessive tear gas inhalation near the Atara checkpoint north of Birzeit. The clashes broke out following the funeral of Muatazz Washaha
Other violence / Raids / Clashes / Suppression of protests / Illegal arrests – West Bank
Bil‘in protest marks 9 years of resistance
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) Fri 28 Feb — Protesters in Bil‘in marked the ninth anniversary of the popular struggle against the wall with a march through the central West Bank village on Friday that was violently dispersed by Israeli forces. Israeli forces opened fire on marchers as they approached the wall as it passes near the village, injuring four protesters with rubber-coated metal bullets and detaining one. During the march, protesters climbed the separation wall and raised Palestinian flags atop it. Protest organizers said in a statement that nine years after first beginning their weekly marches to protest Israeli land confiscation, they were determined to continue … The march marked the ninth anniversary of the resistance movement in Bilin, which has been ongoing since February 2005. Since then, weekly protests by residents have managed to force Israeli authorities to return 1200 dunams (300 acres) of their lands that had been confiscated by Israeli forces when they built the separation wall. Since 2005, two local residents, Bassem Abu Rahma and Jawher Abu Rahma, have died as a result of injuries sustained by Israeli forces’ attacks on the marches. Additionally, organizers say around 1000 have been injured, and 200 detained.
Israeli forces ransack home, arrest Palestinian in East Jerusalem
[with photos of destruction] JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) Wed 26 Feb — Israeli forces detained a member of the Palestinian Preventative Security Forces in an East Jerusalem village early Wednesday, his family said. Ali Younis Jafar told Ma‘an that Israeli troops raided al-Sawahira al-Sharqiya and ransacked the home of his brother, 34-year-old Adli Jafar, damaging the interior of his house before detaining him. The soldiers arrived to the home at 1:00 a.m. while Adli Jafar was at work in Ramallah, his brother said. Adli Jafar was notified and then returned to his home to turn himself over to the soldiers, who took him to an unknown location
Israel arrests Nablus student bloc leader
NABLUS (Ma‘an) Wed 26 Feb — Israeli forces on Wednesday evening raided Nablus and arrested a student leader affiliated with Hamas, locals said. Locals told Ma‘an that Israeli army vehicles raided the northern West Bank city from the south at al-Toor area and from the east at al-Quds street and arrested Abd al-Rahman Hindiya, 26. Hindiya was arrested from al-Baloor area and was taken to an unknown destination.
3 Palestinians injured in clashes near Nablus tomb
NABLUS (Ma‘an) Thu 27 Feb — Three Palestinians were injured early Thursday during clashes with Israeli military forces in Nablus, locals said. Clashes broke out after a large force of Israeli soldiers entered Nablus to escort hundreds of settlers to Joseph’s Tomb.
Israeli soldiers fired tear gas, stun grenades and rubber-coated steel bullets at local youths, injuring Issa Lutfi al-Hashash, 17, and Abdul-Karim Raed Fattouh, 16. Both teenagers were taken to hospital for treatment. Ibrahim Abdul-Raof Shakokani, 27, was hospitalized after being assaulted by Israeli soldiers.
Israeli forces detain 9 Palestinians in Hebron district
HEBRON (Ma’an) Wed 26 Feb — Israeli forces detained nine Palestinian men in Hebron and the nearby village of Halhul overnight, locals said … A Molotov cocktail was fired at an Israeli military patrol in eastern Hebron late Tuesday, a Ma‘an reporter added. An Israeli military spokeswoman said she only knew of one arrest made by the army in the Hebron district overnight, but said it was possible that the Israeli police arrested others. She added that one Palestinian was arrested by the army in Jaba‘ near Ramallah, one in ‘Aida refugee camp near Bethlehem, one in Bethlehem, and two in Tubas.
Israeli forces raid Nablus village after firebomb thrown at bus
NABLUS (Ma‘an) Thu 27 Feb — Israeli forces raided the Nablus village of Osarin [or ‘Usarin] late Wednesday after a fire bomb was hurled at an Israeli bus in the area, locals said. Israeli forces broke into several homes and forced at least 20 men outside at gunpoint for questioning in the street which lasted for hours, witnesses told Ma‘an. Ayham Salih Adeli, 17, was detained and taken into Israeli custody. Clashes broke out following the raid, with Faraj Zeidan Adeli, 19, taken to hospital after being injured by Israeli soldiers.
Soldiers kidnap 15 Palestinians in West Bank
IMEMC Thu 27 Feb by Saed Bannoura — …Palestinian sources in Hebron, in the southern part of the occupied West Bank, have reported that the soldiers kidnapped Mohammad Rashed Az-Zaro, 13, Fayez Haitham Az-Zaro, 9 years of age, and a mentally challenged Palestinian identified as Ahmad ‘Aady Al-Eslooty, 19. Soldiers also invaded Yatta town, south of Hebron, and Taffouh town, west of the city, broke into a number of houses, and violently searched them causing excessive property damage … In Bethlehem, soldiers kidnapped Sharif Mahmoud Fannoun, 21, after stopping him at a roadblock near the Beitar Illit illegal settlement. He was heading back home from work, and was moved to an unknown destination. Dozens of soldiers also invaded Ya‘bad town, near the northern West Bank city of Jenin, and kidnapped three Palestinians after the soldiers violently searched their homes and ransacked their property … Furthermore, soldiers invaded the Zibda nearby village, and handed two residents military orders to stop the construction of their homes, located in Area C of the occupied West Bank, which is under Israeli military and civil control. Furthermore, soldiers invaded Aqbat as-Saraya area, in the Old City of occupied Jerusalem, broke into and searched one home, kidnapping a local medic identified as Wissam Hammouda, 35. His brother Dia’ said that soldiers forced Wissam to remove his clothes, and kidnapped him before taking him to the al-Qashla police station … The Palestinian News & Info Agency (WAFA) has reported that the army kidnapped Mohammad Mashoor Najjar, 21, from Burin village, after searching his home … dozens of soldiers invaded Marda village, near the Central West Bank city of Salfit, searched several homes and kidnapped two Palestinians. The two have been identified as Mohammad Imad Dyouk, 19, and Ala’ Abdul-Fattah Sa’id, 19. The army also invaded Kufr Ed-Deek village, kidnapping one Palestinian, identified as Wissam Suleiman ad-Deek, from the center of the town.
Clashes in Nabi Saleh as Israeli forces detain 54-year-old man
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) Thu 27 Feb — Clashes erupted on Thursday morning after Israeli forces stormed the village of Nabi Saleh north of Ramallah in order to detain a 54-year-old Palestinian man. Locals told Ma‘an that Israeli troops raided the village and ransacked the home of Fadil Tamimi, 54, “brutally assaulting his family members” before detaining him.As a result, fierce clashes broke out between soldiers and angry villagers, who “showered” Israeli military vehicles with stones. The soldiers deployed in the streets as a result, firing stun grenades and tear gas canisters at the protesters. Separately, Israeli forces also stormed the nearby village of Deir Nitham, firing stun grenades in the streets.
2 injured as Israeli forces open fire during clashes near Beit Ummar
HEBRON (Ma‘an) Thu 27 Feb — Two Palestinians were injured and dozens suffered from excessive tear gas inhalation on Thursday after Israeli forces opened fired on Palestinian protesters near Safa north of Beit Ummar in the southern West Bank, according to a local committee. Spokesman for the local popular resistance committee Mohammad Ayyad Awad said that Israeli forces fired live bullets, stun grenades, tear gas, and rubber-coated steel bullets during clashes. Two Palestinians were hit by rubber-coated steel bullets. Awad added that Israeli forces retreated to a nearby settlement following the clashes.
Two Palestinians kidnapped in Jenin
IMEMC Fri 28 Feb by Chris Carlson — Occupation forces kidnapped, on Friday, two Palestinians from Jaba‘ village south of Jenin, north of the West Bank. According to a PNN report, security sources said that Israeli forces raided the village of Jaba‘ and took Mu’een Ibrahim Hamamreh, 21, and Nizar Hamad Nayef Daisi, 20, after raiding their houses and rummaging with the contents.
Settlers attack, injure 2 Palestinians near Nablus
NABLUS (Ma‘an) Fri 28 Feb — A group of 20 settlers attacked two Palestinians in the Nablus village of Huwwara on Friday, locals said. Settlers hit Ahmad Awda, 35, and Fuad Daoud Awda, 55, with an iron rod, causing severe bruising. Fuad’s leg was broken during the attack and both men were taken for treatment in a Nablus hospital.
Official: Settlers to operate armed patrols across West Bank
NABLUS (Ma‘’an) Wed 26 Feb — Israeli settlers have announced plans to operate armed patrols across the West Bank, a Palestinian official said Wednesday. Ghassan Daghlas, an official who monitors settlement activity in the northern West Bank, said settlers had announced plans to run patrols of three gunmen on Israeli bypass roads as a form of protection. Daghlas said that settlers planned to station the first patrol on the road between the illegal Yitzar settlement and the Palestinian city of Nablus. The decision will have “dangerous consequences” if put in to effect, he said.
PCHR Weekly Report: 29 civilians wounded, 41 abducted by Israeli forces this week [20-26 Feb]
PCHR-Gaza Thu 27 Feb …during the past week, Israeli forces wounded 29 Palestinian civilians, sixteen of whom were wounded in the Gaza Strip and 13 who were wounded in the West Bank. Of the wounded were 5 children, 3 journalists, a human rights activist, a paramedic and a member of the Gaza Interior Ministry. In addition, Israeli forces conducted 4 shooting incidents along the border fence between the Gaza Strip and Israel and 2 shooting incidents against fishermen in the sea. Israeli attacks in the West Bank: Israeli forces conducted 59 incursions into Palestinian communities in the West Bank this week. 3 civilians were wounded. 41 civilians, including 6 children were abducted. Of the abducted were 4 employees from International Tadamun (Solidarity) for Human Rights in Nablus, including a woman. In the West Bank, 13 civilians, including 2 children, a paramedic, a journalist and a human rights activist, were wounded…. Full Report
New Amnesty report blasts Israel’s killing of Palestinian civilians, urges international pressure
Middle East Monitor 27 Feb by Ben White — The killing of Palestinian civilians by Israeli forces is the subject of a damning new report by Amnesty International, which documents “a callous disregard for human life” and “mounting bloodshed and human rights abuses” in the occupied territories. The new report, ‘Trigger-happy: Israel’s use of excessive force in the West Bank’, investigates the deaths of Palestinian civilians, “including children”, over a three year period – individuals killed by an Israeli army operating with “near total impunity”. Given the use of “unnecessary, arbitrary and brutal force”, including evidence of “wilful killings” that constitute “war crimes”, Amnesty is urging the international community “to suspend all transfers of munitions, weapons and other equipment to Israel”. Another recommendation is for the Palestinian authorities to sign and ratify the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC). Amnesty is also calling on the USA and EU member states to “oppose any type of sanctions or pressure seeking to prevent the PA from signing or ratifying any international treaties”, including “obstructing access to international justice” through the ICC.
Lawyer: Israel puts Palestinian teen in solitary after suicide attempt
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) Wed 26 Feb — Israeli authorities placed a Palestinian teenager with mental health issues in solitary confinement after a failed suicide attempt in Israeli prison, the Palestinian ministry of prisoners’ affairs said on Wednesday. Ministry lawyer Hiba Masalha said that Muhammad al-Rajabi, 16, from Hebron attempted to commit suicide in his prison cell in Hasharon prison, but was rescued by his fellow prisoners at the last moment … The statement highlighted that al-Rajabi had been detained since Oct. 27, 2013 and that he was suffering from mental and psychological issues in prison.
Youths tell of torture in Israeli prisons Separately, Masalha said she was told by several teenage prisoners that they were being tortured in Israeli jails. Khalil Ameen Muhammad Abu Sanad, 17, from the Jerusalem neighborhood of Silwan told Masalha how he was detained on Jan. 1, 2013 by undercover Israeli forces. He said they “leaped upon me, beating me brutally,” adding that an undercover agent punched him in the face, smashing his glasses. A piece of glass, he said, pierced his eye and caused bleeding while the agents continued to beat him with clubs and rifle butts.
The Supreme Court decided to increase the prison sentence of Mohammad Mahmoud from Esawyeh
Silwan, Jerusalem (SILWANIC) <pm 24 Feb — The Israeli Supreme Court approved on Monday the appeal submitted by the public prosecution against the District court’s decision to imprison 21-year old Mohammad Abdullah Mahmoud for 6 months, and the Supreme Court judge decided to imprison Mohammad for one year in addition to the 2500 NIS that he needs to pay according to the District court’s decision … Mahmoud pointed out that the Musta’ribin unit [Israeli soldiers disguised as Palestinians] arrested his brother while he was heading to his home in the village of Esawyeh on 23/08/2013 and assaulted him with the butts of their guns and their hands, injuring him with bruises and wounds all over his body; note that Mohammad was transferred to Hadassah Ein Kerem hospital for treatment.
Land, property theft & destruction / Ethnic cleansing / Apartheid / Discrimination
Silwan retaining wall collapses as a result of Israeli excavations
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 26 Feb — A large retaining wall collapsed on Wednesday morning in the Wadi Hilweh neighborhood of Silwan south of the Old City of Jerusalem as a result of Israeli excavations, a local group said. Director of the Wadi Hilweh Information Center Jawad Siyam told Ma’an that residents were awoken at 3 a.m. by the sound of the wall’s collapse. Siyam said that the wall is 15 meters long and three meters high, and four houses belonging to al-Taweel, al-Salaymah, Badr and al-Jaabari families sustained damage as a result of the collapse. Siyam highlighted that the Israeli authorities excavated a network of tunnels under Wadi Hilweh running to the Western Wall. Prior to the wall’s collapse, local residents had told Siyam that they heard the sounds of heavy duty machines digging under their houses throughout the night. An Israeli organization called Gilad is reportedly in charge of the excavations, which have repeatedly caused cracks in Palestinian homes in Wadi Hilweh. New excavations beneath the neighborhood to expand a network of tunnels that extend to the Old City began in January … In the past, tunnels have partially collapsed and caused holes to open up above them, threatening Palestinian homes, roads, and a local mosque. Israel frequently permits excavations and archaeological digs in East Jerusalem, specifically around the Al-Aqsa mosque, that threaten the structural integrity of Palestinian homes and holy sites in the area.
Occupation forces Jerusalemite to demolish garage
IMEMC Wed 26 Feb by Chris Carlson — Israeli occupation authorities forced the al-Sha‘er family, on Wednesday, to demolish a garage in their house. The house’s owner, Lu’ai al-Sha‘er, said that occupation authorities forced him to demolish the garage, built as a commendation [gift?] to his brother and his bride, according to Al Ray Palestinian Media Agency. The occupation notified the family of the demolition order, threatening them (in the case they do not demolish the garage themselves) that Israeli bulldozers will do the job and the family will pay the cost.
7 demolition orders handed to villagers in Nablus
NABLUS (Ma‘an) Wed 26 Feb — Israeli forces delivered demolition orders for seven homes that were allegedly built without permits in Al-Lubban ash-Sharqiya village south of Nablus on Wednesday evening. Ghassan Daghlas, a Palestinian Authority official who monitors settlement activity in the northern West Bank, told Ma’an that Israeli forces accompanied by civil administration officers raided the village and handed demolition orders to a number of local families.
State confiscates Bedouin playground equipment donated by Italy
Haaretz 28 Feb by Amira Hass — The Civil Administration has issued demolition orders against dozens of structures in the encampment, including the local school — The Civil Administration on Thursday confiscated playground equipment that the Italian government had donated to a school at the Khan al-Amar Bedouin encampment east of Jerusalem. A representative of the Italian Consulate accompanied the delivery, which came in two trucks, one carrying cement and the other a three-seat swing set and a slide with a tunnel and two ladders. The children barely had a chance to get excited about the equipment when Civil Administration inspectors appeared and announced they were seizing the two trucks and their contents, on the grounds that the installation was illegal. The consular representative drove off with the inspectors in an effort to overturn the decision … The Khan al-Amar encampment, which is along the road leading to Jericho, is home to the Jahalin tribe that Israel expelled from the Negev in the 1950s. Around 250 people have lived in for decades in the camp, which is situated on land belonging to the village of Anata. The settlement of Kfar Adumim is only two kilometers from the site, but (as with all the other Bedouin communities between East Jerusalem and Jericho), the Civil Administration refuses to let Khan al-Amar residents build, connect to the infrastructure, or put up as much as a tin shack, animal pen or tent, on the grounds that the area does not have an approved master plan.
Settlers bulldoze Palestinian land near Nablus to expand outpost
NABLUS (Ma‘an) Thu 27 Feb — Israeli settlers on Thursday bulldozed private Palestinian lands near the northern West Bank village of Jalud south of Nablus in order to expand an illegal settlement outpost, a Palestinian Authority official said. Ghassan Daghlas, a PA official who monitors settlement activities in the northern West Bank, told Ma‘an that settlers from the Shvut Rachel outpost had decided to expand their illegal settlement at the expense of nearby private Palestinian landowners. The fields that were leveled belong to Ahmad Ibrahim Hajj Muhammad, he added. Daghlas said that the Israeli government had granted the settlers construction licenses. Jalud is located directly beside a number of notoriously violent Jewish outposts and settlements, and hundreds of acres of its agricultural lands have been confiscated by Israeli authorities for their construction.
Settlers burn entrance of house in Ramallah village
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 28 Feb — Israeli settlers early Thursday torched a house in Silwad village east of Ramallah, residents said. Locals told Ma‘an that settlers set the entrance of the house of Mohammad Hussein Hammad on fire and wrote racist, anti-Arab graffiti on its walls near the eastern entrance of Silwad village. The house was empty when settlers attacked, they said.
Settler files lawsuit against Palestinian to remove traditional oven
HEBRON (Ma‘an) Fri 28 Feb — An Israeli settler has filed a lawsuit against a local Palestinian Bedouin in an attempt to remove his traditional oven in a village south of Hebron, the defendant told Ma‘an. The oven’s owner, Salim al-Hathaleen, said that the oven is on his land and he refuses to remove it because it provides bread to his family of 40 people, as well as others in the village of Um al-Kher east of Yatta. The lawsuit comes after months of harassment by the settler, including raids accompanied by Israeli forces, targeting the traditional “tabun” oven. The settler, who is a resident of the nearby Israeli settlement of Karmel, said in the lawsuit that he and his family suffer a result of the smoke emitted from the oven. He has reportedly requested a compensation of 250,000 shekels ($72,000), al-Hathaleen told Ma‘an. He said that settlers harass them daily in order to force them off of their land, while Israeli forces carry out frequent demolitions of Palestinian structures in the area.
Israel’s High Court orders removal of structure in West Bank outpost
Haaretz Wed 26 Feb by Chaim Levinson — Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon agreed to consider legalization of outpost in return for removal of earlier structures; one has since been rebuilt — The High Court of Justice on Wednesday gave the state two weeks to destroy a structure in the illegal West Bank outpost of Havat Gilad which was built without a permit. In issuing their order, the judges sharply criticized the outpost’s contravention of a previous interim order (decree nisi,) with one judge describing it as “impudence.”
New identity law raises fear of Israeli effort to divide Christians
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) Wed 26 Feb by Alex Shams — A new law to create a separate “Christian” nationality for Palestinian citizens of Israel successfully passed through the Knesset on Monday with more than three-quarters of votes in favor. The bill, which creates a distinction from the existing “Arab” nationality, has raised fears among many Palestinians that a renewed push is underway by the state to divide their society along religious lines. The law’s supporters have made clear that the new measure is not merely a legal formality, but instead intends to de-emphasize the Arab identity of Christians by racializing and politicizing existing religious distinctions … On Wednesday, PLO executive committee member Hanan Ashrawi condemned the law, calling it an effort to transform the occupation into “an outright religious confrontation,” and stressing that Israel is adopting a “policy of the classification of its citizens based on religion or ethnicity” as part of a larger system of “apartheid.” A Knesset committee is even looking into instituting compulsory army service for Israel’s 120,000 Palestinian Christians, a proposal which has raised ire among both Muslims and Christians citizens, who are currently exempted. But Palestinian society is not taking these efforts lying down. One member of the Knesset has even called upon the pope to intervene. Civil society groups on both sides of the Green Line, meanwhile, are mobilizing a campaign of local and global resistance to what they fear is a a larger campaign to tear their religiously diverse society apart. ‘Divide and rule strategy’ “We will do everything in our power to stop this law,” says Rifat Kassis, head of the Palestinian-Christian activist group Kairos … In Kassis’ view, the law reflects the “apartheid nature” of the Israeli state and its inability to “deal with its citizens as citizens” but instead as a collection of religious groups.
Palestinian teacher strip-searched before flying with her Jewish students
Haaretz Wed 26 Feb by Orly Vilnai — She stood in the middle of Eilat Airport’s small departures hall, and her eyes said it all. An impressive, well-dressed woman with an assertive face, only her burning eyes betrayed the insult she felt. “I’m so ashamed,” she said, and the tears began to fall. But shame is the last thing Ezies Elias Shehadeh should be feeling. The shame is ours, all Jews who live in Israel and who allow the kind of situation that Shehadeh experienced to take place. Shehadeh, a Palestinian who was born in Safed and has taught tourism at a Jewish high school in Tirat Carmel for 19 years, was returning from a school trip to Eilat with her students. As soon as she reached the security screening station, she was separated from her students and treated like an arch-terrorist.
Israel to limit Friday access to Al-Aqsa mosque
Jerusalem (AFP) Thu 27 Feb — Israeli police said they will limit access for Muslim men to Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa mosque compound during Friday prayers to prevent possible clashes following services. Police spokeswoman Luba Samri said on Thursday that men under the age of 50 will be barred from Friday prayers, based on intelligence of plans for unrest, with security forces bolstering their presence in the area. The decision comes after police clashed with stone-throwing Palestinians at the compound on Tuesday, hours ahead of a debate in the Israeli parliament on Jews’ right to pray at the compound, which is currently denied. The discussion, which did not result in a vote or any practical measures, sparked fury in the Muslim world, with the parliament of Jordan — the custodian of the site — voting to expel Israel’s envoy and its premier warning Amman might review its peace treaty with Israel.nd the 57-member Organisation of Islamic Cooperation on Wednesday condemned the debate as a “dangerous escalation,” calling it part of Israel’s goal to “Judaise Jerusalem.”
Palestinians protest across Jerusalem, 4 detained
[with photos] JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 28 Feb — Israeli forces detained four Palestinians in Jerusalem on Friday as clashes broke out throughout the city following the imposition of new restrictions on Palestinian worshipers at the Al-Aqsa mosque compound. Two people were beaten and detained by undercover Israeli forces in the Ras al-Amoud neighborhood, while a man described as an “Israeli settler” opened fire at Palestinians from his car. The man reportedly fled the scene without being apprehended by Israeli security forces nearby. Israelis from Jewish settlements on the Mount of Olives near Ras al-Amoud threw stones at Palestinians and their cars as they passed on Friday as well. Near the Old City’s Damascus Gate, meanwhile, Israeli forces detained a Palestinian identified as Mohammad al-Rashq after they dispersed local youths and inspected their IDs. In the area between Cotton Merchant’s Gate and the Council Gate of the Al-Aqsa compound Israeli forces scuffled with youths, beating them with batons and spraying pepper spray. They detained one youth during the clashes.
Thousands pray at police checkpoints after Aqsa restrictions
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) Fri 28 Feb — Thousands of worshipers performed Friday noon prayers in front of police checkpoints after Israeli forces imposed restrictions on Palestinian worshipers seeking to access the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound. The Al-Aqsa Waqf and Heritage Organization said that worshipers who had been unable to enter the area held prayer services in Bab al-Amoud, Wadi al-Joz and the Ras al-Amoud area near al-Aqsa. Hundreds of Israeli soldiers were deployed in the vicinity of Al-Aqsa and dozens of checkpoints were erected while a helicopter hovered over the area, the waqf organization said.
Jordan MPs vote to expel Israeli ambassador
AMMAN (AFP/Al Akhbar) Wed 26 Feb — A majority of Jordanian MPs voted on Wednesday to seek the expulsion of Israel’s ambassador to the kingdom after the Knesset debated Israeli sovereignty over Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa mosque compound. Prominent lower house deputy Khalil Attieh told AFP that 86 out of 150 members of parliament voted to seek the expulsion of Israeli envoy Daniel Nevo. The vote, which is not legally binding, came a day after 47 MPs, including Attieh, signed a motion demanding that a 1994 peace treaty with Israel be annulled … Under the peace treaty, Jordan is the custodian of Muslim holy sites in Jerusalem.
Arab League discusses filing UN complaint on Al-Aqsa violations
CAIRO (Ma‘an) Wed 26 Feb — The Arab League permanent representatives’ emergency session discussed on Wednesday the possibility of filing a complaint to the UN Security Council regarding recent Israeli attacks on the Al-Aqsa compound in East Jerusalem. The discussion comes amid a controversial Israeli Knesset discussion about extending Israeli sovereignty over the compound, which is holy to both Muslims and Jews but as part of the 1994 peace agreement with Jordan is under Jordanian custodianship. The Arab League council called upon the Organization of Islamic Cooperation to spread awareness regarding the dangers threatening the compound in order to gain support for the complaint. The council also called upon the EU, major powers, and UNESCO to take responsibility in Jerusalem and to protect Islamic and Christian holy sites from Israeli threats.
Sick Gaza woman dies at Erez crossing
IMEMC Wed 26 Feb by Chris Carlson — A Palestinian woman, sick with heart disease, died Wednesday morning at Eretz crossing, in the northern Gaza Strip. Ministry of Health spokesman Ashraf al-Qedra said that Wedad Deeb, 71, died while waiting at the Israeli side of the crossing, adding that she was on her way to a West Bank hospital to get medical treatment.
Israeli military kill Palestinian woman near Gaza border — hospital
GAZA (Reuters) Sat 1 Mar — The Israeli military shot and killed a Palestinian woman in the Gaza Strip in an area near the border that Israel has declared a no-go zone for Palestinians, local hospital officials said on Saturday. Gaza residents said it was not clear why 50-year-old Amna Qdaih, who they said suffered from a mental illness, was near the security fence that runs between Israel and Gaza. Asked about the report, an Israeli military spokeswoman said soldiers identified a number of suspects in the area late on Friday and called on them to back away. After they did not, the soldiers fired at their legs and one was hit, she said. Qdaih’s body was found and transferred to a hospital early on Saturday.
Israeli forces shoot man near Gaza border
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) Fri 28 Feb — Israeli forces shot and injured a Palestinian man on Friday during a protest against Israeli restrictions in border areas. An unidentified man in his twenties was shot in the leg near Beit Lahiya and taken to hospital with moderate injuries. He was taking part in a demonstration against Israel’s “security buffer zone”, which extends between 500 meters and 1500 meters into the Gaza, effectively turning local farms into no-go zones.
Israeli air strike hits northern Gaza
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) Fri 28 Feb — Israeli forces launched an air strike on the northern Gaza Strip on Thursday evening targeting a rocket launch site, according to a statement by Israeli forces. The statement said that the air strikes targeted a rocket launching site in order “to eliminate an imminent threat against Israel.” Israeli website Walla said that Israeli aircraft targeted a rocket launch pad in the town of Beit Hanoun in the northern Gaza Strip as it was preparing to fire rockets towards Israel.
Digging for their lives: Tunnels used to bring supplies to Gaza are rebuilt by Palestinians….
[with video, photos] Daily Mail Thu 27 Feb — A group of Palestinian workers rebuild a tunnel linking the occupied Gaza strip with Egypt after it was destroyed by the latter’s army during a military operation … Ashraf, 29, a tunnel owner, said: ‘We are working to fix the tunnel quietly away from Egyptian eyes. There are six workers in the morning and another six continue to work at night under the border with Egypt. ‘They pull out the sand and mud that filled the tunnel using plastic containers pulled out by a machine.’ He says the work is dangerous and that the tunnels can collapse at any moment.
Natural gas field discovered on Gaza’s coast
Middle East Monitor Tue 25 Feb — Palestinian MP Dr Salem Salama, a member of the economic committee of the Palestinian Legislative Council, announced that the Palestinian government in the Gaza Strip has discovered a natural gas field off the coast of the central province. In remarks to Sout Al-Aqsa on Monday morning, he noted that the field is only 200 to 300 meters away from the central province’s beach, which means that the natural gas can be easily extracted. “The fact that the field is so close to the beach will facilitate the work of any company that might invest in this field. The return will be great for the Gaza Strip, in economic terms,” he added. Salama also revealed that the Palestinian Legislative Council has summoned the Minister of Interior and the Minister of Economy to provide more details about the subject and to discuss the government’s view on how to benefit most from this field. The MP explained that the field was discovered by a number of Palestinian fishermen when they saw bubbles coming out from the water and thought they were the result of plants or fish moving. He pointed out that a number of navy personnel then took samples of the gas to the laboratories at the Islamic University, where it was confirmed that the substance was natural gas.
Committee to escalate protests against Gaza siege
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) Fri 28 Feb — The High Committee to Lift the Siege on Gaza said on Friday that it plans to escalate its efforts in the face of the continuing Israeli siege on Gaza. Spokesman for the committee Hammad al-Raqb told Ma‘an that the efforts would begin today with activities including mass phone calls to consulates and embassies calling for an end to the siege. “After eight years of siege and after the closure of tunnels, the siege intensified and we have to raise our voice to influence public opinion to end the siege on Gaza,” al-Raqb said.
Egypt opens Rafah crossing for Umrah pilgrims
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) Wed 26 Feb — Egyptian authorities opened the Rafah crossing with the Gaza Strip early Wednesday to allow a group of pilgrims to return to their homes, a Palestinian official said. Gaza border officials said in a statement that Rafah was opened to facilitate the return of 250 Umrah pilgrims from Saudi Arabia. A first group of pilgrims returned to Gaza on Tuesday, along with a number of other passengers, the officials said.
Collaborator sentenced to 15 years in Gaza
GAZA (Ma‘an) Thu 27 Feb — A Gaza military court on Thursday sentenced a man found guilty of collaboration with Israel to 15 years in jail. A statement from the court said the man, only identified by his initials A.S., was born in 1982 and was from al-Shati refugee camp. The decision could be appealed, the statement said.
Explosion targets church in Gaza
IMEMC Thu 27 Feb — The Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR) has stated that unknown gunmen detonated an explosive device [a hand grenade] in the yard of a local Christian church in Gaza City, on Wednesday at dawn [February 26, 2014], and wrote racist anti-Christian graffiti. The Center said that approximately at 12:30 after midnight, a loud explosion was heard in the yard of the Latin Church, and the Latin Patriarchate School, located in the Zeitoun neighborhood, east of Gaza City. The Palestinian police arrived at the scene, and initiated an investigation into the attack … [The PCHR] called on local civic organizations, political factions and the Palestinian people to denounce the crime, adding that this attack targets the unity of the Palestinian people.
Gaza political cartoonist faces censorship, death threats
GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip Wed 26 Feb by Asmaa al-Ghoul — A controversy erupted Jan. 22 when artist Majida Shaheen drew and published a cartoon on her Facebook page depicting Gaza Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh trying to tame an angry dog with the name “Al-Quds Brigades” — the military wing of Islamic Jihad — written on its collar. The cartoon is an allusion to the attempts of the Gaza government to prevent resistance factions from launching rockets against Israel. The artist was threatened and cursed on her Facebook page. When Al-Monitor sent Shaheen a message requesting an interview, she refused, saying, “I am facing threats and pressure. I cannot do any interviews.” The majority of threats the artist faced seemed to come from angry citizens, who considered the cartoon offensive to the resistance movements, especially Islamic Jihad. For his part, Islamic Jihad spokesman Daoud Shehab denied that his organization threatened Shaheen.
A Greek treasure pulled from the sea disappears again in Gaza
NPR Thu 27 Feb by Emily Harris — On a sunny Friday in August last year, Judah [Jawdat!!] Abughorab paddled a small, flat boat over the blue Mediterranean Sea about 100 yards off the Gaza Strip’s sandy shore. He doesn’t really like to eat fish, but catching them is the unemployed construction worker’s favorite pastime. That day, he netted a half a dozen. Then, through the clear water, he spotted something that made him look again. “It looked like a person,” he says. “Eyes, a face, hands, fingers.” … Officials with the Hamas government, which runs the Gaza Strip, say they have Apollo in storage now. Ahmed al-Borsh, director of Gaza’s Antiquities Department, hopes this Greek god can help forge ties with Western institutions. “We want to establish direct connections with official institutions who share our aim of protecting the statue,” he says. “Direct connections” is the key phrase for Hamas. and the European Union, Hamas hopes interest in preserving this apparent rare find could crack the door of isolation.
Gaza: The world has forgotten about us … people think we are just numbers…
In Gaza 27 Feb by Eva Bartlett — This is why I’m doing the Gaza speaking tour now in the States: shared from Eileen Carr and “I am from Gaza”: A friend sent me two messages in the last two days. He said that he is ok and that he does not like to complain but that he and his family are suffering more and more everyday. “I am tired. I am very much tired. Now nobody talks about Gaza. No news channels. Again the same thing is happening. We have no work….not much money….not much work….we go to study. We study good but for what reason I wonder and I ask to myself….we really have no hope in our hearts. I see my Father when he thinks my mother is not watching to him. I see he is sad and very old. More old than is his age. And so I worry and I cry in secret because I cannot help because even if I have good degree … no work. and so I cannot help and am only like a child and burden to my family. Not like a man at all. Two days now we think the crossing is open. But only few pass….all the rest come home again. Not much power…not much fuel…not much medicine and not much hope in out hearts. If anyone in Gaza tell you they do not depression do not believe to them. Maybe they hide this from their own hearts. But I know. I really know. We are all depression here. But hamdulillah for everything” —we all owe it to the people of Gaza to increase awareness of this illegal occupation and breaking of international laws and end this inhumane occupation. –Eileen
Palestinian refugees in Syria, Lebanon
‘Apocalyptic’ scenes in Yarmouk refugee camp
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) Wed 26 Feb — The United Nations agency for Palestine refugees on Wednesday released shocking images of Palestinians queuing for food parcels in Syria’s Yarmouk refugee camp. “It is impossible not to be touched by the apocalyptic scenes emerging from the Palestinian refugee camp of Yarmouk in Damascus, besieged and cut off for months,” UNRWA Spokesman Chris Gunness said. The photo shows thousands of refugees in the besieged camp waiting in line to receive food packages delivered by UNRWA. “The delicate, hunger-ravaged features of children waiting in line for an UNRWA food parcel; the face of a mother creased in grief for a deceased child; tears of joy as a father is reunited with a long-lost daughter; these are the vignettes of inhumanity that have become the regular fare of nightly news bulletins. They are UNRWA’s daily reality,” Gunness added. [See UNRWA photo galleries here]
Thousands trapped in Syria’s Yarmuk camp ‘slowly dying’
Beirut (AFP) Fri 28 Feb by Serene Assir, Rana Moussaoui- Gaunt, ragged figures fill the streets for as far as the eye can see in the besieged Palestinian refugee camp of Yarmuk outside Damascus, where some 40,000 are said to be slowly starving to death. The United Nations distributed shocking images this week of thousands of people, their faces emaciated, desperately flocking to receive food aid that only a few were lucky enough to collect. “We live in a big prison,” said Rami al-Sayed, a Syrian activist living in Yarmuk, speaking to AFP via the Internet. “But at least, in a prison, you have food. Here, there’s nothing. We are slowly dying.” “Sometimes, crowds of children stop me on the streets, begging me: ‘For the love of God, we want to eat, give us food.’ But of course, I have no food to give them,” Sayed said. After months of shelling and fierce fighting in and around Yarmouk between rebels and President Bashar Assad’s troops, the camp’s population has shrunk from more than 150,000 to 40,000. Among them are 18,000 Palestinians. Since last summer, the area has been under choking army siege, creating inhumane conditions for its inhabitants. “We’ve been living off herbs, but these herbs are bitter. Even animals won’t eat them,” said Sayed. “And if you go to the orchards to pick herbs from there, to use them to cook soup, you’ll get sniped.” … Since January, UNRWA has distributed only 7,500 food parcels in Yarmouk, describing that as “a drop in the ocean compared with the rising tide of need.” One parcel feeds a family of between five and eight for 10 days. “Yesterday (Wednesday) only 10 percent of people here received assistance,” said Sayed … Much of the camp has been reduced to rubble by shelling, fighting and occasional aerial bombardment. The lack of food in Yarmouk is compounded by medical shortages. “In the hospitals, there are wounded people who cannot be treated because there are no doctors or medicines,” said Sayed. “I saw a young man with a shrapnel wound to his leg. He won’t get better until he is able to leave the camp,” which is still under siege even though the rebels have withdrawn.
‘Please, please take us out, we are dying here’
BBC News 25 Feb — It is almost beyond belief that anyone could still be living in the destroyed Yarmouk Palestinian refugee camp
Infographics: Palestinian labor discrimination in Lebanon
Al-Akhbar Thu 27 Feb by Chloé Benoist — Tackling issues such as health care coverage, job precarity and Palestinians’ contribution to the Lebanese economy, the series shows how Lebanon’s policies affect refugees who have lived in the country for decades. “Palestinians have been here for 60 years, and they are not going anywhere,” a staff member of the International Labor Organization told Al-Akhbar. “Palestinians shouldn’t be treated as foreigners, but as refugees…This is a breach of human rights.” Palestinians are legally barred from practicing dozens of qualified professions – including law, medicine and engineering – practically condemning them to low-income and black market jobs.
Activism / BDS
WATCH: Anti-occupation activists bring Hebron to Tel Aviv
Israeli Social TV Thu 27 Feb — Dozens of Tel Aviv storeowners woke up Tuesday morning to find that anti-occupation activists had posted fake military orders on their storefronts. The pseudo army notices ordered the stores to shut down for the entire day, in commemoration of the 20 years since the Cave of the Patriarchs massacre in Hebron, and to give Tel Aviv residents a glimpse of the Palestinian reality of segregation in the city.
‘Made in Illegality’ – STOP all economic relations with illegal Israeli settlements
ECC Palestine 28 Feb — On Thursday – February 27, some 20 Belgian organisations launched a campaign “Made in illegality.” The campaign advocates on the basis of international law that Belgium and the European Union have the obligation to end all economic relations with the illegal Israeli settlements. The legal approach of the campaign is based on the report prepared by Francois Dubuisson – a professor of International Law at the Université libre de Bruxelles (ULB), in the Center of International Law:
Anti-boycott bills pose a serious threat to free speech and academic freedom
Columbia Spectator 28 Feb by Katherine Franke — In several state legislatures across the country, bills have been introduced that would penalize universities should their faculty members participate in professional organizations that express a political viewpoint by endorsing a boycott. Sheldon Silver, New York State Assembly speaker, has introduced such a bill in Albany. These proposed laws intend to attack academic professional organizations such as the American Studies Association, which recently endorsed the academic boycott of public educational institutions in Israel. Both opponents and proponents of a boycott of Israeli public educational institutions should unite in condemning these ill-conceived anti-boycott laws. A law punishing political speech in an academic setting poses a devastating threat to academic freedom and our constitutional rights.
Report: 44 Palestinians killed, 2702 arrested since the resumption of negotiations
IMEMC Wed 26 Feb by Chris Carlson — Palestine Liberation Organization – Negotiation Affairs Department issued, Wednesday, a report revealing the number of Israeli violations that were committed since the resumption of negotiations, as follows: Since the resumption of negotiations in July 30th 2013, Israel has escalated its aggressions against the people in the occupied State of Palestine. During the past 7 months Israel has advanced 10,489 housing units in Israeli settlements (or over 52,000 new settlers), killed 44 Palestinians, conducted 3,360 military raids, arrested 2702 Palestinians, demolished 154 homes — as well as settlers have conducted 497 terror attacks. At the same time, dozens of Palestinian institutions, notably the Orient House and the Chamber of Commerce, continue to be closed by Israel, in defiance of its obligations as an occupying power.
Abbas ‘exploded with rage’ at Kerry over ‘insane’ framework proposal
Times of Israel Thurs 27 Feb — Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas left a two-day meeting with US Secretary of State John Kerry in Paris last week fuming over Kerry’s proposals for a framework accord between Israel and the Palestinians, according to a Palestinian report. The top American diplomat reportedly offered for Abbas to form a Palestinian capital in the neighborhood of Beit Hanina, not all of East Jerusalem, as the Palestinians have demanded. Kerry also suggested that Israel keep 10 settlement blocs as part of any territorial exchange, according to Al Quds, the most widely read Palestinian daily, on Wednesday. The Jordan Valley would not be part of a future Palestinian state, Palestinian sources told the paper, nor would there be an international force stationed there. And Kerry reportedly demanded that the Palestinians recognize Israel as the homeland of the Jewish people.
Mideast peace talks will slip beyond April: Kerry
WASHINGTON (AFP) Thu 27 Feb — US Secretary of State John Kerry acknowledged Wednesday that his quest to seal a full Middle East peace deal will slip beyond an April deadline. He was first hoping to agree a framework to guide the talks between Israel and the Palestinians, Kerry told a small group of reporters in Washington, including AFP. “Then we get into the final negotiations. I don’t think anybody would worry if there’s another nine months, or whatever it’s going to be… But that’s not defined yet,” he said in his private conference room at the State Department. “We’re using the current deadline to help shape this,” he said, adding he was prepared to continue the talks “for whatever period of time might be appropriate.”
Palestinians reject US push for peace talks beyond April
AFP/Al-Akhbar Thu 27 Feb — A senior Palestinian official on Thursday rejected US moves to extend an April deadline for nine months of hard-won talks with Israel to culminate in a framework peace deal. “There is no meaning to prolonging the negotiation, even for one more additional hour, if Israel, represented by its current government, continues to disregard international law,” Palestinian Authority chief negotiator Saeb Erakat told AFP. “If there was a committed partner, we wouldn’t even have needed nine [months] to reach that deal,” he said.
Abbas should condition peace talks on lifting Gaza siege / Daoud Kuttab
Opinion (Al-Monitor) 28 Feb — The stage appears set, if the Palestinian leadership chooses, to reconcile the Gaza Strip with the West Bank and end the unjust siege that has fallen on Gaza for the past seven years — … Both Israel and the United States are keen to extend the talks that have yet to bear any fruit. US Secretary of State John Kerry made this US position crystal clear when he publicly called for an extension of the talks for another nine months. Top Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat immediately responded by refusing any extension of the talks. Israel has been regularly leaking stories to the media indicating its desire for an extension of the talks. The Israelis and even Kerry are concerned that the international boycott, divestment and sanctions movement (BDS) would get a huge boost if the talks ended without result. US universities are in the midst of a week-long anti-Israeli campaign under the title Israel’s Apartheid Week. With both Israeli and Palestinian leaders set to visit Washington to confer with US President Barack Obama, a single Palestinian demand of lifting the Gaza siege and allowing the free flow of people and goods between the Gaza Strip and the West Bank will accomplish many results for the embattled Palestinian leadership.
Obama to take stock of peace talks with Netanyahu, Abbas
WASHINGTON (Reuters) Thu 27 Feb – President Barack Obama will take stock of peace negotiations in upcoming Oval Office meetings with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on March 17, the White House said on Thursday. The Obama administration had originally hoped to help broker a deal by April 29. But on Wednesday, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said he hopes at best to get Israel and the Palestinians to agree on a “framework” for an agreement by that time.
PA arrests ‘armed gang’ in Hebron
HEBRON (Ma‘an) Wed 26 Feb — The Palestinian Authority security forces in Hebron reportedly detained members of the “Ghlees” armed gang in Hebron during a campaign taking place over the last couple of days, a security official told Ma‘an. The official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said that the suspected gang members worked in selling weapons. he added that they are suspected of opening fire at the intelligence office two years ago, and of attempting to run over a Palestinian police officer.
IT in the West Bank – Palestinian connections
TEL AVIV (The Economist) Wed 26 Feb — Outside of Silicon Valley, one of the most vibrant places for technological innovation is Israel. And while it is early days and tiny by comparison, another entrepreneurial ecosystem is emerging on the far side of Israeli military checkpoints: the West Bank now boasts about 300 firms operating in the information-technology (IT) industry. Most of the Palestinian tech firms cluster around the city of Ramallah. This may be just a half-hour or so drive away from Jerusalem, but the gulf is immeasurably wider. With no airport of their own and travel heavily restricted, Palestinians can find it difficult to even attend business meetings. And borders and checkpoints make shipping physical goods very difficult. “That’s why we like to work with software,” says Mashour Abudaka, a former Palestinian IT minister. It is not just software’s unique ability to flow through wires, untroubled by borders, that is helping the cluster flourish. IT workers in the West Bank earn only half as much as their Israeli counterparts. The Israeli subsidiary of Cisco, a Silicon Valley networking giant, in 2008 was one of the first firms to outsource work to less expensive Palestinian firms