Land, property theft & destruction / Ethnic cleansing / Restriction on movement
Israel OKs controversial E. Jerusalem archaeological project
Jerusalem (AFP) Fri 4 Apr – Israel has approved a controversial archaeology project in annexed east Jerusalem, the interior ministry said Friday, in a move likely to compound tensions threatening to scupper peace talks with the Palestinians. The ministry “heard objections” from the Palestinians and from residents to the plans to build a visitor centre just outside Jerusalem’s Old City walls in the Arab neighbourhood of Silwan, a statement said. However it approved the project on the grounds that it “will show important archaeological discoveries to the public”. “As a tourist attraction, this will contribute to the development of the city of Jerusalem,” the ministry added. The so-called Kedem complex is to be built on a plot of land currently being used as a car park opposite the Dung Gate, the main entrance to the Western Wall and the Jewish Quarter of the Old City. It would be managed by Elad, a hardline settler organisation which seeks to increase Jewish settlement in east Jerusalem and which runs the nearby City of David archaeological site. The Silwan neighbourhood is already home to dozens of Jewish settler families who live under heavy guard among their Arab neighbours … Sami Ershid, a lawyer representing Silwan residents, accused Israel of trying to void Silwan of its Palestinian population by denying them construction permits. He told AFP the new complex would be a multi-level building of some 16,000 square metres (172,160 square feet). The decision came as Israel looked for ways to punish the Palestinians for applying to adhere to 15 international treaties after the Jewish state failed to release Palestinian prisoners.
Israeli forces demolish Bedouin dwellings in East Jerusalem
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 3 Apr — Israeli forces stormed the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Jabal al-Baba east of al-Ezariya and demolished several mobile dwellings housing Bedouin families early Thursday, locals told Ma‘an. Large numbers of special Israeli forces gathered near the illegal Maale Adumim settlement before they raided Jabal al-Baba, escorting three bulldozers and officers of the Israeli Civil Administration. The bulldozers started a wide-scale demolition process targeting structures made of steel, tin sheets and wood. The structures belonged to Bedouin families who have lived in the area since 1948. East Jerusalem popular committee spokesman Hani Halabiya told Ma‘an that the residents were not given any time to evacuate their belongings. Some of the demolished steel structures, he said, have been used as dwellings, while others served as cattle farms belonging to Bedouins from the al-Jahalin tribe. Halabiyya highlighted that the demolition is part of an Israeli plan to empty the hill of its Palestinian residents, who have been there since they were displaced from their villages in 1948, in order to enlarge Maale Adumim settlement through the so-called E1 area.
Israel razes homes in Jordan Valley hamlets, displaces tens of families
JORDAN VALLEY (PIC) 1 Apr — The Israeli occupation forces (IOF) bulldozed on Tuesday 23 Palestinian homes and structures in Hamsa and Karziliya hamlets in the Jordan Valley and displaced tens of Bedouin families living mainly on livestock farming. Rashid Khudairat, coordinator of the popular campaign in the Jordan Valley, said that the Israeli bulldozers wiped out everything in the hamlets and rendered families of more than 200 individuals homeless.
link to www.palestine-info.co.uk/En/
Six shelters demolished by Israeli forces in the Palestinian village of at-Tuwani
AT-TUWANI, Occupied Palestine (Operation Dove) 3 Apr — On April 2 the Israeli army together with some Border Police and District Coordination Office (DCO) officers demolished six shelters made of concrete in the Palestinian village of At-Tuwani. At 9:20 am a convoy made up of one bulldozer, two army Jeeps, three Border Police vehicles, and two DCO cars entered the Palestinian village of Al Mufaqarah. The convoy passed through and reached the hills surrounding the gravel road that connects the Palestinian village of Al Mufaqarah to the village of At Tuwani. The area is Palestinian private land, cultivated with wheat and olive trees. On those fields the Palestinian owners from At-Tuwani in the past three years had built shelters made of concrete, in order to have a backing place during the harvest seasons when Palestinian families work hard for entire days under hot sunbeams. Under the directions of DCO officers six shelters were demolished by the bulldozer; two of those were already completed and two others still under construction. On March 2, a DCO officer had come to the area and took pictures of the shelters but no demolition order was delivered.
Demolitions in Bruqin: ‘If you really want peace, you wouldn’t take what’s mine’
BRUQIN, Occupied Palestine (ISM Nablus Team) 2 Apr — On the 1st of April, at approximately 5.30 AM, a bulldozer and eight military jeeps arrived in the village of Bruqin close to the city of Nablus. The bulldozer first destroyed a farmers shed, killing the ten rabbits inside. The destruction continued as a caravan belonging to another farmer was also demolished, and finally later the same night, a building belonging to a farmer in the nearby village of Beit Furik was also destroyed. This is just one of many nights where Palestinian property has been demolished by the Israeli army. Inside the village of Bruqin a girl’s school, recently financed by US Aid, is threatened by a demolition order. The mayor of Bruqin spoke to an ISM activist after the demolitions: “I talked to some Israeli settlers one week ago, and told them that we could live in peace, together. But they replied that they want another 700 dunums of land from Bruqin. So, I don’t think that they want peace. If you really want peace, you wouldn’t take what’s mine”.
Israeli forces demolish house, detain 6 near Ramallah
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 3 Apr — Israeli forces on Wednesday demolished a Palestinian building and detained six people near Jaba‘ junction southeast of Ramallah. Israeli forces claimed the building was used for “criminal” and “terror” activities, and that it was unlicensed. Israel’s military referred inquiries to a police spokesman who did not return calls.
Israeli forces close western entrance to Ramallah village
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 3 Apr — Israeli forces closed off the Western entrance to a Ramallah village on Thursday, locals said. Villagers from Silwad told Ma‘an that Israeli forces blocked off the entrance with concrete blocks to aid settlers who had recently seized tens of acres of Palestinian land in the village. The settlers, protected by Israeli military forces, built barb wire fences around the annexed land to prevent the Palestinian owners from accessing their fields.
Completion of Waldorf Astoria hotel on ruins of Islamic council building
OCCUPIED JERUSALEM (PIC) 2 Apr — The Aqsa Foundation for Endowment and Heritage said the Israeli occupation authorities announced the completion of the international hotel Waldorf Astoria, which makes part of the Hilton worldwide chain, in occupied Jerusalem. The construction of the hotel, built on the ruins of the Supreme Muslim Council building west of occupied Jerusalem, falls as part of the Judaization policy of the holy city … The Foundation said in a report on Wednesday that all the way through seven years several demolitions have been carried out by private construction companies followed by deep drillings of the region and the construction of a chain of buildings adjacent to the remnants of the Supreme Islamic Council building, to which several floors have been added. The finalized version of the building was molded in an Israeli style in contrast to the building’s external fronts preserved for reasons of tourism marketing.
link to www.palestine-info.co.uk/En/
IOA opens new tunnel in Silwan district
OCCUPIED JERUSALEM (PIC) 3 Apr — The Israeli occupation authority (IOA) on Wednesday opened a new tunnel in the heart of Silwan district near the Aqsa Mosque after 15 years of diggings in the area. According to the Aqsa foundation for endowment and heritage, the IOA held a small opening ceremony in camera for the new tunnel, which is part of the deep Silwan underground passageway, south of the Aqsa Mosque. The Aqsa foundation said that this tunnel is part of a network of tunnels extending from Silwan and going under and around the Aqsa Mosque’s foundations. Over 15 years of deep diggings, huge rocks and a large amount of dirt had been removed from the dig site. The IOA and its Jewish groups in east Jerusalem describe the dig area and the tunnel as the Ein Castle, which they claim that Prophet Dawoud (David) took it after he conquered the Arab Canaanites and that Prophet Suleiman (Solomon) became the king of Israel at this site. The Aqsa foundation condemned these Israeli claims as another Jewish lies and part of the Israeli plans that aim to Judaize the entire holy city of Jerusalem.
link to www.palestine-info.co.uk/En/
Gaza athlete petitions Israeli court for right to run
GAZA CITY (Palestinian Territories) (AFP) 3 Apr — A Palestinian Olympian from the Gaza Strip said Thursday he had asked Israel’s Supreme Court to overturn a ban on his passing through Israel to join a marathon in the occupied West Bank. Nader al-Masri, who was prevented from participating in the first Bethlehem marathon in 2013, again sought permission to transit the Erez crossing from Gaza to Israel this year and was again refused, he told AFP. “I applied for a permit to go to Bethlehem through the Erez crossing to take part in the marathon taking place on April 11, but unfortunately I was informed last Friday that Israel rejected my application,” he said. Gisha, an Israeli watchdog that works to facilitate Palestinian freedom of movement, said it took up Masri’s case. “Our petition to the Supreme Court… was served this morning,”
Increased settler activity
Nablus man suffers fractures during settler attack
NABLUS (Ma‘an) 4 Apr — A Palestinian was injured on Friday after being attacked by Israeli settlers in Urif village south of Nablus, a Palestinian official said. Mohammad Ahmad Radi Ibrahim, 33, suffered several fractures after dozens of settlers from Elon Moreh attacked farmers in the village, Ghassan Daghlas told Ma‘an. He was taken to Rafidia hospital for treatment.
Settlers raid East Jerusalem neighborhood
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 4 Apr — Dozens of settlers raided the Palestinian neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah in East Jerusalem on Friday, vandalizing property and attacking residents. Resident Umm Khaled Atiyeh told Ma‘an that around 50 settlers raided the area and threw stones at houses, cars, and locals. Four Palestinians were lightly injured in the attack. Israeli police arrested Murad Atiyeh, 17, and Muhammad Atiyeh, 20, after assaulting them, witnesses added.
Jenin farmers say settlers released boars, dogs to attack livestock
JENIN (Ma‘an) 2 Apr — Palestinian farmers in Jenin on Wednesday accused settlers of deliberately releasing wild boars and stray dogs onto their land to attack livestock. Farm owner Amal Labadi told Ma‘an that “dozens of stray dogs and boars attacked my farm in the southern neighborhood of al-Yamun, killing eight sheep and wounding others.” Labadi said that several similar attacks have been reported in previous months. Locals say settlers from the nearby Rehan settlement deliberately release boars and stray dogs to destroy Palestinian fields and attack farm animals.
Jewish extremists vandalize Christian village in Israel
TEL AVIV, Israel (Ma‘an) 3 Apr — Suspected Jewish extremists on Thursday slashed the tires of over 40 cars and sprayed racist graffiti in a predominantly Christian town in northern Israel, Israeli media reported. The perpetrators sprayed “Only goyim should be evacuated from our land” on a wall in the village of Jish, a majority Maronite village of some 3,000 residents. The attackers also slashed the tires of 40 cars. Israeli police have opened an investigation into the incident, and labeled the incident a suspected “price tag” attack.
Israeli settlers ‘smash Palestinian car’ in Nablus village
NABLUS (Ma‘an) 2 Apr — Israeli settlers damaged the car of a Palestinian man from a Nablus-area village early Wednesday, an official said. Ghassan Daghlas, a Palestinian Authority official who monitors settlement activities in the northern West Bank, told Ma’an that a number of settlers stormed Jalud and “smashed a car” belonging to local resident Riyad Ahmad Hammoud. The settlers were from the nearby illegal Israeli outpost of Ahiya, Daghlas said. He did not provide further details about the exact nature of the damages to the car.
Settlers destroy over 300 grape vines near Bethlehem
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 4 Apr — Israeli settlers on Friday destroyed over 300 newly planted grape vines in al-Khader village south of Bethlehem, locals said. Landowner Mohammad Ibrahim Sbeih told Ma‘an that he saw settlers from the illegal Sde Boaz settlement on his land in the al-Shub area. Coordinator for the local resistance committee Ahmad Salah told Ma‘an that the settlers vandalized 18 dunams (four acres) of land. Israeli forces arrived in the area and detained Sbeih and his brothers for several hours, he said. The Palestinian Agricultural Relief Committee has said it will provide compensation for the attack and plant new trees, Salah added.
Settler attempts to abduct 2 Palestinians
NABLUS (Ma‘an) 3 Apr — Two young Palestinian men escaped an abduction attempt by an Israeli settler in southern Nablus on Thursday, Palestinian security sources said. A settler from Brakha near Burin village in Nablus bought a mobile phone from a cellular shop in Huwara then asked the owner to go with him to the settlement’s entrance to pay. According to the Palestinian officials, the owner and a friend of his went with the settler in his car and on the way he pulled out a gun and threatened them. They asked him to pull over, attacked him, seized his gun and beat him before he ran away. The young men escaped to a Palestinian security center and handed over the settler’s gun.
Army, police violence / Raids / Attacks / Clashes / Suppression of protests / Illegal arrests
Dozens injured in nonviolent protests in the West Bank
IMEMC by Saed Bannoura — [Friday, April 4, 2014] Palestinian medical sources have reported that dozens of Palestinians have been injured, including several residents shot by rounds of live ammunition, after Israeli soldiers attacked nonviolent protests in different parts of the occupied West Bank. Medical sources in Kufur Qaddoum, near the northern West Bank city of Qalqilia, said that dozens suffocated after inhaling gas fired by the army when the soldiers attacked their weekly protest demanding Israel to reopen the main road of their village that the army closed 13 years ago. Morad Eshteiwy, coordinator of the Popular Committee against the Wall in Qalqilia, said dozens of soldiers attacked the nonviolent protesters from different sides, and fired gas bombs, concussion grenades, rubber-coated metal bullets, and several rounds of live ammunition. [more on protests in other places]
Palestinian shot with live bullet in Nabi Saleh
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 3 Apr — A Palestinian was shot with a live bullet and injured by Israeli forces in Nabi Saleh village north of Ramallah. A statement from the popular resistance movement said Rami al-Rimawi was shot with a live bullet in the foot during clashes in the villages. He was taken to Salfit Hospital with moderate injuries, it said.
Israeli forces five live ammunition on protest in support of Palestinian prisoners
Mondoweiss 4 Apr by Adam Horowitz — Storify: Israeli forces open fire on protest for Palestinian prisoners Israeli troops fired on Palestinian protests today outside Ofer prison in the West Bank with live ammunition. At least 12 protesters were sent to the hospital, some with serious injuries. Israel recently cancelled an agreed upon prisoner release as part of the US-led peace process.
Twilight Zone: It was nothing personal,’ bereaved Palestinian father told
Haaretz 4 Apr by Gideon Levy & Alex Levac — ‘I am the law here, I am the sovereign,’ continued the IDF commander, whose soldiers killed 14-year-old Yusef a-Shawamreh last month — We went to the breach in the fence where his son was killed. We walked along the dirt trail that descends to the separation fence, which cuts off the family’s land from the village. The hole is very wide – both the barbed-wire fence and the concertina wire behind it are torn – and according to the villagers, it has been this way for a long time. The boy, Yusef a-Shawamreh, did not, apparently, sabotage the fence. His father, Sami, is insistent about this – as though, if the 14-year-old boy had actually damaged it, his death would have been justified. The camouflaged soldiers were hiding in their lethal ambush on the hillock opposite the breach, on the other side of the security road and its safety railing. There was no way the three youths — who were picking ‘akub (Arabic for “gundelia”), a thistle-like edible plant, as they do daily in this season — could have seen the soldiers … The soldiers spotted them from a long way off; the whole area is exposed. It is also rife with security cameras. But the soldiers waited until the three went through the barriers and started to walk toward the field on the other side, which belongs to the dead boy’s family. Then they started shooting — using live ammunition, it must be emphasized. Yusef ran for his life. A bullet struck him in the back of the thigh as he tried to get over the safety railing. He collapsed, bleeding badly. It took a long time — about half an hour — for a military ambulance to evacuate him, according to an investigation by the Israeli human rights organization B’Tselem.
Israeli forces detain Palestinian man at Jordan Valley checkpoint
JENIN (Ma‘an) 2 Apr — Israeli forces detained a Palestinian man in the northern West Bank on Wednesday, a prisoners center said. Israeli forces detained Ahmad Khalil Murtada, 34, at the Hamra checkpoint in the Jordan Valley. Murtada was on the way to meet his brother at the Allenby Bridge crossing with Jordan when his car was stopped. A 10-year-old boy traveling with Murtada was left by himself following the arrest before eventually being found and returned to his family.
Israeli forces detain 2 in Nablus village
NABLUS (Ma‘an) 2 Apr — Israeli forces on Wednesday detained two young Palestinian men in al-Sawiya south of Nablus after opening fire toward them, a Palestinian official said. Ghassan Daghlas, who monitors settler activity in the northern West Bank, told Ma‘an that Salman Riyadh Hijazi and another unidentified man were arrested and taken to an unknown destination. An Israeli military spokeswoman said two people approached a settlement and were detained. She said one was released and the other was held for questioning. The spokeswoman said forces guarding the settlement fired warning shots in the air. Neither side reported injuries.
Soldiers inject Palestinian with unknown component while arresting him
IMEMC/Agencies 3 Apr — The Palestinian Prisoners Society (PPS) has reported Thursday [April 3, 2014] that an Israeli soldier injected a Palestinian with an unknown substance while kidnapping him in Beit Jala town, near the West Bank city of Bethlehem. The PPS said that several soldiers attacked Yousef Abdul-Rahim Khatib, 26, before one of them injected him with a substance that caused him to have difficulties in breathing’ shortly afterwards, he started breathing heavily, and lost consciousness. His uncle, Khaled Khatib, said the family thought, at first, that the soldiers sprayed gas in his face, but found the syringe and needle the soldiers used. Yousef was placed on a stretcher and was taken away by the soldiers. Abdullah Zaghary, executive head of the PPS stated that the injection will be sent to a local lab to determine the materials used by the soldiers, and held Israel responsible for the life and welfare of the detainee. Al-Khatib was kidnapped on Wednesday, at dawn, when the soldiers invaded the home of his uncle in Beit Jala, after using explosives to detonate the main door of the property. The army used dogs while violently searching the house, leading to excessive property damage.
On Wednesday, soldiers forced a Palestinian child to take an unknown pill after kidnapping him in the Jabal Johar area, in Hebron, in the southern part of the occupied West Bank. After Ziyad al-Shanteer, 15, was obliged to take the unknown pill, he felt dizzy and suffered a headache moments later. The child was transferred to a hospital in Hebron for medical treatment.
Israeli forces arrest Palestinian after weapons find
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) Wed 2 Apr — Israeli forces on Wednesday arrested a Palestinian for illegal possession of a firearm and ammunition in al-Ram village north of Jerusalem, residents said. The man was searched while at a shop in the village, and the gun was found in his possession, residents of the village said.
Six lawyers arrested for smuggling letters for jailed Hamas leaders
Haaretz 2 Apr by Nir Hasson — Six employees of an East Jerusalem law office have been arrested on suspicion of passing coded letters from imprisoned Hamas leaders to activists in the Islamist organization on the outside. A gag order on the case was lifted on Wednesday. The arrests of the Palestinian employees of the Al Quds Law Office came after an undercover investigation by the Jerusalem Police central unit and the Shin Bet security service.
Palestinians hurl firebombs at Israeli checkpoint near Nablus
NABLUS (Ma‘an) 3 Apr — Palestinian youths threw Molotov cocktails at an Israeli military checkpoint south of Nablus on Thursday, Palestinian security officials told Ma’an. The youths targeted a flying checkpoint near the village of Madama which was set up after firebombs were thrown at a settler bus. Israeli soldiers opened fire at the youths and reserve forces arrived to search the area.
Israeli forces detain 10 Palestinians in overnight West Bank raids
NABLUS (Ma‘an) Wed 2 Apr — Israeli forces detained 10 Palestinians in the West Bank overnight, locals and an army spokeswoman said. Witnesses told Ma‘an that soldiers arrested Muhammad Mahmoud Maali and Hatem Imad Maali in the village of Beita in the Nablus district. Israeli military vehicles, meanwhile, entered nearby ‘Asira al-Shamaliya village, where soldiers arrested 30-year-old Nair Abd al-Fattah. Additionally, Palestinian security sources said that Israeli forces in Hebron arrested Muhammad al-Jamal, 24, and in Dura south of Hebron arrested 21-year-old Ahmad Munif Qazaz. An Israeli military spokeswoman said the army arrested 10 Palestinians overnight, but that she was not familiar with any detentions in Hebron.
Detainees / Court actions (Israeli and PA)
Father of Palestinian political detainee goes on hunger strike
NABLUS (PIC) 4 Apr — The father of a Palestinian political detainee has gone on an open-ended hunger strike on Thursday in solidarity with his son Malik, who is in jail for 15 days. Malik’s father, Bilal Ashtiya, said on his Facebook page that he decided to go on hunger strike to protest his son’s detention without any guilt by the PA security apparatuses. The magistrates’ court in Nablus extended at the behest of the PA intelligence apparatus the detention of 14 students from the Islamic Bloc, including Malik, who had been arrested during the funeral of Al-Qassam leader Mohamed Hanbali. According to pledges by the PA intelligence agency, Malik was supposed to be released on Thursday.
link to www.palestine-info.co.uk/En/
Detainee Abu Maria calls off hunger strike after 83 days
RAMALLAH (PIC) 2 Apr — Prisoner Wahid Abu Maria from Al-Khalil, detained since October 2012, has halted a three-month hunger strike which he had initiated to protest his administrative detention in Israeli prisons. The head of the Legal Unit in the Palestinian Prisoner Association, Jawad Boulos, said that Abu Maria has suspended his hunger strike at Wolfson hospital following a release agreement with the Israeli prosecution along with a number of pledges including his right to family visits, letters, and return to Ofer prison….
link to www.palestine-info.co.uk/En/
PA court jails journalist for 3 months in absentia
NABLUS (PIC) 4 Apr — The PA magistrates’ court has sentenced on Thursday Quds Press reporter Mohammed Mona to three months imprisonment in absentia as he is currently held in Israeli prisons. The Magistrate’s Court in Nablus has sentenced the journalist Mohammed Anwar Mona, 30, in absentia to three months on charges of incitement, family sources told PIC correspondent. The family declared their total rejection to the court’s rule, considering it a political decision that aims to silence Palestinian citizens and journalists in particular.
link to www.palestine-info.co.uk/En/
Palestinian radio programs help prisoner morale
Al-Monitor 4 Apr by Daoud Kuttab — Palestinian families are communicating over the radio with their imprisoned loved ones languishing in Israeli jails — “Brother Murad, I want to say something to my brother in jail,” says a female voice. “Go ahead,” Murad al-Sabi replies warmly. “My dear brother Sameh, I’m sorry no one was able to come to see you. The Israelis didn’t give your brothers permission. I was supposed to see you today, but the Israelis turned me back at the Howara checkpoint. Don’t worry, I have already booked with the Red Cross for the next visit on April 8. Hope to see you then. Take care of yourself. My greetings to your friends, the heroes Ahmad, Ali and Louay and all of the brave men of Palestine. The chains will one day be shattered. Keep your heads up.”
The forgotten Palestinian prisoners
AL-BIREH, West Bank (Al-Monitor) 1 Apr by Ahmad Melhem — The Palestinian prisoner cause is suffering from a lack of public interest, poor local media coverage and no political support — While Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas presses Israel to release the final batch of long-term Palestinian prisoners, thousands others are languishing in Israeli jails, and their plight unheard by the main Palestinian factions. Nahed al-Aqra, 42, is a Palestinian prisoner in an Israeli occupation jail who lost both legs. Every Tuesday, his mother, Umm Mazen, participates in a weekly sit-in in front of the Red Cross headquarters in the city of al-Bireh in the center of the West Bank. A handful of officials and parents of detainees also take part in these sit-ins.
Gaza under double blockade
Medics: 2 hurt in Gaza airstrikes
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) Fri 4 Apr — The health ministry in Gaza said a 1-year-old and a 30-year-old man arrived injured at Shifa Hospital after being hit with rocket shrapnel in the al-Maghraqa area in southern Gaza. Israeli forces targeted 10 sites in Gaza in 15 attacks overnight, hours after the Israeli army said four rockets landed in open areas in the south of Israel. One airstrike targeted a washing machine factory in Jabaliya refugee camp that caused a fire. The air force also targeted two sites belonging to Hamas’ al-Qassam Brigades south of Gaza City. Additionally, they targeted the former al-Zahraa police station and a blacksmith workshop in Jabaliya. In a statement, Israel’s military said its aircraft targeted four “terror sites” in the northern Gaza Strip and one additional site in the central Gaza Strip. Direct hits were confirmed, it said. It also said that Palestinian snipers fired at security personnel near a security fence in the north, causing damage to an armored vehicle. Several hours later, four rockets struck southern Israel, it said.
Israeli bulldozers enter Gaza border area, level agricultural land
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) Thu 3 Apr — Israeli military vehicles entered a border area in the southern Gaza Strip on Thursday and leveled Palestinian agricultural lands. Eyewitnesses told Ma‘an that six bulldozers accompanied by Israeli tanks entered an area east of Rafah and leveled agricultural land. Several aircraft patrols were seen in the area, locals added.
8,000 Gazans wait for Egypt to open Rafah crossing
World Bulletin 3 Apr — As many as 8,000 Gazans have registered to cross the Rafah border crossing into Egypt, the head of the border authority at Gaza’s Interior Ministry said Thursday. Maher Abu Sabha told Anadolu Agency that the rising number of Gazans registered to cross into Egypt had prompted the border authority to stop taking applications except for emergency cases. “Four thousand Gazans registered in a single day, while another 4,000 who had registered previously are still waiting to cross,” Abu Sabha said. Egyptian authorities reopened the Rafah crossing for three days earlier this week following 49 days of sustained closure. The crossing, the embattled Gaza Strip’s only access to the outside world, has since been resealed by Egyptian authorities. “The border closure is a disaster for medical patients and humanitarian emergencies,” said Abu Sabha.
Egypt to open Rafah crossing for 3 days starting Sunday
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 5 Apr — Egyptian authorities will open the Rafah crossing with the Gaza Strip for three days to allow pilgrims to pass through, Palestinian officials said in a statement Saturday. Gaza border crossing officials said that the crossing would open Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday for Umrah pilgrims only. Rafah will allow 760 Umrah pilgrims to exit Gaza on Sunday and Monday, and on Tuesday will allow pilgrims who have already completed the pilgrimage to return to the Strip.
1,200 security officers graduate from Gaza interior ministry
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 2 Apr — Over 1,200 security officers graduated from Gaza’s Ministry of Interior on Wednesday, the ministry said in a statement. Gaza Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh and Minister of Interior Fathi Hammad took part in the graduation ceremony along with a number of other Palestinian faction leaders. Hammad announced during the ceremony that the Ministry of Interior would establish 10 specialized schools to train security service personnel, the statement added.
Erdogan vowed to work to ease Gaza siege: Haniyeh
GAZA CITY (Turkish Press) 2 Apr — Gaza Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh said Wednesday that his Turkish counterpart, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, had vowed to “keep his promise” to work on easing Israel’s eight-year-long siege of the Gaza Strip. The assertion came one day after Haniyah phoned Erdogan to congratulate him on his Justice and Development (AK) Party’s strong showing in recently-concluded Turkish local elections. “[The AK Party’s] victory in local elections will bolster the Palestinian nation and cause,” Haniyeh said at a graduation ceremony for new security officers and soldiers.
Haniyeh also renewed his criticism of ongoing U.S.-sponsored peace talks between Palestinian and Israeli negotiators. The Gaza premier said he wasn’t surprised that peace talks – which resumed last July after a three-year hiatus – were foundering due to Israel’s failure to abide by an earlier promise to release scores of Palestinian prisoners. “Negotiations with Israel have always been futile,” Haniyeh said. “We weren’t surprised by the turbulent end of the talks, which is the inevitable result of any initiative launched in the absence of national consensus.”
Hamas to launch new satellite channel
GAZA CITY (Al-Monitor) 2 Apr by Hazem Balousha — The Hamas-led Gaza government is preparing to launch its own Al Ra’i satellite television channel, a new addition to an array of print and electronic media outlets by the same name … The Gaza government and Hamas own a number of media outlets, mostly established after Hamas’ victory in the 2006 elections. They include a daily and semi-weekly newspapers, a number of local FM radio stations, a monthly newspaper that deals with social issues, a variety of local news agencies and websites, a media production company and the Al-Aqsa satellite television channel, as well as a few television channels and news sites abroad. The Al Ra’i satellite channel is expected to begin pilot broadcasts this year.
Gaza theaters battle censorship, conservatism
GAZA CITY (Al-Monitor) 3 Apr by Asmaa al-Ghoul — A lack of female performers, the siege and close monitoring by the Hamas government has resulted in a dwindling Gaza theater industry — The joy of stage performance and creativity made actress Wala Mutir, 27, smile as she greeted the crowd in the city of Khan Yunis in the southern Gaza Strip. She played the leading role in “Scenes from Christine’s Heart,” a play adapted from the play “Mourning Becomes Electra” by Eugene O’Neill. But Mutir’s happiness is not complete. After all, she’s an actress in a conservative place: Gaza. A young man in the audience stood up and objected by saying, “We are in a society that doesn’t accept plays that incite women to reveal their feelings.” This is not the first time that someone criticized Mutir’s work. “Society doesn’t accept my career and will not accept it. I consider it a hobby more than anything else,” she told Al-Monitor.
Making art in the Gaza Strip: Mohammed al-Hawajri
BBC News 4 Apr — The struggling artist is a stereotype that resonates throughout the world, but being a painter or sculptor in the Gaza Strip can be particularly challenging. Mohammed al-Hawajri struggles to import the materials he needs because of border restrictions imposed by Israel and Egypt. Mohammed has been asked to participate in international exhibitions but it is so difficult for him to get permission to export his work and leave the Palestinian territory that he is staging his latest show in Gaza City. BBC News went to meet Mohammed al-Hawajri and find out about his work.
Why this 12-year-old artist refused to be called ‘the Arab Picasso’
Barakabits 2 Apr by Valentina Primo — Each of Mohammad’s strokes mirrors his smile: vivid and colorful, full of truth. “I dream of telling the world about Palestine and its people, its prisoners, its children. Foreigners do not understand our language but they can understand us through painting,” he says. With thought-provoking compositions and an amazing style, the 12 year old artist is dazzling crowds and critics through exhibitions, competitions and events. MBC News called him the Arab Picasso, but he rejects the title. “Picasso is an artist with his own identity and his own style,” he explains, “and I want to be known as Mohamed Qryqa.” As we talk on the phone, some ladies who see him sitting in a cafe stop and ask to take pictures with him. He has become Gaza’s sensation, as several TV shows feature his paintings. How does it fee to be famous? I ask. “It feels like breaking down walls. If I get to cross over, it will be a sign that the wall dividing the Palestinian lands could start to be broken”, he replies, smiling.
Palestinian refugees in Syria
Group: 142 refugees have died in Yarmouk since June
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 5 Apr — A Syria-based monitoring group said Saturday that it had recorded the deaths of 142 people in Yarmouk refugee camp from hunger and lack of medical care since June 2013. In a statement, the Workforce for Palestinians in Syria identified the most recent victim of a regime-imposed siege on the Damascus camp as Rushdi al-Madani, who died Friday of “hunger and dehydration.” Humanitarian aid to the camp has been limited throughout the bouts of fighting, but 500 food parcels were allowed to enter the camp on Friday, the statement said.
Photos: Lovely Gaza, despite it all
Dozens of beautiful photos by Eva Bartlett – not new, but just in case you missed them
Beautiful scenes of everyday life in Palestine go far beyond the conflict
Wired 2 Apr by Jakob Schiller — Pictures of the smuggling tunnels linking Gaza and Egypt often feature weapons or black market commerce, but Tanya Habjouqa shows us a woman using the tunnels to reach a wedding in Egypt. Instead of the long lines or violent clashes so often seen at the Qalandia checkpoint that separates East Jerusalem and Ramallah, Habjouqa catches a young man casually smoking a cigarette while a sheep looks on from the passenger seat. The often lighthearted and sometimes bizarre shots filling Habjouqa’s series Occupied Pleasures are meant to help viewers re-see and reconsider a place too often reduced to conflict-fatigue. Habjouqa wants to show us that, even in the face of hardship, most people in Palestine are still trying to enjoy their lives.
Photos of the week: From Land Day rallies to life in a refugee camp
Activestills3 Apr — This week, Land Day commemorations, rape culture protests, asylum seeker rallies, anti-wall demonstrations, and refugee camp life.
Political, other news
Israel halts Palestinian prisoner release as talks falter
JERUSALEM (AFP) Fri 4 Apr by Stephen Weizman – Israel has called off the planned release of 26 Palestinian prisoners, placing already embattled peace talks in further jeopardy after both sides took steps Washington called “unhelpful.” Israel’s chief negotiator, Justice Minister Tzipi Livni, told her Palestinian counterparts on Thursday the planned releases cannot go ahead because the Palestinians had formally requested accession to several international treaties, a source close to the talks told AFP. The Israelis saw this as a breach of conditions agreed for a resumption of US-brokered peace talks last July, the source said. As news of the cancellation broke, Palestinians in Gaza fired four rockets into southern Israel, prompting retaliatory air strikes early Friday by Israel. No casualties were reported on either side. A frustrated US Secretary of State John Kerry on Thursday demanded that recalcitrant Israeli and Palestinian politicians demonstrate leadership in the peace process. The talks hit a new impasse when Israel failed to free the prisoners as expected at the weekend. In response, the Palestinians formally requested accession to several international treaties, including the Fourth Geneva Convention, which provides the legal basis for Palestinian opposition to Israeli settlements in the occupied territories … “Israel has a habit of evading agreements and conventions it has signed,” Yasser Abed Rabbo, general secretary of the PLO executive committee, told AFP. “That is why conditions for future negotiations must change radically,” he added, without elaborating. White House spokesman Jay Carney said Israel’s decision had put further strains on peace efforts. “The decision by the Israelis to delay the release of the fourth tranche of prisoners creates challenges,” he said in Washington.
Israel, Palestinians, US meet to avoid talks collapse
Jerusalem (AFP) 5 Apr – Israeli and Palestinian negotiators will meet jointly Sunday with US envoy Martin Indyk, as attempts continue to prevent the collapse of peace negotiations, officials close to the talks said. The first three-way meeting since Wednesday comes as Washington reviews its push for a peace deal after a spiral of tit-for-tat moves by Israel and the Palestinians took hard-won negotiations close to collapse. US Secretary of State John Kerry said on Friday there were “limits” to the time and energy Washington could devote to the process, adding it was time for a “reality check.”
PLO negotiators have 7 conditions to renew talks
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) Fri 4 Apr — Palestinian negotiators have posed seven conditions that must be met by Israel to continue negotiations beyond April 29. The conditions were announced during a 9-hour meeting Wednesday with Israeli negotiators in Jerusalem, a high-ranking source in the PLO told Ma‘an. The following are the conditions, according to the source.
1. To receive a written letter from Israel’s premier recognizing the Palestinian borders of 1967 with East Jerusalem as its capital.
2. The release of Palestinian prisoners who former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert agreed to free including Marwan Barghouthi, Ahmad Saadat, and Fuad Shweiki.
3. Implementing a border-crossing agreement and lifting the siege on Gaza.
4. The return of exiles deported in the 2002 Bethlehem siege.
5. Stopping settlement activity in Jerusalem, and opening closed institutions in Jerusalem.
6. Allowing the reunification of 15,000 Palestinians with their families.
7. Israel refraining from entering areas under Palestinian Authority control for arrests or killings, and granting the PA some control over Area C.
Erekat: Leaked list doesn’t represent our official stand
Haaretz 3 Apr by Jack Khoury — Palestinian negotiator says reported list of six demands came from Fatah officials, not him, and is not Palestinians’ official position — Chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat denied on Thursday that his team presented a list of demands to Israel that included the release of 1,200 prisoners, recognition of the 1967 borders and of East Jerusalem as the capital of Palestine, as was reported in several Palestinian media. Erekat told associates that this list came from Fatah officials, not from him or his staff, and did not represent the official Palestinian negotiating position. He said that while he did tell U.S. envoy Martin Indyk and Israeli negotiators on Wednesday night that the Palestinians wanted to discuss the dispute’s core issues, he did not go into detail nor make the demands reported. Mohammed Shtayyeh, a senior Fatah official and formerly co-negotiator with Erekat, agreed that the list of demands did not represent the official Palestinian position. He told Haaretz that the key issue the Palestinians wanted to negotiate was borders. He said that from the start of negotiations last July, the Palestinians and Americans both sought to make borders the first issue on the table. “If we had the settled the issue of borders, we would have wrapped up several major sticking points, mainly settlements … and security arrangements. Each side would have known where his border lay, and we would have gone on to negotiate about Jerusalem and water, but Netanyahu and his government began raising difficulties and obstacles. What’s important to Netanyahu is to preserve his coalition and not to reach an agreement,” Shtayyeh said.
Ambassador: Palestine eligible for 550 intl orgs
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 2 Apr — Palestine could join up to 550 international treaties and conventions including the International Criminal Court, the Palestinian ambassador to the UN said Wednesday. Ibrahim Khraishi told Ma‘an that the 15 applications submitted on Wednesday would take three to four months for approval. “These conventions don’t have US funding like other organizations such as the World Health Organization which receives $720 million annually, So, its members will not be financially blackmailed,” Khraishi said. He added that the US did not make any negative statements on the applications so far. Khraishi highlighted that he would meet the US ambassador in Switzerland on Thursday to discuss the issue. There are a few organizations that require General Assembly approval in addition to an internal majority of votes, he noted….
In July, the PLO agreed to postpone accession to international bodies in exchange for the release of 104 Palestinians prisoners jailed before the Oslo Accords. “Since Israel failed to release the last group of prisoners, the State of Palestine is no longer obliged to postpone its rights to accede to multilateral treaties and conventions,” the PLO said in a statement Wednesday. “Despite the escalation of oppressive Israeli policies such as the killing of Palestinian civilians, settlement construction, raids on vulnerable communities, arbitrary arrests and detentions, home demolitions and the removal of residency rights, we remained committed to the negotiations process and supported US efforts,” it added. Earlier, Israeli Tourism Minster Uzi Landau warned of punitive action if the PLO pursued efforts to join UN agencies and threatened that Israel could annex territory in the occupied West Bank in response. Israel could also hurt the Palestinians economically by acting “to block financial aid to them,” the minister added.
Israel to impose economic sanctions on PA
Middle East Monitor 4 Apr — Israel has begun a series of punitive measures against the Palestinian Authority in response to the Palestinian request to join 15 international UN treaties, Haaretz reported on Wednesday. The present economic sanctions come in the wake of latest crisis in the political process which reached its climax on Wednesday. During an emergency session between US envoy Martin Indyk and the Israeli and Palestinian negotiating teams during which Israel’s chief negotiator Tzipi Livni demanded the Palestinian Authority back down from its request to go to the United Nations organisations otherwise Israel will not release the fourth group of Palestinian prisoners. The newspaper quoted an Israeli official as saying that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defence Minister Moshe Ya’alon asked the Coordinator of Activities in the West Bank Territories Yoav Mordechai to submit proposals of punitive measures against the Palestinians. According to the paper the suggestions included freezing the Wataniya mobile company, which operates in the West Bank, from entering hardware to the Gaza Strip to deploy its mobile communications network there, and to impose restrictions on the activity of the Palestinian Authority in the Area C in the West Bank which falls under Israeli security and civil control. The paper said a study of other economic sanctions is being conducted. Options being considered include freezing the tax and customs revenues which Israel collects on behalf of the Palestinian Authority and collecting the Palestinian debt amounting to hundreds of millions of shekels to the Israeli Electricity Company. No decision has been made as to which measure will be implemented.
House warns Palestinian aid may be cut
Al-Monitor 2 Apr by Julian Pecquet — US lawmakers are signaling that the United States could withhold hundreds of millions of dollars from the Palestinian Authority over PLO Chairman Mahmoud Abbas’ gambit with the United Nations.Congress sought to tie funding for the PA to preservation of the status quo at the UN in this year’s omnibus spending bill. While it’s not clear Abbas’ decision violates the letter of the law, appropriators have made it clear they think its spirit has been trampled on.
Arab ministers to meet April 9 on Israeli-Palestinian talks
AFP 2 Apr — The Arab League has called an emergency meeting of foreign ministers for April 9 on the floundering US-brokered peace talks between Israel and the Palestinian, its chief Nabil al-Arabi announced Wednesday. The meeting will discuss Israel’s refusal to release Palestinian prisoners, a key sticking point in the negotiations, Arabi told reporters. President Mahmoud Abbas requested the meeting, Arabi said, adding it would “examine developments in the light of Israel’s refusal to release a fourth tranche of prisoners and extend talks.”
Sa‘adat: ‘I will not accept the price of my freedom to be several meters of the land of Palestine’
Samidoun 31 Mar — “I refuse to be released on the basis of a ‘condition for negotiations’ and I will not accept the price for my freedom to be several meters of the land of Palestine, the land that we have fought for and been imprisoned for. I refuse to be free on the condition of the expansion of settlements. I refuse this offer, not even a single house for Zionist settlers will be built as the price of my freedom.” – Ahmad Sa‘adat, from Gilboa Prison — In an interview with the Palestinian Information Center, Abla Sa‘adat (Um Ghassan), Palestinian women’s activist and the wife of imprisoned Palestinian leader Ahmad Sa‘adat, recounted Sa’adat’s rejection of any release on the basis of concessions of Palestinian land and rights, expressed to her in their last visit at Gilboa Prison, where Ahmad Sa‘adat is being held by the occupation. This came following reports that the release of Sa‘adat and Marwan Barghouti, other imprisoned Palestinian parliamentarians and sick prisoners could be offered in exchange for extended negotiations or political cncessions.
Hamas: PA arrests 144 members in West Bank
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 3 Apr — Hamas accused Palestinian Authority security forces of arresting 144 of its member recently in the West Bank. Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said in a news conference in Gaza City that the “attack” on Hamas leaders and members was “unjustified and incomprehensible.” He said it was “poisonous to reconciliation and a violation of all national values and Palestinian bonds.” “There will be no reconciliation as long as our leaders are kidnapped”, he said, accusing the PA of handing Hamas members to Israel.
HALO commences mine clearance in the West Bank
HALO Trust 3 Apr — The HALO Trust has commenced mine clearance in the West Bank – the first and only NGO to conduct mine clearance with support from both the Israeli and Palestinian mine-action authorities. HALO’s first clearance task is a minefield laid in 1965 by the Jordanian military, approximately 200 metres from the village of a-Nabi Elyas in Qalqiliya District. The minefield has historically caused accidents to civilians from the local community and blocked access to fertile agricultural land. Once cleared the land will return to its Palestinian owners and will once again be used to grow olive trees and other valuable cash crops for the first time in nearly 50 years. Experienced manual deminers from HALO’s programme in Georgia travelled to the West Bank to work alongside Palestinian machine operators responsible for the specialist armoured plant required for the technically challenging mine clearance at a-Nabi Elyas.
Israeli drone crashes in Nablus area
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 3 Apr — Israeli police said Wednesday that an unmanned drone crashed while flying above Nablus on Wednesday night. Officials added that the Israeli army will investigate the crash to determine what caused it.
Israel has already spent US aid through 2018
Globes 4 Apr by Ran Dagoni, Washington — Israel has already used up its annual $3.1 billion in this year’s US military aid, and has committed all the aid through 2018, when the current aid package expires. The funding has been allocated for the procurement of F-35I stealth fighters, transport aircraft, heavy troop carriers, and other equipment. “Defense News” reports, “Under a US-approved deferred payment plan (DPP), Israel would pay only interest and fees over the course of the current agreement set to expire in September 2018. Principal will be covered by the new Obama-pledged package that would extend annual foreign military financing (FMF) aid through 2028.” It adds that President Barack Obama, during his visit to Israel in March 2013, committed to talks aimed at extending US military assistance.