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Israeli restrictions over Palestinian movement violate Christian religious freedom during Easter

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Video of Israeli police attacking worshippers during Easter last year. For more see here.

Land, property theft & destruction / Ethnic cleansing / Judaization / Restriction of movement

Christians: Israel violates Palestinian religious freedoms each Easter
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 6 Apr — A group of Christians from East Jerusalem on Sunday said that Israel’s restrictions on Palestinian mobility resulted in violations of religious freedoms. The statement, signed “Palestinian Christian Organizations in Occupied East Jerusalem,” complained that Christians are often denied access to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre during the Easter holidays. Each Easter, checkpoints are erected “at the Gates and in the alley, thus preventing the worshipers from free access to the Via Dolorosa, the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, and the vicinity of the Christian Quarter.” Israel’s restrictions on Palestinian Christians are a part of larger strategy of Judaization in Jerusalem, the statement said. “The restrictive measures constitute grave violation on the freedom of worship, and amount to discrimination against Christians because the occupation authorities want to negate Christian presence and create the impression of a Jewish-only city.” Both Christians and Muslims are often “unable to worship freely and to be with their families and friends” during religious holidays because of Israel’s actions, the statement went on to note. The organizations called on Christians to make attempts to attend Easter celebrations in Jerusalem despite the countless restrictions.

Disturbing the ‘peace’ in Jerusalem’s holiest site / Betty Herschman
972blog 5 Apr — The past 15 years have seen a revival of Jewish extremist movements seeking to upend the status quo around the Temple Mount in the name of multicultural ideals. Betty Herschman says failing to see through this veneer could lead to the inflaming of one of the world’s most combustible hotspots — The current intensification of religious extremist activities on the Temple Mount/Haram al-Sharif is not a new phenomenon, but rather the ultimate realization of a slow, decades-long crusade. The story behind today’s mounting pressures – from increased attempts to ascend and pray on the Mount to legislative challenges to current arrangements – offers a case study in political alchemy. Through organizational perseverance and the co-opting of the lexicon of religious rights, what have become known as the temple movements have managed to secure the support of the mainstream Israeli establishment while successfully exploiting liberal Jewish ideals.

Resource: Undermining the status quo at the Temple Mount
972 Resources 5 Apr — The Temple Mount/Haram al-Sharif is one of the most complicated and sensitive issues on Israel’s agenda, activating friction points between Israel and the Palestinian population, and the Arab world at large. Over the past several hundred years, a status quo has been maintained according to which the Temple Mount/Haram al-Sharif area is an area reserved for Muslim prayer and the Western Wall is a prayer area reserved for Jews. Over the last decade, the status of these areas has gradually shifted, driven by a revival of activity by Jews determined to strengthen the status of the Temple Mount complex as a Jewish religious center and to marginalize the claims of Muslims to the Mount. The following report by Israeli NGOs Ir Amim and Keshev aims to present information about the growing activity of organizations working to change the status quo on the Temple Mount and, in some cases, to actually erect the Third Jewish Temple upon it.

Court tells state to recognize Al-Quds University medical graduates
Haaretz 7 Apr by Nir Hassan — Health Ministry refused to recognize qualifications because Al-Quds has East Jerusalem campus — Jerusalem District Court Judge Nava Ben-Or has accepted the petition of 55 doctors from East Jerusalem who studied medicine at Al-Quds University, and has ordered the Health Ministry to allow them to take physician licensing exams. The doctors have been fighting the Health Ministry for almost five years. The Health Ministry’s has cited the fact that the Council for Higher Education, at the behest of diplomatic figures, has refused to recognize the Palestinian university as a foreign university, even though [because?] some of Al-Quds University’s activities take place in East Jerusalem, which is sovereign Israeli territory.  [Al-Quds has 10 academic faculties on four campuses] The Health Ministry, with encouragement from the Prime Minister’s Office, refused to recognize the doctors, despite the severe lack of physicians in East Jerusalem hospitals and the fact that the Al-Quds University medical school is considered high-quality. Proof of this lies in the fact that the last time Al-Quds alumni were allowed to take the licensing exam, they scored higher than students from all other foreign universities. Some of the 55 doctors have also passed United States licensing exams, meaning they are not required to take the Israeli exams and can begin practicing. Due to the refusal, Al-Quds University entered into talks with the Council for Higher Education in order to split the university into its wings that function in PA territory, including the medical school, so that they could be recognized as a foreign university.

Israeli forces destroy structure, confiscate wood near Jenin
JENIN (Ma‘an) 7 Apr — Israeli bulldozers demolished a steel structure and soldiers confiscated 200 tons of wood in northern West Bank villages early Monday, Palestinian security sources said. The sources told Ma‘an that several Israeli vehicles stormed the village of Barta‘a al-Sharqiya west of Jenin and demolished a steel structure owned by Muhammad Ibrahim Qabaha. Israeli forces also ransacked a garage owned by local resident Walid Wakid.
Meanwhile, in the nearby village of Zabda, Israeli troops raided a charcoal factory belonging to Nour and Khaled Ibrahim Amarnah and confiscated 200 tons of wood.

Burqa festival marks reclaiming of Mas‘oudia land
BURQA, Occupied Palestine (ISM, Nablus Team) 6 Apr — Today, the 5th of April, the village of Burqa, south of Nablus, held a march and festival to reclaim parts of their land in Mas‘oudia, trying to alter it from area C to area B. The village of Burqa had sent an application to the High Court of Israel for the return of the land, and has yet to receive a response. Approximately 1000 people participated today, mainly from the villages surrounding Nablus, international activists, and members of the press. Buses with students from Al Najah National University, Birzet University, Al Quads Open University, and some members of the Ministry of Tourism. The day started on the hill overlooking the village of Burqa, which the illegal settlement of Homesh previously occupied. The village of Burqa has received a decision from the High Court of Israel that the land of previously occupied Homesh belongs to them. However the settlers return every week to Homesh to pray, which prevents the legal landowners from using their land. After the speeches the march went from Homesh along the road, through the olive groves and the fields until it reached Mas‘oudia. In Mas‘oudia the evening continued with Dabke (a Palestinian traditional dance), music, and speeches about the history and ongoing struggle to reclaim the land. In Mas‘oudia the villagers of Burqa are building a community park. The Israeli army destroyed the toilet facilities two months ago, however the facilities were rebuilt. The future of the park in Mas‘oudia is still uncertain and under constant threat of destruction by the Israeli military.

Israeli settlers uproot 350 grape vines south of Bethlehem
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 5 Apr — Israeli settlers on Saturday uprooted 350 grape vines in the village of al-Khadr south of Bethlehem, a local popular committee spokesman said. Ahmad Salah said settlers destroyed 200 vines that were four years old and another 150 that were planted only two months earlier. The settlers also stole metal stakes used to support the vines, Salah said. On Friday, settlers destroyed over 300 newly planted grape vines in the same village.

Violence / Raids / Attacks / Clashes / Illegal arrests

Nablus man shot by Israeli forces Sunday ‘undocumented worker’
NABLUS (Ma‘an) 7 Apr – Palestinian security sources on Monday identified a man who was shot, injured, and detained by Israeli forces the night before. The man was identified as 35-year-old Ashraf Abu al-Huda from Nablus, who his brother says is an undocumented worker who regularly travels to Israel without a permit. Security sources told Ma‘an Abu al-Huda was shot several times by Israeli border police after he allegedly hurled a Molotov cocktail at an Israeli military jeep near the village of Huwarra south of Nablus. But the man’s brother told Ma‘an that Abu al-Huda left his home on Sunday to go to work in Israel. Allam Abu al-Huda said his brother — who is married and a father of five children — regularly leaves for work in the evening in order to sneak through Israel’s separation wall. Witnesses said Sunday that Israeli forces shot and critically injured a man in Huwarra. The soldiers then took the man away in a military ambulance, locals said. The area was declared a closed military zone.

WATCH: Israeli sniper shoots Palestinian cameraman at Ofer protest
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 6 Apr — Video emerged on Sunday of the moment an Israeli sniper shot a Palestinian cameraman in the stomach while he was covering a protest at Ofer prison on Friday. Israeli security forces shot and injured Mohammed Basman Yasin, a volunteer cameraman for the Israeli human rights organization B’tselem, while he was filming a protest in the West Bank city of Beitunia, according to Israeli website +972. The video, which could not be independently verified, appears to show Palestinian protesters sitting on the road when Israel forces arrive and begin firing tear gas canisters at them. At times, protesters are seen throwing rocks at Israeli forces, although in other scenes activists can be seen walking towards an ambulance when Israeli forces open fire without warning in their direction. At 5:30, meanwhile, two activists can be seen throwing rocks at the heavily-armed Israeli soldiers, when the video cuts to a scene showing Yasin, who is at the back of a large crowd watching the scene, being shot in the stomach. Israeli forces caused severe damage to his internal organs, and according to B’tselem, doctors have said they may be forced to remove his liver and kidneys. Yasin is currently hospitalized in Ramallah.
The clashes took place near the Israeli Ofer prison, located in the occupied West Bank, in protest against the Israeli government’s refusal to release a fourth group of veteran Palestinian prisoners it had previously agreed to release as part of ongoing US-sponsored negotiations with the PLO. 13 were reported injured during the clashes, including seven with live bullets.

Israeli army attacks two schools in Salfit
SALFIT, Occupied Palestine (ISM, Nablus Team) 7 Apr — Two educational institutions were attacked with tear gas and stun grenades by the Israeli army yesterday morning in Salfit. At least ten female students required medical attention after suffering from excessive tear gas inhalation. At 12:30 yesterday afternoon, Salfit’s female elementary school was empty. Only a few staff remained, attempting to clean the walls after Israeli soldiers threw tear gas and stun grenades in an attack earlier in the morning. According to the headmistress of the school, the attack took place at approximately 9:30 am. At this time, the classrooms were full of female students between the ages of six and 12-years-old. The soldiers shot the tear gas from the street and it landed in the playground, school corridors and on the roof, with the tear gas itself drifting into the classrooms. Staff from the school reported that ten young students required medical attention on site; two of them temporarily lost consciousness due to the inhalation of tear gas. When the headmistress was reassured that the Israeli army had left Salfit, at approximately 11:30 am, she began evacuating the girls. Both the school psychologist and headmistress agree that the girls were in shock, many of them crying when the attack began and after were afraid of leaving the school by themselves. The girls were planning for tomorrows Childrens’ Day celebration, which has been delayed until next Thursday because of the attack. The school psychologist expects that at least half of the students will not attend the following day after this experience from the Israeli army.
A female secondary school is located just meters away from the elementary school. Fortunately, no one was injured in that institution despite some exposure to the gas, but it did eventually close early as a precaution. Witnesses reported that Israeli forces have also harassed neighbours of the school who photographed the attack … The headmistress of the girl’s elementary school reported that this is the second time this year that this sort of attack has occurred, with the first taking place in January. The school fears that these attacks may become systematic and will therefore seek training from the Fire Department to help cope with future incidents.

Minister: Over 1,500 Palestinian children killed since 2000
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 5 Apr — Over 1,500 Palestinian children have been killed by Israeli forces since the year 2000, the Palestinian Authority minister of social affairs said Saturday. Marking Palestinian Children’s Day, Kamal al-Sharafi said in a statement that 1,520 Palestinian children have been killed and approximately 6,000 injured by the Israeli military in the past 14 years. More than 10,000 have been arrested, al-Sharafi added, and 200 are currently being held in Israeli prisons. “Protecting and supporting children should be a national responsibility,” he said, calling upon the Palestinian Authority to ratify a law for the protection of minors … The United Nations Children Fund said in a 2013 report that 700 Palestinian children aged 12 to 17, most of them boys, are arrested, interrogated and detained by the Israeli military, police, and security agents every year in the occupied West Bank. In the report, UNICEF said it identified examples of practices that “amount to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment according to the Convention on the Rights of the Child and the Convention against Torture.”

Molotovs hurled at nightclub in East Jerusalem settlement
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 6 Apr — Suspects hurled Molotov cocktails at a nightclub in an Israeli settlement in northern East Jerusalem late Saturday, police said. Israeli police spokeswoman Luba al-Samri said in a statement that a nightclub in the French Hill settlement was targeted with four Molotovs around midnight. One of them started a fire in a courtyard, but no injuries were reported.
Police arrested three young Palestinian suspects, al-Samri said.

Palestinian boy wounded during confrontations in ‘Aida refugee camp
BETHLEHEM (PIC) 7 Apr — A Palestinian boy was injured Sunday night during confrontations in ‘Aida refugee camp near Bethlehem between Israeli occupation forces (IOF) and inhabitants. Wafa news agency quoted medical sources as saying that 16-year-old Anas Al-Ezza was hit with a bullet in his face that broke his nose. They added that his condition was moderate. It said that a number of citizens were also treated for gas inhalation as a result of the IOF excessive use of teargas canisters to disperse the citizens.
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IOF soldiers beat child in Old City of Al-Khalil, raid refugee camp
AL-KHALIL (PIC) 5 Apr — Israeli occupation forces (IOF) beat up a Palestinian child and chained and blindfolded him for a few hours in the Old City of Al-Khalil on Saturday. Local sources said that IOF soldiers arrested the child, Mohiuddin Al-Rajabi, near the Ibrahimi mosque in the Old City of Al-Khalil after soldiers manning the nearby roadblock were thrown with stones. IOF soldiers and Jewish settlers have recently escalated attacks on children in the Old City of Al-Khalil.
Meanwhile, IOF soldiers raided ‘Aroub refugee camp, north of Al-Khalil, on Saturday morning and set up a number of roadblocks and checked IDs of passing citizens, eyewitnesses told the PIC.
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Israeli forces raid several areas in West Bank and Gaza
IMEMC 6 Apr by Chris Carlson — Israeli warplanes, Sunday, targeted several locations in the Gaza Strip, causing damage to local facilities and spreading fear among the residents, according to media sources. A WAFA correspondent said that F16 jet-fighters launched around 15 missiles on agricultural and unpopulated areas in Gaza, Khan Yunes, Deir al-Balah and Beit Hanoun, yet no injuries were reported. Nevertheless, the loud explosions caused a state of fear and horror especially among children. Damages in homes were reported in the eastern part of Gaza City.
Also on Sunday, occupation forces raided the central West Bank city of Salfit, spurring confrontations with school students and residents, according to local sources. Clashes erupted between the soldiers and provoked residents, including school students, who threw stones at Israeli forces, while the latter fired tear gas canisters toward them and chased the students. No injuries or arrests were reported in the attack.
At dawn on Sunday occupation forces stormed several towns in Nablus, in the northern part of the occupied West Bank. Local sources said that Israeli patrols raided Orta [‘Awarta], Houra [Huwwara], and Madma [Madama] towns, Al Ray reports. They launched a wide search to citizens’ homes, and served a number of youth with summons to appear before Israeli intelligence officers. Mojahid Darar and Mohammed Awwad were two reported to be handed summons orders, after the IOF had raided and violently searched their homes in Beita town.  Eyewitnesses said IOF deliberately stormed citizens’ homes in Beita town, and ransacked its contents. Israeli patrols deployed in eastern Madma, setting up several ambushes near abu-Nasha’at Nassar’s home. IOF broke into abu-Shadi al-Sabti’s home, in Howara village, arguing that they can retaliate any attack on settlers through it. IOF also deployed in al-Lahf area near Yetsar [Yitzhar] settlement.
Several people, on Sunday, suffered cases of suffocation following the storming by Israeli forces of Ya‘bad, a town west of Jenin, according to local sources and witnesses. Witnesses told WAFA that the army stormed Ya‘bad amid firing stun grenades and tear gas canisters towards residents and schools in several neighborhoods in the town, leading to several cases of suffocation among residents.
Around 18 students suffocated and fainted during an Israeli forces attack on a school in Hebron on Sunday, according to local sources. Sources told WAFA that army forces stormed an intersection in the south of Hebron, firing tear gas inside the school, causing 18 students suffocation, fainting and spasms due to tear gas inhalation. They were transferred to hospital for medical treatment.

Two Palestinians arrested in Al-Khalil
AL-KHALIL (PIC)  Apr — Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) arrested at dawn Monday two Palestinians from Beit Ummar town north of al-Khalil [Hebron] in occupied West Bank, including a student. Spokesman for the Popular Committee against the Wall and Settlements in Beit Ummar confirmed that the 19-year-old Jihad Alami and the university student Laith Alami, 19, were arrested by Israeli forces after storming their parents’ homes. Dozens of Israeli soldiers raided at dawn Monday Beit Ummar town and closed the main street in the town before violently breaking into the citizens’ homes.
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Breaking the Silence founder arrested in Hebron, barred from city for 14 days
972mag 3 Apr by Noam Sheizaf — The founder of IDF watchdog group Breaking the Silence (BTS), Yehuda Shaul, was detained in Hebron on Tuesday as he was leading a tour in the Jewish settlement located in the heart of the city. According to the organization’s spokesperson, Avner Gvaryahu, Shaul was confronted by an IDF company commander, who prevented him from continuing on his way, despite the fact that the area is considered public space and that Jewish groups use those streets frequently. Shaul was detained after arguing with the officer. Shaul, who was released from the Hebron police station later that night, was banned from the area for 14 days, which means he will not be able to lead tours in the city … Breaking the Silence, which holds frequent tours both in the city as well and in the south Hebron Hills, was formed by former IDF soldiers and officers who served in the occupied territories. The organization aims to shed light on the army’s operations in the West Bank, and especially on human rights violations … Shaul himself served in Hebron and is considered an expert on issues regarding the military control of the city. Recently, BTS workers have complained that both the authorities and settlers have joined forces in an attempt to prevent them from leading tours in Hebron.

PCHR weekly report on Israeli human rights violations in the occupied Palestinian territory (27 Mar – 2 Apr)
Israeli forces continue systematic attacks against Palestinian civilians and property in the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt). Israeli forces continued to open fire in the border areas of the Gaza Strip. A civilian sustained moderate wounds and two others, including a journalist, suffered tear gas inhalation. Israeli forces continued to use excessive force against peaceful protesters in the West Bank. Dozens of civilians suffered tear gas inhalation and others sustained bruises as they were beaten up by Israeli soldiers. Six civilians, including three children, were wounded during other demonstrations. Israeli forces conducted 68 incursions into Palestinian communities in the West Bank. 23 Palestinian civilians were arrested. Israel continued to impose a total closure on the oPt and has isolated the Gaza Strip from the outside world. Israeli forces established dozens of checkpoints in the West Bank. At least 8 Palestinian civilians, including two children, were arrested at checkpoints in the West Bank. Israeli navy forces continued targeting Palestinian fishermen in the sea. Israeli navy forces opened fire at Palestinian fishing boats four times, but no casualties were reported. Israel continued efforts to create a Jewish majority in the occupied East Jerusalem. Two civilians were obliged to demolish two residential barracks by their own. Israeli forces continued to support settlement activities in the West Bank and Israeli settlers continued to attack Palestinian civilians and property. A Palestinian sustained a bullet wound as a settler opened fire at him. 8 residential tents and 4 livestock barns were demolished. 18 civilian facilities in the Northern Jordan Valley were demolished, due to which 38 civilians, including 22 children, became homeless. 7 residential rooms, south of Hebron, were demolished, due to which 95 civilians became homeless.

Gaza under double blockade

Israel bombs Gaza overnight after rocket attack
GAZA CITY (AFP) 6 Apr — Israeli warplanes attacked several sites in the Gaza Strip Sunday, sources on both sides said, hours after a rocket from the besieged Palestinian enclave hit Israel. Palestinian medical and security sources said five sites in northern and southern Gaza were hit, including training camps for the militant Islamic Jihad and Ezzedine al-Qassam Brigades, Hamas’s military wing. Spokesman for the Gaza Strip ministry of health Ashraf al-Qidra said that no injuries were reported.  The Israeli army said in a statement it “retaliated” to “ongoing rocket attacks from Gaza,” targeting four “terror sites” in northern Gaza and a fifth in the south of the coastal territory. On Saturday night, a rocket fired from Gaza hit an open area in southern Israel without causing damage or injuries, the army and police said.

Israeli military vehicles enter Gaza, ‘fire shell’
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 7 Apr — Israeli military vehicles entered the central Gaza Strip early Monday, witnesses told Ma‘an. Locals said six bulldozers escorted by military vehicles and tanks drove about 150 meters into Gaza east of Deir al-Balah. A tank fired a mortar shell towards a Palestinian neighborhood, but no injuries were reported, witnesses added. Bulldozers leveled lands in the area before they returned to the Israeli side of the border. An Israeli army spokeswoman said that “there was a prevention of terror attack” in Gaza on Monday, without immediately providing further details. She said she was not familiar with any shells being fired.

Israeli troops detain Gazan for crossing border
IMEMC 5 Apr by Chris Carlson — The Israeli occupation army detained a young Palestinian man near the northern border with the Gaza Strip, raising the month’s number of detentions to six. Walla news website quoted an Israeli army statement published saying an Israeli military patrol captured the young man on Friday afternoon for allegedly crossing the border that separates the northern Gaza Strip from southern ‘Israel’, according to Al Ray Palestinian Media Agency. The young man, who had been unarmed, was held for investigation following his arrest, the statement said.

Detainees / Court actions

The fight for the freedom of the 5 Hares boys continues
ISM Nablus Team 6 Apr — In a conversation with Neimeh and Yaseen Shamlawi in their home in Hares we hear about the traumatic journey they have gone through but also the painstaking efforts they have made to build a campaign for their son’s freedom ever since he was arrested in the middle of the night on the 17th of March 2013. On the 14th of March a settler from the illegal settlement of Yakir crashed her car with her three daughters inside on the main road near the village, leaving all of them with various injuries. Despite the horrible event seeming like an unfortunate accident, over the following days 13 boys from the village of Hares were arrested. Eventually five of them were charged with attempted murder stemming from allegations that stones were thrown onto the road by boys from the village. Ali’s mother recalls to us the night he was taken by Israeli soldiers, 25 of them entering the family house after the door had been forcibly opened. They went from room to room waking everyone up before grabbing Ali and instructing his parents to find his shoes. Before they left both Niemeh and Yaseen recount how one of the soldiers told Ali to go and “kiss his parents goodbye”, to which his mother remembers saying that she didn’t need to as she would see him in a few days. Over a year later and Ali and the other four boys, Tamer Souf, Ammer Souf, Mohammed Suleiman, and Mohammed Kleib are still imprisoned. We asked Neimeh and Yaseen why they thought that the Israeli military had been so harsh in their pursuit of prison sentences for the boys, both parents shrugged with what is obviously still raw bewilderment as to how their son, 16 at the time of his kidnapping, is now facing up to 25 years in prison.“No-one saw anyone throwing stones,” Niemeh says again and again during our visit, and indeed the lack of evidence is startling. Originally no one made any claim that stones were thrown.

Official: Palestinian prisoners to begin coordinated protests
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 5 Apr — Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails will commence protests beginning next week against Israel’s failure to release a fourth group of veteran prisoners, a Palestinian Authority official said Friday. Ziad Abu Ein, undersecretary to the minister of prisoners’ affairs, said the coordinated protests would culminate in an open hunger strike if the prisoners’ demands were not met, Abu Ein added.

Palestinian female detainee Nahil Abu Aysha subject to harsh penalties
NABLUS (PIC) 7 Apr — Detainee Nahil Abu Aisha’s family from al-Khalil said that Israeli Occupation Authorities (IOA) imposed harsh sanctions on their daughter, 33, already held without trial. Ahrar Center for Prisoner Studies and Human Rights said, quoting the detainee’s sister Ilham Abu Aisha, that Nahil is still held in chains and appears so even during visit times under pretext of a claimed escape attempt and allegations of physical assaults against Israeli soldiers. Abu Aisha’s sister raised alarm bells about the detainee’s psychiatric condition under such abrasive detention conditions, drawing attention to the 13 trial hearings vainly held so far. Nahil Abu Aisha has been detained since 13 March 2013 and held without trial ever since, as the court adjourns her case in every hearing held for her.
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Jenin court to release Hamas leader on bail
IMEMC 6 Apr by Chris Carlson — The Magistrate’s Court of Jenin made a ruling, Sunday, to release a Hamas leader on bail. Family sources said that Sheikh Abu Aoun, a prominent Hamas leader in the West Bank, was referred by the Preventive Security Service to the public prosecutor a few days ago, Al Ray reports. The sources said that the prosecutor extended his detention, destined to end today, and approved his release on bail. His case has not been closed, adding that Abu Aoun is to be released on Monday, according to the sources. The court charged Abu Aoun of inciting sectarian strife in his statements criticizing the security coordination with Israel, and the political arrests carried out by security services loyal to President Mahmoud Abbas in the West Bank. Sheikh Abu Aoun was arrested on March 24

Palestinian refugees in Syria

Diseases rise among besieged Palestinians in Syria
DAMASCUS (IPS/Electronic Intifada) 3 Apr by Mutawalli Abou Nasser — For just that moment, the Palestinian refugees in Yarmouk camp in Damascus made news. After months of facing starvation and death in the shadows of the Syrian civil war came packets of food and aid in January — with cameras in tow. The refugees poured out on the streets in a river of desperation to claim the first deliveries of aid that made it into the besieged area. Grown men were reduced to tears as their terror and isolation were momentarily broken. But the camera crews have since moved on, and hunger, violence and disease have returned to torment the people stuck in the camp … Until recently, resourceful volunteers had been working to maintain some rudimentary education system for the children and adolescents trapped in the camp. Working without institutional support, they were doing what they could to ensure the conflict would not leave a lost generation in its wake. Healthcare collapse Now, the teachers and volunteers have had to close the classrooms. It’s not just bombs and snipers that have put a stop to their work, but disease. The collapse of the healthcare system, chronic shortages of food and clean water and accumulation of waste combine to give rise to a number of health epidemics. “One of our students fell unconscious in class; we took him to hospital and they diagnosed him with hepatitis,” Dr. Khalil Khalil, a founding teacher in a makeshift school project within the camp, said. “We then had all of our students tested and found at least seven other cases. The spread of this and other contagious diseases means a decision has been made to stop convening the classes.” Making all this worse, fighting has erupted again. “The recent truce failed and the amount of vaccines and medication that made it into the camp were nowhere near sufficient to treat the plethora of diseases and illnesses we see spreading through the camp, especially among children,” Wissam al-Ghoul, community health worker at the local Palestine Hospital, said. Fighters from both sides used the insufficient quantities of aid that did make it into the camp for their own purposes.

Other news

This month in pictures: March 2014
Electronic Intifada 3 April

No breakthrough seen in last-ditch Mideast talks
JERUSALEM (AFP) 6 Apr — Last-ditch talks between Israeli and Palestinian negotiators on salvaging a teetering, US-brokered peace process ended without a breakthrough Sunday, Palestinian sources told AFP. “The crisis continues. During the whole meeting, the Israelis threatened the Palestinians and no solution to the crisis was found,” a Palestinian official said, speaking on condition of anonymity. Warning that the peace process was on the edge of collapse, an Israeli official close to the talks said that even US Secretary of State John Kerry, its tireless sponsor, was cooling off. “The way it’s looking now, the talks as they were several weeks ago are no longer relevant,” the source told Israeli news website Ynet. “Israel is preparing to return to routine dealings with the Palestinians as they were before the negotiations started nine months ago. “We are noticing a real coolness in the way the Americans are treating (the peace process), and it’s obvious that today’s Kerry is not the same Kerry from a few weeks ago,” the official added.

Israel: If Palestinians take us to the ICC, we’ll respond in kind
Ynet 4 Apr by Moran Azulay — Sources close to Economy Minister Naftali Bennett said Friday that if the Palestinians complain to the International Criminal Court against Israel, Jerusalem would respond in kind. In the last few days we brought legal consultants and organizations together and they began work on a plan that when the time comes, if we need to, we will file a complaint against the Palestinian leadership at The Hague,” the sources said.   “They are threatening us and we learned what to do while facing such a threat,” they continued. According to the sources, Israel will take the Palestinians to the ICC over Gaza rocket fire at Israeli civilians and for incitement to terrorism. Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and the Palestinian leadership transfer money to the Gaza Strip on a monthly basis, and Hamas is a party under the PA, the sources claimed. “So, in effect, it is the Palestinian Authority that is firing (the rockets).”,7340,L-4506818,00.html

PA plans complaint against new Israel telecom sanctions
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 6 Apr — The Palestinian Authority ministry of telecommunications and information technology is preparing to file a complaint at the International Telecommunication Union against Israel’s recent decision to impose sanctions on Palestinian cell phone services, a ministry official said. The announcement came after Israel said it would impose sanctions on the Palestinian Authority after the Palestinians submitted letters of accession to 15 international conventions and treaties. Undersecretary of the ministry Sulaiman Zuheri told Ma‘an that Israeli sanctions will “thwart” the US Secretary of State John Kerry’s plans to develop the Palestinian economy, of which telecommunications is a major component. Among proposed Israeli sanctions on Palestinian telecommunications are further impediments to the transfer of equipment into the Gaza Strip as well as the continued denial of 3G internet services to Palestinian providers. Israel has long refused Palestinian requests to allow providers to operate 3G services, but had given signs recently that it might relent. Palestinian mobile service provider al-Wataniya Mobile has been denied access to the Gaza Strip by Israel since 2009, when it began providing services in the West Bank.

Jenin truck drivers strike against new Israeli delivery rules
JENIN (Ma‘an) 6 Apr — Palestinian truck drivers in the Jenin district went on strike for two hours on Sunday in protest against a recent Israeli decision to allow Israeli trucks to deliver goods directly into the West Bank, a labor union said. Union member Kayid Awwad told Ma‘an that more than 120 truck drivers went on strike for two hours at al-Jalameh crossing in the northern West Bank in protest against the Israeli move, which they say will introduce unfair competition. “Our demand is clear. If Israel allows Israeli trucks into Palestinian territory, then Palestinian trucks must be allowed into Israeli territory,” Awwad said. The protest, he said, was a clear message to Palestinian officials urging them to investigate the dire conditions truck drivers will experience in the wake of the Israeli decision.

Arab foreign ministers to hold emergency meeting at PA request
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 6 Apr — The foreign ministers of the Arab League member states are scheduled to hold an emergency meeting Wednesday at the request of the Palestinian Authority in order to study the repercussions of the impasse in the peace talks with Israel, according to Egyptian media. Egypt’s al-Ahram daily newspaper quoted a well-placed source as saying that Palestinian Authority president Mahmoud Abbas will ask Arab foreign ministers to give him an answer in 48 hours. If the situation with Israel worsens, Abbas is expected to ask for an emergency Arab League summit, according to al-Ahram. Nevertheless, a source in the Palestinian president’s bureau told al-Ahram that US Secretary of State John Kerry urged Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas and Israeli premier Netanyahu to “show some self-control” and avoid tit-for-tat moves. Kerry asked both to wait until he meets with US president Barack Obama. Kerry, added the Palestinian source, confirmed to the Palestinian side that he would exert more efforts to save peace talks and try to start a new round after the April 29 deadline. Kerry also promised to ask the US Congress to avoid imposing sanctions on the Palestinians and to ask Israeli officials to stop the ongoing attack on Abbas after he decided to join UN treaties. In order to continue with peace talks after April 29, the Palestinian Authority stipulated that Israel freeze settlement construction, release more than 1000 Palestinian prisoners, and put into effect all agreements signed in the past including the one related to crossings, according to the source quoted by al-Ahram.

First women joining Palestinian commando unit in West Bank
[with photos] AP 7 Apr — With gender barriers falling and unemployment rising, women seek adventure, paycheck in elite security forces — Palestinian women in combat fatigues and headscarves rappelled down a six-story tower, fired assault rifles at imaginary terrorists and in a drill straight out of the movies bundled a would-be VIP into a car and sped off after a shooting. The 22 future commandos are trailblazers in a still largely male-dominated society, set to become the first female members of the Presidential Guards, a Palestinian elite force of 2,600 men. Their inclusion is the result of gradual changes in the West Bank in recent years. Some gender barriers have fallen, with a few women assuming posts as mayors, judges and Cabinet ministers or starting their own businesses. At the same time, unemployment is on the rise, and families are more open to women entering non-traditional jobs if it means another paycheck … Six women, including Saad, rappelled down the six-story tower in pairs. Saad said she excels at sharp shooting but for months was terrified of heights. She said that during training in Jordan with local commandos, she overcame her fear. Sunday, she swiftly made her way down, smiling as she touched ground. Saad said she relishes her role of opening doors for other women. Her father is proud of her and her little sister is eager to join the Guards, she said.

Children constitute 47.1% of total population in Palestine, says Statistics Bureau
RAMALLAH (WAFA) 5 Apr — Marking the occasion of Palestinian Children Day on April 5, the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics (PCBS), in a press release Thursday, said that in 2013, there were 2.08 million children under the age of 18, constituting 47.1% of the total population in Palestine. In 2012, Ministry of Health data indicated that the main cause of infant deaths in West Bank was respiratory diseases by 36.7% (35.6% for males and 38.0% for females). Followed by pre-birth causes: (premature birth and underweight) by 17.5% (19.4% for males and 15.4% for females). As for the children’s death under the age of five, Ministry of Health data in West Bank and during the same period clarified that the main cause for death is due to pre-birth diseases by 53.8%; (52.8% of males and 54.9% of females). The release said that 3.5% of all children aged 10-17 years were working, with or without pay, in 2013; 4.9% in West Bank and 1.4% in Gaza Strip. The number of male children engaged in work was higher than for females; 6.5% of male children compared to 0.3% of female children. Data indicate that the Palestinian family is formed earlier with an average age of females at first marriage in Palestine is 20.1 years and 24.6 years for males in 2012. The percentage of females who married before the age of 18 is 21.9% of the total marriages contracts in 2012, which amounted to 40,292 contracts: 20.0% in West Bank and 24.6% in Gaza Strip, said the release.

Israel under cyber attack, but only few sites brought down
Ynet 7 Apr by Ehud Keinan —  Technion calls attacks so far ‘unsophisticated’; Anonymous says day of targeting Israel in response to IDF strikes on GazaThe international hacking group Anonymous and other group of hackers have declared Monday a day of cyber attacks on Israel, but so far have not managed to bring down many websites. Israel’s Post Office and the Education Ministry websites were temporarily disabled, and the hackers published an online list of phone numbers belonging to Israeli senior officials.,7340,L-4507648,00.html

Senior IDF commander’s jeep vandalized in West Bank settlement
Haaretz 6 Apr by Gili Cohen — This is the second time that Samaria Brigade Commander Yoav Yarom’s tires were slashed in Yitzhar — Vandals slashed the tires of Israel Defense Forces Colonel Yoav Yarom, commander of the Israel Defense Forces’ Samaria Brigade while he was visiting the Yitzhar settlement on Sunday. The incident took place while Yarom was conducting a tour with his replacement, Colonel Shai Kleper. The IDF said in a statement that “injury to IDF commanders and its soldiers who are busy day and night defending the residents of Israel is crossing a red line.” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said, “We will act with zero tolerance against whoever harms IDF soldiers and their commanders. The assailants will pay for their criminal acts.”

Analysis / Opinion

It’s the Palestinians’ fault, let them pay / Gideon Levy
Haaretz 6 Apr — This cynical and useless game, whose only purpose is to prove again that the occupied ones are to blame, will end in bloodshed — Occasionally the chutzpah of the Americans, and even of the Israelis, believe it or not, reaches still newer heights. This can be seen in the threats of both countries to by the United States and Israel to impose sanctions on the Palestinian Authority. Israel threatens to withhold taxes collected on behalf of Palestinians and has even made threats against their wireless carrier. The United States threatens to suspend aid to the PA; Europe, Washington’s thrall, is next. It’s unbelievable that the occupier is imposing (more) sanctions on the occupied. It’s unbelievable that what has emerged from all the talk about Boycotts, Divestment and Sanctions against Israel is more sanctions on the Palestinians, as if to tell them: You broke it, you bought it. But who broke it? Who’s to blame for the collapse of the talks? What exactly did the Palestinians do to deserve punishment (again)? After Israel repudiated its promise to release a handful of Palestinian prisoners and began to set conditions for fulfillment, published another tender for the construction of new homes in the settlements, refused to submit its maps with proposed borders, sabotaged the talks with the ridiculous demand of recognition it as a Jewish state, showed not the slightest inclination to end the occupation and continued to build unabated in the settlements and to kill innocents, also unabated – after all this, the Palestinians took a minor, almost desperate step, so they are to blame. They turned to the world and asked to join 15 international conventions, perish the thought.

Are Arabs human beings? / Carolina Landsmann
Haaretz 4 Apr — Blindness enables Israelis to see themselves as living in a democracy, while it is in fact an apartheid regime — Two weeks ago former Kadima MK Yohanan Plesner was elected president of the Israel Democracy Institute. The institute is an independent institution, nonpolitical and nonpartisan, which is located, according to their website, “on the seam line between politics and academia.” Surfing on the site reveals that like Israeli democracy, the institute is preoccupied only with what is happening inside the Green Line. As Jews living at this time in history, had we not found a distinction that allows us to grasp ourselves as democrats, we would not be continuing to dominate a foreign population for 47 years. The distinction between what is happening within the Green Line and what is happening beyond it is what enables us to accept the existing situation (which is dubbed the “status quo”) and at the same time to look ourselves in the mirror and see a democratic state. We confess that we are unable to define the meaning of the state’s Jewishness, but are confident in our understanding of what is a democratic state. Only this split in consciousness can enable the Israeli to see himself as a democrat who is living in the only democracy in the Middle East, despite its apartheid regime. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu admitted that the Knesset is Jewish, and similarly our democracy is also Jewish. But if Arabs are human beings, Israel cannot call itself “democratic.” (Netanyahu uses the same logic in economics: If we subtract the ultra-Orthodox and the Arabs, there is no poverty.) The fact that Israelis have internalized the status quo into the narrative of normalcy, and have bought the lie they sold themselves, is a crime. (listserv) (archive)


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

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7 Responses

  1. Woody Tanaka on April 7, 2014, 12:34 pm

    “Israeli restrictions over Palestinian movement violate Christian religious freedom during Easter”

    This is horrifying, that the Israelis would insult the world’s Christians at the holiest time of the year. And I wonder if we are going to hear a peep from all the right-wingers in the US who are always prattling on and on about Christianity and whether they will condemn this dastardly activity by the Israelis… Somehow I doubt it.

    • just on April 7, 2014, 9:19 pm

      “And I wonder if we are going to hear a peep from all the right-wingers in the US who are always prattling on and on about Christianity and whether they will condemn this dastardly activity by the Israelis”

      I’ve never heard any peep from them about any outrage committed against Christians by Israel– never mind Muslims! They excuse it away — wringing their collective hands about “Israel’s rights and SECURITY”.

      (they’re free to visit anyhow– they have the bona fides of the ignorant and entitled and non- indigenous)

      • Kay24 on April 8, 2014, 12:33 am

        Not a peep from the second coming devotees, who have been made to believe the Jews will protect everything Christian in Jerusalem (so that they will ignore the brutal crimes against unarmed civilians, condemned by any religion).
        Someone should send a memo to the right wingers, and inform them that their fellow Christians, once again, are punished by Israel.
        After all, there is only one religion in occupied land, that is entitled to be secure and safe, and the other religion can go to heck.

  2. annie on April 7, 2014, 6:08 pm

    thank you kate..always

  3. Kate on April 7, 2014, 8:56 pm

    You are the awesome one, Annie. I wish I had thought to include your great article on this issue from last year in the list. Did you add it here, or did Phil?

  4. just on April 7, 2014, 9:04 pm

    Both of you are awesome. I so appreciate all that you do to inform all of us.

    I really want to know what the Pope thinks of this……”crusade”. What will he say?

    I guess the only Christians welcome to visit are those from here and there with bulky wallets.

  5. Kay24 on April 8, 2014, 12:44 am

    The IDF does it, even the settler terrorists do it, and yet these poor Palestinian kids are abused, and treated as if their lives do not matter, and it seems there is a huge discrepancy in the punishment and treatment of mean, tough, settlers, and their horrendous crimes, versus so called Palestinian stone throwers (some are simply accused of it with no proof). Settler criminals are even released before serving their sentences, while Palestinian children languish in jails, with no legal representation, and are severely abused (according to UNHCR and others).

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