Video from Easter last year showing a Coptic priest being choked and beaten by Israeli police in Jerusalem.
PHOTOS: Christians face barriers to Easter worship in Jerusalem
Activestills 21 Apr Text and photos by: Ryan Rodrick Beiler — Year after year, Palestinian Christians and international pilgrims face checkpoints and harsh treatment by Israeli police officers as they attempt to celebrate the Easter season in Jerusalem … While Palestinian Christians and Muslims from the West Bank and Gaza have to apply for permits to enter Jerusalem for their religious celebrations, Israeli Jews (and effectively, any Jew regardless of their nationality) participate in their religious celebrations in occupied East Jerusalem without any restriction. Even Jerusalem ID holders and Palestinian citizens of Israel needed special police-issued wristbands to pass checkpoints into the Old City on Saturday, while in at least some cases Jewish worshipers were allowed to pass freely by police while crowds of other pilgrims were forced to wait. Palestinians and others who face these checkpoints and barricades often report harsh treatment by police. Last year, a Coptic priest was choked and beaten by police in an incident caught on video (above). While authorities claimed the case was a rare exception, and that the massive police presence is needed to maintain order, Palestinian Christians maintain that such abuses are commonplace.
Israeli forces fire tear gas at Christian pilgrims in al-Eizariya
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 19 Apr — Dozens of Christian pilgrims suffered from excessive tear gas inhalation on Friday after Israeli troops fired tear gas canisters as they performed religious rites at the Tomb of Lazarus in al-Eizariya [Biblical ‘Bethany’] in East Jerusalem. Israeli soldiers reportedly refused to stop firing tear gas canisters despite the presence of pilgrims after clashes had broken out between local youths and Israeli forces in the area. Witnesses told Ma‘an that a tour guide who was escorting the pilgrims asked an Israeli officer to stop firing tear gas canisters until pilgrims left, but the officer continued to fire. The pilgrims had to take shelter in a souvenir shop before they could complete their prayers.The owner of the souvenir shop also tried to convince the Israeli officer to stop firing tear gas so that the pilgrims could leave, but instead the officer “asked a soldier to fire tear gas canisters at the church and at the pilgrims,” witnesses added.
Palestinian Christians receive the Holy Fire in Bethlehem
[with photos] Ma‘an Images by Alex Shams — Thousands of Palestinian Christians marched in cities and villages across the Holy Land on Saturday to receive the holy fire as it arrived from the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem. Known as “Holy Saturday,” or “Saturday of Light” in Arabic, the festival immediately preceding Easter is marked with particular fervor in the region of Bethlehem. On Saturday, hundreds filled the streets of the city of Jesus’ birth to greet the fire and march to the Church of the Nativity in the city’s historic center. Holy Saturday marks the day following Good Friday, when Christians believe Jesus Christ was crucified in Jerusalem, and the day before Easter, which marks his resurrection from the grave. Palestinian Christians as well as Eastern Orthodox Christians from around the world believe that on the Saturday between these two holidays, a miraculous fire appears above his tomb in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. Every year, thousands gather in Jerusalem’s Old City to welcome the fire, which is subsequently brought to churches in Palestinian towns and villages throughout the Holy Land. The holy fire is also distributed to Eastern Orthodox churches throughout the world…
In Jerusalem’s Old City on Saturday, Israeli troops and police blocked all entrances to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre to journalists and foreign pilgrims, preventing thousands of Christians from participating in the ceremony….
UN Mideast peace envoy denied entry to Holy Fire ceremony
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an/AFP) 19 Apr — Israeli police on Saturday prevented UN Middle East peace envoy Robert Serry from celebrating the Holy Fire ceremony in Jerusalem, a statement from his office said. UN Middle East peace envoy Robert Serry said in a statement that he and other diplomats visited the Easter procession to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre at the invitation of Jerusalem’s Palestinian Christian community. The procession was stopped at a security checkpoint before the church “despite earlier assurances … of unhindered access,” Serry said. “The Israeli police refused to allow such entry claiming they had orders to that effect. “A precarious standoff ensued, ending in an angry crowd pushing their way through.” Israeli police blocked the entrances of all Old City roads leading to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre during the ceremony, refusing entry to journalists, international Christian pilgrims, and tourists. Swarms of Christians at Jaffa Gate began singing hymns upon being refused entry. Serry said he was dismayed that a peaceful procession was disrupted by “unacceptable behavior from the Israeli security authorities.”
Foreign Ministry spokesperson says Robert Serry showed ‘poor judgment’
Ynet 20 Apr — Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Yigal Palmor tweeted a response to UN envoy Robert Serry’s accusation that Israel purposely barred him from entering the Church of the Holy Sepulcher. “UN envoy #RobertSerry shows poor judgment in fabricating an incident out of a non-event, mishandling sensitive issue of religious freedom,” said the tweet.
In Pictures: Christians celebrate Holy Fire in Jerusalem
Reuters 19 April — Thousands of Christian worshipers pack into Church of the Holy Sepulchre for lighting ceremony on Easter’s eve.
Easter in the destroyed village of Maalul
MAALUL (Ma‘an) 19 Apr by Alex Shams — As thousands of Palestinian Christians descend on Jerusalem for Holy Week festivities, the villagers of Maalul [Ma‘loul] are busy preparing their own Easter celebration for the one day a year Israeli authorities allow them to hold services in their village church. Their forefathers were expelled from their homes in the village in 1948 by Israeli forces, and today hundreds of their descendants live in nearby Nazareth, Yafa al-Naseriyye, and Haifa. They are forbidden from returning to the village, even though it sits mere kilometers away from their new homes. But in 2003, more than 50 years after they were forced to flee their homes, villagers returned to Maalul to celebrate Easter in the Catholic Church, one of the few structures that had not been demolished by authorities … The vast majority of the village’s homes have been bulldozed, their clean-cut stones now collected in haphazard piles across the gently rolling hill that once was home to 800 people. But at the peak of the small hill stand two churches — one Catholic and one Greek Orthodox — while a humble mosque sits in a small valley down below, beside the Christian and Muslim cemeteries. “The area is open, so we went to pray there in the church,” Jeraisy said of the first year they began organizing Easter celebrations in the village. “The Muslim community of Maalul also came then and prayed at the mosque.” Since then, villagers have come back on a yearly basis to hold services here, and more than 800 attended last time, he said … Although most Palestinian refugees were forced to flee into Lebanon, Syria, the West Bank, Gaza, and Jordan, tens of thousands managed to remain inside the borders of the newly-established state. Like the villagers of Maalul, these refugees found themselves living only a few kilometers away from their old homes, yet forbidden from returning. For decades, Israeli authorities have kept strict watch over the more than 400 Palestinian villages that were forcibly depopulated in 1948. The vast majority were systematically demolished in the 1950s, part of an effort to ensure that the refugees not be allowed to exercise their right to return to their homes. Although most of Maalul’s buildings were destroyed, the churches and mosque remained standing…. [good photos here]
Top Palestinian cleric says Israel threw stun grenades into al-Aqsa; Israel denies
Reuters 21 Apr — The most senior Islamic cleric in Jerusalem said on Sunday Israeli police hurled stun grenades into al-Aqsa mosque, Islam’s third holiest site, to quell the latest in a string of Palestinian protests at the politically sensitive holy site. Israeli police denied the allegation, saying officers threw the non-lethal devices, which emit a loud noise, on a plaza outside the mosque after protesters threw rocks and firecrackers at them. The demonstrators, who have confronted police for the past four days in a bid to stop Israeli and foreign visitors from entering the holy compound, then retreated into al-Aqsa, a police spokesman said.
Israeli forces storm Aqsa compound, dozens injured and detained
[with photos] JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 20 Apr — Dozens of Palestinian worshipers were wounded and dozens were detained after clashes broke in the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound on Sunday morning with Israeli forces who had stormed the courtyards firing stun grenades and rubber-coated bullets. The raid comes amid frequent clashes in recent days after right-wing Jewish groups urged Jews to flock to the compound — which they believe is the site of a former Jewish temple — and conduct Passover rituals inside. Director of Al-Aqsa Mosque Omar Kiswani told Ma‘an that more than 400 police officers stormed the courtyard of the Al-Aqsa Mosque through the Moroccan Gate and the Chain Gate escorting extremist Jews other Jewish visitors into the compound. Israeli forces, Kiswani said, “besieged” worshipers in the southern mosque “attacking them with clubs and pepper spray,” after clashes broke out with Palestinian worshipers in the compound. Dozens of Palestinians sustained injuries during the assault, while several others suffered from excessive tear gas inhalation. Twenty-five young men were reportedly detained by Israeli forces. Kiswani said that Likud member of Knesset Moshe Feiglin had also entered the compound during the raid, accompanied by special security units. Feiglin has visited the site frequently in recent months, and he has vocally supported the extension of Israeli sovereignty over the compound. Earlier on Sunday morning, clashes erupted outside the Lions’ Gate (Bab al-Asbat) and Gate of Remission (Bab al-Hutta) of the Al-Aqsa compound when Israeli police denied hundreds of worshippers access to the compound. Witnesses said that Israeli officers had denied all Palestinian residents of Jerusalem under the age of 60 access to the compound, including students who attend schools inside. Men and women were also attacked with clubs and pepper spray, witnesses said. Israeli forces detained a young man after he was beaten brutally. Israeli police spokesman said in a statement that police had detained 16 Palestinian “rioters,” adding that they were all detained “as they threw stones/blocks at officers at the scene this morning.” He also said that two police officers lightly injured in the clashes, which broke out after the Palestinians threw stones as “tourists visited.”
Report: Israel mulls tougher punishments for ‘rioters’ in Al-Aqsa
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 19 Apr — Israeli cabinet ministers are scheduled to discuss imposing tougher punishment against Palestinians who “riot” inside the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound, according to Israeli Channel 2. The channel reported Friday evening that after the Passover holidays, Israeli ministers will discuss the possibility to imprison “rioters” for a longer period. The report highlighted that “riots” had increased recently inside the compound. A proposal has been made recently, according to Channel 2, to place “rioters” under administrative detention, whether they hail from East Jerusalem or from the Islamic movement in northern Israel.
Violence / Destruction / Raids / Attacks / Clashes / Illegal arrests
Settlers set fire to Palestinian chicken farm
MADAMA, Occupied Palestine (ISM, Nablus Team) 20 Apr — On Friday 18th April, during the night in the village of Madama, settlers from a nearby illegal settlement entered a Palestinian farm and sat fire to a newly built chicken house. The damage totaled $12,500 for the 3,500 chickens and their food, as well as $100,000 for the building itself. The Palestinian owner of the chicken house sold his car and some of his land in order to buy this costly farm, it is now completely destroyed. The farmer described the day this incident occurred, stating how he finished his work and went home, passing two Israeli military jeeps on the road. When he returned to the farm at 4am on Friday, he found his chicken farm burnt to the ground, all 3,500 chicks dead. The fire was started near a window of the farm, most likely started with gasoline. The owner said that he recently brought a lot of new chicks, and that he felt the attack was probably was planned. As a result of this attack the farmer now has no income. The village of Madama has been continually attacked by settlers from the nearby illegal settlement of Yizhar, as have the nearby villages of Burin and Assira.
Israeli settlers chop down olive trees in Ramallah village
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 10 Apr — Israeli settlers on Sunday chopped down more than 100 olive trees in the central West Bank village of Ras Karkar, locals said. Witnesses told Ma‘an that more than 20 settlers from a nearby illegal Israeli outpost chopped down the five-year-old trees in a private Palestinian field. Locals say the attacks are an almost everyday occurrence.
Israeli soldiers attack farmers and shepherds near Hebron
HEBRON (WAFA) 19 Apr – Israeli soldiers Saturday attacked a number of Palestinian farmers and shepherds in the village of Um al-Khair to the east of Yatta in Hebron district, preventing them from reaching their land, said Rateb al-Jubour, coordinator of the anti-settlement committee in southern Hebron. Al-Jubour told WAFA the soldiers beat up the farmers and the shepherds with the butts of their rifles. The soldiers also used foul language against them and denied them access to their water wells and land
Clashes break out as Israeli troops escort settlers to Joseph’s Tomb
NABLUS (Ma‘an) 20 Apr — Israeli forces clashed with local Palestinians near Joseph’s Tomb east of Nablus on Sunday morning, locals and Palestinian security sources told Ma‘an. The clashes broke out after hundreds of Jewish Israelis arrived at Joseph’s Tomb around midnight and performed religious rituals at the site, escorted by dozens of Israeli military vehicles. Palestinian security sources said more than 30 Israeli military vehicles stormed Nablus before midnight and were deployed around Joseph’s Tomb near Balata refugee camp east of the city. Shortly after that, dozens of buses and private cars belonging to the Jewish Israelis arrived and hundreds began to perform religious rites, staying until early morning hours. Witnesses said Israeli troops fired tear gas canisters and stun grenades at young Palestinian men who pelted military vehicles with stones and empty bottles. No injuries or detentions were reported … Despite lying in an area under Palestinian authority deep in the West Bank, Israeli forces maintain control at the site and prohibit Muslims from praying there. Many Palestinians believe that Joseph’s Tomb is the funerary monument to Sheikh Yusef Dweikat, a local religious figure. Others believe that the tomb belongs to the Biblical patriarch Joseph. The area is sacred to Jews, Samaritans, Christians and Muslims alike.
‘A message of peace’ from the village of Qaryut met with violence from the Israeli army
QARYUT, Occupied Palestine (ISM, Nablus Team) 19 Apr — The people of Qaryut began weekly demonstrations three weeks ago, due to the Israeli military’s decision to close the main road near to the village. Yesterday, the 18th April, approximately 300 from the village, of which 100 were children, decided to come to the hill to pray rather than to march. Israeli soldiers arrived immediately, with one soldier yelling: “Go back home!” A resident of Qaryut responded; “Insh’allah [If God wills it], this is our home.” The prayer began despite the provocative military presence on the hill, during the prayers Israeli soldiers surrounded the gathering, one solider removed a Palestinian flag from its place in the ground. As prayers finished, one of the villagers declared to the army that it was their intention to leave the area, repeating over and over that they brought “a message of peace”. However, within a few steps of the people’s return to the village, Israeli soldiers started shooting tear gas at their backs. Due to the rocky terrain, many were unable to get away from the tear gas that the soldiers continued to fire. 15 people had to be treated by paramedics due to several tear gas inhalation, however it was difficult to access those in need because of the difficult conditions underfoot. Stun grenades were also used extensively by the Israeli forces.
Israeli forces set up military base in Palestinian home
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 20 Apr — Israeli forces in the Bethlehem district on Sunday set up a military base on the roof of a Palestinian house, a Ma‘an reporter said. In the village of Tuqu‘ southeast of Bethlehem, Israeli soldiers climbed to the rooftop of a house belonging to Nayef Hussein Moussa. The soldiers stationed machine guns on the roof and installed cameras to monitor the movement of Palestinians on a road that connects Jerusalem to illegal Israeli settlements in Hebron. Tuqu‘’s municipality condemned the Israeli move, calling on the Palestinian military liaison office to intervene.
IOF soldiers block entrances to Madama village
NABLUS (PIC) 20 Apr — Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) have completely shut down all of Madama village’s entrances, south of Nablus, where Palestinian native citizens, including humanitarian cases, were denied access out of or into the village. PIC news reporter said quoting eyewitnesses IOF soldiers erected a barrier at the eastern entrance along with two other barriers at the western and northern entrances, blocking several access-routes to other neighboring areas including Bourine, Asira al-Qibliya, and Nablus. The barriers blocked the entry of vehicles leading to traffic jams on all sides of the village. Palestinian civilians and even ambulances, including one who came to carry a very ill civilian, were all denied access into the village. Strict control measures have been imposed by IOF on Madama village, which has been entirely blocked for several days as a means to exert mass punishment on its Palestinian natives under unproven claims of having thrown a settler’s car with stones.
link to www.palestine-info.co.uk/En/
The Israeli forces arrest two Jerusalemite children
Silwan, Jerusalem (SILWANIC) 19 Apr — The Israeli police arrested two Jerusalemite children on Saturday night from the courtyards of Al-Aqsa Mosque. Wadi Hilweh Information Center was informed that the police arrested 12-year old Bassam Tarek Abu Sbeih and 11-year old Amir Shihadeh Al-Malki and took them to Al-Silsileh Gate police center.
Releasing two children and isolating one of them from Al-Aqsa Mosque for two weeks
Silwan, Jerusalem (SILWANIC) 19 Apr — The Israeli police arrested two children on Friday night from the Old City of Jerusalem. Wadi Hilweh Information Center wan informed that the Israeli forces arrested 9-year old Majd Ahmad Alino and 13-year old Malek Assaileh while they were inside the courtyards of Al-Aqsa Mosque (near Al-Hadeed Gate); note that they were assaulted and severely beaten. Majd’s father said that the forces arrested his son on charges of throwing stones at settlers while they were practicing their religious rituals in “Hosh Shhabi”. He explained that his son was assaulted while being arrested and was transferred to “Elyaho” police station in the Old City; he was then released after signing a financial bail. The police also released Malek Assaileh around 11:30 p.m. on condition of isolation from Al-Aqsa Mosque for two weeks. Assaileh explained that the Israeli forces arrested him and then assaulted and severely beat him on his back in addition to hitting him on his hand and then took him to “Elyaho” police station and then to Al-Qishleh police center. Assaileh added that the interrogation was carried out without the presence of his parents; they also photographed him and performed a DNA test on him.
Israeli forces detain 7 Palestinians in Jerusalem’s Old City
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 19 Apr — Israeli forces detained seven Palestinians from the Old City of Jerusalem early Saturday, a lawyer and a local official said. Lawyer Muhammad Mahmoud of the prisoners’ support organization Addameer said that Israeli police raided the houses of five Palestinian young men before taking them into custody. The youths were identified as Akram al-Shurafa, Faris Abu Ghannam, Amir Bazlamit, Muhammad al-Jubah, and Ahmad Salah. Meanwhile, Israeli police detained Ehab Zughayyar and Nafith al-Jubah during a raid in the Old City of Jerusalem, a local committee for prisoners’ families said.
Israeli forces arrest 6 Palestinians in overnight West Bank raids
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 20 Apr — Israeli forces detained six Palestinians in overnight arrest raids across the West Bank early Sunday. Locals told Ma‘an Israeli forces early Sunday detained a Palestinian man from his home in the Salfit district, southeast of Qalqiliya. Israeli troops raided the village of Kafr al-Deik and ransacked the home of 33-year-old Alaa Saleh Aqil before detaining him. During the raid, soldiers physically assaulted Aqil and damaged the interior of his house, witnesses said. Additionally, Palestinian security sources told Ma‘an that Israeli forces stormed Jenin refugee camp and detained two Palestinian youths. Six military vehicles stormed the camp and soldiers ransacked several homes before detaining 19-year-old Muhammad Ahmad al-Husari and 20-year-old Saad Subhi Breghith. An Israeli army spokesman confirmed the detentions in Jenin and southeast of Qalqiliya. She also told Ma‘an that Israeli forces had detained three Palestinians elsewhere in West Bank as well, including one south of Bethlehem, one in Hebron, and one in Jericho.
Several kidnapped, summoned to interrogation in WB
IMEMC 20 Apr by Chris Carlson — …Furthermore, WAFA reports that forces stormed the town of Ya‘bod, southwest of Jenin, and conducted a large-scale comb and search campaign. No arrests were reported. Forces also kidnapped a 22-year-old Palestinian from the town of Deir Sammit, to the southwest of Hebron, after raiding and searching his family home using police dogs. He was led to an unknown destination. According to Al Ray, his wife, Hiam Rajoub, said that “the occupation forces exploded the doors of the house and arrested Rizk, using police dogs in the storming.” She added that she and her husband survived miraculously, after fragments of the door came close to their heads while they were sleeping, pointing out that the army placed a large bomb on the door of the house before blowing it up. Israeli soldiers forced the family members to leave the house for almost three hours while they inspected the house … Meanwhile, forces served summons to appear before Israeli intelligence to four Palestinians from Dheisheh Refugee Camp, south of Bethlehem … The army also kidnapped a 24-year-old Palestinian from the village of Beit Rima, northwest of Ramallah.
Israeli forces arrest 2 in Nablus village
NABLUS (Ma‘an) 20 Apr — Israeli forces on Sunday raided a village in the Nablus district and arrested two Palestinians, locals said. Witnesses told Ma‘an that more than ten Israeli military jeeps entered the village of Awarta and that soldiers arrested two brothers, Mazen and Jaafar Sharab. The two were taken to Huwwara military base.
Israeli forces detain Palestinian at Allenby Bridge crossing
NABLUS (Ma‘an) 20 Apr — Israeli forces detained a young Palestinian man from Askar refugee camp near Nablus while he was trying to leave the West Bank for Jordan, Palestinian security sources told Ma‘an. The source said that 20-year-old Ayman Nidal Saad was taken to an interrogation center without any further explanation.
Gaza under double blockade
Introducing Hamas’ latest leadership edition: 23-year-old Isra Modallal
AlBawaba 20 Apr — Hamas is having a hard time these days. Animosity with the military regime in Cairo has led to the closure of Gaza’s vital smuggling tunnels. According to Monocle, the tunnels act as a vital supply route and Hamas says the current impasse is costing the Gaza economy about $230 million a month. That, in turn, means lower pay for government employees and a disruption in welfare services, something that Hamas traditionally proclaimed to be pretty good at. So who is going to change Hamas’s tumbling image among the Gaza population? Say hi to 23-year-old Isra Al Modallal. In an interview with Monocle, she is described as the new face of the Hamas government. ”We need to show our sadness, that we are normal human beings, that we love and care,” she tells the glossy global affairs magazine. She wears a trenchcoat, ”neat hijab” and is a savvy social media user, often as part of her job as spokeswoman for the government in Gaza. The move to run with Al Modallal was orchestrated by the head of the government media office, US-educated Ihab Al Ghussein. There’s a faction within the organisation looking to transform Hamas’s public image; from a group of violent struggle to “one fighting for their human rights in the face of Israeli oppression.”
‘Miles of Smiles’ convoy 26 arrives in Gaza
IMEMC 20 Apr by Chris Carlson — Miles of Smiles Convoy (26) arrived this past week, in Gaza, with solidarity activists from 21 nations worldwide. Deputy Foreign Minister, Ghazi Hamad, welcomed the convoy’s activists “Here Gaza, where we share patience and resilience.” Hamad expressed hope that the convoy encourages other convoys. He appreciated the delegation’s determination to come to the besieged Gaza Strip, and thanked Egypt for facilitating the convoy’s arrival, calling for a permanent opening of the Rafah Crossing. Al Ray further reports that Egypt’s Rafah border crossing with the Gaza Strip has only been open for 12 days so far, this year, according to Gaza’s Interior Ministry.
Rafah crossing to open for Muslim pilgrims Sunday
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 19 Apr — Egyptian authorities will open the Rafah crossing with Gaza on Sunday to allow pilgrims headed for Saudi Arabia to pass through, a Gaza official said. A Palestinian official told Ma‘an that the Rafah crossing between Egypt and the Gaza Strip will be open Sunday and Monday for Umrah pilgrims heading to Mecca. Pilgrims returning from Mecca will be allowed to pass back into Gaza on Tuesday. The crossing will be closed for all other cases, the official said.
Palestinian from Gaza Strip killed in Homs bombing
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 20 Apr — A Palestinian engineer originally from Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip was killed in an explosion in Homs in Syria on Saturday, his family told Ma‘an. A statement released by the Akhras family in Rafah explained that Eyhab Nasrullah al-Akhras was leaving Bilal al-Habashi mosque in Homs after Friday prayer when a booby-trapped car exploded. He sustained critical wounds and was announced dead on Saturday. Al-Akhras moved to Syria several years ago with his family.
Israeli soldiers open fire at peaceful march [in] east[ern] Gaza
GAZA (PIC) 19 Apr — The Israeli occupation forces (IOF) on Friday afternoon intensively fired tear gas grenades and live bullets at dozens of Gazan citizens participating in a peaceful march in solidarity with the Aqsa Mosque in the east of the Gaza Strip. This happened after hundreds of young men marched following the Friday prayers to the east of the eastern cemetery and rallied near the perimeter of Nahal Oz military post behind the security fence in Shuja‘eiya district. The protesters carried Palestinian flags and chanted slogans in solidarity with the Aqsa Mosque. A spokesman for the health ministry told the Palestinian information center (PIC) that no casualties had occurred among the protesters during the time of reporting the news, but ambulances were sent to the area.
For its part, Yedioth Ahronoth newspaper said that Israeli soldiers arrested on Friday afternoon a Palestinian young man near the border fence to the north of Gaza. Walla news website, however, said that Israeli troops were dispatched to an area near Nativ Haasara settlement after receiving information about the infiltration of a Palestinian young man from Gaza. The young man, then, was taken into custody and interrogated by the Shin Bet in a detention center, according to Walla.
link to www.palestine-info.co.uk/En/
Army: 5 Gaza rockets hit southern Israel
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 21 Apr — Five rockets fired from the Gaza Strip hit southern Israel early Monday, Israel’s military said. An Israeli army spokesman told Ma‘an that three rockets landed in the Shaar HaNegev regional council and two landed in Sderot, with no reports of damage or injuries. Israeli news site Ynet report that one rocket landed on a road near a market stall, causing minor damages. Although Hamas — which runs the Gaza Strip — and Israel have maintained a fragile ceasefire since Nov. 2012, militant groups in the besieged Palestinian coastal enclave frequently launch rockets into Israel.
Homemade missile explodes, injures young man in Gaza
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 19 Apr — A young man was injured on Friday evening in an explosion in eastern Gaza City, medical sources said. The victim, a young man in his twenties, was evacuated to al-Shifa Hospital in Gaza City, medical sources told Ma‘an. Witnesses said the young man was injured when a homemade projectile mistakenly exploded near a mosque in the Zaytoun neighborhood of Gaza City. Medics said he sustained moderate to serious wounds as a result of the explosion.
VIDEO: Watch Palestinian youths dance to the Gaza version of ‘Happy’
Global Post 19 Apr by Sarah Dougherty — People all over the world have shared videos of themselves dancing to “Happy,” the effervescent hit by Pharrell Williams. In March, GlobalPost counted at least 800 versions in 94 countries and the number has only gone up. At its core, the song celebrates a shared human capacity for joy. The four-minute format acts as a sort of blueprint which people fill in with their own bodies, dance moves and background landscapes. Together the videos provide a fascinating glimpse of people’s ordinary lives around the globe. Williams has even partnered with the United Nations Foundation to promote International Day of Happiness on March 20 — creating a supercut of his favorite videos, which you can watch here. Check out the latest version of “Happy,” edited by Anas Hamra of Red Media Production, which features Palestinian youths dancing in Gaza.
The ‘enemy state’ law and its use against Palestinian citizens of Israel
Haaretz editorial: The arrest of an Israeli Arab journalist was the ultimate false arrest
20 Apr — The arrest of Israeli journalist Majd Kayyal should worry Israelis. Kayyal, who lives in Haifa, was arrested a week ago at the Jordanian border after returning to Israel from a three-week visit to Beirut. At first, defense officials accused him of contact with a foreign agent and traveling to an enemy country, so extreme measures were taken. For the five days Kayyal was detained he was not allowed to meet with his attorney, and his arrest was concealed under a sweeping gag order. Only after intervention by human rights group Adalah and Haaretz was the gag order lifted; the suspicion of contact with a foreign agent vanished and Kayyal was released to house arrest. The arrest and its concealment are serious matters. Detaining someone in secret sets a dangerous precedent, not to mention the discrimination. Over the years, many Jewish Israeli journalists have traveled to “enemy states,” and no one interrogated them on their return. Kayyal was arrested and interrogated secretly only because he was an Arab. Israeli law – particularly emergency regulations and the law against illegally crossing the border – prohibit Israeli citizens from entering an enemy country for any purpose whatsoever. This law must be abolished.
How one Palestinian citizen challenged Israel’s ‘enemy state’ policy
Haokets19 Apr by Salah Mohsen — Majd Kayyal’s right to travel and participate in a conference in Beirut is far more important than his right to fulfill his role as a journalist. That right belongs to him as a human being, an Arab and a Palestinian who has absorbed the cultural richness of Lebanon’s capital — The release of Majd Kayyal, journalist and web editor at Adalah, after five days of detention and complete isolation from the outside world – without the right to meet with an attorney or have his case heard due to a sweeping gag order – proves that his detention by Israeli security authorities was a retaliatory act meant to deter other Palestinian citizens of Israel from travelling to Lebanon. It had nothing to do with investigative purposes. Even the attempt to falsely charge Majd with contacting a foreign agent was designed to intimidate and divert any discussion on the right of Palestinians to have relations and professional ties with Lebanon. The main problem is not that Majd Kayyal went to Lebanon. The problem is the law that prevents and criminalizes him for it. Israel’s definition of Lebanon as an “enemy state” does not make it so for Palestinian citizens.
Israel’s double standards on cross-border loyalties
972mag 17 Apr by Haggai Matar — The arrest of journalist Majd Kayyal is a troubling example of Israel’s fear of ties between its own Arab population and the Palestinian Authority, while claiming the right to have similar ties with Jews around the world — …As Dimi Reider mentioned in his post, and as Einat Fishbein claims in her interview with Israeli journalist Itay Engel [Hebrew], the mere passage of Israeli citizens, mainly journalists, into what is legally defined as “enemy states” is not an irregular action, and is most commonly overlooked by authorities. So what is different about Kayyal’s case? It isn’t just that he is Palestinian, but rather the fact that as a citizen of Israel he chose to obtain a second passport – a Palestinian one from the Palestinian Authority – and used it to enter Lebanon. (Entering Lebanon with an Israeli passport is completely impossible.) The story, then, is the wounding of Israel’s national pride, its feeling of hampered sovereignty over its “subjects,” as Kayyal is called in the Shin Bet’s comment.
Palestinian refugees in Syria
No food in Palestinian refugee camp, UN reports
Ynet 19 Apr — The UN Relief and Works Agency said Saturday that as of Sunday, the refugees in a Palestinian refugee camp in Syria will be out of food. “This is the tenth consecutive day that UNRWA has been unable to distribute food assistance inside Yarmouk. Given that an UNRWA food parcel lasts for a maximum of 10 days, from tomorrow there will be no UN food in the camp,” spokesman Chris Gunness said. According to the UN agency, on April 18 they were not authorized to enter the camp and distribute food following the recent escalation between the sides of the ongoing conflict in Syria.
Car blast near Aideen refugee camp claims lives of three Palestinians
DAMASCUS (PIC) 19 Apr — Three Palestinians died on Friday evening when a booby-trapped vehicle exploded near Aideen refugee camp, the action group for the Palestinians of Syria said on Saturday. The victims were among nine civilians who died as they were leaving a mosque in the nearby Ikrima neighborhood following Friday prayers. Many other civilians also suffered injuries in the car blast. In another incident, several mortar shells fell on Friday evening in different areas of Al-Yarmouk refugee camp, with no reported casualties.
link to www.palestine-info.co.uk/En/
Political, other news
Official: PLO members consider disbanding PA
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 19 Apr — The PLO has been considering the option of disbanding the Palestinian Authority in response to the apparent failure of the current round of peace talks with Israel, a Palestinian official said Saturday. PLO Executive Committee member Hanna Amira told Ma‘an that there were “scenarios … that could lead to the disbandment of the PA.” “The future of the PA has become unclear because when it was established, it was meant as a temporary stage leading to the establishment of a Palestinian state,” Amira said. “Thus, if the PA doesn’t lead to statehood, things should be reviewed.” Amira’s comments come after the Israeli daily newspaper Maariv quoted Abbas as threatening to disband the PA. “I don’t need Netanyahu. I don’t need a chief of staff. Give me a junior officer or even a lieutenant and I will deliver the PA keys to him. Here you are, take charge and I will leave in an hour,” Maariv quoted Abbas as saying.
See op-ed section at end for an analysis of what this could mean for both Palestine and Israel
Palestinians mull handing territory ‘keys’ back to Israel
Occupied Jerusalem (AFP) 20 Apr — Palestinian negotiators have warned they may pass responsibility for their territory back to occupying power Israel if peace talks remain stalled, a senior Palestinian official said Sunday. The official said the Palestinians told U.S. peace envoy Martin Indyk on Friday that unless Israel releases Palestinian prisoners as agreed and freezes settlement building, they could dismantle the Western-backed Palestinian Authority (PA) of president Mahmud Abbas. “The Palestinians informed Indyk that if this Israeli intransigence continues, they have several options to resort to,” the Palestinian official told AFP on condition of anonymity. “First, handing the keys of the PA to the U.N. so it will become in charge of the Palestinian people and the state of Palestine, which is under occupation, or that the (Israeli) occupation assumes again full responsibility for everything.”
PLO delegation to head to Gaza for reconciliation meetings
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 20 Apr — A delegation from the PLO will visit the Gaza Strip within the next two days for meetings to discuss reconciliation between Fatah and Hamas, a member of the delegation said. Bassam al-Salhi told Ma’an that the visit to Gaza is part of an effort to implement reconciliation agreements reached with Hamas in 2012. Achieving reconciliation with Hamas will lead to an improvement in Gaza-Egypt relations, al-Salhi said … The groups have made failed attempts at national reconciliation for years, most recently in 2012, when they signed two agreements — one in Cairo and a subsequent one in Doha — which have as of yet been entirely unimplemented.
OCHA: Palestinian woman killed, 101 injured in oPt [8-14 April]
IMEMC 19 Apr by Chris Carlson — One Palestinian was killed and 101 were injured by Israeli violence in the occupied Palestinian territories, during the period from April 8 to 14, a UN report said. According to the report, issued by the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), the Israeli occupation displaced 40 Palestinians, half of them women and children, and demolished 15 houses. Furthermore, Al Ray reports that a woman aged 44 was killed by a tear gas canister dropped near her home in the West Bank refugee camp of ‘Ayda, near Bethlehem, where 42, including 20 children, were injured during protests against the Annexation Wall … The office said that the Israeli aggressions as of 2014 have left at least 21 Palestinians killed and 725 wounded in Gaza and the West Bank.
US intelligence objects to visa waiver for Israelis
Haaretz 19 Apr by Barak Ravid — Allowing entry to Israelis without visa would make it easier for Israeli spies, the House Judiciary Committee was warned, according to a report in Roll Call — Officials in the United States intelligence community are opposing the admission of Israel to the Visa Waiver program – aimed at easing the entry of foreigners to the country – for fear that it would facilitate espionage, according to Roll Call, an online news source that covers the U.S. Congress. The Visa Waiver program, which already includes 38 countries, would allow Israelis to visit the U.S. for up to 90 days without a visa … This is the first time that the Americans have based their objections to the move on fear of Israeli espionage, rather than as a response to the discrimination that Arab-Americans face on entry into Israel. In the past, those who objected to Israel’s participation said that Israel would have to allow all Americans to enter the country, without a visa and without regard to the visitors’ ethnicity.
Opinion / Analysis / Reviews
His life was not worth more because he was one of ‘ours’
Haaretz 20 Apr by Gideon Levy — A Palestinian and an Israeli were needlessly killed yet the government and the media only seek justice for the latter — Both were victims of terror, innocents who were ambushed and shot. One was a Palestinian teenager out picking wild greens to earn some money for his family, the other a senior police officer who was driving his family to a Passover seder in a West Bank settlement. The teen was killed because, according to his killers, he tried to sabotage the separation barrier that divided his village from land owned by his family. The officer was killed because his killers viewed him as an occupier, traveling in occupied territory as if it were his. Neither claim justifies these killings in the slightest. The teen was shot in the head by an army sniper, although he was a danger to no one. The officer’s killers shot in all directions, endangering the lives of all his passengers, although they were a danger to no one. Both of them, the teen and the officer, left behind grieving family members, in pain and in shock. They died within a few kilometers of each other, in the South Hebron Hills, within a few weeks of each other … Mizrahi’s death was followed by an intensive manhunt that included placing an entire town on lockdown and conducting house-to-house searches. It can be assumed that the killer and those who sent him, if he was sent by others, will be apprehended and sentenced to life in prison. There is no need to hold a manhunt to find Shawamra’s killers: They are Israel Defense Forces soldiers and the identities of their commanders in the 77th Armored Battalion are well known. No one thinks to prosecute them for their actions.
Palestinian threat to dissolve PA could have serious repercussions / Nahum Barnea
Ynet 20 Apr — Should Palestinian self-rule end, hundreds of Palestinians would lose their job, and Israel would have to enter the vacuum created as a result, offering Palestinians security, education and welfare services at a cost Israel cannot afford — The Palestinian threat to dissolve their self-rule and merge with the State of Israel has been thrown around for some time. Last Thursday night it landed full-force on the desk of the Israeli Prime Minister Benajmin Netanyahu … The threat is a last-ditch effort to break the stagnation of peace talks, and force Netanyahu to make decisions that he has refused to accept until today. The Palestinians remember what Ehud Barak once said about Netanyahu: “He only takes action when he feels a knife pushed up against his throat.” If the Palestinians actualize their threat there will be dramatic consequences. On the Palestinian side, the PA will collapse and all security administration will disperse, resulting in 40 thousand people losing their paychecks.The IDF will have to find a way to fill the shoes of the PA by creating or acting as a police force, providing education, health, water, and sanitation services to the Palestinians. The European Union and the US who currently support the PA with upwards of $2 billion yearly, will cut donations and Israel will have to make up the difference, but that will only be a fraction of the true costs required. Careful calculations estimate that the first year of occupation of the territory will cost the State tens of billions of shekels. It’s not easy to support 2.5 million people with no real industry or economic sectors. The economic cost is the easy part.
Do West Bank Israelis, Palestinians live under different sets of laws?
BEIT UMMAR, West Bank (Christian Science Monitor (Daniel Estrin)/AP (Josef Federman) 20 Apr — A tale of two rock throwing teens, highlights disparities in Israeli justice system in the West Bank, where Israelis are live under civilian rule and Palestinians are governed by military law — The boys were both 15, with the crackly voices and awkward peach fuzz of adolescence. They lived just a few minutes away from one another in the West Bank. And both were accused of throwing stones at vehicles, one day after the other. But there was a crucial difference that helped to shape each boy’s fate: One was Israeli, and the other Palestinian. The tale of the two teens provides a stark example of the vast disparities of Israel’s justice system in the West Bank, a contested area at the heart of the elusive search for a lasting peace. While Israeli settlers in the West Bank fall mostly under civilian rule, Palestinians are subject to Israeli military law. Israeli and Palestinian youths face inequities at every stage in the path of justice, from arrests to convictions and sentencing, according to police statistics obtained by The Associated Press through multiple requests under Israel’s freedom of information law. The results can ripple for years. “Jail destroyed his life,” said the Palestinian boy’s father. Only 53 Israeli settler youths were arrested for stone-throwing over the past six years, the data shows, and 89 percent were released without charge. Six were indicted. Four of those were found “guilty without conviction,” a common sentence for Israeli juveniles that aims not to stain their record. One was cleared. The sixth case was still in court as of October, the most recent information available. By contrast, 1,142 Palestinian youths were arrested by police over the same period for throwing stones, and 528 were indicted. All were convicted. Lawyers say the penalty is typically three to eight months in military prison.
Auschwitz trip participant: We need to reevaluate ‘normalization’
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 20 Apr — One of the participants of a recent Palestinian delegation to Auschwitz spoke out on Sunday about the ensuing controversy, denouncing “extremists” on both sides for “politicizing” the group’s “academic” visit. Salim Sweidan, a student at al-Quds University and a journalist, wrote in an opinion piece on Ma‘an News’ Arabic site that he was disappointed with the reactions of some of the Arabic-language media, who he accused of falsely giving the trip “political and ideological dimensions” and “describing the trip as normalization with Israel.” The comments come amid a recent storm in Arabic media regarding the trip of 27 students, which was led by al-Quds professor Mohammed Dajani. The trip provoked a strong backlash in Palestinian media, as some said it was part of an effort to “brainwash Palestinian students to prepare them to cede Palestinian rights.” Because Israel often cites the Holocaust as a major reason underlying the need for a “Jewish state” in historic Palestine, many Palestinians are sensitive to potential suggestions that the genocide of Jews in Nazi Germany mandates or justifies their own dispossession by Israel. Sweidan, however, highlighted that the trip worked both ways, stressing that a visit of 30 Jewish students from Israel’s Ben Gurion University to Bethlehem’s Duheisha refugee camp was organized parallel to their trip, but was hardly reported on in Arabic-language media. “Is this considered ‘normalization’ as well?” Sweidan asked, referring to the accusation that the trip constituted engagement with Israel as a “normal state” and not an occupying power, a practice frowned upon by Palestinians living under Israeli occupation as well as many surrounding Arab states.
Book review: Black humor and plum jam
Haaretz 20 Apr by Ronit Vered — They cried, they laughed, they forgave. Bereaved Israeli and Palestinian women created a unique cookbook — …This is Tamara Rabinovich from Jaffa, who contributed an amazing recipe for pickled cucumbers in a bag, and this is Umm Ahmed, who also makes all kinds of pickled vegetables, some so spicy they can bring you to tears. Tell the truth, Umm Ahmed – weren’t you trying to kill the Jewish women with your pickles?” A translator renders Damelin’s comments into Arabic, and Umm Ahmed laughs heartily. “Not all the Jewish women, Robi. Just you.” Black humor is an integral part of the group dynamic. The common denominator for all these women, Israeli and Palestinian, is bereavement. All have lost close family members to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, all are members of the Parents Circle – Family Forum, an organization that seeks to foster dialogue between the opposing sides based on a common sense of pain. “The understanding that the pain of loss is the same pain is always the starting point,” says Damelin, who became very active in the forum after her son David was killed in 2002 … “My family and others were very angry at first. My granddaughters, all teenagers, were the biggest opponents. They said, ‘The Jews have abused you and your family your whole life. How can you sit at the same table with them?’ But having known great suffering my whole life, I decided to become a member of the forum because I have 33 grandchildren, whom I don’t wish to see suffer like I did. I don’t want them to have to see the kinds of things I’ve seen.” “Jam Session,” a lovely cookbook of recipes for vegetable and fruit preserves, came out of the forum’s activity. “Jam Session,” Toad Publishing, theparentscircle.com/Home.aspx
Op-ed: They laughed at our work, and that was the idea
Washington Post 18 Apr by Joel Warner & Peter Mcgraw — Everyone thought we were crazy when we said we were going to the Palestinian territories in search of comedy. You mean the war-torn region that’s been under Israeli occupation for decades? A place that’s synonymous with suicide bombers and Israeli army incursions? Oh, sure, they’d crack. It’s going to be hilarious. But this is exactly what we discovered during our travels in the West Bank: lots of comedy. In a busy cafe in the capital city, Ramallah, we met a young woman who considered it utterly hilarious that her parents had named her Hurriyah Ziada – Arabic for “extra freedom.” Nearby at Birzeit University, we learned that anthropologist Sharif Kanaana has dedicated his career to collecting and archiving the thousands of Palestinian jokes he’s heard — including one in which various heads of state meet with God and make requests for their people. To each, God says, “Not in your lifetime.” Then Yasser Arafat, the former Palestinian leader, asks for his people’s freedom. God replies, “Not in my lifetime.”