Lack of respect for others’ religion, culture / Restrictions on movement
6 detained in Al-Aqsa clashes as Passover tensions mount
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 17 Apr — Israeli police said six Palestinian men were detained on suspicion of hurling rocks inside the Al-Aqsa compound on Thursday, amid mounting tensions as Jewish groups attempt to hold Passover rituals in the religious compound. Groups of right-wing Jews were prevented from entering the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound by Palestinian worshipers for the second consecutive day on Thursday. Groups of Palestinian Muslim youth have remained on watch around the clock in the flashpoint Islamic compound as Jewish groups have attempted to rally there and re-enact biblical scenes from the ongoing Passover holiday, most recently when five were detained on suspicion of bringing a goat to slaughter. To avoid confrontations inside the compound, Israeli police shut down the Moroccan Gate on Thursday and denied the right-wing Jewish groups access to the compound. Israeli officers stationed at all gates leading to the compound imposed also strict regulations on entry of Palestinians into the compound. Visitors, meanwhile, had to leave their identity cards with Israeli officers at the gates before they were allowed in. Separately, Israeli police officers stopped four Jewish women as they tried to access the compound on Wednesday evening through the Cotton Merchants’ Gate. The women tried to break the locks before officers intervened and dispersed them. About 100 Muslim worshipers have decided to stay inside the compound day and night after right-wing Jewish organizations urged Jews to flock to the compound which they believe is the site of a former Jewish temple and slaughter their Passover sacrifices inside.
Israeli settler priests prepare to build holy temple, resume animal sacrifices
Tikun Olam 15 Apr by Richard Silverstein — An Israeli friend has found an amazing YouTube video (apologies that it is in Hebrew without English captions) of the quasi-religious ceremony at which settler paraded scores of white tunic-clad (also called “kittels”) men of various shapes and sizes as the coming generation of kohanim (priests), who would assume duties when (not “if”) the State destroys the Dome of the Rock and replaces it with a rebuilt Holy Temple. All this is under the auspices of the Temple Institute. In a related incident, Israeli police arrested radical settler activists attempting to bring goats to the Temple Mount for the ritual Passover sacrifice. No sooner were they released than one of them was rearrested bringing yet another goat into the Old City for sacrificial purposes. To my surprise, my rightist readers didn’t pooh-pooh earlier coverage of this incident by saying these are a bunch of crazy marginal extremists. Instead, a few readers argued that this ceremony is an entirely mainstream ritual with no extremist overtones….
9 injured, 3 detained after clashes in Jerusalem
[with photos] JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 18 Apr — Nine Palestinians were injured and three detained in clashes with Israeli forces in East Jerusalem on Friday after Israeli police imposed tight restrictions on worshipers at the Al-Aqsa compound. Medics said that nine elderly Palestinians were wounded after Israeli forces sprayed them with pepper spray while they were trying to enter the Al-Aqsa compound from the Chain Gate. The injured were treated in Al-Aqsa clinic. Witnesses said that Israeli forces also beat one of the Al-Aqsa guards as well as another person after preventing them from entering the compound.
In Ras al-Amoud, Israeli forces arrested three Palestinian after clashes that followed Friday noon prayers. Israeli undercover forces raided the Abu Sway area and arrested Naim al-Zaghal, 16, Hamza al-Ghoul, 17, and a third person yet to be identified, area residents said. Israeli police confirmed that border police units detained the three, adding that they were “involved in throwing stones at officers in Ras al Amud this afternoon.” Hundreds had prayed in the streets of the Old City earlier in the day under tight police supervision after they were prevented from nearing the compound. Police and border guards were heavily deployed throughout the city, while several major traffic junctions were closed and checkpoints erected around the Old City.
IOA closes al-Maghariba Gate following Jordanian diplomatic intervention
OCCUPIED JERUSALEM (PIC) 18 Apr — The Israeli occupation authority (IOA) decided to close Al-Maghariba Gate, one of the historical portals of the Aqsa Mosque, and prevented soldiers and policemen from entering it in response to Jordanian pressures, according to Quds Net news agency. Quds Net quoted Abdul-Naser Nassar, the Jordanian adviser for Jerusalem affairs as saying that the Jordanian diplomacy, as part of its responsibility toward the Aqsa Mosque, moved to stop Israel’s persistent violations against it. Nassar said that his country, which has historical, religious and legal obligations towards the Islamic and Christian holy sites in occupied Jerusalem, had made efforts to prevent the reoccurrence of any violations by Israelis against the sanctity of the holy sites under its administration, especially the Aqsa Mosque. He added that the Jordanian diplomatic efforts also succeeded in forcing the Israeli side to close Al-Maghariba Gate and bar police and military forces from entering the Aqsa Mosque compound. The Jordanian official also affirmed that the massive Jewish rally which had been slated to take place on Thursday at the Aqsa Mosque was also canceled.
link to www.palestine-info.co.uk/En/
Planned construction encroaches on Temple Mount, Western Wall
Al-Monitor 16 Apr by Akiva Eldar — In the shadow of the crisis in negotiations with the Palestinians, and at the height of the storm about the conviction of former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, a dramatic decision was made in Jerusalem. This decision could bring about the collapse of the diplomatic process that’s hanging by a thread. The decision made on March 27 by Jerusalem’s District Planning and Building Committee makes the tender published several days later for the construction of 708 housing units in the city’s Gilo neighborhood look like a confidence-building measure. The committee gave a settlers’ organization permission to erect a grandiose edifice in the upper part of the Arab Silwan neighborhood, adjacent to the walls of the Old City — in the heart of one of the most explosive sites in the world. A narrow road is the only dividing line between the complex, designed to serve as a “visitor center” for the El’ad Association and the Israel Nature and Parks Authority, and the Temple Mount, or Haram al-Sharif. Despite the fact that since the days of the British mandate, through the zoning plans drawn up under Israeli rule, the city’s planning principles forbade new construction within 75 meters (250 feet) of the wall, the committee approved a massive, tall building within 20 meters (65 feet) of the wall. The building to be erected a stone’s throw away from the Western Wall would stand seven stories high. The ground floor would be spread out over 16,600 square meters (4 acres), three times the area in the original plan submitted some four years ago. As far as the Palestinians and the entire Muslim world are concerned, the erection of this building would be tantamount to sticking a Star of David on top of a mosque.
Palestinian doctors caught in fight over Jerusalem
ABU DIS, West Bank (AP) 16 Apr – Since graduating from a local medical school nine years ago, Basel Nassar has been barred from serving his community in east Jerusalem, despite a shortage of doctors there. Like dozens of other Palestinian doctors, Nassar has been caught in the political battle between Israel and the Palestinians over east Jerusalem. The Palestinians seek the West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip – territories captured by Israel in the 1967 Six-Day War – for a future state. They have demanded that a future border with Israel be based on the pre-1967 lines. Palestinians long have held that Israel’s attempt to impose its sovereignty over East Jerusalem – the emotional core of the conflict and home to major religious shrines – has violated basic rights and disrupted the lives of many of the city’s Arab residents. Yet Israel’s policy of banning dozens of Jerusalem residents from working in the city as doctors increasingly is being criticized by Israelis, including leading physicians who say politics must not trump the right to health care. Earlier this month, an Israeli court overturned the Health Ministry’s ban after Nassar and others sued, ostensibly clearing the way for him and 54 other doctors – who are graduates of the Palestinians’ Al-Quds University – to apply for Israeli medical licenses. But it’s not clear if the government has dropped the legal battle … The Health Ministry applied a similar ruling several years ago to a small group of graduates on a one-time basis. It hasn’t ruled out appealing the latest court decision.
Jewish organisation opens religious school in Palestinian East Jerusalem
JERUSALEM (The Guardian) 17 Apr by Peter Beaumont — Ateret Cohanim, which buys property for settlement, completes work on yeshiva in heart of potential future capital of Palestine — Jewish religious organisation that buys properties for settlement has completed renovation work on its most significant and provocative purchase – a large religious school in the Palestinian commercial hub of occupied East Jerusalem. Ateret Cohanim had secretly purchased more than 1,000 sq m in the substantial and imposing building which houses the main post office and Israeli police station, and overlooks the Flowers Gate entrance to the walled Old City. Its location is in the very centre of what Palestinians claim for their capital of a future state in the east of the city.
Palestinian displacement blocking ‘just peace’, churches tell EU
Ekklesia 17 Apr — APRODEV and CIDSE, two influential church-related development networks, have condemned the forced displacement of Palestinians in the West Bank, which they say is “uprooting any chance of a just peace”. They urge the European Union (EU) to address systematically issues of property destruction and forced displacements, to protect the rights of Palestinians. This stance is endorsed by the World Council of Churches (WCC) … APRODEV and CIDSE encourage the EU to review its aid projects so that they do not recognise unlawful Israeli policies driving forcible transfer and settlement expansion. They also ask the EU to advocate for the transfer of planning authority to Palestinian institutions, in line with international humanitarian law.
IN PICTURES: Christians mark Good Friday in Jerusalem
AP 18 Apr — Christians in the Holy Land are commemorating the crucifixion of Jesus Christ in Good Friday prayers and processions through Jerusalem’s Old City. Thousands of Christian pilgrims filled the cobblestone alleyways of the Old City on Friday along the Via Dolorosa, Latin for the “Way of Suffering.” They are carrying wooden crosses and following the 14 stations ending at the ancient Church of the Holy Sepulcher. Tradition says the church was built on the site where Jesus was crucified, buried and resurrected.
Hundreds of Gaza Christians travel to West Bank for Easter
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 17 Apr — Hundreds of Christians in the Gaza Strip left the coastal territory on Thursday to celebrate Easter in the occupied West Bank and Israel. Palestinian officials said that Israeli authorities issued 600 permits to Christians to leave the besieged Gaza Strip. Around 100 Christians crossed the Erez crossing early Thursday to travel to Bethlehem and Nazareth, where they will stay for a week to celebrate Easter. Israel only issued permits to Palestinians over the age of 35 and under 16, officials added. Earlier Thursday, Christian dignitaries and representatives of different Christian organizations in Jerusalem held a news conference in the Orthodox Club in the Old City to denounce ongoing restrictions against freedom of worship. Speakers at the conference, including Orthodox Archbishop Atallah Hanna, former Latin Patriarch Michel Sabbah, and the former PA ambassador to France, Hind Khoury, denounced Israeli restrictions on Christian access to the Jerusalem. The Christian dignitaries also slammed Israeli assaults against Al-Aqsa Mosque highlighting that Muslims and Christians in Palestine are all Palestinian citizens under Israeli occupation.
Umm al-Fahm mosque vandalized, door torched
[with video] Ynet 18 Apr by Hassan Shaalan — Vandals set fire to mosque door, spray paint ‘Arabs out’ on its walls. Resident: ‘We have been silent enough, attacks on mosque are a red line.’ — The words “Arabs out” were spray painted on a wall of the Abu-Bakr Al-Siddiq mosque in Umm al-Fahm, and its entrance door was set on fire. Umm al-Fahm police has launched an investigation into the incident, and the immediate suspicion was that the event was yet another ‘price tag’ hate crime attack. No suspects have yet to be arrested. Sheikh Shafiq Mahagna, a prominent local figure, told Ynet: “After we discovered the fire, we called the police. The security cameras show three masked men involved in the fire and hateful graffiti step out of a car.” … The mosque’s Imam, Jamil Mahagna, supplied further details into the attack: “We arrived at the mosque at 4:30 am and noticed a fire at the entrance. We immediately extinguished it and called the police. We’re lucky that the fire did not have time to spread.” The Imam called on the police to “arrest the criminals. Their only aim is to hurt relations between Arabs and Jews.”
British war cemetery not immune from Gaza siege
Electronic Intifada 17 Apr by Joe Catron — …The cemetery, off Saladin street in northern Gaza City, is one of thousands maintained by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC), a consortium of Australia, Canada, India, New Zealand, South Africa and the United Kingdom. It contains 3,691 graves, all but 474 of them for First World War troops from the Commonwealth of Nations. A further 210 are from the Second World War. Others include Egyptian and Turkish soldiers, as well as Canadian United Nations peacekeepers. Their memorials, from simple headstones to an imposing “cross of sacrifice” — a memorial found in numerous CWGC cemeteries — reflect their varied faiths: Christian, Jewish, Hindu, Muslim and secular. And the careful landscaping and quiet solitude around them make the cemetery an attractive destination for everyone from picnicking families to students looking for a place to study … Headstones destroyed In 2006, Israeli troops bulldozed the cemetery’s perimeter wall and six of its headstones. Months later, an Israeli military helicopter fired its cannon at one of the large memorial stones. “Two dozen other headstones have been pockmarked by shrapnel from Israeli artillery and several have been completely destroyed,” The Daily Telegraph newspaper reported (“Fury as Israelis damage war cemetery,” 13 November 2006). During Operation Cast Lead, Israel’s military offensive against the Gaza Strip in late 2008 and early 2009, Israeli forces bombarded the cemetery, striking it with at least five shells and singeing its grass with white phosphorus (“Israel shelled UK war graves in Gaza,” The Daily Telegraph, 20 January 2009). The bombing again damaged the perimeter wall, along with 363 headstones (“The mighty march of progress: British war graves in Gaza,” Ma’an News Agency, 9 November 2010). “There were no fighters here,” Jeradeh said. Rare demands for compensation After each of these attacks, the British government lodged rare demands that Israel compensate it for the costs of repairing the cemetery. Israel ultimately complied, paying £20,600 ($34,400) in 2008 and £40,000 ($67,000) — less than half the £84,000 ($140,000) requested — in 2011 … Despite its foreign affiliations — which ultimately afforded it some protection — the cemetery has also been targeted by Israel culturally, as well as militarily. Following Israel’s 1967 seizure of the Gaza Strip, Moshe Dayan, then Israeli defense minister, sought to exhume the cemetery’s five Jewish graves and take them to Israel.
Violence / Raids / Attacks / Clashes / Illegal arrests
Israeli forces fire tear gas in Hebron prep school
HEBRON (Ma‘an) 16 Apr — Israeli forces on Wednesday raided a prep school in Hebron and fired tear gas on school grounds, witnesses told Ma‘an. Israeli soldiers erected an encampment in the schoolyard of al-Mutanabby preparatory in southern Hebron and raised the Israeli flag on top of the school, locals said. Israeli troops also fired what witnesses called “excessive” amounts of tear gas on school grounds, lightly injuring several students. Separately, clashes broke out between Israeli soldiers and Palestinian schoolchildren in Tari Ibn Ziad street in Hebron. The circumstances behind the clashes were unclear.
Nablus farmer detained after being attacked by settlers
NABLUS (Ma‘an) 17 Apr — Israeli forces detained a Palestinian farmer in Nablus on Wednesday on suspicion of attempting to stab a settler after a group assaulted him and cut down his olive trees. Palestinian security officials told Ma‘an that settlers from Maale Levona assaulted Khalid Samih Daraghmah and his son while they were tending their trees south of Nablus near al-Lubban ash-Sharqiyah. Jalal Daraghmah, 19, was brutally beaten during the attack. The farmers filed a complaint at the Palestinian liaison department, who referred it to the Israeli office. After reporting the assault, Israeli forces arrested Samih Daraghmah after claiming he had tried to stab one of the settlers.
Twilight Zone: When Yitzhar settlers attack
Haaretz 18 Apr by Gideon Levy & Alex Levac — The violence of the settlers in Yitzhar hardly began with the slashing of the tires. Ask Fuad Shehadeh, 54, who has been hospitalized for six weeks — He is suffering from no fewer than 10 fractures – eight along his right leg and two in his left arm – and painful bruises on his head and his right arm. It is a month and a half since Fuad Shehadeh was beaten savagely by masked individuals wielding iron rods who came from the direction of the Yitzhar settlement, near Nablus. He is still in Ichilov Hospital in Tel Aviv, groaning with pain. For a month and a half, he hasn’t been able to stand; for a month and a half, his son has been living in an armchair next to his bed, the two of them alone in a hospital in the big city. For years, those who were appalled at the violent attacks on Israeli soldiers by Yitzhar settlers have turned a blind eye to the violence of those same settlers against their Palestinian neighbors. The vicious assault on Shehadeh wasn’t even reported in the Israeli media, and the Israel Police have not yet bothered to take his testimony. A gang of 15 or so people, their faces covered, attack a helpless farmer in his olive grove, bludgeon him mercilessly with iron rods, breaking his bones in 10 different places, an Israeli soldier looks on without lifting a finger – and no one is even questioned. Shehadeh, a decorator aged 54, married and the father of three, runs a small curtain-making business in his home town of Hawara on the outskirts of Nablus.
Israeli forces raid homes near Hebron, turn rooftops into outposts
HEBRON (WAFA) 17 Apr — Israeli forces Thursday stormed the village of al-Karmil, east of Yatta to the south of Hebron, and took over the rooftops of three Palestinian-owned homes and turned them into military outposts, according to a local activist. The Popular Committee Coordinator in Yatta, Rateb al-Jabour, told WAFA that forces raided three houses in the area, located near the illegal Israeli settlements of Susiya, Ma’on, and Havat Ma’on, and took over their rooftops and turned them into military outposts. Forces also set up checkpoints at the entrances leading to the villages east of Yatta. Meanwhile, large numbers of settlers stormed the village of al-Karmil and raised anti-Arab banners while chanting Talmudic and racist slogans.
Jewish holiday increases violence in Hebron
HEBRON, Occupied Palestine (ISM, Khalil Team) 17 Apr — Pesach, or Passover, started Monday 14th April and is a seven day long holiday where many zionist tourists and settlers from illegal settlements travel to al-Khalil (Hebron). Increased violence and attacks towards Palestinians occurs during many Jewish holidays. During the holiday, entry into historic Palestine (the current state of Israeli) is completely closed to Palestinians, even those with the correct permits. Restriction of movement is also inflicted on the Palestinians living within al-Khalil itself, as checkpoints and many local shops are forced to close, while settlers and Zionist tourists go on ‘tours’ guarded by Israeli soldiers and border police. The amount of tourists in al-Khalil during these seven days is estimated to be approximately 7000 people. Yesterday afternoon, Israeli forces closed the main road in the center of al-Khalil, in order to allow settlers access to the Tomb of Othniel Ben Knaz, which is located in H1. Thousands of Hebronites were hugely disrupted as the major Palestinian access road was blocked by a mobile barrier and then occupied by hundreds of Israeli soldiers.Many Palestinians in the recent days have expressed anxiety over the escalating violence during the holiday … The school children in al-Khalil have suffered this holiday in several ways. Due to the increased military presence of Israeli soldiers, schools have finished earlier, although the children have still been forced to pass through large groups of soldiers while leaving and entering their schools. This morning ISM witnessed children forming ‘chains’ to avoid being split up while passing the soldiers. One teacher from a local primary school stated that only 25% of the pupils has been present in school today. An ISMer noted: “We see the kids walk through these checkpoints every day, but it is obvious that they have been even more scared these past days….
History repeats itself in Hebron
Haaretz 18 Apr by Avichai Stollar — The new settlement in the Rajabi house will exact an unimaginable toll on Palestinians living in the city — The Jewish residents of Hebron will look back at the 13th of April 2014 and smile in nostalgia at the second time they managed to deceive an entire country. With the Israeli Defense Minister’s approval, a group of settlers entered and seized the Rajabi family’s home in Hebron last week. Three decades after the last Hebron settlement was erected, this event marks a new chapter in the story of Israeli settlement in the city of our forefathers and mothers. There is nothing new under the sun. With deliberate symbolism, settler leaders have returned to the original trick they used to establish the first Hebron settlement during the Passover of 1968. At the same time of year, several months after the start of Israel’s occupation of the West Bank in the wake of the Six-Day War, Rabbi Moshe Levinger asked the government to allow him to spend Passover in Hebron, together with a number of his supporters. The government agreed, so Levinger and his comrades invited the public to join the celebration. In a message to a religious Zionist newspaper, they added a small request: “bring refrigerators!” Since refrigeration was obviously not a necessity for the holiday itself, the message exposed the settlers’ preconceived plans to extend their stay….
Israeli forces raid Hebron municipality, seize hard drive
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 18 Apr — Israeli forces on Friday raided the municipality building of a Hebron village and seized a hard drive containing footage from security cameras, local officials said. Idhna village spokesman Abdul Rahman al-Tumeizi told Ma‘an that five military jeeps carrying dozens of soldiers raided the building and seized municipality property. The soldiers threatened to blow up the gate leading to the building if municipality officials did not comply, the spokesman said. During the raid, some 200 settlers tried to enter the village but were repeatedly stopped by Israeli forces. The raid is thought to be related to the recent killing of an Israeli settler in the surrounding area
Israeli forces, Palestinians clash south of Bethlehem
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 17 Apr – Several Palestinians were injured on Thursday during clashes between Israeli soldiers and Palestinian villagers in the Bethlehem village of Tuqu‘, locals said. Israeli soldiers fired rubber-coated steel bullets and tear gas canisters at school students in Tuqu‘ after raiding the village, witnesses said. Several students and local residents suffered light injuries as a result of the tear gas. Four settlers were also injured during the clashes and taken for treatment in the illegal settlement of Efrat.
Settlers hurl stones at Palestinian cars near Bethlehem
IMEMC/Agencies 16 Apr — A number of extremist settlers threw, on Tuesday evening, stones at Palestinian cars driving near the Gush Etzion Israeli settlement, south of the West Bank city of Bethlehem. Palestinian security sources said that settlers from the Beit Ayin illegal settlement, of the Gush Etzion bloc, threw stones and empty bottles at Palestinian cars on a road linking Nahhalin and the al-Jab‘a villages. The attack led to property damage but no injuries, according to local sources. Settler groups recently escalated their assaults against the Palestinians, along with their lands and their cars, in the same area, causing excessive property damage and several injuries.
Israeli forces raid Nablus area after firebomb thrown at settler car
NABLUS (Ma‘an) 17 Apr — Israeli forces deployed in and around the northern West Bank towns of Beita and Huwwara late Wednesday after a firebomb was hurled at a settler car, witnesses said. Dozens of Israeli soldiers stormed Beita and imposed a curfew on the nearby Huwwara village after a settler vehicle was attacked with a fire bomb. Israeli soldiers fired multiple tear gas canisters and stun grenades in the town. Locals told Ma‘an that several Israeli military checkpoints were erected around Beita and soldiers inspected all Palestinian vehicles until the early hours of the morning.
Israel arrests four Palestinians in West Bank
HEBRON (WAFA) 17 Apr – Israeli forces Thursday arrested four Palestinians from across the West Bank, according to security sources. Sources told WAFA that forces arrested two Palestinians, 19 and 21, from the town of Beit Owwa [or Beit Awwa], west of Hebron, after raiding several houses in the area. Forces also arrested a 24-year-old Palestinian from the village of Beit Rima, northwest of Ramallah. In the Jenin area, forces arrested a 22-year-old Palestinian after raiding and tampering with the contents of his family home. Meanwhile, forces raided the town of Ya‘bod southwest of Jenin and photographed several houses, street alleys, and neighborhoods in the village.
Night raid alternative fails to end violence against children
RAMALLAH (Defence for Children International Palestine) 17 Apr — Recent attempts by Israeli military and intelligence officers to “summon” Palestinian children for questioning fail to address ill-treatment once they are in Israeli military custody. The Israeli army declared in February that a new pilot program relying on written summonses would be implemented as an alternative to night arrests. In the same month, DCI-Palestine documented six cases involving children summoned for questioning who reported ill-treatment and torture once in Israeli military detention. The children, all from Beita, a village near the West Bank city of Nablus were summoned – either by telephone call from Israeli intelligence officers or by written summons delivered by Israeli forces during a night raid – to report for questioning the next morning. In all cases, the children reported to an interrogation facility in the occupied West Bank as requested, and then were promptly taken into custody, denied access to a lawyer, and interrogated without the presence of a family member … In sworn affidavits collected by DCI-Palestine, all six children reported experiencing some form of ill-treatment while at least one of them, Bashir D, 17, was beaten during interrogation. Bashir told DCI-Palestine: “(The Israeli interrogation officer) … kicked me twice on my legs, punched me twice on the stomach and three times on the head, while shouting, ‘You better confess because I won’t stop beating you unless you confess.’”
Thousands march across West Bank, Gaza to mark Prisoners Day
[with photos] BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 17 Apr — At least ten Palestinians were detained by Israeli forces on Thursday as thousands participated in protests across the West Bank and the Gaza Strip to commemorate the annual Palestinian Prisoners Day. Large demonstrations took place in Hebron, Gaza City, Jenin, Nablus, and Ramallah to mark the day of solidarity with the more than 5,000 Palestinian prisoners currently being held in Israeli prisons.The demonstrations took place amid a major row with Israel over its failure to release a batch of prisoners held for more than twenty years as previously agreed upon as a part of ongoing peace negotiations. Hebron Over 3000 protesters marched through the embattled southern West Bank city of Hebron raising Palestinian flags, images of Palestinian prisoners, and signs calling for an end to Israeli violations of Palestinian prisoners’ rights on Thursday. Israeli forces injured 10 Palestinians as they dispersed the protest, while dozens suffered from excessive tear gas inhalation from canisters fired by Israeli forces in the Bab al-Zawiya area of central Hebron. Medics said that six people were shot with live ammunition in their lower extremities while others shot with rubber-coated steel bullets. The injured were taken to Hebron hospitals for treatment afterwards … Gaza City Hundreds of prisoners’ families and a number of Palestinian blocs took part in a march that commenced from Sarayah square to the International Red Cross Committee headquarters in Gaza City to mark Palestinian Prisoners Day. Protestors carried 250 caskets that were wrapped with the Palestinian flags, representing currently ill prisoners that protesters said would die without medical treatment denied to them by Israel. Mothers of prisoners also took part in the march, holding pictures of their detained sons. [Descriptions of protests in other cities follow]
National Council calls for treating Palestinian prisoners as war prisoners
AMMAN, Jordan (WAFA) 16 Apr – The Palestinian National Council called in a statement on Wednesday upon the Israeli authorities to treat the Palestinian prisoners as prisoners of war, after the state of Palestine became a member in the fourth Geneva Conventions, particularly the Third Geneva Convention. In a statement marking the Palestinian Prisoner Day, the council condemned the Israeli campaign of calling to adjudicate President Mahmoud Abbas after he signed Palestine’s letters of accession to a set of international conventions and treaties, particularly those concerned with prisoners’ affairs.
Administrative detainees to launch hunger strike April 24
IMEMC 17 Apr by Saed Bannoura — Palestinian detainees, held by Israeli under arbitrary Administrative Detention order, without charges or trial, said they intend to launch an open-ended hunger strike, starting next Thursday, April 24. The 186 detainees issued a statement that was published by the Palestinian Ministry of detainees on Wednesday, stating they have decided to launch the “battle of empty bowels”, to protest the illegitimate administrative detention policy practiced by Israel against them. They said they are launching a campaign titled “Administrative Detainees, Revolution, Freedom and the Resolve of Life”. They said this battle, the revolution of freedom, will be comprehensive, and that every administrative detainee, regardless of political affiliation and, wherever he is held, will be part of this hunger strike.
Marwan Barghouthi: The key to war and peace
IMEMC 17 Apr by Saed Bannoura — The Palestinian Ministry of Detainees in Ramallah issued a statement marking the twelfth anniversary of the kidnapping and imprisonment of Palestinian leader, legislator Marwan Barghouthi, who was sentenced by an Israeli military court to five life terms and an additional 40 years imprisonment … It also said that the case of Barghouthi, the secretary-general of the Fateh movement, an elected legislator, has placed Israel in an international legal dilemma, since his abduction and imprisonment is illegitimate, and part of Israel’s war on late President, Yasser Arafat. Israel accuses Barghouthi of being the key factor which led to the Al-Aqsa Intifada in late September 2000, and described him as the “engineer of the Intifada “, especially since he believes in ongoing resistance, even during negotiations, saying that as long as there is an occupation and oppression, there will always be resistance. Following 15 years of direct talks with Israel, Barghouthi reached the conclusion that Israel turned the Oslo peace agreements into a trap that led to massive construction and expansion of settlements in the occupied territories, especially in and around occupied Jerusalem….
UPDATE: Majd Kayyal released from Shin Bet detention — Israeli secret police holding journalist in cell with no bed or window
Electronic Intifada 17 Apr by Ali Abunimah — Update, 17 April UTC 16:09: Kayyal released from Shin Bet detention — The legal advocacy group Adalah has reported on its Facebook page that, following its urgent appeal, Majd Kayyal was released from Shin Bet detention today. Haaretz states that Kayyal was “released to house arrest” and that his next court hearing is 22 April.
Original post: The journalist and activist Majd Kayyal has met with lawyers for the first time since his detention by Israel’s Shin Bet secret police last Saturday. In another significant development, reported by the Associated Press, Shin Bet has said it dropped any suspicion Kayyal had been “recruited by a militant organization” but was still “considering indicting him for traveling to Lebanon.” Following the lifting of a gag order on all public discussion of the situation, the legal advocacy group Adalah said its lawyers met with Kayyal, a 23-year-old Palestinian citizen of Israel, on Wednesday evening at a Shin Bet detention center. In addition to the gag order, an Israeli judge had prohibited Kayyal from meeting with lawyers for the five days since he was arrested. No bed or window “Kayyal informed his lawyers that since the beginning of his detention, he has been held in a cell with very poor conditions. The cell does not have a bed or a window for sunlight. The cell is lit with a bright yellow light 24 hours a day, to the extent that Kayyal lost track of the time and day,” Adalah states in a press release.
Islamic Jihad: Prisoners are not a ‘game’ for negotiations
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 17 Apr — Palestinian militant group Islamic Jihad said in a statement on Thursday to mark Palestinian Prisoners Day that they would not “abandon” any prisoners and that they refused to see them as “numbers” to be traded in negotiations. “Treating prisoners as numbers will not continue, especially under the conditions of suffering and injustice that they are going through” in Israeli prison, the statement said. “We view prisoners from Jerusalem and 1948 occupied Palestine as our people and it is unacceptable religiously, ethically or nationally to abandon them,” the statement said. The statement added that the group refuses to deal with the issue of prisoners as a “game” for negotiations, in a jab at the Palestine Liberation Organization’s inclusion of the release of long-held prisoners as a condition of ongoing peace negotiations with Israel. The statement come as hundreds of Palestinians marked the annual Palestinian Prisoners Day across the country, with marches in major cities in solidarity with the thousands of Palestinian prisoners being held in Israeli jails … Since 1967, around 20 percent of the total Palestinian population and 40 percent of all males have been held as prisoners in Israeli jails.
PLO: 800,000 Palestinians detained since 1967 occupation
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 17 Apr — Israeli military forces have detained over 800,000 Palestinians since the 1967 occupation of the West Bank, Gaza Strip, and East Jerusalem, the PLO said Thursday. “For Palestinians, having loved ones in prison is not the exception: it is something which has affected every Palestinian family,” PLO negotiator Saeb Erekat said in a statement marking Prisoners Day. “In the context of prolonged occupation, Israel — a foreign military power — has unlawfully imposed itself on the land of another people and has oppressed millions, in many varying ways. The plight of the prisoners reflects the plight of the Palestinian people as a whole.” Over 800,000 Palestinians have been detained since 1967, with 5,224 currently being held in Israeli detention centers, according to the PLO. There have been a total of 50 Palestinian parliamentarians in Israeli jails at one time or another, Erekat said, representing over one third of the Palestinian parliament. Palestinian leader Marwan Barghouthi was the first member of the Palestinian parliament to be detained after Israeli forces raided Ramallah on April 15, 2002, and seized the Fatah representative in an arrest raid. Eleven remain incarcerated at the present time, including Secretary General of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine Ahmed Saadat.
Gaza under double blockade
Israeli forces wound Palestinian in shooting near Jabaliya
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 18 Apr — Israeli forces shot and injured a Palestinian man near Jabaliya in the northern Gaza Strip on Friday. Spokesman for the Gaza Strip Ministry of Health Ashraf al-Qidra said that a 24-year-old man was shot by Israeli forces east of Jabaliya and was subsequently transferred to Kamal Adwan Hospital. Al-Qidra described the injuries sustained by the man as “moderate.” …
Separately, Israeli forces opened fire on a demonstration around noon near southeast of Gaza City that had been called for in support of the Al-Aqsa mosque compound by the coalition “Palestine Youth Coalition.”
Fuel shortage in Gaza Strip due to Passover closures
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 18 Apr — The Gaza Strip is suffering from a fuel shortage due to the repeated closures of the Kerem Shalom crossing with Israel over the Passover holidays, officials said on Friday. Member of the administrative council of petroleum and gas company owners Mohammad al-Abadla told Ma‘an that the Gaza Strip has been experiencing a diesel, petrol, and gas crisis for the last 10 days due to a supply shortage, which has been aggravated by closures for the Jewish holiday. Al-Abadla said that not enough fuel is currently being allowed to enter by Israel, and that any amount currently received is distributed directly to gas stations, which have been left with no fuel reserves. He added that when the crossing is open around 150 thousand liters of gasoline, 200K-250 thousand liters of diesel, and 200 tons of cooking gas are able to enter into the strip.
The crossing was closed on April 14, 15, and 18 and is scheduled to be closed on April 20, 21, 25, and May 5, 6, as well as June 3 and 4, in addition to weekly closures on Fridays and Saturdays. Israeli officials also shut down checkpoints for Palestinians across the West Bank for extended periods to mark the Jewish holiday of Passover.
Ministry: Rafah crossing closed for 81 days in 2014
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 18 Apr — Egyptian authorities have kept the Rafah crossing with Gaza closed for a total of 81 days in 2014, Gaza’s Ministry of Interior said Friday. The near constant closure of the crossing has exacerbated the crisis in Gaza and prevented thousands of passengers from traveling, the ministry said. Human rights groups must pressure Egypt to open the crossing, the ministry added, noting that it has been closed for 81 out of a total of 108 days in 2014.
Gaza blockade ‘longest in history’: UNRWA
GAZA (AA) 17 Apr — Newly appointed United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) Commissioner-General Pierre Krahenbuhl on Wednesday described Israel’s seven-year siege of the Gaza Strip as the “longest in history.” Speaking at a conference in Khan Younis in the southern Gaza Strip, he added that the blockade was being used to collectively punish the Palestinian people. He said everybody should focus on the fact that Gaza’s people merely wanted their dignity, freedom and humanity. Krahenbuhl said that in 2000, the UNRWA had offered aid to around 80,000 refugees in the Gaza Strip. He added that the agency now provides aid to some 800,000 refugees in the territory, adding that this amount was increasing year after year.
Slideshow: Female in Gaza
New York Times 18 Apr by Monique Jaques — I have been photographing in Gaza for several years, initially to cover the conflict with Israel, but over time returning because I am mesmerized by the women, and their strength.
Gaza’s population balloons
GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip (Al-Monitor) 17 Apr by Mohammed Othman — With an average 5.7 births for each woman, Gaza’s government has no plans to curtail population growth — Gaza schools are overcrowded with students. According to interviews Al-Monitor conducted with schoolteachers, the average number of students in classrooms reaches 40 in both public schools and those affiliated with the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNWRA), reflecting the demographic reality in the Gaza Strip. “The population of the small Strip, whose area is 365 square kilometers [141 square miles], passed 1.865 million in March, or 5,109 people per square kilometer. Thus, the Gaza Strip is on the list of the most densely populated areas in the world,” said Riad al-Zeitouniya, the head of the Civil Status and Passport Department in the Ministry of Interior of the Gaza government, speaking to Al-Monitor. According to Zeitouniya, the total number of births in Gaza in 2013 exceeded 56,000, while the first three months of 2014 saw more than 13,000. He added, “The increase of the population in the Gaza Strip is excessive; it is very large. Between 2000 and 2013, the number of Gazans increased by more than 687,000 people.” A UNRWA report published in 2012 said that by 2020 Gaza’s population will reach 2.1 million
What will Gaza’s Ark face from the Israeli navy as it challenges the blockade?
GAZA, Occupied Palestine (ISM, Charlie Andreasson) 17 Apr — The heavy bang is heard clearly, and I have to resist the impulse to climb over the breakwater to try to get a view of the attack in the haze. And a new round of bangs is heard. It can’t be far off the port of Gaza. Instead, I look up at the sky, squinting, and there it is, the drone that been circling around all morning. And I return to my work to completing Gaza ‘s Ark. Shall I write about this, I wonder to myself? That thought pops up every time I hear machine-gun fire, or even heavier bombardments, from the sea. We expect some influential people to sail with us to break Israel’s naval blockade, and I do not want to scare them off. It is important that they are on board. It’s one thing to know about the abuse from a report, but another when you it happening a few nautical miles away, in the same water we will sail in a few months. I am afraid of painting too vivid a picture of what awaits us. What is it that awaits us? Will we be boarded, have the ship ransacked by heavily armed and masked marines searching for Palestinians? Will they seize the Ark? Or will they let us pass, allow us to break the blockade only to close it behind us, and then continue shelling fishermen as if nothing happened?
Gaza’s Zayed City development provides solace to Palestinians
BEIT LAHIYA, Gaza Strip (The National) 17 Apr by Hugh Naylor — When the explosion from a rocket fired by an Israeli helicopter blew off his right leg in 2004, Nahed Abu Safi could only think of one thing. “Who would take care of my family if I died?” In the end, the severity of his injury meant he could no longer work as a painter. He could no longer provide for his wife and four children and was unable to pay the rent on his home in southern Gaza. Soon after the attack however, he heard about a housing project that was a US$62 million (Dh 227 million) gift to the Palestinian people from Sheikh Zayed, the founding president of the UAE. He soon qualified for an apartment in Zayed City, which were offered free of charge to Gazans whose homes had been destroyed, or who had been bereaved or wounded during the conflict with Israel. He and his family moved in when the development opened in 2005 and remains there to this day. “Thanks be to God, we have a home,” the 50-year-old said from his three-bedroom apartment in Gaza’s Zayed City…. [Photos: Inside Gaza’s Sheikh Zayad City]
An area of land and an olive tree planted in Asira, in memory of Vittorio Arrigoni
ASIRA, Occupied Palestine (ISM, Nablus Team) 17 Apr — On the 16th of April, the children of the Retaj Centre for Women and Children in Asira planted an olive tree on a piece of land which has been named after Vittorio Arrigoni. This symbolic act was made to remember the Italian volunteer killed on the 15th of April 2011. Asira is located south of Nablus, and is a village that is frequently attacked by settlers from nearby illegal settlements. The children of the Retaj Center for Women and Children took part in an emotive memorial for Vittorio, gathered in the small center, joined by volunteers from ISM and other organisations. The song “Bella Ciao” is an Italian resistance song that Vittorio taught the children of Gaza before he died, and the children of Asira sang it together. The assembly also watched a short movie entitled, “Un fiore per la liberta” by Samantha Comizzoli. The gathered people marched from the Retaj Centre to an area of land that the owner has named after Vittorio Arragoni, where a young olive tree was planted. The crowd screamed “Stay Human” into the sky, Arrigoni’s best known quote. The people decided that they will plant a new olive tree on this land each year.
Video: Bil‘in’s Bassem Abu Rahmah: Protest in Dublin against his murder, 17-4-1014
Bassem Abu Rahmah: On the fifth anniversary of his murder by an occupation soldier — The guy who shot him … was kind of pleased with the whole thing, he had an X on his launcher … some of the soldiers had this (video) clip (of his murder) on their phones and they’d send it to one another and have a bit of a laugh” (an occupation soldier who served in the same brigade as Bassem’s murderer). http://972mag.com/testimony-soldier-f… Nearly five years after the killing of Bil‘in’s much loved Bassem Abu Rahmah by a high velocity tear gas projectile fired directly into his chest by an occupation forces soldier, the Israeli army maintains there is no evidence to indict. Video footage, however, shows that the tear gas canister was fired directly at him.
Political, other news
‘No breakthrough’ in Israeli-Palestinian peace talks
JERUSALEM (AFP) 18 Apr — Israeli and Palestinian negotiators meeting US envoy Martin Indyk to try to find a way to extend faltering peace talks have failed to reach agreement, a Palestinian source told reporters. The meeting began in the late afternoon on Thursday in a Jerusalem hotel but ended after five hours of “very difficult discussions”, the source said. “The gap (between the parties) is still wide. There was no breakthrough,” added the Palestinian source. Indyk is now expected to meet negotiators again on Friday, but he will talk to the Israeli and Palestinian sides separately. Israeli and Palestinian negotiators had met on their own on Sunday and held a three-way meeting with Indyk a week ago in last-ditch efforts to save the stagnant peace process launched by US Secretary of State John Kerry in July for a period of nine months. Washington is pushing for an extension but the negotiations hit an impasse two weeks ago when Israel refused to release a group of Palestinian prisoners as agreed at last year’s launch of the talks. Under the agreement, Israel had committed to freeing 104 prisoners held since before the 1993 Oslo autonomy accords in four batches, but it cancelled the release of the last group of 26. Among them are 14 Arab Israelis which the Jewish state is refusing to set free. Thursday’s new round of talks came as Palestinians marked Prisoners Day with rallies across the West Bank and Gaza Strip in solidarity with thousands of their jailed compatriots.
PA: Contact with Israeli officials at all-time low
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 17 Apr — Communications between Palestinian and Israeli officials have reached an all time low after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu imposed sanctions on the PA last week, a Palestinian security official said Thursday. Relations are at the lowest level politically, economically and at a security level because of their (Israel’s) decisions to disavow all commitments they pledged,” PA security spokesman Adnan Dmeiri said. Last week, Israel said it would freeze the transfer of duties it collects on the PA’s behalf in retaliation for diplomatic action against Israel at the United Nations. Israel unilaterally cut off contact with the PA “in violation of all agreements”, Dmeiri said. The security spokesman also criticized Israel over accusations that the Palestinian leadership was responsible for the killing of a settler this week. “They blame us for everything even if it was a natural disaster. The Israelis control Area C and so putting the blame on us is a sort of racism.”
Hamas: 357 activists arrested by PA forces since January
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 16 Apr — A new report released Wednesday by the Gaza Strip ministry of planning says that Palestinian Authority security forces arrested 357 members of Hamas, Islamic Jihad, and other Palestinian political parties across the West Bank in the first quarter of 2014. Released by the Hamas-ruled government in the Gaza Strip, the report accused the Fatah-led Palestinian Authority in control of the West Bank of a wide-reaching crackdown on dissenting political parties in the last few months. The information center of the ministry of planning said in the report that 91 Hamas and Islamic Jihad members, 194 members of others political factions, 30 freed prisoners, and 42 university students had been arrested by security forces since the beginning of 2014. Of those arrests, the report claimed that 231 were made in March alone. The report added that 110 people affiliated with various political factions were also called in for questioning, while security forces raided 60 homes, including 42 in March. The report alleged that many of those detained were tortured during their detentions. The claims come after a long hoped for rapprochement in relations between the two main Palestinian factions turned sour in recent months, as a string of moves in December and January designed to end the long-standing division failed to achieve any noticeable results. The report’s allegations of a widespread political crackdown in the West Bank suggest that the US-trained and -funded PA security forces have stepped up efforts to stifle dissent in the occupied territory. Amnesty International’s 2013 report on the region, however, said that both PA and Hamas security forces had engaged in such practices.
Joint Israeli-Palestinian police force searches for suspect in Negev
BEERSHEBA (Ma‘an) 17 Apr — A joint Israeli and Palestinian police forces surrounded an area in the southern Israeli city of Hurah on Thursday in pursuit of a suspected murderer who had escaped from the southern West Bank after a weekend killing but failed to find the suspect, Israeli police said. Members of the Palestinian and Israeli police forces surrounded an area in pursuit of a suspect in the Bedouin town of Hurah in the Negev, after Palestinian police officers were allowed for what is reportedly the first time ever in joining Israeli police to hunt for a suspect. A police helicopter was used in a wide-scale hunting operation in the northern Negev and south Hebron hills, although officers had still not found the suspect late Thursday. Sources told Ma‘an that despite a 48-hour closure of the West Bank due to Passover holidays, Palestinian police officers were allowed into Israel and worked side by side with Israeli officers in complete liaison. The suspect was reportedly involved in the murder of a 16-year-old girl and attempted murder of her 20-year-old sister in the southern West Bank town of As-Samu‘ south of Hebron over the weekend.
Im Tirtzu out to stop ‘Arab Idol’ from singing in Nazareth
Haaretz 17 Apr — The right-wing organization Im Tirtzu is trying to block Mohammed Assaf, Gaza’s hugely popular “Arab Idol” winner, from entering Israel to perform later this month in Nazareth, the Walla news website reported Thursday. The NGO said it was sending an urgent letter to Interior Minister Gideon Sa’ar urging him to deny Assaf entry into the country, where he has an April 27 concert date in Nazareth. The organization is also urging Sa’ar to keep a closer eye on state funds going to the Nazareth municipality, which, it claims, “apparently is making its residents more extremist day by day, in various actions against the country.” Im Tirtzu director general Matan Peleg said an Israeli city should not give a platform to Assaf’s “agitation and sedition.” He based this accusation on statements the singer allegedly made on tour abroad in which he dedicated performances to Palestinian “martyrs and prisoners,” and described the state of Palestine as “stretching from Rosh Hanikra to Eilat.” Peleg warned that Assaf promotes Palestinian “implementation of the right of return” to Israel proper.
In Israel, power lines are set to run through Arab-Jewish olive grove
Haaretz 17 Apr by Zafrir Rinat — A power-line project is worrying Arab and Jewish olive growers near Haifa, who haven’t been able to convince the Israel Defense Forces to let the high-voltage lines run elsewhere. Landowners in the Wadi Ara area filed a complaint against the project a few weeks ago, but their chances of succeeding are low given that defense officials oppose an alternative route, fearing that the lines would cross into army training grounds. Four years ago, area farmers contacted the fair-trade group Sindyanna of Galilee, which brings together Jewish and Arab farmers. The group planted an organic olive field on land owned by the Yunis family from the town of Arara. The initiative, called Oasis, received support from free-trade organizations around the world.
Joyner-Kersee trains with Palestinian women
EL BIREH, West Bank (AP) 17 Apr by Mohammed Daraghmeh — Dozens of Palestinian girls and women, most of them newcomers to the world of running, got a lesson in the basics Thursday from a track and field great — three-time Olympic gold medalist Jackie Joyner-Kersee. The American, considered one of the greatest athletes of the 20th century, came to the West Bank to encourage women to be physically active despite cultural restrictions and lack of opportunities. In her workshop, women jumped over low hurdles, did sit-ups and then competed in a good-natured race. Most wore long pants and yellow T-shirts with the slogan “Run for Health, Run for Hope,” while a few participated in their traditional long robes over sneakers … “The impression I got from them is it’s nothing they won’t try,” the 52-year-old Joyner-Kersee said. “They were eager, they were very respectful and they gave their all, from parents down to the daughters.” … Underlying Thursday’s playful session was a serious problem — a rise of obesity among Palestinians due to changes in lifestyle and nutrition.
Curious about Palestine, Israeli visitors return
RAMALLAH, West Bank (AP) 16 Apr by Karin Laub — This bustling center of Palestinian life is just a 20-minute drive from Jerusalem, but for Israelis it might as well be on the other side of the world. Since a major round of Israeli-Palestinian fighting more than a decade ago, Israelis have been kept out of Palestinian cities by the Israeli military and their own fears. But after several years of relative calm, a few have begun trickling back in tours led by Palestinian guides and guarded by plainclothes Palestinian security agents. On Wednesday, about two dozen visitors, Israelis and a few foreigners, visited the mausoleum of Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat and a shrine to national poet Mahmoud Darwish — though hopes of talking to local residents went unfulfilled.
Israel abducts five from south Lebanon village
A;-Akhbar 17 Apr — Israeli occupation forces crossed into Lebanon on Thursday and abducted five people from the Bastra farms of the southern town of Shebaa, state news reported. Lebanon’s National News Agency identified the kidnapped as Hassan and Ismail Qassem Zahra, Nouhad Awad, Wafa Moussa, Woroud Moussa. Television networks Al-Manar and NBN reported that the three women in the group have been released, while brothers Hassan and Ismail, who work as shepherds, remain in Israeli custody. Israeli forces reportedly crossed about 100 meters into Lebanese territory to kidnap the group who were taken to the occupied Shebaa farms. The town of Shebaa itself is not occupied. The NNA added that forces from UNIFIL and the Lebanese army are coordinating to release the men.
Analysis / Opinion / Review
Lone-wolf attacks on Israeli settlers increase / Daoud Kuttab
Al-Monitor 16 Apr — Individual, unorganized Palestinian attacks against Israeli settlers are difficult to prevent and reflect a frustrated Palestinian street — The April 13 attack against an Israeli vehicle traveling near the Palestinian city of Hebron killed one Israeli soldier, who was traveling as a civilian settler with his family. This action appears to reflect a new Palestinian military strategy that will be harder to control. Ever since the election of Mahmoud Abbas as the president of the Palestinian Authority, a serious and continuous security coordination effort has taken place. With help from US military and intelligence services, Palestinian-Israeli cooperation has succeeded mostly in stemming the tide of organized attacks against Israel and Israeli settlers. Not only has Abbas reined in his own Fatah militants, but the newly developed Palestinian security and intelligence service made sure that all Palestinian factions — whether left-wing groups such as the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine and the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine, or Islamists such as Hamas and Islamic Jihad — are under total surveillance in the West Bank. But while all known organized groups have either refrained or been prevented from carrying out armed attacks against Israelis in the West Bank, this tight control seems to evade individual attacks. Many Palestinians who have a personal grudge because a relative or a close friend was killed or imprisoned by Israel can and do carry out individual attacks whenever they can and whenever they feel the time is appropriate. An Israeli army spokesman said the Hebron attack might have been carried out by a single person with no accomplices. No one took responsibility for it, and there is no evidence of any increase in chatter among known militants that would have indicated that their groups were behind the attack. Attacks initiated and planned by one individual are almost impossible to control….
Israel’s double standard on reporters visiting enemy states / Zvi Bar’el
Haaretz 18 Apr — I traveled to Tunis, reported from the heart of Baghdad, toured Lebanon and no Shin Bet agent ever questioned me; I’m no exception — To avoid future misunderstandings, and mainly to ensure myself a comfortable prison cell, I wish to announce now that if I ever receive an invitation to visit Iran, Saudi Arabia or the Gaza Strip, or to interview Hezbollah head Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah, I would be happy to accept. This announcement, by the way, is intended for the authorities of those states as well. If they’re thinking of inviting me, and the only thing keeping them back is the fear of what may happen to me on my return, they needn’t worry. Jewish Israeli journalists are not arrested for such offenses, only Arab Israelis are. Over the years I have visited quite a few enemy states, and each time I was offended anew. Not only was I never arrested upon my return, but no one even bothered to ask what I saw and heard. I’ve been to Iraq four times since the fall of Saddam Hussein. I wrote stories for Haaretz in the heart of Baghdad. From Iraqi Kurdistan I sent regards to Kurdish families in Israel. I never concealed these trips. At Yasser Arafat’s invitation, before the Oslo Accords were signed and the “terrorist” tag was removed from his lapel, I traveled with my colleague Danny Rubinstein to Tunis. I toured Lebanon, albeit under military protection, but I met with many people – and nothing. No Shin Bet security service agent ever led me to a dark, small room and fired a single question at me. Had I been an Israeli Arab I might still be barred from leaving the country … Israel has two sets of standards for allowing reporting on enemy states. Arab journalists are suspected in advance of having one purpose for visiting an enemy state – espionage, giving information or “contact with a foreign agent.” An Israeli Arab journalist is seen first, and last, as an Arab. His Israeliness will be examined meticulously in the Shin Bet’s interrogation rooms, then in jail and finally in court. An Israeli Arab journalist cannot expect his Jewish colleagues to hold demonstrations or demand his release, or to condemn the gag order slapped on his arrest. The dramatic report of Majd Kayyal’s arrest after he returned from visiting Lebanon left no doubt as to his guilt.
A tree-hugging ‘peace’ film detached from Palestine’s reality / Maureen Clare Murphy
Electronic Intifada 17 Apr — A Palestinian and Jewish Israeli businessman start a solar panel business together — bravely confronting the bullies of the Israel boycott movement, who are the major force holding back the Middle East peace process — even when it tests their most intimate relationships. The young men’s unprecedented project, with the help of Facebook, gives birth to a grassroots movement that witnesses mass protests in Ramallah and Tel Aviv, putting pressure on the Palestinian and Israeli leadership to finally sign a peace agreement. Within months of the business’ launch, Israeli settlers are withdrawn from the West Bank, and Palestinians who were pushed off their land are able to go back and have a glimpse of their stolen property, satisfying their decades of longing for what they lost. This is the preposterous plot of the European Union and UK-funded propaganda film Under the Same Sun, produced by normalization outfit Search for Common Ground, and Tel Aviv-based Lama Films. It is directed by Palestinian filmmaker Sameh Zoabi (Man Without a Cell Phone). Nizar, the Palestinian protagonist, is played by Ali Suliman, who also starred in Ziad Doueri’s nonsensical Zionist apologist film The Attack (also produced by Lama Films), and Shaul, Nizar’s Israel counterpart, is played by Yossi Marshak. Under the Same Sun, made in 2012, would be easily forgotten and is already stale, much like the “economic peace” sham it is devoted to selling. It is only being reviewed here because it was selected for both the upcoming Chicago and Houston Palestine Film Festivals’ programs this year.
Barak in drag: The daring operation to kill Arafat’s deputy
Ynet 18 Apr by Yaron Druckman — Forty-one years ago this month, in April 1973, in one of the IDF’s boldest operations ever, a young Ehud Barak dressed himself as a woman, entered Beirut with a group of soldiers from the elite Sayeret Matkal unit and assassinated several key players from the Palestinian Liberation Organization in retribution for the Munich massacre at the Summer Olympics in 1972. Among those killed in the what is called “Operation Fountain of Youth” were PLO leaders, including Yassar Arafat’s unofficial deputy….