Land, property theft & destruction / Ethnic cleansing
Israel land authority issues eviction notices in Negev village
BEERSHEBA (Ma‘an) 7 May — Representatives of the Israeli Land Authority on Wednesday issued eviction notices for buildings in the Negev village of Wadi al-Niam, locals and an official said. Locals told Ma‘an that eviction notices were posted on a mosque, a house, and a store in the village. Residents were given 80 days to either evacuate the buildings or file an appeal. Labbad Abu Affash, head of the Wadi al-Niam council, told Ma‘an that the move was “very dangerous.” “Israeli has declared war against us from all directions,” Abu Affash said. “Where do they plan to evacuate us? To the moon?”
A longstanding plan to displace tens of thousands of Palestinian Bedouin citizens of Israel was scrapped in December, but locals say Israel has continued to implement it on the ground with ongoing demolitions and land confiscations. There are about 260,000 Bedouin in Israel, mostly living in and around the Negev in the arid south. More than half live in unrecognized villages without utilities and many also live in extreme poverty.
Jordan Valley announces 10-year plan to triple [Jewish] population
Jerusalem Post 9 May by Tovah Lazaroff — The Jordan Valley Regional Council has a 10-year plan to triple its population to help ensure that its date farms and hilltop communities won’t be handed over to the Palestinians as part of a final-status agreement for a two-state solution. During the nine-month negotiating period that ended on April 29, Israel had agreed to withdraw from the Jordan Valley after 10 years under certain conditions as part of a peace deal, regional council head David Elhayani told The Jerusalem Post on Thursday … The Palestinians rejected the US proposal, stating that it was their right to determine if an IDF presence was needed, the regional council head said. The Palestinian rejection was cold comfort to Elhayani, who decided to embark on a massive campaign to physically build up his largely agrarian community and to publicize it among the Israeli public. He hired a public relations firm, Peer Levin, opened an Internet campaign, created a song and a logo, and appointed people in each of his 21 settlements to come up with a plan to absorb new families. On Thursday, at the Jordan Valley Conference, the treasurer of his council, Orit Artsiely, told the audience that the valley’s population of 4,509 in 2013 would grow to 15,000 within 10 years.
How the Israeli gov’t rewards land thieves
972blog 9 May by Yossi Gurvitz for Yesh Din — In a closed conversation, the head of the Beit El Yeshiva exposes that he received millions of shekels from the State of Israel in compensation for his seminary’s violations of the law – with the quiet assistance of a senior Knesset member — Sometimes, it all comes out. A few months ago, I wrote about the deceit allegedly carried out by the Beit El Yeshiva in Jabel Artis (“Givat HaUlpana”), where it sold and rented apartments on land it did not own, and which it knew it had no right to sell. Recently, Yesh Din petitioned (Hebrew) the HCJ, on behalf of the residents of Dura Al Qara, against the police decision to close the investigation of Yoel Tzur, CEO of the Company for Developing Beit El’s Yeshiva Complex, who admitted during his interrogation that he began building in Jabel Artis knowing the land was not his to build on. On April 13, the news site News1 (Hebrew) exposed what the head of the yeshiva, Zalman Baruch Melamed, said in a closed discussion. From what Melamed said, it appears the Netanyahu government promised to compensate the yeshiva for the evacuation of Givat HaUlpana, and that the money is now reaching the yeshiva. Melamed, as quoted by News1, said that the government promised the yeshiva 30 apartments, building permits for 300 more apartments and “another payment” for building the yeshiva a new school building. In return, Melamed promised that the evacuation would take place without violence … This is what the rule of law looks like: criminals unlawfully seize land, sell apartments which do not belong to them, and when the theft is exposed in court, the government not only refrains from indicting the criminals – the police and the prosecution are, after all, a part of the executive branch of government – it even compensates them for their losses. And to ensure that the citizens won’t know what the government is doing with their taxes, it puts the money transfer under a sort of gag order. When the courts order its removal, MKs loyal to the government and the Beit El Yeshiva do everything possible to delay, using every dirty trick conceivable.
Bedouins in strategic West Bank area fear eviction
AP 8 May — Community of Bedouins located east of Jerusalem say demolitions in home village are part of Israeli push to relocate hundreds of Palestinian Bedouins, make way for Israeli settlements — Over the course of just three weeks, Israeli forces destroyed Suleiman Qaed’s small cinderblock house and the trailer home an aid group sent him as a replacement. Even the Red Cross tent his family now calls home appears at risk of being torn down, with Israeli officers taking pictures of it and warning him that it’s in an illegal location. But Qaed, 54, fears far worse is in store — the dismantling of his entire Bedouin community called Jabal al-Baba. The hilltop encampment of shacks and sheep pens is located just east of Jerusalem in one of the most strategic areas of the West Bank. Its fate could help determine if setting up a Palestinian state next to Israel will soon no longer be possible … Jabal al-Baba sits on land earmarked for a settlement for 20,000 Israelis, known as E-1. “We fear it and we expect it,” said Qaed, a blind father of eight … There is precedent. Between 1997 and 2007, Israel evicted about 150 Jahalin families from their communities to make way for the expansion of the settlement of Maaleh Adumim, across a main highway from where E-1 would be built. The Jahalin were resettled near Jerusalem’s municipal garbage dump, in an area rife with pests and packs of dogs. While they received compensation and land, they had to sell most of their herds for lack of grazing space.
Arabs expelled from village of Ikrit in 1948 ask pope for help
Haaretz 23 Apr by Jack Khoury — Arabs expelled from the Upper Galilee village of Ikrit sent a letter to Pope Francis this week asking him to pressure Israel to allow the former residents of Ikrit and nearby Biram to return to their villages, from which they have been displaced since 1948. Meanwhile, Israel Lands Administration inspectors on Wednesday uprooted trees that had recently been planted in Ikrit and confiscated equipment used by activists who sleep at the site. Several people sleep in the church complex, one of the few remaining structures in Ikrit, in shifts throughout the week. “We implore you to intensify your sacred efforts to exert pressure on the Government of Israel to end the injustices it has inflicted upon our community,” said the letter, dated Monday. “We hope that your upcoming visit to Palestine and Israel will serve towards that purpose.” Pope Francis is scheduled to visit Israel, Jordan and the Palestinian Authority on May 24-26. The residents of the two Christian villages “are members of the oldest Christian communities, witnesses of the presence of Our Savior,” the letter said. “All our land was confiscated and we became refugees in our own land. We are Palestinian refugees internally displaced within the State of Israel.” Nemi Ashkar, who heads the Iqrit Community Association, said the request to the pope is just one way of trying to get Israel to implement its pledge to allow residents to return. Displaced residents, along with hundreds of young people, on Monday celebrated Mass at the church that is the last remaining building in the village, followed by performances by local musicians. Village residents have not been allowed to return since Israeli authorities ordered them to leave their villages in 1948 and told them they would be able to return once the security situation stabilized. The villages have since been razed and, eager to avoid setting a precedent that could lead to thousands of requests by displaced Arabs to return to their homes, high-level ministers voted in 2001 to ratify a 1972 government decision to keep the displaced residents from returning to Ikrit and Biram.
Israeli FM Lieberman slams Arab Israelis over Nakba protest
Jerusalem (AFP) 7 May — Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman on Wednesday denounced as a “fifth column” thousands of Arab Israelis who joined a demonstration calling for the right of return for Palestinian refugees. Around 10,000 protesters, many waving Palestinian flags, joined a rally in northern Israel on Tuesday to remember 530 villages from which some 760,000 people fled or were expelled following the creation of the Jewish state in 1948. The rally took place as Israel marked its 66th Independence Day, with Lieberman accusing the demonstrators of being traitors. “Those who marched with flags of the Palestinian Authority demanding that it not give up on the right of return, are a fifth column whose aim is the destruction of Israel,” he told army radio. He also addressed the demonstration on his Facebook page on Tuesday. “To those Arabs that took part today in the ‘Nakba Day’ procession and waved Palestinian flags, I suggest that next time they march directly to Ramallah and they stay there,” he wrote. But he acknowledged that those who joined the Nakba demonstration were only “a minority” among Israel’s Arab minority, who make up just over a fifth of the overall population of 8.2 million. At the rally, which took place in a small village in northern Israel, the protester marched under the slogan: “Your ‘independence’ day is our Nakba” – the Arabic for catastrophe.
PHOTOS: March of return to a destroyed Nakba village
Activestills 7 May Text by: Ryan Rodrick Beiler Photos by: Ryan Rodrick Beiler, Omar Sameer and Oren Ziv — On the day that many Israelis celebrated their Independence Day, thousands of Palestinian residents of Israel and Jerusalem marched to the site of the northern village of Lubya. Lubya was one of more than 500 Palestinian communities destroyed by Zionist militias in the Nakba, Arabic for ‘catastrophe,’ the term given to the forced displacement of some 750,000 refugees before, during and following the 1948 War. The marchers passed massive photos of refugee families hung from trees planted by the Jewish National Fund to create the Lavi Forest that now covers the village’s land. Activists with the Israeli organization Zochrot, whose mission is to educate Israeli Jews about the history of the Nakba, planted signs at various locations of significance to village life, including the cemetery, which contains the primary visible remains of the village. Most of Lubya’s original inhabitants settled in the Yarmouk refugee camp in the suburbs of Damascus, which has been the site of intense siege and suffering in Syria’s armed conflict. Speakers at the event included Samer Issawi, whose record-setting hunger strike in Israeli prison resulted in his release last December, as well as historian Ilan Pappe, author of The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine. Traffic was jammed in all directions near the march, which was accompanied by a heavy police presence. As some passing Jewish motorists jeered and cursed at the marchers, police confiscated several Palestinian flags from participants’ vehicles as they approached the site of the event.
West Bank sewage flows untreated as Israel-Palestinian politics stall treatment plant
JERUSALEM (AP) 7 May – Israeli settlers and Palestinians in the West Bank rarely mix, but authorities are hoping their sewage will — The Jewish settlement of Ofra and neighboring Palestinian villages currently dump their sewage into valleys, threatening to contaminate a critical underground water aquifer. So Israeli authorities are advancing plans to solve the environmental mess with a new treatment plant serving both communities. But in the contentious West Bank, politics can be just as dirty as the sewage. The treatment plant was originally intended to serve the Jewish settlement only, but Israel’s supreme court halted its construction three years ago after determining that it was being built on private Palestinian land. According to Israeli rulings and international law, private land in occupied territory cannot be confiscated for a public works project unless it benefits the local Palestinian population as well. So Israeli authorities are now trying to legalize the land grab by retrofitting the plant to serve area Palestinian villages, not just Ofra, located about 10 miles (16 kilometers) north of Jerusalem. But Palestinian officials refuse to cooperate, so as not to lend a hand to Israel’s settlement enterprise. “The Palestinian villages were asked to join in this project with the settlement, but all the villages around rejected the offer following the instructions of the Palestinian leadership,” said Abed Rahman Saleh, mayor of the village of Silwad. Saleh said Israeli officials, for their part, refused to approve a German-funded wastewater facility for the area villages because it would not serve the Israeli settlement. Maj. Guy Inbar, a spokesman for Israel’s civil administration in the West Bank, said he was unfamiliar with the claim. In the meantime, the sewage keeps flowing … The tug of war over the sewage treatment plant reflects the greater fight for control in the West Bank.
Hate crimes / ‘price tag’
Vatican urges Israel to secure Christian sites during pope’s visit
Haaretz 8 May by Jack Khoury & Nir Hasson — The Roman Catholic body in charge of the Vatican’s properties in the Holy Land on Thursday urged Israel to safeguard Christian holy sites, following a number of vandalism attacks on churches and monasteries ahead of a visit by Pope Francis. The statement from Custodia Terrae Sanctae, a branch of the Franciscan order that has traditionally served as custodian of Catholic holy sites in Israel, followed by several hours a report in Haaretz that Israel Police were concerned about a major attack on Christian sites during the pope’s visit. A similar statement was issued by the Latin Patriarchate on Wednesday … Wadi Abu Nassar, a senior advisor to the Catholic Church who is considered close to the Vatican, told Haaretz that church officials had warned in the past of an escalation in anti-Christian crimes. “We’re already in an atmosphere of terror,” he said, and the authorities must address the problem, “because in the end, it’s not just Christians who will be hurt, but Israel’s standing in the international community.” Abu Nassar stressed that there is currently no intention of changing the pope’s schedule. Nevertheless, he said, he found the current situation “surprising.” In most countries, the media focus is on the pope’s personality and actions in the run-up to a papal visit, he said, but “in Israel, it’s preoccupied with threats by extremists to undermine the visit’s agenda and atmosphere, even though the pope is coming to the Holy Land with a message of peace and brotherhood among all peoples and faiths.”
Spate of hate attacks as Israel ups security for papal visit
Jerusalem (AFP) 9 May — Vandals sprayed anti-Christian graffiti on a Jerusalem church on Friday, despite Israeli police stepping up security around religious sites ahead of a visit by Pope Francis later this month. “Price tag… King David for the Jews… Jesus is garbage” was spray-painted in Hebrew on the wall of St George’s, a Romanian Orthodox church near an ultra-Orthodox Jewish neighbourhood. “Price tag” is a euphemism for hate attacks by Jewish extremists. Police said that “Death to Arabs” was found written on a house in the Old City in east Jerusalem, and swastikas were scrawled on the wall of a west Jerusalem apartment. The Roman Catholic church has demanded Israeli action after Hebrew graffiti reading “Death to Arabs and Christians and to everyone who hates Israel” was daubed on its Notre Dame complex in Jerusalem on Monday. “The bishops are very concerned about the lack of security and lack of responsiveness from the political sector, and fear an escalation of violence,” the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem said. The attacks on Christian property come amid a rise in anti-Arab property crimes. Israeli ministers held an emergency meeting on Wednesday, pledging to enforce harsh measures against perpetrators. Although police have made scores of arrests, there have been nearly no successful prosecutions for price tag attacks, and the government has come up under mounting pressure to authorise the Shin Bet internal security agency to step in.
Israel fears rightists might carry out massive hate crime during papal visit
Haaretz 8 May by Yaniv Kubovich & Reuters — Bishops’ statement expresses concern over ‘lack of security’ for Christian property and what they call the ‘lack of responsiveness from the political sector’ — The Israel Police and the Shin Bet fear that right-wing extremists might exploit Pope Francis’ visit to the Holy Land on May 24-26 to carry out a major hate crime to drum up media attention. The security services estimate that the hate crime would target the Christian population in Israel or Christian sites across the country. The various police districts were instructed by authorities to focus their operational and intelligence efforts on the Christian population and its institutions, and to consolidate extra security in these communities until the end of the visit … The Roman Catholic Church in Jerusalem, preparing for the visit, has expressed alarm over threats to Christians scrawled by suspected Jewish extremists on church property in the Holy Land. In an incident Monday, “Death to Arabs and Christians and all those who hate Israel” was daubed in Hebrew on an outer column of the Office of the Assembly of Bishops at the Notre Dame Center in East Jerusalem. “The wave of fanaticism and intimation against Christians continues,” the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem posted on its website, referring to so-called “price tag” incidents. “Mere coincidence?” the patriarchate statement asked. “The Notre Dame Center is property of the Holy See and this provocation comes two weeks before Pope Francis’ visit to the Holy Land and Jerusalem.”
Security sources: 100 followers of racist rabbi are behind hate crimes
Haaretz 8 May by Amos Harel, Revital Hovel, Jack Khoury & Haaretz — Security officials estimate that close to 100 people have been involved in the recent wave of hate crimes against Palestinians and Israeli Arabs. Most of the culprits are known as far-right activists from the Yitzhar settlement and hilltop outposts north of Ramallah and the south Hebron Hills in the West Bank. The activists base their acts on ideas of the extremist rabbi Yitzchak Ginzburg. Many of his students studied in the Yitzhar yeshiva, but there are likely other rabbis in the picture … Hate crime incidents against Israeli Arabs and Palestinians have risen steeply since April 2, when the army destroyed buildings in the settlement of Yitzhar, security forces say. In the week that followed, the violence worsened, with rioters from the settlement vandalizing a military tent encampment. Since then there have been 16 incidents, 15 involving vandalism of property such as puncturing tires and spraying graffiti. The Shin Bet deems one incident, the setting of a mosque on fire, to be a terror attack that could have cost lives. By comparison, in the first three months of the year there were 17 hate crimes, popularly known as “price tag” attacks. Meanwhile, Public Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovich and Justice Minister Tzipi Livni will ask the political-security cabinet to consider classifying the right-wing groups behind the hate crimes against Arabs as “terror” organizations … Another trend has accompanied the steep rise in incidents: The attacks have moved from the West Bank to within Israel, particularly in the north. There have been 19 incidents inside the Green Line this year, compared with seven for all of 2013. This phenomenon has two explanations. Some right-wing extremists who were involved in incidents in the West Bank were banned from the area by order of the IDF Central Command chief, Nitzan Alon, and have moved their activities to within the Green Line. In addition, these activists have inspired copycats who live within the Green Line.
Yitzhar emails discuss harming IDF soldiers
Ynet 7 May by Akiva Novik — Discussion of the morality of attacking or possibly even killing IDF soldiers were the topic of recent community group emails between residents in the settlement of Yitzhar reported Yedioth Ahronoth on Wednesday. A 22-year old female resident was arrested under suspicion of incitement of violence due to her comments in the emails which included, “I support throwing rocks (at Jews, and of course on Arabs without question). In certain circumstances – even if the rocks lead to the death of a soldier!!!” Police from the Judea and Samaria county said that various items found in a search of her home were also apparently used to incite violence.
Swastika, haredi image spray-painted in a cemetery near Hadera
Ynet 7 May by Raanan Ben-Zur, Aviel Magnezi — A swastika and an image of a haredi man were spray-painted on the walls of the Menashe Regional Council’s cemetery near Hadera on Wednesday. Another swastika was spray-painted on a bus station leading to Harish settlement, also a part of Menashe Regional Council. The council made a formal complaint to the police.
Amos Oz: ‘Price tag’ perpetrators are neo-Nazis
Times of Israel 9 May — One of Israel’s best-known writers, Amos Oz, came out forcefully Friday against the recent wave of “price tag” hate crimes throughout the country, calling the perpetrators neo-Nazis. At an event in honor of his 75th birthday, Oz railed against the nationalistically motivated crimes and urged Israelis to stop speaking about them in euphemisms. “I cannot stand to hear the term ‘price tag,’ and even more I cannot bear to hear the prettified term ‘Hilltop Youth,’” he said, referring to groups of young, extremist settlers in the West Bank. “‘Price tag’ and ‘Hilltop You’ are sweet, sugary nicknames, and the time has come to call this monster by its name. “We wanted to be like all other nations, we longed for there to be a Hebrew thief and a Hebrew prostitute — and there are Hebrew neo-Nazi groups,” Oz said to the crowd’s audible discomfort in a video released by Channel 2 (link in Hebrew). “There is nothing that the neo-Nazis in Europe do that these groups [in Israel] don’t do,” he added. “Perhaps the only difference is that our neo-Nazi groups enjoy the backing of numerous nationalist lawmakers — maybe even racist — and also rabbis who give them a foundation that is, in my opinion, pseudo-religious.”
Violence / Raids / Attacks / Clashes / Illegal arrests
Israeli soldier to Palestinians in Hebron: We protect Jews, not you
[with video in Hebrew] Haaretz 9 May by Amira Hass — IDF soldier tells Palestinian activist from Youth Against Settlements that the next chance he gets, he’ll shoot him — Last Friday, two Israelis — a middle-aged woman and a young man — escorted by two armed IDF soldiers, showed up at the “Youth Against Settlements” community center in Hebron’s Tel Rumeida. The Palestinian activists, who just days earlier had videotaped IDF soldier David Adamov cocking his rifle at a Palestinian teen in the area, did not know who they were. The woman told the soldiers that stones had been thrown toward her a short time beforehand from the direction of the center. She was speaking with a Russian accent. Ahmed, one of the activists, replied to her in her mother tongue that “this is our land, our home. Go away, go home.” Ahmed’s small handheld camera captured the woman’s expression of shock and disgust. Ahmed’s brother Issa Amro, one of the founders of YAS, enters the frame and is seen explaining to her and the soldiers in good Hebrew that there are cameras stationed on the roof of the center, so if someone had thrown rocks, it would have been recorded. He asked where the so-called rock throwers were standing. The woman responded that she doesn’t remember, and when Issa looked surprised that she couldn’t remember something that happened less than an hour earlier, she said: “I don’t want to talk to you. I talk with the soldiers.” Issa asked the unwanted guests to leave the center, as it is private property. Ahmed says in Russian, less amicably, “Go home – quickly.” One of the two soldiers turns to him and says: “Tone it down, shut your mouth.” The soldier proceeds to tells Ahmed to shut up over and over. Then he asks Issa if they threw rocks and before he could respond, the soldier interrupts him saying “Shut up, lower your voice, I don’t care about your cameras.” Once they are outside the premises of the center, the soldier turns to Ahmed: “OK, fine, cameraman, get the fuck inside.” He then turns to the Israeli woman, “next time videotape it, and if we had known we would have broken their bones.”
Arresting the ill child Mohammad Abdel Hay Al-Zeer from his house in Silwan
Silwan, Jerusalem (SILWANIC) 7 May — The Israeli forces arrested 13-year old Mohammad Abdel Hay Al-Zeer on Wednesday early morning hours after raiding his house in the neighbourhood of Abbasyeh in Silwan. Mohammad’s brother, Rami, informed Wadi Hilweh Information Center that a large Israeli force including police and Special Forces personnel raided the house around 4.30 a.m. and said: “my father heard somebody kicking the door and when he opened it, he was surprised to find a large Israeli force asking for his ID and then telling him that they will arrest his son Mohammad.” He continued: “my father tried to tell them that my brother is young and has heart problems and is considered special needs but they refused to listen and instead raided my brother’s room while he was sleeping. My father tried to wake him up but Mohammad thought he was dreaming and continued sleeping.” He added: “my father tried to wake him up again and told him that the forces want to arrest him which is when he started crying. Despite the fear that was in Mohammad’s eyes, the forces arrested him and prevented my father from going with him in the police car or even going to the interrogation center.” Rami explained that his father went to Al-Maskobyeh but the interrogator refused to let him inside the interrogation room and informed him that Mohammad is accused of throwing stones after the interrogation was over and that he will be presented to court during the day. The family condemned the barbaric way in which Mohammad was arrested and expressed their deep worry about his health condition after the arrest
Israeli forces detain 11 Palestinians in overnight raids
HEBRON (Ma‘an) 7 May — Israeli forces detained eleven Palestinians in raids in the northern and southern West Bank early Wednesday morning, witnesses said. Nine young Palestinian men were detained in two separate raids on the southern West Bank towns of Halhul and Idhna near Hebron overnight … On Wednesday morning Israeli forces also raided a village in the northern West Bank and detained two supporters of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, Palestinian security sources told Ma‘an. The sources told Ma‘an that Israeli troops raided Meithalun south of Jenin and ransacked the home of Fawwaz Salih Nueirat. After inspecting the house, Israeli soldiers and intelligence officers detained Nueirat’s sons Bashar, 34 and Yousif, 30. An Israeli army spokeswoman said that one Palestinian had been detained in the raid on Meithalun, and she added that another was detained in Illa, southwest of Jenin. She said that Israeli forces “discovered two shotguns and one gun” during the raid, and that the items were subsequently confiscated.
Israeli forces detain 11 Palestinians in arrest raids
JENIN (Ma‘an) 8 May — Israeli forces detained 11 Palestinians in arrest raids overnight Wednesday, locals and Israel’s army said. Palestinian security sources told Ma‘an that several Israeli military patrols stormed Jenin refugee camp after midnight and detained Bahaa Samih, 23, Khadir Abu Qutnah, 24, and Mahmoud Tawfiq Rajab Qreini, 23. Israeli forces also raided ‘Aqraba village near Nablus and detained local schoolteacher Omar Khatir, 34. An Israeli army spokeswoman said 11 Palestinians were detained overnight, three in Halhul, three in el-Bireh, two in Dura, one in Salfit, one in Ramallah, and one in Nablus.
Two kidnapped, several detained, in Israeli invasions into West Bank
IMEMC 9 May by Saed Bannoura — At least two Palestinians were kidnapped on Friday, at dawn [May 9, 2014], and several residents have been detained and interrogated, as the army invaded various Palestinian communities in the occupied West Bank. Several Israeli military vehicles invaded ‘Azzoun town, east of the northern West Bank city of Qalqilia, where soldiers kidnapped two Palestinians. Last night, soldiers detained two children, identified as Ala’ Hussein, 14, and Shadi Suleiman, 15, in Qalqilia, and released them several hours later. On Friday morning, several Palestinians suffered the effects of tear gas inhalation, after Israeli soldiers invaded Borqeen [Burqin] village, south of Jenin, and clashed with local youth. The Palestinian News & Info Agency (WAFA) said the army fired several rounds of live ammunition, rubber-coated metal bullets and gas bombs directly after invading the village, leading to clashes with local youth who threw stones at them. In related news, soldiers invaded Beit Fajjar town, south of Bethlehem, especially the al-Fajr School Street, and searched several homes after forcing the residents out. WAFA said the soldiers forced several families out of their homes, and kept them in the cold and under the rain, while searching and ransacking their property. On Thursday at night, the army said it arrested three Palestinians allegedly carrying Molotov cocktails, south of the West Bank city of Bethlehem. The army claimed the Palestinians intended to attack settlers’ cars driving on a nearby settlement road. The three were moved to an interrogation facility.
Israeli forces detain Palestinian in Beit Ummar
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 9 May — Israeli forces detained a young Palestinian man in the southern West Bank town of Beit Ummar on Friday as he was returning home from Friday prayers, a local activist group said. Spokesman for the Popular Committee Against the Wall in Beit Ummar Muhammad Ayad Awad said that Israeli forces detained Bilal Habis Mouhammad al-Alami, 19, in front of his home in the neighborhood of Wadi Sheikh near the main Hebron-Jerusalem road. Awad added that al-Alami was walking home from Friday prayers when he was stopped, handcuffed, blindfolded and put in a military jeep which took him to the Gush Etzion center in the nearby settlement of the same name.
Rights group calls for inquiry into abuses by PA security forces
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 8 May — The Palestinian Center for Human Rights on Wednesday called on the Attorney General to open an investigation into alleged abuses by PA security forces in the Hebron town of Yatta earlier this week. According to PCHR, PA preventive security forces stopped a car in in Yatta on Monday for raising the Hamas flag. Seven members of the Abu Fanar family were traveling in the vehicle to a solidarity event for a relative Zaid Ismail Abu Fanar, who is currently being held in administrative detention by Israel. The officers ordered the passengers to exit the vehicle, at which point the driver, Mohammed Awdatallah Abu Fanar, 22, drove away, leading to a chase with security officers. The officers hit Mohammed’s vehicle several times from behind until he crashed into a wall, at which point officers took him from the car and started kicking and beating him with their rifles. Mohammed’s wife attempted to intervene and was pushed away by officers, causing her to faint, PCHR said. The PA security officers then fired into the air to disperse a crowd who had tried to intervene. Later in the day, PA security officers raided the home of Ismail Abu Fanar, whose son is in administrative detention, and assaulted him with a torch. The officers also fired live shots in the air to disperse visitors who were visiting a solidarity tent set up at the home.
In another incident documented by the group, PA security officers from the PSS, the National Security Force, and Special Police raided the Fatouh area in Yatta accompanied by a bulldozer. Hana Saher Awad was assaulted by officers after they raided his home without a warrant.
Suspicion of shots fired at West Bank settlement
Times of Israel 7 May — Security forces were investigating a suspected shooting attack Wednesday evening in the West Bank settlement of Psagot, near Ramallah. According to preliminary reports, residents heard gunfire, and a bullet hole was discovered in the wall of one house. No injuries were reported in the incident. The IDF said the shots may have been fired from an automatic weapon. Local security assessed that the gunfire originated from Ramallah. “Security personnel are currently searching the vicinity for the shooters,” said the IDF in a statement. In the meantime residents were instructed to remain in their homes and lock their doors and windows.
Restrictions on movement
Israel blocks Gazan writer from attending US tour
WorldBulletin 8 May — Sarah Ali is a 22-year-old Palestinian living in Gaza. She studied English Language and Literature and is currently a teaching assistant at the Islamic University of Gaza. Last December, she was invited to take part in a tour in the United States about Gaza Writes Back, a book to which she contributed. The book is an anthology of 23 short stories written by young Palestinians commemorating, in fiction, the fifth anniversary of Israel’s 2008-2009 attack on Gaza known as “Operation Cast Lead”. To participate in the tour, she had applied for a US visa. Fortunately, Israeli gave her a one-day permit to go to the United States Consulate in Jerusalem for the visa interview. It was her first time outside Gaza in 15 years. She expressed her emotions with these words : “Visiting Jerusalem was a surreal experience to which no piece of writing can do justice.” Two weeks after the interview, she got her passport back with the US visa. She could not go abroad using the Rafaah gate because there were hundreds still waiting on the list to travel, so the only way to go was dependent on Israel’s permit. The American Friends Service Committee, the organization sponsoring the book tour, helped her apply for a permit. After almost a month waiting for a decision, she was told her application was rejected. The reason the Israeli authorities gave for denying her a permit was that she did not belong to any of the categories normally allowed to travel through Erez … Luckily, three of her friends — editor Refaat Aleree and contributors Yousef Aljamal and Rawan Yaghi — did make it to the US for the tour. Because they were already out of Gaza studying in Malasiya and the UK before the tour started.
Gaza under double blockade
Israeli warships ‘fire at Gaza fishermen,’ 2 injured in boat collision
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 7 May — Two Palestinian fishermen were injured late Tuesday when fishing boats collided after being fired upon by Israeli warships off the coast of Gaza City, witnesses said. Witnesses told Ma‘an that fishermen — members of the al-Bakr family — were taken to al-Shifa hospital for treatment and the boats were seriously damaged.
Army invades farmlands near Khan Younis
IMEMC Friday morning, 9 May — Several Israeli military vehicles and bulldozers invaded Palestinian agricultural lands, east of Khuza’a town, east of Khan Younis, in the southern part of the Gaza Strip, and uprooted the lands while firing rounds of live ammunition. Local sources said two Israeli military bulldozers and five tanks advanced more than 200 meters into Palestinian farmlands, and placed sand barriers in the area after uprooting the farmlands. The sources said the army fired dozens of rounds of live ammunition; no clashes were reported.
2 detained after crossing into Israel from Gaza
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 9 May — Israeli forces detained two Palestinians as they were reportedly trying to cross into Israel near Juhor al-Dik northeast of Bureij refugee camp in the central Gaza Strip. Eyewitnesses said Israeli forces detained two men after they successfully crossed the border near an area known as “the Camera.” The two men were forced by the soldiers to remove their clothing and were then taken to an unknown location.
Israel partially opens Karem Abu Salem crossing
IMEMC/Agencies 8 May — The Israeli army partially opened the Karem Abu Salem (Kerem Shalom) Trade Terminal, east of the besieged Gaza Strip, to allow the export of one truck, and the entry of 440 trucks into the coastal region. The Ma’an News Agency has reported that one truck, loaded with spices and green pepper, was allowed out of Gaza on its way to Europe, while 440 trucks, loaded with supplies for the trade, agriculture, transportation and aid sectors were allowed into Gaza. Raed Fattouh, head of the Coordination Committee for entry of goods in Gaza, stated that Israel also allowed the entry of 2 cement trucks and 46 trucks loaded with gravel to be used for projects run by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA), and 36 gravel trucks for the United Nations Development Program (UNDP). Israel also allowed the pumping of industrial fuel needed for the Gaza Power Plant, in addition to cooking gas and other fuel. The Terminal will be closed for the weekend, Friday and Saturday, and Israel will later be determining when to allow more supplies into the Gaza Strip.
Desperate Gazans turn plastic into fuel
GAZA CITY (IPS) 7 May by Khaled Alashqar — On the roof of a modest house amidst the alleys of Nusseirat refugee camp in central Gaza Strip, Ibrahim Sobeh and his sons spent more than 200 days working on a primitive device that converts waste plastic into fuel. “The idea came when I watched smoke emissions from a fireplace I made in my house,” Sobeh tells IPS. “I thought how to exploit these fumes and vapours. That prompted me to search online to find there were already attempts in America to exploit fumes emitted by burning hay to produce fuel, and this was the start.”… “Fuel in Gaza is extremely expensive and it is not available on a regular basis as a result of the blockade imposed on Gaza,” says Sobeh. “This is precisely what prompted me to look for a way to produce fuel domestically, which finally succeeded. But the project requires substantial financial support for its development.” The device exposes plastic waste composed of oil molecules to high temperature in an Oxygen-free airtight box leading to degradation of the constituent particles of plastic into vapours. These are then passed through metal channels where the fumes are cooled. This results in liquid fuel somewhere between gasoline, diesel and kerosene.
Mental illness soars in Gaza
GAZA CITY 7 May by Rasha Abou Jalal — Abu Ashraf, a 47-year-old Gazan, spends the majority of his time in his small room with no means of entertainment and only leaves to use the restroom. He sits on his bed for long hours, smoking, with no desire to see or talk to anyone. Al-Monitor went to interview him. His wife tried to convince him to come out of the room and talk, but he refused. “He is more comfortable in his room, let us go to him,” she apologized. Abu Ashraf, who seemed nervous and unsettled, worked for years as a contractor in a construction company in Israel. After the second intifada, when the Israeli government decided to prevent workers from coming into Israel, he became depressed as he could not find a full-time job in Gaza. “As you can see, he has been like this for years,” his wife noted … According to Fadel Abu Hein, the director of the Community Training and Crisis Management Center in Gaza, around 60% of Gazans suffer from psychological illnesses and are in need of treatment. He said that the deterioration of the political and economic situation is a direct cause of the spread of mental illness. Abu Hein told Al-Monitor that the most common psychological illness in Gaza is anxiety, affecting 35% of his patients, followed by depression, affecting 25% of them. He noted that unemployment and lack of job opportunities are the main reasons behind these illnesses, followed by the internal division and the subsequent laying off of employees, high poverty rates, the blockade and successive Israeli wars on the Gaza Strip … According to Dardah Shaer, a professor of psychology at Al-Aqsa University, the majority of patients with mental illnesses refuse treatment out of fear of social stigma. “Palestinian culture considers whoever visits a psychiatrist as mentally ill, and this is a stigma the patients try to evade so that people would not say they are crazy,” Shaer told Al-Monitor.
Families of Israel victims confront Fatah lawmakers in Gaza
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 7 May– Representatives of a group of families of those killed by the Israeli assault on Gaza in 2008-9 on Wednesday confronted four Fatah lawmakers and blockaded their office in protest against authorities’ failure to pay their monthly compensation. The confrontation, during which family members prevented the lawmakers from leaving the Fatah Parliamentary headquarters in Gaza, comes after 14 months of protests by the group demanding the payments they are due to be transferred. Spokesman for the bereaved families Ala al-Birawi told Ma‘an that the group was holding Fatah lawmakers Faisal Abu Shahla, Mohammad Hijazi, Ibrahim al-Masdar, and Radwan al-Akhras. “All leaders must realize that talking is over, and what is wanted now is a swift decision,” he said explaining that they will not leave until their demands are met.
Ministry: Hamas executes 2 ‘collaborators’ with Israel
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 7 May — Authorities in the Hamas-run Gaza Strip on Thursday executed two men for allegedly collaborating with Israel, Gaza’s interior ministry said in a statement. The last execution in Gaza, in October, was of a man found guilty of murder. One man, identified by the initials Z.R., was executed for recruiting collaborators for Israel and for providing Israel with information on “resistance workshops and tunnels,” which led to the death of several people, according to the statement. The other man, identified as A.K., provided information for Israel that led to the death of Palestinians. Z.R. was shot, while A.K. was hanged after the Gaza court sentenced them to death. They were both collaborating with Israel for over 9 years, the statement added. Although the death penalty is enshrined in the penal code of the Palestinian Authority, it requires the approval of the president. Since Mahmoud Abbas’ mandate was set to expire in 2009, the Hamas-run interior ministry in the Gaza Strip has carried out the death penalty since then without the approval of the PA leadership.
Egyptians in Gaza seek right to vote in presidential election
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 8 May – Egyptian expatriates in the Gaza Strip on Thursday urged the Egyptian ministry of foreign affairs to allow them to cast votes for the presidential elections on May 15. Members of the Egyptian community in Gaza told Ma‘an that they were urging their foreign ministry to establish a mechanism through Egypt’s central elections commission to allow them to cast votes. About 7,000 Egyptian nationals in the Gaza Strip are eligible to vote but not outside Egypt. Campaigning opened Saturday in Egypt for a May election likely to be won by the ex-army chief who ousted the elected president, after deadly bombings underscored tensions ahead of the vote.
Detainees / Court actions
Hunger strike in 16th day as thousands rally for ‘Friday of Anger’
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 9 May — Nearly 100 Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails entered the 16th day of a hunger strike on Friday as solidarity rallies were held across the West Bank and Gaza Strip. The Prisoner’s Center for Studies said Friday that the prisoners had confirmed their determination to continue their open hunger strike until authorities meet their demands, which focus on Israel fulfilling a promise made in 2012 to limit the detention of Palestinians without charge or trial, which it does regularly under a policy called “administrative detention.” The center told Ma‘an that two prisoners who have been on hunger strike since before the beginning of the mass strike were in “critical condition,” including Ayman Atabeesh who has been on strike for 71 days and Adnan Shaytah who has been on strike for 48 days. On Thursday, the vast majority of more than 5,000 Palestinian prisoners being held in Israeli prisons took part in a solidarity hunger strike with the nearly 100 prisoners who have been refusing food since April 24. ‘Friday of Anger’ Rallies in support of the hunger-striking prisoners also took place in the West Bank and Gaza Strip on Friday, after the Coalition of Youth of the Intifada, Hamas, and Islamic Jihad called for a “Friday of Anger.” Thousands took part in rallies in Hebron in what organizers claimed were some of the largest rallies in the city seen in seven years. Hebron governor, mayor and former ministers and leaders from both Hamas and Fatah turned out for the protest beginning at the Hussein Mosque. Amjad Najjar, president of the prisoner’s club in Hebron, told Ma‘an that the rally was the largest in Hebron since the beginning of the Palestinian political division in 2007 and that it was “a victory for the cause of prisoners and a victory for all the children of the Palestinian people,” stressing that members of all parties had taken part in the marches….
Lawyer: Administrative detainees won’t end hunger strike
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 8 May — A group of hunger-striking Palestinian prisoners held in Israeli jails without trial say they refused an offer by the Israeli prison service to end their strike in return for “vague” promises, a Palestinian lawyer said on Thursday. The offer comes as more than 5,000 Palestinians joined a mass hunger strike on Thursday, in solidarity with almost 100 Palestinian administrative detainees who have been refusing food since April 24. Jawad Bulous, who heads the legal department of the Palestinian Prisoner’s Society, told Ma‘an that he spoke with a number of the prisoners at Ofer court who have been on hunger strike for 15 days. The hunger strikers told Bulous that representatives of the Israeli prison service had visited them and suggested that they end their hunger strike. The proposal, they said, was turned down because the Israeli prison service offered “vague and unspecified promises.” Prisoners have demanded Israel end the use of administrative detention against Palestinians except in exceptional cases, as it agreed upon after an early mass hunger strike. The practice, which involves the detention of Palestinians without charge or trial for weeks and even months on end, has continued unabated since an agreement over a year ago.
Update on hunger strikes: Administrative detainees put in solitary confinement, denied salt supplements
OCCUPIED RAMALLAH (Addameer) 7 May — …According to one hunger striker who spoke with Addameer lawyer Mahmoud Hassan, the detainees in the Naqab Prison have all been transferred to an isolated section, separate from the other prisoners. The cells are covered in sand. They have been ill-treated; suffering from daily searches of their cells and being permitted to change their undergarments only twice since the beginning of the strike. They are bound and handcuffed in their cells for ten hours a day. Three of the hunger strikers in Naqab prison, Fadi Hammad, Fadi Omar and Soufian Bahar, are now in solitary confinement and one detainee, Ahmad Abu Ras, was transferred to an undisclosed location. Furthermore, the IPS has been denying the hunger strikers salt for the last two weeks. Prisoners who engage in hunger strikes still take liquids and salt, as they are essential for survival. Denial of salt is a continuation of the punishments against hunger strikers, and despite the grave danger it imposes on the lives of the detainees, has been institutionalized by the Israeli Supreme Court [in 2004] … The hunger strikers can potentially face harsher punishments if the IPS’s most recent proposed bill to legalize force-feeding is approved in the Knesset. The memorandum is currently up for public critique.
Two brothers convicted of killing an Israeli soldier
IMEMC/Agencies 9 May by Saed Bannoura — An Israeli Military Court convicted on Thursday, May 8 2014, two Palestinian brothers of kidnapping and killing an Israeli soldier in the West Bank, in September of 2013. The Israeli Radio said that the court convicted Nidal Amer of “kidnapping, and killing the soldier”, and of living and working in Israel without a permit, in addition to another account of “obstructing the investigation”. Nidal’s brother, Noureddeen, was also convicted in connection to the attack, although he was in prison when it took place, but the prosecution claimed he knew of his brother’s intention beforehand. Two months after the attack, the Israeli Internal Security Service published a video caught by a surveillance camera showing the soldier, Tomer Hazan, crossing with Nidal into an area near Beit Amin village … During interrogation, Amer said that he wanted to hide the body of the soldier in an attempt to secure the release of his detained brother, who has been imprisoned by Israel since 2003. Hazan and Amer worked together at an Israeli restaurant.
Palestinian refugees – Syria
Lebanon restricts Palestinians fleeing Syria
Beirut (AFP) 9 May — Lebanon has placed prohibitive restrictions on the entry of Palestinians fleeing Syria, making it almost impossible for them to take refuge in the small Mediterranean country. New measures mean Palestinians fleeing Syria will not be given visas at the border, while those who are already in the country will not have their visas renewed. In a statement posted on his Facebook page Thursday, Interior Minister Nohad al-Mashnuq said no visas will be issued at the main Masnaa border crossing. Palestinians living in Syria who wish to enter Lebanon must first request a visa at the Lebanese embassy in Damascus. The request will be processed by the Lebanese General Security agency. Only those with a residence permit in Lebanon will be admitted, the minister said. Mashnuq also announced that the two-week visas previously granted to Palestinians fleeing Syria would no longer be renewable. Mashnuq said Palestinians from Syria have the right to a 24-hour transit visa, allowing people to travel to or from Beirut International Airport, if they have a valid ticket and visa or residence permit in another country. Lebanon has not signed the international refugee convention, but had generally kept its border open to people fleeing the conflict in Syria despite the scale of the influx. Lebanon hosts more refugees from Syria than any other country, with 52,000 Palestinians among a total of more than a million. It now has the highest refugee population per capita in the world. Human rights activists say Palestinians in Syria, who once numbered 500,000, have been targeted by both sides in the conflict, making them one of the country’s most vulnerable groups … Turkey and Jordan, which also host large numbers of refugees from Syria, have barred entry to Palestinians. The UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine refugees (UNRWA) said Thursday that, “since 9 am no Palestine refugees from Syria have been allowed to cross into Lebanon.” Agency spokesman Chris Gunness appealed to Lebanese authorities not to block those in need of sanctuary.
Syrian Palestinians: Once a refugee, always a refugee
AL MASNAA (TurkishPress.com) 9 May by Hajer M’tiri — On May 3, 49 Syrian and Palestinian refugees who had fled Syria and its civil war were forced by Lebanese border officials to return. They were deported after earlier being arrested at Beirut International Airport, while trying to travel to Libya, when Lebanese authorities claimed their visas were falsified. Aware of what awaited them in Syria, three young Syrian-Palestinians forced the bus crew to stop in the “no man’s land” between the Syrian and Lebanese borders, in the hope that they might be allowed to return to their families in Lebanon. Ever since, Adham, Houssam and Mustafa have been stuck in the mountainous area between the borders, where temperatures fluctuate wildly, without access to shelter, heating or food, they told the Anadolu Agency. They sleep on top of their backpacks, which are placed on a cold concrete floor in a roofless room that is really no more than two walls. “We are here for five days, sleeping outdoors under the rain and in this cold weather,” says Adham, his face hidden by a black hood. “We met an UNRWA representative and he couldn’t even provide us with blankets or food.”
Palestinians in Israel
Orthodox Arab priest sacked for backing service in Israeli army
Jerusalem (AFP) 8 May — The Greek Orthodox church in the Holy land has dismissed an Israeli Arab priest who publicly supported Israeli army service for Christian Arabs, a church spokesman said Thursday. Spokesman Essa Musleh told AFP ecclesiastical authorities decided Tuesday to fire Father Gabriel Nadaf from his post in Jesus’s traditional childhood town of Nazareth, but were only now making their decision public. “We warned him before to keep to his priestly duties and not to interfere in matters of the army,” Musleh said. “When he did not heed our warning we held a meeting of the church court which decided to sack him.” He said that no written notification had been given to Nadaf. “We announce this now,” he said …Last month, Israel said it would start sending enlistment papers to all Christian Arabs of military service age, angering Arab lawmakers who accused the government of seeking to divide Christians from Muslims. Service would not be compulsory for the 130,000 Christian Arabs as it is for Jews, an army spokesman said. At present about 100 Christian Arabs volunteer for military service each year.
Poverty rate among Arabs in Israel highest in 35 years
IMEMC 9 May by Chris Carlson — According to an Israeli think tank, more than 50% of the Arab population inside Israel is living below the poverty line. The Taub Center for Social Policy Studies states that the poverty rate among Arab-Israeli residents, holding both Palestinian and Israeli citizenship, has reached its highest level in 35 years, according to Al Ray. The Center’s report noted both the surge in the poverty rate as well as the unacceptable socioeconomic conditions Palestinians face inside the Israeli state, in which they suffer from improper medical care, education and employment opportunities.
Rights groups urge Palestinians to join ICC
London (AFP) 8 May — Human rights groups including Amnesty International on Thursday urged the Palestinians to sign up to the International Criminal Court. Seventeen local and international human rights organisations made the request in a joint letter to Palestinian leader Mahmud Abbas, Amnesty said. The London-based organisation said if the Palestinians “signed up to the Rome Statute of the ICC, the Court would have jurisdiction over war crimes and crimes against humanity committed on Palestinian territories and by its nationals elsewhere.” The joint letter urged Abbas to “take the necessary steps for Palestine to become a party” to the ICC. “Doing so would sent an important message that entrenched impunity for war crimes and crimes against humanity committed on Palestinian territories must end once and for all,” said Philip Luther, Amnesty’s Middle East and North Africa Programme director.
Human rights complaints rise in Palestinian territories, group says
RAMALLAH (Los Angeles Times) 8 May by Maher Abukhater — Complaints of torture and other mistreatment rose by 50% last year in areas governed by the Palestinian Authority, according to a report by an independent commission. The annual report by the Ramallah-based Independent Commission for Human Rights (ICHR), published Thursday, offers a hint at the kind of scrutiny the Palestinian Authority might face after joining United Nations agencies and treaties this year … Though the report covers the period before the Palestinian Authority joined those treaties, including the four Geneva Conventions and the Convention Against Torture, commission officials said the international community would be watching the Palestinian Authority to make sure it abided by the terms of those agreements … “Palestine will be now obliged to present periodical reports on what measures it is taking to eliminate torture to show that it is committed to the Convention Against Torture,” said Randa Siniora, executive director of ICHR. The report notes “a remarkable increase in the number of complaints received on alleged cases of torture and violations involving the right to physical safety in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.” It says that 497 allegations of torture and ill treatment were received by the commission in 2013, compared with 294 cases in 2012. Most of the cases – 347 – were in the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip. The Palestinian watchdog group, established by the president of the Palestinian Authority 20 years ago, said it had also registered a “noticeable increase” in arbitrary detentions in the West Bank and Gaza. It attributed the rise “to the political variables and the continuation of the internal political division” between the Ramallah-based Palestinian Authority and Hamas, the Islamist movement that has ruled Gaza since 2007. The commission said it had monitored “many attacks” on the personal freedoms of Palestinian journalists by security forces in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
Ex-prosecutor warns Palestinians on turning to the ICC against Israel
AP/The Media Line 7 May — If Palestinians accept war crimes court’s jurisdiction, Hamas could face investigation for rocket fire, suicide bombings against Israeli civilians, former chief prosecutor says — A former chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court said Wednesday Palestinians should proceed with caution as they consider pursuing war crimes against Israel … He refused to speculate whether war crimes have been committed by either side. Regardless, he recommended the sides avoid the court and find a “creative” way to resolve their differences.
Abbas: We are ready to return to negotiations conditionally
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 8 May — Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas said in an interview on Thursday that the Palestinians are ready to resume negotiations under the condition that Israel releases the fourth batch of veteran Palestinian prisoners and halts settlement construction for three months. The comments, which came during a televised interview, came only two weeks after Israel halted peace negotiations following a unity deal between Palestinian political parties Hamas and Fatah, putting an end to months of fruitless talks. Abbas said in the interview that it was Israel that had halted the negotiations, not the Palestinians, and that Israel had threatened to stop allowing the transfer of funds to the Palestinian Authority, a threat he called a form of “gangsterism.” He said that so far he had not heard a response from Israel on the resumption of talks, but that the Palestinians continued to plan on joining international organizations if Israel does not agree to three conditions.
Livni: Israeli settlements are to blame for failure of talks
Haaretz 9 May — Echoing U.S. special envoy Martin Indyk’s comments, justice minister tells Army Radio that ‘settlement construction makes it impossible to defend Israel around the world.’ — Justice Minister and chief Israeli negotiator Tzipi Livni said Friday that the settlements are preventing Israel from reaching a resolution with the Palestinians. “The settlers want to prevent us from living a normal life and do not accept the authority of the law,” Livni told Army Radio on Friday.
Borders, security ‘essential’ to any Mideast peace deal: US
Washington (AFP) 9 May — US Secretary of State John Kerry believes drawing up the borders of a future Palestinian state and agreeing to security arrangements for Israel will be “essential” if peace talks resume, the top US negotiator has said. In his most candid public comments since the nine-month negotiations collapsed last month, Martin Indyk described the behind-the-scenes atmosphere between Israelis and Palestinians and voiced hopes the talks would resume soon. Speaking late Thursday at the Washington Institute think tank, Indyk said although the two sides both showed “flexibility” it was clear they “do not feel the pressing need to make the gut-wrenching compromises necessary to achieve peace.” In the end despite nine months of “serious and intensive negotiations,” Indyk said it was “easier for the Palestinians to sign conventions and appeal to international bodies in their supposed pursuit of ‘justice.'” “It is easier for Israeli politicians to avoid tension in the governing coalition and for the Israeli people to maintain the current comfortable status quo,” said Indyk, a former US ambassador to Israel. “It is safe to say that if we the US are the only party that has a sense of urgency, these negotiations will not succeed.” Should the peace talks resume however, Kerry believes both sides must work on the future contours of a Palestinian state and security arrangements for Israel alongside the other core issues such as refugees and Jerusalem.
Israel slams Indyk accusations on peace talks
Reuters 9 May — Israel fired back on Friday at senior US official Martin Indyk, who blamed Jewish settlement construction in part for the breakdown of peacemaking with the Palestinians, saying he himself had done nothing to help the negotiations. The blunt riposte signaled continued, deep tensions between Israel and Washington over the US-led talks, which collapsed last month amid bitter recriminations … But a senior Israeli official familiar with the talks accused Indyk of hypocrisy, saying he had known construction in the West Bank and East Jerusalem would continue during the discussions. “Indyk comes and blames others without speaking about his own responsibility for the current impasse,” the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told Reuters. “Martin Indyk is the last person who can preach to us or teach us anything about the peace process,” said the official. “He’s been prowling around here for years and fails at every one of his attempts and simply refuses to recognize that the problem is not with us.”
Hamas must recognize Israel, top Egyptian official says
Washington (AFP) 7 May — Hamas must recognize the existence of Israel if the Palestinians are to move forward with their hopes of establishing their own state, former Egyptian foreign minister Amr Mussa said Wednesday. “It is normal for the Palestinians to reconcile,” Mussa said of a recent unity deal struck between the Hamas militants who run the Gaza Strip and the Palestinian Liberation Organization. However, “I believe that Hamas should declare its acceptance of the Arab initiative of 2002, which is the map of normalization and recognition of the state of Israel together with the establishing of the Palestinian state and the withdrawal of the occupied territory,” he insisted. “If Hamas does do this, it would be a major step in the direction of formulating a favorable all-Palestinian policy towards the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.”
Orthodox patriarch eyes unity in visit with pope
ISTANBUL (AP) 9 May — Bartholomew I, spiritual leader of 250 million Orthodox Christians, says a meeting with Pope Francis in Jerusalem this month will help move the two churches closer to ending their nearly 1,000-year divide … The meetings between the ecumenical patriarch and the leader of the world’s Roman Catholics on May 25-26 will commemorate the historic visit of their predecessors 50 years ago that launched a dialogue aimed at ending the two churches’ schism in 1054.
Israeli spying on US swept under rug, report claims
Times of Israel 9 May by Lazar Berman — Newsweek says ‘Israel lobby’ protects aggressive espionage, which includes offering drugs and women; Jerusalem denies claims — Israel’s aggressive spying activities in the United States are routinely covered up because of Jerusalem’s powerful connections in Congress, Newsweek alleged Thursday, quoting unnamed former US intelligence officials. “It has been extensive for years,” an official told the magazine on Wednesday. “There is a small community of ex-CIA, FBI and military people who have worked this account who are absolutely cheering on [Newsweek’s original] story,” he said. “Not one of them is anti-Semitic. In fact, it has nothing to do with anti-Semitism. It has only to do with why [Israel] gets kid-glove treatment when, if it was Japan doing it or India doing it at this level, it would be outrageous.”
Budget-strapped Israeli military banks on future US aid
Reuters 9 May — Future funding for IDF purchases of American weaponry to be discussed next week during Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel’s visit to Israel — Budget-strapped Israel is pressing the United States to conclude a deal extending defense aid beyond 2017, when Washington’s current $3 billion annual payouts to its Middle East ally expire, officials said on Friday.
Netanyahu says Talmud will be the basis of Israeli law
IMEMC < AIC 9 May by Chris Carlson — Right-wing news site Arutz 7 reports that Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu spoke, on Wednesday evening, with the head of the haredi (Jewish ultra-orthodox) division of the Likud, Yaakov Vider, saying that the law he intends to submit, defining Israel as the nation state of the Jewish people, will include a clause stating that Israeli law will be based on the Torah and Jewish tradition. “In the law, we will define the Talmud as the basis for the Israeli legal system,” Netanyahu told Vider, adding that the law “is a very important one that will affect how Israel looks in the future.”
Opinion / Analysis / Book review
Parental love, Israeli-style
Haaretz 7 May by Gideon Levy — Does a parent love his toddler when he sends him to crawl on Independence Day in the sand under a fence, a huge army backpack attached to his little body? Does a father love his son when he sends him to kindergarten to return with a memorial candle and Holocaust kit in hand? Does a mother love a daughter when she bakes a cake for a soldier who will come to kindergarten and tell the little one about his heroic acts in the territories? Do we love our children when we sign them up for the monstrous “Adopt-a-barricade” campaign? Do we love them when we send them to high schools that compete with one another for the most graduates enlisting in combat units and even take pride in the number of fallen? Do we really love our children when we agree to their starting Holocaust studies practically from age zero? Do we really love them when we agree for the school to show them horrendous images from a terror attack? Do parents who remain quiet, or who may even get excited, when the brainwashing campaigns planting fear, jingoism and militarism begin here earlier and earlier really love their children and look out for them? … Where else do they force a little child to crawl with a backpack on his back, as in the unbelievable AFP picture depicted on the front page of Wednesday’s Haaretz Hebrew edition, which must have been published worldwide? When Hamas treats its children like this, these same parents tut-tut with disgust: Look at these beasts, look what they’re doing to their children. But the settlement of Efrat, where the grotesque sight took place, is of course a source of pride.
‘Forward’ runs shocking images of Israeli children glorifying violence
Mondoweiss 9 May by Philip Weiss — We’re used to hearing about the incitement of Israeli children from Max Blumenthal, who says indoctrination begins in the “spring season” of holidays when kids are taught about the enemies who surround them. Well the American Jewish community is getting the message. The Forward has published a shocking piece called, “When Israelis Teach Their Kids to Hate” with the picture above of children in the settlement of Efrat celebrating Israeli independence day, and another one of a child holding a giant rifle (at that link).
Palestinian Christian struggle mapped in new book / Joe Catron
GAZA CITY (Electronic Intifada) 5 May — In Mapping Exile and Return: Palestinian Dispossession and a Political Theology for a Shared Future, American Mennonite theologian and aid worker Alain Epp Weaver explores a legacy of Palestinian Christian exile, and struggle for return. The book’s terrain ranges from the ethnically-cleansed villages of the Galilee to the Upper West Side of Manhattan. Weaver focuses particularly on contending geographies: how “Palestinians have been ‘abolished from the map,’ in the words of Palestinian cartographer Salman Abu-Sitta,” and the prospect of “counter-cartographies that subvert colonialism’s map-making.” His book encompasses the work of specialists, like Abu-Sitta’s maps, the writings of Edward Said, the Institute for Palestine Studies’ encyclopedic volume All That Remains: The Palestinian Villages Occupied and Depopulated by Israel in 1948, as well as “memory production” by thousands of Palestinians through collaborations like the web archive Palestine Remembered.
‘Love thy Palestinian neighbor’: A Bar Mitzvah D’var Torah by Elijah David Gold
Palestinian Talmud – Blog of the Jewish Voice for Peace Rabbinical Council – 8 May – posted by Rabbi Brant Rosen — The following post is a D’var Torah (Torah lesson/commentary) that was written and recently delivered by thirteen year old Elijah David Gold for his Bar Mitzvah at Congregation Tikkun v’Or in Ithaca, NY (where JVP Rabbinical Council member Brian Walt serves as rabbi). In his address to his community, Elijah powerfully applied the Torah’s teaching to love one’s neighbor as oneself to the Israeli military’s treatment of Palestinian children in the West Bank.
Thank you for coming to my Bar Mitzvah … I believe “love your neighbor” should include all human beings, not just Jews. But even if you do not agree with that, K’doshim also includes the requirement to love the stranger. It says: ‘When a stranger resides with you in your land, you shall not wrong him. The stranger who resides with you shall be to you as one of your citizens; you shall love him as yourself, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt.’ Certainly in this case, it is clear that we are to treat all human beings with dignity, equality, and respect. For this reason, for my D’var Torah I decided to learn more about how Palestinians, and especially Palestinian children, are treated in the state of Israel. To do this I watched the documentary “5 Broken Cameras” that takes place in the West Bank. I read testimonies of detained Palestinian children in +972 Magazine, I read testimonies of Israeli soldiers who served in the Occupied Territories in “Breaking the Silence,” I read parts of the book, “Stolen Youth,” published by Defense of Children International – Palestine, and I read a report on the psychological effects of child detention that my mother helped prepare for the human rights organization, Friends of Sabeel – North America. If the Torah says that you are to love your neighbor and love the stranger as yourself, it seems that Israel is in serious violation of this … In my Torah portion, God commands us to help our fellow Israelites return to good if they are committing sinful acts. In fact, it is a sin not to help. Maimonides and Nachmanidies who were famous for their work on Jewish law say that the commandment is about collective responsibility and we are not only responsible for ourselves but also the behavior of others. If you see someone committing a sin, or going down a wrong path, you are commanded to try to make him go back to a path of good. Nachmanides says “You shall surely rebuke your neighbor.” As I have now become a Bar Mitzvah, I have moral and ethical responsibilities and I am required to fulfill mitzvot. I am responsible for my own actions and the actions of my community. As long as the State of Israel is committing crimes, it is a sin for me to stand idly by and not help my fellow Israelites return to a path of goodness. That is why I will be donating some of my Bar Mitzvah money to the organization, Defense of Children international – Palestine.