Land, property theft & destruction / Ethnic cleansing
IDF uses live-fire zones to expel Palestinians from areas of West Bank, officer admits
Haaretz 12 May by Amira Hass — Officer tells Knesset committee method used to reduce illegal construction, Palestinian population in Area C; Habayit Hayehudi MK urges crack-down on international groups who assist construction — Military training in live-fire zones in the West Bank is used as a way of reducing the number of Palestinians living nearby, and serves as an important part of the campaign against Palestinian illegal construction, an army officer revealed at a recent Knesset committee meeting. Col. Einav Shalev, operations officer of Central Command, was addressing a subcommittee of the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, which discussed “illegal Palestinian construction in Area C” of the West Bank, and ways of expelling Palestinian residents from areas such as E1, the Jordan Valley and Susya, south of Hebron. He told those at the meeting that the goal of preventing illegal construction is one of the main reasons the Israel Defense Forces has recently increased its training in the Jordan Valley … IDF Gen. Yoav Mordechai, coordinator of government activities in the territories, was invited to the meeting, which took place April 27. He said his bureau complains immediately to the embassies of countries whose organizations are involved in illegal construction. “From our perspective, it’s not important who finances illegal construction,” he said. “In the past three months, the appropriate embassy has received a letter within an hour of an organization being caught building illegally.” … Shalev said the IDF’s policy of confiscating humanitarian equipment before it got to its destination was “a punch in the right places. When you confiscate 10 large, white and expensive tents, it’s not easy. It’s not simple to recover.” Because of the confiscation policy, the Red Cross had decided to stop providing tents to shepherd communities whose huts and barns were destroyed by the Civil Administration, he noted. The European Community and international aid organizations have devoted much of their humanitarian and diplomatic activities to Area C in recent years. As they see it, the Israeli veto on connecting communities to water, electricity and transportation infrastructure is contrary to Israel’s obligations as an occupier.
The forgery at the heart of West Bank land transactions
Haaretz 20 May by Chaim Levinson — Al-Watan, subsidiary of settlement organization Amana, has a history of using dubious documents to defend Jewish settlements in the West Bank from demolition — After many postponements, the West Bank outpost of Givat Asaf was about to be demolished in July 2012. The state had promised to demolish the outpost several months prior, following a petition to the High Court of Justice by the left-wing activist group Peace Now. Givat Asaf had been built entirely on Palestinian land. Eight days before the outpost was to be evacuated, and after the squatters had been living there for more than a decade, settlers pulled a rabbit out of their hat. Officials of Al-Watan, a subsidiary of settlement organization Amana, announced they had purchased a plot of land on the outpost as well as parts of two other plots of land. The state joined the residents of Givat Asaf in requesting a postponement of the evacuation while it clarified whether the change of ownership warranted the outpost’s legalization. Supreme Court President Justice Asher Grunis consented. There were questions about the legitimacy of the transaction from the start. The chance that a Palestinian landowner would sell a plot of land that was to be discussed in the High Court shortly before its evacuation is close to nil, and forging a land transaction is no rare occurrence in the West Bank. Several months ago, when the Palestinians landowners learned of the supposed purchase, they quickly petitioned the Jerusalem District Court that the registration be changed back, claiming that they had never sold the land to anyone and that the documents were forged … Al-Watan (“Homeland” in Arabic) is a company registered in the West Bank according to Jordanian law, which stipulates that only a resident of the area or a company registered there may purchase land. Al-Watan was established in 2002 to buy Palestinian-owned land for Jewish settlement.
Israeli bulldozers raze Palestinian structures east of Jerusalem
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 19 May — Israeli bulldozers on Monday razed Palestinian structures in al-Eizariya and the E1 area east of Jerusalem, leaving 15 people homeless, a local official said. Sami Abu Ghaliya, secretary-general of the Bedouin Jahalin tribes, said Israeli authorities destroyed two small residential structures and four agricultural ones belonging to his family at the entrance of al-Eizariya. Fourteen people were made homeless by the demolitions, Abu Ghaliya said. Additionally, bulldozers destroyed two structures used to house cattle in the al-Kasarat area in E1. The structures both measured 250 square meters.
Meanwhile, in nearby Jabal al-Baba, a tent belonging to Mahmoud Ibrahim Jahalin was destroyed along with two animal sheds, Abu Ghaliya said. The tent was donated to Jahalin after Israeli bulldozers demolished his home on April 3.
E1 is an area northeast of Jerusalem and west of the illegal Israeli settlement of Maale Adumim. Israeli plans for settlement construction in the area have been strongly opposed by the international community, including the US. Critics say Israeli settlement construction in E1 would divide the West Bank in two and make the creation of a contiguous Palestinian state — as envisaged by the internationally backed two-state solution to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict — virtually impossible.
‘Today at 08.00, Israeli bulldozers came to the fertile valley where we planted fruit trees — ‘
Mondoweiss 20 May by Philip Weiss — A shocking story. Israeli authorities have uprooted 1500 apple and apricot trees on a renowned Palestinian farm near Bethlehem weeks ahead of harvest; and the case is drawing global attention on social media. Landowner Daoud Nassar of the Tent of Nations writes on Facebook of the atrocity: ‘Today at 08.00, Israeli bulldozers came to the fertile valley of the farm where we planted fruit trees 10 years ago, and destroyed the terraces and all our trees there. More than 1500 apricot and apple trees as well as grape plants were smashed and destroyed.” Later, as international outrage resonates, this message: ‘Dear Friends of Tent of Nations, Very soon we will be asking you to take actions, please be prepared. Thank you for all your emails, your phone calls and your concerns. Daoud’ Ben White has posted an account of the destruction at Electronic Intifada:
Army uproots trees in Bethlehem
IMEMC by Saed Bannoura — [Monday, May 19, 2014] Israeli soldiers uprooted hundreds of trees that belong to members of various families of Nahhalin village, west of the West Bank city of Bethlehem. The WAFA news agency said the soldiers invaded the Wad Salem Area (Salem Valley), north of the village, before cutting and uprooting hundreds of almond trees. Ibrahim Shakarna, head of the Local Council in Nahhalin, stated that the attack is part of ongoing Israeli military violations, and repeated attacks carried out by extremist Israeli settlers. Shakarna told WAFA that the attacks include bulldozing farmlands and uprooting trees, in addition to flooding Palestinian orchards and farmlands with sewage water and toxins.
Settler advocates say ‘silent freeze’ in place
JTA 20 May — A “silent freeze” has been placed on West Bank settlement expansion, Israeli Deputy Defense Minister Danny Danon said. Danon, a Likud Knesset member who advocates Israeli annexation of much of the West Bank, told the Times of Israel that no new tenders have been approved in recent months for building in Israeli West Bank settlements. “I don’t know of a formal policy to limit building,” Danon told the Times of Israel on Monday. “But when you look, de facto, what’s happening on the ground, yes, you feel there is a silent freeze in terms of planning and in terms of government construction.” Dani Dayan, chief foreign envoy of the Yesha Council, a settlement advocacy group, claimed that the committee to approve new building in the settlements had not met for three months, though previously approved construction is ongoing. Previously approved tenders for new settlement housing were republished at the end of April. Peace Now, an activist group that opposes the settlements, said the new building committee had met within the past three months. Hagit Ofran, the group’s settlement watch project director, called talk of a freeze “premature.” “Not enough time has passed since the last time new tenders were published,” Ofran told The Times of Israel.
Racism / Hate crimes
Arrests over anti-Arab hate crimes in Jerusalem, Yokneam
ggHaaretz 21 May by Eli Ashkenazi & Nir Hasson — Israel Police and the Shin Bet security service this week arrested four suspects of carrying out anti-Arab hate attacks recently in Yokneam. Meanwhile, an indictment has been served against four young people accused of attacking Arabs in Jerusalem. In the Yokneam case, the four are suspected of spray-painting anti-Arab slogans, damaging a clinic, puncturing car tires and smashing windows. The police say that the suspects, residents of the town aged 25 and 26, and two 16-year-olds from the north of the country, know each other and acted in unison. The remand of two of them was extended until the weekend, and one of the teenagers admitted to damaging the dental clinic of Dr. Khatter Nashed in the city … Over the past two months, about 10 hate-crime incidents have taken place in Yokneam. Two weeks ago another suspect was arrested for hate crimes in the town – Adir Yosef, 26. Another remand extension hearing will be held in his case Wednesday. His attorney, Dov Hirsch, denied the suspicions against him.
Jewish youths pose as young women to bait Arabs
[with VIDEO of attack] Ynet 21 May by Noam ‘Dabul’ Dvir & Aviel Magnezi — Jerusalem teens indicted for beating Arab clerk targeted by WhatsApp and Facebook group called ‘Jews Against Mescegenation [sic]’ for ‘good, clean work’ — Four young men accused of posing as an attractive Jewish woman on Facebook with the purpose of baiting Arab men were indicted recently at the Jerusalem District Court. The Arab victims believed that they were meeting an interested young woman, but were instead met with beatings from the boys.
The youths were caught by police after appearing on the security camera at the site of one of their alleged attacks [though this particular attack doesn’t seem to have anything to do with the Facebook con]. Haim Gamlieli, 24, was the alleged leader of the gang, and according to the indictment against him, managed several groups on WhatsApp as well as a Facebook page over the last several months, under the title “Jews Against Miscegenation”. “We are a very right-wing group made up of a few friends who hate the fact that Arabs hunt Jewish girls,” Gamlieli wrote in the WhatsApp group using the fake name “Yossi Cohen”. Gamlieli requested that members report instances of Arab men making sexual advances upon Jewish women to the group. The other boys accused of carrying out the attack are all 16 to 17 years old. They admitted to taking part in the beating of the Arab who worked at a luggage supply shop where Gamlieli had once threatened a man. Gamlieli then named him on his Facebook page and posting his picture. The boys identified the Arab and said that their motivation for the attack was simply that, “the luggage salesman is an Arab.” The man they assaulted told Ynet, “36 years I’m here in this neighborhood. This is the first time anything like this has ever happened. No one has ever attacked me or cursed at me.”… “They came behind my back and gave me a big hit in the back. I turned around to see who it was and I tried to protect myself. Three attacked me and beat me inside the store. I tried to get away from them. I wanted to get up from the floor, but I couldn’t.” “People looked at them from outside and no one came to help me. My body and my heart are still in pain when people go by me and point at me.” The victim added, “I don’t know why they did this to an old man, what’s the difference between a Jew and an Arab? I hope that they will be punished and that others will learn not to do these kinds of things.” “They caused me a lot of harm. I’m a grandfather with grandchildren and young men come to beat me… it’s not easy. I’ll remember this all of my life.”
Bedouin seek fair share of Negev tax bounty
Haaretz 20 May by Meirav Arlosoroff — None of the vast sums paid by the army and businesses in municipal taxes goes to the Negev regions’s neediest communities and that has to change, Bedouin argue — The massive military training base that is rapidly taking shape south of Be’er Sheva could mark a real turning point for the Negev, and not only because of the relatively high-earning and well-educated career army families it will bring to this region of southern Israel. The base will be making generous contributions to local governments, in the form of arnona (municipal taxes), that have the potential to make an equal impact on the quality of life in the Negev. It’s therefore no wonder that a battle royal is raging over the distribution of the municipal tax pie. The main combatants are the well-established Ramat Hanegev Regional Council and Yeruham, a so-called development town that was once one of Israel’s poorest. But no one seems to have noticed that the new base’s nearest neighbor is actually the shamefully poor Neveh Midbar Regional Council, whose residents are Bedouin.
Violence / Raids / Attacks / Clashes / Illegal arrests or ‘kidnappings’
Israeli youths ‘assault Palestinian’ in Jerusalem
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 20 May — A young Palestinian man says he was beaten and arrested by a group of Israeli police officers on Monday evening. Sam al-Araj, 18, said he was attacked at 10 p.m. Monday after leaving the light rail at the Damascus Gate station near Jerusalem’s Old City. Al-Araj explained that he was with a friend in the rail when a group of young Israelis started making provocative gestures at them. When they left the train, there were around 35 Israelis aged 20-25, and mostly Russian-born Israelis surrounded them. When they tried to flee the scene, the Israelis followed them, he said. “My friend managed to escape from the area, and I was assaulted and beaten with rifle butts,” he added. A number of them showed police IDs after the attack, and al-Araj was arrested, handcuffed, and taken to Saladdin police station where he was beaten and assaulted, he said. Al-Araj added that he was released on bail at 6:30 a.m. on Tuesday.
Human rights NGO: Investigate senior IDF officers over Ofer killings
972mag 20 May by Noam Sheizaf — Following the release of CCTV footage showing the killing of two Palestinian minors near Ofer prison on Thursday, the Israeli human rights NGO B’Tselem called for an investigation of senior officers who were present at the scene. B’Tselem also asked the IDF to look into “misleading information” given to the local and international media after the incident. The organization released several more videos from the event, showing the moment of shootings and the minutes leading up to them from two different angles. Here are the clips: … Nadem Syam Nawara, 17, and Mohammad Mahmoud Odeh, 16, were shot to death near Ofer military prison in the West Bank during a Nakba Day protest. Two more Palestinian protesters were injured. Stones were thrown at IDF soldiers during the protest, but as the new footage revealed, Nawara and Odeh were shot from afar; one of them was actually with his back to the soldiers, and neither posed any risk to the army forces, nor threw any rocks. Following the incident, the IDF Spokesperson claimed that no live ammunition was used by the military that day. However, the medical team that treated the teens said that they were wounded from live bullets. The distance from which they were shot also supports this theory, as rubber coated bullets very rarely kill from such a distance. B’Tselem obtained the full tapes of four CCTV cameras which operated at the scene.
US to Israel: Investigate killing of Palestinian teens
Ynet 21 May by Yitzhak Benhorin — The US government called on Israel to open an investigation on Tuesday into the circumstances surrounding the deaths of two Palestinians in Beitunia, during a protest last week. “We’re closely tracking the event and ask for additional information from the Israeli government. We expect the Israeli government to conduct a thorough and transparent investigation, to verify the facts, including whether there was a proportional threat by the protesters,” said US State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki at a press briefing in Washington on Tuesday evening, after footage was released earlier in the day by rights group B’Tselem that documents the incident.
Israeli W. Bank raid leaves scores injured
World Bulletin 19 May — Two Palestinians were wounded by rubber bullets and scores of others suffered temporary asphyxiation from teargas on Monday morning in clashes between Israeli security forces and residents of a Palestinian neighborhood in Al-Quds (occupied East Jerusalem), eyewitnesses said. Eyewitnesses said the confrontations started when Israeli forces broke into East Jerusalem’s Kafr ‘Aqab neighborhood. Neighborhood residents responded by hurling stones at the Israeli security forces, the eyewitnesses said. They added that Israeli soldiers responded with teargas and rubber bullets, leaving two Palestinians wounded in the legs, while scores of others suffered temporary asphyxiation from teargas. Kafr ‘Aqab is under security and administrative control by the Israeli government, as it is located inside Area C of the West Bank … The reasons for Monday’s raid on the neighborhood by Israeli forces are still unclear, but Israel usually breaks into Palestinian villages and towns in the West Bank in order to detain “wanted” Palestinian activists…
UK opens legal clinic to help Jerusalemites living behind barrier
JERUSALEM (WAFA) 20 May – The British Consulate General in Jerusalem and the Jerusalem Network for Community Advocacy (JCAN) inaugurated Tuesday a new legal advice centre in the area of Kufr ‘Aqab [Kafr ‘Aqab], a densely populated Palestinian neighborhood which is cut off from Jerusalem by the Separation Barrier, said a press release issued by the British Consulate-General in Jerusalem. The centre will provide legal advice and raise awareness on a range of issues including residency rights for Palestinian Jerusalemites and access to basic services. Funded by the British Consulate with £337,000 for two years, JCAN is targeting disadvantaged Palestinian communities in Jerusalem with the chief aim of protecting their legal, economic and social rights and therefore improve their living conditions and viability in the city. JCAN, a community-based and volunteer-driven nonprofit, is already running two service centers in Al Tur and Surbaher [Sur Bahir] areas in East Jerusalem.
Palestinian teen injured by tear-gas canister in Yatta clashes
HEBRON (Ma‘an) 20 May — A Palestinian teenager was hit by a high-velocity tear gas canister early Tuesday during clashes with Israeli troops in Yatta in the southern West Bank, a local official said. Abd al-Aziz Abu Fanar, spokesman for the Yatta municipality, told Ma‘an that local teen Tamir Raed Abu Sabha was taken to a nearby hospital after being hit by a tear gas canister.
Clashes took place near NGO offices and the office of the Yatta municipality, Abu Fanar said. He said Israeli soldiers showered the area with tear gas and stun grenades, causing a state of alarm among residents.
Increase in violence by Israeli security forces against Palestinian journalists
Reporters without Borders 20 May — Reporters Without Borders condemns the action of the Israeli security forces in deliberately firing rubber bullets and teargas at two Palestinian journalists during clashes between Palestinian protesters and Israeli soldiers in the West Bank city of Ramallah on 16 May. The clashes broke out while the two journalists – Issam Al-Rimawi, a photographer for the newspaper Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, and freelance photographer Abdalkarim Al-Museitef – were covering a protest march accompanying the funeral of two Palestinian youths killed during the previous day’s commemoration of the 1948 Nakba (Catastrophe). Rimawi’s left shoulder was injured by a rubber bullet while Museitef lost consciousness from the effects of the teargas. Both were taken to Ramallah regional hospital. Rimawi said on Facebook: “A commander ordered his men to deliberately fire in my direction. Press photographers were targeted during this demonstration.” “This incident is unfortunately not isolated,” said Soazig Dollet, the head of the Reporters Without Borders Middle East and North Africa desk. “We are very concerned about the marked increase in the number of Palestinian journalists being deliberately targeted by the Israeli security forces.” … The Palestinian Centre for Development and Media Freedoms (MADA) registered some 80 cases of media freedom violations by the Israeli security forces affecting Palestinian news providers during the first four months of this year, including more than 30 physical attacks.”
Israeli forces arrest 8 Palestinians in overnight raids
JENIN (Ma‘an) 20 May — Israeli forces arrested eight Palestinians across the West Bank in overnight raids, security sources and an Israeli army spokesman said. More than 45 Israeli military vehicles raided Jenin refugee camp early Tuesday and soldiers detained a man affiliated to the Islamic Jihad movement, Palestinian security sources told Ma‘an. Troops fired tear gas and stun grenades at Palestinians before detaining Qays al-Saadi, the sources said. Additionally, Israeli forces fired tear gas in the vicinity of Jenin public hospital. Several patients and staff members suffered from excessive tear gas inhalation.
Separately, Israeli forces detained 20-year-old Muntasir Qirqish in Nablus, security sources said. Israeli troops also stormed the village of Burqa south of Nablus, without making arrests, the sources added.
An Israeli army spokesman said eight Palestinians were arrested in the West Bank overnight — one in Jenin refugee camp, one in the city of Jenin, one in Beit Ur al-Fauqa, three in al-Jalazun refugee camp, one in Rafat southeast of Qalqiliya, and one in Budrus.
Israel arrests 11 Palestinians in West Bank and Jerusalem
JERUSALEM (WAFA) 20 May — Israeli forces Tuesday arrested four Palestinians, including two minors, from the Hebron area, in addition to seven others from inside the yards of al-Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem, according to security forces and witnesses. A group of settlers, under the protection of special Israeli police, stormed the courtyards of Al-Aqsa Mosque from the Mughrabi (Moroccans) Gate, roaming the yards of the mosque and performing Talmudic rituals, provoking Palestinian worshipers who chanted prayers protesting their entry to the holy sites. Israeli police intervened and arrested seven worshipers for trying to stop the settlers from roaming inside the yards of the mosque and led them to a detention and interrogation center in Jerusalem.
Meanwhile, Israeli forces arrested four civilians, including two children, from the Hebron area. Israeli forces stormed the camp while firing tear gas and acoustic canisters, setting fire to the nearby fields, and arrested three Palestinians aged 12, 15, and 18. The Israeli army also raided Beit Ummar town to the south of Hebron and arrested a 28-year-old Palestinian. Forces also raided and searched several houses in the town with no arrests reported.
Gaza under dual blockades
Israeli troops shoot, injure Palestinian in northern Gaza
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 19 May — Israeli forces shot and injured a Palestinian man in northern Gaza on Monday in the second such incident in 24 hours, locals said. Witnesses told Ma‘an that a 20-year-old man was collecting stones to make concrete outside of Beit Hanoun near the Erez crossing when Israeli forces shot him. The young man, who was not immediately identified, sustained moderate wounds … On Sunday, Israeli forces shot a 21-year-old gravel worker in the same area. Ashraf al-Qidra, Gaza’s health ministry spokesman, said that the man was taken to Kamal Adwan Hospital in moderate condition. Many people in the besieged coastal enclave collect small stones in order to make gravel for concrete, because the import of concrete is forbidden by the Israeli economic blockade, which had been in place since 2006.
Israeli forces fire at Gaza fishermen, injuring 2
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 20 May — Israeli forces fired at Palestinian fishermen late Monday, injuring two off the coast of Rafah in southern Gaza, security sources told Ma‘an. Ashraf al-Qidra, Gaza’s health ministry spokesman, said the two sustained minor injuries after being hit by rubber-coated steel bullets. They were transferred to Abu Yousif al-Najjar Hospital in Rafah, al-Qidra said.
Israeli navy boats open fire at Palestinian boat, arrest two off Gaza coast
RAFAH (WAFA) 21 May – Israeli naval forces Wednesday opened fire at a Palestinian boat while fishing in the allowed six miles fishing zone off the coast of Rafah, south of the Gaza strip, arresting two fishermen, according to media sources and witnesses. WAFA correspondent said an Israeli naval boat opened fire at a Palestinian boat while sailing within the allowed fishing zone and forced the two fishermen on board to jump into the water and to swim towards their boat before arresting them. They were led to an unknown destination.
Jordanian, Algerian and local activists protest Gaza siege
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 19 May – Dozens of solidarity activists from Arab countries and locals from the Gaza Strip on Monday demonstrated at Gaza port against the ongoing siege imposed on the coastal enclave. Activists from Jordan and Algeria boarded fishing boats and threw flowers in the sea in remembrance of Turkish activists who were killed by Israeli navy on board Mavi Marmara aid ship which was sailing to the Gaza Strip … Activists then held a news conference at Gaza seaport. Palestinian lawmaker Jamal al-Khudari, who also chairs a local committee against the Gaza siege, highlighted that Gaza residents have been suffering severe shortage in food, medicine and construction material as a result of the crippling siege imposed since 2007.
Israel punishing Oxfam for breakup with Scarlett Johansson, say aid workers
Electronic Intifada 19 May by Ali Abunimah — Israeli occupation authorities have been delaying permits to enter Gaza for staff from Oxfam in what may be retaliation for the international charity’s criticism of Hollywood actress Scarlett Johansson. Earlier this year, Johansson, who was an Oxfam humanitarian ambassador, parted ways with the charity after it criticized her endorsement deal with SodaStream, an Israeli company that manufactures home drink carbonation machines in the occupied West Bank settlement of Maaleh Adumim. Permits denied Since the controversy, Oxfam has found it almost impossible to get Israeli permits for its international staff to enter Gaza to carry out work on projects relating to water, food security, public health and other services. A person with knowledge of the matter, who asked not to be named because Oxfam has not authorized anyone to speak publicly about the issue, told The Electronic Intifada that this “is the first time ever that Oxfam staff are getting a blanket refusal … all of them used to get permits on time before and [the delays] all started happening since Scarlett.” “Of course no Israeli authority would ever confirm that is the reason but the word inside Oxfam is that it is.” While a tiny handful of permits have been issued, the vast majority of applications have been subjected to lengthy and unexplained delays.
Video: Gaza bees seek Egyptian nectar
20 May — Beekeepers in Gaza are reporting their best harvest in more than a decade. The combination of fighting, urban development and disease had seen honey production drop dramatically but beekeepers have changed their strategy. Alpa Patel reports.
Prisoners / Hunger strikes / Court actions
Israeli court cancels sanctions imposed on hunger-striking prisoners
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 20 May – An Israeli court on Monday accepted an emergency appeal by the Palestinian Authority’s ministry of prisoners’ affairs to cancel sanctions imposed on hunger-striking Palestinian prisoners, a lawyer said. Husam Younis explained that the court decided to allow hunger strikers to take their normal daily break at prison courtyards, a privilege which had previously been banned. In addition, the court decided to make lawyer visits easier. Younis explained that the Israeli prison service had complicated procedures for such visits. Finally, the court decided to allow entry of new clothes to hunger strikers. Their clothes were confiscated on the first day of the strike, and they were left only with those they were wearing. Younis added that the ministry of prisoners’ affairs filed an appeal to the Israeli Supreme Court against a draft law to be submitted to the Knesset which will enable prison wardens to make prisoners eat and drink by force. Such a law, he said, would be a clear violation to prisoners’ right to protest peacefully.
Israeli court fines Raed Salah for obstructing police
JERUSALEM (AFP) 19 May — An Israeli court on Monday fined Islamic cleric Sheikh Raed Salah $2,600 for obstructing the work of police when they quizzed his wife three years ago, legal documents showed. Last month, Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court ruled that Salah, a Palestinian citizen of Israel, had “interrupted” police officers as they questioned his wife at the Allenby border crossing between the Israeli-occupied West Bank and Jordan in April 2011. On Monday, the court slapped him with a fine of 9,000 shekels ($2,600), the decision read. The judge said the fine was relatively high for such an offense, partly due to Salah’s refusal to express contrition for his actions. The incident occurred after Salah himself was questioned on his way back from Jordan. But when a female officer wanted to search his wife, he began yelling and had to be restrained by police, although he broke free and tried to force his way into the room where his wife was.
Rachel Corrie’s family to have case reheard in Israeli supreme court
JERUSALEM (The Guardian) 19 May by Peter Beaumont — Eleven years after the death of Rachel Corrie, the 23-year-old American activist who was crushed to death by an Israeli military bulldozer in Gaza in 2003, her family will have their case reheard by three judges in Israel’s supreme court in Jerusalem. The Corrie family will ask Israel’s highest court on Wednesday to overturn a 2012 judgment by a lower court in Haifa, which ruled that the Israeli military was not negligently responsible for Corrie’s death and had fully and credibly investigated the circumstances of her death. The Haifa court upheld the state’s case that, by entering a conflict area and impeding the work of the bulldozers, Corrie was responsible for her own death. Speaking to the Guardian in Jerusalem on Monday, Corrie’s father, Craig, said: “The case is about our own deep and personal loss, but it has become about more than that, about impunity and the protection of civilians.”The appeal hearing comes at the end of a lengthy campaign for the Corrie family that has involved a series of high-profile US political figures
Palestinian refugees in Syria
Syrian exams bring Yarmouk students siege respite
BBC 19 May by Lyse Doucet — In a shattered space where even basics like bread and medicine are missing, one of life’s most normal routines has finally been allowed. At the 11th hour, safe passage was agreed to enable 120 teenagers to leave the besieged Palestinian camp of Yarmouk, in southern Damascus, to sit their exams. On the eve of Syria’s nationwide tests, they emerged from the ghostly warren of streets haunted by blackened shells of buildings shot through with mournful gaping holes. On the students’ final stretch, aid workers hastened toward them, helping to carry bulky bags and backpacks … Teenagers ran into the arms of anxious relatives waiting outside a tight security cordon formed by soldiers blocking the mouth of the camp. “I haven’t seen my daughter in 10 months,” beamed Khaled, a father with a jaunty black hat and the biggest of smiles as he embraced young Rania. “I am so happy I could spread my happiness all around the world,” he exclaimed. Buses provided by UNRWA, the UN’s agency for Palestinian refugees, were packed with students and fizzing with excitement and emotion … “You can’t understand a siege until you live there,” Muhanned told me. “We had to eat food no-one can eat – grass, spices with water, if we found water.” … No sooner did they settle into the shelter, than they went into revision [US English: review] classes. It’s hard to imagine how they can possibly be ready for these tests. Some of the students expressed regret that teaching, when it happened inside Yarmouk, was no longer at a very good level. But a number of them commended their teachers for their efforts. “I studied by sunlight in the day, and candles by night,” Khaled explained, but then he admitted: “When you can’t find food, it’s hard to make your brain work.”
While the global BDS movement grows, in the West Bank BDS is virtually impossible
Middle East Monitor 19 May by Matthew Vickery & Sheren Khalel — The Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement has steadily gained international momentum since its inception in 2005. Veolia, a French multinational transport and municipalities company that conducts business within illegal Israeli settlements has been one of most successful targets of the international BDS community, with the company now excluded from bidding on public contracts in the UK, France, Sweden and Australia. However, despite the popularity and successes of the movement abroad, it is nearly impossible to boycott Israeli products in the West Bank, including those produced in illegal settlements. Co-founder of the BDS movement Adnan Ramadan told Middle East Monitor that he believes boycotting Israeli goods within the occupied territories is impractical due to Palestine’s forced dependence on Israel, a systematic consequence of occupation. “If we are talking about boycotting Israeli products, what can we do? We can’t live without water. Who controls the water? Israel,” Ramadan said. In reality 70 percent of all West Bank imports are Israeli products according to a recent report from the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics….
Political, other news
Hamas wants to employ the ‘Hezbollah model’
Haaretz 19 May by Jack Khoury — A Hamas source has said the model being planned for the new Palestinian unity government is that of Hezbollah in Lebanon, in which the organization is a government party that has shed responsibility for routine matters but maintains an independent military. “If anyone expects Hamas to hand over its missile network to the PA, he’s making a big mistake,” the Hamas source said. “Hamas wants to avoid ministerial responsibility for civilian matters, but it wants to maintain its power as a popular-resistance group.” According to Hamas sources, one issue to be solved is the degree of security coordination with Israel. Mahmoud Abbas says that as long as he is president, security coordination will continue. Still, many Hamas activists in the West Bank find themselves summoned to interrogations by the Palestinian security forces. Another issue is whether elections for the presidency and parliament would be held toward the end of the year. Meanwhile, despite Fatah and Hamas’ predictions that they will unveil a unity government next week, other Palestinian factions say such a leadership would not last long.
DFLP: Unity govt restricted to Fatah, Hamas officials
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 19 May — Secretary-general of the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine said Monday that the upcoming Palestinian unity government will not last long as it will only contain Fatah and Hamas officials. Nayef Hawatmeh told the Jordanian Al-Ghad newspaper that all potential candidates for the upcoming unity government will either be officially affiliated to Fatah and Hamas, or be supporters of the political factions … “If a unity government is to be announced, it would be far from reflecting national consensus or national unity or being technocratic. This government will be based on sharing sovereignty between two parties keeping away other nationalistic factions,” he added.
Despite Israel’s stance, US likely to cooperate with Palestinian unity government
Haaretz 19 May by Barak Ravid & Jack Khoury — Despite Israel’s position, the U.S. administration is tending toward cooperating with the soon-to-be-formed Palestinian unity government, even if Hamas as an organization does not accept the conditions of the Mideast Quartet to recognize Israel, honor previous agreements and abandon violence. A senior White House official told Haaretz that as long as the platform of the future government meets the conditions of the Quartet – the United Nations, the United States, the European Union and Russia – the U.S. will be satisfied. “We want a Palestinian government that upholds those principles,” said the White House official. “In terms of how they build this government, we are not able to orchestrate that for the Palestinians. We are not going to be able to engineer every member of this government.”
Israel peace negotiator Livni defends Abbas talks
Jerusalem (AFP) 19 May — Israel’s chief negotiator Tzipi Livni on Monday defended a decision to meet Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas after peace talks collapsed, in a move that drew sharp criticism from ministers. “I would like to remind everyone that the conflict isn’t over,” Justice Minister Tzipi Livni told her HaTnuah party at a weekly meeting, according to a statement. We’re still here and the Palestinians are still here. Our interest is to resolve the conflict, and ignoring reality is not an option,” she said. Livni came under fire for holding talks in London with Abbas on Thursday, with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office and ministers distancing themselves from the meeting, insisting it was private and did not signal official intention to resume talks.
Young leaders continue Middle East peace talks online after negotiations collapse
JERUSALEM (AP) 19 May by Ian Deitch — With the collapse of peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians, hundreds of thousands of young people across the Middle East are talking reconciliation online, a former Israeli peace negotiator and founder of the movement said Monday. Uri Savir, himself an ex-peace negotiator between Israel and the Palestinians and founder of “Yala Young Leaders,” said the size and scope of his group shows that young people in the Middle East want peace. “The peace process continues online,” he said. The Facebook group, which has backing from celebrities including Bill Clinton, Tony Blair and Sharon Stone, has attracted almost 500,000 followers from around the region, including youths in the Palestinian territories, Egypt and Muslim countries that have no relations with Israel. The group will hold an annual virtual peace conference on Sunday that will include video presentations by Nobel Peace laureates Israeli President Shimon Peres and Desmond Tutu as well as senior EU, US and Palestinian officials. Letters written by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and former U.S. President Bill Clinton will be published on the site. [YaLa Academy on Facebook here ]
Dahlan sentenced [in absentia] to 2 years in jail for defamation
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 20 May — A high-ranking official told Ma’an that the Ramallah reconciliation court sentenced former Fatah leader Mohammad Dahlan to two years in prison for libel, slander, and defamation. The source, who requested anonymity, said that Dahlan was charged with defaming legal institutions and state agencies but did not elaborate on the details of the alleged crimes. The source added that Dahlan has 10 days to appeal the ruling, and if he does not it will be carried out. However, Dahlan has been living outside Palestine since 2011 when he was ousted from Fatah.
West Bank villages inaugurate new preschools
ReliefWeb 19 May from American Near East Refugee Aid Four-year old Manal could not believe her eyes when she saw her new preschool. “I couldn’t sleep all night because I was thinking about when I could play with my friends in my new school.” Manal lives in the West Bank village of Beit Mirsim where ANERA recently rebuilt the village preschool. The inauguration ceremony was a colorful celebration for Beit Mirsim and Anab Al Kabir villages which are benefitting from the new facility. Like many remote villages ion the Hebron area, unemployment is rampant and few can afford to pay tuition or transportation fees to send their children to preschool. But that reality has changed since 2010, when ANERA initiated its early childhood development (ECD) program, known as Right Start!, to bring quality preschool education to remote communities like Beit Mirzim and Anab Al Kabir. Thanks to funding from Dubai Cares and support from the Palestinian Ministry of Education, ANERA is establishing kindergarten classes within existing elementary schools across the West Bank.
Settler runners barred from West Bank ‘Peace Run’
JTA 19 May — A group of six Israeli runners reportedly was excluded from the West Bank portion of a regional long-distance run. Dubbed the Peace Run and led by Australian ultra-marathoner Paul Farmer, the course began in Lebanon and wound its way through Israel and the West Bank before ending Monday in Jerusalem. The group of Israeli runners, organized jointly by the Yesha Council, an umbrella settlers’ group, and Regavim, a right-wing legal nonprofit, joined the run as it headed south down Route 60, a West Bank highway. But Regavim’s director, Ari Briggs, told JTA that as soon as the group entered the run, the Palestinian contingent accompanying Farmer fell back and stopped running. After a few miles, according to Briggs, Farmer told one of the Israelis that a delegation from the Palestinian Olympic Committee set to join the run would not come unless the Israelis left. Although Briggs said he hoped participating in the run would highlight the Jewish claim to the West Bank, none of the Israeli runners lived in settlements. The Israeli group stopped running at Farmer’s request. Briggs told JTA he was disappointed that the Palestinians would not run alongside Israelis. “It’s a peace run,” he said. “Let’s run together. I was very disappointed that they weren’t ready to run with us for even a meter.” The Palestinian Olympic Committee has long had a policy of not training jointly with Israelis.
West Bank: Harsher sentences for ‘honor killings’
RAMALLAH (ANSAmed) 20 MAY — Palestinian National Authority (PNA) President Abu Mazen (Mahmoud Abbas) has issued a decree to toughen sentences for those found guilty of so-called ‘honor killings’, an official with the ministry of Palestinian women’s affairs confirmed to ANSA on Tuesday. The decree changed article 98 of the criminal code which provided for a number of extenuating circumstances for honor killings. The move was praised by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights. An upsurge in honor killings was registered in the West Bank and Gaza last year with 25 cases reported.
TIKA opens Turkish school in West Bank
World Bulletin 19 May — The Palestinian Education Ministry on Monday officially inaugurated a Turkish high school for girls in the occupied West Bank’s Ramallah and Al-Bireh provinces in cooperation with the Turkish Cooperation and Coordination Agency (TIKA). Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan participated in an inauguration ceremony via videoconference from Turkey .Erdogan congratulated students on the opening of the school and wished them well in the future.
A challenge to occupation? Pope Francis to visit Palestinian refugees in West Bank
Common Dreams 19 May by Lauren McCauley — On an upcoming trip to the Middle East, Pope Francis is expected to prioritize his visit with Palestinians, including a refugee camp, in a move interpreted by many as a ‘recognition’ of a future Palestinian state. The papal “pilgrimage of prayer” is set to begin in Jordan next Saturday. From there, Francis is expected to take a helicopter directly to Bethlehem before heading to east Jerusalem, both recognized by the international community as part of Palestine. According to Father Jamal Khader of the Latin patriarchate in Jerusalem, the decision to visit Palestine before Israel is “a kind of sign of recognizing Palestine.” While in Bethlehem, the Pope will meet with the leader of the Palestinian Authority, Mahmud Abbas, and then celebrate mass in front of the Church of the Nativity, before visiting a nearby refugee camp, AFP reports. “He will have a lunch with Palestinians, with families suffering from the occupation… then he will visit Dheishe refugee camp to witness the suffering of Palestinian refugees,” Ziyyad Bandak, Abbas’s adviser for Christian affairs, told Voice of Palestine radio. “This visit will help us in supporting our struggle to end the longest occupation in history.”
Israel’s presidential election to be held June 10
Ynet 19 May by Moran Azulay — Seven have declared candidacy, among them MK Reuven Rivlin, who has started campaigning in earnest — Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein announced Monday that the next presidential elections will take place on June 10, putting an end to months of speculation over changes to the system of election, delaying the ballot and even a bid by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to cancel the post.
IDF chief announces freeze in reservists training amid financial crisis
Ynet 19 May by Yoav Zitun — IDF chief of staff breaks silence on IDF’s budget crisis, announces army will halt reservists training because of lack in funding; reservist: History will not forgive us … The IDF claims to be facing an unprecedented financial crisis, and as a result has canceled a number of training operations recently; but the claims have been questioned by the Finance Ministry.
Analysis / Opinion / Entertainment
The Quartet is waiting for Bibi / Akiva Eldar
Haaretz 19 May — Israel, and not only the Palestinians, should honor the ‘Quartet’s conditions.’ — The Quartet died long ago, but the “Quartet’s conditions” remain the three commandments of the “peace process” between Israel and the Palestinians: refraining from violence, recognizing the neighboring country, and accepting the previous commitments and agreements. The U.S. administration is demanding that President Mahmoud Abbas have his new government adopt this holy trinity. The European Union is sticking to it as well. Not content to have the Palestinian government fulfill the conditions, Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman demands that Hamas embrace them as well. Indeed, these conditions are extremely important. So important and universal that it is only right that every peace-loving country honor them. Israel, too. And see, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is the one who made the rule “If they give, they will receive, and if they do not give, they will not receive.” Let us take a look, then, at the extent to which Netanyahu has fulfilled those conditions.
Preventing violence: According to statistics from B’Tselem, about 5,000 Palestinians – among them about 1,000 minors (under the age of 18) – have been killed by Israeli security forces in the territories since the beginning of the second intifada, from September 2000 to 2013. In all these incidents, seven soldiers were convicted of crimes having to do with the deaths of six civilians. From 2005 to 2013, only 8.5 percent of the cases under investigation that were opened by the Judea and Samaria District Police – cases in which Israelis allegedly harmed Palestinians or their property – ended in an indictment…
Recognition of the right to a state: the Quartet’s Road Map of 2003, which was translated that year into a unanimous Security Council resolution, demands that Israel issue “an unequivocal declaration affirming its commitment to the two-state vision of an independent, viable, sovereign Palestinian state living in peace and security alongside Israel …” Neither government led by Netanyahu ever held a discussion on the topic, and in any case neither government made any decision about it. The institutions of Netanyahu’s party never changed their stance, which absolutely negates the establishment of a Palestinian state…
Honoring previous commitments and agreements: In a lecture he gave in Washington last week, Martin Indyk, head of the American negotiating team, condemned the “rampant settlement activity” that Israel engaged in during the nine months of the Kerry peace talks. Indyk did not mention that this activity constitutes a violation of Israel’s commitment to completely freeze construction in the settlements, including construction needed for natural increase. This commitment, together with the promise to dismantle all the outposts that were established after March 2001, is anchored in the Mitchell Report and the Road Map that was approved by the Likud government…
The “rampant” construction in the settlements and the outposts embodies a violation of the Quartet’s three conditions: it leads to violent acts, sabotages the chance of establishing a viable state in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, and is a blatant violation of commitments and agreements. Nevertheless, Abbas recognizes the Netanyahu-Lieberman-Bennett government and is even willing to hold virtual talks with it.
Occu-Partheid. By any name, it’s ruining Israel. Can it be reversed? / Bradley Burston
Haaretz 20 May — We’ve yet to meet the Israeli leader who can dismantle Occu-partheid. But we will. Nothing in the Mideast is permanent. Not even lack of leadership — Let me introduce myself. I know next to nothing about apartheid. I don’t know how it felt to be its victim, how the system worked in practice, the extent to which boycotts brought it down. I can bring little of value to the intense current debate over apartheid, whether or not the word applies to Israel’s relationship to the Palestinians, or may apply soon, or never will. I do, however, know something about occupation. And not only because I spent so much of my life in an IDF uniform, occupying. Southern Lebanon, northern Sinai, Hebron to Abu Dis, Gaza to the Golan – if Israel’s captured it, I’ve occupied it … So here’s the opinion of one veteran occupier who doesn’t want any Israelis to spend any more of their lives occupying another people: It doesn’t matter what you call it. Call it Occu-Partheid, if that will in any way shift the discussion from what to call it, to how to end it. Why do I say this? Because I believe with everything I have seen, that the curse of settlement, the curse of Occu-partheid, is no more permanent than any other. This is what we’ve all seen, pulling into Sinai and south Lebanon and Gaza, and later pulling out: Nothing in the Mideast is irreversible. Nothing in the Mideast is eternal. Nothing in the Mideast is indivisible. It may be that Israelis have grown inured to, or literally walled-off from, the devastating effects of Occu-partheid on millions of Palestinians. But they can feel the costs of Occu-partheid to Israel’s security – the drains on military training, morale, the diversion of tens of thousands of artillery, armor, infantry, even air force soldiers, to Occu-partheid duty for which they are undertrained, underequipped and emotionally unprepared. They know, better by the year, the social welfare costs of diverting affordable housing and allotments for health care, education, and transportation to the settlements. Every day, separation wall or no, Israelis still manage to see how Occupartheid is ruining this place that we love. The ways it drains our resources, saps our hopes, undermines democracy, and fosters violence, corruption, racism, and inequality.
Found in translation: 8 Israeli TV shows with English subtitles
Haaretz 20 May by Adrian Hennigan — If Hebrew is not your thing, there are ways to see these homegrown series in a language you understand, on DVD or via the Web — …“Avodah Aravit”: As well as being a columnist for Haaretz, Sayed Kashua is also the creator of “Avodah Aravit,”(literally, “Arab Labor,” but also a derogatory Hebrew term for “poor work”). What started, six years ago, as a thinly veiled autobiographical look at the travails of an Arab Israeli journalist, has evolved over four seasons into the smartest thing on Israeli television. The series was originally referred to as “the Palestinian ‘Seinfeld,’” but it’s most definitely not a show about nothing. In fact, it’s far closer in spirit to another Larry David creation, “Curb Your Enthusiasm,” especially as the series’ antihero rises inexorably up the social ladder. Watch it: Series 1 of “Arab Labor” is available on U.S. DVD, but all four series can be seen at the Link TV website.