Right-wing minister predicts explosive growth in settler population
Reuters 16 May — The number of Jewish settlers in the West Bank could grow by as much as 50 percent by 2019, Israel’s ultra-nationalist construction minister said on Friday … Construction and Housing Minister Uri Ariel, a member of the hard-line Bayit Yehudi party in Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s conservative coalition government, said the negotiations on Palestinian statehood were in their “dying throes” and predicted the settler population would spiral. “I think that in five years there will be 550,000 or 600,000 Jews in Judea and Samaria, rather than 400,000 (now),” he told Tel Aviv radio station 102 FM, using a biblical term for the West Bank, which many Israelis see as a religious birthright and security bulwark.
‘I can coexist with Israelis but only when I return home,’ says Nakba survivor
MAGHAZI REFUGEE CAMP (Electronic Intifada) 15 May by Rami Almeghari — “Our life was great. We lived in peace, working in our own lands,” Um al-Walid Eid says of Zarnuqa village before the 1948 ethnic cleansing of Palestine — “Kadima!” — a Hebrew word meaning “advance quickly” — is one of the words that Um al-Walid Eid still remembers from the day she, her husband and their two small children, along with the approximately 2,600 other Palestinian inhabitants, were forcibly expelled from the village of Zarnuqa. Beginning in late 1947 and throughout 1948, Zionist militias and later the Israeli army began the organized expulsion of Palestinians. Some 750,000 Palestinians fled or were expelled from more than 450 from villages, towns and cities in Palestine; the violent dispossession has since been called the Nakba. This catastrophe is marked each year on 15 May — Nakba Day. The expulsion of the residents of Zarnuqa in June 1948, by the Israeli army’s Givati Brigade, was part of “Operation Barak.” Today Um al-Walid and her husband Abu al-Walid Muhammad Eid, both in their eighties, live in the Maghazi refugee camp in the occupied Gaza Strip, where they still carry many memories of their expulsion and their life before it. “I remember that day well. I was so frightened that I forgot to pick up my son, Walid, who was only ten days old and wrapped in swaddling clothes. My sister helped me by picking him up and we all headed for Gaza to begin living far away from our homes, farms and lives. As we left, one of the Jewish militia members shouted at us ‘Kadima!’” Um al-Walid is now in frail health and spoke from her bed from which she can only move with difficulty. She recalled some of the horrors perpetrated by the invaders
‘We’re exhausted from being homeless’: recalling the Palestinians’ plight on Nakba Day
BEIRUT (Electronic Intifada) 15 May by Moe Ali Nayel — “We walked and walked and walked for days until we finally settled on the beach of Damour,” said 80-year-old Um Zohair. “On the beach we fetched green banana leaves together and with bamboo sticks we made a hut that sheltered us for three months on the sand.” Sixty-six years ago, Um Zohair — Nada Mousa — was one of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians ethnically cleansed from their homeland, Palestine. “That was the first time we were displaced,” she said. Since the ethnic cleansing of Palestine in 1948, a series of upheavals and struggles has marked Palestinian refugees’ nomadic life in exile. A new chapter in this history of dispossession has been added by the violence against Palestinian refugees in Syria. “Palestinians from Syria are living in sewers. Come and look,” Um Zohair told me. Recently while I was on a visit to Shatila refugee camp in Beirut, I was told about Um Zohair’s family and the conditions they endure.
Palestinian couple celebrates wedding day in pre-Nakba village
[with photos] BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 16 May — He stepped into the village of his great-grandfathers for the first time in his life on his wedding day, the 66th anniversary of the 1948 Palestinian Nakba. Imad al-Din Younis Rumman insisted on taking his bride, Rana Assi, in her white wedding dress to the village of Suba that his great-grandfathers were expelled from more than six decades before by Zionist militias. Rumman, however, does not have a permit to enter Jerusalem. Luckily for him, however, when the Israeli soldiers saw him in a groom’s tuxedo with his bride in her white dress sitting beside him in a car with an Israeli plate that they borrowed, they did not bother to search for permits. From the checkpoint, the soon-to-be newlyweds passed easily on to Suba, a village to the west of Jerusalem near al-Qastal. Once famous for its nearby crusader castle, today the village is just a hill with a few destroyed houses, overrun with grass and wildflowers, overlooking a nearby Jewish planned town. The couple stood in the village between the few decrepit homes, where Imad told his bride the stories he had grown up hearing about the village growing up. They both could not help but let tears down, especially as the bride recounted the tales of her family’s own “displaced” village, Deir Tarif, which she has never been to. Rumman told Ma‘an that he is proud of what he had done to reach Suba, for the trip was a dream come true. Despite all this sadness, he said, he still hopes to return to Suba one day to rebuilt his father’s old house and to work on his land. Rumman promised his bride that the next visit to the village would be with their future son or daughter, who they agreed would carry the name of the village. [See here for more about Suba, with many photos – and here for Deir Tarif.]
PHOTOS: Nakba commemorations from Gaza to the Galilee
Activestills 16 May Photos by: Ahmad Al-Bazz, Mustafa Bader, Keren Manor, Ryan Rodrick Beiler, Yotam Ronen, Omar Sameer, and Oren Ziv
Photos of the week: Prisoner solidarity and Nakba memory
Activestills 16 May This week: Prisoner solidarity, Nakba commemoration, Bedouin steadfastness, Gaza border shootings, asylum seeker struggles, price tag profanity, slut walk exposure, and draft refuser support
WATCH: Palestinian, Jewish students commemorate Nakba at Tel Aviv University
Israeli Social TV 15 May — Approximately 300 students marked Nakba Day on Sunday with a commemoration ceremony at Tel Aviv University. Palestinian students read testimonies of those who fled their homes or were expelled by Israeli forces during the 1948 War. A noisy counter-protest by students affiliated with the nationalist Im Tirzu group took place opposite the ceremony.
On Nakba Day, Israelis forced to confront a guilty secret
Mondoweiss 15 May by Jonathan Cook — For 66 years Israel’s founding generation has lived with a guilty secret, one it successfully concealed from the generations that followed. Forests were planted to hide war crimes. School textbooks mythologised the events surrounding Israel’s creation. The army was blindly venerated as the most moral in the world. Once, “Nakba” – Arabic for “Catastrophe”, referring to the dispossession of the Palestinian homeland in 1948 – would have failed to register with any but a small number of Israeli Jews. Today, only those who never watch television or read a newspaper can plead ignorance. As marches and festivals are held today by Palestinians across the region to mark Nakba Day – commemorating the expulsion of 750,000 Palestinians from their homes and the erasure of more than 500 villages – Israelis will be watching. In fact, the Israeli media have been filled with references to the Nakba for the past 10 days, since Israel celebrated its Independence Day last week. The two anniversaries do not quite coincide because Israel marks its founding according to the Hebrew calendar. While Israeli Jews were trying to enjoy guilt-free street parties last week, news reports focused on the activities of their compatriots – the Palestinians who remained inside the new state of Israel and now comprise a fifth of the population. Estimates are that one in four of these 1.5 million Palestinian citizens is from a family internally displaced by the 1948 war.
Retracing the Nakba in West Jerusalem’s al-Malha
[with photos] BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 16 May by Alex Shams– Towering above the gargantuan Jerusalem Mall and the repetitive, non-descript homes of the Malha (or Manahat) suburb of West Jerusalem is a curious sight — a large minaret from which the call to prayer never rings forth. To the south of the mall are the hills of the central West Bank, dotted by Jewish-only settlements and a few Palestinian villages surrounded by the Israeli separation wall, tucked away from the view of those below. But this minaret sits squarely in West Jerusalem, in what is internationally recognized as the state of Israel. The minaret belongs to the mosque of the once-thriving Palestinian village of al-Malha, a Jerusalem suburb that was once home to more than 2,000. Their descendants, today numbering more than 10,000, live as refugees across the West Bank, their ancestors having fallen victim to the ethnic cleansing of West Jerusalem Palestinians in the Nakba of 1948. The minaret of the now non-functioning village mosque, however, is forever visible from across the valley, a perpetual reminder of the lives destroyed by the 1948 “catastrophe” that laid the foundations for the Jewish-majority state. In the years following the Nakba, Israeli authorities made a concerted effort to wipe out the traces of the more than 400 Palestinian villages that were ethnically cleansed in the months before and after Israel declared independence. Not all Palestinian villages suffered the same fate, however, as those located close to what-became primarily Jewish urban centers — like West Jerusalem, Haifa, and Tel Aviv — were often given over for temporary housing for Jews immigrating from Middle Eastern countries … High above the Refaim Valley, al-Malha was once part of a network of Palestinian villages in the area that extended from Battir in the west and along to al-Walaja and Katamon. The valley famously hosts a segment of the Hijaz railway, which once connected Damascus to the holy city of Medina. The al-Malha railway station still stands in the valley and continues on to Battir and points further southwest, passing in view of the Palestinian villagers residing nearby who are forbidden from approaching the tracks.
UN photo archive tells story of Palestinian exodus
AP 16 May — In bid to preserve documentation of Palestinian ‘Nakba’ refugees, UN aid agency has digitized thousands of photos in organization’s archive — A 1975 photo shows Palestinian refugee Fathiyeh Sattari, her eyes wide with worry, as she presents her malnourished baby boy to a doctor at a clinic run by a UN aid agency. The photo is one of 525,000 in the agency’s archive being digitized to preserve a record of one of the world’s most entrenched refugee problems, created in what the Palestinians call the “Nakba,” or “catastrophe” in Arabic — their uprooting in the 1948 Independence War over Israel’s creation. The mother and son of the 1975 photo are part of a family that is now in its fourth generation as refugees. Sattari’s parents fled their home in what is now Israel in 1948. Fathiyeh was born in the Gaza Strip and raised her own family in the Rafah refugee camp. Her son Hassan — the baby with the gaunt face in the photo — is now a 40-year-old father of five, living in another camp … From the start, the UN agency documented the exodus, accumulating more than 430,000 negatives, 10,000 prints, 85,000 slides, 75 films and 730 video cassettes. In 2009, the UN cultural agency UNESCO inscribed the archive in its Memory of the World list, recognizing its historic value.
Israel can’t erase the Nakba from history
Haaretz 15 May by Saeb Erekat — Today is the anniversary of what we Palestinians refer to as the Nakba, our catastrophe – although a single word cannot begin to explain it, and a single day cannot begin to commemorate it. More than ever before, Israel needs come to terms with the horrors it has caused since 1948, by ending its subjugation of millions rather than intensifying its denial and trying to legitimize its persecution. Peace can only come through justice and reconciliation. This day, in 1948, marks the forced exile of over 750,000 Palestinians from their homes and lands. Some were subjected to brutal massacres, many fled for fear of their lives. A few managed to stay in what would become Israel. All suffered. Sixty-six years later, all continue to suffer. The Nakba is a story of fear and intimidation, of denial and persecution, a cruel, unending reality. Today in occupied East Jerusalem, Palestinian families are evicted from their homes due to claims that their property belonged to Jews before 1948, while being forbidden from returning to their pre-1948 homes in West Jerusalem.
Violence / Raids / Attacks / Clashes / Illegal arrests
Two Palestinian teens killed at Nakba Day protest in West Bank
Haaretz 15 May by Jack Khoury, Chaim Levinson, Nir Hasson & Gili Cohen — Two Palestinians were shot dead by Border Police at a Nakba protest outside the Ofer Military Prison near Ramallah, Palestinian sources reported Thursday. Hospital officials said Muhammad Abu Thahr, 15, and Nadim Nuwara, 17, were both shot in the chest outside Israel’s Ofer Prison near the Palestinian city of Ramallah in the occupied West Bank. According to the sources, they were shot with live ammunition. Three youths were hospitalized with bullet wounds, medical sources in Ramallah reported. One had a chest wound and was operated on immediately. The other two were wounded in their limbs. The Israeli military said that rubber bullets, stun grenades and tear gas – but not live ammunition – were used at the site of the incident. The Israel Defense Forces has launched an investigation…
A 66-second siren marking 66 years since the Nakba sounded in Ramallah, where Palestinians marched from the tomb of Yasser Arafat to Al Manara Square in the city’s downtown district. Palestinian security sources told Haaretz that the leadership would be examining the continuation of security coordination with Israel in the light of Thursday’s events, including the use of live ammunition against non-violent protestors. General Adnan Admiri, spokesman for the Palestinian security apparatus, attributed the violence to Israel’s desire for revenge following the reconciliation between the Fatah and Hamas Palestinian factions. “Israel wants to destroy any prospect of Palestinian unity,” Admiri told Haaretz. “The shots fired at the youths represented the mercy killing of the peace process.
Thousands bury youths slain by Israel on Nakba Day
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 16 May — Thousands of Palestinians turned out on Friday to bury two youths killed by Israeli soldiers a day earlier during protests to commemorate the 66th anniversary of the Nakba, or “catastrophe,” of the expulsion of 750,000 Palestinians in 1948. The bodies of Nadim Siyam Nuwara, 15, and Muhammad Audah Abu al-Thahir, 17, were brought to their final resting place in the villages of Abu Shukheidim and al-Mazraa al-Qibliya in the hills north of Ramallah. The two youths were shot directly in the chest while protesting near Israel’s Ofer prison, located in the central West Bank near Ramallah. The funeral ceremony for the pair was held in the Petrol neighborhood between the two villages, where thousands prayed beside their bodies. The funeral march began at the Palestine Medical Complex where the two were pronounced dead by medical officials the day before. Thousands attended the march waving flags for both Hamas and Fatah, the two largest Palestinian political parties, and calling for “revenge for the blood of the martyrs.”… Earlier reports gave older ages for the slain protesters, but Dr. Samir Saliba, head of the emergency department at Ramallah Hospital, told AP on Thursday evening that the two were younger than earlier reported. Israel has killed over 60 Palestinians since last July.
Press release: Israeli forces display recklessness in killing of two protesters in West Bank
Amnesty International 15 May — Israeli forces have displayed continuing recklessness in their use of force against Palestinian protesters when they killed a young man and a teenager, and injured others, during a crackdown on demonstrations to commemorate the Nakba in the occupied West Bank today … The Israeli army and border police used excessive, including lethal, force in response to rock-throwing protesters who could not have posed a threat to the lives of the soldiers and policemen in or near the fortified military camp. “The news that two Palestinians were killed during today’s demonstrations is alarming. Israeli forces have repeatedly resorted to extreme violence to respond to Palestinian protests against Israel’s occupation, discriminatory policies, confiscation of land and construction of unlawful settlements. The use of unnecessary and excessive force by Israeli forces against protesters in the occupied Palestinian territories, and in Israel, is unacceptable and must be stopped immediately,” said Philip Luther, Director of the Middle East and North Africa Programme at Amnesty International.
Palestinian man ‘dies of heart attack’ after Israeli forces raid home
HEBRON (Ma‘an) 17 May — An elderly Palestinian man died of a heart attack early Saturday after Israeli forces raided his home in the southern West Bank, locals said. Witnesses told Ma‘an that 70-year-old Abd al-Salam Ata Ubeido died of a heart attack following a heated argument with Israeli soldiers, who raided his house in Hebron to summon his son for interrogation. Ubeido had the heart attack after soldiers left his home, locals told Ma‘an. He died in an ambulance on the way to the hospital.
15 Palestinians injured in East Jerusalem clashes
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 16 May — Over 15 Palestinians were injured on Friday during clashes in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Issawiya, medics said. Medics told Ma’an that 11 people were lightly injured by rubber-coated steel bullets, while another four suffered moderate injures, including two people shot in the head. Tamar Obeid, 17, was detained during the clashes. Israeli forces fired tear gas canisters and stun grenades at the entrance to the East Jerusalem neighborhood after locals organized a demonstration to protest the killing of two Palestinian youths during a Nakba Day rally on Thursday. In Silwan, a local community center said undercover Israeli forces detained 10-year-old Said Abu Nab and teenagers Muhammad and Fayez al-Abbasi, without providing further details. Clashes were also reported in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of ‘Anata. There were no reports of injuries.
The arrest of Msallam Mousa Odeh from his house
Silwan, Jerusalem (SILWANIC) 14 May — The Israeli forces arrested on Wednesday morning the 14-year old child Msallam Mousa Odeh after raiding his house in the neighbourhood of Al-Bustan in Silwan. Wadi Hilweh Information Center was informed that an Israeli force surrounded the family house and broke in in the early morning hours and arrested their son, Msallam, after searching the house and confiscating one of his shirts. Msallam’s father explained that the Israeli Intelligence requested him to go to Al-Maskobyeh at 8:00 a.m. to attend his son’s interrogation.It is noteworthy that this is the 14th time Msallam gets arrested and the first arrest was back when he was only 9 years old. [Ma‘an: Meanwhile, locals told Ma‘an another young man was detained from Al-Aqsa compound, identifying him as Muhammad Odeh.]
Police protecting settlers storm Al-Aqsa Mosque, arrest two
JERUSALEM (WAFA) 14 May – Israeli special police along with settlers Wednesday stormed the yards of al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem, as well as arrested two brothers for trying to prevent settlers from roaming in its yards to perform their Talmudic and religious rituals, according to local and media sources. WAFA correspondent said more than 90 policemen and 40 settlers stormed the mosque to perform rituals, provoking worshipers who chanted religious slogans in protest of the entrance of the settlers to the holy site. Police imposed tight security at the gates to the mosque and arrested two brothers in the aftermath. They were led to an interrogation outpost in the city
Israeli forces detain 8 Palestinians in East Jerusalem
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 16 May — Israeli forces detained eight Palestinians in East Jerusalem’s Old City on Friday. Six men were detained as they left the al-Aqsa mosque compound for allegedly throwing stones and firecrackers at Israeli police near the Moroccan Gate. They were taken to a police station near the Lion’s Gate, where they were assaulted and then transferred to another police station, a Ma‘an reporter said. One of the detainees was identified as Amjad Arafeh, a journalist. Earlier, Al-Quds newspaper photographer Rami Alariya was briefly detained for two hours near the Old City and released on condition that he does not enter the area for 24 hours.
Israeli forces arrest 11 people, including 5 minors, in West Bank areas
RAMALLAH (WAFA) 15 May — Israeli forces arrested on Thursday 11 Palestinians from across the West Bank, according to local and security sources. Forces stormed al-Fawwar and al-‘Arroub camps, located respectively to the south and north of Hebron, where they arrested three Palestinians aged between 18 and 22 years and a 14-year-old minor after breaking into and searching their families’ houses. They also stormed Deir Samit, a town located to the southwest of Hebron, where they handed a person a notice to appear before intelligence. Meanwhile, forces stormed Balatah camp and Burqa, located respectively to the east and west of Nablus, where they arrested three Palestinians in their twenties after breaking into, searching and wrecking havoc into their families’ houses. Meanwhile, forces stormed ‘Azzoun, located to the west of Qalqilya, where they arrested four minors aged between 14 and 17 years.
Two Israeli journalists attacked in West Bank clashes
Haaretz 16 May by Gili Cohen — Two Israeli journalists were attacked near Beitunia in the West Bank on Friday, and were rescued by Palestinian security services. The two journalists were reporting on clashes between Palestinians protesters and IDF forces that took place during the funerals of two teenagers who were killed by IDF forces on Thursday during protests to mark Nakba Day. Some 150 Palestinians gathered in the area and one Palestinian was wounded by a rubber bullet the clashes. The IDF said that protesters threw stones and set tires alight. IDF forces in the area used stun grenades and tear-gas grenades on protesters, the military said. The journalists said that at some point during the clashes, they were attacked by dozens of Palestinian youths. The two were transferred by Palestinian security forces to security coordination officers of the Civil Administration. The Israeli military spokesman said that the two suffered light injuries. One of the journalists is Avi Issacharoff , Arab affairs analyst for the Walla website, and also for the Times of Israel. He tweeted: “Was attacked and beaten by Palestinian mob. Near Ramallah. Just because I’m an Israeli journalist.” Following the incident, Yoav Mordechai, the security coordinator in the territories spoke with Majid Faraj, head of Palestinian general intelligence, and said that it was further proof of the importance of coordination between the two sides.
Probe into murder of woman in suspected terror attack hits impasse
Haaretz 15 May by Yaniv Kubovich, Eli Ashkenazi & Jack Khoury — Arab public figure says Israel’s public security minister should apologize to the Arab community after ‘turning them all into murder suspects.’ — The investigation by the police and Shin Bet security service into the murder of a 20-year-old woman two weeks ago has run into significant difficulties, sources say. On May 1, Shelly Dadon was found stabbed to death in Migdal Ha’emek in the north after leaving her home in Afula for a job interview and never arriving. A gag order has been imposed on the probe until the end of the month, and Judge Dalit Sharon-Green of the Nazareth Magistrate’s Court rejected a request from Haaretz Thursday to lift the order at least partially. Earlier this month Public Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch said there had been a “dramatic development” in the investigation but gave no details. The police and Shin Bet told Haaretz there is still no clear indication of a nationalist motive; both directions — criminal and nationalist — are being investigated equally.
UN decries rising violence against Palestinian women
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 16 May — The UN organization for women on Friday decried rising rates of violence against women in the occupied Palestinian territories after a woman was slain this week, raising the year’s total so far to 14. UN Women in Palestine said in a statement that they were “seriously concerned” about the killing, highlighting that the “worrying increase in the rate of femicide, from 13 in 2012 to 28 in 2013, demonstrates a widespread sense of impunity in killing women.” Femicide usually refers to violence perpetrated by partners or relatives of a woman, encompassing primarily lethal forms of domestic violence. “The Palestinian Government has demonstrated a political will to end violence against women through the adoption of a zero-tolerance policy on violence against women,” the statement said, but it urged that this “political will must be translated into urgent concrete action.”
Land, property theft & destruction / Ethnic cleansing / Restriction of movement
Press release: Masafer Yatta: Israeli military training damages Palestinian harvest
AT-TUWANI (Operation Dove) 14 May — Despite the mediation process, the Israeli army continues to train on private Palestinian property — On May 12 and 13, Israeli military training took place on a Palestinian-owned fields, close to the Palestinian villages of Jinba and Al Mirkez, in Masafer Yatta. On May 12, from around 3.00 pm to 4.30 pm three army tanks went out of the near Israeli military base in order to train inside Palestinian owned fields, damaging the harvest. Around 5 pm, four military tanks reentered Palestinian owned fields in order to start training once again, but when one of the tanks tried to enter a field that was still undamaged, several Palestinians stopped it by standing in front of it. At this point the soldiers returned inside the military base. On May 13, the training was still taking place in the same fields of the day before and also in other undamaged ones … Palestinian people tried to prevent the military operations but, anyway, the tanks heavily damaged the fields, most of the time intentionally increasing the damage through unusual operation. In the closest hills and fields many other Israeli soldiers trained themselves using weapons. As for the legal issue regarding the South Hebron Hills area denominated Firing Zone 918 by the Israeli army, the time period given by the Civil Administration of the Occupied Territories to national and international organizations to access the area, as well as to rehabilitate the roads inside of it, will expire on the 15th of May. During the trial the Israeli High Court of Justice’s magistrates stated a mediation between the State and more than one thousand Palestinians who risk to be expelled from their homes and properties. By this decision the magistrates are trying to end the legal battle begun 15 years ago. Also by the mediation process the Palestinian residents reiterated their right to stay and live in their lands in Masafer Yatta. Pictures of the incident: Click here
Israeli municipality demolishes Palestinian-owned workshop in Jerusalem
JERUSALEM (WAFA) 14 May — The Israeli municipality of West Jerusalem demolished on Wednesday an aluminum workshop in the neighborhood of Ras Alamud in Jerusalem, under the pretext of being built without a permit, according to the shop owner. Mohammad Jaber, the owner, told WAFA the demolished 100-meter-square workshop was established almost 10 years ago, and is considered the only source of living for four families. He also added that he had paid more than $US 8000 in fees to lawyers in an attempt to delay the demolition of his shop in order to appeal against the demolition order in courts. To be noted, WAFA correspondent said further demolitions are underway in other areas in Jerusalem, including Sha‘fat, Beit Hanina and Jabal al-Mukabber.
Israeli municipality demolishes home in Jerusalem
JERUSALEM (WAFA) 14 May — The Israeli municipality of West Jerusalem Wednesday demolished a Palestinian-owned home in the neighborhood of Jabal al-Mukabber, in East Jerusalem, under the pretext of building without a permit, leaving a family of 10 homeless for the second time, said the owner. Owner Mohammad Shuqairat said forces demolished his 140-meter-square home, made of tinplate and blocks, displacing him and his family. He said forces prevented them from evacuating the house contents before demolishing it. Shuqairat said this is the second time forces demolish his home; forces a few years ago demolished his home under the same pretext. He added that he has been trying without success to obtain a building permit from the Israeli municipality.
Unapproved construction at West Bank dig site
Haaretz 14 May by Nir Hasson — Archaeologists say new buildings at Tel Shiloh designed to strengthen local settlements, damage antiquities — The Mateh Binyamin Regional Council has commenced construction at the archaeological site of Tel Shiloh, despite the fact that building plans there have not yet been approved. The local council claims that work at the site is legitimate since it is conducted according to an existing plan. Nevertheless it ordered a stop to construction after archaeologists, strongly opposed to the plan, threatened to lodge a complaint. Tel Shiloh is one of the most important ancient sites in Judea and Samaria. Tradition has it that the Ark of the Covenant was placed there before being transported to Jerusalem. Excavations have discovered multiple layers, dating back to the Bronze and Iron ages, as well as the classical, Byzantine and Muslim periods. The site is managed and developed by the Mateh Binyamin Regional Council … “The proposed plan will cause irreparable damage to the character of the site and its antiquities,” says archaeologist Yoni Mizrahi of the “Emek Shaveh” organization of archaeologist and community activists, which is trying to use archeology as a bridge between Israelis and Palestinians. “It would be inconceivable to build a hotel, an amphitheater, a boutique workshop and a tower at such a site within the Green Line.
Army orders construction of homes to stop
NABLUS (WAFA) 14 May — The Israeli authorities Wednesday delivered seven orders to stop the construction work on Palestinian-owned homes to residents of Bardala, a village northeast of the West Bank, according to an activist. Aref Daraghmeh, head of the al-Maleh local council said that the Israeli authorities handed Palestinian families seven notices to stop the construction work on their homes located west of the village.
Settlers destroy 58 trees in orchard near Bethlehem
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 16 May — Jewish settlers reportedly raided an orchard west of Bethlehem belonging to a Palestinian man and destroyed 58 trees early Friday morning, the victim said. Raji Abd al-Aziz Sabateen told Ma‘an that when he went to his field outside the village of Husan Friday morning he found that 58 trees had been mangled and torn apart. Sabateen said that this is not the first time that Israelis from the nearby Jewish-only settlement of Betar Illit have attacked his orchard. The orchard is located directly alongside the settlement, which was built on land belonging to the village that was confiscated by Israeli authorities. Betar Illit sits wedged between Husan and a number of other Palestinian villages, and the fences and checkpoints that have been erected by the Israeli military around it cause major headaches for local residents. Attacks on Palestinian orchards, meanwhile, are extremely common, as many settlers seek to expand their Jewish-only communities into nearby areas.
Husan is located in the seam zone, a quasi-militarized zone within the West Bank but on the Israeli side of the separation wall. Villages within the seam zone experience severe restrictions on their movements, as they are completely surrounded by areas under Israeli control and cut off from other Palestinians, and Israeli forces require them to obtain permits in order to travel. According to the UN, Around 7,500 Palestinians who reside in the Seam Zone require special permits to continue living in their own homes; another 23,000 will be isolated upon the wall’s completion.
Police using drones to track West Bank hate crime perpetrators
Haaretz 16 May by Chaim Levinson — Court documents in case of Eli resident charged with torching Palestinians’ olive trees reveal UAV use — Police in the West Bank are using drone aircraft to monitor potential perpetrators of hate crimes against Arabs, according to documents recently submitted in court. A year ago, a special unit was established in the Shai District Police, which is responsible for the West Bank, to deal with hate crimes carried out by Jewish extremists against Palestinians as well as Israeli soldiers and police officers. These crimes are widely referred to as “price tag” attacks, since their goal is to “exact a price” for any government move against the settlements. The unit was given 80 police officers and a large budget. And it now turns out it was also given equipment, such as unmanned aerial vehicles, that no other unit of the Israel Police has and that even the army uses sparingly. On March 30, Harel Koren, 30, of the settlement of Eli, was apprehended in the act of chopping down olive trees belonging to the nearby Palestinian village of Karyut … Documents submitted to the court revealed that police were monitoring Koren for hours before they caught him, after receiving intelligence information indicating that he was planning a crime. They used a drone, which transmitted images in real time to unit headquarters in Ma’aleh Adumim. One of the documents – a memorandum written by Nir Seroussi, a Shai District intelligence officer – describes how the process worked:
Army bases causing pollution in West Bank
Haaretz 16 May by Zafrir Rinat — Sewage from 58 bases flows directly into environment or into cesspools, where it is liable to contaminate groundwater — More than half of all army installations over the Green Line pollute the environment with sewage that does not reach a treatment plant, according to information the army has given to the ecological group Green Now. The army provided this information in response to Green Now’s petition to the High Court of Justice asking that the army deal with the sewage pollution it creates. The High Court of Justice decided to dismiss the petition this week, after government representatives told the court that sewage treatment had begun in the Beit El region.
Israel denies sovereignty deal with Vatican on holy site
Vatican City (AFP) 14 May — Israel said it had “no intention” of giving the Vatican sovereignty over a sensitive holy site in Jerusalem, following protests by ultra-Orthodox Jews ahead of Pope Francis’s visit this month. “Contrary to rumours in Israel, there is no intention to transfer to the Vatican sovereignty or ownership on the Tomb of David or the Cenacle,” Israel’s ambassador to the Vatican, Zion Evrony, said in a speech obtained on Wednesday. The Cenacle is the reputed scene of Jesus’s last supper, and the pope is planning to hold a mass on the site on Mount Zion near the walls of the Old City. Jews revere the site as the tomb of Kind David, which is on the ground floor of the same building. It is also important for Muslims. The site is currently part of long-running negotiations over Holy Land property between Israel and the Vatican, which hopes to be given the right to use the site. Hundreds of ultra-Orthodox Jews on Monday held a protest near the site, demanding that Israel retain sovereignty. They are also planning another demonstration on May 22 — just three days before Pope Francis arrives … Israeli President Shimon Peres told an Italian newspaper during a visit to the Vatican last year that a compromise had been reached on the Cenacle, and that “99 percent” of the issues concerning the site had been addressed.
Israel bans Raed Salah from entering West Bank
World Bulletin 15 May — Israeli authorities have banned leader of the Islamic Movement in Israel Raed Salah from entering the West Bank for four months. Under the Israeli ban, Salah would not be able to go to the occupied territory before September 14, the Islamic Movement said on its website. Israeli authorities claimed Salah’s presence in the West Bank “poses threat to Israel’s security and foments anti-Israel sentiments,” according to the movement. Salah is a vocal critic of Israeli settlement building in the West Bank and Al-Quds (occupied East Jerusalem) as well as Israeli violations against the Al-Aqsa Mosque.
Evacuation of outposts
Last illegal structure in Givat Assaf outpost demolished
Ynet 16 May by Itay Blumental & Yoav Zitun — Current wave of outpost demolitions comes to an end … Two days after the demolition of eight illegal structures in the Maale Rehavam outpost near Nokdim, bulldozers, protected by the police’s Yasam unit, arrived Friday at the Givat Assaf outpost near Beit El to demolish another illegal structure. Intense negotiations took place in recent days between four of the outpost’s residents and the Israeli Civil Administration. The latter demanded the settlers to willingly evacuate structures built on private Palestinian land … Israel committed to evacuate the Givat Assaf outpost at the end of 2011, after an inquiry found that it was built on private Palestinian land. Over the weeks that followed, the state approved several of the settlers’ building tenders in different plots in the outpost, and asked the High Court of Justice for extra time to examine whether some of the construction in the outpost could be legalized. There are several structures left in Givat Assaf that remain under dispute, and their future hangs on a High Court of Justice hearing in June.
Despite destruction, Ma’ale Rehavam residents remain hopeful
Ynet 15 May by Anav Silverman, Tazpit News Agency — Moriya Kaniel and her three children were among three Israeli families who were ordered to evacuate their homes in Ma’ale Rehavam because of a court-ordered home demolition operation carried out by Israeli security forces on Wednesday … The Kaniel family, like the other two families whose homes were demolished in Ma’ale Rehavam, will remain in the hilltop community. Moriya and her children are currently staying with family friends in Ma’ale Rehavam. “People here are very supportive and are helping us out,” she said. Kaniel hopes to rebuild a new home in Ma’ale Rehavam. “I believe it’s the right thing to stay here, in our land of Israel. Once we start rebuilding our home again, things will get easier.”
Nahal soldiers suspended over Facebook protest: ‘We don’t evacuate Jews’
Ynet 15 May by Yoav Zitun — IDF soldiers, who posted photos of themselves holding signs against the evacuation of illegal outposts, were suspended Thursday from their battalion. Two soldiers from the 50th Battalion of the Nahal Brigade were suspended mere hours after they uploaded a photo to their Facebook page of a sign with the message “Soldiers from the 50th Battalion and the Nahal Brigade don’t evacuate Jews,” placed next to green berets worn by the brigade’s soldiers. The two were summoned for a hearing on the incident with Brigade Commander, Col. Yehuda Fuchs, which could lead to their imprisonment in military jail. Officers in the brigade and the battalion spent the day Thursday questioning soldiers in an attempt to track down those behind the initiative that, unlike the one to support “David the Nahlawi,” did not go viral. It did, however, lead soldiers from other units to also post Facebook photos with similar messages. [Haaretz : Two soldiers were dismissed from an IDF battalion Thursday after admitting they had posted pictures on Facebook calling for insubordination.]
Gaza under dual blockades
News video: Gazans mark Nakba Day anniversary
Press TV by Hala Alsafadi — Gazans held a rally to the Israeli controlled Erez crossing to mark the Nakba Day. The crossing is the closest point to the refugees’ homeland.The day marks events that took place in May 15th 1948 when hundreds of thousands of Palestinians were exiled or fled from their lands in historic Palestine. That day 66 years ago marked the beginning of the largest refugee crises in the world. Marches in both the blockaded Gaza and the West Bank took place with the participation of thousands of Palestinians. The demonstrators vowed not to give up on their right of return to their homeland
Israeli army infiltrate Gaza borders
GAZA (WAFA) 14 May — Israeli army vehicles Wednesday infiltrated the eastern borders of Gaza amid opening heavy gunfire towards residential homes, reported media sources. WAFA correspondent said six armored tanks and two bulldozers infiltrated Gaza borders and went nearly 200 hundred meters into an agricultural area to the east of Gaza while opening gunfire and razing agricultural land, with reconnaissance aircrafts flying over the area
Hamas clears out of Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas’ Gaza home as unity efforts continue
GAZA CITY (AP) 14 May by Karin Laub — Hamas on Wednesday cleared out of the private Gaza residence of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, in the most concrete sign yet that the rivals are moving toward reconciliation. The Islamic militant Hamas took over the residence when it seized Gaza from the Western-backed Abbas in 2007, leaving him with only parts of the West Bank. Since then, the rivals have become entrenched in their respective territories, setting up separate governments … On Wednesday, Hamas security forces removed belongings from the Abbas villa in Gaza City. They loaded mattresses, desks and chairs onto pickup trucks and drove out of the gated compound. The security forces, which had used the compound as a base, barred camera crews and photographers from filming or taking pictures as the items were driven away, but later allowed them into several rooms on the ground floor … Iyad Al Bozum, a spokesman for the Interior Ministry in Gaza, confirmed that security forces cleared their belongings from the residence, but that a formal handover of the villa requires another government decision. “Our presence there during the past seven years was to protect the place,” he said.
Aid convoy to arrive in Gaza Sunday
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 15 May – A humanitarian aid convoy is scheduled to arrive in the besieged Gaza Strip Sunday via Egypt’s Rafah crossing, coordinator Issam Yousuf said Thursday. More than 20 solidarity activists from Jordan will accompany the convoy known as “Miles of Smiles 27/Ansar 5.” The convoy adopted a slogan of national unity as its arrival coincides with a unity agreement signed between Hamas and Fatah. Yousuf highlighted that the convoy was a continuation of the “Miles of Smiles” humanitarian aid mission to Gaza, “which will continue until the oppressive siege comes to an end.”
Egypt-led Arab body to rebuild security in Gaza
WorldBulletin 16 May — An Arab committee led by Egypt will oversee the rebuilding of security apparatus in the Gaza Strip and the occupied West Bank following the formation of the national unity government, Gaza Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh said on Thursday. “We have agreed on all details in the security file, including dates, the national security mindset, the restructuring of security agencies, and banning security cooperation with Israel,” Haniyeh added during a graduation ceremony at the police academy in Gaza .. Haniyeh said his movement, Hamas, would not allow any security deterioration to take place in the Palestinian territories after the reconciliation deal it signed with Fatah “under any conditions.” He added that his government succeeded in bringing security back to Gaza by rebuilding security agencies and depending on “honest” security personnel.
Hamas tones down Brotherhood links to improve Egypt ties
Al-Monitor 13 May by Adnan Abu Amer — Hamas is positioning itself to welcome Abdel Fattah al-Sisi as Egypt’s likely next president, hoping it will result in an improvement in relations — The preparations for the presidential elections in Egypt do not seem to be merely an internal Egyptian matter. The Palestinians are also closely following them, and Hamas in particular, knowing full well that the election’s results will affect the relationship between Egypt and Hamas.Al-Monitor has learned that a general atmosphere has prevailed within Hamas in recent weeks indicating that the relationship with Egypt will gradually improve as the presidential elections on May 26-27 approach. The favored candidate, former army chief Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, wants to appear to have re-established communications with the “Palestinian brothers” and to have turned the page on the tensions that marred relations between the two sides since. Perhaps the first sign that the Egypt-Hamas relationship has started improving, in preparation for Sisi’s rise, is that Egypt allowed Cairo-based Hamas deputy commander Mousa Abu Marzouk to go to Gaza for him to complete the reconciliation with Fatah.
Gazans pray for Turkey mine victims
GAZA CITY (Turkish Press) 16 May by Nour Abu Aisha — Scores of Palestinians in the Gaza Strip on Friday performed absentee funeral prayers for scores of workers killed in a Tuesday mine blast in western Turkey. The prayers was led by Gaza Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh at the Great Omari Mosque in Gaza City. During the Friday prayer sermon, Haniyeh called on the worshipers to pray for mercy for those killed in the tragic incident and for speedy recovery for those injured. On Thursday, Haniyeh phoned Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Thursday to offer his condolences for the victims. Over 300 Turkish miners were declared dead from Tuesday’s blast and subsequent fire at the Soma coal mine in western Turkey.
Audio: To make it stateside, Gaza Strip exports must pass Israeli obstacles
NPR 14 May by Emily Harris — Gaza farmers broke new ground in 2013, selling fresh herbs in U.S. supermarkets. But despite cheap labor and excellent soil, the hurdles to creating an export-driven economy are enormous — In a hothouse in the Gaza Strip, workers kneel on sandy soil to harvest young chives. They slice the thin green stalks free with small knives. These workers earn about $1.40 an hour. Cheap labor is one of Gaza’s competitive advantages … This is part of the slow effort to rebuild Gaza’s export industry, crushed after the militant Islamist group Hamas took power seven years ago and Israel sealed the territory’s land and sea borders….
Organic produce is a tough sell in the Gaza Strip
NPR 15 May by Emily Harris — Outside a small organic produce shop in Gaza City, a large sidewalk placard reads “Good Earth” in Arabic in big red letters, followed by “Organic produce, free of chemical fertilizers and pesticides.” The same message is on the shop’s awning. But “people don’t notice the signs, they come in and ask, ‘Why these [high] prices?,’ ” says Rami al-Naffar, the clerk here. Organic food is booming in the U.S. and Europe, where many consumers perceive the produce as healthful and environmentally friendly. In Israel, interest in organic food , too, though much of the organic fruits and vegetables grown there are exported. In the Gaza Strip, once connected to Israel’s labor and product markets but now cut off, most families are poor and price often dictates purchases … Prices here run around 25 percent higher than conventional produce in public markets. Everything Naffar sells comes from one farm in the southern Gaza Strip. There, agronomist Samir al-Shaer shows off nearly 8 acres dedicated to organic. Local staples — tomatoes, cucumbers and potatoes — get the most space. Much of the organic produce is grown in greenhouses on the same land Israeli farmers used before Israel pulled settlers out and soldiers back to the perimeter of the Gaza Strip.
Gaza artists get a rare showcase in Ramallah
GAZA CITY (AP) 15 May by Karin Laub — The Gaza Strip is tough turf for artists. An Israeli-Egyptian border blockade of the Hamas-ruled territory keeps them away from an international audience and potential buyers, while the local art market is close to nil. A new exhibit now offers them a chance to showcase their work outside Gaza. Fifty-three paintings and two sculptures by 45 artists have gone on display in the West Bank city of Ramallah, said Haneen Qatamesh, a spokeswoman for PADICO HOLDING, which helped organize the event. Since Saturday’s opening, 12 works have been sold for prices ranging from $850 to $9,000, she said. However, a majority of the artists were unable to attend their own show … Qatamesh said only 12 artists received Israeli travel permits to attend the exhibit, or less than half the number of artists who applied.
Gifted Gaza child artist finds inspiration despite hardship
[with photos] GAZA CITY (Al-Monitor) 16 May by Hazem Balousha — Seven years ago, in the old Shujaiyya neighborhood in eastern Gaza City, the artistic talent of Mohammad Qureiqai, 12, was discovered as he was making pencil sketches in his notebook. His journey of being acknowledged as a creative artist began. Mohammad’s eldest brother, Malek, 23, could not believe his eyes when he saw a sketch drawn by Mohammad, who was only five years old at the time. He asked him to redo the sketch multiple times, to make sure that Mohammad had worked on it by himself. Then, Malek started to help him with the drawings, assisting him in coming up with new ideas for his paintings, which were initially produced using only pencil and charcoal … “I go to sleep and wake up dreaming of new drawings. My life has now become my drawings and paintings. Everything you see around me are ideas for old or new paintings,” Mohammad said with a shy smile, explaining the importance painting holds for him.
Solidarity / BDS
Belgian firm urged to abandon Israel port building projec
BDS Movement 14 May — Belgian firm Jan De Nul Group is considering building new port facilities in Haifa and Ashdod on behalf of the Israel Ports Company, according to media reports. Two other European firms are believed to have pulled out of the bidding due to fears about boycott pressure. In this open letter, Palestinian, European and Middle Eastern unions, NGOs and campaigns call on the firm to abandon any plans to be involved in the project. Letter to Jan De Nul Group regarding proposed port facilities Dear Jan De Nul Group Board of Directors, We, the undersigned Palestinian organisations and supporters of Palestinian human rights, are writing to express our concern at reports that your company is currently bidding to build port facilities in the Israeli towns of Haifa and Ashdod. Given that as much as one third of Israeli exports are partly or wholly produced in Israeli settlements built on Palestinian land in violation of international law, the new ports you are considering constructing shall facilitate the export of settlement produce. Any new ports shall help to make the continued existence and expansion of settlements economically viable and therefore contribute to and profit from violations of international law….
Irish activists protest CRH role in Israel’s apartheid wall
BDS Movement 14 May — For the fifth consecutive year, members and supporters of the Ireland-Palestine Solidarity Campaign have staged a protest outside the annual general meeting of Irish multinational CRH in Dun Laoghaire. Campaigners held flags and a corriboard replica of the wall in a protest asking the company to divest from their 25% stake in the Israeli company Mashav, which is a holding company for Nesher, Israel’s sole cement manufacturer. Nesher has provided cement to the Israeli government and private enterprises that violate international law, including the Geneva Convention, by building the illegal separation wall, illegal Israeli-only settlements and associated infrastructure and checkpoints which dramatically hinder Palestinian freedom of movement. The crowd stood outside the Royal Marine hotel and chanted “CRH – Divest now!” and “Boycott Israel” as shareholders entered the meeting. Meanwhile, a member of the IPSC asked the CRH Board about the status of, and CRH’s attitude to, the complaint submitted to the OECD by the IPSC three years ago and which CRH has yet to respond to, and urged the company to divest from its Israeli subsidiary.
UCLA student leadership candidates asked to sign pledge boycotting Israel trips
Ynet 15 May — Candidates for the undergraduate student government at the University of California, Los Angeles are being asked to sign as declaration stating that they won’t visit Israel on a trip sponsored by a “pro-Israel lobby.” According to UCLA’s student newspaper, the Daily Bruin, most of the candidates have signed the Joint Statement on Undergraduate Students Association Council Ethics, which includes a pledge to boycott “trips with certain pro-Israel lobbying organizations and non-student centered external groups”.
Report: Germany cancels military subsidy deal with Israel following breakdown of peace negotiations
Mondoweiss 16 May by Annie Robbins — Is Germany fed up with Israel? Berlin has nixed a deal to give Israel a 30% discount on a $1 billion purchase of German gunboats, allegedly to be used for the protection of Israeli offshore gas fields in the Mediterranean Sea. Reportedly Israeli national security adviser Joseph Cohen claimed Chancellor Angela Merkel made an “explicit” promise to subsidize the purchase of the gun boats during a joint meeting between German and Israeli cabinets last February, but his counterpart, Merkel’s national security adviser Christoph Heusgen, denied that ever happened. According to Haaretz, Heusgen told Cohen that there was “no chance” Germany’s parliament would approve the deal “given the breakdown of Israeli-Palestinian peace talks, which has been blamed at least partly on Israeli settlement construction.“ For anyone following the trajectory of German-Israeli relations, this is long overdue.
Protests against Livni in London: ‘War Criminal’
Attila Somfalvi/News Agencies 16 May — The minister in charge of the now-defunct peace process, Tzipi Livni, may have immunity in London, but it cannot prevent protests against her. Pro-Palestinian protesters demonstrated against Livni and her visit to the British capital on Thursday. They carried signs saying, among other things, “wanted” and “war criminal” with Livni’s image … According to an American official, Livni met with US Secretary of State John Kerry while in London … In 2009, Livni, who was foreign minister during Israel’s Operation Cast Lead, cancelled a planned visit to London after an arrest warrant was issued against her. In 2011, Livni, then the head of the opposition, arrived in London and had to face demands for an arrest warrant and protests against her at 10 Downing Street. Since then, the British government has amended the law so Israeli officials could not be arrested over charges of war crimes, and decided to grant Israeli ministers special immunity to prevent an arrest.
Ferwana: ‘20% of Palestinians [have] experienced arrest, 5,243 still imprisoned
IMEMC 15 May by Saed Bannoura — Palestinian Researcher and head of the Census Department at the Palestinian Ministry of Detainees, Abdul-Nasser Ferwana, states that around 20% of all Palestinians in the occupied territories have been imprisoned, and that the period which followed the Nakba of 1948 witnessed executions and crimes more brutal and criminal than in later years … Ferwana further stated that, as Palestinians mark the sixty-sixth anniversary of the Nakba (The Catastrophe), when historic Palestine fell under Israeli occupation in 1948, the number of Palestinians who have been arrested and imprisoned since then exceeds 800.000, representing 20% of all segments and sectors of Palestinian society. The arrests, compared to the total population, are the largest in the world, while most Palestinians who have experienced kidnapping and imprisonment have been repeatedly arrested and, in many cases, several family members have also been imprisoned by Israel. “The most serious implication is Israel’s policy of incarceration, as routine arrests are a part of daily policies of assaults against the Palestinians,” Ferwana stated. “Israel uses the arrests to humiliate, pressure and blackmail the prisoners and their families…”
Rights groups call on Israel to free Druze army refuser
Electronic Intifada 14 May by Maureen Clare Murphy — Sixteen human rights groups and political parties, including Amnesty International and bodies representing Palestinians in Israel, published a petition yesterday calling on Israel’s minister of defense to put an end to the repeated detention of refuser Omar Saad. Israel has jailed 18-year-old Saad for 150 days since 4 December, when he reported to an Israeli military induction center to declare his refusal to serve in the army. “I refuse to take an assault rifle and point it at another human being. I abhor this violence and everything connected to violence. I detest and hate all violence,” Saad told Amnesty International last year. In 2012, Saad sent an open letter to the Israeli prime minister and defense minister stating: “I couldn’t imagine myself wearing [a] military uniform and participating in the suppression of my Palestinian people or fighting my Arab brothers.”
Israeli Arabs rekindle Palestinian ties as hate crimes mount
JERUSALEM (AFP) 14 May by Shatha Yaish — Arab Israelis are increasingly voicing a Palestinian identity and national demands, as hate attacks by Jewish extremists and laws perceived as discriminatory have multiplied … A growing number of Arab Israelis are visiting the cities of West Bank, if only to spend the odd weekend, as they search out all things Palestinian. “The Palestinian people are one, wherever they live,” said Shaher Mahameed, from the Arab Israeli town of Umm al-Fahm, on a visit to the northern West Bank city of Nablus. “My ID card says I’m Israeli, but my heart is Arab Palestinian, and always will be.” More than 760,000 Palestinians — estimated today to number more than 5 million with their descendants — fled or were driven from their homes in 1948 and commemorate Nakba Day on Thursday. The 160,000 who stayed behind are now known as Arab Israelis and number about 1.4 million, some 20 percent of Israel’s population.
Israeli punitive action targets Palestinian banks
Haaretz 16 May by Moti Bassok & Avi Bar-Eli — Israel has barred Palestinian banks from making shekel deposits in Israel, as part of the state’s punitive measures against the Palestinian Authority in the wake of the collapse of peace talks and the reconciliation between Fatah and Hamas. Meanwhile, the state-owned Israel Electric Corporation this week began to reduce its supply of electricity to East Jerusalem and the West Bank for two hours a day, citing the 1.5 billion shekels the PA owes it. The IEC said it would cut the electricity supply to these areas by half each day between 1 P.M. and 1:30 P.M. and again from 7 P.M. to 7:30 P.M. Israeli settlements in the West Bank that would otherwise be affected will be provided with generators … On Wednesday the heads of the Palestine Monetary Authority, the Palestinian central bank, met with executives of West Bank commercial banks to decide how to proceed. Israel has never before barred Palestinian banks from depositing funds in Israel … At their Wednesday meeting, Palestinian bankers said the Israeli move is strangling the Palestinian economy, forcing them to avoid accepting shekels from customers. If the sanctions continue much longer, the PMA may abandon the shekel as legal tender and curtail its ties with the Israeli banks and the Bank of Israel. If the Palestinians lodge a complaint with the International Monetary Fund or the World Bank, it could also place Israel in a difficult situation.
Palestinian government will need parliament approval
AFP 15 May — A new Palestinian government will need the approval of the Hamas-dominated parliament, the Islamist movement’s prime minister in Gaza, Ismail Haniyeh, said Wednesday. Hamas signed a reconciliation deal last month with the Palestine Liberation Organization, which is dominated by its bitter rival Fatah, in a surprise move that aims to overcome a years-long intra-Palestinian split. “Any government that does not obtain the confidence of the parliament will have no constitutional legality, and Fatah and Hamas have agreed on this,” Haniyeh said in a speech to Hamas MPs in Gaza.
Islamic Jihad cautious on Palestinian reconciliation deal
GAZA CITY (Al-Monitor) 14 May by Hazem Balousha — Palestinian Islamic Jihad has given a mixed response to the April 23 reconciliation deal between Hamas and Fatah. Islamic Jihad’s leadership reiterated the necessity of achieving Palestinian unity and restoring cohesion, to confront what the group’s leaders told Al-Monitor was “the risks facing the Palestinian cause, the division of Palestinians and the Israeli occupation.” However, some of its leaders still have concerns about the reconciliation deal, particularly concerning its weapons, as well as the future of Hamas-Islamic Jihad relations … “Islamic Jihad believes that reconciliation is the [best] choice for Palestinians amid the problems they are facing, such as the ongoing Israeli aggression, the failed political negotiations led by Abu Mazen [Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas] and the [failure in putting in place] one consensual Palestinian program that will ensure the minimum political representation of all factions,” he said. Islamic Jihad, however, is still refusing to participate in any parliamentary or presidential elections under the current Palestinian political system, which it considers to come under the umbrella of the Oslo Accord. The movement believes that the PLO is the only organization it can join, because it was not formed under the umbrella of the Israeli-Palestinian peace treaty.
PA complains to Australia after envoy meets Israeli official in East Jerusalem
Haaretz 15 May by Barak Ravid — Palestinians lodge letter of protest over ambassador’s routine meeting with Ariel in Sheikh Jarrah, as right-wing Israeli media jumps to term it Australian recognition of Israeli authority over East Jerusalem — An all-too routine meeting was held Wednesday morning between Housing and Construction Minister Uri Ariel and Australian Ambassador to Israel Dave Sharma. In fact, nobody would have known this meeting was even happening, had it not been for a press release distributed by Ariel’s bureau blatantly pointing out the fact that the talks between the two were taking place at the government compound in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah. Most of the international community does not recognize Israel’s authority in East Jerusalem.
Palestinian official dies after assassination attempt
SIDON, Lebanon (Daily Star) 14 May by Mohammed Zaatari — Fatah al-Islam official Alaa Ali Hujeir died Wednesday of wounds he sustained in an assassination attempt last week, raising fears of a possible escalation of tensions in the Palestinian refugee camp of Ain al-Hilweh. Hujeir was left in critical condition after being shot in the camp last week. His killing is part of a string of assassinations in Ain al-Hilweh that has claimed the lives of Ali Khalil, a bodyguard of Fatah al-Islam official Bilal Badr, and Sunni Sheikh Arsan Suleiman, leading to a drastic deterioration of security in Lebanon’s largest refugee camp. The perpetrators of the recent attacks remain unknown. Earlier this week, sporadic clashes erupted between members of Fatah al-Islam and the Fatah Movement, wounding seven people, mostly civilians, with the former accusing the latter group of killing Hujeir.