Remembering the Nakba: Israeli group puts 1948 Palestine back on the map
TEL AVIV (The Guardian) 2 May by Ian Black — In a run-down office in the busy centre of Tel Aviv, a group of Israelis are finalising preparations for this year’s independence day holiday. But their conversation – switching between Arabic and Hebrew – centres not on celebrating the historic realisation of the Zionist dream in May 1948, but on the other side of the coin: the flight, expulsion and dispossession that Palestinians call their catastrophe – the Nakba. Maps, leaflets and posters explain the work of Zochrot – Hebrew for “Remembering”. The organisation’s mission is to educate Israeli Jews about a history that has been obscured by enmity, propaganda and denial for much of the last 66 years. Next week, Zochrot, whose activists include Jews and Palestinians, will connect the bitterly contested past with the hi-tech present. Its I-Nakba phone app will allow users to locate any Arab village that was abandoned during the 1948 war on an interactive map, learn about its history (including, in many cases, the Jewish presence that replaced it), and add photos, comments and data … Zochrot’s focus on the hyper-sensitive question of the 750,000 Palestinians who became refugees has earned it the hostility of the vast majority of Israeli Jews who flatly reject any Palestinian right of return. Allowing these refugees – now, with their descendants, numbering seven million people – to return to Jaffa, Haifa or Acre, the argument goes, would destroy the Jewish majority, the raison d’etre of the Zionist project
iNakba: Yes, there’s an app for that
The Media Line 4 May — New app created for Palestinian refugees shows 400 Arab Villages destroyed in 1948 — … A new app now provides information about all of the 400 Palestinian villages which were destroyed in the fighting in 1948. Palestinians claim that as many as 700,000 Arabs either fled or were forced to leave what became Israel. Some, like Seman, became Israeli citizens. Others fled to Jordan, Lebanon and Syria. The new app, produced by Zochrot, an Israeli organization, is meant to help the refugees maintain their connections to their villages. “If you are a refugee in the Ein El-Helweh camp in Lebanon and you want to know about your village, you can follow and each time someone adds a comment it goes directly to your inbox,” Ghaneen Jeries, Media Director for Zochrot and the coordinator of iNakba project told The Media Line. Jeries said the maps uploaded into the app come from British Mandatory sources. There are also YouTube clips and photos. She said the idea for the app grew out of Zochrot’s activities to advocate for the right of return, meaning the right of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes in present-day Israel. [Another good source for destroyed villages as well as surviving ones is Palestine Remembered]
Independence and Nakba: Intertwined and inseparable / Avraham Burg
Haaretz 5 May — The Israeliness I believe in and aspire to encompasses all Israelis and all their histories together — Israel’s Independence Day is also Nakba Day. This is inescapable. The reality of Israeliness can’t help but incorporate not only the Jewish story but the Palestinian story as well (Nakba, or “the catastrophe,” is the Palestinians’ term for what happened to them when the state was founded in 1948.) Space limitations prevent a full consideration here of the complex interrelations between Independence and Nakba. But the pivotal question today is not, “Who’s to blame?” or “Who started it?” or “Who didn’t do enough?” The pivotal question is a thoroughly practical one: Can the Nakba and Independence coexist in the same space? If the answer of the Jewish-Israeli public is that the two are mutually exclusive, it follows that we should revoke the clauses in Israel’s Declaration of Independence that mandate equality for all … But perhaps, despite everything, a positive answer is possible – one that allows for a joint, mutually respectful existence, which esteems and accommodates both narratives, the one happy, the other sorrowful, side by side. It’s clear that Israel and the Israeli way are in dire need of a completely different path from the one that has been staked out here for nearly seven decades. The Nakba must be absorbed into the Israeli mainstream consciousness. For a considerable time I have thought that the crux of the problem between us and the Palestinians is not politics but psycho-politics. Each side tries to trump the other in the “trauma competition.” “Nakba,” they hurl at us, and we respond with “Holocaust.” No one – until the dramatic remarks by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas last week about the crime of the Holocaust – is truly trying to listen to the feelings, the hurt, the wounds, the fears and the outcry of the other. It’s a binary reality: My trauma or nothing. So the result, naturally, is nothing.
Hate crimes (‘price tag’)
Former security chiefs say Israel doesn’t want to stop hate crimes
Haaretz 3 May — Israel is unable to solve the problem of anti-Arab hate crimes – known as “price tag” attacks – because it doesn’t want to solve them, former Shin Bet head Carmi Gillon said on Saturday at a cultural event in Be’er Sheva. “We don’t see results, because we’re not intended to see them,” Gillon said, according to Nana website. “There’s no such thing as ‘can’t do’ in the Shin Bet, just ‘don’t want.'” If the head of the Shin Bet decides that something will be dealt with, the results will be exactly as they were with the Jewish underground, Gillon said. “We treated them precisely like a terror organization.” He added that by working together the police and Shin Bet could arrest the hate crime perpetrators within a very short time, but there was no intention to catch them. Speaking at the same event, former Mossad head Shabtai Shavit also crtiticized the government over the handling of the attacks, saying “Israel is a lawful country that does not enforce its laws.” In another incident of violence on Saturday, 32 olive trees were destroyed near the settlement of Bat Ayin. Graffiti reading “Arabs are thieves” was found at the scene.
Price tag terror: Is Israel facing a war between religions?
Haaretz 5 May by Hussein Abu Hussein — The Arab public wonders why law enforcement’s resourcefulness and speed disappear when it comes to Jewish terror — In proper, functioning states, upholding the law is a supreme cultural value. Society as a whole understands the significant common interest in the law, and people value the existence of the various law enforcement authorities − police, prosecution and courts − as the gatekeepers of proper enforcement. In nations where the rules of the jungle prevail, only the strong survive, and citizens must defend themselves with their own arms. On Monday last week, racist graffiti was sprayed on the walls of a mosque in Fureidis, and tires on nearby cars were slashed. Last Tuesday, a Nazereth resident’s tires were slashed while he was in Yokne’am, and a Star of David was spray painted on his car. About three weeks ago, as they arrived at their mosque for morning prayers, residents of the Araq al-Shabab neighborhood in Umm al-Fahm discovered that some of the prayer rugs there had been burned and “Arabs out” had been spray painted on the wall … Although there have been dozens of such acts, law enforcement agencies have yet to get their hands on any suspects, let alone bring them to justice. But it is all a matter of will, investment and policy. My experience as a lawyer taught me that during the first and second Intifadas, a single stone thrown at a late-night bus on Route 65 would bring out both Shin Bet security service and border police investigators before dawn the next day. They would arrest dozens of youths, quickly find those who threw the stones and leave quite the mess behind them.
Border Police attacked in Yitzhar settlement while searching home of ‘price tag’ suspect
Jerusalem Post 4 May by Ben Hartman, Tovah, Lazaroff — Settlers threw rocks at police as they searched the home of a “price tag” suspect in the West Bank community of Yitzhar late Saturday night and early Sunday morning, Judea and Samaria police said. Hours later police returned and arrested two people from Yitzhar in connection with the attack, one of whom is also under investigation by the anti-nationalist crime unit for involvement in past incidents. The latest cycle of event in the hilltop community began around midnight. A group of officers from the anti-nationalist crimes unit of the Israel Police – the unit that probes “price tag” attacks – came to Yitzhar to search the home of a couple arrested last week on suspicion of being involved in the attempted torching of a mosque in Umm al-Fahm last month. While police were in the house, border policemen outside the residence were attacked by Yitzhar settlers, who threw rocks at them and cursed them, the spokesman said. Someone also punctured the tires of one of the police vehicles, the spokesman added. None of the officers was hurt in the incident and police said they were able to finish the search as planned despite the disturbance, the spokesman said … Yitzhar spokesman Ezri Tovi said that police continued to level false accusations against his community … He charged that the security forces entered Yitzhar around midnight and spent an hour there, just to confiscate a computer. There were children in the house when the police entered, he said, noting that these were the same children who only days ago had witnessed their parents’ arrest. “Why couldn’t the police have entered the home in the middle of the day when the children were in school?” he asked.
Hate crime in northern Israel: Two more Arab cars vandalized
Haaretz 4 May by Eli Ashkenazi & Jack Khoury — Two vehicles belonging to Arabs were vandalized on Sunday morning in Yokneam Ilit, the seventh such hate crime in the predominantly Jewish northern town in the last month. Two similar incidents occurred there two months ago, as well. The tires on the car were slashed and the doors spray-painted with the words ‘Price Tag,’ referring to right-wing extremists’ campaign against Israel’s policy in the West Bank settlements. The Afula police is investigating the incident, but no arrests have yet been made.One of the hate crimes, two weeks ago, took place in the exact same apartment building parking lot as Sunday’s vandalism. Thirty-five olive trees were destroyed near the West Bank settlement of Bat Ayin on Saturday, in another in a recent wave of anti-Arab hate crimes across the country. Graffiti reading “Arabs are thieves” and “price tag” were found at the scene. According to Palestinian sources, such vandalism has become routine. Just a few days ago 58 olive trees were several damaged in Ras Karkar, northwest of Ramallah. Also on Saturday evening, an Israeli Arab family found the tires of their car slashed, after returning from an afternoon in a public park in Ein Hashofet, in northern Israel. The car also had the words “price tag” and a Star of David sprayed on it.
Justice Minister Tzipi Livni will convene an emergency meeting on Wednesday to discuss the expansion of “price tag” attacks into Israel proper and the hate crimes in Arab towns in the north over the past week, and the possible law enforcement steps that could be taken.
Violence / Raids / Attacks / Clashes / Illegal arrests
Video sheds new light on fight between soldier, Palestinian
Haaretz 4 May by Gili Cohen — After first video goes viral, second video shows Palestinian to have held prayer beads, not brass knuckles — A second video, recorded and uploaded to the Internet late last week by the same organization whose video of a confrontation between an Israeli soldier (“David the Nahlawi”) and young Palestinians in Hebron has made a splash in the local media, sheds new light on the incident. Among other things, it raises questions about the object that one of the Palestinians, Saddam Abu Sneinah, is holding in his hand during the confrontation. Abu Sneinah, who was arrested and questioned last week, says he was holding a Misbaha, a string of Muslim prayer beads, and not brass knuckles as reported in some accounts. The new video confirms his claim, but nevertheless the saga – which began with the reassignment of the soldier for reasons other than aiming his gun at a Palestinian holding brass knuckles that themselves may never have existed – refuses to die. “David the Nahlawi,” named because he is serving in the Nahal Brigade of the Israel Defense Forces, has been enveloped in a virtual hug by both the left and right.
Israeli forces ‘threaten’ Hebron activist group that films soldiers
HEBRON (Ma‘an/AFP) 3 May — A local activist group says the Israeli army has been using “intimidation” tactics against its members since they posted a video on Youtube of a soldier threatening Palestinian teens on Tuesday. The office of Youth Against Settlements in Hebron has been raided three times by Israeli soldiers since the video was posted, an activist within the group told Ma‘an Saturday. Issa Amro told Ma‘an that Israeli soldiers raided the office on Thursday night, Friday morning, and Friday night. In addition to searching the premises, Israeli soldiers “threatened” activists, demanding to know “who filmed the video” that was posted on Tuesday, Amro said. He added that Youth Against Settlements had received hate messages on their Facebook page saying “that we will be shot if we attempt to film more soldiers.” But another activist, Muhammad Zghayyar, urged Hebron Palestinians to continue to film aggression by Israeli soldiers and activists as much as possible in order to “expose them to the world.” Israeli army spokespeople did not immediately comment on the incidents. However, asked about the army’s policy on filming soldiers, an army spokesman told Ma‘an that there is no general rule against it in “civilian areas,” but that soldiers always have the right to tell people to stop filming.
PHOTOS: Whose hands are really tied in the West Bank?
Activestills 3 May Text and photos by: Ryan Rodrick Beiler — Just about every article covering the social media meme supporting the Israeli soldier caught on video cocking and aiming his gun at Palestinian youths in Hebron includes a line something like, “soldiers are tired of having their hands tied” when dealing with Palestinians. To help relieve any confusion, this is what having your hands tied looks like:
Clashes in Esawyeh and Silwan
Silwan, Jerusalem (SILWANIC) 3 May — Violent clashes broke out on Friday afternoon in Ein Silwan Street in Silwan. Wadi Hilweh Information Center was informed that violent clashes broke out in Al-Ein Street between the residents and the Israeli forces after an Israeli settler who lives in one of the settlement outposts assaulted and attacked children while they were playing in the neighbourhood. The Center added that the young men confronted the settler and separated him from the children while the Israeli police arrived and started firing gas bombs in order to protect the settler. Clashes also broke out in the village of Esawyeh [or al-Issawiya] especially in Obeid neighbourhood after the Israeli Special Forces raided the village and assaulted the citizens.
In pictures: A woman is injured in the neighborhood of Wadi Hilweh after she was assaulted
Silwan, Jerusalem (SILWANIC) 1 May — A Jerusalemite woman lost consciousness and was injured with bruises after the Israeli forces assaulted her in Silwan. Wadi Hilweh Information Center was informed that an Israeli force broke in the house of Khaled Tawil in the neighbourhood and started searching the house and damaging its contents without presenting a search warrant. During the search, the forces provoked the residents and took Um Qalawoon Tawil outside the house and dragged her on the ground for 40 meters and then took her to “Wadi Hilweh playground”. The Center added that the forces took Um Qalawoon to the playground and detained her in a corner where she was assaulted and severely beat until she lost consciousness. During the assault, altercations using hands broke out between the forces and the residents; note that Um Qalawoon 15-year old daughter, Laila, was also assaulted. The residents explained that the “David’s Star” ambulance arrived nearly an hour after being informed of an emergency and upon arrival, they refused to treat her under the pretext of “video recording using cell phones and transferring the pictures to terrorists” and they left the area afterwards. They came back 15 minutes later but the Palestinian Red Crescent had already arrived and started treating Um Qalawoon. [an article from Ma‘an about this incident appeared on Friday’s list]
6 injured in clashes in Jerusalem
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 4 May — Six Palestinians were injured and one was arrested in clashes with Israeli forces in al-Issawiya village northeast of Jerusalem on Sunday, locals said. They told Ma‘an that Israeli forces erected a flying checkpoint near al-Madares school and thoroughly searched people, which sparked the clashes. Israeli forces fired tear gas and rubber-coated steel bullets injuring six people moderately in the head. Walid Ulliyan, 22, was detained during the clashes, residents said.
Israel seals off West Bank and Gaza; further clashed and abductions reported
IMEMC 4 May by Chris Carlson — The Israeli authorities sealed their border crossings with the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, on Sunday, under a pretext of celebrating the anniversary of the establishment of Israeli State, according to Israeli sources. The seal-off is expected to continue until next Tuesday, according to WAFA.
To the south of Bethlehem, the army cordoned the village of Beit Fajjar, blocking the roads into the village with sand barriers and hindered the traffic movement in and out of the village. In the Nablus region, army forces stormed the village of Burqa in the predawn hours, kidnapping three people after raiding and searching several houses in the village. Soldiers further stormed the village of Madama, southwest of Nablus, taking with them a youngster after breaking into his home and damging the contents. Also subject to Sunday’s invasions was the town of Abu Dis, east of Jerusalem, where forces arrested 37-year-old Hassan Shehadah, member of the central committee of the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (DFLP) and one ex-detainee, after they raided and searched his home, seizing his personal laptop and cellular phones. Witnesses said soldiers also broke into the home of Shehadah’s parents, damaging its content and leading to confrontations between army and a number of youth, in which soldiers fired tear gas canisters and live bullets towards them. No injuries were reported. Meanwhile Israeli forces stormed the village of Nabi Saleh, west of Ramallah, firing tear gas canisters towards residential areas and the village school. Several cases of suffocation were reported among students and teachers, WAFA reports. Also on Sunday, soliders kidnapped four people in Nablus, one of which is a leader of the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine in Jerusalem, according to reports by local and security sources. In the village of al-Asakrah, near Bethlehem, the army served one youth with a summons to appear for interrogation before Israeli intelligence, in the settlement bloc of Gush Etzion.
Israeli forces ‘smash car, injure 5 with tear gas’ in Salfit raid
SALFIT (Ma‘an) 4 May — Israeli forces in Salfit early Sunday smashed a car and fired tear gas at Palestinians, security sources said. Palestinian security sources told Ma‘an that Israeli forces raided the central West Bank city and fired tear gas and stun grenades. Five locals suffered from excessive tear gas inhalation and were taken to a nearby hospital. Additionally, Israeli soldiers smashed a vehicle belonging to Salfit resident Nael Yousif Marabta, the sources said.
UN: Over 220 Palestinians injured in April
Alternative News 4 May — United Nations’ reports reveal that some 222 Palestinians were injured by Israeli military and police forces during the month of April. Fourteen of the 222 were injured by live ammunition. Six Palestinians were injured with live ammunition during clashes with Israeli forces on 4 April near the Beituniya checkpoint, where a demonstration in solidarity with Palestinian prisoners was held. Between 8 and 14 April, the ‘Aida refugee camp in Bethlehem witnessed violent clashes between residents and Israeli forces. On 13 April Noha Katamish, a 44 year old Palestinian woman from the camp, died after suffering and being treated for tear gas inhalation two days earlier. The woman suffered from multiple ailments, including respiratory problems and asthma.During these clashes in ‘Aida 42 Palestinians, including 20 children, were injured. Most of 222 Palestinians were injured during clashes in and around East Jerusalem, in connection to the entry of Israeli Jewish groups into the Al Aqsa Mosque compound. These Israeli Jewish groups advocate construction of the biblical Third Temple in this compound. The most serious clashes in Jerusalem were recorded during such visits on 16 and 20 April. Multiple other protests against this phenomenon, some of which evolved into confrontations with Israeli forces, were registered during the reporting period in other areas of East Jerusalem, as well as in adjacent towns such as Abu Dis and Al ‘Eizariya. Moreover, 36 Palestinians were reportedly detained in the context of these confrontations and clashes. The United Nations reports that the other major locus of violence during the month of April was in the southern West Bank city of Hebron. Large confrontations were reported on 16 and 17 April in the Bab Az Zawiya area of the city, during demonstrations commemorating the 1988 anniversary of Israel’s assassination of Fatah leader Khalil al-Wazir (Abu Jihad) in Tunis and Palestinian Prisoners’ Day. During the last two weeks of April Israeli forces conducted a total of 158 search and arrest operations in Palestinian villages and towns. At least six of these operations triggered violent clashes with local residents which resulted in injuries, including nine people in ‘Awarta (Nablus area ), five in Idhna (Hebron area ), one in Deir Nidham (Ramallah area) and one in El Far‘a refugee camp (Tubas area).
Weekly report on Israeli human rights violations in the occupied Palestinian territory (24-29 April 2014
PCHR-Gaza 1 May — Israeli forces continued to open fire in the border areas of the Gaza Strip. 2 brothers collecting raw materials were wounded in the northern Gaza Strip. Israeli forces continued to use excessive force against peaceful protesters in the West Bank. A photojournalist was wounded in al-Nabi Saleh, northwest of Ramallah. 2 Palestinian civilians were wounded during Selwad and Ofer protests. Israeli forces conducted 76 incursions into Palestinian communities in the West Bank and 2 limited ones in the southern Gaza Strip. 41 Palestinians, including 2 children, were arrested. Israel continued to impose a total closure on the oPt and has isolated the Gaza Strip from the outside world. Israeli forces established dozens of checkpoints in the West Bank. A Palestinian child was arrested at a checkpoint in the West Bank. 2 Palestinian civilians, including a child, were arrested at the border between the Gaza Strip and Israel. Israeli navy forces continued targeting Palestinian fishermen in the sea. 2 Palestinian fishermen were arrested and a fishing boat was confiscated. Israeli forces continued to support settlement activities in the West Bank and Israeli settlers continued to attack Palestinian civilians and property. Israeli forces demolished 3 houses and a mosque in Kherbet al-Taweel, southeast of Nablus. Settlers hit a girl with a stone on her head, south of Hebron. [Details follow]
Land, property theft & destruction / Ethnic cleansing / Discrimination against other religions / Restrictions on movement
PA: Israel bans Hebron call to prayer 60 times in April
HEBRON (Ma‘an) 4 May – Israel has forbidden the Muslim call for prayer through loudspeakers at the Ibrahimi Mosque in Hebron 60 times in April because it bothers Jewish settlers, the Palestinian ministry of endowment said. In a statement Sunday, the ministry’s Hebron office highlighted that it was not the first time the call to prayer, or adhan, was prohibited at the Ibrahimi Mosque.
“As usual, Israeli occupation authorities forbade adhan at minarets of the Ibrahimi Mosque during the month of April under the pretext that it annoys settlers who visit the Jewish part of the mosque during Jewish holidays.” The Israelis, added the statement, ignored the feelings of Muslims and ignored as well all international laws and conventions which guarantee freedom of access to worship places.
Clerics, scholars debate action on Jerusalem
Al-Monitor 30 Apr by Daoud Kuttab — The dangers facing Jerusalem and the Al-Aqsa Mosque finally appear to have elicited serious Arab reactions. The guests and comments of the organizers of a recent conference held in the Jordanian capital of Amman reflect a newfound seriousness. “The Road to Jerusalem” — held April 28-30 and organized by the World Islamic Sciences and Education University and Jordan’s Palestine parliamentary committee — tackled some hard issues never before confronted. The seriousness of the discussion was best conveyed when Jordan’s Prince Ghazi bin Mohammad, King Abdullah’s right-hand man on religious issues (including Jerusalem), convened a private meeting, without the press in attendance, with delegates from Palestine and the Arab world. Leaks from that meeting indicate that Ghazi described the seriousness of the situation, in particular in regard to the Hashemite pledge to protect and defend the Haram al-Sharif, the site of Al-Aqsa, and Jerusalem in general. Jordan’s unique role in Jerusalem is codified in Article 9 of the 1994 Israel-Jordan peace treaty and in a special Jordanian-Palestinian agreement signed by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and King Abdullah in March 2013. Israeli incursions into the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound have become an almost daily event, reflecting an effort to chip away at the status quo that has held since 1967 … In Amman, high-ranking delegates, including Muslim and Christian leaders from Jerusalem as well as well-known Islamic scholars, debated for the first time whether visits to Jerusalem by non-Palestinians are acceptable while the city remains under occupation. Mohammad Hussein, the mufti of Jerusalem, and others echoed a statement regularly made by Abbas, calling on anyone who is able to visit to do so. Abbas regularly says that visiting a prisoner is a victory for him, not normalization with his prison guards…
Maronite patriarch’s Jerusalem visit would be ‘historic sin’
Beirut (AFP) 3 May — A visit to Jerusalem by the patriarch of the Lebanon-based Maronite church to greet Pope Francis would be a “historic sin”, a leading newspaper close to the anti-Israeli Hezbollah said Saturday. Patriarch Beshara Rai, whose church is the largest Christian denomination in Lebanon, told AFP on Friday he would travel to the Holy Land to welcome the pontiff during his brief May 24-26 visit. In doing so, he would be the first patriarch to do so since the creation in 1948 of Israel, with which Lebanon is technically at war. In response, the leading Arab nationalist daily As-Safir ran a critical piece headlined “Historic sin: Rai goes to Israel.” Calling it a “dangerous precedent,” the daily argued that the trip would “not serve the interests of Lebanon and the Lebanese, nor those of Palestine and the Palestinians nor Christians and Christianity.” It speculated on whether the patriarch, who is also a Roman Catholic cardinal, “would shake hands with Israeli leaders who will be in the front row to welcome Pope Francis to Jerusalem.” Even if he does not, he would still have to coordinate his trip with Israeli officials, the paper added, claiming that the visit “is part of the normalisation between the head of the Catholic church and the occupier.” … Lebanese citizens are banned from entering Israel, but Maronite clergy may to travel to the Holy Land to minister to the estimated 10,000 faithful there. Rai insisted that the trip will be strictly religious and has no political significance.
Ruling brings bulldozers closer to green Jerusalem valley
Haaretz 5 May by Nir Hasson — Franciscan Order claims Ein Karem project will infringe on freedom of religion, while residents fear damage to landscape — The High Court of Justice rejected a petition last week to intervene in the construction of a huge pumping station in the valley near the Jerusalem neighborhood of Ein Karem. The petition was filed by residents of the neighborhood, a coalition of public organizations, Christian religious orders and the Jerusalem municipality. The planned pumping station is to be built near the agricultural school in Ein Karem, and is part of the project for construction of a fifth water pipeline to the capital, a huge infrastructure project that is intended to meet the capital’s water needs in coming decades. The residents claimed that the Mekorot water company and the planning authorities did not examine alternative locations for the pumping station. They argued that the proposed site would further damage the already marred landscape of the area. In addition, the Franciscan Order’s Custodian of the Holy Land claimed the new complex would damage religious freedom and international commitments Israel has made to the Vatican, since the station would border the property of two monasteries.
The Jewish National Fund’s list of projects in the settlements
972mag 4 May by Noam Sheizaf — On its website, The Jewish National Fund (JNF-KKL) presents itself as an environmental friendly non-governmental organization, with deep roots in Zionist history. The JNF often leads supporters and donors to believe that it does not fund projects in the occupied territories, which are highly controversial even among Zionists. In the past, the JNF used sub-contractors for projects across the Green Line, including ones that demanded the evacuation of Palestinian families from their homes in East Jerusalem. However, a 2012 document obtained by investigative journalist Raviv Drucker reveals a list of projects in the settlements funded by the Jewish National Fund. In some cases, the JNF even insists on public credit for the projects. Here is a link to the Hebrew document on Raviv Drucker’s blog (PDF). These are the projects themselves (I added some of the locations of the settlements in brackets. 1 USD = 3.5 NIS):
Israeli settlers chop down Roman-era olive trees in Bethlehem village
BETHLEHEM (WAFA) 3 May – Israeli settlers chopped down Saturday scores of Roman-era olive trees near Nahalin located to the west of Bethlehem, a local official said. A group of settlers from the nearby illegal Israeli settlement of Beit ‘Ayn raided al-Jamjoum area, located to the west of Nahalin, and chopped down 50 olive trees, including Roman-era olive trees, using a chainsaw, according to Head of Nahalin Local Council Ibrahim Shakarneh. Shakarneh added that settlers have recently intensified their attacks against the lands of Nahalin; they have persisted in their attempts to level the Palestinian villagers lands, pump wastewater into them and uproot and chop down villagers’ trees.
When a wedding party is a form of resistance
Mondoweiss 4 May by Donna Baranski-Walker — In its effort to save Al Aqaba, a small village in the Jordan Valley, from Israeli demolition orders, the California-based Rebuilding Alliance has been raising money to build eight houses in the village in defiance of Israeli plans. The first house was pledged to a young couple, whose wedding came off last month. The Rebuilding Alliance sent out a report by email. Here is an excerpt. – Ed. Good Friday and Passover would be an unlikely time for a Christian or Jewish wedding, but exactly the right time to hold a wedding-turned-national-celebration in Al Aqaba, a tiny Muslim village in the Palestinian West Bank’s Jordan Valley, Area C. Passover meant that the Israeli Army’s training camp just down the street was silent as the soldiers went home to be with their families for their holidays. Only two weeks before the major access roads on all sides of Al Aqaba Village were filled with tanks, bulldozers, and hundreds of young Israeli soldiers in training, as military jets seared the air. The sounds were terrifying, especially to the 140 children huddled together in Al Aqaba’s kindergarten. I feared the worst when the peace talks collapsed that week.
Border crossings into Israel closed to Palestinians May 4-6
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 4 May — Palestinian access from the West Bank to Israel will be restricted starting at 6 p.m. on Sunday, the Israeli army said. “During the National Memorial Day and the Israeli Independence day, Israel’s Civil Administration will continue to facilitate Palestinian access from (the West Bank) to Israel for medical, humanitarian and exceptional cases only,” an army statement said Saturday.
US states should act against Israel’s denial of entry to Americans
Electronic Intifada 30 Apr by Mike Coogan — On 13 September 2012, an Israeli soldier pointed his gun at an American college student and ordered her to board a bus back to Jordan. The student, Yara Karmalawy, was attempting to travel to the occupied West Bank and present-day Israel as part of a university-sponsored trip with other students from the University of California, Santa Cruz. Instead of being admitted like the other thirty students, Yara was disparaged, threatened and denied entry because of her ethnicity. Unfortunately, this type of treatment by Israel is all too common for Americans of Arab and Muslim heritage, as well as those critical of Israel’s policies toward Palestinians. Those affected by Israel’s policies include college students, world-renowned university professors, teachers, architects, clergy, people visiting sick relatives, married couples giving birth, humanitarian workers and human rights monitors. Even those who can trace their ancestry to signers of the US constitution have not been spared from Israel’s discriminatory policies. George Bisharat, a law professor and descendant of William Samuel Johnson, has been routinely mistreated by Israeli officials, an experience he shared in a powerful 28 April piece for The Los Angeles Times … Israel’s treatment of Missouri resident Sandra Tamari — who was denied entry and deported — would appear to be in direct contravention of that state’s pact with Israel, known as the Missouri-Israel Cooperative Agreement.
Israeli occupation suppresses journalists’ demo
RAMALLAH (Al Ray) 4 May – On World Press Freedom Day, Israeli occupation forces suppressed a demo of Palestinian journalists in front of Bethel military checkpoint, north of Ramallah. Dozens of journalists gathered on Saturday evening at the checkpoint to call for their freedom of movement. According to Wafa Agency Israeli soldiers fired stun grenades and tear gas towards the journalists who shouted slogans demanding the freedom of movement for all the Palestinian journalists and local media in addition to the necessity to protect them from the Israeli occupation’s violations. Chairman of Journalist Syndicate Abdel Nasser Najjar said our message on World Press Freedom Day is that “we want our freedom guaranteed and protected, and an immediate stop of the series of the Israeli occupation’s dangerous attacks against the Palestinian journalists and all the journalists working in Palestine.” “Media plays an important role in exposing the Israeli repressive measures and crimes and in defending human rights; and today we came to demand our rights”, he added. Al-Najjar pointed out, “ over the last five years, hundreds of journalists and media workers in the occupied Palestine were wounded whether due to the occupation’s bullets, physical abuse or due to inhalation of poisonous gas.
Video: Protest on World Press Freedom Day: ‘They don’t consider Palestinian journalists to be journalists’
Occupied Palestine (ISM, Ramallah Team) 3 May — Yesterday, Saturday 3rd of May was the United Nations World Press Freedom Day. Yesterday, journalists celebrated, remembered, and protested, on a date commemorated worldwide since 1992. In Palestine, the 3rd of May calls for a protest by members of the Palestinian Journalists Syndicate (PJS), and yesterday this was at the Beit El military checkpoint. We witnessed approximately 70 journalists gather in the city of Ramallah, driving towards the Bet Elcheckpoint, before leaving their cars and attempting to walk through the military gate. The journalists carried nothing but signs and cameras, chanting for freedom from the Israeli occupation. It was a completely non-violent demonstration. On arrival to the checkpoint, Israeli Border Police first closed the gate, and then called many more soldiers to the area, who proceeded to watch and film the demonstrators with their private smart phones. The journalists then tried to open the gate, which is when Israeli Border Police started to throw stun grenades at the demonstrators. More than eight stun grenades were thrown, seemingly directly at the legs of the protesters. One stun grenade hit my ISM colleague in the foot, she was lucky to be wearing thick running shoes and jeans, so did not receive an injury. The level of aggression was surprising to me, I commented upon this to a demonstrator, a Palestine journalist, causing him to turn to me and smile. “Maybe they don’t know we’re journalists.” “Sorry?” I asked. “If they did, they wouldn’t throw them [the stun grenades] at us.” He laughed, and walked back toward the gate.
PCHR: 2014 sees spurt in press violations against Palestinian journalists
GAZA (Al Ray) 3 May – Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR) said ‘Israel’ committed 135 violations against the journalists across the occupied Palestinian territories during a quarter and one years. The center in a report issued on the ”World Press Freedom Day” said a significant increase in press violations by the occupation military apparatuses has marked the period between January 1, 2013 and 31 March, 2014. All of the attacks committed were premeditated and by use of excessive force, without taking into account the principles of distinction and proportionality, or being justified by a military necessity. They were varied between the violation of the right to life and personal safety of journalists, beatings and other means of violence, humiliation and degrading treatment, the report pointed out. It added, ”We have documented other forms of violations such arrests and detentions, seizures of equipment, travel bans, and home raids or ransackings.” The center also spotted 39 firings by the Israeli forces that resulted in the injury of 31 journalists, 22 cases of beating or degrading treatment, 46 cases of arrest and detention, 15 cases of preventing journalists from reporting human rights abuses, 9 cases of seizures of equipment, press ID cards, or news materials, and 4 cases of home raids. With these stats, the overall attacks and violations carried out by the Israeli occupation ever since the First Intifada – which sparked on September 28, 2000 — rose to 1641, the center confirmed, saying that dozens of attacks could not be documented. UNESCO World Press Freedom Day on 3 May has been for many years a rallying point for journalists, campaigners and human rights activists to raise awareness about the need for media freedom and the right to free expression.
Israel killed 15 journalists since 2000: NGO
GAZA CITY (TurkishPress) 3 May by Nour Abu Aisha — The Israeli army killed 15 journalists in the Palestinian territories since 2000, a Gaza-based rights group said Saturday. “Denying the right to life and violating personal safety were Israel’s most flagrant violations against journalists since the eruption of the second Palestinian Intifada (uprising) in 2000,” the Palestinian Center for Human Rights said in a report on the occasion of the World Press Freedom Day.
Haaretz’s Amira Hass among ‘information heroes’ of Reporters without Borders
Haaretz 4 May by Nati Tucker — Haaretz journalist Amira Hass has been chosen as one of “100 information heroes” recently published by Reporters Without Borders. Also on the list is the Australian journalist and Wikileaks founder Julian Assange. This is the first time Reporters Without Borders has published such a list. The organization’s website states that Hass is the only Israeli Jewish journalist to have lived among the Palestinians in Gaza and Ramallah since 1993 to report on the situation of civilians there and that she was detained twice in Israel for entering Gaza. Among Hass’ awards, the site notes she received the Reporters Without Borders award for independent reporting, as well as other awards from international organizations.
Half of administrative prisoners spent more than one year in detention
GAZA (Al Ray) 29 Apr — Their detention had been renewed for more than four times — Half of the Palestinian administrative prisoners, who are about 200, have spent more than one year in administrative detention, Palestine’s Prisoners Center for Studies revealed. Reyad Al Ashqar, spokesman of the center explained that “the IPS uses the administrative detention policy in order to hold prisoners for extended periods of time without charging them or allowing them to stand trial.” Administrative detention orders are issued either at the time of arrest or at a later date and are often based on “secret information” collected by the Israeli Security Agency (formerly known as the General Security Service). In the vast majority of administrative detention cases, neither the detainee nor his lawyer is ever informed of the reasons for the detention or given access to the “secret information.” He added “administrative detention turns the prisoners to political hostages; their detention is renewed by mock and nominal courts instructed by Israeli security agency who holds this file.” He pointed that the administrative detention orders have been renewed for about 65 prisoners for four times in a row, 32 prisoners for 3 times, 39 prisoners for twice. Palestinians could be detained for months, if not years, under administrative detention orders, without ever being informed about the reasons or length of their detention. Detainees are routinely informed of the extension of their detention on the day that the former order expires.
PHOTOS: Palestinians hold three-day solidarity event with hunger strikers
Activestills 4 May Text by Ryan Rodrick Beiler, photos by Ahmad al-Bazz –More than 100 Palestinian prisoners in Israeli administrative detention launched a mass, open-ended hunger strike on April 24. The same day, Palestinians set up a protest tent in the city center of Nablus and have staged ongoing solidarity protests ever since.
Druze conscientious objector hospitalized with liver infection
972mag 4 May by Edo Konrad — Omar Sa’ad was hospitalized late last week after complaining for three straight days of chest pains. Attempts by military intelligence to transfer him to Tel Aviv’s Ichilov hospital failed after both his family and medical staff protested the life-threatening decision — Omar Sa’ad, a Druze conscientious objector who is currently serving his seventh prison term for refusing to join the Israeli army, was hospitalized in Haifa last week with a liver infection. According to a report by Raanan Shemesh Forshner, two policemen are currently guarding Sa’ad’s hospital room “so that he does not escape.” … Sa’ad, who has served 142 days in military jail, had been complaining of chest pains and tremors for three days before his hospitalization, his father told Forshner. Omar told his father that the prison guards at Prison 4 ignored his complaints, thinking he was pretending or exaggerating.
Gaza under double blockade
Israeli gunboats open fire at Palestinian fishing boats
GAZA (PIC) 4 May — Israeli navy gunboats opened heavy machinegun fire at Palestinian fishing boats while at sea off the coast of Khan Younis and Rafah to the south of Gaza Strip on Saturday night. Source in the marine police told the PIC reporter that the gunboats also fired a number of projectiles at the fishing boats. They said that the fishermen returned to shore to avoid the shooting, adding that no casualties were reported.
link to www.palestine-info.co.uk/En/
Video: Gaza wheat farmers rush to harvest, fearing Israeli attacks
PressTV 4 May — Wheat farmers in the so-called buffer zone along Gaza’s eastern perimeter have been rushing to harvest their crops, for fears of being targeted by Israeli attacks. International volunteers have helped the Gazan farmers. Wheat hasn’t fully matured yet but farmers say they prefer to have some wheat rather than none. Farmers say Israeli soldiers deliberately burned most of their wheat fields last year at the peak of the harvesting season. The farmers in Gaza have been forced to plant their fields with wheat to replace thousands of olive trees which had been uprooted by Israeli bulldozers in the past years. Gazan farmers risk being killed or injured by Israeli snipers on an almost daily basis as they try to make ends meet. For now, it only remains to be seen if Gazan wheat farmers will be able to harvest all of their crops.
Egypt opens Rafah crossing for 3 days [for pilgrims only]
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 4 May — Egyptian authorities will open the Rafah crossing with Gaza on Sunday to allow Umrah pilgrims to leave for Saudi Arabia, a statement said. The Gaza government’s border crossings department said in a statement that Rafah would be open Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday.
Qatar contributes $5 million to Gaza govt to support reconciliation
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 4 May — Ismail Radwan, the Gaza government’s minister of endowment, told reporters Sunday that Qatar had contributed $5 million to provide financial support for “community reconciliation,” especially focused on bereaved families who lost relatives to the Fatah-Hamas conflict. Gaza Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh spoke to Qatar Emir Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani via telephone to ask for financial support, Radwan said. He said the Qatari money would go towards reimbursing families for damaged property caused by the conflict, medical treatment for those injured, and paying blood money.
Israeli businesswoman dreams of return to Gaza
TEL AVIV/GAZA CITY (Deutsche Welle (DW)) 30 Apr by Blair Cunningham — The Israeli-Palestinian conflict nearly ruined Sophia Trotoush-Argaman’s business. But she and her former Gazan factory manager keep battling on and putting their hopes in the future. It’s been almost a decade since Sophia Trotoush-Argaman was forced to abandon her Gaza handbag factory, but still the city remains on her label. The former fashion photographer and journalist started her company as a hobby while at home with a newborn. Now she sells thousands of the bespoke bags every year. Despite thousands of happy customers, a thriving factory in the Israeli-occupied West Bank city of Nablus and a workshop in Tel Aviv, Trotoush-Argaman, is still hurting from the closure of her only factory in Gaza. That’s partly why nearly every one of her fabric bags mentions the city on its label. Not only is it good for business, she says, but leaving the label also makes a political statement.
Palestinian refugees — Syria, Tunisia, Lebanon, Sri Lanka
What must it be like to be unable to get a passport and not to be welcome anywhere?
Palestinian child killed in mortar attack on Neirab camp
DAMASCUS (PIC) 3 May — A Palestinian child was killed on Friday when a mortar projectile landed in Neirab refugee camp in Aleppo, according to the action group for the Palestinians in Syria. The child was identified as Yousuf Hood. Other civilians suffered injuries in the mortar attack on the camp.
In the besieged Yarmouk refugee camp, the UNRWA was able to distribute some food parcels among the residents and help some patients to leave the camp. Some residents in Al-Yarmouk camp managed to cultivate some crops in empty land, public parks and rooftops so as to meet their food needs, especially since the food aid distributed every once in a while does not suffice for all residents.
In another incident, Ali Skafi, one of the four Palestinian Asylum-seekers who were arrested on April 23 in Sri Lanka, was transferred to hospital after a sharp decline in his health condition. Skafi and three other Palestinians who fled the Syrian war have been on hunger strike for several days in protest at their detention and exposure to maltreatment by the Sri Lankan authorities. The detainees are still in a military prison and they are 22-year-old Hosam Shahabi from Al-Yarmouk camp, 20-year-old Mohamed Hussein from Daraa camp, 25-year-old Ali Skafi from Husseiniyeh camp and Ihab Addali from Muzeireeb town in Daraa. The detainees appealed to human rights groups to intervene quickly to have them released from a Sri Lankan jail.
link to www.palestine-info.co.uk/En/
Lebanon denies entry to Palestinians fleeing Syria
Middle East Monitor 4 May — The Lebanese interior ministry has denied entry to Palestinians fleeing Syria and instructed the competent authorities across the border to request prior approval from Lebanon’s General Security Agency before giving travel permits to Palestinians holding Syrian identity cards. According to the Working Group for Palestinians in Syria, under the new rules only Palestinians deemed to be special cases are allowed to enter Lebanon from Syria with approval from Lebanese border control at Al-Masnaa crossing, the only border post still open to them. The Syrian Interior Ministry has stopped granting travel permits to Palestinian refugees heading for Lebanon and is demanding prior consent from Lebanese General Security. Meanwhile, 30 year-old Palestinian journalist Bilal Ahmed Bilal is reported to have died under torture in a Syrian prison cell. Syrian Air Force Intelligence agents arrested Bilal in September 2011 in the town of Darya. He was charged with protesting against the government and filming, and was later sentenced to 15 years in prison by a military court.
12 Palestinian refugees deported by Tunisian authorities
TUNISIA (PIC) 2 May — Twelve Palestinian refugees, including two children and a woman, were deported by Tunisian authorities on Thursday after having been denied access into the Tunisian territories and detained at Carthage International airport since last Sunday. According to the action group for Palestinians of Syria, the Tunisian authorities pressed ahead with the deportation order and forced the refugees out of the country despite appeals and warning made by the Group and other human rights organizations against the potential risks of deportation. One of the deportees said that they had tried to enter Libya which refused to receive them at pretext of illegal visas and deported them to Tunisia where they were detained in the Tunisian airport transit lounge and flown back to Lebanon. The refugee revealed concerns over chances of being deported by Lebanese authorities to Syria, where they are very likely to be arrested as soon as they arrive. The deported refugees called on all human rights and civil action organizations to immediately intervene so as to bring such risky deportation orders to a halt … The refugees arrived at Beirut airport on Thursday afternoon and entered Lebanese territories without any exceptional measures.
link to www.palestine-info.co.uk/En/
PLO delegation heads to Syria over refugee crisis
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 4 May – A delegation representing the PLO left the West Bank for Jordan on Sunday en route to the Syrian capital where they are scheduled to check up on the conditions of Palestinian refugees in the war-torn country. The delegation is headed by member of the PLO Executive Committee Zakariyya al-Agha who also chairs the PLO’s refugees affairs department. In a statement Sunday, al-Agha said the visit to Syria comes to follow up decisions during previous trips. The delegation, according to al-Agha, will work with concerned parties in Syria to try and overcome obstacles which impeded implementation of a PLO initiative to avoid involving Palestinian refugees in the ongoing conflict. The initiative came after gunmen redeployed in the Yarmouk refugee camp and as a result the camp came under blockade again. The delegation will also hold meetings with representatives of PLO factions in Syria.
Activism / Solidarity
Students for justice in Palestine breathes new life to solidarity activism in the US
[with many photos] Middle East Monitor 2 May by Dr. Sarah Marusek — American universities and college campuses have long served as a vibrant front in the struggle for social justice and today they are increasingly providing critical spaces of resistance in the fight against Israeli apartheid and the occupation of Palestine. While several faculty associations in the US have recently made international headlines for endorsing the call to boycott Israeli universities and academic institutions, the US-led movement Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) has also been at the forefront of the solidarity movement for Palestinian rights, and is arguably even leading the way. SJP was first established at the University of California, Berkeley in 2001, and has since grown into a national network with over 160 branches at universities and colleges across the US. SJP held its first national conference in 2011 at Columbia University. Since then, it has held two more conferences and has established regional networks as well. Of course, the movement has also faced many obstacles. SJP is actively targeted by university and college administrations, which face persistent and systematic pressure from pro-Israel groups … The organisational strength of the pro-Israel academic lobby has meant that members of SJP, much like their Palestinian counterparts in the occupied territories, are often targeted and repressed. As a result, in many cases they are forced to abide by different standards from the rest of the student body.
3,000 PA officers ‘to join Gaza security forces’ in unity step
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 4 May — Arrangements are being made for some 3,000 Palestinian Authority policemen to join the Gaza government’s security forces, a statement said Sunday. Abd al-Salam Siyam, secretary-general of the Gaza government’s cabinet, said in a statement that the officers would be sent to Gaza in order to begin implementing the Hamas-PLO unity deal reached on April 23. The officers worked in Gaza before the PA left the coastal enclave in 2007. Fatah official Azzam al-Ahmad will visit the Strip to discuss the formation of the unity government, the statement said, without specifying when the visit would take place. “Hamas and the Gaza government have made a strategic decision to move on with reconciliation and so they will do what is needed to implement the agreement,” the statement added.
Hamas not giving up military wing, despite agreement
Al-Monitor 2 May by Adnan Abu Amer — The April 23 reconciliation agreement signed by Palestinian leaders did not address the most contentious issue between them: the weapons of the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades, Hamas’ military wing. Both Fatah and Hamas thought it best to pass on the issue to avoid it posing an obstacle to reconciliation. One factor complicating matters, Al-Monitor learned from the Ministry of Finance in the Gaza Strip, is that some 25,000 employees in the Hamas government work in the security services, and most of them belong to the Qassam Brigades. According to one Qassam military official, after the formation of the next government, these employees will take orders from the brigade’s military leadership, not their current manager at the Ministry of Interior. On April 29, the Foreign Ministry of the Hamas government released a statement in which it noted, “One of the challenges facing the success of the reconciliation is that President Mahmoud Abbas had announced that a government means that [all weapons should be under a unified command] and that Hamas should lay down its arms.” The statement went on to say that asking Hamas to hand over its weapons is a taboo.Thus, it appears, Hamas and Fatah agreeing to postpone discussion of the Qassam Brigades’ weapons did not preclude Hamas’ further examining this sensitive subject in recent days.
Hamas: Security out of mandate of unity government
World Bulletin 2 May — The affiliations of security agencies in the Gaza Strip and the occupied West Bank will not change even after the formation of a national unity government in the Palestinian territories within weeks, a senior Hamas leader said Thursday. “The national unity government will unify government institutions in Gaza and the West Bank,” Moussa Abu Marzouq, a member of the political office of Hamas, said during a meeting with Gaza Interior Minister Fathi Hamad and top ministry officials. “The security agencies, however, will continue to function as is the case now until a government is formed after the elections,” the website of the Gaza Interior Ministry quoted him as adding. Hamas decries member’s arrest in W. Bank Palestinian resistance movement Hamas on Thursday accused the Palestinian Authority (PA)’s security apparatus of arresting one of its members and summoning six others in different cities of the occupied West Bank. “The PA has stepped up detentions… of resistance elements in various West Bank cities within the context of its ongoing security coordination with Israel,” Hamas, which governs the Gaza Strip, said in a statement. “Security agencies [in the PA-controlled West Bank] have continued their political detentions in disregard of the reconciliation deal [signed last week] between the Palestinian factions,” the movement added.
Abbas may meet Hamas political chief in Doha
GAZA CITY (TurkishPress) 3 May by Ola Attalah — Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas may meet Hamas’ political bureau chief Khaled Meshaal in Doha in the coming days, a Hamas spokesman said Saturday. The meeting “will take up mechanisms of implementing a recent reconciliation deal,” Sami Abu Zuhri was quoted as saying by the Gaza government-run Al-Ray news agency. Abu Zuhri said that contacts were going on between Hamas and Fatah group since the signing of their reconciliation deal last month … Senior Fatah member Mahmoud al-Aloul said earlier that Abbas would leave for Qatar on Sunday to meet the Gulf country’s Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad to update him on the reconciliation deal with Hamas. News websites close to the Palestinian President said that he would go to Doha to attend the wedding of a grandchild who is living there and also meet with Meshaal.
Lapid: Peace with Hamas-Fatah unity a possibility
Ynetnews 5 May — Finance Minister says that peace is possible with unity government if Hamas recognizes Israel, ‘PLO used to be a terrorist organization’ — …Though Lapid did clarify that he is currently against any talks that include Hamas elements, his comments went against sentiments from most Israeli officials including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu who expressed strict opposition to the possibility of any such talks since the end of a recent 9-month period of peace talks. According to the Wall Street Journal, Lapid said that Hamas, widely considered to be a terrorist organization, would first have to recognize the State of Israel and renounce violence, but included that such a change in policy is not unheard of.
Palestinian-Americans irate over new US banking rules
RAMALLAH (The Media Line) 1 May by Abdullah H. Erakat — demand treaty against double taxation — Ibtisam Rashid says she felt uncomfortable two months ago when her Palestinian bank asked her to prove her US citizenship. Uneasiness turned to surprise when the bank employee asked her when she last filed an American tax return. Silent, Rashid listened to him explain that he was ‘simply’ gathering information for the United States Treasury Internal Revenue Service (IRS). “It sounded so scandalous,” Rashid, 29, told The Media Line. The Palestinian Monetary Authority (PMA) has given instructions to its banks to ask customers for a copy of their American passport or Green Card, birth certificate and social security number. Israeli banks are also asking their clients with US citizenship to fill out the same forms, as part of FACTA, the US Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act. The goal is to stop money laundering, although many US citizens in both Israel and the West Bank fear the real goal is to find tax evaders. Although legally required to, many US citizens in both areas do not file American tax returns. Although preparations have been underway for two years now, dual citizens were shocked to be asked by their Palestinian banks to fill out two forms — an “Authorization to Use and Declare form,’ which authorizes the customer’s bank to disclose any information to the IRS and a W-9 Request for Taxpayer Identification Number and Certification … “The double taxation happens because we do not have a tax treaty with the US. So income is taxed in both jurisdictions. Thus we need to have a tax agreement with the US and this also applies to income earned by Palestinians in the US,” said Al Wazir. In Israel and in Jordan, a treaty provides that tax paid in Israel can be applied to US tax liabilities and vice-versa. But the US has not yet signed a similar treaty with the Palestinian Authority.
Hay truck drivers block main road in Tubas
TUBAS (Ma‘an) 4 May – More than 70 hay trucks blocked a main road in Tubas in the northern West Bank protesting fines they receive from custom agents when they bring loads of hay from Israel to the West Bank. One of the drivers, Marwan Ibrahim, told Ma’an that more than 70 drivers blocked the main road and started an open strike. The strike, he said, includes abstention from bringing cargoes of hay from Israel because custom agents who patrol the road keep giving drivers fines up to 1,500 shekels. He highlighted that custom agents demand that drivers bring a clearing tax receipt . Drivers say they should bring only invoices. “A driver profits only 200 shekels out of each load, and in return custom agents give them a fine of 1,500 shekels,” added Ibrahim. He said that drivers try their best to support Palestinian farmers.
Analysis / Opinion / Films
The latest page in Israel’s divide and conquer playbook: enlisting Palestinian Christians / Alex Kane
Mondoweiss 3 May — Haitham Haddad is used to Israeli Jews asking whether he is “an Arab or a Christian.” The Haifa-born artist and t-shirt designer, who grew up in the Palestinian Christian community, has been hearing the query since he was young. “It’s in their daily vocabulary — and you’re like ‘what?’” Haddad, a 23-year-old whose art draws on religious themes but doesn’t consider himself a Christian today, told me while sitting in the cafe where he works in Haifa. “I think the Israeli community separates Druze, Arabs and Christians since forever.” Now the attempt to divide non-Jewish minorities within Israel is intensifying. The latest manifestation of the drive is the Israeli military’s announcement last month that all potential Palestinian Christian recruits would receive voluntary enlistment notices. Coupled with recent Knesset legislation that would formally divide Christians and Muslims on a labor representation committee, the steps point to how Israeli officials are trying to enshrine and harden sectarian differences within the Palestinian community. Christians make up 160,000, or about 10 percent, of a total of 1.5 million Palestinian citizens of Israel–the descendants of those who managed to stay within Israel’s borders after the 1947-49 war, when Israeli forces expelled hundreds of thousands of Palestinians … While not compulsory, the sending out of enlistment notices has touched a nerve in the Palestinian Christian community. Most Palestinian Christians consider themselves a core part of the Palestinian people, and are vehemently opposed to serving for a military that destroyed Palestinian society in 1948 and occupies the West Bank, Gaza and Jerusalem. “They feel its a betrayal, they’re going to shoot people in the West Bank tomorrow,” said Majd Kayyal, a Palestinian journalist from Haifa and the editor of Adalah’s website, when asked about how the community reacts to those who choose to serve. Some Christian leaders have come out strongly against the new initiative. In late April, Ma’an News reported that two community leaders–Orthodox Archbishop Atallah Hanna and former Latin Patriarch Michel Sabbah–issued a call for youth to “tear” up their notices, “throw them away and not to engage with them in any way.” And Hadash, the Arab-Jewish left-wing party, has organized public events to drum up opposition to the effort. “The Israelis are using the Christians in order to hit the unity of the Palestinians,” said Abir Kopty, a Palestinian activist who was born Christian. “They have done it with the Druze, and now they want to do it with the Christians.” … Kopty, a former City Councilwoman in Nazareth, said that Israel wants to employ Christians as a propaganda tool in the fight against international criticism of the state and the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement. “They want to use Palestinians within Israel as the card that shows that Israel is not an apartheid [state], that Israel is not a racist country, it’s a democracy,” she told me in a phone interview.
Red card for racism: Activists demand FIFA kick out Israel / Annie Robbins
Mondoweiss 2 May– Last March we reported Jibril al-Rajoub, Chairman of the Palestinian Football Association, demanded the expulsion of Israel from FIFA and the International Olympic Committee as a result of “Israeli brutality” emphasizing “the occupation’s insistence on destroying Palestinian sport.” Last summer FIFA president Sepp Blatter stated he would set up a taskforce to deal with the many problems Palestinians must deal with sporting under occupation. Those “problems” include everything from travel restrictions to the arrest, torture, maiming and killing of Palestinian athletes. At this time al-Rajoub threatened he would “call on delegates at the next FIFA Congress to expel Israel.” That time has come. The FIFA congress is meeting again days before the World Cup begins on June 12th in Brazil next month. Supporters of Palestinian footballers are fed up and we are demanding Israel be kicked out of FIFA. An international campaign of sports activists, Red Card Israeli Racism (IRCR), believes” we can bring pressure on Israel to drop its racism and apartheid policies and laws.” Their objectives include: *Exclusion of the IFA from hosting any Euro 2020 tournaments *Replacement of Israel as host of the UEFA 2015 Women’s U19 tournament. *Boycott by UK teams and players of any tournaments planned in Israel and of any matches with Israeli teams *Direct support of Palestinian football teams. IRCR’s petition ”Suspend the Israeli Football Association’s FIFA membership” available here (pdf) picked up thousands of supporters after details of the horrifying attack on two Palestinian soccer players, cousins Jawhar Nasser Jawhar, 19, and Adam Abd al-Raouf Halabiya, 17, were reported by Dave Zirin, Sports Editor for The Nation, in March.
Hamas: Political pragmatists or Islamic dogmatics? / Moriel Rothman
972blog 1 May — Time and again, Hamas’ willingness to abide by ceasefires with Israel has been driven by political considerations, mostly vis-à-vis its participation in the Palestinian Authority and PLO — There are few skills more crucial for understanding the Palestinian-Israeli landscape than the ability to differentiate between rhetoric and reality. For example: The Netanyahu government is committed to reaching a peace deal with the Palestinians: rhetoric or reality? Or another example, made increasingly relevant over the last few days with the Fatah-Hamas reconciliation-deal: Hamas is Islamically committed to destroying Israel and thus unable to make political compromise. Rhetoric or reality? Rhetorically, this is certainly the case: Hamas’ charter is rife with anti-Semitic language and unambiguous in its embrace of constant violence until an Islamic state is established in all of Palestine. Likewise, “peace initiatives” are “Islamically” shunned, “for renouncing any part of Palestine means renouncing part of the religion.” However, a study of politics inevitably teaches the careful student that words and actions do not necessarily align. Therefore, only through an analysis of Hamas’ actions and corresponding statements together, can the relevance of Hamas’ charter – and other Hamas documents and rhetoric – be determined. If Hamas’ charter was an action plan, in principle Hamas and Israel ought to have been in a state of non-stop war for the past quarter century. This hasn’t been the case. In fact, history has shown that Hamas, rather than being a religious group whose politics are driven by its Islam, is in fact a political group whose Islamic declarations are tailored and tweaked to align with to its political aspirations. In other words, Hamas’ rhetoric tells us little about Hamas’ true nature: a political movement with political goals, namely: power and political inclusion.
Israeli sanctions on Palestinians could backfire / Shlomi Eldar
Al-Monitor 1 May — On April 29, Israel began economic sanctions on the Palestinian Authority (PA) on the heels of the reconciliation agreement between Fatah and Hamas. This is accomplished by deducting the PA’s debts from the tax money that Israel collects on the PA’s behalf in accordance with economic agreements signed following the Oslo Accord. These funds serve the PA for payment of its employees’ salaries. At this point, after the collapse of the negotiations and without any diplomatic resolution, the Israeli punishment has weighty implications. Israel has already activated this type of weapon many times in the past, as far back as 1997. But not only did it not achieve its desired goals, it even caused greater damage — the results of which are borne by Israel to this very day. And so, on the day Hamas won the PA elections in January 2006, former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert decided to punish the PA for the results of the vote … The assumption that guided the Israeli decision-makers in 2006 and today as well, so it seems, is that economic pressure will instill “reason” or regret in the minds of the Palestinians. As a result, they would aspire to draw the right conclusions and “return to the straight and narrow road.” However, this approach was not proved to be effective. Over the many months in which the PA employees did not receive their salaries, their morale dropped as did their motivation. In addition, the Palestinian depots emptied and the security apparatuses barely functioned because there was no money for the operational equipment needed for routine activity (vehicles, ammunition, uniforms). As far as weapons and ammunition supply from Israel in general, that was out of the question altogether. The gloomy results were not long in coming. Hamas in Gaza, which enjoyed stable, wide-ranging supplies from Iran at the time, was able to equip its own forces — the “implementation forces” established as a counterweight to the PA forces … When Hamas carried out a military coup in Gaza in June 2007, the PA security mechanism’s personnel were so depressed that they did not even fire a single shot. They were equipped with outdated, dilapidated weapons; their spirits were low and fear of Hamas was great. Thus, Gaza easily fell into Hamas hands, and Israel had a not insignificant part in the collapse of the Palestinian systems. But, as aforesaid, the lesson has not been learned. Again, the “punishment” that Israel decided to inflict on Abbas due to the latter’s understandings with Hamas toward reconciliation may well prove to be a very bad deal. Now, more than ever.
FILM: Sometimes I’m afraid, sometimes I hit — by Yuval Auron, Israel
Euromedaudiovisuel — MADE in MED short [10-minute] film contest – Finalist – Synopsis The people of Nabi Saleh, in the West Bank, have been holding weekly protests against the Israeli occupation for four years. Through a series of interviews with the village’s children, we learn of their unique and personal perspective of the struggle: how they cope with the constant state of violence around them, as they see their parents being arrested and family members being killed, and if and when they see some hope in their situation …Yuval is a political activist, focusing mainly on the Palestinian struggle. In 2009, he spent a month and a half in a military prison after refusing to enlist to the army [there are three other Palestine-themed or Palestine-filmed finalists here].
FILM: Broken Dreams – by Mohamed Harb, Palestine
Euromedaudiovisuel – MADE in MED short [10-minute] film contest – Finalist – Synopsis Broken Dreams tells the story of Darin, a Palestinian girl whose life changes forever when she is 14. After her father has a terrible accident, Darin is forced to step out from his shadow to become the family’s main financial provider. Taking his place on the family fishing boat, she becomes Gaza’s first professional fisherwoman at the age of 14.