Land, property theft & destruction / Ethnic cleansing / Apartheid / Restriction of movement
Army reservists protest against hate crimes in heart of West Bank
Haaretz 19 May by Gili Cohen — Dozens of Israeli reservists staged a protest against what they termed “hate crimes and racism” outside the radical West Bank settlement of Yitzhar on Sunday evening. Yair Fink, one of the organizers, told the rally: “We regard defending Israel to be the highest value – both against terrorists from the outside and terrorists from within. As reservists, we draw a clear red line – before there is a murder here, which could be that of a soldier or friend from the army.” Arguments broke out between the protesters and settlers from the area. Gershon Mesika, head of the Shomron regional council, confronted the reservists, calling their protest “political demagoguery” and “cheap politicking.” Fink, he pointed out, was previously an assistant to former Labor Party leader Sheli Yacimovich. Fink replied that rather than preventing the reservists from demonstrating, Mesika should be preventing hate crimes from being committed. He also reminded Mesika that not too long ago settlers had destroyed an army base in Yitzhar.
Also on Sunday, Police Commissioner Yohanan Danino announced that a permanent police station would be erected in Yitzhar. The decision follows several violent incidents involving Yitzhar settlers in recent weeks. After a joint tour of the settlement by Danino, Finance Minister Yair Lapid and Public Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch, it was decided to situate the new station in a prominent place in the center of the community, in order to better monitor and control the extreme right-wing elements operating in Yitzhar.
State to raze outpost after settlers’ purchase papers found to be forged
Haaretz 18 May by Chaim Levinson — The settlement movement’s construction arm used forged documents to “prove” that land in the West Bank outpost of Migron was legally purchased, a police investigation has concluded. As a result, the buildings constructed on the privately-owned Palestinian land will be razed by Wednesday, government attorney Aner Helman, from the prosecution’s High Court division, said. The illegal outpost of Migron was the subject of a High Court of Justice petition filed by Peace Now in 2006. The court eventually ordered the outpost razed by summer 2012. But in July of that year, shortly before the planned demolition, Migron residents asked the court to rescind its ruling after purchase documents of three lots in the outpost were submitted to the prosecution by al-Watan, a subsidiary of Amana, the settlement movement’s construction arm … This isn’t the first time questionable documents have been used to support settler claims to have purchased Palestinian lands.
Israel approves illegal confiscation of 700 dunams of Palestinian lands
IMEMC 19 May by Saed Bannoura — [Sunday, May 18, 2014] The Israeli “Regional Council for Planning and Construction” approved a plan that would lead to the annexation of more than 700 dunams (172.9 acres) as part of Israel’s illegal plan to build “National Gardens” on lands that belong to Palestinian residents of the al-Eesawiyya and at-Tour towns, in occupied East Jerusalem. The Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel (Adalah) and the Arab Center for Alternative Planning have reported they filed an appeal, back in April of 2013, in coordination with the Civil Coalition for Palestinian Rights in Jerusalem, against the illegitimate Israeli plan … Enaya Jeries Banna, a city planning expert working for the Badil Center said that the Israeli plan prevents any development and expansion of the al-Eesawiyya town, home to more than 15,000 Palestinians, and the at-Tour town, home to more than 26,000 Palestinians. Banna added that the plan also prevents any geographical contiguity between various Palestinian villages and towns in the area, and is meant to link Area E1 with Israel’s settlements around occupied East Jerusalem, despite their illegal status under International Law.
MKs propose bill to allow Jewish prayer on Temple Mount
Ynet 18 May by Akiva Novik — Labor and Likud MKs have joined forces on a new bill that proposes to allow Jews to pray at the Temple Mount compound – for the first time since the destruction of the Second Temple, as Jews are currently barred from praying at the site.
Lag Ba’omer in Hebron: Settlers torch Palestinian orchard
Haaretz 18 May by Amira Hass & Yair Ettinger — Haaretz photographer who tried to take photos of bonfire from up close was attacked by settlers — Settlers in Hebron celebrated Lag Ba’Omer Saturday night by lighting a bonfire in an olive grove in the heart of the Palestinian neighborhood Tel Rumeida. The grove, which belongs to the al-Knibi family, is located in the front of a house inhabited by the Youth Against Settlements center, an organization that documents settlers, soldiers and police in Hebron. The owners of the orchard and their children looked on with concern as the fire approached their olive trees, while the young Israelis who were celebrating burned the flags of the Palestinian Authority, Fatah and the team of international observers. The group, which began setting up the sound system right as Shabbat ended, played loud music, jumped around and sang as they passed around Palestinian homes, whose windows are protected by iron bars. Haaretz photographer Emil Salman, who requested to take photographs of the bonfire from close up, was assaulted by several settlers. A policeman who was there asked he leave the area for fear he would disturb the peace … In the past the owners of the orchard have filed complaints with the police and the Civil Administration about the dangerous and unauthorized use of their land, but in vain. A Civil Administration officer requested on Friday that the bonfire not be prepared on the private land, but he was ignored. The residents of Hebron settlements began gathering trees and planks already on Thursday, and the foundation for the bonfire was prepared the next day in advance, so as not to desecrate Shabbat. The residents of Tel Rumeida say that the planks were taken from among the shops in the closed Palestinian marketplace.
Army demolishes wall, uproots land, in Hebron
IMEMC 19 May by Saed Bannoura — [Sunday, May 18, 2014] Several Israeli military jeeps, accompanied by a military bulldozer, invaded Tel Rumeida area, in the center of the southern West Bank city of Hebron, where they demolished a wall surrounding a Palestinian home, and uprooted a nearby Palestinian land. Resident Feryal Abu Haykal told the Palestinian News & Info Agency (WAFA) that personnel of the so-called “Israeli Department of Antiquities” accompanied by several Israeli jeeps surrounded her father’s home, and demolished its wall. She added that the army also uprooted farmland belonging to her father, and informed the family that the digging is part of “archaeological excavations.” Abu Haykal told WAFA that the soldiers also wanted to uproot and confiscate a thousand-year-old olive tree, in her father’s yard, but the family managed to save it.
Fighting for the history of Tel Rumeida
[with video] HEBRON, Occupied Palestine ( International Women’s Peace Service ) 17 May —The Israeli occupation uses many methods to take over land – from settlements and military camps to the nature reserve and political treaties. However, the Abu Haikal family of Tel Rumeida in Al-Khalil (Hebron), faces a much more unexpected enemy: archaeologists. Currently, the family home is completely surrounded by an Israeli archaeological excavation – there is only one gate into the property, which can be shut at any time, leaving the family isolated from the surrounding city. At first glance, the presence of an archaeological site seems quite positive, or at the very least harmless, however a quick look at the politics surrounding the Tel Rumeida excavation shows that this is far more sinister than a simple historical inquisition. Under the Oslo Accords, the Israeli Antiquities Authority (IAA) must coordinate all of their work in the West Bank with the Palestinian Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities. In Tel Rumeida, Palestinian officials have been denied entry. IAA archaeologists – many of whom live in the surrounding illegal settlements – began digging in Tel Rumeida on January 5th, 2014. They claimed they were looking for the graves of Jesse and Ruth, figures from the Hebrew Bible. The IAA has also stated their intent to turn the area into a ‘Biblical Archaeological Park’, depending on what the dig turns up. While no uniquely Jewish artifacts have been found, Palestinian officials confirmed that the settler-archaeologists have destroyed several Muslim graves that were found on the site. Residents of Tel Rumeida have reported that IAA employees are also in the process of bulldozing an ancient Canaanite retaining wall. For them, the deliberate annihilation of non-Jewish history in Hebron is anything but innocuous. The Israeli Antiquities Authority has been a tool for settlement expansion and land grabs in the West Bank for a long time, including the East Jerusalem neighbourhood of Silwan, the town of Khirbet Susiya, and other settlements within Hebron. The strategy is simple: Archaeologists enter an area and search for signs of uniquely Jewish history. When a site or artifact is discovered – or possibly fabricated – the area is declared to be an integral part of the ‘Jewish State’. To ‘protect’ the land, a settlement is built on top of the site, driving away the Palestinian owners.
Israeli forces storm school; settlers seize agricultural pond near Bethlehem
BETHLEHEM (WAFA) 18 May – Israeli forces Sunday stormed a school in the village of al-Khader, south of Bethlehem, while settlers took over an agricultural property in the village, reported Ahmad Salah, coordinator of the anti-settlement committee in the village. He said soldiers stormed the school in the morning hours, causing a state of panic and horror among the students, most in their first, second and third grade of school.
Meanwhile, Israeli settlers from the illegal Israeli settlement outpost of Sidi Boaz took over an agricultural pond which residents use to irrigate their crops to the west of the village and conducted religious rituals there. Salah said the incident comes as a prelude to expand the outpost, stressing the escalated assaults by settlers in the area, including the closing off of agricultural roads and the act of unleashing dogs at residents.
Settlement toxins kill 14 sheep in Jordan Valley
IMEMC 19 May by Saed Bannoura — [Sunday, May 18, 2014] Aref Daraghma, head of the Al-Maleh Village Council, in the Northern Plains of the occupied West Bank, stated that at least 14 sheep died due to toxins left by Israeli settlers in a Palestinian grazing land, close to an illegitimate Israeli settlement. Daraghma said that 14 sheep, belonging a local shepherd, identified as Abdul-Rahim Bsharaat, from the al-Hadeediyya village, died after eating grass mixed with toxins, the Wattan News Agency has reported. He added that the settlers frequently dispose toxins, trash and other materials into Palestinian grazing lands in the area, especially near the Roeh illegal settlement, completely built on private Palestinian lands. Daraghma further stated that Israeli settlers in the area are extremely hostile, frequently attacking Palestinian farmlands, grazing area, shepherds and their flocks. He added that resident Bsharaat’s losses are estimated by 1,000 Jordanian dinars (approximately $1,413).
17 olive trees uprooted by Israeli settlers in Jenin
JENIN (PIC) 18 May — More than 17 olives trees were completely knocked down on Saturday by a horde of Israeli extremist settlers in Palestinians’ native lands in Um al-Rayhan [Khirbet Um al-Rihan] village south-west of Jenin. Sheikh Nafaa Zaid Al-Kilani, a targeted landowner, told PIC: “I’ve been told by a shepherd who comes to graze his sheep in the area that my olive trees have been wrecked. I was shocked when I caught sight of 17 olive trees, more than 10 years old each, reduced to rubble.” Nafaa’s land is located at the southern corner of Khilet Al-Eis, one of the largest forest areas in the West Bank. “The Israeli occupation erected a checkpoint between West Bank and ’48 occupied Palestine areas, where large herds of wild pigs were released, preventing Palestinian farmers from planting their lands. The boars wreck whatever comes in their way, even the small plants that Palestinian farmers have tried by all means to preserve,” Sheikh Nafaa further maintained. Um al-Rayhan village is home to 500 citizens, all Zaid Kilani’s offspring [probably ‘relatives’], surrounded by Israeli settlements from all sides. [Umm al-Rehan is one of seven villages in Barta‘a enclave located in the Seam Zone which straddles the Green Line.]
Israeli home demolition in Negev ‘leaves 6 homeless’
[photos, short video] BEERSHEBA (Ma‘an) 18 May — Israeli bulldozers on Sunday demolished a house in a Bedouin village in the Negev desert, witnesses said. Locals told Ma‘an that Israeli bulldozers demolished the house in the unrecognized village of Wadi al-Niam under the pretext that it was built without a license. The demolition left a woman and five children homeless, the head of of Wadi al-Niam’s village council said. “These children are like orphans — their mom is raising them alone because their father is in jail,” Labbad Abu Afasha told Ma’an. “They demolished the house leaving the children in the open.” Talab Abu Arar, a Palestinian member of the Israeli Knesset, described the demolition as “utmost oppression and arrogance.”
Israeli army seizes tents near Nablus
NABLUS (WAFA) 18 May – Israeli forces Sunday seized three privately owned tents in Kherbet at-Tuwayel [or Khirbet al-Tawil], a small village south of Nablus, according to Ghassan Daghlas, who monitors settlement activities in the northern West Bank. He said army forces broke through the village in the early morning hours and seized the tents – the third to occur in less than a month in the village following other similar confiscations.
Living inside an invisible cage: Welcome to Nabi Samuel
[with map] 972blog 18 May by Moriel Rothman — ‘To bring in gas we need a permit. To bring in sacks of flour in we need a permit. And when we get a permit, we arrive at the checkpoint and they tell us we have no permit.’ There are only 10 homes left in the small Palestinian village of Nabi Samuel, just northwest of Jerusalem. The remaining families are fighting an uphill battle to continue living in their homes. As its name indicates, Nabi Samuel is home to the proclaimed burial site of the Prophet Samuel. In the 11th century, Christian crusaders built a fortress and church on top of the tomb. When Salah a-Din conquered Palestine in the late 12th century, the church was turned into a mosque and the village of Nabi Samuel was built around it; layers upon layers. Then came the bulldozers. Eid Barakat was seven years old in 1971 – four years after Israel occupied the West Bank and the small village of Nabi Samuel. “They came at dawn and loaded us onto trucks. We were young, so we treated it as a game. We didn’t understand why our parents were weeping.” Israeli bulldozers destroyed most of the village that day, leaving only 10 homes standing on the edge of village. Today, the area around the tomb and mosque is a popular Israeli tourist site, replete with signs that go into detail about the ancient past but make no mention of the contemporary destruction. The 10 houses on the outskirts of the village make up what remains of Nabi Samuel. And those remains are being threatened as well. Between ‘Greater Jerusalem’ and a segregated highway Since Israel completed its construction of the separation barrier in the Nabi Samuel area some four years ago, the village has been trapped inside what residents and activists call an “invisible cage.” To the east and west, the village is fenced in by the separation barrier; the nearest checkpoint to Ramallah is located five kilometers away. To the north it is blocked off by Highway 443, which Israelis may know as a convenient bypass road running from Jerusalem to Ben-Gurion Airport, but which Palestinians have come to know as a direct source of dispossession and of subsequent segregation for much of the past decade….
Violence / Raids / Attacks / Clashes / Illegal arrests
Boars released by settlers attack, wound Palestinian in Salfit
SALFIT (WAFA) 17 May – A Palestinian was Saturday attacked and injured by a pack of boars deliberately released by Israeli settlers near Salfit, according to a local witness. The father, Nader al-Qarawni Bani Nimra said that a pack of boars attacked his son while he was on the way back to his house to the south of Salfit, sustaining wounds in his right eye. Settlers frequently and deliberately release boars to ruin Palestinian farmlands and crops in different areas of the West Bank
Journalists Syndicate: ‘Journalists are increasingly targeted by Israeli forces’
RAMALLAH (WAFA) 17 May – The Journalists Syndicate condemned Saturday the targeting of Palestinian journalists by Israeli forces during Friday clashes near Ofer jail. The Journalists Syndicate stated that ‘Issam al-Rimawi and ‘Abdul Kareem Mestaif, two cameramen, were deliberately targeted with rubber-coated bullets by Israeli forces. The two cameramen were among other reporters who covered Friday anti-wall and settlement rallies organized in commemoration of the 66th anniversary of the Nakba (Catastrophe). The Journalists Syndicate called upon all relevant international organizations to exert pressure on Israel in order to compel Israeli soldiers to stop their recurrent attacks against Palestinian journalists, stressing that it would send an official letter to the International Federation of Journalists demanding it to intervene in this respect
Photo story: Palestinians protest the deaths of two martyrs
OFER, Occupied Palestine (ISM) 17 May — On the 16th May, Palestinians protest on the road to Ofer prison, following the murder of two Palestinian youths on the same road on the previous day during the Nakba Day protest. The youths, 22-year-old Muhammad Audah Abu al-Thahir and 17-year-old Nadim Siyam Nuwarah, were both shot with live ammunition … The tear gas canisters are hot. When they land on something flammable it will ignite. Here, the fire brigade try to extinguish a fire that had taken hold in a grassy field next to the protesters … In all, four protesters were shot yesterday with rubber-coated steel bullets, one protester was hit with a tear gas canister in the face, another protester was shot in the face at close range with a foam-tipped projectile and one 16-year-old boy was shot in the leg with live ammunition.
Friends of youth slain on Nakba Day hold vigils in his memory
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 17 May — The friends and classmates of a youth slain by Israeli soldiers during Nakba Day protests earlier this week held vigils to honor his memory in the central West Bank city of Ramallah on Friday. Crowds gathered to pay tribute to the life of 15-year-old Nadim Siyam Nuwara at Saint George’s High School, at the headquarters of the First Ramallah Group scouting organization where he was a member, and at Manara square in the city center.
Eyewitness debunks Israeli journalist’s claim Palestinians nearly ‘lynched’ him
Electronic Intifada 18 May by Ali Abunimah — An Israeli eyewitness has contradicted the dramatic account of an Israeli reporter that he and a colleague were “seconds away from being beaten to death by a mob of Palestinian masked men” near the Ofer military prison in the occupied West Bank town of Beitunia during a demonstration on Friday. Two Palestinian youths were shot dead with live ammunition by Israeli occupation forces during a Nakba Day protest at the same location the previous day. “I’m not prone to exaggeration,” the journalist Avi Issacharoff wrote in The Times of Israel of the Friday incident. “It was a case of life and death, and I was within moments of falling victim to the kind of lynch that saw two Israeli soldiers who strayed into Ramallah in 2000 beaten to death by a baying mob.” “I was saved by pure good fortune,” Issacharoff adds. “Two plainclothes members of the Palestinian Authority security forces happened to be nearby and waded in to extricate me. I was already being hit and kicked from behind when they rescued me.”… Issacharoff alleges conspiratorially that Palestinian journalists are behind these attacks in order to “punish” their Israeli counterparts for Israeli refusal to allow them into Israel. “Non-incident” Noa Shaindlinger, an Israeli eyewitness, says that Issacharoff was grossly exaggerating what she called a “non-incident” and that at least four other Israeli journalists who habitually cover such protests – David Reeb, Yisrael Puterman, Haim Schwartzenberg and Miki Katzman – were present and none of them raised the ire of the protestors … “I was by a gas station and I heard a commotion,” she said. “I went over and saw what I realized were the Israeli journalists [Issacharoff and Walla! News photographer Daniel Bock] and a whole group of protesters who had run up to the journalists. I ran right in. I asked, ‘What happened?’ Someone told me, ‘There are two Israeli journalists here and they are taking photos of people’s faces.’ That was the main concern. Another person said, ‘They have two Palestinian mukhabarat [intelligence men] with them.’” Fear of photography Because Israeli occupation forces use videos of protests to carry out night raids and arrests, Palestinians who participate in protests often cover their faces. “Israeli journalists who come there come with a very clear understanding that they need to protect those guys,” Shaindlinger explained.
Israeli forces ‘detain pardoned Aqsa Brigades militant’
NABLUS (Ma‘an) 17 May — Israeli forces near Nablus early Saturday detained a former Palestinian militant who had been pardoned by Israel, security sources told Ma‘an. Palestinian security sources said that 25-year-old Rabee Bassam Uweid from Balata refugee camp was detained at the Huwwara checkpoint south of Nablus. Israeli troops at the checkpoint stopped Uweid and three other men while they were en route to a wedding party in a nearby village. Soldiers released the other three men but took Uweid into custody. Uweid used to be a militant in Fatah’s Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, but was pardoned by Israel, the sources said, without elaborating.
Israeli soldiers detain 3 at Beit Ummar solidarity protest
HEBRON (Ma‘an) 17 May — Israeli forces detained two Palestinians and an Israeli protester while violently dispersing a protest in solidarity with hunger-striking administrative detainees in the southern West Bank town of Beit Ummar on Saturday, organizers said. Younes Arar, coordinator of the committee of popular resistance for Hebron and Bethlehem, told Ma’an that the group had organized a “peaceful protest” at the entrance to the village of Beit Ummar, but Israeli soldiers soon cracked down on the march and attacked participants. The protest was organized in solidarity with Palestinian prisoners who have been on hunger strike for 24 days against their detention without trial by Israeli authorities, and to mark the 66th anniversary of the expulsion of 750,000 Palestinians from their homeland in the 1948 Nakba. “The soldiers threatened to open fire on us and attacked us by firing sound grenades and tear gas grenades, and chased the participants,” Arar said. The soldiers subsequently arrested Yusef Abu Maria, 39, Ahmad Abu Hashem, 48, and an Israeli solidarity activist who was not named.
IOF mass arrest campaigns, arbitrary settler attacks in West Bank
AL-KHALIL (PIC) 18 May — Eight Palestinian civilians were arrested by Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) on Sunday morning while six others were summoned for interrogation…
According to a PIC news reporter, IOF arrested Hassan Brijiah, 45, the coordinator of the national committee against the wall and settlement, at dawn in Bethlehem after having stormed his home and rummaged through it. Palestinian sources further documented the arrest of 4 Palestinian young men from Bethlehem. PIC correspondent said quoting local sources that Brijiah and his mother were severely beaten by IOF soldiers for objecting to the brutality of the Israeli soldiers, who broke into and ransacked their family home in Ma‘asara village, south of Bethlehem.
Ammar Ziad Rawashda [IMEMC: also Moath Idrees Ammar] was arrested by IOF in Samu‘ town in al-Khalil [Hebron], where several Palestinian homes have also been raided. According to Palestinian security sources, IOF arrested the brothers Qusay, 19, and Uday, 20, from al-Jilda area in al-Khalil city. In a related event, an ex-detained refugee [IMEMC: Mohammad Nizar at-Teety] was arrested by IOF following home raids and searches in Fawwar refugee camp, south of al-Khalil, amid a remarkable state of anxiety and panic among children and women. IOF soldiers have also been heavily deployed near Wadi Al-Shajna crossroad to the south of al-Khalil.
Youth activist Alaa Zaaqiq said an Israeli military force raided Beit Ummar village, north of al-Khalil, at late dawn time and raided citizens’ homes while three others were summoned for interrogation amid heavy firing of sound bombs in the town’s main street. A state of panic has overwhelmed children and families in the area. Confrontations broke out in Beit Ummar after Israeli soldiers fired sound grenades at Palestinian youths.
In Dura town, west of al-Khalil, IOF summoned the student Mohammad Fares Abu Arkoub, among many other students, for interrogation.
Army arrests six in West Bank and Jerusalem
BETHLEHEM (WAFA) 18 May – Israeli forces Sunday arrested five Palestinians in the West Bank, including an activist, in addition to a youth from Jerusalem, reported local and security sources… Forces also stormed the village of Beit Fajjar, south of Bethlehem, and arrested two youths, 22 and 23, after raiding and searching their homes. Two others, ages 25 and 18, were arrested in the nearby village of ‘Abidiya and ‘Aida refugee camp, respectively. In the meantime, Israeli police arrested a youth in Ras Shehada, on the outskirts of Jerusalem, after raiding and searching his home in a provocative manner. He was led to the Russian police compound.
Israeli police arrest elderly [man] from inside Al-Aqsa Mosque
JERUSALEM (WAFA) 18 May — Israeli forces Sunday arrested an elderly Palestinian from inside the courtyards of Al-Aqsa mosque, according to WAFA correspondent. One of the mosque’s workers told the correspondent that small groups of settlers, under the heavy protection of Israeli police, stormed the mosque from al-Magharbeh gate, provoking worshipers who chanted religious slogans protesting their entry to the holy site. He said that police arrested a 60-year-old worshiper for trying to stop settlers from conducting religious rituals there, police claimed. He was taken to a center of detention and interrogation in the old city of Jerusalem.
Prisoners / Court actions
Israel continues to bar Gazan children from visiting fathers imprisoned in Israel
B’Tselem 12 May — In July 2012, Israel partially reinstated authorization for relatives to visit Palestinians from the Gaza Strip being held in Israel as prisoners or detainees (hereafter: “inmates”). Israel’s decision was made in consequence of a hunger strike by almost 2,000 Palestinian inmates. However, Israel set strict criteria for these visits, allowing only inmates’ parents and wives to visit. All other relatives, including children, siblings and grandparents, were not allowed to visit. Visitation rights were extended to inmates’ children under the age of eight only in May 2013, and to children under the age of ten in September 2013. No official explanation was given, at any stage, for the age limit on children’s visits, which is not applied to children of security or criminal inmates from the West Bank and from Israel. According to Israel Prisons Service (IPS) data, at the end of April 2014, Israel was holding 460 inmates from Gaza: 373 are defined as “security inmates” and 87 are defined as “criminal inmates”. According to data by Gaza’s Ministry of Prisoners’, there are 424 minors in the Gaza Strip whose fathers are incarcerated in Israel; yet only 164 – those under the age of ten – may visit. In recent months, B’Tselem gathered testimonies from Gazan children over the age of ten who have not seen their imprisoned fathers since 2007, and from siblings of such prisoners. In their testimonies, the children describe their longing to be reunited with fathers, as well as the difficulties they face because of the separation.
Son of Palestinian lawmaker sentenced to 22 months in prison
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 19 May — An Israeli court on Sunday sentenced the teenage son of a Palestinian lawmaker to 22 months in prison. Mohammad Atwun, 15, the son of Jerusalem lawmaker Ahmad Atwun, was sentenced to 22 months, with a suspended sentence of 12 months, a 2,000-shekel bail, and was ordered to pay 7,000 shekels in damages to settlers. Atwun was arrested on Dec. 2, 2013 and was charged with throwing rocks at settler cars, and causing the severe injury of an Israeli child. Ahmad Atwun spent over two years in administrative detention in Israeli jails, and has had his Jerusalem ID withdrawn after participating in Palestinian legislative council elections. [And what happens to settler minors who throw rocks at Palestinian cars and injure people? Nothing.]
Some hunger strikers close to death
IMEMC 19 May by Chris Carlson — The High Leadership Committee for Palestinian Prisoners has announced that health conditions of some of the prisoners are deteriorating. The committee points out that three prisoners, Nael Khalaf, Yasser Badrassawi and Maher Barqan, who have been on strike for 25 days in a row, vomited blood two days ago, and that Ayman Tbeish’s health is also subject to danger, after 80 days of an open-ended hunger strike. According to Al Ray, the committee has confirmed that senior prisoner leaders, including Abbas al-Sayed, Hamas senior leader, and Hasan Salama, a commander of the Palestinian Holy War Army, joined the ongoing strike on Sunday. It was added that some of the Palestinian administrative detainees are in serious danger and close to death.
Hunger strike by human rights defender Ms Shireen Essawi as trial postponed by one year
Front Line Defenders 17 May — On 8 May 2014 human rights defender and lawyer Ms Shireen Essawi began a hunger strike after learning of the postponement of her trial for nine months and a day. She is charged with cooperating with actors who are working against the state of Israel. Shireen Essawi is a human rights lawyer who has participated in monitoring and documenting human rights violations committed against Palestinian prisoners in Israeli prisons, especially children, women, and prisoners from the Gaza Strip. The human rights defender also reported on practices adopted by Israeli authorities for Palestinian and Arab prisoners in Israeli jails that she believes violate human rights, such as preventing visits by lawyers. The postponement of her trial on 7 May 2014 follows several court appearances by the human rights defender since her arrest on 6 March 2014. It is reported that under Israeli law, a trial may be suspended and detention can continue upon the condition that a final judgment and sentence is issued within nine months and a day of the adjournment. Shireen Essawi began her hunger strike out of solidarity with Palestinian prisoners, and has declared she will continue it in protest at the adjournment of her trial. The human rights defender was arrested at her home in Jerusalem as part of a wave of arrests targeting lawyers. Her colleagues have since been released on bail, pending trials.
Police say killer of Hebron young man arrested
HEBRON (Ma‘an) 18 May – Hebron police say they have arrested the killer of 19-year-old Muhammad Ibrahim Deib Zuhour from the village of Beit Kahil, who was found dead in the outskirts of Hebron on May 10. Chief prosecutor of Dura city in southwest Hebron Alaa Tamimi and director of Hebron police Muhammad Tayyim broke the news Sunday at a news conference held at the office of the Dura prosecution. They highlighted that the suspected killer was arrested thanks to cooperation between the Dura prosecution and general police detectives of Hebron district. They also alleged that the suspect, a 22-year-old man from al-Dhahiriya city south of Hebron, confessed that he poured gasoline on the bound victim and set him ablaze after beating him brutally.
Gaza under dual blockades
Child, fisherman injured in two separate Israeli attacks in Gaza
IMEMC 18 May by Saed Bannoura – -[Saturday, May 17, 2014] Palestinian medical sources have reported that a Palestinian child and a fisherman were shot and injured by Israeli army fire, in two separate attacks, in the besieged Gaza Strip. The sources said that, soldiers stationed across the border with Gaza, shot and injured a Palestinian child in Abasan town, east of Khan Younis, in the southern part of the Gaza Strip. Dr. Ashraf al-Qodra, spokesperson of the Ministry of Health in Gaza, stated that the sixteen-year-old child was shot in his arm, and was moved to the Nasser Hospital in Khan Younis.
In addition, a Palestinian fisherman was shot and wounded by Israeli army fire, as he was at the Sudaniyya shore, in the northern part of the Gaza Strip. Medics arrived at the scene, and moved him to the al-Shifa Medical Center; he suffered a gunshot injury to his leg.
Israeli forces shoot, injure Palestinian laborer in Gaza
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 18 May — Israeli forces on Sunday shot and injured a Palestinian laborer near the border in the northern Gaza Strip, an official said. Ashraf al-Qidra, spokesman for the Gaza Ministry of Health, told Ma’an that a “21-year-old gravel worker was shot in the foot by Israeli forces” near Erez crossing. He was taken to Kamal Adwan Hospital in moderate condition, al-Qidra said.
The young man’s name was not immediately provided. An Israeli army spokeswoman said “there was a large group of people who came near the security fence” several times on Sunday. “They came and left and came and left all day,” she said. Asked what the Palestinians were doing in the area, the spokeswoman said: “I can’t give you that information.” …
Many people in the besieged coastal enclave collect small stones in order to make gravel for concrete, because the import of concrete is forbidden by the Israeli economic blockade. The blockade has been in force since 2006. Israeli forces frequently shoot at farmers and other civilians inside the Gaza Strip if they approach large swathes of land near the border that the Israeli military has deemed off-limits to Palestinians. According to a March report by Israeli human rights organization B’Tselem, the number of live-fire casualties near the fence has been on the rise since late December. “The military must also instruct the troops that the use of live fire is absolutely prohibited for the purpose of getting Palestinian civilians who pose no threat to anyone to back away from the areas near the perimeter fence.”
On Gaza’s embattled margins, farmers wage a quiet struggle to reclaim the land
Middle East Eye 18 May by Joe Catron — Israeli gunfire and bulldozers have not deterred Palestinian farmers from moving into Gaza’s deadly ‘buffer zone’ — Nestled into the northeastern corner of the Gaza Strip, where the separation barrier Israel built around the Palestinian enclave in 1994 curves from the east to the south, Wael Wahdaan’s three fields illustrate the options facing many local farmers. The land, in the Palestinian city of Beit Hanoun, lies within sight of the white houses and red roofs of Sederot, a settlement on the Israeli side of the barrier. Between them stand Israeli observation towers and the fence itself, behind which military vehicles and tanks periodically pass. Wahdaan’s family owns two patches of this contentious land: 36 dunums (3.6 hectares) 400 meters away from the barrier, and another four (0.4 hectares), a kilometer to the south, that actually reach it. Wahdaan rents another 100 dunums (10 hectares) that lie 300 meters from the fence. On the Wahdaans’ 36 dunums, they grow cantaloupes, eggplants, lemons, onions, peppers and watermelons. But Wahdaan’s rented 100 dunums contain a single crop: wheat. It offers lower profits than the others, he said, but also fewer risks and reduces the dangers of farming in the “buffer zone.” “I work every day on my own 36 dunums,” Wahdaan said. “On the 100 planted with wheat, I go on only two days, when I plant and when I harvest. And wheat is cheap.” Wahdaan’s work so close to the barrier is part of a wider push by Palestinian farmers testing the limits of a 2012 ceasefire between Israel and Palestinian groups. Palestinian farmers working by the barrier, an area alternately called the access-restricted area or the “buffer zone,” face the prospect of not only live gunfire from the Israeli forces patrolling it, but also incursions by Israeli bulldozers that level fields, sometimes destroying both months of work and substantial investments. In its “2013 Statistical Report on Israeli Attacks in the Access Restricted Areas,” Gaza’s Al Mezan Center for Human Rights reported 57 shooting incidents that year. These resulted in the death of a farmer and eight further injuries, including one child. Over the same period, the center documented 55 incursions to level farmland, in which one additional person was killed and four injured. But in a sliver of land that is home to more than 1.8 million people but just some 25 kilometers long and as little as 4 kilometers wide, every patch of earth counts….
Two aid convoys arrive in Gaza
IMEMC 19 May by Saed Bannoura — [Sunday, May 18, 2014] Around 30 international peace activists, in two humanitarian convoys, made it into the Gaza Strip through the Rafah Border Terminal, between Gaza and Egypt. The convoys, Miles of Smiles 27 and Algeria Convoy, carried various medical and humanitarian supplies to deliver to various medical centers and instructions in the besieged Gaza Strip. The Ma‘an News Agency has reported [Arabic] that members of the dissolved government in Gaza, various legislators, and Hamas political leaders welcomed the humanitarian activists who will later be holding a meeting with Ismael Haniyya of Hamas. Miles of Smiles 27 carried ten solidarity activists, while the Algerian convoy carried 20 persons. The supplies include medical equipment and urgently needed medical supplies and medications. The two convoys intend to stay in Gaza for a few days to visit various governmental and civil instructions, and will be participating in an official ceremony, announcing the opening of the Algerian Specialized Hospital in Gaza.
Rafah crossing to open Sunday for Umrah pilgrims
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 17 May — Egyptian authorities will open the Rafah crossing on Sunday to allow pilgrims to pass through, a Gaza official said. Maher Abu Sabha, the director of border crossings, said that Egypt would open the Rafah crossing with Gaza on Sunday and Monday to allow Umrah pilgrims to leave the Strip for Saudi Arabia. Pilgrims returning to Gaza will be allowed to pass back into the coastal enclave on Tuesday, Abu Sabha added.
Gaza blockade ‘longest in history’
Andolu Agency 17 Apr — Newly-appointed United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) Commissioner-General Pierre Krahenbuhl on Wednesday described Israel’s seven-year siege of the Gaza Strip as the “longest in history”. Speaking at a conference in Khan Younis in the southern Gaza Strip, he added that the blockade was being used to collectively punish the Palestinian people. Krahenbuhl said he would make the Gaza blockade the focal point in his future talks with officials.He said everybody should focus on the fact that Gaza’s people merely wanted their dignity, freedom and humanity. He added that deteriorating humanitarian conditions in the Palestinian enclave were apparent to everybody. Krahenbuhl said that in 2000, the UNRWA had offered aid to around 80,000 refugees in the Gaza Strip. He added that the agency now provides aid to some 800,000 refugees in the territory, adding that this amount was increasing year after year.
3 Gaza security officers punished for violence against protesters
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 18 May — The Gaza Strip ministry of interior on Saturday evening agreed to jail three security officers for two weeks after a fact-finding commission determined that they had used excessive force against demonstrators and journalists during a rally marking the Nakba on Thursday. The move to punish the officers is a rare rebuke to the security forces by the Hamas-run Gaza government, suggesting a potential step towards increased accountability and transparency as they move to merge with the West Bank security forces as part of a national reconciliation deal currently being implemented.
At an Israeli hospital, Palestinian girl finally gets mother’s healing touch
Haaretz 16 May by Gideon Levy & Alex Levac — Four-and-a-half-year-old Nada Sheikh from Rafah, who was severely injured by a fire and hospitalized in Israel, was reunited with her mother this week — Everyone in the room is choked up with tears. An attractive young woman dressed in black enters. Her steps faltering, her face pale, she is palpably tense, overwhelmed. It’s midday. Sitting on the hospital bed is a little girl, with a misshapen face and body. A wisp of a girl, burned, scorched, scarred and charred. Her head is bandaged, as are her thin legs. Her whole little body is covered with sores, the fingers of her left hand have been amputated. The sight is unbearable. This little girl is the daughter of the woman in black, Jiziya Sheikh Said, who has just entered, almost in a daze. For almost two months, since the disaster that struck her home, Nada Sheikh Said, 4-and-a-half years-old, has been in the children’s ward of Assaf Harofeh Hospital in Tzrifin, near Ramle. On March 26, fire swept through the family home in the Sheikh al-Eid neighborhood of the downtrodden city of Rafah, on the Egypt-Gaza border. As a result of Israel’s siege of the Gaza Strip, the power supply to the neighborhood is almost nonexistent, and the family used candles for illumination. That night someone forgot to put out a candle. The mattresses on which the children were sleeping caught fire and the house was quickly engulfed in flames. Nada’s two little sisters, aged two years and one year, perished. Her brother was saved and another sister was injured. Nada herself incurred serious injuries, with burns covering a third of her body … Together with Arab volunteers from Lod and other communities, the Salametcom volunteers have devotedly showered love and affection on Nada, seen to her needs and those of the two women who were with her, and maintained an almost 24-hour-a-day vigil by the girl’s bedside. The NGO also arranged for all the permits that ultimately made it possible for Jiziya to visit her daughter.
Press release: Princess Haya Bint Al-Hussein supports nearly 1,000 families in Gaza with food aid
GAZA 15 May — The UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) is grateful to UN Messenger of Peace HRH Princess Haya Bint Al Hussein, wife of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Ruler of Dubai, for Her generous donation in support of food aid for Palestine refugees in the Gaza Strip. HRH Princess Haya’s donation of US $553,800 comes in response to the Agency’s Emergency Appeal for the West Bank and Gaza. The funding will enable UNRWA to provide 5,300 individuals from 976 families in the Khuza’a municipality of Khan Younis, Gaza, with food assistance for 12 months.
First kidney transplant centre opens in Gaza thanks to Qatari financial aid
Middle East Monitor 16 May — EXCLUSIVE IMAGES The Palestinian Minister of Health Dr Mufid Almakhllaty has said that the opening of a new specialist surgical department, as an extension of Shifa Hospital is a challenge to the siege of Gaza and a display of determination for freedom and development despite the devastation endured by the strip during the last two wars. Dr Almakhllaty made the comments during the opening of the building on Thursday afternoon. Almakhllaty added that this building, which stood at a total cost of more than $36 million, contains a section for the first kidney transplant in the Gaza Strip, as well as a Department of Urology, Department of Cardiothoracic Surgery and Paediatric Surgery. The new building will serve hundreds of thousands of citizens providing specialised surgical procedures in open-heart surgery, brain surgery, neurology, urology, paediatric surgery, and surgery of the ear, nose and throat, as well as oral and maxillofacial Surgery. The building’s development was overseen by the Qatari Crescent Society and contains more than 500 beds and many operating rooms equipped with the latest global technologies. [now if they can only get the necessary medical supplies into Gaza…]
Political, other news
Palestinian unity govt to be unveiled in days: Hamas
AFP 18 May — A new Palestinian “consensus government” to be named by the Palestine Liberation Organisation and the Islamist movement Hamas is to be finalised within days, a senior Hamas official said Sunday. Bassem Naim, an advisor to Hamas’s premier for the Gaza Strip, Ismail Haniya, said a senior member of Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas’s Fatah movement, which dominates the PLO, would meet with Hamas officials in Gaza this week to conclude negotiations. Azzam al-Ahmad is “arriving in Gaza on Wednesday and Thursday to meet with the Hamas reconciliation delegation to hold consultations,” Naim told AFP. “We expect the government to be announced by (Abbas) early the following week,” he said, and will then be presented to the Palestinian parliament for a vote of confidence. Hamas signed a reconciliation deal last month with the PLO in a surprise move which aims to overcome a years-long intra-Palestinian split. Hamas has dominated the Palestinian parliament since winning a landslide victory in the last parliamentary election, held in 2006.
Gaza, West Bank govts to resign when unity govt announced
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 19 May — An adviser for the Gaza prime minister said the governments in the coastal enclave as well as the West Bank will offer their resignations once a unity government is agreed upon. Issam al-Daalis told Ma‘an that “the Gaza and West Bank governments will offer their resignations to the president at the moment of agreeing on the unity government.” “The legal period for announcing the government is nearing the end. There are five weeks of which three have passed and two remain. And the president can present his government,” he said. Al-Daalis added that he hoped the unity government would be announced from Cairo, as it sponsored the reconciliation.
PPP: All Palestinian factions involved in forming unity govt
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 17 May — All Palestinian factions have been involved in talks to form a national unity government, the socialist Palestinian People’s Party said Friday. PPP Secretary-General Bassam al-Salihi told Ma‘an that meetings discussing the formation of the unity government were “not restricted to Hamas and Fatah.” All factions are working to agree on a number of candidates to be leaders in the technocratic government, al-Salihi said. He said a list of candidates would be submitted to President Mahmoud Abbas, who is set to be the interim prime minister of the unity government. Abbas will give priority to the candidates recommended by the majority of factions, al-Salihi added. All cabinet members will be non-partisan technocrats.
Political arrests continue in the West Bank, despite unity agreement
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 17 May — Despite the signing of a recent national unity agreement between Hamas and Fatah, arrests on the basis of political affiliation continue unabated in the West Bank, while summons on political affiliation continue in Gaza, a reconciliation committee alleges. Khalil Assaf, a member of the Freedoms Committee in the West Bank, told Ma‘an that political arrests by security forces in the region have continued since the sign of the Al-Shati (Beach) refugee camp agreement at the end of April, albeit at a slower pace than before. Assaf stressed the need for a clear political decision to halt these arrests, highlighting that security forces continue to pursue individuals suspected of affiliation with Hamas in the West Bank on a near daily basis, especially among students and in the cities of Hebron and Tulkarem. Despite the open presence of Hamas members in rallies and protests across the West Bank in recent weeks, Assaf warned that the campaigns of arrests “strained the reconciliation atmosphere” in the Fatah-led region.
The secretary of the Freedoms Committee in the Gaza Strip Khalil Abu Shamala, meanwhile, said that although the Hamas-run government was not engaging in political arrests in the coastal enclave, summons on grounds of political affiliation continued, albeit less frequently since the national unity agreement was signed.
Palestine to receive fuel from Venezuela
IMEMC 17 May by Chris Carlson — President of Venezuela Nicolas Maduro has pledged to send oil and diesel to the Palestinian Authority, as part of agreements signed in Caracas with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. The country of Venezuela gained recognition worldwide for its nationalization of what is said to be some of the world’s largest oil reserves and, according to AFP, has promised to provide Palestine with an initial shipment of 240,000 barrels. “Thanks to Venezuela for supporting Palestine… to break Israel’s monopoly on our economy, for your response to our needs, for your willingness to support the Palestinian people in their long struggle,” Abbas was quoted to say. Abbas met with President Maduro Friday as part of an official visit to Venezuela to fortify bilateral relations between the two countries.
TV: Israelis, Palestinians in first meet since talks collapse
JERUSALEM (AFP) 17 May — Palestinian leader Mahmud Abbas and Israel’s chief negotiator Tzipi Livni met in London for the first time since the collapse of their US-sponsored peace talks, Israeli television reported Friday. A Palestinian official, contacted by AFP, confirmed the meeting between Abbas and Livni, Israel’s justice minister, on Thursday in London. “Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was informed of the meeting but was angered by it,” according to Israel’s Channel 2 television. US Secretary of State John Kerry held what were termed informal talks in London this week separately with both Livni and Abbas, who traveled on to Venezuela. A US official said Kerry gave both sides the same message — that the fate of the talks lies in the hands of the Israelis and Palestinians.
Netanyahu: Livni did not represent Israel in meeting with Abbas
Haaretz 17 May by Barak Ravid — Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu distanced himself on Saturday from the meeting between Justice Minister Tzipi Livni and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas which took place in London on Thursday. A senior official at the Prime Minister’s Office said that Netanyahu clarified to Livni before the meeting that she would be “representing only herself and not the Israeli government.” … The official added that the prime minister told Livni the cabinet had decided that Israel “will not negotiate with a Palestinian government that is backed by Hamas, a terrorist organization which calls for Israel’s destruction.”
Israel and Vatican strive to resolve tensions ahead of papal visit
Haaretz 19 May by Ariel David — Two sides especially trying to reach a deal on King David’s Tomb — despite warnings by some right-wingers and ultra-Orthodox Jews — Rarely would anyone expect front-page news from something called The Bilateral Permanent Working Commission between the Holy See and the State of Israel. But right-wing “price tag” attacks and protests by ultra-Orthodox Jews have thrust this commission into the limelight. For 15 years it has been striving to negotiate a financial agreement between Israel and the Holy See over the Church’s property rights and tax obligations. …Since establishing diplomatic ties in 1994, Israel and the Vatican have been at odds over the ownership of several properties across the country, from the Cenacle to a plot in Caesarea that housed a small church razed by Israel shortly after the establishment of the state. Recovering the properties or receiving some say in their management would give the Vatican assurances on freedom of worship for Christians at these sites. It would also reassert some of the influence over holy places that the Church has always claimed it deserves. Also on the table are the limits of Israel’s expropriation rights, as well as taxes on the Church’s properties, for which the Vatican wants an exemption. This has always presented a dilemma for Israeli authorities, who fear that such an exemption would create a precedent for similar demands from other Christian denominations and religious groups.
US, Israel kick off joint exercise to train troops in battling missiles
Haaretz 18 May by Gili Cohen — The exercise, termed Juniper Cobra, will include simulations of various threats to Israel’s home front — … Some 700 American troops have arrived in Israel for Juniper Cobra, in which more than 6,000 European Command troops will be participating. Two American ships equipped with the Aegis Combat System, which includes technology used to intercept missiles, will also be participating in the exercise from the Mediterranean Sea … During the visit, Ya’alon told the troops: “We are here to witness what we are talking about when we claim about the unshakable bond between the U.S. as the greatest democracy all over the world, and the state of Israel, the only democracy in our tough neighborhood, the Middle East.” He added that one of Israel’s challenges was “how to intercept rockets and missiles coming from Iran, Syria, Lebanon, the Gaza Strip.
Interview with Leila Khaled: ‘BDS is effective, but it doesn’t liberate land’ / Paula Schmitt
972blog 17 May — PFLP hijacker Leila Khaled talks about the acts that made her a household name, the current states of resistance, feminism and religious coercion in Palestinian society, and gives a new take on long-buried tales of assassinations and betrayal within the ranks of the PFLP — By the time she was 28, Leila Khaled had already hijacked two planes and held dozens of passengers hostage. Her image appeared on the covers of news magazines, her face was plastered on the walls of student dorms; she become a pop phenomenon, and an inspiration for TV and film characters. A few days after the death of her brother-in-law and one day before the funeral of her cousin, the 70-year-old Leila combined ingredients in a bowl, making sure the proportions were just right. Careful with the mixture, she poured it in a special, heat-resistance plastic bag, and then added the main ingredient before shutting all of it within a temperature of 250° Celsius. The scents of the baked chicken spread around her Amman apartment, making for a strange addition to an interview on armed struggle, terrorism and politics. Leila has no regrets about her choices. For her, what she did was fair and justified. In fact, it was a duty. She often quotes Che Guevara with corroborating lines, but Leila didn’t need a guerrilla to help her rationalize her acts. Even Gandhi, everyone’s favorite pet dove, said, “where there is only a choice between cowardice and violence, I would advise violence.” For Leila, the role of refugee is “contemptible” and “humiliating.” Between two imposed options, that of submissively walking to collect a blanket and a ration card, and that of taking up a Kalashnikov, she chose the latter.