‘Price tag’ hate crimes / Land, property theft & destruction / Ethnic cleansing / ‘Jewish State’ legislation
Israel police challenge US ‘terror’ findings
JERUSALEM (AFP) 1 May — Israeli police on Thursday challenged Washington’s inclusion of Jewish extremist attacks on Palestinians in a global terror report, saying such incidents could not be likened to militant attacks. For the first time, the State Department’s 2013 Country Reports on Terrorism, published Wednesday, included a reference to a growing wave of racist anti-Palestinian vandalism, euphemistically known as “price tag” attacks. “Attacks by extremist Israeli settlers against Palestinian residents, property, and places of worship in the West Bank continued and were largely unprosecuted,” the report said, citing UN and NGO data. But Israel police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said the incidents were far from the global terror threats outlined in the report. “There’s no comparison whatsoever between criminal incidents with nationalistic motives and terrorist-related incidents,” Rosenfeld told AFP. The US report noted that “the UN Office of the Coordinator for Humanitarian Affairs reported 399 attacks by extremist Israeli settlers that resulted in Palestinian injuries or property damage. “Violent extremists, including Israeli settlers, vandalised five mosques and three churches in Jerusalem and the West Bank.” Defining price tag attacks as “property crimes and violent acts by extremist Jewish individuals and groups in retaliation for activity they deemed to be anti-settlement,” the report said that over the year, the phenomenon had spread into Israel from the occupied West Bank. It acknowledged that Israeli police had set up special units to pursue such cases and the government had designated groups responsible as “illegal associations,” giving authorities broader powers to act against them. “There are a number of ongoing investigations,” Rosenfeld told AFP, saying that four settlers suspected of involvement in a racist graffiti attack on a mosque in northern Israel last month, were taken for questioning on Wednesday and later placed under house arrest.
Netanyahu: We’ll use Shin Bet to catch ‘price taggers’
Ynet 30 Apr by Hassan Shaalan — Lapid, Netanyahu visit Arab town targeted in latest price tag attack, slam attacks; Lapid: They aren’t patriots or Zionists, they are only criminals — Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met with Arab, Druze, Bedouin and Circassians members of his Likud party Wednesday and promised to address the issue of price tag attacks. He made the comments in wake of the latest such incident at the Arab town of Fureidis late Monday night. “This is unsettling,” Netanyahu said of the attack, adding they contradict “our essence and all of our values. He further said that “we will use the Shin Bet to capture those responsible,” claiming he has expanded security forces ability to deal with such attacks. Finance Minister Yair Lapid also spent Wednesday visiting Fureidis, and traveled to a mosque in the town that was marked with anti-Arab graffiti Tuesday with the words, ‘Close mosques, not yeshivot’. “This is a place of worship,” said Lapid at the mosque. “People come to pray here. Someone who defaces another person’s place of worship has no respect for his own God. What was written on the wall of this mosque is a complete absurdity from people who are looking for a reason to be violent and crazy and there is no justification in this act.” “We’re talking about a gang of cowardly criminals who come at night and perform actions of delinquents and vandals. They aren’t patriots or Zionists, they are only criminals.”
Hate crime culprits are terrorists, says public security minister
Haaretz 1 May by Jack Khoury — “I will continue to demand the government define these hooligans as a terror organization,” Public Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch said on Thursday, referring to several hate crimes committed in recent days in northern Israel against Israeli Arabs. “We know who is committing these acts and plan to make more arrests shortly. We intend to put these criminals behind bars,” Aharonovitch said while visiting the mosque in the Israeli Arab village Fureidis, the site of one of the recent attacks. Here he met with the head of the city council, several of its members and village representatives. “These are a bunch of criminals taking the law into their own hands. Most of them are in Judea and Samaria, are part of the extreme right and we know who most of them are,” he said, adding that these are not a few bad apples but a large number of people who are being monitored by intelligence officials …
Two married couples were arrested on Wednesday in connection with the arson attack on a mosque in Umm al-Fahm two weeks ago, but one of the couples has since been released. The Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court extended Ami-Chai Matoki’s detention for three days, until Sunday, and his wife Nira Matoki’s detention for 24 hours. She is due to be released on Friday. The two settlers from Yitzhar in the West Bank are suspects in the April 18 attack on a mosque in the Arab city of Umm al-Fahm in the northern Israel. The mosque’s door was charred and the building was spray-painted with the slogan “Arabs out” in a “price tag” attack, a term that has become Israeli shorthand for anti-Arab hate crimes. Footage from security cameras near the mosque captured a Suzuki Baleno sedan at the scene of the crime, Shai District police said, noting that the car’s make and model matches the one owned by the couple. Suspicions against the couple have only increased after the couple tried to lie about the car when they arrived for the station for questioning a week ago.
Israel isn’t trying to find ‘price tag’ perps, Israeli Arabs accuse
Haaretz 1 May by Jack Khoury — With hate crime on the rise and cracked cases non-existent, ask every Israeli Arab and he’ll tell you: Israel can find the culprits. It just doesn’t want to — A large sign stands in the municipal plaza in Shfar’am [Shefa-‘Amr]. The number on it changes daily. It indicates the time spent in prison by four of the town’s residents who were convicted for the attempted murder of Eden Natan-Zada. On Wednesday, the number on the sign was 109. Natan-Zada, a member of the supremacist extreme right Kach movement and an army deserter, opened fire inside a bus in Shfar’am, murdering four residents and wounding dozens of others in 2005. The four men were put behind bars at the beginning of January this year, almost 10 years after the murderous attack. Shfar’am residents say displaying the number of prison days in the central square is a reminder to the town and the public in general: Instead of being awarded a medal given those who neutralized Palestinian terrorists and saved human lives, four Shfar’am residents were jailed for stopping a heinous terrorist and preventing him from continuing his killing spree. Law enforcement officials said throughout the investigation, arrests and trial that despite the horrendous terror attack, its tragic result and the bereaved families’ suffering, Israel is a state of law. Therefore it was imperative to bring to trial those who attacked Natan-Zada, regardless of his act. This is why the state allocated resources and the police conducted an intensive investigation to bring the suspects to trial, they said. Both claims may be debatable, but the story of Shfar’am’s four jailed residents bears out what the Arab public thinks of the law enforcement authorities: “When they want to — they act, when they don’t want to — they drag their feet.” …in October 2011 Israel awoke to a new dawn: Vandals had torched the al-Nur mosque in the village of Tuba Zangaria in the north of Israel – The hate crimes had crossed the Green Line, reaching the Arab communities in Israel.Since then, the incident in Tuba Zangaria has been consigned to history while the attacks continue with rising frequency. No community, village or town, mosque or monastery, is immune. The denunciations and expressions of sorrow and shock, uttered every time from the heads of state, can be recited by heart. Leaks from the investigations have also become a routine ritual, but not a single case has been cracked….
‘Price tag’ crime crosses the Green Line into Israel
Haaretz 1 May by Chaim Levinson — The recent wave of nationalist hate crimes in the north shows that eradicating such crimes is much harder than the police originally thought. The perpetrators don’t belong to a hierarchical organization like the Israel Scouts. They have no headquarters, budget or bank account. Rather, the so-called “price tag” movement is an idea. Invented in the West Bank settlement of Yitzhar in 2008, the hate crimes known to Israelis as “price tag” attacks have since spread rapidly, mainly because they are so easy to replicate. All you need is a racist ideology, a spirit of adventure and a few dozen shekels for spray paint, gasoline or other flammable material and a lighter. The rules of the game are simple: Every attack on settler interests should draw a response. If the government seizes a synagogue in Yitzhar, for instance, the price taggers will respond. They don’t need any orders or guidance; inspiration can be found just by visiting the right forums on Facebook. Price tag attacks were originally concentrated in the West Bank, but they have expanded substantially inside Israel over the past year, for several reasons. First, advocates of such violent behavior understood that with all due respect to Palestinian villages near Yitzhar or Shiloh, the battle over the public’s mind and heart will be decided in Israel. Additionally, some extremist settlers relocated to Israel to better spread their doctrine of price tag attacks, boycotting Arab businesses and disobeying orders to harm the settlements.
Two suspected ‘price tag’ attacks: Arab woman attacked, cemetery vandalized
Ynet 2 May by Hassan Shaalan — Two suspected hate crime attacks in two days: A Tiberias resident in her 20s claims she was attacked with pepper spray by a religious youth while walking down the town’s boardwalk. Meanwhile, hateful graffiti was found scrawled on an Arab cemetery near Nesher … The woman attacked, Maram Azzam, a resident of the Arab town of Tayibe, filed a complaint with the police in Tiberias Thursday, claiming that a 14-year-old boy with a kippah sprayed her face with pepper spray while she was walking down Tiberias’ boardwalk with her husband and three children. “I came to Tiberias to vacation with my family for a few days. When me, my husband and our kids were on the boardwalk, a religious kid came up to me and spray me with a substance I didn’t recognize,” she said. “At the time, I couldn’t open my eyes. My husband called an ambulance and I was taken to the hospital… the children were terrified.” She claims she was attacked for no apparent reason, and she claimed that the attack was racially motivated. “I think he targeted me because I was wearing a (traditional Arab) head scarf. This is a racist act which joins a string of other similar events which have taken place in recent months.” … Her husband said the police were not quick to act after learning about the incident: “I expected the police to come to the hospital to talk to my wife, but they never came. I can only hope they find the boy.”
Jewish extremists vandalize Muslim grave in Israel
JERUSALEM (AFP) 2 May — Suspected Jewish extremists vandalised a Muslim grave near the northern Israeli coastal city of Haifa, police said Friday, in the latest in a string of racist and religious attacks. “Graffiti was found sprawled on and around a grave in the Al-Qassam cemetery in Nesher” [Balad al-Shaykh until the New Year’s Eve massacre by the Haganah, 31 Dec 1947; the cemetery contains the grave of Sheikh ‘Iazz al-Din al-Qassam, after whom Hamas’ Qassam Brigades are named] north of Haifa, police spokeswoman Luba Samri said in a statement. The red spray-paint graffiti featured the Jewish star of David, the words “price tag” and the names of US Secretary of State John Kerry and Israel’s chief peace negotiator with the Palestinians, Tzipi Livni, she said … Vandals on Tuesday hit a mosque in the small Arab town of Fureidis, near Haifa, and there was also vandalism of Tabgha [Tabigha] church [Tiberias district, site of a Palestinian village until May 4, 1948, when the inhabitants were expelled and the village destroyed] on the shores of the Sea of Galilee, where Christians believe Jesus performed the miracle of the loaves and fishes. Church officials said a group of religious Jews in their early teens had damaged crosses there and attacked clergy. President Shimon Peres apologised to the mayor of Fureidis in the name of Israel’s citizens, and said in remarks relayed by his office “we will do our utmost to find the perpetrators and bring them to justice.”
Vandals damage 8 Palestinian cars in Nazareth
IMEMC 2 May by Chris Carlson — Jewish Israeli vandals, on Wednesday, slashed the tires of eight cars belonging to Palestinians in Nazareth City and occupied the historical city of Acre, where they painted religious symbols on buildings, there. According to local media, settlers punctured the tire of a car owned by a Palestinian contractor from ‘The Industrial Zone’ of Nazareth, before painting the Star of David on it. Nazareth is classified as of the Israeli-controlled Area C territories, which are about 61 percent of the occupied West Bank, according to Al Ray … The Industrial Zone has seen more than 5 settler attacks this month. Seven other cars, in different neighborhoods, were also violated in Acre city.
Jewish groups express outrage at spate of ‘price tag’ attacks
WASHINGTON (Ynet) 2 May by Yitzhak Benhorin — US Jewish leaders say recent attacks ‘cannot be tolerated,’ claim they feed hatred of Israel; urge Israeli authorities to allocate resources ‘to apprehend those behind attacks.’ — The Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations sent an unequivocal message Friday evening to Israeli law enforcement agencies, urging them to allocate all resources necessary to uproot the phenomena of ‘price tag’ attacks that have escalated in recent weeks. The body represents 50 of America’s leading Jewish organizations. “We are profoundly concerned by the series of acts of vandalism, desecration and violence by a group motivated by extremist ideologies,” a statement issued by the Conference of Presidents read, adding their demand that the perpetrators of the attacks be brought to justice.” … While they welcomed Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and other government officials’ condemnation of such attacks, they added that words of warning do not suffice.
Soldiers demolish two homes north of Hebron
IMEMC by Saed Bannoura — [Wednesday, April 30, 2014] several Israeli military jeeps and bulldozers invaded the al-Bass area, in Shiokh al-‘Arroub, north of the southern West Bank city of Hebron, and demolished two Palestinian homes. Head of the Popular Committee in the Al-‘Arroub refugee camp, Ahmad Abu al-Kheiran, told the Radio Bethlehem 2000 that the army and personnel of the military-run Civil Administration Office invaded the area south of the al-‘Arroub refugee camp, and isolated the al-Qosour neighborhood. He said that several heavy vehicles invaded the area, including farmlands, fired several gas bombs and concussion grenades at the residents, and demolished two homes. Abu al-Kheiran added that the two demolished homes belong to residents Mohammad Hilmy Abu Ghazy and Hasan Abu Ghazy. The homes are more than 200 square/meters each; the soldiers also demolished walls around the properties, and uprooted olive and fig trees, and grape vines. [Ma‘an: Locals told Ma‘an that three Palestinians were injured by rubber-coated steel bullets.]
PHOTOS: In recognized Bedouin village, police make life unbearable
Activestills 1 May Photos and text by Keren Manor / Activestills.org and Mareike Lauken — More than 10 years have passed since the Israeli government officially recognized the Bedouin village of Bir Hadaj. Yet it refuses to install new infrastructure, hands out demolition orders and does everything in its power to prevent the growth of the village — …“We agreed to build according to the approved plan, but we cannot begin before the proper infrastructure is put in place. Meanwhile, we receive demolition orders and live in constant fear with no solution in sight,” says Eyad. According to the residents, approximately 200 homes in the village have received demolition orders, and despite government recognition, are still living without electricity or basic services.
Israeli forces hand demolition notices for car wash shops near Bethlehem
BETHLEHEM (WAFA) 1 May – Israeli forces handed Thursday demolition notices for structures and animal barns belonging to three people in Al-Khader to the south of Bethlehem, said a local activist. Forces and ‘Civil Administration’ officers stormed ‘Um Rukbah’, an area located to the south of Al-Khader, where they handed demolition notices for structures used as car wash, paint and maintenance shop as well as a barn belonging to three citizens, according to Coordinator of Anti-wall and Settlement Resistance Committee Ahmad Salah. Salah added the forces gave citizens 45 days to demolish their property. He noted that Um Rukbah is the only area where residents of Al-Khader are allowed to construct buildings. For the last several years, this area has been targeted by Israeli forces which have been systematically carrying out demolitions and handing demolition notices
Court rejects state’s request to demolish Bedouin village
Haaretz 1 May by Shirly Seidler — The Be’er Sheva District Court rejected the state’s appeal against the cancelation of demolition orders in the Bedouin village Al-Sura Thursday, lifting the threat over the homes of 350 people. The court rejected the appeal by the Southern District Central Planning and Building Committee, in a case that has been pending since 2006, when the state issued demolition orders against homes and other structures belonging to the 70 families living in the unrecognized village, near Nevatim in the northern Negev. This week Be’er Sheva District Court Judge Tali Haimovich Livnat ruled that she was rejecting the appeal, and in her decision wrote: “In order to uproot 350 people from their homes and make them homeless, the public interest must be strong and genuine. The public’s immediate need for the land should be added to all the considerations. When it had the impression that there is no such need, a previous court canceled the injunction, and its decision is acceptable to me.” Haimovich Livnat also noted that no one denies that the construction was carried out illegally and without a permit, but questioned whether this fact overrides the interest of the village residents, since the court had the impression that the state has no immediate need for the land. The village of Al-Sura has existed since the Ottoman period. The land was purchased in the 1920s and its ownership was recognized by the British Mandate government.
Palestinians demand control over planning in West Bank
DIRAAT AL-RIFAIYYA (The Media Line) 30 Apr — With demolition orders issued against 100 of 170 homes in Diraat Al-Rifaiyya, local authorities plead to be given power to grant building permits — Except for the elementary school, all of the white stucco buildings in the Palestinian village of Diraat Al-Rifaiyya, in the southern Hebron hills, are illegal. Piles of rubble, with twisted metal stakes, bake in the unforgiving heat and mark those homes that Israel has demolished. In one large house, Sheikh Mohammed Mahmoud Al-Adarra, the former mayor and current member of the city council says there are presently demolition orders issued against 100 of the 170 homes in this village of 1,100 residents, including Al-Adarra’s own house where he lives with three wives and 16 children. “We want Israel to stop the demolitions and give us the authority to grant permits to build,” Al-Adarra, a burly man with a long black beard, told The Media Line. “They (Israel) hope that if they don’t let us build, we’ll leave and they can have all the land for the settlements.” Diraat, as it is called, is in Area C, the 60 percent of the West Bank that is under sole Israeli administrative and security control as prescribed in the 1993 Oslo Accords [but supposedly temporarily]. Here, some 100,000 Palestinians live among 330,000 Israelis who reside in communities Israel built after acquiring the land in the 1967 war … “There is discriminatory planning in which Palestinians have no influence over where they can build legally and where they can’t,” Rabbi Arik Ascherman of Rabbis for Human Rights, one of the petitioning organizations, argued. “House demolitions don’t just destroy buildings – they destroy families. We see marital tensions, students with straight “A’s” whose grades plummet, children who wet their beds, who no longer trust their parents. It has nothing to do with security or law and order, it’s all about administration. Palestinians have no fair chance to build legally.”….
High Court to state: Give Palestinians a say in planning
972mag 1 May by Dahlia Scheindlin — Israel’s High Court orders the government to upgrade representation of Palestinians in planning committees. But will the minor changes only serve to legitimize a system based on inequality? — Israel’s High Court on Monday ordered the state to provide proposals for including Palestinian representatives in planning committees that govern development and land use in Area C (which makes up 60 percent of the territory in the West Bank). The interim decision was made following an appeal by the Palestinian village of Ad-Dirat-Al-Rfai’ya, together with human rights organizations Rabbis For Human Rights, the Israel Committee Against House Demolitions (ICAHD), The Jerusalem Legal Aid and Human Rights Center (JLAC), and St. Yves. Atypically, the hearing lasted a full hour. Oren Yiftachel, a professor of political geography at Ben Gurion University and a former chairman of Israeli human rights NGO B’Tselem observed that Palestinian human rights claims related to the occupied territories are commonly dismissed on the basis of “security concerns.” During the hearing, the state mainly argued that there was no discrimination against Palestinians, since they are already allowed to submit planning requests to the administrative committees. But grossly asymmetrical data apparently left the court little room to justify the current situation: over 90 percent of Palestinian planning requests are rejected – over 97 percent in recent years, according to a B’Tselem report.
Palestinian mother says Government’s demolition of her home ‘taught my children to hate’
[with photos] ITV 30 Apr by Geraint Vincent — Moran hugs her children close as she gazes at the pile of rubble that used to be their home. Her husband Muhammed has his head bowed in humiliation. They say soldiers came with a bulldozer yesterday morning, and that it took them a little over one hour to destroy the house. Muhammed says his family have lived on this land in East Jerusalem for generations, and that he built the house 18 years ago. The Israeli authorities say the house did not have planning permission, and was therefore an illegal structure, which was demolished at the end of a prolonged legal process. Moran and Muhammed’s house stood on land in a part of the city which Israel won during the war of 1967. So for the Palestinian political leadership, Israeli planning law in East Jerusalem is simply the law of the occupier. The Palestinian Liberation Organisation goes even further – it says the demolition of Palestinian homes on occupied territory is part of a policy of “ethnic cleansing’. The Israeli government says such claims are just part of an attempt to demonise Israel, and to undermine the chances of a peace agreement.
It is literally in the middle of this old and ugly quarrel that Moran finds herself. She was born an Israeli Jew. She fell in love with Muhammed shortly after she finished her military service 15 years ago, and married him after converting to Islam. Moran brought her children up to believe that Jews and Arabs are all the same, and to respect the government of Israel, which she taught them to think of as “their” government. Now she says all that has been ruined by the demolition of their home. “I taught my children to love,” she says. “My government taught them to hate.” Two months after the demolition, Moran and Muhammed are building their own new house – on exactly the same patch of ground where the old one once stood. “This land is ours, not theirs,” says Moran.
Israel to uproot hundreds of trees near Nablus
IMEMC/Agencies [Friday, May 2, 2014] The Israeli army has decided to cut and uproot hundreds of Palestinian trees, near a bypass road used by Israeli settlers, close to Madama village, south of the northern West Bank city of Nablus. Palestinian official, Ghassan Daghlas, in charge of Israeli settlements file in the northern part of the West Bank, said the army has officially informed residents of its intention to uproot all trees planted on both sides of the Yitzhar-Madama road. The army said the decision was motivated by security considerations, “to ensure protection for Jewish settlers” driving to and from their illegal settlements. Daghlas added that the army marked the trees to be removed, and has already uprooted more than 52 olive trees overnight. The official further stated that, should the decision be fully implemented, hundreds and even thousands of olive trees would be cut and uprooted. It is worth mentioning that Israel has uprooted more than 800,000 olive trees since it illegally occupied the West Bank, the Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem in 1967.
Israeli settlers uproot scores of olive saplings near Bethlehem
BETHLEHEM (WAFA) 1 May — Israeli settlers uprooted Thursday scores of olive saplings from Palestinian-owned land near Wadi Rahhal village to the south of Bethlehem, said a local activist. Settlers uprooted 50 olive saplings in an area known as Khalit al-Nahli near the village of Wadi Rahhal, said Coordinator of the Anti-wall and Settlement Popular Committee in Bethlehem District Hassan Breijah. He noted that settlers had broke into and razed the land, built a room using tin sheets and wood, and prevented Palestinian farmers from accessing it after they An Israeli court had ruled in favor of Palestinian landowners against Israeli settlers’ attempts to take it over.
Israeli army calls settlers to join inauguration of new units
IMEMC 3 May by Chris Carlson — An Israeli army brigade in the northern West Bank has called on Israeli settlers to join the “independence festivals”, scheduled for next Tuesday, in which the proverbial ribbon will be cut for a new housing unit to be opened in Hawara military camp, south of the West Bank city of Nablus. Leaflets and advertisements were distributed in various settlements of the northern West Bank for this purpose. In addition to the call for participation in entertainment events, the leaflet included the inauguration of 64 housing units in the illegal settlement of “Har Bracha”, built on Gerizim Mount, south of Nablus city.
Great tension is reported to have spread between settlers and soldiers in Yizhar settlement, after the settlers incited attacks against them. According to Al Ray, the army responded by deploying at a religious school belonging to the setters. Al Ray further reports that the army is to open all military camps to settlers. An army spokesperson commented: “The Israeli forces open their camps, at this time of every year, to inform the Israeli public about the operations they conduct”; the brigade is the only one which holds the responsibility of opening the new housing units.
Netanyahu to promote Jewish State legislation
Ynet/Agencies 1 May — Four days ahead of Israel’s 66th Independence Day, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Thursday that he plans to promote legislation that will enshrine the country’s status as the nation-state of the Jewish people. “It is my intention to submit a basic law to the Knesset that would provide a constitutional anchor for Israel’s status as the national state of the Jewish people,” Netanyahu said at the Tel Aviv site where Israel’s Declaration of Independence was signed on May 14, 1948. The issue of Israel’s status as a Jewish state figured prominently in the peace talks between Israelis and Palestinians that recently broke down. Netanyahu demands that Palestinians recognize Israel as the Jewish homeland to prove they are willing to coexist peacefully with such a state. “The Declaration of Independence sets, as the cornerstone in the life of the state, the national Jewish identity of the state of Israel,” he said. “To my great regret, as we have seen recently, there are those who do not recognize this natural right. They seek to undermine the historic, moral and legal justification for the existence of the state of Israel as the national state of our people.”
Prominent Israeli-Arabs slam Netanyahu’s Jewish State law
Ynet 2 May by Hassan Shaalan — After a political storm erupted over Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s announcement Thursday of plans to promote legislation that will enshrine the country’s status as the nation-state of the Jewish people, Arab citizens of Israel also expressed their indignation against the prime minister’s intentions. “This country is not only for Jews, but for all its citizens,” actor Mohammad Bakri said. “The Jewish State was established only in 1948 and was a minority in a Palestinian state. They have no right to occupy the lands and expel Arab citizens. Such a racist decision should not be agreed to.” Arab-Israeli former soccer player Abbas Suan, who played for Bnei Sakhnin FC and the Israeli national soccer team, and today serves as the manager of Bnei Sakhnin’s youth team, expressed his concern that implementing the legislation would damage coexistence efforts between Jews and Arabs. “This kind of law hurts the Arab population and does injustice to us. No one would agree to such a proposal. I call on Netanyahu and any other person involved in politics to deal with more important things, such as how to live in peace, strengthen coexistence and not discuss racist laws simply to please the extreme-right.”
Muslim scholars end ban on visiting Al Aqsa Mosque under occupation
AMMAN (Jordan Times) 30 Apr — Muslim scholars and intellectuals from various Islamic countries and schools of jurisprudence have reached a consensus on a fatwa (religious edict) to end a ban on Muslim visits to Al Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem while under Israeli occupation. The fatwa was announced during the three-day “Road to Jerusalem” conference which concluded in Amman Wednesday, according to a statement e-mailed to The Jordan Times. The proposed modifications to the ban specifically apply to Palestinians, regardless of current nationality or location, and Muslims with passports from countries outside the Muslim world. The agreement has left the door open for the “ijtihad” (conjectural interpretations of divine law) of Islamic scholars regarding the right of Muslims around the world to visit Al Aqsa, the third holiest site for Muslims. The mosque risks falling prey to the Judaisation of Jerusalem, participants in the event said.“There are currently plans by the Israeli government to divide Al Aqsa or to demolish it and an influx of Muslim pilgrims lends support to the concerns of Jerusalemite Palestinians,” the scholars stated. [text of the fatwa follows]
Israel aims to deport French photographer with ‘Arab-sounding’ name
972mag 30 Apr by Michael Omer-Man — Following Washington’s admission that Israel is being kept out of its visa-waiver program due to discrimination against Arab-Americans, a French citizen is detained for three days under similar circumstances. French Embassy: ’We’re regularly in touch with the Israeli authorities about these issues.’ — A French citizen has been held by Israeli authorities at Ben-Gurion Airport for three days after being denied entry to the country. “M.,” a 26-year-old photographer who hoped to finish a photo project on Palestinian refugees in the West Bank, had been granted entry to Israel for three previous work visits. M., whose family requested that her name not be published until she is back in France, was told that she was being deported because she fits the profile of a terrorist, according to Radio France journalist Emilie Baujard, who has been in contact with the woman during her detention. M. has a Moroccan-sounding name, although she holds only French citizenship.
Violence / Raids / Attacks / Clashes / Suppression of protests / Illegal arrests
Israeli forces ‘attack Palestinian woman, daughter’ in Silwan
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 1 May — Israeli forces attacked a Palestinian woman and her teenage daughter in the Wadi Hilweh quarter south of the Old City of Jerusalem on Thursday, Palestinians in Silwan neighborhood said. Director of the Silwan-based Wadi Hilweh Information Center Jawad Siyam told Ma‘an that Israeli officers broke into the home of Umm Kalawoon al-Tawil and “brutally” beat her and her 15-year-old daughter Layla. Siyam highlighted that Israeli officers continued to beat al-Tawil while they dragged her out of her apartment to a playground in the neighborhood until she passed out. Fistfights broke out between local residents and Israeli officers while an ambulance evacuated al-Tawil to al-Maqasid hospital in Jerusalem for treatment. Photo: Umm Qalawoon al-Tawil lying unconscious outside her home after Israeli officers attacked her.
Israeli forces brutally assault farmers north of Ramallah
RAMALLAH (WAFA) 1 May – Israeli forces brutally assaulted Thursday morning four farmers neat Aboud, a village located to the north of Ramallah, said local sources. Forces stationed in a military camp, established on lands seized from Aboud villagers, detained and brutally assaulted four farmers while they were farming their lands located near the camp. The farmers sustained wounds and injuries and were hospitalized.
Israeli forces disperse West Bank protests, dozens injured
[photos] BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 2 May — Dozens of people were injured on Friday after Israeli forces dispersed protests across the occupied West Bank. In Nabi Saleh, five people were injured by rubber-coated steel bullets while several others suffered tear gas inhalation as Israeli soldiers dispersed the village’s weekly protest against Israel’s land annexation. Israeli forces fired at protesters as they marched towards their confiscated land. Some protesters responded by throwing rocks at Israeli soldiers. In Bil‘in, one person was injured and dozens suffered tear gas inhalation as Israeli forces dispersed a demonstration in solidarity with prisoners and a recent national reconciliation deal. Participants marched towards Israel’s separation wall and raised Palestinian flags before being fired upon by Israeli forces. Mohammad Faris Yassin, 20, was hit in the thigh with a tear gas canister. Protesters also gathered in al-Ma‘sara village, south of Bethlehem, but were prevented from reaching Route 60 by Israeli soldiers, who threatened to arrest participants.
Twilight Zone: What kind of country throws a teen out of an IDF jeep?
Haaretz 1 May by Gideon Levy & Alex Levac — Mohammed Tamimi, 14 years old, was thrown out of an Israel Defense Forces jeep late one night about three weeks ago, some 15 kilometers from his home. He did not have a cell-phone or money or identifying papers. A few hours earlier he had been detained by soldiers on suspicion of throwing stones on the road near his village, Deir Nidham, hard by the settlement of Halamish, north of Ramallah. The soldiers took him to the police station in Sha’ar Binyamin, an industrial park outside Jerusalem. After being interrogated and released, the teenager was taken in an IDF jeep and thrown out of it in the middle of nowhere, in the dark of night, to meet his fate … On April 9, after school, Mohammed went out to the family’s small olive grove together with their flock of sheep. At around 2 P.M., three IDF jeeps showed up. The soldiers had come to take him into custody. What for? the boy asked. “For throwing stones,” the soldiers said. Tamimi denied doing the accusation. The soldiers told him to show them his hands. They judged them to be “dirty.” But, Fadel wonders now, “he sat on the ground, so would his hands be clean? White? Would he have washed them with soap?” The youth was taken to a nearby army base and then to the Sha’ar Binyamin police station, where he was questioned. His interrogators suspected he was the son of a different Fadel Tamimi, a relative from the nearby village of Nabi Saleh, which is known for its prolonged and determined struggle against the occupation. They phoned Fadel from Nabi Saleh, who told them that Mohammed was not his son. In the meantime, the teenager’s worried father, together with Fadel’s brother Ahmed, went to the army base where he had first been taken, to find out what had happened. The soldiers at the entrance chased them off with threats and vulgar language, rifles at the ready.
Israeli forces close down Islamic soccer club in Qalqilya
QALQILYA (WAFA) 30 Apr – Israeli forces closed down Wednesday morning the Islamic soccer club in Qalqilya, a local source said. Member of the Islamic club information committee Mahmoud Qashmar said that Israeli forces stormed the club and secured it with red tape until the end of this year. He noted that they could not enter the club to find out items seized by the forces.The club, which is considered the most prominent club in Palestine, had been closed down by Israeli forces back in 2008 for three years before it went back into operation in 2011. Several of the club soccer players had been arrested by Israeli forces, the last one was arrested on a border crossing with Jordan while he was on his way back from a Doha soccer league
Israel soldier gets Facebook ‘likes’ for aiming at Palestinian
JERUSALEM (AFP) 30 Apr – An Israeli soldier who was suspended after being shown in a video clip cocking his gun and aiming at Palestinian teenagers has received massive support online, media reported Wednesday. Only hours after a Facebook page was created Tuesday in support of the elite Nahal infantry unit soldier identified only as David, it had clinched almost 60,000 likes. Breaking the Silence, a pacifist group of former Israeli soldiers, denounced that kind of support and said the “situation depicted in the video is far from unusual.” A video posted on YouTube shows the young soldier raising his weapon after a verbal exchange with one of the teenagers, cocking it and aiming it at him. It can be seen here. “The soldier was removed from his combat position in the brigade apparently after he was documented cocking his weapon and aiming it at a Palestinian teenager in Hebron earlier this week,” Ynet news website said.
Israeli forces seal off a Hebron village
HEBRON (WAFA) 1 May – Israeli forces stormed and sealed off Thursday at-Tabaqa village located to the southwest of Hebron, according to local sources. Forces stormed the village and sealed off its access roads before they launched a large-scale search campaign in the villagers’ houses. Meanwhile, forces sealed off Kharsa junction, located to the south of Dura, as well as the road connecting the villages located to the southwest of Dura.
Harassment in ‘Awarta
‘AWARTA, Occupied Palestine (ISM Nablus Team) 2 May — At 4.30 am on Wednesday the 30th of April; a group of Israeli soldiers broke into a family home in the village of ‘Awarta, near the illegal settlement of Itamar. 11 soldiers woke up the family, claiming that it was “security search”. A member of the family asked to see a written order and was shown a piece of paper, written only in Hebrew. Once inside the house, the soldiers forced the family into the living room, confiscating their mobile phones. Muhammad Sharab, a member of the family, stated they were held for 12 hours. No one in the house was allowed to exit to go to work or to school, there are six children and the family, all under the age of 14. During the 12 hours, the Israeli soldiers slept in the house’s bedrooms and used the shower. Muhammed Sharab described an exchange with the soldiers: “What you would do if I would come in your house in Tel Aviv and do the same as you?” “I’m just following orders,” was the reply from a soldier. At approximately 5 pm, nearly 12 hours after they entered the house, the Israeli soldiers left the home and the village of ‘Awarta. Reports from the village reveal that the same night Israeli soldiers raided another house. That house is located in the same area where just under two weeks ago Israeli soldiers entered houses in ‘Awarta and shot several tear gas grenades inside. 20 Palestinians, including children, were taken to the hospital due to large amounts of tear gas inhalation.The village of Awarta has been increasingly targeted by the Israeli military, possibly due to close proximity of the illegal Itamar settlement.
Soldiers invade Nablus, nearby communities
IMEMC 3 May by Saed Bannoura — Dozens of Israeli soldiers invaded, on Saturday at dawn the northern West Bank city of Nablus, the Balata refugee camp, and nearby communities; one soldier was reportedly injured during clashes with resistance fighters in Balata. Eyewitnesses said dozens of soldiers invaded the city, and drove in its streets before invading Balata for the second time in less than twelve hours, and that the army fired dozens of rounds of live ammunition during the invasion. Israeli sources claimed the army located, during its invasion into Balata, two tunnels loaded with weapons and ammunition. The sources added that a commander of the Nahal Brigade of the Israeli army was mildly injured in the camp, as the army was breaking into and searching dozens of homes. According to the state-run Israeli Radio, soldiers of the Nahal Brigade initiated a large-scale invasion into Balata searching for Palestinian fighters, largely in regard to an incident in which Palestinian gunmen opened fire at the commander’s vehicle, just two days ago … In addition, clashes took place on Saturday, at dawn, when several Israeli military jeeps invaded various neighborhoods in Nablus. Soldiers also kidnapped one Palestinian at Za‘tara roadblock, south of Nablus. Another invasion was carried out into the an-Naqoura village, west of Nablus, while a number of Israeli settler militants also invaded the village, local sources said. Several military vehicles also invaded ‘Aseera al-Qebliyya village, near Nablus, while the soldiers also broke into and searched several homes after detonating their doors, causing property damage.
Israel’s relentless persecution of the Issawi family
ISSAWIYEH (Electronic Intifada) 2 May by Patrick O. Strickland — Because her family has been repeatedly targeted for arrest and imprisonment since Israeli forces occupied their village in 1967, Layla Issawi, better known as Um Rafaat, has not shared a meal with all seven of her living children at the same time in more than a decade. On Wednesday 29 April, an Israeli judge postponed the trial of Um Rafaat’s daughter, Shireen Issawi, who is a prominent lawyer and vocal activist. Shireen’s next hearing is scheduled for 7 May. Shireen, who is the sister of the released hunger striker Samer Issawi, was arrested on 6 March and subsequently charged with passing information obtained from Palestinian prisoners in Israeli lockup to “hostile parties,” as well as charges related to transferring money to political groups banned by Israel. “The charges are false,” Um Rafaat told The Electronic Intifada. “Shireen hasn’t worked as a lawyer for more than three years.” … Israel has time and again inflicted tragedy on the Issawi family, noted Um Rafaat, who said she spent six months in an Israeli prison without being charged following Israel’s occupation of the West Bank in 1967. During the first intifada, the Issawi family suffered frequent raids by Israeli forces, who tore through and confiscated their possessions and searched every crevice of their home. The year 1987 “was the first time one of my children was arrested,” Um Rafaat explained. “Rafaat was 14 years old and Medhat 13 years old … they were arrested and missed their school exams. Since that time, my kids have been arrested again and again,” she said. “It’s like I’m not the one who raised them.”
Israeli settlers pelt Palestinian vehicles with stones near Hebron
HEBRON (WAFA) 1 May – Israeli settlers pelted Thursday Palestinian vehicles at the east of Hebron, according to local sources. Settlers from ‘Kharsina’, an illegal Israeli settlement built on Palestinian-owned land near Hebron, pelted Palestinian vehicles traveling along Road 60 with stones, which caused damages to them. No injuries were reported among Palestinian passengers.
Israeli helicopters hover over West Bank
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 1 May — Israeli military helicopters hovered at low altitude over West Bank cities early Thursday. Israeli media reported a day earlier that the Israeli forces were preparing for an air show to be performed May 6 marking Israel’s Independence Day. Helicopters were seen flying at a very low altitude in Bethlehem in the southern West Bank.
Soldiers invade West Bank communities, kidnap several Palestinians
IMEMC by Saed Bannoura — Wed 30 Apr — Israeli military vehicles invaded various Palestinian communities in the occupied West Bank, searched homes, and kidnapped several Palestinians. Several military jeeps invaded Beit Ola town, in the Hebron district in the southern part of the West Bank, broke and into searched several homes, and kidnapped a Palestinian and his sister. Local sources said the soldiers kidnapped Yousef al-‘Aker and his sister, Samira, age 21, and took them to the Etzion military base for interrogation. Soldiers also invaded Ithna town, nearby, installing several roadblocks in Hebron city and at the entrances of the nearby towns of Sa‘ir and Halhoul, where they stopped dozens of cars and interrogated the passengers while inspecting their ID cards. Furthermore, soldiers invaded the Jenin refugee camp, in the northern West Bank city of Jenin, and kidnapped one Palestinian. The Palestinian, Rokn Jamal Nashraty, 20, was kidnapped from his parents’ home after the soldiers violently invaded it, and searched it. The Radio Bethlehem 2000 has reported that the soldiers also invaded the homes of Omar Abu al-Haija and Majd at-Tubassy, interrogating them and their families. In addition, soldiers invaded the al-Asakra area, east of Bethlehem, searched homes and kidnapped two Palestinians identified as Salah Sami Asakra, 23, and Eyad Ali Asakra, 24. Both are former political prisoners. Soldiers also invaded the al-Obeyyat area, east of Bethlehem, and kidnapped one Palestinian identified as Moazzaz Khalil Obeyyat, age 30. They further invaded the home and searched the property of Hussein Obeyyat, who was killed by the army many years ago.
Israeli forces detain 3 Palestinians in West Bank overnight
NABLUS (Ma‘an) Sat 3 May — Israeli forces detained three Palestinians in the West Bank overnight, security sources and an Israeli army spokeswoman said. Palestinian security sources told Ma‘an that Israeli troops detained two Palestinians in the Nablus district overnight. Soldiers detained 31-year-old Bashir Hamid Ziyada as he was passing through Huwwara checkpoint, the sources said. Ziyada was taken to a nearby military base. Meanwhile, Israeli forces raided the village of Beita south of Nablus and arrested 18-year-old Yazen Issa Abd al-Muaty after ransacking his home. An Israeli military spokeswoman said one Palestinian was detained overnight. The arrest took place in the village of Idhna near Hebron, the spokeswoman said, without providing further details.
Soldiers detain two children near Jenin
IMEMC/Agencies Sat 3 May — Palestinian security sources stated that Israeli soldiers detained, late on Friday at night, two Palestinian children in Sielet al-Harethiyya village, west of the northern West Bank city of Jenin, and interrogated them for several hours. The sources said dozens of soldiers invaded the village and kidnapped two children, identified as Saleh Abbas Mahmoud and Walid Imad Ahmad, and took them to the Salem Military Base. The two children were interrogated for several hours, while their families had no idea of their whereabouts. The Palestinian District Coordination Office contacted its Israeli counterpart, and inquired about the children, and the army released them later on.
Shin Bet uncovers Hamas-affiliated terrorist cell in West Bank
Haaretz 30 Apr by Gili Cohen — The Shin Bet and Israel Defense Forces arrested seven members of a Hamas-affiliated terrorist cell between December and March of this year, it was revealed on Wednesday following the lifting of a gag order. The suspects are all Palestinian residents of the West Bank city of Qalqilyah, among them one Israeli citizen who allegedly served as the group’s point man. According to the Shin Bet, the cell members revealed under questioning that they had prepared improvised explosive devices, based on fertilizer and other materials, and planned to perpetrate a shooting attack or plant bombs against “Israeli targets.” A statement published by the Shin bet also noted that the cell was planning to purchase arms “whose source was in Israel.” The existence of the terror cell came to light during interrogation of individual suspects, Shin Bet officials said.
Gaza under double blockade
Gaza’s Ark organizers remain determined after attack
Press Release 30 Apr — Gaza’s Ark was badly damaged and partially sunk by a large explosion, at about 3:45 AM Gaza time, on April 29th. No one was injured. Mustafa Abu Awad, the guard who was on duty at the time, was taken to the hospital for tests and he has now been discharged. The Ark was in the port of Gaza, being readied to put to sea in June. Whether and when the boat can be repaired is something we will not know for sure until it can be pulled out of the water for inspection. Awad said he had been warned to leave the area by an anonymous caller. “I was [sleeping] near the boat and someone phoned me — an unidentified caller. I answered and he told me: ‘Mustafa, leave the boat right now because we are going to blow it up.'” The Gaza’s Ark project has been working for more than a year in preparing the boat to carry goods and passengers, in the attempt to challenge Israel’s blockade of Gaza. If successful, it would be the first time goods from Gaza have been exported by sea since 1994. “This is a reckless and violent attack not only on a boat, but on thousands of supporters and donors worldwide,” says David Heap of the Gaza’s Ark Steering Committee. “We are closely following the police investigation of the attack and hope to know soon if the boat can be repaired.” “What is certain is that we remain committed to continue challenging the blockade by any peaceful means available until it is lifted permanently,” adds Robert Naiman, another Steering Committee member. “Hope and justice are unsinkable.” Less than 24 hours before this attack, Gaza’s Ark launched an international petition calling on the UN to act to lift the blockade. The appeal was signed by parliamentarians, Nobel Laureates, and other prominent figures from many countries, and now has more than 7,500 signatories from around the world. We strongly encourage our supporters to respond to this attack by signing, sharing and re-sharing our petition
See also Gaza’s Ark photo album for preparation of the ark and here for photos of destruction and the device used to accomplish it
Arab Knesset member probes Gaza boat blast
World Bulletin 2 May — An Israeli Arab lawmaker on Thursday sent a written letter to Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon, asking for clarifications on the bombing of a Europe-bound boat off the coast of the Gaza Strip on Tuesday. The office of Arab Knesset member Haneen Zoabi said she sent the letter to Ya’alon asking him to clarify the people who stood behind the bombing of the boat and the reasons behind what she called the “sabotage attack.” … The Palestinian resistance movement Hamas, which rules the Gaza Strip, accused Israel of standing behind the bombing of the boat. According to a source close to the Palestinian group, an elite Israeli force sneaked into the Gaza port and planted explosives inside the boat before detonating it.
Palestinian shot, injured in northern Gaza
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 30 Apr — A Palestinian laborer was shot and injured on Wednesday evening in the northern Gaza Strip. A Ma‘an reporter said Israeli guards in a watchtower at the Erez checkpoint opened fire at a Palestinian laborer in his 20s. Medics said he was shot in the foot and was in moderate condition.
Rocket fired from Gaza hits Israel
JERUSALEM (AFP) 1 May — Palestinian militants fired a rocket from the Gaza Strip on Thursday night which hit southern Israel without causing any damage, the army said. A statement said the rocket hit open ground in the Eshkol area, adding: “No injuries or damage were reported.” A military spokeswoman said that more than 100 projectiles fired by militants in Hamas-ruled Gaza have hit Israel this year. Last week, militants fired three rockets at southern Israel, the same day Israeli warplanes wounded six people in a “counter-terror operation” north of Gaza City. The air raid came after rival Palestinian leaders from the West Bank and Gaza angered the Jewish state by agreeing a new reconciliation agreement.
Israeli forces enter border area in southern Gaza
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 1 May — Israeli military vehicles and bulldozers entered a border area in the southern Gaza Strip on Thursday, witnesses told Ma‘an. Locals said that Israeli military forces escorted eight bulldozers as they leveled Palestinian land east of Khan Younis in Khuza‘a. Israeli forces fired smoke bombs during the operation, witnesses added.
Egypt ‘humiliates’ travelers from Gaza
GAZA STRIP (Electronic Intifada) 1 May by Rami Almeghari — Naser Abu Shammala had quit smoking a few years ago. But the stress of waiting to travel from Gaza led him to resume. A Canadian citizen, Abu Shammala had been living outside his native Gaza for fifteen years. Two months ago, he returned to visit relatives. When The Electronic Intifada met him, Abu Shammala was making his fifth attempt to pass through the Rafah crossing, which separates Gaza from Egypt. He was hoping to fly from Cairo to Canada, where he makes his living selling used cars. Accompanied by his wife and two daughters, he was puffing on a water pipe at a modest restaurant near the crossing. “I have been waiting to go back to Canada for about six weeks now,” he said. “I am now stuck along with my family and I have lost lots of business … His daughter Lama described the experience of waiting at Rafah as “humiliating.” “You feel as if you are denied a very basic human right, which is the right to travel, of course,” she said. “It’s like hell here and I do not think I am going to come back to Gaza again. I have missed important exams at my nursing school. It’s unbelievable.” Lama’s sister, Laila, teaches English at a school in Canada. She has been threatened with being fired if she does not return soon.
Smuggling of banned pesticides a problem in Gaza
KHAN YUNIS (Al-Monitor) 2 May by Asmaa al-Ghoul — Misuse of pesticides in Gaza’s agricultural industry poses a dangerous risk to farmers and consumers of Gazan produce — Nemacur is one of the agricultural pesticides that the Ministry of Agriculture in the Gaza Strip warns against on its website. On April 19, I headed to visit the companies that import and sell agricultural pesticides in Gaza City, and in less than two minutes was able to buy Nemacur without a permit from the ministry. Another store did refuse to sell it without a permit … Mohammed al-Zak, director of the Cooperative Association for the Development of Agricultural Resources in Khan Yunis, told Al-Monitor, “There is no problem with using any pesticide as long as farmers do not harvest fruits before the end of the waiting period.” He added that crops such as strawberries have been destroyed multiple times after being exported to Europe, following toxicity testing of the chemical residue after early harvesting. According to Fara, Nemacur’s waiting period is up to 60 days during the summer and 90 days during winter, which means that crops should be harvested at least 60 and 90 days, respectively, after the pesticides are applied.
Qatar trains Palestinians in Gaza to provide security for its VIPs
GAZA CITY (WorldTribune) 30 Apr — Qatar has hosted training of Palestinian fighters from the Gaza Strip. Palestinian sources said Qatar was training Palestinians in combat skills for paramilitary and other roles. The sources said most of the Palestinians were linked to the Hamas regime in the Gaza Strip. “The idea [by Qatar] was to build a professional force that would be loyal to and protect Doha’s interests in the Gaza Strip and other parts of the Middle East,” a source said. The sources said scores of Palestinians were used to protect Qatari VIPs, including officials and diplomats. They said some of the Palestinians returned to Hamas security forces and assigned to the Qatari presence in the Gaza Strip. In February 2014, Hamas approved the first VIP protection company trained by Qatar. The sources said some of the 40 staffers of Secure Land served in the Qatari army and assigned to protect visiting Arab Idol winner Mohammed Assaf.
AIDS patients in Gaza face isolation, humiliation
GAZA CITY (Al-Monitor) 1 May by Asmaa al-Ghoul — Umm Hamdan seemed hesitant when I extended my hand to her, saying, “People who know my condition rarely shake my hand.” She felt the same about making coffee in her modest house. “I rarely do work that requires the use of my hands, like cooking, but I hug my children and grandchildren,” she said. With these expressions, Umm Hamdan (a pseudonym) summed up the state of isolation she has been living in and the secret she has been hiding for 16 years. She is just one of the 11 known AIDS patients in the Gaza Strip. She caught the disease from her husband, who got infected while working in Israel … Umm Hamdan added that she never took any medicine to treat the disease until three years ago. She could not go to the pharmacy to ask for it, and it wasn’t provided to her until a care program for AIDS patients in the West Bank and Gaza Strip began … Dheir told Al-Monitor that the first case of AIDS was discovered in the Gaza Strip in 1986. A woman contracted the virus from a blood transfusion during a cesarean delivery. “We offer full services for AIDS patients, including tests, medicines, consultations and treatment if need be, and we respect the patients’ privacy,” Dheir added. He noted that the department implements a therapeutic protocol that is compliant with international standards.
The Palestine Trauma Centre — psychological support for Gaza
GAZA (Paramedics in Gaza) 30 Apr — …The PTC was set up in 2007 following extensive research by its founder Dr Mohamed Altawil on the effects of chronic psychological trauma on the Gazan population. The results of the research were staggering; of the 1.8million population, 700,000 were considered to require immediate psychological, social and medical assistance. The center was set up with the aim of providing free therapy, counseling, rehabilitation and preventative programmes to children, individuals and families. Incredibly they have worked with 100 000 people so far… The organisation is made up of paid staff together with a large number of qualified volunteers: Psychologists, psychiatrists, specialist trauma counsellors together with the necessary office staff and project managers. With the lack of employment across Gaza they are able to give newly graduated students from the universities the opportunity to gain experience and practise their new skills in the field. They run workshops, groups and one on one session’s in their offices in Gaza City. The walls in the activity room are decorated with large posters and art the children have made. The first time we visited we both struggled to hold it together, it’s like seeing war through the eyes of children… drawings of tanks and bombs and bullet ridden bodies. There’s also large visual case studies documenting some of their success stories; the girl who was terrified of water because of the relentless sea to land attacks, and the child who with extensive one on one psychological support was finally able to grieve her mother killed in the conflict….
Supply convoy arrives at Gaza field hospital
GAZA (Jordan Times) 30 Apr — A seven-truck convoy laden with medical supplies, medicine and humanitarian aid for Jordan’s field hospital in Gaza arrived in the coastal enclave on Wednesday through the Beit Hanoun border crossing. Fouad Battah, director of “Gaza 29”, said the aid was sent upon Royal directives, noting that over 1.232 million Gazans have benefited from the field hospital’s services since its deployment in January 2009.
PA ships medical equipment to Gaza Strip
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 30 Apr — The Palestinian Authority Ministry of Health on Wednesday shipped medical supplies and equipment to the Gaza Strip, Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah said. Speaking at a news conference in Ramallah, Hamdallah told reporters that all Palestinian people stand with Gaza and “we will remain united until we end your suffering and establish an independent Palestinian state.” The shipment, which is thought to be worth around six million shekels ($1,729,900), contains medicine for cancer, diabetes, and dialysis machines.
Gazans mock Australia for cattle ban
GAZA CITY (Al-Monitor) 1 May by Rasha Abou Jalal — Palestinians are expressing their exasperation with Australia’s decision to ban cattle exports to Gaza because of ill-treatment, while seeming to ignore the treatment of Palestinians under occupation … Ayman al-Aloul, a journalist known for his stand-up comedy shows, spoke on the issue in a video posted to YouTube. He asserted, “The countries that are concerned about the way their cattle are treated by Palestinians are not concerned about the Israeli blockade and continuous bombardment of the Palestinians. To those we say, “Forget international pacts and human rights, consider us calves.’”
At Gaza’s horse clubs, girls are eager to ride
GAZA CITY (Al-Monitor) 2 May by Mohammed Othman — Despite the conservative nature of Gazan society, which often frowns upon women participating in sports, the Strip has seen a notable rise in female equestrianism in recent years.
Detainees / Repatriation – or not – of remains
Palestinian prisoners begin 10th day of hunger strike
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 3 May — Over 100 Palestinian prisoners held in Israeli jails began their tenth day of hunger strike on Saturday, and three have been taken to a medical center for treatment, a prisoners’ rights group said. The Palestinian Prisoner’s Society said in a statement that the number of prisoners on hunger strike against their detention without a trial has reached 120. Hunger striking prisoners have been placed in solitary confinement, the PPS statement said. Three prisoners — Dawood Hamdan, Tariq Deis, and Muhammad al-Natsha — have been taken to Assaf Harofeh medical center for treatment. The statement said 51 hunger strikers were being held in Negev desert prison, 37 in Ofer detention center, and the rest in Megiddo prison. Elderly and sick prisoners are not on hunger strike due to health reasons, the statement said. If there is no change in Israel’s policy regarding “administrative detention” — Israel’s phrase for holding prisoners without charge or trial — another group of prisoners will begin a hunger strike, it added.
Hundreds march in Hebron to support hunger strikers
[photos – note mixed Hamas & Fatah flags] HEBRON (Ma‘an) 2 May — Over 2,000 Palestinians participated in a march in Hebron on Friday to support hunger striking Palestinian prisoners. Fatah and Hamas supporters, including leaders and lawmakers, took part in the march and chanted against the Israeli policy of administrative detention. The march started in Ein Sarah street and headed to Ibn Rushd, where demonstrators listened to several speakers. Over 100 Palestinian prisoners began a mass, open-ended hunger strike in a number of Israeli jails on Thursday in protest against being held without charge or trial under a policy Israel calls “administrative detention.”
Israel bars Palestinian’s return to Israel for burial
Haaretz 1 May by Nir Hasson — Medical student Rafa Zarzur was apparently shot during robbery in Ukraine after Israel refused to let him return — Israel refused to bring back for burial the body of a Palestinian resident who was found dead in the Ukraine on Saturday, claiming − falsely − that his residency had been revoked, his family told Haaretz this week. Rafa Zarzur, a Palestinian resident of Israel who was studying medicine in Kiev, Ukraine was found dead by the Ukrainian police. Some two months ago, when Zarzur wanted to return to Israel after graduation, he was refused an entrance visa by the Israeli consulate and told that his residency had expired, his family and attorney Adi Lustigman said. Both the interior and foreign ministries told Haaretz that Zarzur’s permanent residency had not been revoked or expired, and that there is no change in his status in the state’s Population Registry. About two weeks ago Zarzur’s family lost touch with him and the Foreign Ministry refused to help them search for him, saying he was no longer an Israeli resident. Even after his body was found on Saturday, the ministry refused the family’s request for assistance in returning it to Israel for burial.
Israel returns remains of Hamas militants killed in 1998
RAMALLAH (AFP) 30 Apr — More than 1,000 people gathered in the West Bank city of Ramallah Wednesday for the funerals of two Hamas militants Israel killed in 1998, whose remains had just been returned. Israel transferred the remains of Imad Awadallah, 48, and his 46-year-old brother Adel, to Palestinian officials at a checkpoint in the northern West Bank overnight, Palestinian activists said. They also handed over the bodies of two others, including a suicide bomber who blew himself up at a Jerusalem restaurant in 2001 during the second Palestinian intifada (uprising). The Palestinian National Campaign to Return the Bodies of the Martyrs says Israel still holds the bodies of some 29 Palestinians in a special cemetery for “enemy combattants” in the Jordan Valley. The exact circumstances of the deaths of the wanted Awadallah brothers, who were killed by Israeli troops in 1998 near the southern West Bank city of Hebron, have never been revealed. In July 2011, the then defence minister Ehud Barak reneged on an agreement to hand over the bodies of some 84 militants killed since 1967, including the Awadallah brothers.
Political, other news
Palestinians adopt UN human rights treaties
GENEVA (AFP) 2 May — Palestine on Friday became a formal party to five global treaties banning torture and racial discrimination, and protecting the rights of women, children and the disabled, the UN said. Rupert Colville, spokesman for the UN human rights office, told reporters that the move followed the Palestinians’ April 2 declaration to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon that they were adopting the treaties. In addition, Palestine will on May 7 become party to an accord protecting children in conflict zones — which is an optional part of the overall child rights treaty — and on July 2 it will adopt two agreements governing civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights. “This accession to seven core human rights treaties and a key protocol is a significant step towards enhancing the promotion and protection of human rights in Palestine,” Coville told reporters. “It is notable in a region with a high number of reservations to human rights treaties, that Palestine is acceding to eight human rights treaties without making a single reservation,” he added. In the face of fierce Israeli opposition, Palestine won observer status at the United Nations in November 2012, opening the way for it to adopt a host of international accords … In addition to the UN treaties, the Palestinians have also signed up formally to the Geneva Conventions, which set down the rules of warfare and humanitarian operations in conflict zones. The Palestinians also submitted requests to the United Nations to adopt accords including the Vienna Convention on diplomatic relations, and an anti-corruption agreement.
Officials discuss civil liberties in first step toward unity govt
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 30 Apr — Palestinian officials from the West Bank and Gaza took a first step towards implementing the reconciliation agreement signed by Hamas and the Fatah-led PLO a week ago, a committee member said Wednesday. Khalil Assaf told Ma‘an that officials in Ramallah and Gaza City simultaneously convened a subcommittee meeting to discuss civil liberties in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip under the Palestinian unity government that is due to be implemented within four weeks. The meetings were to take place from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., and would discuss the release of political detainees held in the West Bank and Gaza, Assaf said. The subcommittee of freedoms was originally conceived of during a Hamas-Fatah reconciliation agreement signed in Cairo in 2010, he added. Issam Abu Daqqa, a member of the committee in Gaza, told Ma‘an one of the topics of Wednesday’s meetings will be the end of a ban on West Bank newspapers in Gaza. All subcommittees that emerged from the Cairo agreement in 2010 will be reactivated as a result of last week’s deal, Abu Daqqa added. Hamas and the PLO signed a deal to end over seven years of political division last Wednesday.
Islamic Jihad leaders to discuss role in unity govt
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 30 Apr — Three senior Islamic Jihad leaders traveled from Gaza to Egypt via Rafah crossing on Wednesday, sources within the faction told Ma‘an. Islamic Jihad sources said that Muhammad al-Hindi, Nafith Azzama, and Khaled al-Batsh traveled through Egypt to convene with other faction leaders for meetings on the recent Hamas-PLO reconciliation deal. The leaders will consider the ways Islamic Jihad could be involved in the unity government, which is due to be set into place within four weeks, the sources said. It is the first time the leaders have been allowed into Egypt since the military ouster of Mohamed Morsi in July.
Hamas holds massive West Bank rally, testing Palestinian unity deal
Ynet (Elior Levy)/Reuters 30 Apr — Over a thousand supporters of the Islamist group Hamas marched through the streets of a West Bank stronghold of its rival Fatah party on Wednesday, testing a surprise Palestinian unity pact the two signed last week. The rally in Ramallah, the Palestinians’ de facto capital in the Israeli-occupied territory, followed a funeral in the city’s main mosque for Hamas militants killed by Israel in 1998. Their bodies were released from Israeli custody this week, the deal was firstreported by Ynet. One of Hamas’ West Bank leaders and former Palestinian minister for prisoner affairs, Safi Kabaah spoke to Ynet, and said: “Hamas never stopped existing, despite the blows Israel has dealt it and despite the persecution by (Fatah’s) Palestinian security forces, Hamas is an idea and ideology that cannot be taken out.” Kabaah said that despite the fanfare the Palestinian unity deal inspired, it is still far from certain it would actualize: “Israel objects to the unity deal, and the PA is under massive pressure, but Palestinian blood is one. ” Kabaah also expressed hope that coexistence with Israel would be possible: “If Israel gives the Palestinian people their rights, then a type of coexistence can take place.”
Survey: Palestinians say nepotism still widespread
RAMALLAH (AP) 29 Apr — The Palestinian branch of a global anti-corruption group says more than 70 percent of Palestinians believe personal connections help getting access to public services and that nearly 90 percent have used them. The survey was part of an annual corruption report by Aman, a branch of Transparency International. The poll had about 1,200 respondents in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. The error margin was 2.8 percentage points. Tuesday’s report said some progress has been made in anti-corruption efforts despite the financial and political instability of the Palestinian Authority. However, it says conditions remained stagnant or deteriorated in many governmental institutions, in part because there’s no effective parliament and the Palestinian president has mounting unilateral authority. The report says a bloated civil service contributed to a waste of public funds.
May Day: Palestinian workers in Israel ‘denied basic rights’
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 1 May — As countries across the world celebrate International Workers’ Day, an Israeli human rights group says that Palestinian laborers face harsh and humiliating conditions and are still being denied their basic rights. “For Palestinian workers, there is not much cause for celebration: the day is a painful reminder that another year has gone by and nothing has changed,” B’Tselem said Wednesday. In light of Israel’s continuing military occupation of the West Bank, which exploits Palestinian natural resources and stifles the growth of an independent Palestinian economy, tens of thousands of Palestinian workers are forced to seek a living by working in Israel, the group said. According to the group, the current quota for work permits as of March 2014 is 47,350, most of which have been utilized … According to the rights group, Israel denies permits to tens of thousands of Palestinians, with around 15,000-30,000 Palestinians working in Israel without permits. “For Palestinian workers who regularly enter Israel illegally to earn a living, life is a constant struggle for survival and returning home safe and sound from work cannot be taken for granted. They live in constant anxiety, fearing arrest or injury. In such a reality, labor rights such as a minimum wage, reasonable work hours, and a pension scheme seem like a distant dream.”
Italian lawmakers visit Hebron, meet mayor
HEBRON (Ma‘an) 30 Apr – During a visit to the municipality of Hebron Tuesday, chairman of Italy’s Left Ecology Freedom party Nichi Vendola said he was angered upon seeing the “Palestinian people living in a big jail inside their homeland.” Such a feeling, he added, should touch the conscience of all free people in the world and all advocates of justice and humanity. Vendola added that as long as there are Israeli settlements on the Palestinian land, it will be pointless to talk about peace and negotiations. The Italian politician, who is also president of Apulia region in southern Italy, added that the reconciliation agreement between Hamas and Fatah was one of the “best steps Palestinian president has taken recently.” … Vendola’s delegation, which met with the mayor of Hebron Dawood al-Zaatari, included lawmakers Arturo Scotto, Gennaro Migliore, Francesco Martone and the Italian consul general in Jerusalem Davide La Cecilia. Former speaker of the Italian parliament Luisa Morgantini was also present at the meeting.
IN PICTURES: Welcome to Ramallah Fashion Week
Ynet 2 May — A Palestinian model presents traditional dress by designer Um Abdullah Abzrieh….
Israel celebrates 66 years with 8,180,000 Israelis
Ynet 1 May — Israeli population grew by 157,000 since last Independence Day; Number of people who made aliyah in the past year stood at nearly 24,000 — Israel will celebrate its 66th Independence Day with 8,180,000 citizens, according to an annual demographics report published Thursday. The Central Bureau of Statistics reported that the Jewish population stood at 6,135,000 – or 75 percent of the population. The Arab population numbered at 1,694,000 (20.7 percent), while non-Arab Christians and other minorities made up 4.3 percent of the population at 351,000 citizens. At the end of 2012, about 75 percent of the Jewish population was “sabra” – natives of Israel, at least half of whom are second generation – compared to 35 percent in 1948.
Israel summons Jordan envoy over anti-Israel article
JERUSALEM (AFP) 1 May — Israel summoned Jordan’s ambassador Thursday to protest an “anti-Israeli” article by a former Jordanian foreign minister, in which he based his argument on a Hitler quote, the foreign ministry said. Spokesman Yigal Palmor said Israel’s embassy in Amman also sent the foreign ministry there an official protest over an article published on Monday by Kamel Abu Jaber in The Jordan Times. In the second paragraph of the article titled “The big Zionist lie and the task ahead”, Abu Jaber, foreign minister from 1991 to 1993, uses a quote from Adolf Hitler’s Mein Kampf to make a point about lying — in “the big lie there is always a certain force of credibility.” “The Zionist big lie about Palestine — ‘a land without a people’ — that the entire Western world adopted, and the biblical, Talmudic myth of the ‘chosen people’ have been the most important factors behind all the tragedies and atrocities that Palestine and the Palestinians have been subjected to since (…) l897,” Abu Jaber wrote. “We Arabs, Jordanians and Palestinians especially, are victims of a torrent of lies by a few international media magnates that every day enter every room of every household, propagating not only sex and violence but also, above all, the Zionist ideas of the extreme right,” he wrote.